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BPS 356: From James Cameron to Steven Spielberg, the Life of Lance Henriksen

Today on the show we have legendary actor Lance Henriksen. I had the pleasure of work with Lance on my film Red Princess Blues: Genesis and if was a surreal experience.

Lance has been in over 300 films through-out his remarkable career.

He’s mentored Tarzan, Evel Knievel and the Antichrist, and fought Terminators, Aliens, Predators, Pumpkinhead, Pinhead, Bigfoot, Superman, the Autobots, Mr. T, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Steven Seagal.

He’s worked with directors James Cameron, Steven Spielberg, Kathryn Bigelow, Sidney Lumet, Francois Truffaut, John Huston, Walter Hill, David Fincher, John Woo, Jim Jarmusch and Sam Raimi, but this is just skimming the surface.

An intense, versatile actor as adept at playing clean-cut FBI agents as he is psychotic motorcycle-gang leaders, who can go from portraying soulless, murderous vampires to burned-out, world-weary homicide detectives, Lance Henriksen has starred in a variety of films that have allowed him to stretch his talents just about as far as an actor could possibly hope.

He played Awful Knoffel in the TNT original movie EVIL KNIEVEL, directed by John Badham and executive produced by Mel Gibson. Henriksen portrayed Awful Knoffel in this project based on the life of the famed daredevil, played by George Eads. Henriksen starred for three seasons (1996-1999) on Millennium, Fox-TV’s critically acclaimed series created by Chris Carter (The X-Files).

His performance as Frank Black, a retired FBI agent who has the ability to get inside the minds of killers, landed him three consecutive Golden Globe nominations for “Best Performance by a Lead Actor in a Drama Series” and a People’s Choice Award nomination for “Favorite New TV Male Star.”

Henriksen was born in New York City. His mother, Margueritte, was a waitress, dance instructor, and model. His father, James Marin Henriksen, who was from Tønsberg, Norway, was a boxer and merchant sailor.

Henriksen studied at the Actors Studio and began his career off-Broadway in Eugene O’Neill’s Three Plays of the Sea. One of his first film appearances was as an FBI agent in Sidney Lumet’s DOG DAY AFTERNOON, followed by parts in Lumet’s NETWORK and PRINCE OF THE CITY.

He then appeared in Steven Spielberg’s CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND with Richard Dreyfuss and François Truffaut, DAMIEN: OMEN II and in Philip Kaufman’s THE RIGHT STUFF, in which he played Mercury astronaut Capt. Wally Schirra.

James Cameron cast Henriksen in his first directorial effort, PIRANHA II: THE SPAWNING, then used him again in THE TERMINATOR and as the android Bishop in the sci-fi classic ALIENS. Sam Raimi cast Henriksen as an outrageously garbed gunfighter in his quirky western THE QUICK AND THE DEAD.

Henriksen has also appeared in what has developed into a cult classic: Kathryn Bigelow’s NEAR DARK, in which he plays the head of a clan of murderous redneck vampires. He was nominated for a Golden Satellite Award for his portrayal of Abraham Lincoln in the TNT original film THE DAY LINCOLN WAS SHOT.

In addition to his abilities as an actor, Henriksen is an accomplished painter and potter. His talent as a ceramist has enabled him to create some of the most unusual ceramic artworks available on the art market today.

His new film is called Alpha Rift.

Nolan Parthmore was just a regular guy, hanging with friends, working his game store, flirting with his co-worker, then one day, destiny came calling. A courier delivers a mysterious antique helmet with no note or description. When Nolan puts it on, his whole world changes. The helmet comes to life and calls out to an evil demon, Lord Dragsmere, who was imprisoned by Nolan’s deceased father.

Nolan soon discovers he is next in the bloodline, heir to The Nobleman, destined to become a hero whether he wants to be or not. Since the Dark Ages, the Noblemen have been guardians against the 13 Devil’s Apostles: dark forces escaped from hell and let loose upon on earth. Generations later, it’s the heirs of these original knights that possess the power to open the Alpha Rift:the only defense against these supernatural foes.

Enjoy my conversation with Lance Henriksen.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show, Lance Henriksen Lance, how are you my friend?

Lance Henriksen 0:16
I'm good, Alex. Very good. I remember your name we've worked before.

Alex Ferrari 0:22
Yes, we have we have worked before we worked years ago on my on my short film Red Princess Blues Genesis, I reached out to your people and you were kind enough to bless our project with your voice, your remarkable voice. And I never forgot it. I was still just Fresh Off the Boat maybe a couple years in LA. And it was such a thrill to to work with with you and and

Lance Henriksen 0:47
Wilcox Hotel.

Alex Ferrari 0:49
I'm sorry.

Lance Henriksen 0:50
When you first got to LA where you're staying at the Wilcox hotel.

Alex Ferrari 0:54
I was lucky enough to get an apartment in North Hollywood,

Lance Henriksen 0:57
Split side hotel. You leave your brands on the ceiling.

Alex Ferrari 1:04
What's those? What are those apartments by Warner Brothers that everybody used to go live live at when you first got there?

Lance Henriksen 1:10
Yeah, I don't remember

Alex Ferrari 1:11
I don't remember the name of it. But there's that. Yeah. So

Lance Henriksen 1:16
First tell I couldn't afford.

Alex Ferrari 1:19
So so. So tell me, how did you get started in this business man? You've been around for a few years.

Lance Henriksen 1:28
New York. Okay. Yeah, I already had done theater in New York and stuff. And I did one movie, you know, and I liked it. So I thought I'm gonna get into and duke it out, you know, see what happens.

Alex Ferrari 1:43
And then and then you arrive in LA and LA back at those years were a little different than LA nowadays. Not as not as much competition.

Lance Henriksen 1:53
Well, there's a weird thing. I got a job as a desk clerk in a retirement home called, I forget the name of it, but was all real people, you know, like, like this kind of old people. And they were always coming up to the desk saying, Did I get any cards or pictures or anything from my kids? And it was pathetic. It really was. So I started writing them cards and putting boxes. You know, like, hi, you know, cuz I get there. I get the name of their kids. Who never called them nobody. Yeah, so that was a good setting of beginning for what it feels like to be in the business.

Alex Ferrari 2:43
No one calls you no one calls you that's for sure.

Lance Henriksen 2:45
My phone was as useless as you get.

Alex Ferrari 2:50
So when you so when you first started out, you know, one of your first projects was a little film called Dog Day Afternoon. With a little with a little director. Yeah, with a little direct Mr. Mr. Sidney Lumet what was it like? Being on that set that energy on that set seem to be

Lance Henriksen 3:07
I knew those people. I knew them all. Yeah, just studio people from New York. Sidney Lumet said I don't know what you're doing. But keep doing it. That's the only direction I got from him.

Alex Ferrari 3:23
Really? That was it. Just like just keep doing what you're doing. Now is the energy on that set was it seems so like, kinetic was it like that behind the scenes as well?

Lance Henriksen 3:36
Oh, yeah. Uh, we were real. You know, everybody was real. You know, John Casals was one of the great guys in the world. And yeah, and, and I remember I had to shoot him. And we said, John said to me, Look, let's, let's rehearse it because you don't know what's going to happen. So I turned to him, and I say, Sal, keep the gun pointed out, because you might hit a bump, you know, something will go off and, and we started laughing. We were in hysterics laughing. And I thought, Oh, it's a good thing. We did this, because when we get to the airport, you know, we're gonna be screwed if we do this, right. Laugh. I mean, we laugh for an hour while they were setting the commerce up on the hood and all over the view. And it was because I really liked them. And it's so absurd that I'm going to shoot them. I mean, it was like, and he got the same feeling. So it was like, we were go for I mean, really laughing for an hour.

Alex Ferrari 4:51
Wow. Because it seems like almost a documentary. It literally almost looked like a documentary.

Lance Henriksen 4:59
Yeah, it was And oddly enough, a lot of the guys that were actually involved in that they they were there on the street, you know, with all the extras. So weird for them.

Alex Ferrari 5:14
Oh god reliving that from a different perspective. Yeah, totally. So then, so then you've made a few other films and you you run across. Another, you have the list of directors you work with is ridiculous. But the next one on the list is Mr. Steven Spielberg, and you're working on Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Is that the biggest budget at that point in your career that you worked on?

Lance Henriksen 5:38
I never saw anything like it. We flew all the way to, you know, India, to run up that mountain and have 1000. I think there were 5,000 extras there that day, where we're saying, Where did it come from? What did you see? And they all went, they all pointed up, you know? And suddenly a rabbit ran across the field with all these experts. And they chased it. So you got 10,000 extras chasing a rabbit was the funniest site in the world, man.

Alex Ferrari 6:26
And when you're working in so when you're working with Spielberg, I mean, that's, uh, he's, he's, he's fresh off of jaws. So he's the biggest director on the planet at that moment in time because he created the blockbuster. What was it like working with Steven at that time in his career?

Lance Henriksen 6:42
Well, he was a kid. Yeah. He was a kid. I went up to him and I said, Look, I want to get one of these little monsters, you know, aliens. And I want to throw my coat over and go into the porta potty and just hold him so we got proof. That was one of the ship takes off. They're gone. And he's any look at me like, I don't know, like, I just fell into his birthday cake. And he looked at me anyway. That's, that's a different movie. Okay, I got it. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 7:20
I'm good. Steven. Thank you. Thank you very much. Was there anything that oh, you also you also got to work with Truffaut on that he wasn't he an actor in that correct.

Lance Henriksen 7:31
François Truffaut?

Alex Ferrari 7:32
Yeah, François, right. Yeah. Did you work with him? Did you interact with Truffaut ?

Lance Henriksen 7:36
Oh, he was with him every day.

Alex Ferrari 7:38
What was it? I mean, I got I've never spoken to anyone who actually knew Mr. Truffaut. What was it like what was he like as a as a because he was acting and then not directing?

Lance Henriksen 7:48
I mean, the guy look, I was on that movie for six months. So yeah, getting paid scale. You know, it was okay. Yeah, sure. The truck while I was there, I learned to fly. Because we were on an airport. You know, it was a big airport hangar, right. And I'd get up in the morning at four in the morning, and I'd go do my flying lessons. And then I would land at eight and walk into the set. So I felt like, look at me, I just landed. But anyway, they stopped me when I wanted to skydive. They sent him one of the ladies out there said you can't do it. So

Alex Ferrari 8:37
Please, yeah, now I'll put it after production. Do it all you like, after production you could do it all you like, but not while we're doing it production.

Lance Henriksen 8:45
François Truffaut this is his story. He did a movie called 400 blows. Sure. So did yours in Germany did Fahrenheit 451 All of this stuff. And I never mentioned 400 blows only because it was two. When I saw it. I was a kid. You know, younger kid. And I didn't want to talk about that. I talked about Jules and Jim I talked about Fahrenheit 451 and all of that. And he at the end of the movie. Well, he got pissed at me, first of all, for always going on standing on the set. He said no, you got to read a book. You got to do something else. You can't be in a hangar watching a movie being made. And I said yeah, but I never saw anything like this. So anyway, he gave me a book by Joshua Logan. And he said I'm going to quiz you on it. That's the kind of guy as you know. And I said okay, and I only read the Marlon Brando chapter from tea house. Niaga small. And it said Josh Logan said This is like walking through a maze with me but I'm filling you in on all the little truths. But anyway said the first two Tech's he did with random one, Brando gave it everything in that tech. And the second take that Brando did with him. He did nothing. And you said the biggest mistake I ever made was choosing second date. That is the truth. Whoa, I got that piece of information.

Alex Ferrari 10:39
That's amazing. It's amazing. So I think

Lance Henriksen 10:45
Kindest guy in the world. Yeah. And if you were a restaurant, all the women in the restaurant would like zero and on him. He had that energy. I don't know, French dress good.

Alex Ferrari 11:01
There was that vibe, that vibe. There's a thing that's it's you can't really, when you've got it, you got it. And you know,

Lance Henriksen 11:07
When you got it, you don't have to push. You had a lot of girlfriends along the way. I got to learn from you tell me how to do that.

Alex Ferrari 11:19
So there's so one of the films that I see. I saw you and I, you know, I remember you vividly and it was a terminator. And there has been so many mythical stories. It's almost folklore on how that movie was made. And you know it Jim did this, Jim do that. How did what was it like from your sight from your perspective working on that film? And what are the truths behind?

Lance Henriksen 11:48
He said to me go in to Emmerdale. You know, do the Terminator

Alex Ferrari 11:54
Because you were originally going to be the Terminator.

Lance Henriksen 11:58
I blew it though. Because Jim said go in 15 minutes before me. And I said, okay, and then I'll leave. You know, I'll just give a shout out, shake him up. And so I kept the door open am Dells office. And, and the Secretary was sitting there, grabbed her typewriter and pulled it off into her lap. She got shook, because I had cuts and silver teeth. And then I went into handhelds office. And I soon just stared at him for like, five minutes. And then Jim arrived and I left. You know, I didn't even I didn't even think I was going to do Terminator. I mean, I would have played him more like, like a spider, a real dangerous spider. Right, which they're fun. He was like a bulldozer. So that was fine. Yeah, I mean, Winfield and I, Paul Winfield. We had a great relationship. We made each other fucking crack up all the time. So it was what was great about it. It was Gail Bell. Her was producing it, I think. And it was like, Jim was coming out of the chute, you could tell he just just had a rhythm about him. And he always does. He knows. He's like an isolated animal of some kind. That is just so focused, you know, after we did aliens, and it was one of the most dynamic directors I've ever worked with ever.

Alex Ferrari 13:43
But you also, but you also worked with him on Pirana to the spawning, as well. Right? Is that where you met him?

Lance Henriksen 13:49
We don't talk about that. No, no, we don't it's just like awful.

Alex Ferrari 14:00
What Jim but Jim says it is the best flying Pirana movie ever made.

Lance Henriksen 14:09
Yeah, it was so excited because I had to buy my wardrobe. Off the waiter. Okay, because I had no wardrobe. Right? So I gave the guy 75 bucks for his pants and a shirt. Because I'm playing a harbor cop. It had a blue stripe. But I got over that really quick.

Alex Ferrari 14:38
So when you do you imagine you've met Jim on that show, right?

Lance Henriksen 14:42
Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 14:45
I'm sorry. That's the best thing about the movies.

Lance Henriksen 14:49
But even I saw what he could do, you know? Yeah, it's up and I was buying my suit off a waiter. He was up in his room making rubber fish cuz they didn't have enough of them you know all kinds of stuff. I mean it was I put the harbor boat up on the pier because they wouldn't even be down there let me learn how to drive it. Alright so by x i come weapon and he said come with and then okay I whipped in and put it right up on the pier

Alex Ferrari 15:24
Ohh different times different times. So when you're when you're working on the Terminator because that was a fairly low budget film I think it was if I if that if I know the budget was I think anywhere between five to 7 million or something

Lance Henriksen 15:39
You couldn't prove it by me that it was love budget it was but right. I don't know what the budget was. Right. But it was all his friends all the talented people involved in it. You know, is really, once once the train leaves the station, it doesn't stop. Right. And that's no matter what the budget,

Alex Ferrari 16:03
Right! Because if you're going you're going into whoever

Lance Henriksen 16:07
They would go, Yeah, you're in.

Alex Ferrari 16:10
So when you saw Arnold show up as the Terminator for the first time and you saw him What did you what was your first reaction?

Lance Henriksen 16:18
He was he was sitting on the on the steps of his honey wagon. Okay. Trailer, he got a Honeywell Sure will. Because the budget didn't allow, you know, a Tiffany anyway. But anyway, he was sitting there smoking a cigar and a and he was really happy. He was amazingly happy. Just like greeting everybody and making jokes and he was happy. And I was grateful for that

Alex Ferrari 16:58
He is. And and at that time of his life. He was really big. I mean, he was he was still

Lance Henriksen 17:04
He got that all going, you know.

Alex Ferrari 17:07
Yeah. And he was did you see? Did you see the same thing in Jim that you did sign Arnold when you saw him? You're like, Oh, this guy's gonna be a star. Did you see that? When you were on the set?

Lance Henriksen 17:17
I know how I saw how Jim was treating Jim was treating him. Like I don't know. He was telling him everything that he needed. Jim would tell him. I need you to be quiet and just look up. Walked out way. You know, I mean, he knew what he wanted from Arnold. It's good. It wasn't you know, wasn't the later. Be careful.

Alex Ferrari 17:51
Right. Yeah, he barely had any dialogue on the first one. Then he opened up in the second one a bit.

Lance Henriksen 17:58
Yeah, yeah. Those lines Get Cover!.

Alex Ferrari 18:05
Get down! Now one of your best known characters, his Bishop in Aliens, which you brought such humanity to that Android. It is remarkable.

Lance Henriksen 18:28
It was really on purpose. I hadn't I had made a decision that before I even got to England, you know, that there was what what is Android is he say, a protecting devices, a tech take care of humans to devices is also as vulnerable as during Apartheid a black child, you know, who wouldn't even dream of making any motions or noise? Because they're afraid of getting snuffed out? You know, I mean, anyway, a lot of elements like that work. I wouldn't dream of hurting anybody or anything. You know, I mean, it was there was the, the innocence of that, you know, so. And I got the role, but Jim said, in England, if you if you've got a if there's somebody in England, it's better. Jim told me, he said I would have given him the part but what you brought to the table was just exactly was good, you know, so grateful for that. Now, you learn shit to do with the knives and stuff because he told me, he called me before I went to London said Remember when we used to do the knife thing? And I said, Yeah, I can get good at it. When I got to England, I had all 29 Because I know it, he might pick a different, and I had to work with all of them. Sure. So I got there. I was good at it all. But anyway, they almost wouldn't let me in the country. Because the guy, they saw it on the scanner that I had knives and said, step away from your bags. Not let me in. Yeah. All right. Pretty active around that time.

Alex Ferrari 20:33
Sure, sure. And that was 86' 85'. So that's not even post 911 For God's sakes. Can you imagine? It must have been on edge.

Lance Henriksen 20:42
Yeah

Alex Ferrari 20:45
Now is there's so many, you know, stories of the English crew and Jim and Gail having such a hard time making that movie because they were basically fighting the crew and they didn't really believe in Jim and no one had seen Terminator yet.

Lance Henriksen 21:03
Yet. They were given them. They were dragging their feet, they were taking tea breaks every five minutes, they go to the bar that was at Pinewood and they had lunch near come back and slowed down again. You know, I mean, it was, those guys were all under contract. So they didn't have anybody, but they, despite all of that personality stuff going on. They called him Grizzly Adams, Jim, because you have grown a little beard. And who the hell was he to come in after Ridley Scott. You know, who is a British are better, you know, was their whole thing. And and it was like, for us. It banded us together even more. The only time it wasn't Bishop was one of one of the ad's British Hadees pushed me on the chest. You know, say hey said stop. Push me. I said you do that again. I'm gonna kick your ass. I meant Sure so who? I'll never forget his face when I did that. He got shut up man, you don't fucking push me.

Alex Ferrari 22:22
New York In New York maybe?

Lance Henriksen 22:28
Oh, good.

Alex Ferrari 22:29
And I'm assuming and I'm assuming having a

Lance Henriksen 22:33
Days, weeks and months of working together all of us. We all know each other and believed in each other. You know, that's, that's a different feeling. than just going we're gonna leave a bunch of garbage in pull our trailer out of here and we're gonna go home. We didn't do that we were there to do it. Really do. And those guys by the way. The guys on contract mind would. There was some of the best makers of props and things and sets. They were unbelievably good. If they just welcomed us, we would have been fine. But so we went through about a month a bullshit. And then I guess I don't know the real story behind it. But Gail was saying we'll just get out we'll leave here and go do it somewhere else. You know, you're not gonna screw up his movie. I mean, and they turned around turned around completely.

Alex Ferrari 23:38
Really? Yeah. Yeah, because I can imagine that having you know, in 1986 A female producer on top of it all was it was a shock because you generally didn't have female promoters.

Lance Henriksen 23:52
She's 5'5" you know she's but tough. Oh, yeah. She's smart. I love her.

Alex Ferrari 24:02
And she and and honestly, many people say this and I say it as well as aliens is essentially a masterpiece in in the genre there really it really holds up.

Lance Henriksen 24:13
It is it holds up.

Alex Ferrari 24:14
You can watch that today. You can still watch that today. And it's not you don't you don't see the date. There's no date.

Lance Henriksen 24:21
Oh, we get a lot more attention than I am. Now.

Alex Ferrari 24:24
Oh, okay. Now you also, right, exactly. Now that you also worked on another classic film called near dark with with Miss Kathryn Bigelow. I remember I was working in a video store in the 80s late 80s Oh yeah, I work I worked in a video store for five years. All I saw everything from 86 movies from 86 to like 93 I pretty much watched everything Because anything that came out, I watched it because it was I was in a video store, I was a kid in high school didn't have much social life. So that's all I did was just watch three, four movies a day, constantly. So I remember watching your dark, I was just like, Oh, my God, this is remarkable. And I have to say, Kathryn Bigelow is easily one of the best action directors of her generation, and she doesn't get the credit that she deserves, in my opinion. I mean, she won the Oscar obviously, for for, for her lock on everything. But as an action director, Mike got sheet. She holds her own with anybody.

Lance Henriksen 25:32
Anybody believe me

Alex Ferrari 25:37
What was it like working on that?

Lance Henriksen 25:39
You know, she would do things incredible. Like, we had to, we had to deal with sunlight. So we're, we improvised a whole rehearsal of how do you enter a room that's brightly lit with Windows and stuff? So we would improvise all the things and we actually use them in the movie. I mean, we, our instincts were already there. Because we rehearsed. You know, spraying the windows, put tin foils on the windows, like Elvis used to do in Vegas. And then, um, we would improvise even dialogue where we had we had these characters down so well, no matter what you threw out those. We would, we would, Billy Paxton was brilliant. At work he did, and all of us felt we were those people. The day we finished shooting, we're standing on a road in Arizona. And we suddenly said, we should start the prequel right now. Because we were ready. We liked these characters.

Alex Ferrari 26:56
And there was never seek and there was never sequel or prequel. And it's such a sad,

Lance Henriksen 27:01
Went belly up. So our first ad was as big as this. You know? And so it just lost. It was lost boys doing rock and roll vampires. It was like, come on, but they had full page ads.

Alex Ferrari 27:21
So yeah, you were the cult, the cult film.

Lance Henriksen 27:26
Poor step kid.

Alex Ferrari 27:28
But I mean, anyone listening, if you have not seen near dark is arguably one of the best vampire films ever made it no question.

Lance Henriksen 27:35
Much fun, man. We pick your own wardrobes, right? They, you know, they had some we had a great wardrobe guy. And I said, we had to write our own bios, like, how did we get turned? Where did we come from? We had to ride a mile. And mine was that that I was sailing on an iron clad for the south during the Civil War. And we got slaughtered by it by you know, cannons from the shore and stuff. But we kept drifting into the marshes at night. And we started to get fed on the lot of vampires feeding on the dying man. And I got I got a turn because my chest was blown open and, and I was steaming into the night air. And it stood over man, and instead of killing me and feeding on me and turn me so I mean, I have my own figured out. That's why I had a rebel flag inside my code and my hair had a pigtail on a dipped in tar, like Stiller's did back in those days. You know, we just created our own our own ambience and we picked each other up along the way. That's what if we had done a what he call it, you know, a prequel, he would see all those people got together. They're different. The 20s 1800s You know,

Alex Ferrari 29:22
That wouldn't have been that would have been amazing. You could have done you could have done an anreise thing where you go through all history kind of figure

Lance Henriksen 29:32
Have dinner with her. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 29:34
What does she love the film? Does she like the film?

Lance Henriksen 29:39
Oh, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 29:44
Now, you

Lance Henriksen 29:47
You know after I did the movie.

Alex Ferrari 29:50
Now you you've you've worked with so many directors is there. I'm not going to ask you if you have a favorite director but is there a way that that you like to be directed and and then did you connect with a certain director in a way from like, as a collaborator in a way that just stepped stands out throughout your career?

Lance Henriksen 30:11
Yeah. I met with so many good ones, you know, I mean, it's there, there is an automatic kind of understanding a member, a member, certainly, Sydney Limmat. Love New York actors, he would hire you and say, Look, this, this part only lasts a week, but I'm going to give you a run on the show, because you wanted to, say, get an apartment, you didn't know. It was like, he is the kindest man. And it was great to be around him because he was so knowledgeable. You know, standing on the set with the best actors in New York. All around you, and you're watching these guys work. And I was young. You know, I was 30. So it was like, yeah, it was my, my experience. I could never single out one. There are parts of all of them that I'll never forget. You know, and they influence me about freedom and about, you know, how to how to make something that it's even beyond your wildest dream by just getting on board and going with it. Get off these guys. They they they're not Intimidators they're nice. They're nice people. You know, most that especially in that era, the 80s and the 90s.

Alex Ferrari 31:46
Did you is your Is there a way that you'd like to be directed as an actor? Because I know every actor has a different way. Some people want more attention.

Lance Henriksen 31:56
Yeah, everything happens in rehearsal. You know, when you're when you're approaching when you're no part, I did a movie with Viggo Mortensen, who was he was probably one of the kindest, smartest people I've ever worked with, is he wrote it, directed it Zenna he produced it. I mean, did the music for it, and edited cheeses and never complain the minute we just was so busy trying to form those that relationship and those relationships. It was the greatest experience I've ever had. I mean, it's like, but that's for a very different reasons. So we're the only mechanical thing in it. I mean, the rest is, was shot beautifully and all of that. But by the time we started, we knew what we were going to do.

Alex Ferrari 33:00
What advice would you give a young filmmaker or film directors in general, on directing actors, because I find that they focus so much on the lenses and the gear and the how, look how many K's we have, but they don't focus on.

Lance Henriksen 33:16
Everybody's at them to get information. Right. Right. That's part of the deal. You know, the camera guys, they it's all about he is the core focus of it is getting less. So there are more producers, businessman with they know the answers to everything. Right? Like politicians talk out of both sides of their mouth and out there. And everything. Where the director is responsible. I mean, he's responsible for the approach that there's so many levels. But it's also they've got a bunch of ravens trying to pick their eyeballs out, you know, which are the producers?

Alex Ferrari 34:06
Right? Or the studio execs or something along those lines. Yeah. But is there a way that you would recommend directors working or approaching actors and how they work?

Lance Henriksen 34:17
Well, yeah, I mean, just, I think the only answer is just to be heard. And I think it's up to the actors not to prove, you know, not to do it at an inappropriate time. We've got a guy jump in and jump off the hook onto an airbag and you're talking about what do you think I jump in my car and try to save him? What do I do? You know, I mean, why don't you just shut up and go watch, you know, right now.

Alex Ferrari 34:48
Is it. Is it true? And I want out because I always tell people there's my experience as a director, that actors sometimes if they don't feel safe on set, they will test The director to see if they feel if there's if this is a safe space. And if it's not, they might go rogue, they might protect themselves and they might shut down and they're like, look, I'm here. I got to do what I got to do. But this is obviously I'm not getting the support I need. Do you find that actors do test director sometimes just to see where they're at? in general?

Lance Henriksen 35:20
I don't know what neurosis an actor might bring with him. Sure. I don't have any, any way. I know what I do. Okay. I mean, I, I've done now it looks like somebody said the other day that I've done 300 movies. Well, that's a shocker. Because that's, that's a lot of days, weeks, months and years on a set. Yeah. One thing. I guess one of my favorite. Jim Jarmusch is probably one of the kindest, illuminated humans that I've ever worked with. I remember getting a part in for I forget the name of the movie. And I walked in, and I said, Jim, look, I know, I might not get the part because of what I'm going to say. But, but I don't think anything you wrote for this character that I'm going to play has anything to do with, with acting or whatever it is, you know, I mean, I can improvise everything through this whole movie. And make it work as a Western, you know, with Johnny Depp. And you know, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 36:41
Dead man it was called dead man.

Lance Henriksen 36:45
Yeah, I'm talking so much that I'm forgetting. No, but when I'm talking, I don't think And fair enough. So But anyway, that's what I did in that movie. I improvised the whole role. Wow. Yeah, I remember walking, I had to kill this kid who? This black kid who's, he's got knives. And he's a nasty kind of guide. And he insults me. And I remember walking into a Native American post, and looking at all the stuff, you know, the beautiful jewelry and all that. But there was a brick. And and I said to the guy and there was a car painted on the brick. I said, what is that? And he goes, it's Navajo mentor. And as a wife, okay. When I got on the set, and I shot that kid, he said, he said, he's only my partner said he's only a kid. He's just a kid. And I said, Well, isn't Melbourne on mud toy now? How? Wow. It's like I go through a period of gathering. Unconscious gathering was something that intrigues me. I, I know I'm going to do this move beyond seeing it through the eyes of the character. So so that was a great experience because he just let me fly. That must have been I was an actor anymore. You were being just being

Alex Ferrari 38:34
Yeah, that's amazing. And you also worked on one of my favorite Westerns of all time, the quick and the dead. Quick in the dead. I love clicking a dead.

Lance Henriksen 38:46
Yeah, no, that was a trip. The crew made a they made a thing where they said you cannot kill ace. Mm hmm.

Alex Ferrari 39:01
You were like you were one of the look in that cast was ridiculous. I mean, from Russell Crowe as like a supporting actor. Sharon Stone and Leonardo DiCaprio in you and Sam Raimi is directing and you're just like, a you stood at Jesus. And you stood out like your character was so wonderfully constructed. You played so beautifully. And you're right, like when you when spoiler alert. When you have to end your your scene. I was pissed. I'm like, no,

Lance Henriksen 39:43
No, no. Greet him like that. Right before I went on, I got that little thing with the moustache one thing I didn't know if I was going to use it. But then as Jean was talking me I was going Yeah, Yeah, I shot one guy one, right.

Alex Ferrari 40:05
And how was Sam? How was Sam to work with because I've heard so many wonderful stories about Sam Raimi and as a director working with actors.

Lance Henriksen 40:13
Oh, he was, he was very young, you know, and he was he was so excited about having any camera he wanted anything you wanted. You know, he was he was like, I remember I said, look, look at this wardrobe. I got embroidery all over it. And I said, I, I look like a showman. You know, and so, I went with a buddy of mine, who's Rex Rossi, who was one of the great ropers you know, one of those guys and he, in fact, he was I've wanted him to be my daughter's godfather. And he did, he said, but anyway, I've said, Rex, the guy's a showman, I got to have some way of shooting the card out of this girl's hand and making it a showman, you know? So we started working on and we came up with that flip off the horse, where I just want to turn sideways, flipped off and shot her into the belly. And I showed that to Sam before we did it. And he went, oh, oh, that's in the movie. He was like, yes, that's in the movie. We did it.

Alex Ferrari 41:32
That's that's the thing. Like, I guess that was I think that was probably the first time he was given a real budget and it was a big but I mean, it was a studio project. And he and he had like I could only imagine like having every toy at your disposal with this insane cast

Lance Henriksen 41:49
They set everything up. That was that was one of the great sets.

Alex Ferrari 41:54
Oh, was. It was it was absolutely beautiful. And you also got to work with another director and legendary director, Mr. John Woo. On

Lance Henriksen 42:07
Favorite John was scared because he thought I was going off the deep end, right? Characters so fucking crazy, man. I know. They'll with John. I'm still friends with him. He sent me champagne. I send him pottery, you know? But he's, he's so kind, kind hearted man. He just and he does the most violent films. He's probably getting back at his goats, you know, whatever they are.

Alex Ferrari 42:42
Yeah. And so for everyone listening the movie that that Lance and John worked on was hard target, which was a John Claude Van Damme vehicle back in the 90s. And as Lance's head is twisting left and right as I said this name. But

Lance Henriksen 43:02
Emma's, actually, he's a good guy, and he's very talented. Physically. Sure. Know what I mean? Oh, yeah. You know, he identified seeing when we kicked me in the face. He did a spinning hit. And it just barely touched me. He's so control. Yeah. Made me relax a lot more.

Alex Ferrari 43:25
Yeah, cuz I mean, and this was the first was that what was that the first John Woo American film was a broken arrow. I don't remember if it was that one or broken arrow. I think it might have been the first time he came over from Hong Kong. Yeah, cuz it was I mean, you look at some of these editing. Yeah.

Lance Henriksen 43:45
He was a universal. Yeah, it was universally. One of the producers from the tower would come down and go. How's it going, John? Oh, that scene? What if you cut it that way? And then he'd leave. He would leave. And then another one would come down. He said all I want to do is get out of here. They're not leaving me alone. Keep coming. juggles.

Alex Ferrari 44:19
Now oh, by the way, I have to tell you one of my favorite films I've seen of yours. Which is not one of your better, like best known films, but it impacted me because I saw it on a date. I took my date to see this film in the theater. Yes. And we both loved it. Stone Cold. Oh, Brian Bosworth Brian. Both were stars and you are the main villain as a biker gang. I never forgot that movie. I must have watched that movie a dozen times when I was at video store. I was just he played that part so beautifully. Thank you.

I was a bit fun.

Lance Henriksen 44:56
Changes car. You know what I, again, I do better work when I improvise. Because we had a script the guy, the guy. What happened on that movie was chains was always talking biblical talk literally right out of the Bible, or in the movie, but but in the script, and he got fired. His first dailies came in, I wasn't in any of those scenes, but they saw them and fired him and brought a guy who was really good. Craig Baxley. And Higley, Craig had done stunts and stunts, you know, all kinds of movies and, and Craig came in, and I met him when it came in from the airport. And I met him and I was sitting in the lobby waiting for him. When he came in, and I said, Greg, can we have a beer together or something? Let's talk about this. Because your script, you read it? It's, it's, it's really abusive shit. I mean, it was bad. You know, I don't know how he got the job. The other director, I don't even know. But But anyway. So he said, Well, what are we going to do? Because I said, the dialogue is shit, all of it. So he said, What do you want to do? And I said, Well, we'll get there. If our call time is six. I'll get there at five with, with. Let's just face football. prions was, yeah, but yeah. So and We'll improvise. We'll just improvise the whole scene. We know what it has to actually was, you know, improvise. So that's what we did.

Alex Ferrari 46:57
It worked out, really. So every every every piece of dialogue almost was completely just. Yeah. That's brilliant. That makes that that's a nice little tidbit about that. I mean, over over the course of your career, Lance. I mean, you've been on set like you just said, you've done close at 300 over 300 projects. You've been on set so many times. What was the project or the day that was that stands out in your history in your mind? As like, Man, this is really, how are we going to get out of this? Like, you feel like everything's coming crashing down around you? What was that day? And how did you get through it? How did you make it through that day?

Lance Henriksen 47:42
I try to get those. There's a whole group of movies that I've done. They're called alimony films.

Alex Ferrari 47:52
You said that to me. You said that to me when we work together.

Lance Henriksen 47:56
It's good to know that that's that's real. Yeah. A lot of actors take movies that the only one that's there, they need money, you know, blah, blah, blah. And I've done some of those that were like, oh my god, I thought you know, you. You don't want to be seen on the street when that comes out. You don't want to do, right. I only see my movies once. And then I don't look at them ever again. You know, the only one that I might have watched more than once was powder. Yeah, sugar powder.

Alex Ferrari 48:34
I love powder.

Lance Henriksen 48:35
I thought that that was a really good movie. But, you know, some other political shit happened. I didn't go to release but but you know what? You got to take the good with the bad. You really do? I mean, try to do something. I have a will that says don't give up, man. You know, just be there. Be there even for a bad situation. You know, don't don't don't run away. Because that then you turn into a runaway

Alex Ferrari 49:13
Now is there.

Lance Henriksen 49:15
You have to go with it. I would. I would like to mention some of those big only because they tried everybody tried. Sure. Yeah. And they were stricken by a lot of different things. Like look oh can happen on a sir. When you when you see this wonderful woman. She was when I met her. She was a Steadicam operator, very strong woman and wonderful and beautiful. And you know, and she gets shot on a set. That's that's the ultimate total thing. I mean, it's over. Once that happens. I mean, it's over. Right? You fix in you know It's gonna be an ugly thing for a long time. But anyway, that's how bad it can get. I've never been hurt on the side. In my 300 movies never been hurt. And I've done physical shit wherever anybody, I don't care. You know, I'm still doing it. It's like I'm not. I'll probably just drop dead quickly one day, you know? Okay, well, it's a rap.

Alex Ferrari 50:30
It's a rap. And where's Lance Lance is he's got he's got a new cast, they call he's got a new cast, they call. Now, out of all of your movies, and all the people you work with, which is the craziest story that you can share publicly?

Lance Henriksen 50:53
I did a movie called The visitor. Yeah, I was young. Yeah. It's like the the hot young guy in that movie. They just there was Glenn Ford, Shelley Winters, all these actors that we all know from the 40s. You. They were in John Hughes cheeses. All these guys and I got to talk to John. Finally, one day after we made a joke. And he said, Okay, look, I don't want to come back last. So let's do it now. He's like my hero. And I said, Okay, let's let's do it. And I'm staring at him. And he goes, you have the first lines last, so I'm sorry, John. I got my first direction from John Houston. So

Alex Ferrari 51:55
Not a bad Not bad. Not bad.

Lance Henriksen 52:00
Not a bad moment.

Alex Ferrari 52:03
Can we talk a little bit about your new film? Okay.

Lance Henriksen 52:09
The visitor? Yeah. Yeah, I did in Rome. Okay. We go to Rome. The movie turns to shit. I don't know why.

Alex Ferrari 52:20
Because Pirana wasn't Parana shot.

Lance Henriksen 52:24
No, yeah. That was an Italian producer. Yes. Yes. I've never worked in Rome again.

Alex Ferrari 52:32
But your visit, but your visit. Now, tell me about your new film Alpha drift. How did you enjoy working on that?

Lance Henriksen 52:43
I gotta tell you, I was impressed with him and took that movie. Because he started is almost like with a grain of sand. You know, he made key chains with the alphabet symbol on it. And every day, he was battling budget every day. And that's why that was done years ago. And now it's coming out. You know, I think almost three years, two or three years. But he was tenacious. He's a guy that we'll talk about. I won't give up. And then he would, he would do what good movie makers do they wangle what they want. I want a McLaren. And one of his people pull some strings. And they got a McLaren. That is the most expensive car in the world. There's some have sold for $13 million at least a million to drive it. And the owner was standing by the fucking camera shaking. Because it's so fast. If you just touched that gas, you're gonna fly down, you know, Moon, you're gone. And again, that's an example of making do as good as you can. With limited, you know, with limited choices, and you did very well with it. His location choices were were good choices because he was containing it. You know, I mean, I wanted to do it. I just felt I didn't. I didn't really understand it. When I first started the hell I was, you know, you know, it's, it's a very it's a very, almost like looking back into time. In a way. They're dragging the past into the present. And saying to a young man, you're genetically right. You are the next whatever. Why I had to respect it and do the best I could, you know, I mean, with what we had. And and it was, and it looks like he pulled it off because he got distribution. I'm really, I'm super happy for him. I really am.

Alex Ferrari 55:18
Yeah. And we'll put and we'll put links on where you guys can watch Alpha drift afterwards. It does look fantastic. It's a good fit. It's a family film. So it looks like a lot of fun.

Lance Henriksen 55:26
There isn't a real rough moment in it. Well, listen, killings, but sure, your demons so it's not. You Have you noticed how violent all the movies are like on YouTube and all these cable things?

Alex Ferrari 55:47
It makes it it makes the 80s look tame.

Lance Henriksen 55:51
Oh, yeah, it's more murders than you can imagine. Right and peak ruimin You know, where you're seeing a little bit? Not a lot, you know, there. But it's just the whole porridge. They're like remakes of movies that are still out. You can

Alex Ferrari 56:09
Look I look. When they remade point break. I was like, stop it. Is that that is a masterpiece of its time. You can't really?

Lance Henriksen 56:21
Yeah, what you can't you can't remake that. They're just going over to I think screenwriters Guild and saying, Can I read a bunch of these scripts? And they do. And then they write out a clone of that script.

Alex Ferrari 56:35
It's, it's, it's because everyone because if you know, you know this better than most that the whole town is run by fear. So you know, because it's run by fear. They're like, well, this is has an established audience that they think is going to come out but like, perfect example. Any executives listening out there? You bring a movie like point break out there who's a generation who's gonna watch Point Break my generation, the one that grew up with Point Break? Really? What are we going to run out to see Point Break? The remake? No. And then the new kids are going to be like, what's that? Oh, skydiving? Oh, that's not a big deal. But in 1990, whatever it was when it came out. No one had really seen before.

Lance Henriksen 57:17
No, you're right. Right. So it's different. Reaction, a lot of stories. Even Korean movie companies are doing their we our movies, their movies, or doesn't matter.

Alex Ferrari 57:35
But the funny thing is that the that the era that they're mining, was allowed to be creative. Where you could make a Gremlins of Goonies a Terminator, and aliens, you know, can you imagine trying to launch an aliens franchise now without the IP of aliens? But can you imagine just alien in it just wouldn't wouldn't be not not in the studio system you'd have to do in in the independent world.

Lance Henriksen 58:03
I think I think that's a great description what's going on now? Which made me feel like I never want to be a director. I have no interest at all. I'm a better supporter of a director. Alright, then, you know, of wanting to be one who 100 people a day, hitting you up for answers? Who the hell wants to live like that?

Alex Ferrari 58:31
I love it. Some people are built like that.

Lance Henriksen 58:36
But see, you maybe will break out into your dream so totally, that it will be what you want it to do. But I have no desire. I'm in a job that I shouldn't be doing.

Alex Ferrari 58:50
Right. And I have like, I've had to act a couple times in my life in front of the camera and it. No, no, thank you. It's not what I like to do. It is terrifying. I have such respect. Oh my god, it's an it even when I was playing myself on camera for a movie. It still was terrifying for me. I was like, oh my god, this is horrible. I don't want to be in front of camera ever again.

Lance Henriksen 59:17
You feel a lot better. Yeah. That's it. Okay. Looks from a different mother. But

Alex Ferrari 59:26
Now I'm going to ask you a few questions. I asked all of my guests. Lance. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Lance Henriksen 59:35
God, that's hard. I just did a movie. And it's called the artifice girl. And a guy named Franklin rich directed it wrote it. He's even in it. It's a three act movie. I feel I feel like it's one of the most interesting roles I've ever done. Yeah, and he wrote it, he did it. And the relationship during the shooting was this was in Florida. This is gonna come out and peep is so original and so good. I mean, I'm proud of it. I'm proud of I really am. I mean, I've done like three movies over the last year or so. And they're all different. They're all different. Sure. And I've been lucky. I mean, there's no word to touch you. But anyway, it's, I've been blessed with a career.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:40
Absolutely. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Lance Henriksen 1:00:48
Wait, say that again?

Alex Ferrari 1:00:49
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Lance Henriksen 1:00:57
I think there's a pocket in all brands where we have a fantasy world apart. And it's like a, it's probably a different organ and I was born with it. I didn't know I had it. But really what it's about, I think, is learning how to be a human, you know, a humanity. That I think when I see people be kind to somebody else. I am. I just get a lift. I get a jolt, right. We're slipping through some nasty shit right now. Excuse my friends. Sure. That we really need to see the best in people and not not fucking punish them because they made a mistake. And even in dialogue, everybody wants to punish somebody. I blame I blame politicians for all

Alex Ferrari 1:01:57
Yeah, I

Lance Henriksen 1:01:59
I think that whole system sucks.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:03
Well, I think they've been saying that says politics were created. Yeah. Now and last question, if you can answer this three of your favorite films of all time.

Lance Henriksen 1:02:18
Oh, yeah. Well, they are the 80s films. I mean, it's certainly aliens. Your dark the ones you mentioned there. And Jim Jarmusch his movie dead man. Yeah, I love that card is total killer. But even killers have a soul?

Alex Ferrari 1:02:43
Well, that's the thing. You have played a lot of bad guys in your day. And you always bring humanity to all of those bad guys. And I think that's what makes a good bad guy is that there's something it's not if you're just twisting your your mustache literally and going Haha, I'm just bad to be bad. It's boring. You know, we're not in. It's yeah, it's not 1910 anymore. We're not on a train track anymore. Bad guys need to have depth. And you brought that to every bad guy ever seen you play

Lance Henriksen 1:03:10
Some of these action movies that are on you know, like Netflix. Really well done. Especially the Chinese ones. South Korean ones. They're in terms of action movies, these guys. And they're way ahead of us now. I mean, it's like an occasionally there's one of those movies with American. Right. Mariah good.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:44
Yeah. All right, kill him and make it a lot. Kill him a lot.

Lance Henriksen 1:03:50
A lot, a lot. And then he comes back and a lot more than that.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:55
Oh, no, I didn't it. Um, Frank Grillo, the actor Frank Grillo. He's like one of the biggest movie stars in the Chinese market because he just plays the American bad guy.

Lance Henriksen 1:04:06
You want to hear something? Yeah. Yeah. The Chinese is smart. i The Macao International Film Festival was on when falling was shown there. The one I did with Vigo they gave me best actor. Wow. shockers. Here's the shocker. I mean, I was done that I got this wonderful actress, you know, gave it to me and all this stuff. But what blew me away was China. Love this American story. They love the movie. I mean, it was and this is our story. This is a guy slipping into dementia and a son. And it's it's just I was like gave the the award away I gave it said the guy that worked with me when I was preparing for that movie. You know, he worked with me for a month and when I got the award I I look up and I got a bunch of awards. My daughter when she was five used to polish them, that's about what they're worth, you know, I mean, but I knew that if I gave it to this young young kid who was really smart and he studied acting in Ireland and stuff he's really bright. And I knew I needed to stir the pot I really need to find a way to make it real and Vigo would come over and we we'd rehearse a little bit you know and stuff. But he deserved it. I wanted him to be happy that he had that experience because the movie speaks for itself. The movies is what it is is wonderful movie less skilled our release. And Corona just shot.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:13
Lance it has been an absolute honor and pleasure talking to you my friend it I mean I can keep talking to you for at least five or six more days. Just to try to go over your career. But is

Lance Henriksen 1:06:26
Dan Lance by the way, let's let's leave it with him. Here's a guy who inevitably will make movies with the budget he needs. And you'll have this but he did this all by himself. This is like him and his friends. It's not a it's not a low budget looking film at all.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:50
No, you're talking about Alpha drift. Alpha drift

Lance Henriksen 1:06:54
Yes, kids will like it.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:57
I iIThank you for your time my friend and also thank you for your for the work that you've done as an artist throughout your career. It is it is is definitely affected my life over the years and it was again an honor working with you on my little short film all those years ago. So thank you again, my friend and continued health and success team, my friend.

Lance Henriksen 1:07:19
I'll see you down the road. There's more to come!

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BPS 355: How to Build a Production Company with Michael D. Ratner

Today on the show we have entrepreneur and filmmaker Michael D. Ratner.

Michael founded OBB Pictures in 2016 and under his leadership the company has grown into OBB Media, an award winning production company and studio with divisions in film, TV, digital, podcasts, branded content, and social good.

In addition to running OBB and expanding the business, Ratner continues to act as a multi-hyphenate leading creative on OBB’s marquee projects. Ratner recently directed and executive produced the Amazon Studios Justin Bieber: Our World film.

Justin Bieber: Our World takes viewers backstage, onstage and into the private world of the global superstar as he prepares for a record-breaking New Year’s Eve 2020 concert. After a three-year hiatus from a full concert, Bieber delivers an electrifying performance on the rooftop of the Beverly Hilton Hotel for 240 invited guests —and millions of fans across the globe watching via livestream. Produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker Michael D. Ratner, the94minute documentary follows Bieber and his team for the month leading up to the show as they rehearse and construct a monumental stage set. The film also captures personal self-shot moments between Bieber and his wife Hailey through the artist’s own lens.

Earlier that year, he directed and executive produced the critically acclaimed SXSW 2021 opening night headlining film Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil.

Demi Lovato holds nothing back in this powerful four part documentary series exploring every aspect that led to their nearly fatal overdose in 2018, and her awakenings in the aftermath. Director Michael D. Ratner is granted unprecedented access to the superstar’s personal and musical journey during the most trying time of their life as they unearth prior traumas and discovers the importance of physical, emotional, and mental health. Far deeper than an inside look beyond the celebrity surface, this is an intimate portrait of addiction, and the process of healing and empowerment.

Prior to that, the Justin Bieber: Seasons docuseries, which broke the record for YouTube Originals as the most-viewed premiere ever globally. These projects focus on helping to normalize and foster dialogue around mental health, conversations around self worth, and supporting causes for social good.

Ratner is also the creator, showrunner, director and executive producer of Cold as Balls, the comedy series starring Kevin Hart, which has garnered over 1.8 billion viewers to date and just wrapped its fifth season, and is available on Peacock. Ratner executive produced and directed on &Music for Quibi, and executive produced The Harder Way for ESPN+.

He directed and produced Justin Bieber’s music video Intentions, which featured Bieber and Quavo highlighting the stories of 3 Los Angeles women’s struggles, and launched the Intentions Fund. Ratner also co-directed the music video for Dancing With The Devil, alongside Demi Lovato, which was the lead single from their last studio album. Both music videos were nominated for VMAs.

Prior to that, Ratner served as executive producer and director on OBB’s Historical Roasts for Netflix. Ratner has also produced and/or directed a number of films that have premiered at Sundance, Tribeca, and SXSW, including Gonzo @ the Derby for ESPN’s acclaimed 30 for 30 series, which followed Hunter S. Thompson’s trip to the Kentucky Derby and is narrated by Sean Penn.

Ratner has been recognized by Variety Hollywood’s Creative New Leaders list as well as Forbes 30 Under 30 Hollywood & Entertainment. Prior to that, Ratner graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania and went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts in film directing, writing, and producing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Enjoy my inspiring conversation with Michael D. Ratner.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show Michael D. Ratner. How're you doing, Michael?

Michael D. Ratner 0:14
How are you?

Alex Ferrari 0:15
I'm good, man. I'm good. How's How's life treating you in this weird, wacky world we live in?

Michael D. Ratner 0:21
Making it through weird and wacky.

Alex Ferrari 0:23
Weird, weird and wacky ohh god. And you're doing productions left and right. And I'm assuming you never know what's gonna happen if someone gets positive or not. But it's just such a weird world, man we're living in.

Michael D. Ratner 0:36
Yeah, it's I don't remember shooting prior to this. Yeah, I gotta say, though, it's been it's been great. We have managed to stay shooting the entire time. We pivoted early. We did a we do the show a Kevin Hart called cold as balls. And that was the first virtual shoot. We did like the second week into COVID in 2020. And then we went right into dancing with the devil. And we've been nonstop testing is now like, in the DNA of what you do in a day for a film shoot. So it's too well,

Alex Ferrari 1:07
And masks everywhere. Like before, you know, Michael Jackson looked like a weirdo. But now not so much.

Michael D. Ratner 1:13
No, no, it's it's that that is not something it's an accessory. That's totally it's like a watch.

Alex Ferrari 1:20
I mean, is there gonna be a time we're not gonna wear it? Like, I can't even I can't even walk out the door now without wearing one. It just freaks me out. If I don't have one on. It's crazy. Yeah. So let's, so how did you get started in this insane business that we call the film industry?

Michael D. Ratner 1:34
So i Good question. You know, and sort of one of those answers that I feel like what other people said, I roll my eyes, but it's the truth. I don't remember a time when I didn't want to do this. You know, I remember being super young. And my, my father had, actually I keep it here. I could turn the camera and show you. Yeah, it's, it's in my stack of stuff. I have a VHS camera. That was my father's. And I taught myself how to use it. And, you know, I would run around the house, and I would shoot everything. And I remember my mom would be like, in a robe in the morning. She's like, Why are you shooting me, you know, and I just would like, run around. And, and I would I like I like, you know, my brother and I like the WWE at the time and matches and, you know, I would come in and create storylines, and, and then I taught myself how to edit. And I you know, it was it was really interesting. And it was a time when you could teach yourself how to do things. And, you know, when I went to high school, I remember teachers, you know, the one specific one, I remember it was Catcher in the Rye, and we're supposed to do a essay on it. And I asked the teacher Her name was, I think it was Mrs. Yeah, it was, it was Mrs. Clapper. She, she she? I said, you know, I'd like to make a film about this rather than a paper which said, you just want to mess around with your friends and shoot something. And I said, No. I said, Actually, I think I could do something that speaks even more powerfully than an essay. And she said, No. And I said, Well, what if I do that? Plus, I write the essay, will you show it in class? And she said yes to that, because it was even more work. And I remember the feeling I had when people watch that. And it worked. I knew what I wanted to do with my life.

Alex Ferrari 3:27
Yeah, I had a similar experience with a I had high a camera that my grandpa gave me. And I used to run around I used to and I did the same thing. A teacher business law, teachers, like, Hey, can I shoot a, you know, this this promo? And she's like, Sure. And the whole climate, it was standing room only because it was I was in the 90s, like, early 90s. So it's still someone shooting something was like, what? Now it's like everybody shoots. But

Michael D. Ratner 3:54
Yeah, I think it wasn't, I don't remember other kids running around doing it the way like high school at least. And you know, I was in Rauzan Hebrew school shooting stuff, and I would have my friends come over and I you know, we'd been put them in costumes and stuff, and I just loved it. I love that feeling when I knew I had something that was gonna make people laugh, and I was waiting and in the, you know, auditorium or in the classroom, and it was such a high and it was entertaining people and having something to say and getting your personality out there. And I just thought, I guess back then I didn't really realize like, oh, I want to make it a business and I want to make money doing it. It was more so just I loved it. And then, you know, you start to learn about life and realize that you can really, really make this work and you start getting inspired by people and next thing you know, here you are.

Alex Ferrari 4:45
Now is was there a film that kind of lit the fire? Was there like that one you're like oh my god, I have to do this?

Michael D. Ratner 4:53
You know, my answer is the, the answer is I I remember seeing early Adam Sandler movies. I remember seeing

Alex Ferrari 5:03
Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison.

Michael D. Ratner 5:06
Yep, I remember seeing those movies and being like, wow, like, This is so fucking cool. Can you curse?

Alex Ferrari 5:15
In the occasional F bomb is fine.

Michael D. Ratner 5:17
There'll be, that'll be the only one but it that's how I felt at the time, right. And I was like, This is amazing. And I wasn't so deep that I knew whether I wanted to be a producer, director, writer, actor, comedian, like it was just this is magic, this makes this is so cool. And then I remember the first one that really is an interesting one to note because I was a bit older at this point. But I remember the one that actually spoke to me a bit because it was this coming of age story. And I thought that such heart was super bad. I remember seeing Yeah, yeah. And I remember going man like, this is such this is I know high school like this. And I know these stories. So those are a couple films that I remember seeing. And there's some other Judd Apatow films and stuff. But yeah, those are those are sort of when I was like, Man, this is this is so incredible. You can make people laugh, and you could tell stories that have heart in a relatable. And I do I remember, I remember those moments,

Alex Ferrari 6:14
Was your first directing gigs in music videos?

Michael D. Ratner 6:18
So my first A directing like, I mean, I can tell you the countless things that I directed that were just horrible. And nobody's ever seen because there's, there's 1000s, right. And I would like and I for so long. I was ashamed of just how bad they were. I don't know what I was doing. But the first thing I directed that I felt was was solid was in films, I went to UPenn undergrad. And I majored in film and English, but I really was just learning about cinema cinema studies, you weren't learning how to be a filmmaker per se. Then I went to NYU grad film school. And that's where I really learned how to be a filmmaker. And I think that program is so phenomenal. And I made a film there called the 30 year old bris, which was about an interfaith couple. And it takes the night before the guys get circumcised. And that film got into Tribeca. It was you know, I think, a 1012 minute short film. And that was the first thing I directed that started getting a little buzz. And, you know, then I got into some music videos and stuff from there. But it was really that film at Tisch, that was the first one that I was like, Oh, I think this is, you know, this is working.

Alex Ferrari 7:26
Now, you know, we I've been directing for 20 odd years as well. And there's always that day, when you're on set, that you feel like the entire world is gonna come crashing down around you, you're losing the sun, the camera broke card isn't working, someone deleted the last 33 hours you shot, you know, something happens was, is there something that sticks out in your mind that happened on a day or in a project? And how did you overcome it as a director?

Michael D. Ratner 7:55
Wow, it's like, take your pick, right?

Alex Ferrari 7:57
It's a daily basis, right?

Michael D. Ratner 7:58
Yeah, I've had every thing that you just said, Because I mean, I started off as a scrappy filmmaker, like I remember, you know, you become, you don't take anything for granted. You know, I started OPB and I have this company now where every role is fulfilled, and I show up and I'm the director and I'm able to just like do my thing and leave. But there is a certain you don't soon forget the roles of everybody on your on your set, if you really did them all. And I'm so grateful for those brutal times that I tried to, you know, really be the best location sound person that I could be and the times that I did hold the boom, because you know, I'm you can't see my full body and physique here. I'm not exactly cut out for for that and that's brutal job. Oh, it's brutal. And, and understanding why you need to get room tone and understanding that somebody, if your call time is that 6am needs to go get the truck to get the lights and that's at 3am and you do all of that. And you know you have you you I remember peeing in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, you know, before I went to film school and I was in charge of going and driving this like broken down van from Pittsburgh to to Johnstown, I thought I was gonna like die because the wheels were gonna fall off. And those those experiences really make you a much, much better leader and director. And I'm very grateful that I had those experiences while in the moment you don't see it. So yeah, there's countless examples of not really knowing that you should be backing up your drives, and it's like a whole day's work gets knocked down. That's like, you know, what's the night? So I have had all of that. But you make it work and you keep going. And, you know, nothing's ever what it was supposed to be. Nothing's ever what was scripted. Nothing's ever what you have Your head but ends up being something special. So there's, there's so many different examples that John's done when I haven't talked about that in probably 10 years. That was, that was crazy because I was the PA, I was so excited to shadow the director, I thought I was gonna be able to do that. They're like, hey, there's a van four hours away, you need to go get it and then combat you know, that was the whole day. And I really I remember it broke down. And you know, I was like, I'm gonna get fired from this first eyelet ever, because I'm not going to get this band here. And you know, it all works out.

Alex Ferrari 10:29
Oh, dude, I was I was interning at a at a show for Fox at Universal Studios and the producers like, hey, the producer wants to talk to you. I'm like, oh, shoot, like the showrunner wants to talk to me. And I go into his office, like, I like what you've been doing here, kid, and I have a special project for you. I'm like, what, what is it he's like, I need you to help me move.

Michael D. Ratner 10:48
It that gives you a lot of time to then go and find your moment to make an impression.

Alex Ferrari 10:59
Exactly, exactly!

Michael D. Ratner 11:00
You know what I pay so much attention to that, who's who's who looks like they're just there to help and be a positive influence and voice. And you know, that that doesn't go unnoticed if you pick the pocket and you play those situations, right. And I think that, again, all the all of those experiences and doing all these different roles and for you, you know, you will be in charge and you will be making those choices. And if you really know what you're talking about versus if you don't, it becomes really clear and people want to work for people that they feel like you've done it before.

Alex Ferrari 11:34
Right! No, no quies Yeah, it man as a season a season crew can smell can smell it a five minutes in if the directors with knows what they're doing or not like, and they will roll you over, depending on where you are in the world. La crew, New York crew, they even Atlanta crew, they're gonna all season guys and gals, they will run over you because they just don't have the patience for it. I've had the pleasure of talking to a lot of you know, really amazing guests on my show. And one thing I've always wondered, I always ask is about this thing that I can't believe some of these Oscar winners and Emmy winners and imposter syndrome. And it's a thing that, you know, I feel it. I mean, but writers feel it everything. I was wondering if you've ever had to deal with that on your own meaning like, sometimes I've talked to some guys who you know, literally win Oscars. I'm like, do you haven't yet sometimes on my last movie that it was $100 million. I felt like any moment now security was gonna come in and go, This guy doesn't know what he's doing. Come on, get him out of here. Is it just an artist thing? Or do you do? Do you ever feel that I mean, like an a normal artist would? And how do you deal with it? If you do feel it?

Michael D. Ratner 12:47
I try to spin that positively. I try to and the answer is of course. Because it like another word for that is insecurity. Right? Sure. Right. And I try to think to myself in those moments, you know, hard work pays off. And, you know, nobody knows what they're doing. But we're gonna figure it out. And also just first, I'm so happy. I didn't have like early, early, early success, amen. And then the reason for that is, it's always with you. And it's not like it took me forever. I feel very lucky that I, that I'm that I am where I am right now at my age, and it's not lost on me. But it didn't happen right away for me at all. And you get told no. So frequently. It's almost like you just you need to be Teflon, because every day you have an idea. You're like, oh, yeah, cool, like call me back in a couple of weeks or like no, just know, right? And sudden, Yeah, that sucks. That's where you Was that a joke? Exactly. And and you get deflated. And then you get back up. And I think that people are making this business are like wildly resilient. Right? And I think that you, you basically go and get to a point where you remember those noes and people start all the sudden saying yes, and then eventually you're actually gonna have to turn stuff down, which is such a foreign concept when you're when you're starting your career. And I think in those moments of frustration, or you're not sure if you're, if you belong and whatnot, I try to just think back to all I must be doing something right, I'm here, right? And those noes turned into yeses, and I try my best not to get riddled with anxiety and frustration. I'd say try because I fail at this sometimes. Right? And I try to just think you dreamed of this. So let's just figure it out. Just go for it and not go and cave or fold. You know, I gotta say one of the I mentioned before that Kevin Hart show that we do is about to enter season six. Kevin and I actually had a conversation. Very early on we started working together. And I asked him I said it shouldn't you be on a beach, like just sipping like a Mai Tai, like, what are we doing here? Because he just like he this guy has worked harder than anybody. He's the consummate Pro. And he did. He said to me, he said, I remember all those nose. He said, I'm still catching it. You think I'd say yes to a lot. I'm catching up for all the nose because he didn't make it right. Oh, no took him in. And I related to it so much. So I don't know, I try to think more about that, you know, it doesn't exactly answer your question. But in those moments, like, you know, do I belong? Or am I like, here, like, have this? I just tried to go like, yes, we are. And like, we're gonna figure it out. And we don't know everything, because nobody does. And let's just, let's grind. You know, one funny story that really answers your question is I was once I really liked this film, and thought I could make a difference. In a later stage, you know, I didn't know that you could come into a film that's already in the can and edit and help and make an impact like this early on in my career. And I was on this call that I never should have been on because I was super young, and like, trying to like show that I had great ideas. So you know, but I didn't know what I was doing. I've never done it before. And I remember they asked me a simple question. And I said, I think our connections bad Hold on, and I Googled it. I didn't know how to and I didn't even know what they were talking about. Google, I was like, ah, yeah, you know, and that's just the hustle. The Hustle. You know, you There you go. Your hat says that right. And that doesn't mean be a BS artist, far from it. But like, hustle, ask questions, ask for help and just roll with it. We're all on the same situation.

Alex Ferrari 16:37
No, no question now. Yeah, I was gonna ask you about Kevin Kevin Hart's cold balls, which is I've seen by the way, I've seen many episodes, I friggin I'm a huge Kevin Hart fan, like, Who is it? I mean, who is it? What is it like working with? A I've heard the same thing from people that worked with him. Nothing but a professional, wonderful to work with. Just there on time, does his job makes people laugh? And it's just working hard. What is it like working with them? And is there something you've taken away from? You know, just working with a star of that caliber, um, he's he's a worldwide, huge star,

Michael D. Ratner 17:17
Mega bankable movie star in multi hyphenate CEO, business owner, Kevin and I had many converse. I mean, obviously, you know, I own and run OB, which is one hat I direct. That's another hat I produce. And he's a guy with a lot of dashes, if you were to put try to introduce him, right. And what I'll say is, he has it, and I might say, but just, there is something about he's special. I mean, the way his brain works, the way he reads a script, and just knows it immediately, like he inside out something about his brain is different. And he is gifted. What makes Kevin Hart Kevin Hart is there's that plus this crazy work ethic. Plus this, like, you know, charm and everything else. He's hilarious. But he has this intangible gift that I mean, it's so much study his brain, he's got this crazy mind and memory and gift. And then you pair that with all the other checkboxes of things he has. And you get Kevin Hart. But yeah, I mean, you work with a guy like that. And you're just in the presence of, you know, someone who's really, really great.

Alex Ferrari 18:26
Yeah. And, you know, I've had the pleasure of working with with those kinds of stars, and you just know it when they walk in the room. There's just that thing that's intangible. It's there. It's like, oh, yeah, that's why they're huge movie star. I get it. Now. They don't have to say a word. You just go.

Michael D. Ratner 18:40
Yeah, it goes beyond confidence, or the way they carry themselves. It's, it's something it's like this special aura. And, you know, I, I work with a lot of really talented people. And I think I have a real knack for getting great performances from people in scripted and unscripted in movies and TV and in what have you, right. And I think that that skill set, I can navigate the medium, whether it's, by the way, an audio, we have an audio division, like, I think I know how to go and communicate and get those things done. So I have a certain way of going about it. And you know, with Kevin specifically, anytime that I go to do my normal course, he just requires so much less and or none at all, you know, and it's just like, and I'm always like, man, I'll see how this goes. And he nails it nails it every time. So the prep work just and that's not to say that he's some guy that shows up and doesn't do prep, whatever he's doing is working. And it's just like, go for it and and never disappoints. He never seems like he doesn't know what he's talking about. And I'll always be ready to go with a note and he'll just do it on his own. It's amazing. It's amazing.

Alex Ferrari 19:53
Now you've obviously you've direct a lot of music videos. Is there anything that you brought from your music video experience into documentary, because you have made a handful of documentaries pretty high profile ones at that.

Michael D. Ratner 20:06
Yeah, um, I think that I like mixing the worlds like, I think that music videos are so stylistic, you know, you can stylize them so much. And in a very competitive world where there's so many dogs right now, making stylistic choices to make yours rise up and feel special and different is a great move. Like, you know, we were the opening night headliner, film at South by Southwest this year with dance with the devil and with Demi, and the opening sequence of it's a four part piece. And the opening sequence basically plays like this, like XR, music video. And it's got all these little like riddled pieces of the story that are symbolic. And if you were to play that piece straight through, it actually tells a story. It's more music video than it is Doc. But it's an opening sequence, right? I think I took that from sort of my music video brain. And I think that when making doc, specifically music docs, I like to take parts of the creative and what makes those musicians so, so special, and put that into the DNA of the filmmaking in some capacity. And sometimes then that sort of gets meld with more music, video type motifs. And it's fun to sort of weave in and add up.

Alex Ferrari 21:32
Now, you know, I've seen some of your Doc's and you you're able to get your subjects to open up to you, and be very, very vulnerable. What tips do you have for filmmakers listening to be able to do that? I mean, then you're doing it with some of the biggest, you know, stars in the world, which I'm assuming is a whole other level of comfortable that you have to get in order to do that. But what what suggestions do you have for filmmakers out there?

Michael D. Ratner 22:00
Forget about the cameras worrying about. And I what I mean by that is not forget that they're there, that's a very obvious thing. But what I mean is, whatever day you plan to shoot, you better be working on your relationship with that person, in a very, non transactional way, way earlier on, and that means, forget that you're directing them, forget that you're one day sitting down from a very genuine place, you need to care about that person, and you need to care about the story you're telling. And the vulnerability that you're referring to is earned. It's not just happenstance. And that's a comfort level of many, many off the record conversations. And, you know, you ultimately get to a point where you understand what's your Northstar? You got to be on the same page with people to What are you trying to accomplish? And, you know, why should they trust you, and you need to go and have those hard and difficult conversations, depending on what the subject matter is. But I think whether it's light, or whether it's super heavy, you need to have that relationship, and that takes time and energy and that stuff. There's no instant gratification with that, you know, you're nobody's gonna applaud you and be like, you're such a great director, this film was so great. And you're not even going to know yourself, you talk about being in security, not going to yourself, if you're if you're going to achieve what you're looking to collectively with that person, but just put in the time and, and then, you know, ask those questions in a way that are more conversational, I think, you know, I've said this before, publicly, but like, there is this moment when I can tell that the interview is turned into a conversation. And the second that's happened, that's when you really start to speak in a way that's just so special. And and it all comes down to trust in your relationship. And, you know, that just means you got to put the time in, like, with all things.

Alex Ferrari 24:00
Yeah, it's funny, I've had I've had that experience with my guests sometimes where I, I'm talking to them, and they forget that we're recording and they start asking, like, personal questions and like, hey, where do you live? And I, you know, maybe we could have like, dude, who recording stuff. And then oh, yeah, I forgot. I forgot. Did you fall into that? And that's the magic place that's really is a magic place.

Michael D. Ratner 24:19
Yeah. And, you know, there's also, you know, so one could argue, well, if you're too close, you know exactly what they want. Are you going to be too subjective in what you're saying? You know, the answer is no, you know, you can tell an objective story while understanding someone's heart and what they're after and why they're doing something. You know, one of the most interesting things with some of the really, you know, large tentpole movies and projects that I've made as of late with big stars, in the dark space, specifically is, you know, it's really unique for that vulnerability and that window into these people's lives. Sometimes the good, the bad and the ugly for people to do that while they're in there. Prime. I think that's really unique to my work, right? It's easy to see many people later on in life, I got nothing to lose, here's what happened back in the day, you know? Cool, that's really cool that is, but there's something really special about somebody who has everything to lose who's in the middle of it doesn't need to be doing that, talking about those things, because they want to connect with their fans and relate and you know, specifically to call out, you know, Demi Lovato and Justin Bieber, who both did that in our respective projects, you know, seasons dancing with the devil, I think are two prime examples of I am struggling, and I am dealing with mental health issues, and I'm dealing with Trump. And that's because I'm a human being has nothing to do with that I'm a celebrity. That is so bold, and that has nothing to do with me, those are choices that they each made, and I was there to help facilitate their vision, which was really special.

Alex Ferrari 25:53
You know, it's so funny, because I think in the era that I grew up, you know, I mean, I'm, I'm a bit older than you. But I mean, I remember when Michael Jackson and Madonna and you know, all those big stars of the 80s and 90s. They they're put on these pedestals and they don't, they're not shown as human. Yeah, they're, they're just, they're just the things almost. And they never showed vulnerability, ever, because that wasn't expected of them. But in today's generation, and today's artists, it's almost expect like the Billy Eilish is of the world and they are expected to be vulnerable, and to be authentic and not packaged. Because fans want authenticity. People want authenticity, they are not going to just Oh, you're pretty great. There's 1000 Other pretty people behind you. What makes you special. Oh, you can send great, there's 1000 other people who can see really great to what makes you special. And and your dogs really kind of opened up those doors to two of the largest stars in the world right now.

Michael D. Ratner 26:54
Yeah, totally. Yeah, I think that that is the different different, you know, differentiator, like I think that, you know, the ability to go and sure Instagram, you get like 15 second clips into people's lives. But I always say people have like their Instagram personality. It's not live course. Yeah, way on there. And it's quick, and it's that, but like, that is access, right? We didn't used to get that access with Michael Jackson, or some of the artists you named, that didn't really, you know, obviously exist, but I still think these Doc's are that makes it even harder, right? Because it's like, oh, well, you're getting a window. And so what makes the dock special, you know, we've already seen them inside their house. So we've already gotten the unfiltered version, it's like, kind of that's still a bit of not polished, it's polished, or it's raw for a specific reason. Like it's, you know, it's it's raw, but like the what we've tried to do is really tell a story, and I don't believe that you need you need an hour and a half or two hours tell a story. I don't believe that you need half an hour, I believe that story and duration and what's happening in content right now with all of the different options on district distributor and, you know, varying agnostic lengths of things is phenomenal. So think that you know just quick hitters on on social is not the way to really get deep and learn about stuff. So I think that these these music, Doc's are a way to connect. And you know what, even more so in a time when touring stops, right, the world back, we start talking about like, you could not connect with fans. So what are you doing? What are you up to? And how can you go and speak to speak to those people that normally would get to go and get maybe see you on the road or see performances or, or shows that you're on, everybody had to like, take a deep breath and settle down and stay in one place.

Alex Ferrari 28:44
When you were doing dancing with the devil of Demi Lovato that, you know, I you know, just at the beginning of the first episode, you know, it's like, six months before the overdose. So you started that process, and the overdose happened in the middle of it, right.

Michael D. Ratner 28:59
So actually, interestingly enough, they were working on a doc, it was a follow up to simply complicated that I was not involved in. And then when the overdose, unfortunately happened, they stopped entirely, of course, and when they decided that they were ready to talk about that I had recently, you know, months before put out seasons. And that's what ultimately I think, made me feel like, Ooh, you know, we could potentially tell this together, because that tone, and that level of authenticity and rawness was what I think they were looking to do, because I think that film would have been a different tone and style, obviously. So it just called for a fresh restart. And I came in then, but I was able to inherit some of that footage obviously from before. And that was one of the filmmaking challenges, how to go and take some of the older stuff and ultimately shoot new stuff and And that's how we started.

Alex Ferrari 30:01
Yeah. And it's, it's you're working with your subject as opposed to a documentarian who's recording a subject but is disconnected meaning that they go off they edit the subject has no say on how it looks, where now you're can only imagine how difficult that is, you're also now, hey, we're going to show the deepest, darkest parts that you want to show, we're going to expose all of it. And that's what this movie needs for in order to do it, and they're involved with you. So that takes another level of, of bravery on the artist standpoint.

Michael D. Ratner 30:33
And, and it is, it's, it's unique, and it's nuanced. And it's political, and you got to ultimately navigate that, and it causes some awkward viewing sessions, right where you know it. On the one hand, I've poured my soul into the edit and getting the story out there and trying to achieve this. But you know, I'm sitting in a room watching some really dark moments of somebody's life with them. That's, that's a very, you know, unique, you know, you imagine, you know, we all go through shit, every one of us, but have you watched it on film? You know, you're you, right? You're talking about it? And then oh, can you send me archival footage from home videos? And can you connect me to your mother to send me videos of you as a kid, I mean, imagine sitting there watching, that's the experience they go through. And you need to really be prepared for the reactions that will yield and understanding again, that it's for a specific purpose, and you do it and you work with the person, you know, I've never put out on the projects we're discussing here, like those get seen and discussed before they come out with the artist. And that does not mean that they're going well, you know, here's a list of things you can't say, you know, that I haven't had that experience, because there's always a conversation at the beginning of, let's make sure that I'm the right person for this. And if I'm the right person, we need to tell a real story. We can't make a propaganda puff piece like I just did not who that's not the type of storyteller I am. And I don't think that's the, what your, you know, fans deserve are ultimately what you want to do. And we've always had those difficult or just, I should even say those conversations, and let's just very straightforward conversations. And as such, I think it's resulted in these really special projects.

Alex Ferrari 32:23
Now, I mean, you've again, worked with Damien, and Justin and two of the biggest stars in the world at the moment, you know, being being in the orbit, of those kinds of stars, especially close to those orbits. I've had small moments of those as well, when you're just in the orbit, and just like, their satellites around, there's planets running around, and they are the center of the universe. What is it like, day in day out, being with some of the biggest stars in the world and seeing what they go through? Because you're, you're not just a satellite you're like next to, and you're capturing it. So that must be a very different experience, you must have a sympathy for them that most might not, because you see what they go through and things are on camera and off. So what is it like just as a as a human being next to another human going through that experience?

Michael D. Ratner 33:18
Great question. And the the answer, I've tried so hard to, in my work, explain what that experience is like. And, you know, being hard on myself, I've never effectively done that, because nothing can do it justice. Besides seeing it firsthand that I've tried, I've tried to do the chaotic cuts of paparazzi and things happening. And it's like, no, to really see the forethought that goes into just moving, just getting up and going to do something because of how famous they are. Right? It's that that is like a second to second reality. Now, I've also been very careful to be mindful of nobody wants to hear the Woe is me. I'm a celebrity in my life. You know, I can't move like, there's a lot of perks. Right. So it's tough, but that doesn't change the reality that like, it's it's hard. There are parts that are really hard. And human nature is not designed for famous celebrity. Right, we're not designed to be told how great we are 24/7 We're not designed to not be able to go outside of shop. Question question question, uncomfortable question or uncomfortable question. So yeah, it does make you sympathetic, or I should just say, really understanding of all sides of it, nothing simple. And it makes you just sort of get it all also, it made me really understand that just just because you read something does not mean it's true at all. Like you know and you know it there's there's there's People can say anything about anybody. And when you're really famous people just say stuff. And then you know, but that that words matter words have power news, you know, outlets, you would think that oh, well, you know, it's there. They're a news outlet. It's got to be real. No, it doesn't. I've just seen a lot of stuff where I've been with people, and you know that there's an article saying they were somewhere else. I'm like, wait a sec. Well, you know, and that you start like realizing just that's, that's a daily occurrence. And I think that wall stars who have been in the limelight for a long time, probably get a bit immune to it, it's still annoying, it's still frustrating. And it can cause you to act out of character at times. And it's a really interesting peek behind the curtain as to what those people go through. And, you know, many of whom really do a pretty damn good job. And sure they slip here and there. But for the most part, I've been really impressed. And I have no idea how I would handle that level of celebrity,

Alex Ferrari 35:59
That that's why it's so interesting. That's why I asked you the question, because you get the kind of roleplay that almost, you know, like cars play that if you will, because you're right next to them. It's not you doing it, you could walk away at any second, no one's really gonna stop you on the street for the most part. Maybe in LA. But, but generally speaking, it is it is. It's It's fascinating to me, and so many people want to be rich and famous. But they don't understand that there is a cost, man, there is a cost. And look like you said no, Woe is me. They looked for it. Yeah, I mean, funny, funny story. I was on the set. I was doing music videos in LA 1515 years ago, something like that. And I was invited to an usher music video. And there was like this, this young kid who's going to be in it. And I'm like, Who's this young kid? He's like, some kid named Justin Bieber. And I had no, he was nobody. Justin was nobody. He was 50. And he's tripping over cables. He's just trying to dance. And I'm just like, Oh, cool. I get to see Usher. Six months later, baby baby hits was just like, What the hell. And so I have a distinct I saw Justin, when he was a kid. Like he was literally just 15. He was just, but he was so even at that moment, when I saw him, and I was on set with him. You could just see it. You were like, there's something there. I don't know what it is. And this is not the song. Music they're like, No, this is not the one. But it was it was really interesting. And people do ask for this. But they have to be really careful what they get.

Michael D. Ratner 37:35
Yeah, I think the question is, you don't know what you're asking for. So you get right, it sounds like this is it. So yeah, I think again, it's just it's fascinating. Yeah, and, like with all things again, there's pros and cons.

Alex Ferrari 37:51
Yeah, exactly. Like you know, you know, bad day. Who knows? Who knows who it is, it is a pros and cons. Now tell me about your new film with Justin our world.

Michael D. Ratner 38:02
Yeah, came out in October. Really exciting. It was fun. It was, you know, you do a heavy dock series like seasons. And then you pivot and you make a really fun film. That's, you know, obviously COVID is like looming over this thing. And people are going through really a rough time. And unfortunately, of course, people were dying from COVID. And everybody was in a weird spot with work and figuring out how to provide and that's a character in this piece. But once we get to the stage, it's a celebration of like his music, and it's a nostalgic walk, you know, down memory lane from baby to now and there's it's really very de and gritty. I think it was really cool how Justin was like a DP and shot himself in it and Haley and you know, that was really because of safety protocols. I couldn't be there all the time. Sure. Big style. And then obviously, we juxtaposing that with 32 cameras set up with drones and all the flashiness, the night of the show on the top of the Beverly Hilton was pretty unique. And I think it captured the spirit of that moment in time. And it was really it was really awesome. I enjoyed making a concert Doc, you know, and that's really what it was. It was a concert heavy doc. And it's it was, it was a blast, and I think people really enjoyed it.

Alex Ferrari 39:27
And I mean, how was it shooting during the COVID protocol, man, like, I mean, it's on such a big is a pretty big production. I mean, 32 cameras? It's no joke. No, I'm like my my budget puckered when you said 32 cameras. I'm like, oh, geez, how I mean, I'm assuming at some point you just like hopefully I'll get some footage off of those. Those sets of cameras cuz you're not seeing everything at all times right?

Michael D. Ratner 39:50
Well, it was just we were shooting the hell out of it. Right. I mean, we had drones in the sky. We had cameras on balconies. We had long lines. from certain areas, you know, we were doubling the live stream cameras. And then we had the ability to convert it to 4k, which is obviously what ended up on the Amazon film. And we then had a bunch of, you know, running gun shooters getting cool, you know, dynamic shots in the pit and whatnot. But it was really crazy shooting in COVID, because we had our bubble, and there was daily testing. And if somebody went down, the whole show is at risk, obviously. She had to just be super, super careful. And everything was incredibly thought through and we, you know, luckily pulled it off. But that what made the gloom of COVID and everything going on and pulling off the show. Very interesting storyline also, like we had to live that making it it was not just manufacture drama. Alright, everybody's negative. Okay, good. Good, you know, and Nick demora, goes down with COVID as his creative director, and then Justin had to fully step up and lead the team, which, you know, was a good story point, because part of this was about Justin really coming into his own and really leading every part of his life for the first time. Really, I mean, he's, he's a grown man, you know, and we all think, you know, we remember you hear Justin, you're like a baby in. He's, grown up.

Alex Ferrari 41:17
He's a grown ass man with a family.

Michael D. Ratner 41:19
He's grown is a grown man with a wife and and, you know, leading many of the same people has been with these incredibly loyal, which is really cool. You know, you go. And one of the storylines that I thought was important to hit home. And he thought, as well as like, you know, he's been with the same people for all those years. It's very rare to see in any field, but in music, especially. So it's, it's a fun one. It's a really fun watch. And, you know, it's, it's just enjoyable to go and watch some good music. And, you know, you'll realize how many Justin Bieber if you're a fan, of course, you know, but even if not, you'll be like, Man, he's one talented person.

Alex Ferrari 41:55
There's a lot of songs that you don't even sometimes I don't even realize it's Justin, you're like, Oh, that is Justin Bieber song. Oh, yeah. Like it, he's, or he gets started on this or get, you know, you know, gets popped on that. And it's just, he's, it's hard to believe he's been around for 15 odd years at this point in the game. And still, it's still going and still being relative, you know, relative because relevant, excuse me, because a lot of those boy bands, as we all know, from the 90s, in the early 2000s, there, they're not relevant.

Michael D. Ratner 42:28
He just put out a number one album, he's about to go on, like a sold out arena tour. So pretty impressive.

Alex Ferrari 42:36
He's doing he's doing all right. He's doing okay. He's okay. He's okay. Now, what's next?

Michael D. Ratner 42:42
Working on another big documentary right now that I have not announced yet. But we are into it. And seven months into it. Hopefully, we'll come out end of this year, beginning of next, I'm producing another big doc that have not announced yet. That sorry, this just went off that we are in pre Prolon, which is really exciting. And then we have animated music show. That's really exciting. That's what the network that we haven't announced yet. So there's, there's there's a bunch of stuff. There's a there's there's some scripted TV shows, then there's a couple of these doc films, we're working on a whole bunch of stuff. And then really exciting for us. We're building out our first studio here in LA. So we, yeah, a big production facility where we're building out stuff. So we'll be able to bring a lot of our productions in house. But it's been great. I mean, we are going to be 48 people here it will be by the end of year, which is just this huge. Yeah, it's been it's been exciting time. But you know, we have this audio business that does podcasts and audio projects. You know, we have our film group, we have TV, there's a lot of stuff going on. And at the heart of it all is his stories. And we're very lucky that we're in a time when there are there's such a need everybody needs content right now and we're making stuff and it's a it's a fun time to play it because dollars are not just coming from financiers or distributors, it's coming from brands coming from all over all over the place. So we're working on in a number of different areas with a number of different partners and having a blast.

Alex Ferrari 44:20
Yeah, Kevin Kevin Hart's cold balls. Is is by Old Spice.

Michael D. Ratner 44:24
That's That's exactly right. And yeah, we're we've seen there's another one we got season six of that coming up that we'll be shooting, which is just i No matter what size project or what I'm doing or what's going on, I find out how to carve out time to direct that showcase to so fun. Like do these wonky schedules for like, you know, whatever big thing I'm working on because I'm like, I want to it that's such an example of the new TV modern when you know, it's a 12 to 15 minute like internet show that just blew up and gets millions of viewers with a brand sponsor. And then works right with a Moute with a plus bankable movie star. It's, that's an example of just how our landscape has changed, right? And being, you know, they shouldn't call it film school anymore. It's content school, you know, and people should want to be content makers, not filmmakers like, and again, nothing wrong. I'm a film. I love film. But I always think, you know, if, if some of these iconic filmmakers from the past are starting today, they be using all of these different technologies and distribute

Alex Ferrari 45:27
Spielberg, yeah, Spielberg always

Michael D. Ratner 45:30
Tell stories that different lenghts, tell the best one minute story tell the best five minute story. And that's what we're doing. We're doing stuff on all these different mediums and just having a lot of fun.

Alex Ferrari 45:40
Now, I'm going to ask you a few questions asked all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Michael D. Ratner 45:46
Make it actually make it, don't talk about it, make it go outside and shoot it. And if it's not great, make it a little bit better next time. But don't just develop forever. Don't just put it on paper, go and make it you can actually make stuff now. Do it yourself!

Alex Ferrari 46:01
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Michael D. Ratner 46:06
90% Perfect is good enough. You know? Don't don't like because otherwise you'll be just paralyzed and you'll never put stuff out, you know, delegation, right? You know, like don't You don't need you can't do everything if you're really going to go and have influence and make a lot of stuff at once. You got to build a great team but you know, I think it's it's it's letting go and putting stuff out to the world and and not caving into that fear that start it's not there yet. It's not there yet. You know, you gotta you gotta release it eventually.

Alex Ferrari 46:39
And last question, three of your favorite films of all time.

Michael D. Ratner 46:42
I think I gave you three already, which are Happy Gilmore, Billy Madison Super bad. I can. I love we yeah, we covered that we started it. I mean, I love Charlie Chaplin movies. Chaplin films, Gold Rush. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Even films. Yeah. Even films like limelight. I know that gets like, I like I really love Chaplin. i And you know, he made short films and silent films and did talkies. So I'll add a Chaplin into them.

Alex Ferrari 47:12
Oh, can you imagine if chaplain was around today, like what he would be doing? Ohh God!

Michael D. Ratner 47:18
Having a lot of having a lot of fun.

Alex Ferrari 47:20
I always like imagine Kubrick with today's technology. I talk about Shoot, shoot, shoot forever. Before you had the limitations of film. Can you imagine he'd just shooting shoot. Michael man, it's been a pleasure talking to you, brother. Thank you again so much for being on the show man and continued success.

Michael D. Ratner 47:36
Thank you for having it's fun.

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BPS 354: Making Money in Niche Filmmaking with Adam Schomer

Adam Schomer is a conscious filmmaker, president of i2i Productions and is known for going to extreme lengths to follow stories that empower us. Feature documentaries include THE HIGHEST PASS (2012), THE POLYGON (2014), ONE LITTLE PILL (2015). WOMEN OF THE WHITE BUFFALO (2022) and the #1 iTunes Best-Seller and NETFLIX hit, HEAL (2017).

His recent docuseries is a heart pounding and spirit driven quest to find freedom on motorcycles in the Himalayas, THE ROAD TO DHARMA (2020) and its companion online course for Living a Life of Freedom. In addition to making films, he has been a documentary distribution consultant for select films including CHASING THE PRESENT and produced their online summit as well as the online summits for FANTASTIC FUNGI and HEAL.

Adam is also a certified Master Sattva Yoga and Meditation Teacher, and really Adam has this history of using pilgrimage and life’s adventures to reveal deeper truths. His company i2i Productions mission is to Unite Through Wisdom and Entertainment.

Please enjoy my conversation with Adam Schomer.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Alex Ferrari 0:45
I'd like to welcome to the show, Adam Schomer. How you doing Adam?

Adam Schomer 4:00
Great nice to be here Alex.

Alex Ferrari 4:05
Thank you so much for coming on the show brother. I truly appreciate it like I was telling you earlier. I feel like I know you because you have been one of the stars in two of your projects that I've watched and I feel like I already know you just been watching hours and hours and hours of you.

Adam Schomer 4:56
Loving it. I love that you've watched it. Awesome. And and you have a little insight into a really powerful, crazy journey, a couple that I've been on. So that's cool that you know, I've got to share that with you without, you know being there in person.

Alex Ferrari 5:10
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So I So first and foremost, why did you want to get into this insanity that is the film industry?

Adam Schomer 5:20
Great never did, you know didn't have the aspirations as a kid never, never maybe like, you know Billy shoots or my neighbor used to make videos with his guinea pigs like stop motion weird like guinea pigs saving the day,

Alex Ferrari 5:32
I want to I want to see those movies by the way, I want to see those.

Adam Schomer 5:37
Do too. I remember like he would make a theater and like show these things. So back then I think I wanted to do that. But no, no real aspirations and then kind of fell into it in my late 20s, where I was bored at a corporate job and decided to do stand up comedy. Just an hour, it was the craziest kind of most nerve wracking thing. And then that pivoted into improv comedy, which I found to be the yoga of comedy. And that's that I stuck with that. I said, this was really cool. Because not only is the fun of meeting people, but it's got those yogic principles, right release be with a moment. Yes. And that like athletics, and I had been a semi pro soccer player. So it's kind of my next athletic venture. And that led me into writing and all that kind of stuff. So I was writing more and writing comedy. And eventually, that, you know, I won't go long. But eventually that brought me to LA and I just kept wanting to push it, you know, just go to the next level. Okay, write screenplays, be in a film, get my sag card, you know, improv. And I was always producing my own stuff when it came to improv as well. Because, you know, no one just gonna hand you stage time. Even in Detroit, where I, where I grew up was a cool community, everyone was very nice, and it was a good community, but you still had to kind of create your own opportunities to be on stage. So I think that producer Ness started there. And then once to LA, it pivoted. I think when I won't talk too much, but once I went to India, then I came back and, and decided, you know, what, I'm gonna focus on the writing and producing because as you know, acting is a pretty tough world, you know, even tougher than I would say, even like producing, writing, directing. I mean, acting is really, acting.

Alex Ferrari 7:15
Acting is, in my opinion, acting is probably the, the hardest part of our business with writers right next door, and then directors come in after that. But actors is like 3030 rejections a day. Yeah. Writers is, uh, you know, maybe 20 rejections a month. Yeah.

Adam Schomer 7:40
Directors, powerlessness of nitewhite really being able to create your own stuff. Correct. I was like, okay, that's not gonna work for me. And I was already producing my own like, you know, little webisodes in a kid's show. And, and then, uh, not you know, who you've seen anon and had on your other show. When I was in India, my third time there said, Hey, do you want to do this motorcycle riding into the Himalayas over the highest road in the world, and I'm like, This guy is gonna kill me. You know that in my neck.

Alex Ferrari 8:08
By the way, I can't see your face in the dock. You just like I just You were terrified. So So let's give everyone a little bit of context. So your this was your first movie, right? It's just your first dock. Yeah, first rockin first feature. Yeah. So it's called the highest pass. And it's about tell everybody what it's about.

Adam Schomer 8:24
Yeah, I mean, in essence, it's about it's facing death, right, facing death and finding freedom. So facing our fears and finding love. Not that we have to get over fear per se, but just be able to move through it. And then the context is a journey over the highest road in the world. 18,000 feet on motorcycles. My teacher or my guru has a prophecy he'll die in his late 20s. He's that age. It says he'll die in an accident and his Vedic chart, and he asks one of his students me if I want to go and I've never ridden a motorcycle, and I say yes, of course. It's my guru and the Himalayas and you just do it. So I willed myself to say yes, at that moment, I remember like, making my lips move while in the background. My head is thinking he's trying to kill me to take on his prophecy. I'm the sacrificial lamb is your brain drain is a horrible thing to have. Oh, it's armed. Right, you know, every bad story and I'm like, wow, I could write a lot of movies about this because it's so evil. So then, then I went, we went out and I was like, Yeah, let's make this invite other people and let's make a documentary. And and to be honest, I only wanted to do it if we could do it. Well, not not. Not that a handycam or shooting an iPhone is not well but this the Himalayas and India and I really wanted great cinematography and so we you know, like okay, we're gonna do it if we raise money, we're gonna raise money for it and so I went out and raised money and found a great DP that had experience with motorcycles and back then I was like, the Canon five D. was like the thing and And it served us really well on that trip, I mean, to have like a DP sometimes one time, like riding a bike with one hand and, and filming with the other at one point, we can get into that later, but I was.

Alex Ferrari 10:11
So I was able to I saw that movie and I saw the series that you did afterwards about it, which we'll talk about in a minute. But what I found fascinating about the movie is, you know, I've, you know, many people on the show know that I have another show called next level soul, which is all about spirituality and asking the big questions about life, personal growth, health, and all that kind of stuff. And I've had the pleasure of talking to a non, your guru on that. And it was just released, this thing was this week, or last week, I forgot it was this week, I think I released it just came out. It just came out this week. And it is fascinating to talk to someone who you know, in many ways, is a spiritual master, and having a conversation with him and talking to him about life and about your spiritual journey. And about just everything was really beautiful and eye opening. And I'll put a link to that in the show notes for that for that episode. But then I reached out to you, I'm like, Well, I gotta have Adam on the show. Because you know, he's a filmmaker, and he's been, you're not only just like, I shot a little documentary, you've been doing it consistently over for over a decade now. And doing it at a high level, you're doing really great work, and you're doing award winning work and, and movies that many of us have seen and heard of and been on Netflix, and so on and so forth. So going back to the highest pass. Yeah. The insanity of the environment as a producer, because you didn't direct that once you produce that one.

Adam Schomer 11:31
Yeah, I mean, co directed, co directed although credit wise it's not listed. It's a that's a whole story, wrote it wrote it co directed, CO produced.

Alex Ferrari 11:43
I figured I figured there was a story behind that, because like, he's directed everything since what, what happened here.

Adam Schomer 11:51
But it's got strong arm and postproduction, you know?

Alex Ferrari 11:58
Of course you did, because we're what we're making a movie about spirituality and the quest for enlightenment. And yet my ego says, I must have full credit. So

Adam Schomer 12:09
Correct. I got kicked out of the office for three weeks once you know, like, planning.

Alex Ferrari 12:13
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So that's, that's a great holocaust. Great Hollywood story for filmmakers. And there's to understand that that look, it happens. It happened to me when we first started, it happens to it's amazing. The Eagles that are in this business, it's fascinating.

Adam Schomer 12:28
And I'm remembering I was consulting with a non timber, like, how do I deal with this? This is a spiritual movie, I'm in post and like, This is crazy. He's like, Look, you have to look at the good parts of someone. They they had the intent, they saw that, you know, we should produce this thing. This is a great, you know, they had that enough there, but not everybody's perfect. So on some level, you're dealing with a five year old, you really are and like that, you have to approach it that way. And would you try to explain yourself to a five year old? No, you just kind of maneuver in some ways around the five year old. And then you know, that's it. It basically it just keep it simple. And I give him the film, he's like, just keep it simple. You're dealing with a five year old and move on and do what you can and make the movie.

Alex Ferrari 13:10
Yeah, that's a fascinating way to approach it. Because I believe I've I've dealt with many five year olds in this business. Many, many, many of them over the years. So how did you so how did you shoot in that intense environment and like it's it's insane.

Adam Schomer 13:27
It's insane. And for a first first to be we were 21 people total meaning the seven riders plus and on and crew. Three, three cars, seven bikes. No scouting, I had never shot in India. We're going over crazy roads. It's so how did I do? I mean, first part of the environment to deal with is the fact that you might die every day being you know, so that's really when comparing producing and death it was death was the main focus, you know, like Oh, I'm in the film, right? I'm writing first and foremost is like how about I survive and let's hope everybody else survives. So that that was the most challenging thing for me was writing and then producing To be honest, like I was calling on great people right and directing it was like okay, I leaned on my DP a lot you know, when it came to the shot I might have know what I like but I'm like show me what you think would be good here. Awesome. I like it too. Let's move forward you know keep it very simple lien on your people that know what they're doing I came from a story background so I knew what I wanted story wise and but God and in packing up and moving no scouting just shooting you know huge credit to the DP huge credit to the whole crew of just like winging it like a documentary is okay, let's go ahead of the let's go ahead of the bikers by half hours in one car ahead. They find a spot they think is great, and we all get a shot as we go by, you know, that kind of stuff now and then we would say Hey, can we Turn around and do that entrance again and have everybody right into this, you know, lunch place.

Alex Ferrari 15:06
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Adam Schomer 15:15
But for the most, most part, you get what you get. And I mean, it was 21 days. It was scary as hell and and you know, sleep was at a total minimum, I remember the first, because in the first few days, you're in the flat and you're in the hills. And then you come to where you see the Himalayas. And this is what can pass the first pass, right? And it's called pile of dead bodies is what rotating is translated as. So again, the story. The writer's mind is like, what? And so, you know, you doing research on the internet is not helpful, because pilot dead bodies and you're thinking I'm going right off the cliff. And that's that. And, but, and before that, I remember like, Oh, my God, like what fight with my co producer, we leave at 5am. So I slept probably two hours before we're about to go into the Himalayas. And it's again, it's just like, okay, so be it. Alright, grab some chai, Alex and some coffee and put on your masks and your gloves because freezing and and off we go. And as you see in the movie, that that whole moment was tough, because we made a decision where the roads really weren't quite open yet before rain started into the Himalayas at that point. So it was it was scary.

Alex Ferrari 16:27
You guys were going on basically, basically, at the seat of your pants, literally and figuratively. Because you're just shooting. So I was watching as I was watching this, I'm like, This is insane. This is an insane kind of doc to be the same same movie. And I see what they're going through. I've been at 12,000 feet, I think at one point in somewhere in Colorado, in Colorado. And it was in summer, so it wasn't freezing was still probably like 60 when it was nice, like 100 down at the bottom. But I had been to to Park City a whole bunch. And so I understand that the oxygen declaration but I can't even comprehend. Traveling at up to 18,000 feet.

Adam Schomer 17:14
And one of our crew went down like way to send them home. You know?

Alex Ferrari 17:17
Yeah, it'll hurt. He'll kill you.

Adam Schomer 17:19
Yeah, that was one of the, you know, my audio engineer. He helped to get it produced good friend from Michigan. And he, it was great, because he was telling me what audio equipment he needed, you know, and stuff. So I'm trying to source it in India, and I could not find an eight channel mixer anywhere except Mumbai. And then maybe my second DP would bring it from and I call him I'm like, do you really need a challenge? Like, Oh, no. He's like, I just, he had never actually been in the field. He told me later, he was just going by the seat of his pants, because he was more sound mix in the back, you know, in the studio. So here I am searching for equipment that he was kind of like, yeah, that's industry standard. And I couldn't find it anywhere in India. So we compromised, of course, but he ended up coming a little a few days late. So I had a second audio engineer from India. And that can beg to come on the trip with us after seeing like the prep. He's like, can I just help in any way? Like, let me be with a non let me be with you guys. This is a trip of a lifetime. So we brought him it's a good thing we did because Andy, my audio engineer, when we were up at the 16,000 foot pass, and we did this part of the film where we went up and check the paths out talk to the generals and the general said, No, it's close for two weeks right there. This passes closer snow. And if you watch the film, you'll see we ended up by carrying bikes over snow and it's crazy. But during that little pre pre meeting Andy art, my sound engineer went down hard with altitude sickness, and we had to send them home the next day. And so thankfully, we had the second audio engineer backup guy. Yeah, backup guy and did his best. And that's kind of the craziness of filming. Like we got lucky, you know, and Andy got lucky that he wasn't hurt, per se but you never know who's gonna have audio. It doesn't out to sickness, it can be in great shape. And

Alex Ferrari 19:07
Ohh, yeah, it doesn't matter what shape you're in it. They'll they'll bring anybody to their knees. It's it's just a weird.

Adam Schomer 19:13
We all had it at some we all had it at some point. And then when you get down to like 11,000 feet, you're like, oh my god, this is amazing. I can brain you know and take a moment compared to sleeping at 15 when you're climatized it's hard. It's really difficult. It just if you haven't acclimatized

Alex Ferrari 19:31
Wow, that's insane. So that so with that film, you released it. You went theatrical with that as well, right?

Adam Schomer 19:37
We did. Yeah, we were lucky enough to win some awards at festivals and distribution company. said let's take it theatrical. We took a theatrical here in LA and went on to Netflix right after that awesome back when Netflix was a little different.

Alex Ferrari 19:49
It was a little it was little starting a little startup. Back then. Now did you did you get any? That was your first experience with distribution

Adam Schomer 20:00
Yeah, absolutely. So yeah, the distributor and see what happens,

Alex Ferrari 20:03
And what and what happened?

Adam Schomer 20:06
I mean, you know, thankfully, the theatrical was good meaning we had a run here in Santa Monica and in in LA and people saw it. And we got to write up in the LA Times like a full page, right? Which hasn't happened since on any film I've done. Like, we found a reporter that somehow was into it. Suzanne carpenter and got what would be like a $40,000 ad, kind of wow. You know, in essence, because it's just like a full page, huge photo and great article. So people came out and saw it. And a lot of people actually from that, then go went on the road of dharma. They saw the film sauce and a q&a and said, If you do this again, tell us and so we did. And when that's when we filmed the road to dharma series, and a lot of those people from seeing that film then came into the next series, and we can talk about that later. But it did it did well in the theater, and it got on Netflix and all that, you know, I mean, financially for the investors. No, not so much. But in the, you know, the distributors did their thing where they come up with expenses and all that.

Alex Ferrari 21:03
No, stop it.

Adam Schomer 21:05
So I learned a little bit.

Alex Ferrari 21:09
I just I always like asking, I always like to ask him these questions, because I can never stop reiterating. This fact is that this Hollywood accounting is always Hollywood. It's just the way they do business. It's just the way the industry has done business. And it's, in many ways. I don't even think people who who do it these distributors who do it think they're bad guys, I think they just, it's just inherent in the system, the way the system is built. They're just like, yeah, we're going to give you an MG maybe back then you might have gotten an NG. So you got to know we did not even mg right. So yeah, but then the Oh, you made 10,000 This month, but 11,000 It's inexpensive. What are those expenses? I can't. So those kinds of things. I was curious about if that was your case, as well.

Adam Schomer 21:57
Now, this was they weren't you know, stimuli were they weren't like horrible by any means. But okay, you know, they were still cool. And they you know, they even believe it again, it's like, the good part where they believed in it, and they took a theatrical ego came and as the first film like, you celebrate your wins, and then you take the take the learning on the shoulder and go, Okay, that's fine.

Alex Ferrari 22:14
And so then the second the series wrote the Dharma, which just got released, and when 2020 2020 2020 that released, but you shot it in.

Adam Schomer 22:27
When we did shoot, we shot it in 2012, to be honest, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 22:30
So you shout it out. So it took eight years for that to come out. And that was because it couldn't find financing or couldn't get the thing, you know, funding financing.

Adam Schomer 22:40
Yeah. I don't usually tell anyone your podcast as the scoop on we have the scoop.

Alex Ferrari 22:46
I appreciate that. I don't think it's gonna hurt. I don't think anyone cares. Outside of people like you and me. No one. No one watching it. Like, oh, this has been shot eight years ago. I can't watch this.

Adam Schomer 22:55
You can't tell it. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 22:57
You're in the Himalayas, with bikes that look like they're from the 50s. Anyway. So everyone's jacked up with all sorts of motorcycle gear, no one can tell. And you're going into towns that don't have any technology anyway. So you have no idea if it's 2012 or 2020

Adam Schomer 23:14
That's for sure. And it's shot well enough where you're you're you're in there and you have a feeling of like you're part of that journey. That's a good thing. There's that authentic ness of like you're in it with us It's good like that.

Alex Ferrari 23:24
Exactly. So you shot the the series I wanted to ask you because you since you released it recently, and I think it might have been for the best honestly. I think if you would have released it in 2012 2013 2014. There wasn't as big of a market for doc series as there is now so I wanted to hear your experience as a documentarian Do you see more doc series being more valuable in the marketplace or a doc by itself?

Adam Schomer 23:51
That's a great I mean we all see more doc series in general more ducks in general. And I think the other part of the market that is like like your pocket spirituality has grown right oh huge there is there's more of a market for people that might be on the edge you know, the average guy that maybe comes across and sit or the wife says hey watch this and because you know women tend to be 80% of the yogi community so to speak and so they sometimes bring guys into and like

Alex Ferrari 24:18
I don't know about you I look fantastic a yoga pants but that's just I should say I should I have I have little lemons on right now so

Adam Schomer 24:28
Absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 24:30
Just just the socks

Adam Schomer 24:33
This bank is just this bank so suspects you know, it's on video to what we're doing. So where were we what were what were the doc series doc series? Yeah, that's here. Yeah, I think more valuable I know me personally. I find more value in wanting to tell more of the story more of people's stories more of the wisdom of what goes on there we go into more depth and you know, there's a certain pacing with a feature doc feature length doc that you have to keep up. And that's great and all watching out for my cat walk in my butt. Yeah, I can't say let's say, you know, for the filmmakers out there making an independent series, if there's more value, meaning like it's easier to sell that or make money on, I think that it's incredibly hard what what I've done and your last guest was talking about it too, that she did a independent series, not a doc series, but a narrative series. And I think it's a strange way to go. Not many people do it and then to sell afterwards. But I think inherently on a meaningful level, it's incredibly valuable. I'm still waiting for some of the big boys to kind of come along and say, Hey, this is great on me back to do a season two and a season three before one of the big boys says, okay, everyone's ready for this now. All right. So I hope that kind of answers your question.

Alex Ferrari 25:50
Yeah. It is hard to say because I've seen I've seen people be very successful with duck series. I mean, docks docks right now, are extremely valuable. And they have been probably for the last decade, and they've been growing in popularity. And I've talked about them heavily in my book about finding niche audiences. And if you make a knock about a niche audience, whether that is plant based diets, spirituality, surfing, skateboarding, whatever it is, there's a built in audience that you can target much easier than a broad spectrum narrative. And Doc's have been getting more and more, but I've been noticing, there's been more doc series on Netflix, and on Hulu, and on these other places where they will do a series because inherently there's just more value, there's more content for them to read. So that's when I wrote the Dharma Miko that makes all the sense in the world, because that's a story you can easily tell in a series, you have more than enough content story to fill. That's why when I saw that, and I was lucky, I saw rotor Dharma first. Then I went back and saw the highest pass. And I was like, okay, so they went, they shot that. And then they obviously went, you know, 10 years later, I said, Why did they wait so long? At least the series, but I enjoyed the series much more because you get if you're taking the motorcycle trip up to the Himalayas, with a yogi, I mean, that's more than 90 minutes, man.

Adam Schomer 27:16
I mean, there's there's just so there's so much, there's so much to see so much done to the history, you know, we don't go too much into the history. But the teachings Yeah, all these characters, right?

Alex Ferrari 27:27
Yeah, everyone's fighting their own demons and trying to find their egos. And they're all they're all trying to tell themselves stories of why they shouldn't do this. And I thought there'd be more yoga on this retreat, and all this kind of all this.

Adam Schomer 27:37
All this guy like yoga, stretching or not like Yoga is not stretching, you know, if you want stretching and a massage, go to a spa. You know, he's like, right out of here, you come here to transcend. And that's what you've come for. It's like sweet, you know, that's a good It's to remind people Yoga is not the studio thing.

Alex Ferrari 27:54
No, it's not. It's the it's one of the benefits of yoga is the physical, but it's yoga was never built, as, you know, yogi's, weren't running around in that Lululemon, you know, back in the day, you know, they were, they were, it was a form of transcending spiritually. And I just love him. He's like, I'm here to challenge you at every step of the way. I was like, This is great. So you've got a built in conflict. You've got built in conflict, which is so wonderful. We were able to build out this whole story and then how did that go? How did how did selling that? The series go?

Adam Schomer 28:25
Yeah, I mean, it is a long journey, right? Since we built filmed in 2012, and raised enough money to go shoot it on a on a shoestring, so to speak, and was hoping that when I came back, I'd be able to put a sizzle together and go out to somebody's network and say, hey, look, I have the footage I already have it's here you don't even have to buy into the idea I already shot it. So this was my my thinking was no problem. Right? I'll go shoot it come back and they'll have no choice but to be like, Oh, of course we'll give you the money to finish it. That didn't work. So that couldn't get anyone to to bite on that. And then you have to year goes and I start I was making heal I got brought into produce heal. And while I was producing heal, we had like a couple week break on something decided, yes, you know what, I'm going to go brush up and learn, Premiere full on and did so on my vacation and then started editing. The first two episodes, episode one and two of the road of dharma. Wow. I think that yeah, the whole end of post and distribution, which is a crazy time for a documentary film. I was also editing two episodes, I was really pushing myself to make sure what the demo was ready when he was done. So that you know that's a lesson that people sometimes you got to work your ass off on the side right to be ready. And so when and I think to be honest, I mean, I'm really glad that I had some time as a filmmaker to grow in between and be able to like, show my vision a bit better. And, and to make those first few episodes to be able to show us Don't worry, this is what I'm talking about.

Alex Ferrari 30:02
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Adam Schomer 30:12
You know, this is the style, I want to be able to mix it being entertaining, and character driven, but also have that spirit there. And I'm not putting a man on a pedestal as his guru, I'm trying to make them approachable. And if you resonate with what he says, great, but this isn't a movie of a series about a guru and how to follow him. No, it's about people seeking freedom in our demons, like you said, so I really wanted to get that across. And maybe that was holding back, you know, holding us back with some of the networks is like, you know, we can't go that spiritual yet. But, you know, it's still like a real reality and authentic reality show, in many ways. Like, so. There's danger. So then, yeah, and invest. I showed an investor a couple episodes. And actually, it was more like a friend that I didn't know had the ability to invest. Any and he pulled me aside, he's like, I want to talk to you about the road to dharma, I want to invest. Like, when does that happen? All the time.

Alex Ferrari 31:02
It happens all the time. Oh, all the time, money is easy to get in the business. Don't you know?

Adam Schomer 31:09
It create No, I happen on the highest pass at 1.2. Because we were all the way through posts. And we know we needed a second cut. And I was at an event. And it was a Cornell like event. I went to Cornell University and one of them, one of my buddies says, Hey, I'm looking to invest in film.

Alex Ferrari 31:26
Which, in normal scenarios you would have done you don't want to do that.

Adam Schomer 31:31
No, no. And he's like, I just want to learn, I just want to learn a little bit, you know, I'll perfect and I'm at a great place less risk, because it's already kind of done in and you can see, and so he threw in some money, you know, I know there was the universe, given a little nudges. So it's, it's helped out on the way in its own timing, to use some woowoo language, but it's a way that we got an investor there and then I got another investment we rolled up you know, finished the series on our own and, and take it out on our own digitally and still be able to keep pitching it to networks, we still do to this day, keep keep pitching it internationally to different places. Like we're signing with a network in Germany, signing within sign with a network in Brazil, talking to a network in France, we're on Gaia as well. And then I had to get a little creative and I even caught it create a course around the

Alex Ferrari 32:19
Yeah, I saw that I saw the course on Anons website. So that was really interesting. Is he it's like you read my book. It's exactly what I say is like he create the product and then create other ancillary products that generate more revenue than the movie next exhibition of the movie is it because the future of the future of our business is not 2299 rentals, it's courses it's workshops, it's other businesses as other services wrapped around. Yeah, things that can serve that audience that that niche audiences so for you it'd be the spiritual audience.

Adam Schomer 32:52
And also I knew from I knew from here but things like like an online summit or an online course you can you can access other people's audiences for those things more than you can film so I could say to here like I'd say to Gregg Braden people I knew well and say you can be an affiliate of this course you can make 50% revenue if you promote it to your your people. And you know, there's something free they get to watch the free free episodes and it's something you believe in, you know, and we know each other, so then okay, now you're getting someone personally blasting. And now you're reaching 500,000 people or a million people personally with a course and even if they don't bite the course they might try the free episodes or they might then go find the series and you got some advertising and every it's a win win, they make money. Your list grows too and anyway, so that's another thing you can't do as easily with just a film.

Alex Ferrari 33:44
Yeah, and so that brings me into the next movie heal which i i saw heal before I saw Raja Dharma or the highest pass so I had watched him just purely because I was interested in the concept of the movie The doc and it was down in my wheelhouse. I was like, Oh, let me watch it. So I watched a really enjoyed the film. I knew a lot of the people inside inside the film like you know the people that that are you interview and stuff in the show, but yeah, all those guys. Um, yeah. I just known all of them. And I've read their books and things like that. But he'll was I remember he'll being I met one of the other producers at a summit once I forgot the name of the producer, but one of the other producers I met and he was just at the brink of the Netflix deal. And I just remember that was like this is actually doing it's doing. It's getting a lot of attention. The doc got a lot of attention. So tell me the story of keel and what the movie is about generally, but then how you read it because it kind of almost hit. It almost kind of was the fork over knives of that of that movement. If you're anyone who doesn't know what Forks Over Knives is is what it was basically the I think the first documentary that really talked about plant based diets and in exploded and built multimillion dollar businesses around it to make a magazine even, oh, magazine, food products, it's built, they've done fantastic off of that dock. And heal, I feel is that for its niche in the space? So can you talk a little bit about what it is?

Adam Schomer 35:17
Yeah. And thank you for watching it. And thank you for speaking so highly of it. So where do we want to start? I mean, he'll in general, what it is, is a film about really that, that we have the power within to heal, and that through our emotions, through stress through our thoughts, that we have a bigger part to play in our healing, than just giving our power away necessarily to medicine or to a doctor, or to any healer, to be honest. So it ends up being a, we hope, a very integrative film, not super woowoo saying it's only emotional, we're just saying that's part of the puzzle, and that it shouldn't be talked about. And that's what I like about the film is saying, let's open our, our perception a bit in terms of healing and realize that thoughts do play a part emotions do play support plays a part, your life purpose might play a part. And you might need to move or change something in your relationships to help your body get out of a stress mode, so he can do its thing and help heal your disease. And you also might need to change your diet, you might need to do chemo, you might need to do some other things, right. But it's part of it. And we wanted to just dive into that. And we use a lot of experts, we use a couple stories. One of the stories isn't isn't a happy ending. I liked that about the film. It's, it's it's chronic illness, and it's a damn tough space. And she doesn't know what's wrong. And she's not really willing to make the changes. And the system, as we talked about the film system not necessarily set up, right, or distributors just do their thing. Our health system isn't set up exactly correctly to support the mind body healing. You know, it's, it's not there to help you pay for that stuff. So resources is an issue. You say, Oh, why don't y'all just change this? And you're like, Well, I'm just trying to survive. And so that stuff we continually look at and then heal. We realized after the film, there was more we could offer the audience. So the film did amazing. We, you know, if you want to talk strategy, in terms of what we did distribution, I can Yeah, please, please. Because it's helpful. And I've used it with some films afterwards, when they've come to me, and I usually don't consult, it's not like my job. But when something falls into a niche that I've done, and I feel I can help them and they're primed for it. And I liked the film's like, okay, you know, let's do it. So we realized, of course, we needed an audience, like you've talked about before we release, you can't wait until you release. So as soon as we started filming, we started building a fan base and with a website and getting emails out there and attracting people to the film. So by the time we launched, I think we have 50,000 person email list, which isn't huge. But

Alex Ferrari 37:49
You know what? It's not it's not a joke, either. That's a huge email list for a movie that had nothing at the beginning. That's enough. That's a that's a fairly massive email list. And that's how big this audience is. That tells you volumes of how big this audience is.

Adam Schomer 38:03
Right! Right. Healing in general. You know, people are,

Alex Ferrari 38:07
I don't know about you, something hurts on me right now. Is a little bit hip. I, you know, my ankles is hurting because it's about to rain. So there you go. There's always someone we're all hurt as you get older, something hurts. So hey, who's the audience? Everyone who's in pain from people who are, you know, on the brink of death, because of a chronic illness to my hip hurts.

Adam Schomer 38:30
And it's not like it goes away, you know, like meaning meaning it takes a lot of audience every year, no meaning like,

Alex Ferrari 38:37
The audience. The audience doesn't shrink.

Adam Schomer 38:39
They don't shrink. It's only growing in awareness. And like, we've been out five years, I think, and you know, 12 million minutes a month, we're on prime, you know, like, people were still in the charts in the UK in Germany when it comes to digital sales.

Alex Ferrari 38:57
People are looking for people.

Adam Schomer 38:59
Yeah, one of my good buddies I play soccer was like, Hey, I watched I finally watched a movie here. I'm like, Thanks for the support, you know, five years later, but he's like, it's great. So people, on their own time come to these things. Anyway. So distribution wise, back to that 50,000. We built the audience, we knew we needed to do that.

Alex Ferrari 39:16
Did you self distribute? Or did you go through a distributor,

Adam Schomer 39:18
We did a hybrid type thing. And this is something again, by the time I was working with heal, Kelly Kelly Gore's film Kelly Kelly came up with it. She's a director, she brought me into produce and I'm very thankful that she did because now we're like, co producing partners and great relationship. And so she knew she had done like a horror flick kind of before and you know, so she knew the problems and distribution and what a distributor dusty, we both knew that so that was cool. And so we're gonna do anything in our power to not be in their power. So I knew from the beginning, let's build an audience beforehand so that we could go out you know, independently and have some money to support us. We There was an organic audience of email. So we knew it people that wanted they personally said, I want you to have my email Keep me posted, okay, they'll probably by, you know, the the probably jump in in terms of all that growing and you know, we went to a festival that we knew was our audience and we were the opening night there and there are 700 people and so our investors also get to see that and then see oh, wow, there's, there's an audience here. And it's palpable, and that helped them put a little bit more money for independent distribution. So in terms of strategy, what we did, we decided to do like theatrical on our own and, and screenings on our own. So we brought in a screening guy to handle the small screenings and get people talking about it out there and do you know that's what he got organic press for us? Because some church in Iowa that's going to do a screening is going to tell their people about it, okay. 100 people show up but you know, 1000 people got heard about it and heard about here and maybe it's on their radar next time they see it or hear about or someone you know how it is right, you have to talk about it. Talk about it talk when finally you watch. So we did a lot of those screenings, probably 100 We did a bunch in Australia. Definitely made a little money there. But you know, sometimes it's just break even with the screenings and all that that's great. Definitely made a little money in the screenings, broke even on theatrical, and we came out in I think, eight, eight to 10 cities, you know, hired a consultant to help us do that. So I was like, the point man brought in the screening guy brought him this theatrical guy. And then for digital, we signed with what's called 1091, you know, distribution company. They back then they were the orchard. Oh, yeah, another 1091. And they've had a lot of success digitally come out with some spiritual films, some Alien film, niche films by King films. So they, they knew and we had we, we structured a good deal with them to be honest. And they support us and gave us a little bit of money for even a trailer and all this other stuff that we didn't want to dump a lot into. And so we also then planned it like Kelly and I, neither of us wanted to do this long, protracted distribution cycle of like, Let's do screenings for a year. You know, like the film awake with Yogananda didn't work. We don't want to do that.

Alex Ferrari 42:11
They were super successful theater in Apollo.

Adam Schomer 42:13
Yeah. Yeah, I met them because of the highest pass way back, right.

Alex Ferrari 42:19
Yeah. Well, I would imagine you guys this paths crossed. They've been on the show and been on my show, like three times already. I love them. I love what they did with that film. It's amazing. They actually are a case study in my book, as well.

Adam Schomer 42:32
So Peter came we were they wanted to see Michael Molera, who's the composer of the highest best they wanted to hear his work. So when I showed him a cut of the film, and there again, I'm this is so cool, like, and then I ended up bringing Peter into help edit like the second cut. So we became buddies. And, and I love his story mine and they're great. And then I gave them some footage for a week from the highest pass to us in the film, which was just like, an anon does in a week. I don't know if you know that.

Alex Ferrari 42:55
I think he might. I think I might have seen them in a week. You're absolutely right. That's a week. Yeah.

Adam Schomer 43:00
So becomes a kind of like a small little, you know, a nice little family. And I mean, just an honor to have some of the footage from one of my films with Yogananda in that film. Anyway. So back to the heel distribution thing, we decided, let's not do the long thing like awake, let's do condense. So we pushed the utricle screenings and digital as close together as possible. So we came out in October in theaters. And then by December 5, we're out on digital and of course, we had to do all that you know, independently when it comes to theatrical and all that so that we could have control of all of our dates.

Alex Ferrari 43:36
And and I just want to just stop you for there for a second. So when people listening, the reason why awake, which is a documentary about the spiritual master Yogananda did their long, their long theatrical and screenings was because they had direct CO production or relationship with Yogananda, his organization which basically had access to every Yogananda disciple around the world. So it would be foolish not to stretch that out as much as you could because it was just such a such a built in audience that it may did very well if you stopped millions and they did really, really, really well. So but for you hard, hard to replicate, yeah, hard, very difficult to replicate. I think. Hare Krishna, Hari Krishna, they tried to do something similar, but didn't have the same great film. So I love that film, but didn't have the same access to that because it literally just like touch a button and they can talk to everybody. So with heal, from my perspective, look, listen to what you're saying. It's an audience but it is not a dedikate it's not like people who are just like, you know, religiously about this. It's a much broader, diluted audience. So what your tech your your strategy makes much, much more sense. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. Sir. And now back to the show.

Adam Schomer 45:06
Yeah, we built that audience build the email list and got everyone excited for okay. If you can't see in theaters not your you're not in one of the main cities don't worry, or you didn't get a small screening in your area. It's coming December 5 on digital and DVD even to DVD. And

Alex Ferrari 45:22
Did you do on DVD by the way?

Adam Schomer 45:23
We made like 150 grand on DVD.

Alex Ferrari 45:25
Of course you did. Because What year was this? 2017 17?

Adam Schomer 45:30
The end of 17. So call it 18 2018.

Alex Ferrari 45:33
Right! Still, like CD DVD still sell? People don't listen, people still buy DVDs. If you're at a screening, and you love the movie, and you had a DVD with some bonus stuff in it. Somebody would buy it.

Adam Schomer 45:48
We could I mean, I guess we could believe it. But we couldn't. But you know, a little older audience is a little more has the illness and they're still with DVD at that point. And it's so correct. And that was cool to see that. And we did really well on digital when we came out and our goal was to be honest 1091 But the orchard had already pissed pitch Netflix and Netflix had said no. To the to the Okay, they did this was in the fall before we came out theatrically and all that then we come out theatrically and do this big push. And we hit number one on iTunes. And versus the charts. And stayed there for a few weeks a documentary

Alex Ferrari 46:26
Or an doc in document in that document. Yeah,

Adam Schomer 46:29
I mean, gone, you know, competing with everyone else, almost impossible. But

Alex Ferrari 46:32
Yeah, but still, number number one Doc is no easy thing to do.

Adam Schomer 46:37
But then to stay there. Because usually, we stay for a few weeks. And then in the in the top three for about three months. So we had like the staying power. And then we went back to Netflix and said, you know, the distributors like look people like this thing. It's making money. It's, you know, you should really reconsider it. And then and then they did come up with a two year deal. And it was It wasn't anything great either, to be honest. But it was, it was for us to it was more about exposure. Of course, of course, most of our money was made on just digital sales.

Alex Ferrari 47:08
Really. So most of the money was done still until on transactional. But But this movie, because I always tell people transactional is dead, generally speaking, but but the difference is that your topic, someone will rent it for 399. Some will buy it for 999 to give extra bonuses or extra interviews on it. Because it's such a there's something like I want to heal myself. I'm going to spend 399 It's a horror movie. Oh, wait till I find it somewhere else. There's 1000 other horror movies, but there is no other healing documentary. So you have this really special place. And that's why that makes sense for transactional. And I'm glad that you actually waited. Yeah, I'm glad you actually waited for Netflix as if you would have gotten that Netflix that first deal. You weren't have made as much money.

Adam Schomer 47:56
Yeah, I mean, they said no, to be honest, you know, right. And so my strategy for some other people is like, well, if if you can't turn the dial, show them that you can by trying to get get yourself to number one, I have to in some way, which is hard in itself or just show them there's an audience by selling and who knows, you might not even want to be on Netflix but or go on prime or even know Prime has gotten a little crazy with what they lead on there with docks. Right away prime dropped recently. So after Netflix, we went on to prime which then is just by minute and they're paying you by minute. And that ended up being very lucrative. Also, you know, people,

Alex Ferrari 48:33
You would probably be at the you'd probably be at the higher end of that minute per minute, because there's a range of a penny to 12 cents or something like that. Yeah, yeah, probably higher. Seven, maybe

Adam Schomer 48:44
Sounds we were making per minute. And that's great. At one point, you know, I don't mind sharing this that I one point we were making, there was like 12 million minutes a month, basically is what recently, then prime minutes big, you know, like shove off of dogs. Right? We they dropped us in the UK dropped us in Canada dropped us in France. And we're like, geez, you know, like, what's up, I, you know, what's up, and then suddenly, during COVID, they dropped us in the US. And so we had our distributor, ask them He's like, he's like, they don't even tell me why. I've never had them, overturn it. With all the docs that have they've taken off of ours. And with he'll, for some reason, like a week, two weeks later, they put it back on. So something clicked in their head, like why why do we randomly take this off, you know, oh, it's alternative health and we're in COVID. And that's dangerous, too. Who knows why they turned it off. You know, there's nothing about COVID in there. Obviously, there's pre COVID. And even so, I think people should be able to talk you know, it's a little strange out there. That's a whole nother topic. But distribution wise, you know, Netflix a little you know, a little chunk but the awareness with Netflix went crazy. And then we pivoted to prime after and that's helped a ton and still transactionally you know, people still buy a transaction you But he'll is a you know, kind of an anomaly like we're talking about people are always sick and they're looking for resources and they're motivated. And, and we think it's a very balanced film. It's not too woowoo. So so it has a broad audience, which is what we wanted.

Alex Ferrari 50:12
That's awesome. And then you also, like started building out other product lines and services around heal, which I found fascinating as well. So you had I think a book came out. Yeah, Kelly, so she has a book based on it. So now you're leveraging the audience of the people who've seen the movie to like, oh, the heal, the book is out. I'll buy it. Like I bought the I bought a wake the book. Exactly. I saw the awake book, it was just like the movie companion to the book. I'm like, I'm such a fan of that movie. I was like, I bought it. And then Peter was like, seeing him in the background of my, of my shows. Like, that's, that's amazing. I'm like, yeah, so it's great. So you have the book, but then you also did something, which was really interesting to Summit. So can you go? Can you go into the summit a little bit? What is the how you were able to partner with a very big self help publishing company? And if you don't mind talking about the financials of that, not details, but just general?

Adam Schomer 51:07
Yeah, yeah. Because it is fascinating. And it's, it's something that jumped out to me, as we're making it, where we're like, we have these interviews that are an hour, an hour and a half with these top experts, Chopra, Dispenza. Braid and, and Anthony William Medical Medium was very huge now and was just kind of growing at the time. What are we going to deal with these interviews, we should do something. And so I was, we were super busy, of course of the film, but I was whispering to Kelly, like, we should put these together and sell them in some way or put them for people that want the deep information. So we were considering doing it on our own. And then, and I, you know, we just start all my rallies, people, our Hay House authors, you know, a lot of these, you know, who, let's approach Hay House and see if they want to do something together, because they would have an audience too. And that could be helpful. So we just call them up and had a meeting sat there, you know, with the CEO down in San Diego, and he's super nice. Like, that sounds great. Let's do it. You know, it's like this. Yeah, it's a win, win. 5050 Cool, let's put them out there. And they had their strategies of like affiliate partners and all that. We had all the footage, they had the marketing team to be able to make it happen and get it out there. They had that system. And that's, you know, we just had a really delivering support and make sure it was in our brand that they didn't, you know, make it to Hay House, that it still had the heel ethos to it. And that's something we wanted to keep. And it's a great partnership. I mean, we love Hay House. And we ended up doing a summit two and a summit three, I mean, the summit, finances did fantastic.

Alex Ferrari 52:43
So those are those based on old interviews that you shot for the movie? Or did you have new stuff come in?

Adam Schomer 52:48
For the for the first summit, we took all the interviews from the film, and I don't think we added anything new because we had a team that we filmed. Maybe we did. And so that for somebody that amazing and the you know, the great byproduct that came out last summer of 2018, after the film was out, but then we walked away with an email list that was about 300,000 people.

Alex Ferrari 53:12
Right, and so you're talking dirt, you're talking dirty to me now, sir.

Adam Schomer 53:17
I mean, they were blown away, we were the best we did the summits that year, they were blown away, we were blown away. Financially, I won't go into the details very, very well. The summits alone that we've done, have more than covered the budget of the film. And that makes you kind of think and you go oh my god, you know, like, you put all this effort into editing a film. And you could have shot 18 interviews, and not edited anything and put a summit, but you needed the film to create the buzz. And the film really is the entry point. And here we are, though in 2022. And there's a lot more summits and it's a little more saturated now. So like doesn't that yeah,

Alex Ferrari 53:56
It is it is it is a little bit more saturated. But still, if you've got an audience, and you've got a topic, people, it'll cut through all of that. And it's literally exactly what I was writing about, in my book Rise of the entrepreneur, it's like, the movie becomes a giant trailer, a giant, a giant marketing piece, as and I said in the book, even give the movie away for free, right? Because it's all about driving people to I don't care about 399 for a rental or 999 for you to buy the movie, I care you to buy the summit, that's gonna be $100 or it'll be a couple 100 bucks, or you or my services or my consulting or my books or my other things that have bigger, bigger, you know, interest in, you know, financial interest in as opposed to the movie that I might have a distribution deal that I don't, as we talked about might not get all the money because of expenses and all that stuff. But they don't take money away from summits. They don't take money away from books, they don't take money away from services or other things that you can provide. It's fascinating and that you leveraged the people inside of them. Movies audiences by making them partners with an affiliate program. Yes is the future. It's, I mean, why wouldn't you? Why wouldn't they, if they liked the product, don't push it out for them. It's not that hard. And they just make they make money and they help their audience. So it is a win win. It's a wonderful ecosystem. It truly is a wonderful ecosystem. And there's a

Adam Schomer 55:23
Yeah. And there's, there's a podcast now we did 38 episodes of the pocket. We did three summits and you know, and internationally, like, we push that summit out in Germany and France, and it's still going, you still go and we have great partners over there we work with and, and yeah, in a podcasts, what else did we do? Podcasts, we've we've, we have 38 episodes, we're going to start up again, probably in July, we've taken a little pause, and now we're developing series and going to end to go out with a series hopefully,

Alex Ferrari 55:55
Like a like a, like a, like a 10 episode series, or it's

Adam Schomer 55:59
Like a premium doc series. That's that's always been kind of in the back of our mind. It's just been again, like timing. And we think like now is is a good time.

Alex Ferrari 56:07
I'm just saying, Guys, this is I mean, it's everything I've been saying. For years, it's so really, I wouldn't be writing the book right now you'd be a case study. And maybe in the second edition, I'll put you guys in as a case study, because it's just, it's so brilliantly done. But this is the future for independent filmmakers. And in you've I mean, you've been down the road so much already. You've done I've done a ton of work, you know how hard it is to sell a movie? And how to make it to make money with a movie. Yeah. And the future is I keep saying is you have to be that entrepreneurial filmmaker that takes control, creates other products, creates other services creates other revenue streams off of the film you're doing, and you can't do it with a narrative. I've seen it I have many examples of it. But Doc seems to be so much easier. Because the audience is right. Like they just want it it's a different audience,

Adam Schomer 56:57
Then then that makes sense if the audience the niche and also usually the passion behind the doc, somebody that's doing it has some expertise in that topic or passion. And I mean, you gotta have that right. If you're gonna stick with something and make it big and brand like you have to be in to cycling. If you're going to do a cycling movie or right we're the road to dharma, like motorcycling in the Himalayas, I'm into yogic thought, I'm into freedom. Freedom is important to me. And wisdom is important. I can't write a course on freedom to go along with that. If I'm not into you know,

Alex Ferrari 57:28
You're like this Yo, he's out of his mind. He's trying to kill me like if you wouldn't have been in the vibe with the story. You can't so you have to be something that's true to you as a filmmaker or that interest you as a filmmaker because you're gonna be with this for a while

Adam Schomer 57:45
For a while you know, we can't Americanize everything be like, Hey, let's market the Hell, if you don't have any passion for it, you absolutely won't happen or won't work. Like, I'm looking at some other films and like, like the polygon that we did, like, there's not much we could have. I mean, that's about nuclear testing in Kazakhstan, and

Alex Ferrari 58:02
Very small niche.

Adam Schomer 58:06
It's still a film, you need to get women another way, Buffalo we just released Tuesday, which is about Native American women and the history of Native Americans and, and really the wisdom of the matriarch that's coming through. Now. Could there be some other ancillary products or maybe a summit? Yeah, maybe the main pushes, like, let's just get some awareness of this thing going. But Deborah, who directed it, she's been working her butt off for years. And her ancillary thing to be honest, is photographs. Because she's a photographer, she has some amazing photographs of this. She sells for, you know, big pieces and big money. So, you know, that's her passion. That's what she's good at. That's what she's going to do along with the film.

Alex Ferrari 58:46
Yeah. And, and I imagine that with that, if I was gonna ask you about that film, because I know it just came out this week. Women are the white buffalo. That is, you know, talking on a market research, audience base, there is an audience for this film. In Native Native Americans, many Native American Americans around the country would be very interested in probably some in in overseas, you know, people who are interested in in some, but this is your, this is your market. So, could you do a summit with interviewing? Join the full interviews? Absolutely. You know, is it as big of an audience as he'll probably not know, but it's still an audience. And it's bigger than nuclear testing. Like that's, that's a passion project. That's I want to get this get this out there. And that's fine too. But when you make a movie like he'll or other projects, they give you the freedom to do whatever you want. So if you want to make a small little movie that's really just about getting it out there for people and doing the bet that's fine, too. Is every everyone always filmmakers? I always find the thing that like you got to make $100 million to be a success. No No, not at all. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. It's most, most movies, most filmmakers 99.9% of filmmakers don't make $100 million. You know, I always tell people if you made a movie for $50,000 And you made $100,000 Man, you are success. You know, if you happen to make a quarter million dollars, fantastic. Now you can go finance another movie, live for a little while while you keep going. Doing it

Adam Schomer 1:00:36
And redefine success a little. Now we all have to as you interviewed a non nones in both worlds, right. He studied economics at university and he's a guru, right? I studied with Masters in the Himalayas boasts, we have to be able to survive, you can't deny the fact that we need money and we need we're in this society and we need to play in this society. It's not time to go in the caves. But but at the same time, we want to do something that's meaningful. You know, we're gonna do something like if we can redefine success, meaning okay, yes, we have to be sports I was but how about a teacher that had a few students like learn and grow out of their shell that year? And like, What a success, they had a few kids really get something from that teacher and go on, and it really inspired their lives. Okay, do people watch women in the white buffalo or watch Rhoda Dharma, a lot of people watch rode the Dharma or do the course. And they're like, I'm going to India man. It's like, cool. Now is it reached 3 million people? No, but like, 1500 people have taken the course and, you know, have 100 or 200 of those said, I'm going to India now sweet, like, I'm going to change somebody's life. And that's successful. Like, I got to share my story and push somebody else to do the same. But to me, it's like, a success.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:47
Exactly. So you and you have to define success for yourself. And I know for a long time I define success. As you know, I have to be the biggest director in the world to find success. And I was very angry for such a long time about that, and very depressed. And I think a lot of filmmakers and screenwriters and actors, all of them go through the same process, because they all like we all got to be Spielberg or Nolan, or Fincher or James Cameron and like, two, there's only there's only one of those. And there are anomalies. They are masters, they are.

Adam Schomer 1:02:16
Yeah, it's not gonna be for psychosis. It's a recipe for sadness and pain.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:20
Exactly. So I when I started this show, seven years ago, I started to redefine what success was to me, I'm like, Oh, I get to do what I do. Every day, I get to talk to people like yourself and share this information and help other people and be of service to my community. And I'm like, that makes that makes me happy. And like, and then I can go off and make my little movies when I want to go make them with that really caring if they make a tremendous amount of money, though they all have been very profitable. And they all done well. That's not my concern, per se. You know, it's not like I need to make money on this film in order to eat. Now I've built another inference infrastructure that allows me to go off and do whatever I want.

Adam Schomer 1:02:58
That's all for your identity. Like your identity is not so wrapped in

Alex Ferrari 1:03:01
It's not anymore. Absolutely not. Yeah. It's so that's what I try to teach here at the show on the show, and try to really have people understand what success is for them and really define it for themselves. Because if not, you will, you will go mad. And you will absolutely go man, and this business is tough enough. It's just his brutal enough without without you having to do like, Oh, God, I'm 23 I didn't make Citizen Kane yet, like Orson Welles. Oh, I'm 27 I haven't made Jaws yet. Like Spielberg, I'm like, Are you out of your mind?

Adam Schomer 1:03:37
Yeah, I stopped, I stopped watching reading a lot of the trades or, you know, like, I don't read them, but and watching a lot of award shows, because it's like, it can't be the focus. It can't be like I have to, you know, it has to be like, No, how do we define ourselves as success? And how do we have this internal dialogue of gratitude and what we're doing in our life, and, you know, America tries to really throw other ideas down your throat. I mean, that's part I think, why why we're both here, Alex is because changing that culture, in some ways of saying, let's give meaning in a different way to our lives and to media, and maybe not keep throwing the same stories of success down people's throat, like once you get this and the girl on that, then you're happy. No, you know, it sounds cliche now, but it's really still out there. You know, and it's really still a story motif all the time.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:28
I mean, because like I tell people all the time, Hollywood is fantastic about selling the sizzle, but they suck at selling the steak. And that's what that's all about. And I always and I've said this a ton of times in the show, so everyone please forgive me, but I'll say it again. Adam hasn't heard this. The greatest analogy for Hollywood is going down to Hollywood Boulevard. And I don't know if you've been down to Hollywood Boulevard. I'm sure you have. It is a cesspool. But on Oscar night, it looks like oh my god. It's Hollywood glitz and glamour and look at the staircase and look at this Look at the stars. But the second, the award shows over, they take up the red carpet, and the drug needles are still down in the alley. So it's just, but that is the perfect analogy of well, Hollywood is because they show something. But what's really going on behind the scenes is probably not what they're showing. And that's what they built that they've done since they started the industry. So but people get caught up in that in that mentality of sizzle, sizzle sizzle, and I need this, this, this and this, and I'll be happy when this happens. You can't be happy when this happen, because life is not a destination. It is a journey. And I've talked to Oscar winners. And I've talked to Emmy winners, I've talked to very successful people who've reached the top of that quote, unquote, mountaintop, and then they go now what? And a lot of them get depressed because they've been working all their life to disaster and they get the ask them to like, I don't know what to do now. Like, where do I go from here? Because they haven't enjoyed the journey up to the top highest pass the highest pass and then just like, I don't write, I don't understand what I do it.

Adam Schomer 1:06:02
That's why I did that movie first. Oh, I see it's the journey. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:08
It's all part of the plan. It was all part of the plan the entire time, I'm sure.

Adam Schomer 1:06:13
Gonna do that. I'm gonna do the hardest question, you know, hardest job I could possibly do first that would teach me everything so that I can then have a sane career making,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:23
Because I'm assuming he'll not so difficult, comparatively?

Adam Schomer 1:06:27
No, comparatively, no, you know, no, no, no life threatening moments.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:33
You know, you just we go to a house we go to myself, we should staff.

Adam Schomer 1:06:37
But I'll tell you, you know, the adventure is like, oh, what's the adventure of the people that are going through the healing art? Yeah. You know, I could not be as a filmmaker but all we're watching them and like it is everything when you're sick. It's every Oh, so does you know as much as I love adventure, it has a little bit out in the film. But no, for me as a filmmaker, not as not as crazy wrote a Dharma. Yeah, I'm still at risk again, even though I know how to ride a motorcycle.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:02
And this is the insanity of filmmakers. You're still thinking about trying to do a second third season one day of growth? Because you're insane. We all are. Because normal human beings wouldn't do that twice. Film it twice. And then go, you know, I think I could do this two or three more times.

Adam Schomer 1:07:22
I was just in India with a non right. And I was like, Well, are you open to? Because it always starts from Are you open to letting us walk film? Because he's gonna do this no matter what with people. It's authentic. It's not for the show. Can I come along and film the next one? And he said, Yes. So where do you know we're talking? When in 2023? We can do it again. And then I have the filmmaker crazy madness. Like, like I said earlier, you know, once we've done season two and three, then Netflix will wake up and go, Okay, we'll take off. That's still a little psychosis illusion.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:51
This is the delusion, filmmakers were actually delusional. Because it's so funny that you're like, you're not a newbie at this dude. This is like I hear that kind of talk from like, someone who just like, you know, I'm just gonna do this and this and then Hollywood will notice me or Netflix will notice. You still have that mentality, even after over a decade. And just like, you know, I think if I do three more, four more seasons, I think Netflix will finally take notice.

Adam Schomer 1:08:16
And I do believe it. I absolutely in my heart believe it because like, oh, no, this spiritual audience is growing. And it'll have and if not, you know, so I got me to go keep doing it. Absolutely. And, you know, I just love I, it's my baby, you wrote it down was

Alex Ferrari 1:08:31
Like, Oh, it's wonderful. It's wonderful. I tell everybody. Yeah, no, and, of course,

Adam Schomer 1:08:37
Somebody else will pay the bills. You know, somebody else would be and I'll just keep doing that because

Alex Ferrari 1:08:40
We're carnies. We're carnism we're all we are is carnies. And we just are insane. We're, we're so we're circus folk. We're so we're circus folk. That's basically what we are. I've said that so many times. It's so true. We are so Casper, we put up a tent, we put on a show, and then we leave the town and we go on to the next town. It's the same thing if a film sets the exact same thing, and the people on the crew, very entertaining people. Very, very entertaining very unique people that you meet along along your journey. But it is a I call it the beautiful sickness. That's what it is being a filmmaker being a creative it is a beautiful sickness, because it's a sickness you can't get rid of he can't so fun.

Adam Schomer 1:09:23
Quantity, you know, it's the want to teach you share and maybe, yeah, for you as a documentary. As a documentary, there's no I noticed a little bit me that's that, like my own subconscious that wants to be heard. You know, that maybe it wasn't heard enough as a kid. Okay, I see that part and let's not operate from that part. And then the other part is like the natural teacher, I've taught soccer forever. And you know, the natural teacher that has found a format to do that is called film and entertainment adventure. And I get to hopefully share in that way too, and I don't stop teaching like I teach yoga on the beach to my friends. stuff. So like, that's not

Alex Ferrari 1:10:01
That stretch. It's all about stretching that really.

Adam Schomer 1:10:05
And like, you know, I often remind myself in terms of life skills, like if I had the Oscar and a million dollars, would I still be here at the beach doing yoga with my friend? Absolutely. Would I still be eating here? Absolutely. Will I still be, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:10:19
Would you go back on the road to dharma,

Adam Schomer 1:10:23
I would, I would still be doing everything I'm doing. So like, I better not wait to be happy because it's going to be the same. Actually, there's just going to be in maybe a couple more projects going or more money or blah, blah, in so you just you have to kind of wipe away the Bs in the mind. You have to?

Alex Ferrari 1:10:39
Absolutely. Listen, I'm gonna ask you a few questions asked on the guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Adam Schomer 1:10:48
You know, I'm, I don't. Because I don't see it is a breaking into the business.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:56
Largely. It's larceny. It's larceny. Sir. It's larceny. This business is larceny, we have to break our way in, or make it or make it.

Adam Schomer 1:11:06
I just, here's what I did when I first got to LA and this might work for people and might not I, I went to things and did things that I like to do so that I made friends with people that I liked, so that I didn't network for the sake of networking, so that the people I'm close with, I'm actually close with. And there had a core and still do now have a core group of people that I actually trust. And maybe it's a little different, because it's the dark world consciousness world. But the consciousness world can be as crazy as Hollywood, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:36
I mean, it's your first movie, I need any full credit as a director.

Adam Schomer 1:11:42
Right! Exactly, exactly. The gun and there's plenty of stuff. So maybe that's my advice is to be yourself in the in the lifestyle way. And then that way, you you have a core group of people support system as you're going through hard things that you actually call friends. And that way, you're not pushing so hard to network, you know, and if you're going to something like an event, it's something you might actually connect with someone with you. So that's my only bit of advice, because the way I did is so strange and absurd. I'm not going to go to India, find a guru and make a move, like best I can to work. It's been done.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:22
It's been done already. It's been done. Now it's totally. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Adam Schomer 1:12:31
Yeah, let's let's talk about recent Ben, what happened going on my, in my head is, is that, you know, these, this propensity for us to look back at a conversation, I want to redo it right down, we'll call that doubt, to change the way what I said what I did, or this the thoughts that projecting the future, I'm going to do this and that still, even my last time in India was just looking at where that's all coming from. And I decided just to re engineer all that. So that lesson was, if I'm engineering the future, or engineering, what I should have said in the past, what needs to be re engineered is right now. So let's flip the engineering on now and say, Okay, what is it? I'm feeling that's making me have those thoughts? Oh, I'm feeling some lack or something. So let's use that engineering mind of redoing future paths, and look at an engineer that feeling and say, what's going on in there? And can I shift my perspective to, to break it open now, rather than this false story making the past and future and, of course, I've known that through awareness and meditation for years, but to really use the wording of engineering and just say, I'm going to engineer the moment and look deeply at the feeling when those thoughts come up. It's just really hitting hard right now. And I think that's super super helpful to not get lost in our minds.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:56
And three of your favorite songs of all time.

Adam Schomer 1:13:59
Yeah, I saw your ask this and I have to at least that I logged in life was beautiful because I just because of that ability to help someone else right. And that to bring us out of our own suffering in some ways really, it can speak to us all when you heal other people or help other people does lift you up. The Princess Bride because it got me through college, you know, just memorizing

Alex Ferrari 1:14:25
My name is Andrea Montoya my father prepare to die.

Adam Schomer 1:14:31
And then my third eye hadn't figured it out. So let's just see what comes into my consciousness right now. What? Yeah, okay, well, I guess Star Wars would have to be in there because it pushed me to want a Yoda in my life. And as you know, I'm not my guru. I think we all growing up want it? I think I even say that in the highest pass like,

Alex Ferrari 1:14:55
we I think we all look guilty. I mean, I just I have lifesize Yoda right there he was on my show. I have lifesize Yoda right there. I have a little Yoda right here. So I have a baby Yoda right here. The bobble head. If people are just have a bobble head, a bobble head, baby Yoda over there in a full size, maybe you're above me. So I am a Yoda fan. But you're right, we all want someone wise to guide us through this insanity that we call life. Because it is we're all trying to figure it out from the moment we come out and we're slapped in the butt and we start crying. You know, we're just like trying to figure this out and having someone who can answer questions for you, someone who's maybe been understands things that you don't understand, or maybe a much deeper level that you don't understand, is something I think we all long for, in one way, shape or form, whether that be your parents, whether that be a guru, whether that'd be a you know, a friend, whoever, we're all looking for that in one way, shape, or form. And some of us have the ability to do it ourselves to be our own internal gurus, and learn just by life and life is the guru that teaches you, unfortunately, for better and worse. But right. But listen Annabelle, it's been an absolute pleasure talking to you, man, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to my audience. Man, I, I truly appreciate it. And I recommend everybody watch all of your films, even polygon.

Adam Schomer 1:16:28
It's not as depressing as it sounds, but it needs to be seen. No, thank Thank you, man. Thanks for this podcast for having a Nanda and sharing the soul that you're sharing on the next level. So just sharing your heart on this podcast. Thanks for having me on. Appreciate it. It's such a cool journey. And the next one I'm working on. I can't talk about this doc, but it has a built in audience. And of course, I'm giving it a consciousness and a meaning to it. So like, you know what we're starting to find how to do this, how to sneak in the good messages into something that's commercially viable. And I'm excited to talk about that once it comes out. But again, thank you so much. This is awesome.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:06
Thank you, my friend.

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BPS 353: How to Make an Indie Film Against All Odds with Tzvi Friedman

As filmmakers we all have challenges to make our films. Today’s guest had to deal with obstacles that most of us would never have to. We have on the show filmmaker Tzvi Friedman and he has on heck of a story to tell.

Tzvi is a writer and director based in NYC. He was born and raised in an ultra-religious community where almost all cinema was contraband. Growing up he secretly watched countless movies under his covers and sneaking off to the cinemas. At 18 he started making films, becoming a social outcast, but that didn’t stop him.

He has since directed multiple short films. At 21 he crowdfunded $10,000 dollars and made his first feature Man.

Tortured by his inability to feel emotional or physical pain, a man finds murder to be his only respite – until he meets a lonely woman whose compassion awakens something inside.

After he finished shooting the film, by some miracle, veteran producer Cary Woods (Swingers, Scream, Godzilla, and Rudy) discovered his film and jumped on as an executive producer to help Tzvi finish the film.

Enjoy my inspirational conversation with Tzvi Friedman.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome the show. It's the Tzvi Friedman, how're you doing?

Tzvi Friedman 0:15
I'm doing good. I'm doing good. How are you Alex?

Alex Ferrari 0:17
I'm doing good brother. I'm doing good, man. Thank you for coming on the show, like we were talking about earlier, before we got on the air is I get, I get hit up almost 20 30 times a day now. Without question by filmmakers wanting to be on the show. And I try to make I try to make as much room as I can. But at a certain point, we can't hear the same story again and again and again. You know, like, you know, I've made my movie for 5000 bucks. That's great. And if it was 1991, I'd probably have you on the show much faster. But your story actually kind of has a very unique, it has a few unique elements to it. So we're going to get into that as well. But can you tell the audience a little bit? Because you were talking earlier. You've you found me. You've been listening to me for a little while. So how did you find me? And and how have I been able to even help you? On your on your path?

Tzvi Friedman 1:04
Yeah, sure. So basically, you know, when I decided to get into filmmaking, I knew right away, I wasn't going to do the college route, the film school route, for various reasons. So you know, YouTube, to me was sort of the, you know, wealth of information. Everything is on YouTube nowadays. And you can also listen to various channels, and one of them was Indie Film Hustle. I mean, I have a lot of friends who listened to you and all your channel, you know, pretty popular among us some, uh, we call the underground filmmakers. So, yeah, so we just listened to it. And I also saw your evolution, which is pretty wild. You know, like, I remember, you were talking to, you know, sort of like mid level producers and directors and now you're talking to Oliver Stone. And you know, it's pretty, pretty crazy. And congratulations to that.

Alex Ferrari 1:53
Thank you know, I've been I've been very, I've been very humbled and blessed to be be speaking to the people I've been speaking to lately. And it's been, it's, it's been humbling to say the least, man. And it's, I'm glad and a lot of my audience have heard just told me that they're like, man, I've seen you when I was there at the beginning, when you were just talking to like, you know, you know, just young filmmakers. And now you're, you're talking to, you know, legends and things. And it's been very, I look, man, if I can get any information out of those guys, and gals, and bring it to the underground filmmaker, to an independent filmmaker who didn't have the opportunity to sit down for an hour to talk to I would I want to, I want to be able to do that. So, but thanks, man, I'm glad. I'm glad I've been of service to you on your journey. And I always find it fascinating how you how people find me, and like and how it you know, because I don't get to talk to people often. You know, listeners I generally, and you see them at a film festival every once in a while. So how did you get started in the business? Man, what made you want to jump into this ridiculous business?

Tzvi Friedman 2:55
Was a good question. I don't know if I made the right choice no I'm kidding. Um, it wasn't really like that. It wasn't really so much of a business. And like most of us, you know, it was, um, you know, I was obsessed with movies from a very young age, I didn't really know that somebody made movies, you know, you don't realize that there's like, somebody orchestrating the, you know, the story. I'm actually I think I wanted to be an actor to tell the truth on way back like that. Like, I think that I wanted to be in the movies. That's all I wanted. From a pretty young age. And then I'm not sure exactly when I realized that there was a director, I think it might have been a mini doc about the making of Lord of the Rings. And I remember seeing Peter Jackson, it was like two in the morning or something. It might have been the hobbit I'm not sure. Anyways, and he's driving to like, pick up the DP or something. And just like the whole vibe, and the whole, you know, they're all joking around. And I think that might have been, you know, when I started to realize that there was this one guy, you know, there's puppeteer, basically. Um, and then I just became obsessed with the concept of the director, you know, and, yeah, yeah. So

Alex Ferrari 4:03
I remember I remember in The Lord of the Rings, Docs, this is when the First Lord of the Rings came out, that he released that same DVD set that just had like seven hours or 10 hours of like, how they made it on each movie. And the one thing I always never forgot is that he had his, he had his crew carry around a lazy boy. And that was his director's chair. Like a recliner, like a full not like a director's chair. He like how to full recliner and they would just carried around from set to set, and he would sit there and he do everything and then he get up. I was like, why hasn't that become a thing? I have no idea.

Tzvi Friedman 4:41
Well that's Peter Jackson though, you know,

Alex Ferrari 4:43
If you're Peter Jackson, and you've already released the first Lord of the Rings, I think you can get away with this stuff. By the way, everyone listening. If you're an independent filmmaker, do not I repeat, do not bring a recliner on set and say it's your director's chair. People will hate you

Tzvi Friedman 5:00
Yeah. Yeah, sorry. No, no, no, just about the director's chair. I remember, you know, my first few short films, I never sat down, you know, just sure the whole time adrenaline rush. I remember seeing Roger Corman, you know, very some interview of his not too long ago, he must have been pretty sure he's still alive, right?

Alex Ferrari 5:21
Yes, he is still alive.

Tzvi Friedman 5:24
And he was saying how, you know, asking, like directors advice, and you think he's gonna talk about lenses and whatever, or whatever it might be. And he says, just make sure to have a chair to sit down. And you know, that was his. That was his advice.

Alex Ferrari 5:38
I spoke to a steady cam, I think that the inventor of the steady cam, and he goes, What's the best piece of advice for anybody who wants to learn a steady game, and he's like, good shoes. Comfortable shoes is the biggest piece of advice. Now, tell me a little bit about your background, before you jumped into filmmaking? Because from what you told me in your email, you know, filmmaking is not really looked nice, very positively by your family. So how did what would that? Because that what are the struggles you had to deal with with that?

Tzvi Friedman 6:12
Yeah, so you know, I'll speak vaguely a little bit, because I don't want to get into much rattled, but I'm sure but basically, I come from a religious community or ultra orthodox community, Jewish community. And I think like a lot of very far right, religious communities. That's a far right, I don't mean politically far out, I mean, religiously, very conservative. They have a weird relationship with movies in general, and with Hollywood business, just the concept of Hollywood, Hollywood is sort of the Boogeyman. For a lot of people, in my community, and on Yeah, it's a, I think, um, a lot of it has to do with, you know, Hollywood sort of was the, the front runner of the, you know, counterculture revolution. And I think a lot of it started there, you know, a lot of, you know, just the way, Hollywood, you know, the sexuality in Hollywood, you know, 60s and on, you know, Rebel Without a Cause all these movies, you know, were seen as a threat to, to religious communities and to my community. So that's part of the part of it is like, so Hollywood's this big, scary thing. And there's a lot of immorality there and things like that. Um, and then, yeah, I think that's, that's really what it is. So in my family really was the same thing. You know, modern movies, I wasn't able to see Star Wars or Pirates of the Caribbean and stuff that's, you know, pretty much tailored for kids even that, you know, because there's a fear that it has traces of, you know, either ideologies that disagree with the religion, you know, postmodern idea, and things like that, or, you know, explicit scenes and, you know, stuff like that. So, um, so that's basically where I come from.

Alex Ferrari 8:03
So alright, so then you you see a little film called Star Wars. What happens after you see Star Wars? By the way, you're not the only one who saw Star Wars and like, James Cameron did that too. So that you're in good company that Star Wars changed your life.

Tzvi Friedman 8:19
Yeah, I hope that was unique, but I guess, not so much. Yeah, no. So So I had a neighbor who was, you know, also religious, but more modern than me. His parents were more chilled, so they let him see a lot of stuff. And he would just rant and rave about Star Wars. And I didn't know anything about it. But I just, I just knew I had to see this thing. He had the toy lightsaber, he had like, video games. So I just, um, yes, I just looked it up one day on my dad's computer. And I saw a new hope in like, parts, I'm pretty sure at one time, if not the whole thing, or part of it was just on YouTube. This is, you know, I don't know, 15 years ago, whatever it is. Um, so I saw the first the first Star Wars and, and, you know, I think I always had my mom would read us, like science fiction and books. So it's not that I you know, I, I knew about these worlds, but only in my head. Sure. And then when I saw Star Wars, the first time I actually saw it on a screen that that in movies, people are able to do this, they're able to, you know, create these crazy fantasies and these worlds and it was as simple as that. It just, you know, it was it was like the Big Bang for me, you know, it was Yeah, and I just became obsessed with Star Wars and playing Star Wars with my brothers and having lightsaber fights and stuff and right so I think the Star Wars obsession really was like the story of the bug that bit me you know,

Alex Ferrari 9:45
Yeah, the as I as I like to call it the beautiful disease, or the beautiful infection that is filmmaking, one because once you get it, you can't get rid of it. No matter how hard no matter how hard you try, or no matter what obstacles are up and to be in your way. It's something you just have to do. Just have to do. So which brings me to your first movie, man. How did you you know living in the in the environment that you were living in not getting much support I'm assuming from your family or community? How did you generate the not only the energy to make it but to find the money for it and all that whole thing? So how did that whole process come along?

Tzvi Friedman 10:24
I didn't know I didn't dumb and think as you can see.

Alex Ferrari 10:28
You look, you look as you look as old as I am. And I'm joking!

Tzvi Friedman 10:35
Oh, yeah, it's so basically trying to get the timeline. Right. So basically, I went to Israel, actually, I went to study in Israel, you know, on the hopes of becoming like a big rabbi or whatever. And it was a very intense thing. It was a good experience. But it just didn't work out for me. A lot of good friends who went there to study. But I was a movie addict, the movie junkie, like, that's how I got through high school. Like, you know, there was a time where I was dorming. And in a very serious religious school where, you know, if they would catch you with watching a movie, you were thrown out. And we just watched movies under our covers, literally, I remember seeing Schindler's List in my dorm room on a tiny phone, you know, for the first time,

Alex Ferrari 11:17
I'm sure, Stephen, I'm sure Stephen exactly how he wants you to watch it.

Tzvi Friedman 11:20
So, so basically, so basically, when I came back, I got a job as an assistant teacher in a school. But it was just a soul crushing job. And, and I just had this, you know, like, buzzing my ear, like this little whisper in my ear. And then eventually, um, and then I had a friend who passed away, sadly, and, and right before he passed away, I was talking to him about I want to be a director, you know, and he came from the similar we grew up together, went to school together. But he, but at the time, he became more open minded and everything. And we both we saw a Goodfellas we saw, like all the classics together, I saw Goodfellows in his grandmother's basement, you know? So, you know, he was very positive about it. And he said, You know, I think you should do this, and then he, and then he literally died a week later. So, yeah, he was, he was an incredible guy would do dinero impressions and all this. So. So that really compelled me, I think, like, I remember being at his funeral and his burial. And I just felt really angry. And I just decided, like, I'm just gonna try to do this, you know. So I basically, um, you know, I had this idea for a short film. Turns out the short film was gonna cost like, $100,000 to make, you know, that's how it goes. And you first start, you write a script, it was like a mixture of Blade Runner and all these different things. And, and I remember, like, I went online, I was looking for a producer, and I found some girl on Upwork I don't remember one of these things. I wanted the, you know, the film sites. And she said, Yeah, well, I'll produce it, you know, so I meet with her, she said, Oh, first we have to make a trailer, you know, like a sizzle reel, or whatever, to raise money through Indiegogo. So basically, we ended up getting $2,000 from this. Basically, I used to work with special needs children. So there was a kid I was taking care of, and his dad was like a big fan of this movie obsession of mine. So he gave me like $2,000 cash on the spot for the trailer. Amazing. So we made this trailer. And it was an utter disaster. I mean, it just didn't work out and we raised like $100 is like my older brother who gave them money you know, like on Indiegogo was pretty embarrassing. So then, you know, it was like back to square one again. I'm like, How in the world is this gonna happen? It just is, you know, the trailer was pretty good, I think but it just didn't fly. It just didn't work out. And then I remember I was watching Vice News did a thing on Christopher Nolan's following they interviewed him about zero budget and I was watching his advice and he basically said just take a camera you know the the thing that they say but to me the thing about him certain filmmakers you could see like you could tell they sort of come from the underground world but here's the guy who made inception and all these things. And then I saw a following and it's this real you know guy yeah, like glued together you know with popsicle sticks or whatever it's a brilliant film brilliant but um, but it just it's It's unbelievable to see that he went from there to there. So I basically he did it advice I took a camera I shot a short film you know, I only money was to the camera and stuff into the makeup artist. And I felt it was okay you know like I put it out there some people liked it. Some people didn't. But um, but that's that's basically how it starts just kept making short films. Then I produced a short film for this thing called the indie film collective. I was an interesting experience. And then we made another short film. And then just over time making all these short films, I picked up a very small following on the internet. I mean, when I say small film, I like maybe 10 15 People, whatever it is, but it was enough that at a certain point, I just decided it's time to make a feature film. And, you know, and I kept trying to make feature films or like trying to get or get it off the ground, but it just never worked, you know, and my older brother, he's a pretty well to do successful business guys completely self made. And he just said, you have to you don't be embarrassed, just have to ask people, you know, and again, you know, where I'm from. People don't really know what that like, there's no such thing as somebody's going to make movies. It's, it's bizarre, you know,

Alex Ferrari 15:32
I know the feeling. I know the feeling.

Tzvi Friedman 15:34
Yeah. It's what the other people do, you know, like, it doesn't it's not a real profession that could ever happen. So I think I was at my friend's engagement party, or, you know, ultra orthodox engagement party, and I just summed up the cards, and I just started asking people upfront, I said, you know, could I have money for my movie? And they're like, You're movie what? You know, and I think I quickly explained why I was like, trembling. Yeah, making a movie, you know, and then Christopher and all I can just try to explain to them, and a lot of the guys there that just very kind people very generous and said, whatever, let the kid go do his high school play or whatever they were doing, you know, we I raised like, $800 to $1,000, literally that day, just from asking people, you know, just basically bullying people to giving me money. And then with that seed money, we I joined forces with a friend of mine, and we basically started raising money online crowdfunding on Indiegogo. And we raised like, $8,000 that way, and I put in another 1000 of my own, and we basically managed to get the budget together. Um, but yeah, but there was no, it wasn't easy. Let's put it that way.

Alex Ferrari 16:38
So so then when you get the movie done, then you're now and you basically got it in the can. But from what you told me, you basically, were kind of kicked out of your house, and you were like, sleeping on the floor on a couch with your sister. You know, we all have struggles as filmmakers, man like there's no question this is you're trying to get your feature. May we all got a bag, we get a bag and you know, sometimes steel. Do whatever you got to do to get the movie done. Yeah, exactly. And, and that's the insanity of being a filmmaker, but, but you have the extra stress of also not having a place to live in at this point. And all that stuff. How did you break through that man? How did you break? Because I've never experienced that. I always was curious.

Tzvi Friedman 17:21
Yeah, yeah. So. So also, throughout the shooting, we shot once a week. So I was shooting once a week. And when I'm shooting, I feel like you know, you feel you, you're on top of the world when you're shooting.

Alex Ferrari 17:30
Oh, yeah, it's a drug, it's a drug. Absolutely.

Tzvi Friedman 17:33
It's a drug your high, you know, and then I would come home and not, you know, my siblings are amazing, you know, my brothers, they're very supportive and stuff, you know, but I don't blame nobody, you know, like, how are they supposed to know what the hell I'm doing? I you know, and it's not just, it's not just a religious thing. A lot of parents aren't, you know, regardless, any, anything in the arts is insane. So I would come home, I come back here, and they'd be like, you know, there was, you know, you're kind of like a rock star when you're directing. And then you come home and it's like, you know, you it's like, coming back to the slums. You know, you're, you're, it's like a descent. So it was really pressing, in a way it was like, swinging between these different worlds. And, yeah, and then. So the shooting itself was, there was a lot of a lot of stress in not just the production, but just the, like this dichotomy or duality that I was dealing with, going from basically sinning, you know, doing the grave sin of right, you know, making movies, which is this again, like, sort of, like, taboo satanic thing, and then and then coming home and you know, whatever, participating in the Sabbath and all this stuff, and then yeah, then we finished we wrapped shooting, it wasn't the most satisfying production, you know, again, it's, it's the first feature film, sure it for a penny. And then I come home and, you know, I'm again, I don't want to tell tell you too much about I'm sure. Basically, it's a combination of, you know, I wasn't I didn't have a proper income. You know, I didn't really I wasn't making money didn't have a real you know, my parents were very worried about me, you know, I didn't have a career path. And then again, it's the movies it's all these things coupled together. And I basically just pissed off enough people and they were like, you know, it sparks flew and I basically was told nicely to leave and I went to my older sister, you know, who was living in Queens and I just I was just sleeping in her husband study on a mattress on the floor. And it wasn't that bad though. They were pretty good to me and all and um, but I was really desperate to get a job you know, it was kind of like the Wake Up Calls like alright, this movie dream probably is not going to work you know, I made this movie wasn't edited at all. We didn't caught it just a bunch of hard drives at this point. It was just hard drive just sitting there my editor Christian who works for complex media who I met a whole different story but he edited all my shorts basically. He put together a trailer for me and a reel because I you know I call I'm like frantically saying I'm doomed. And he was, he's always been like, he's my right hand, man, you know, like, it's not for him, I wouldn't be anywhere. So he was really supportive. He's like, I'll make you a real don't worry about it, he made me reel made me a trailer. And I put it into a resume and I just started applying to film jobs, because I didn't want to go back to being an assistant teacher, whatever it might be. Um, and, and I went to Mandy, my older brother, I was so broke, I didn't have like, $1, you know, filmmaker. So my older brother, he paid for my Mandy subscription, you know, for like, a month. And I'm just applying to like everything in the world, you know, Pa D, should I remove old picture, low budget horror movie and all this stuff. And I applied to maybe 3040 things or whatever it might have been. And then I applied to a director gig like a horror movie director gig. And of course, you know, that would, that would have been great, you know. And then like, a week later, I got a call from some guy, the producer of this horror movie. And he's like, is this three Friedman? I'm like, yeah. And he says, um, you know, I saw your resume or whatever, why don't you come down and let's, let's have a chat, whatever, let's get lunch, whatever it was. And I was like, oh, yeah, I'm gonna get the job. You know, I'm so desperate now, at this time at this point. And I remember it's snowing, freezing cold, I go out there. And like, a second I meet the guy, he's like, you know, I don't think you're the right fit for the job. And I'm like, Oh, great. Another one of these, you know? Yeah, meeting time. Um, and then he says, but um, I saw the trailer for your feature, I saw some of your shorts, and I really like it. And I sent your work to my friend Cary Woods. I have no idea what that is. But again, this guy, this guy, you know, he thinks he assumes I know, you know, like, he doesn't realize like, you know, where I'm coming from, you know, that I've no, you know, connection with the business whatsoever. And he's like, he wants to he really wants to meet you. So when I leave the meeting, I call up my editor, Christian, and I say, Oh, my God, this guy. He said, Cary Woods his whole thing was I looked up, I Googled Cary Woods right after, and I saw his credits. Um,

Alex Ferrari 21:52
He's a legend. He's a legend. Yeah.

Tzvi Friedman 21:54
Yeah. And Christian, my editor. Again, I love him. This is to disparage him, but he just was like, come on. And you know, you because you know, people, he's been in the business much longer than me. And he's in a much more professional, severe. And he's had horror stories. So he was like, you know, I wouldn't just don't get don't get your hopes up.

Alex Ferrari 22:13
Right. I would say the exact same thing if you were talking to me.

Tzvi Friedman 22:16
Yeah. And like, I waited for like, a week, I was like, should I call back this guy and ask him and like, I was waiting with my phone. They're like, you know, and then I get a call from this producer again. And he said, Why don't you come over Friday evening, for dinner with carry, he'll be there, you know? So I go, there I go, I go to this, like penthouse again, like, you know, I didn't grow up poor or anything, but you know, just regular middle class. Sure. Family, five siblings, a, you know, everybody that lives very simply where I come from, and all of a sudden, I'm in this, you know, crazy apartment. And there's Carrie, and he looks like right out of his Wikipedia page. You know, it's a little weird. I was like, I kind of thought, you know, but, um, and, you know, like, we didn't really talk March, you know, I didn't, I didn't try to sell myself or anything. But it was it was weird to be in a place where like, everybody was filmmakers. on a on a slightly high end on a slightly in a much higher level than me all in the business. And who appreciated my work, which is really surreal. For that's a cool experience Yeah, it was, it was also like another type of high, you know, like, I was used to always feeling guilty about my work. And, you know, at one time, I would show it to my work to my parents, but they just didn't understand it. They thought it was bizarre. You know, and, you know, my dad would watch very, my dad has a good taste in movies, but it was more very conventional, very formulaic classics. And here, I'm trying to make like a button. Well, weird, experimental, right? Yeah. And he's like, you know, what's with the hands, or whatever, you know, so getting that or even my religious friends who love movies, but like thing, like, they want to watch like Michael Mann's heat or something. They're not, you know, sure. Are all French movies. Um, so basically, yeah, so that was a really great feeling. And then a few days later, Cary texted me said, Hey, let's get let's get coffee or something. And we got coffee. And you know, we just talked movies, and he has all kinds of crazy Hollywood stories. You know, your hero complex is Robert De Niro. So in Marvel, here's my favorite actor. So we spoke about that he worked with Warner Hertzog on Playboy, just endless stories. And he also was an agent before he was a producer, you know, so he's all kinds of stories about that. And then what I don't remember exactly the timeline, I don't want to distort the facts. But but more or less, he basically called me up one day and he said, Hey, I'll help you. I'm going to try to help you finish your feature film. I'll see if I can get some investors and whatever. Um, and, and yeah, that like my, you know, you can imagine I was like in seventh heaven. Um, and then we got investors. He got me a lawyer. And then he actually connected with this unbelievable film producer Jonathan Gray, who's an indie film producer. or also did a bunch of pretty flannel pajamas and blue capris, and you name it, he did a lot of very critically acclaimed films Dark Knight, not the Dark Knight Dark Knight, which went to Sundance couple years ago. And he basically became a producing partner with carry on this film. And he gave us an office at his studio, gigantic Studios, which was insane. Just like Monster just squatting there. And me and Chris Christian and I, my editor. We just were coming there and I was able to pay Christian finally, and I never paid him in my life. Am a few dollars, you know, that was nice. And yeah, that's a sort of the story in a nutshell. I don't know. I'm just wow, man.

Alex Ferrari 25:40
That's that's that's a pretty remarkable story. Because that was the twist that that also added another layer to this onion, that is your stories, because like, you know, trying to get your movie made all this kind of stuff. But then all of a sudden getting a major producer like Carrie woods on board, who's a legend. He's an indie film Legend. I mean, from swingers to kids, and so many other movies he's made over the years, you know, to get him on board with essentially a first time filmmaker, I was fascinated by how the hell did this happen. I always love these little stories of how people connect and how things fall apart, fall into place. And it's just luck being at the right place, right time. Like, in what I don't want people listening to understand this is that there is no path that you can copy. You know, I wasted a good decade trying to figure out how to copy Kevin Smith pass or Robert Rodriguez's path, or Ed burns path like these, these guys, you can't can't copy their path because their paths are unique to them. So the time frame when that happens, so you place an ad, go for an interview, they happen to watch your short a I have a friend of like there's so many things that were magical,

Tzvi Friedman 26:54
It insane, insane.

Alex Ferrari 26:57
It's luck. It's luck. But if you didn't have all those shorts, if you didn't have a trailer, if you hadn't had a movie, ready in the can, nobody would have it, this wouldn't have happened. So it's it is truly when luck meets preparation. And that's exactly your story. It's It's pretty. It's a pretty magical story. So now, where are you with the movie? You're still finishing it up in post, so you're getting ready to put it out to the festivals.

Tzvi Friedman 27:22
Yeah, so we are we already submitted to a bunch of festivals, but it's still a quote unquote working progress. We're doing the music now. That's where we're at now. So we're picture locked, we're doing the music, literally, like we just started yesterday. And also the color which we're basically finished. Um, and yeah, we're just we're just trying you know, you know, nowadays you have you know, it's not like it used to be now you have literally 10s of 1000s of films, you know, everybody with their $100,000 movie. There's just a lot of competition it's very easy to get lost in the pile. Um, and yeah, it's it's really it's sort of playing a lottery you know that a day.

Alex Ferrari 28:05
Yeah, it's it's pretty in you know, if you've listened to the show, and you've seen the show, you know, I've talked about distribution and how to get your movie up there and stuff. It is very difficult to get an independent film with no you have no stars if I'm a mistake you have no faces are stars in the movie.

Tzvi Friedman 28:20
We have some future stars I'm on my right to say that to be nice. We, particularly the main actor in our movie. On time, he was on the Broadway show, cabaret. Sam Mendez is a production but he's a brilliant actor. Brilliant. His name's John Peterson. A shout out to John Baba he he's really remarkable you know, these series that we've been showing the movie to now like we you know, we're showing it to all sides forever they're all like wow you know so the thing is if Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 28:52
Yeah so but but as far as distribution is concerned, yeah. Yeah, if I walk into distributors room and like, Hey, I got a lot of future starts it's gonna be like, get the hell out of here. But no, but not not lack of talent, but lack of star power means recognizable faces. Right? So without that it is difficult to do it unless you can a kid into a film festival that could be you know, that likes it and gets some awards and maybe get some attention. But you know, it just as a non it's an you haven't asked me for this advice, but this is what I would do. I would use Kerry Woods his name as much as he allows you to use it to open doors for you because that name does carry a lot of weight in the indie film space. And that they're like, wait a minute, if Kerry's executive producing this guy's film, I should maybe watch it because of his track record. So you've got an ace in the hole without question. It's not gonna help you it might help you a little bit in distribution but it will definitely help you in the film festival circuit without Question

Tzvi Friedman 29:55
Yeah, there you know, I got like, I don't know how what I'm allowed to say but like you

Alex Ferrari 29:59
Don't Don't say I don't want to get in trouble don't get in trouble.

Tzvi Friedman 30:02
Exactly. I don't either want to get in trouble but no definitely carry but not again, not just Cary we have, we have a lot of the Cary sort of built an army around the

Alex Ferrari 30:10
Right. So um, it's amazing that he, it's amazing that a producer of his magnitude who's done so many films over the years, still is hunting for that, you know that diamond in the rough. It just trying to grab something and trying to help a filmmaker along and that's another part of the story that I love is that someone like him is not too high up in the mountain. We're all the gods, the filmmaking gods live, like mountain Olympus, you know, where Spielberg and Lucas and all those guys live? That they're able that he's still willing to to do because it doesn't have to mean he's completely doesn't have to do anything. But he wants to because he loved the process so much and wants to help young voices come out. So that's a really, that's a really pretty awesome part of the story. So I'll gotta get Carrie on the show. One day, I want to talk to Carrie.

Tzvi Friedman 31:04
Thank you. I think you do it. Yeah. Yeah, he's, he's just a really, I mean, you know, I don't know why he decided to do this. You'll have to ask him.

Alex Ferrari 31:14
You're like, Man, I don't know why I'm here. I don't know how this happened.

Tzvi Friedman 31:19
Kind of like, you know, the movie being there. Which is actually when it carries favorite movies. Oh, yeah. Oh, I love the colors. Yeah, just like he's just like this, you know, um, I think he's supposed to be on the spectrum, if I'm not mistaken. And he's just, just like, stumbling into you know, power, you know, the powerful people and and all these rooms, and you're just like, whoa, what am I doing here? And I get that all the time. You know, like, I'll be at an like, again, like, once you meet these people, all of a sudden, you're at these events. And also, you're meeting these people who somebody people inspired you to, like, do this thing now. And you're just, it's bizarre, and you're not sure and they ask you like, who are you? And you're like, I'm not sure who I am. But um, you know, security? Yeah. But um, but Buckcherry is a really righteous guy. I think he's a really, he's just a really good person, you know, above all else. He's he really, he's, like, a real cinephile. He really loves, you know, even though he might have produced some really big commercial movies, too. But he, he just loves cinema. And, and I think he just really wants to try, you know, he sees himself sort of maybe again, I shouldn't, you know, you have to ask him, but my read is that he really feels like a guardian of cinema. And, yeah, and that's why I got lucky, you know, I bumped into him, but um, you know, but yeah, that's why he again, he didn't he hasn't just done this for me. I'm not the only but pretty much. Many of the directors he's worked with were all first time directors, you know. And

Alex Ferrari 32:51
Doug Liman Yeah. Doug Liman with swingers and John Favre, and that whole crew, I mean, helping them along, and the list goes on and on. I mean, he's helped so many filmmakers

Tzvi Friedman 33:02
M.Night Shyamalan.

Alex Ferrari 33:04
A couple guys, a couple guys,

Tzvi Friedman 33:05
A second, like legit movie, like, I might did like a low budget, indie that went to a bunch of festivals, but his, his second, you know, like, more studio film or whatever, Carryade that happen. And, yeah, the list goes on forever. But um, you know, yeah, so it's really cool. And also, another cool thing is that Cary's producing a film called Maggie Moore's, which is a Jon Hamm movie right now, you know, in New Mexico. So it's just funny how we're making our little $10,000 movie and stuff and Carrie sending us notes. And then he's, you know, busy with these guys. It's really weird.

Alex Ferrari 33:38
It's and I just, I also, I also wanted to have you on the show, because I want filmmakers out there listening to see that this has happened Still, these kind of little, this lottery ticket moment, there are these are kind of lottery ticket moments. I mean, look, look, you're not making the next Marvel movie yet, or anything like that. But you are definitely on a path that will hopefully build a career for yourself and having a champion help you and we all everyone needs a champion Spielberg to look, you know, every one of the gods, the filmmaking gods that we look up to had a champion. If it wasn't for Steven Soderbergh, Nolan wouldn't have gotten insomnia. And without insomnia, he wouldn't have gotten Batman and the rest of that goes on and on if there's always a champion. So I'm just glad that that, that we could put this kind of story out there for filmmakers to hopefully hold on to and go look, there's a hope you got to just got it. The thing is that you just have to do the work without expectation because that's exactly what you did. You did the you didn't have any expectation of anything happening to you. Other than hopefully this is going to get made and hopefully I'll be able to do another one, let alone teaming up with carriers and becoming Oh. Let me ask you, I want to ask you about what is when you were on set, I always like to ask the question when you were on set, shooting one day a week, which is fascinating, which is awesome. Yeah, it was awesome. What was the toughest day on set, like that day that you felt everything was gonna come crashing down around you? And how did you overcome it?

Tzvi Friedman 35:16
That's almost every day, but many days. I'm like, we just have crazy, crazy stories. I mean, again, not. Not anything new but but fun. You know? So we were operating with like, it was a tiny who, first of all, like, some of our crew pulled out, you know, last shock. Last, Shocking. Shocking. Exactly. So we have to do the scramble, Facebook, all that all that jazz. Went to makeup artists like I don't you ever saw manbites manbites dog,

Alex Ferrari 35:43
Of course. It's amazing, amazing film, everybody listening, watch man bites dog. It's on criterion,

Tzvi Friedman 35:50
They keep killing the sound mixer. The reservoir. So that's basically what it was like, we were going through makeup artists like a revolving door, you know? Because again, we didn't really have money. So that's how it goes. Right? Nobody first you know, very people want to get and it was in the middle of the winter. But the second day, the second the second day, which is the second week, it was going to be one of these 18 hour days, and we're shooting in multiple locations. And we were at the beach, we decided to make it into the film and None None of this footage. And all of a sudden, again, I don't want to I love my crew and everything. But somebody said, Oh, we don't have we didn't have anything, we could have dumped the footage and we didn't have enough memory cards, let's just put it that way. It happens, bro. It happens. You're like one memory card, you know, and so that that was like one of the that was you know, I just started I had a full on panic attack. Um, and whenever we ended up having to drive over again, and laptop and good memory card was crazy. I mean, something as simple as that, that we didn't prepare for obviously, it was a little ridiculous. But still, we had like, I don't know what it was like a 64 gigabyte, you know, like, the whoever was supposed to bring that stuff didn't bring that stuff. That was one of them. And then we had another shoot. Well, also, we were shooting in a lot of places that were given to us as a favor and paying for it. Sure. So one of the places we were shooting at, I just remember being terrified of like things breaking, you know, and of course, we ended up breaking something. And then it was the whole thing was like who's gonna talk to the owner who's gonna make the call. And we'll just read tickets just together with the whole supervisors, just like fear because like, everybody was just like, let the kids do their thing. Let them play a little bit, you know. And then the craziest thing was, we were doing a reshoot of scene, a murder scene. And this is like, this is after the 10 weeks. This is like, this is like a few weeks later, we finally managed to get everybody available. And we're shooting a scene. And it turns out, we didn't realize that when we shot there a few weeks before dislocation was were a homeless man would sleep it was his territory. And he remembered us from the first time and he came he started like cursing us out. And my lawn producers span is from Colombia. So he speaks Spanish. So he understood what the guy was saying. But he didn't want to like tell us what the guy was saying because you don't want to scare us and we wanted to get finally conservative. He's like, I think the guy my break the camera, and I saw one and I turned around there pulls out a knife and he puts it to my AC'S neck. And he's like basically saying, you know, I'm gonna kill you if you don't leave. You know, so the first thing I did was grabbed the camera and Ron, you know, and and the whole crew followed afterwards. I was like,

Alex Ferrari 38:32
What happened to the AC what happened to the AC.

Tzvi Friedman 38:35
He was fine. But he said we you know, we just like walked away slowly like we did you know? And the guy just chased us out of there. He chased us out of the location. We couldn't go back we couldn't get any more coverage. And that was it. That's all we had. I'm afraid to go to that train. Stop now because it's near a train station.

Alex Ferrari 38:52
Wow. Yeah. It's crazy stuff and never ceases to amaze me the stories you hear about productions especially indie. No budget productions. It's there. Man, I've been there. I understand it. I I've been there's too many times to today. I haven't had anyone pull a knife on us. So that's a new one. I haven't had that. But there has been other stories to say the least. Now, I want to ask a few questions. I asked all my guests, man, what do you what advice would you give to that underground filmmaker listening like you've been listening to me? And what advice would you give them to get there, you know, to get into the business to do what they love to do?

Tzvi Friedman 39:32
Yeah, so like you said, like, there's no roadmap. Anybody who tells you there's a roadmap and end of the day I think it's bullshit. I remember I got a PA gig actually like on a big set called the good fight. CBS show. My friend Sergio was my line producer on my film. He got me in there. And I was like, I was trying. That was at one point. That was my thing. Like I just kind of get on a big set and I have no idea how right you don't go on indeed and get on a because it doesn't work that way. So it turns out these have to meet someone who knows Mondo can get you

Alex Ferrari 40:00
Networking, networking networking. Yeah,

Tzvi Friedman 40:02
Yeah. Which to me is kind of it's that's really frustrating to me about the about how the business it's like this very elitist, high barrier entry type thing. So I finally get on I'm gonna stand in PA, I'm given a radio and stuff, you know, and my job is to stand outside of door. I'm like, just like 1000 PhDs and I'm gonna stand outside the door and just tell people to be quiet, right? My job basically is to do nothing, but I got it was good money, but like, I did nothing the whole day. And by the by, by breakfast, I'm just trying to talk, you know, network speak to people find out like, how do you get into this mysterious place? And I remember I met the production designer of the show, and he was covered in paint, like his pants and everything. And I said, Hey, like, how did you get here? How do you and he looks at me with a big smile. He's like, you're here. I was like, Oh, thanks. Wow, great advice. But, but the point is, that there really isn't. And I remember I asked them, you know, how the actors have PA is also, you know, like the treated like royalty that can't touch the ground. So I asked them, the PA to one of the actresses like, you know, about the director, I'm like, How do you know how she got here? And she's like, you just have to do it. You know. So the point is that even when you're in the US the, you know, the inner chamber, the machine, yeah. Yeah. Like, nobody really knows. It's like, I remember seeing an interview with David Lynch. When he was doing Twin Peaks Season Three in like a cafe some woman was interviewing him. And she asked David Lynch, you know, what do you what's your advice to filmmaker, you know, asked to make a living or whatever. And he's like, I don't want to talk to such a filmmaker. You know, he was trying to say that if that's your goal, then, you know, he, you know, it was he's a very he's a purist. You know, he's

Alex Ferrari 41:44
He's an artist. He's a pure artist. Yeah,

Tzvi Friedman 41:46
Yeah, it's pure artist. But But I think it's true. Even if you do want to make a living off filmmaking, you know, you're gonna be in for a lot of heartbreak, probably, again, I'm, I'm in the very beginnings of this, I can't really, you know, give like real sagely advice. But I just think from the little that I've little path that I've traveled is that just make just, you know, make films tried to believe in yourself and on. And, but again, like some people want to I again, I don't want to impose my my thing, because I had my I put it this way, I just did my thing. I wanted to make my kind of film. I made the film, I wanted to make some I got lucky. Some people recognized it, and they appreciated it. And that was that but but who knows, you know, Ridley Scott made his made his first his first feature at 40 years old again, again, he was a big commercial director. You could you could point to that. But there plenty I mean, David Lynch was like, 33 I think what he did a raise your head? And so who knows? You know, there is no, there's no path. Ad. Yeah, there is no path. That's basically the advice that there is not no advice.

Alex Ferrari 42:52
Yeah, it is. Yeah, I get asked all the time. What that is, is like, just do what you love to do. And try it just don't don't bet the house on it. Because this is a very difficult path, digital question. And I've talked to everybody from the biggest guys to, to, like, you know, people just starting out like yourself, and it's always about, you know, how do I get in? And what do I do? I'm like, you just got to do it. And, yeah, you'll meet someone, you'll connect with somebody, maybe someone you met not now, in six years, they'll open a door for you that you didn't know about. It happens, it's happened to me, it happens all the time. It's just it. That's the thing that's so frustrating about being a filmmaker. It's unlike being a doctor or lawyer they have those are direct paths to making a career. You know, an engineer like these are direct paths. Filmmaking is just like, it's like, it's like a musician or like, arts in general, there is no, there are some paths you can take, but like to be a filmmaker to be a director to tell stories like that. It's tough, man. It's tough. But Is it doable? I talk to people every day on the show that it worked out. You know, I was able to make a career out of it as well and, and still love to do what I love to do. It's just about doing it, man. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Tzvi Friedman 44:20
Hmm, I think, um, just as a director, what I found again, like there's no universal because the honest, that's the thing, the arts are so subjective, which is why there's such a diversity of artists in so many different paths in the art world, because it's not a science. It's not a doctor. So, you know, it's not like look for a surgeon. Yeah, like, he'll tell you, you know, don't move the knife left because you'll kill the person. But um, but for an artist is very different. But for me, personally, what I found is that I used to think I remember I used to be a big Ridley Scott guy.

Alex Ferrari 44:53
Oh, I mean, Blade Runner. I mean, Jesus Christ.

Tzvi Friedman 44:56
Yeah, Blade Runner is one of those, you know,

Alex Ferrari 44:59
Top 5 yeah, no, no, no question.

Tzvi Friedman 45:02
No other masterpiece. But anyways, I remember him saying like, you know how, you know, I storyboard everything. And you know, like, really? He's a tough guy. And premeditated, you know, and I remember being terrified, watching his interviews, he said, you know, if you're ninny, then this is not for you, like all the you know, and, and as I used to go into during the short, that's the, he says that it I remember seeing him say that, I remember, I would storyboard everything and just like, try to be like, very calculated, you know, and, and like, basically not let my actors breathe and, you know, be this tyrant on set, I'm going to be like Cameron and Scotland, you know, and again, it obviously it works for some for, for some people, but what I found, at least for the low budget world, is that oddly, ironically, it helps to sort of, like, let things go, like, for me, that's what I found, like, I was the biggest that I went from this feature, but this feature I came in with all these plans, and oh, boy, did I have to throw them away pretty quick, you know? Yeah. I found that, like, the magic for me happens when, when it you know, I'm avoiding the cliche of collaboration, but that's kind of what it is, like, you know, I got lucky my DP and I, we did two short films after the feature, I got like a really good relationship with Him in a really good relation with my editor, and my composer and the main actor, in my film, have a very, almost like a telepathic connection with him, you know, and we're able to sort of vibe with each other. It's kind of like a dance. And we just, you know, you have to leave, I think, for me, it's leaving room to just allow people to breathe, and let's try to let the movie sort of let it take its own form, let it come alive. It's like this organism that, you know, you only could control to a certain extent, and then you just let it live. And in fact, it ends up making the film better. I think, for me, when I allow the chaos, let the chaos take over. The chaos is good. It's not bad. You know? That's, for me. Probably the biggest creative lesson that I learned, you know,

Alex Ferrari 46:56
Fair enough. And three of your favorite films of all time.

Tzvi Friedman 47:01
And the there are none, but I could come up with three like very important films to me. Sure. Um, the 400 blows, I think would be one of my favorite films of all time Francois Truffaut. I would say I'd have to say, Christopher Nolan's Inception

Alex Ferrari 47:24
Mind blowing

Tzvi Friedman 47:25
Yeah, I have to say that one. Um, and I would say Fellini's eight and a half. Again, this is the mood now you know, your top three change, you know,

Alex Ferrari 47:37
Oh, no, that's just the three right now. Yeah, like a band plays on by Fellini,

Tzvi Friedman 47:41
I asked me when I was 10 years old, it would have been Star Wars, Star Wars and Star Wars, you know, so it just changes but right now, as a as like a filmmaker, when you're studying the craft, those are the films that really, to me, are like the most important films to me at inception to me, at least of the modern era of movies that's like to me like the Citizen Kane, my city might what I consider the citizen game for me of modern cinema.

Alex Ferrari 48:04
Well, my friend, I appreciate you coming on and being raw and honest about your story. And I wish you nothing but the best I hope man does very well and in the scene out in the festival circuit. And I hope to have you back when you're doing the next big Marvel movie or something.

Tzvi Friedman 48:23
Yeah, it's been pretty thanks for having me on the show. And it's it I still can't get over it. I'm talking to you is pretty odd listening to this voice, you know, Indie Film Hustle Podcast Talking to you, it's just it's, it's cool. And it's an honor. And it's also like, is this real? But um, okay.

Alex Ferrari 48:43
I appreciate you, brother.

Tzvi Friedman 48:45
Likewise. Yeah. Great to meet you Alex.

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BPS 352: From DIY Filmmaking to Directing Studio Films with Matt Stawski

Matt Stawski is a Grammy-nominated filmmaker and director of Nickelodeon’s Blue’s Big City Adventure, an original feature-length Blue’s Clues & You! movie, premiering Nov. 18 exclusively on Paramount+. Marking Stawski’s first feature film, Blue’s Big City Adventure is a sing-and-dance-along musical spectacular for the whole family, featuring all-new songs and choreography with the show’s beloved hosts–Josh (Josh Dela Cruz), Steve (Steve Burns) and Joe (Donovan Patton)—and fan-favorite animated characters. The movie also features BD Wong, Ali Stroker, Taboo, Alex Winter, Phillipa Soo, and Steven Pasquale’s special star appearances.

On A trip to New York City, Josh and Blue get help from Steve and Joe, but a greedy man plots to make the Big Apple his own and he hasn’t learned to share, With Blue on the trail, She must go on an adventure and save her friends and NYC before it’s too late.

Born and raised in Detroit, Mich., Stawski began his career “borrowing” truckloads of gear from his local TV station and filming punk bands with his friends.  After attending Columbia College Chicago, he immediately moved to Los Angeles, where he began directing music videos full-time. From 2006-2019, he directed videos for a wide array of artists, including CeeLo Green’s epic video “F**K You,” which garnered Stawski a Grammy Award nomination; “Hey, Soul Sister” for Train, as well as Fall Out Boy, The Wanted, Ne-Yo, Paramore, Fifth Harmony, Snoop Dogg and more. During that time, Stawski also began working in television, filming pilots for Awesomeness and Nickelodeon.

Stawski is currently in development on an original horror film titled Monster Mash with Universal Pictures. In his free time, he gets lost in the Sierra mountains, practices close-up magic, and hosts a secret horror movie drive-in at an undisclosed location.

Enjoy my conversation with Matt Stawski.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Matt Stawski 0:00
Like we had all the dance figured out with, with the dancers. And this thing happened when we were playing the song on set and like people were like snapping their fingers and bobbing their heads and we're like, yo, let's just, let's really lean into the Little Shop of Horrors of it all. And even the background, you know, all the background actors that were sitting in the seats like they just like kept BB in their heads, almost like Betty Boop, you know, everyone's like moving to the beat.

Alex Ferrari 0:22
This episode is brought to you by the best selling book, Rise of the Filmtrepreneur how to turn your independent film into a money making business. Learn more at filmbizbook.com. I'd like to welcome to the show, Matt Stawski. How you doin, Matt?

Matt Stawski 0:36
Good. Thanks for having me. Alex, good to meet you.

Alex Ferrari 0:38
Thank you for thank you for coming on the show. Brother. I really appreciate it. You know, I was I get pitched on the show all the time for people to come on. And I heard your story of the DIY beginning of your career, just kind of like hustling it out, grinding it, doing these crazy music videos to get started and then all the way to where you're now where you directed your first feature for a studio. The Blue's Clues Spider Man far from a far from home? Or yeah, no way home version, which will get

Matt Stawski 1:09
Treatment oh my god, people. The internet is a great place sometimes, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:14
You know, sometimes sometimes it's a beautiful place sometimes. Every once in a while. It's it was well, so my first question is how and why God's green earth? Did you want to get into this insanity that is the film industry?

Matt Stawski 1:26
Oh, man. i Wow. Why did I want it? That's that's a question I've probably never been asked. I think I was just I was into it. Because like a lot of people, I was just making stupid short films with my friends, you know, were young, you know, running around the woods making horror movies, one wasn't called hacker was was like my first stupid or movie, I made my friend Mark. And then another reason was because I just had access to equipment. You know, my, my high school was a cousin on Warren, Michigan, and we had a radio station TV station. And we would, you know, the second half of your day, you know, your fourth, fifth and sixth hour, you just go to the radio station, it was like this red place where there's like stickers on all the walls and like my teacher and green hair. And we just got records from all the record labels, they would send to all the radio stations first. And we were like a high school station. We weren't even a college station. But we had access to all this red music. And that's where I learned how to edit by doing like radio dramas. So I did a lot of like audio editing. And I learned how to shoot local bands, because we would be able to rent out cameras, and we would just go shoot bands. So that's kind of how the music video thing started was was at my local like radio TV station. So I guess that yeah, that's beginning.

Alex Ferrari 2:44
That's how you got started in and put, I gotta imagine that the second you decided to go to being a filmmaker, that all the money came in, and you were living large and life was good. And it was everything was easy. You got yeses all the time. Right.

Matt Stawski 2:57
Oh, yeah. The I have to I'm trying to sell my fifth yacht because, you know, I gotta I gotta for the

Alex Ferrari 3:05
For tax reasons for tax purposes. I understand. I understand. I two souls my seven last week. It's fantastic.

Matt Stawski 3:13
Too many, you know,

Alex Ferrari 3:16
Too many Exactly. But when you got started, I gotta imagine during those early years, there was a lot of rejection. And a lot of just like not, you know, you're talking about doing music videos, which I'm assuming a lot were free at the beginning just to get your reel up. What did you do to keep going when that door just kept getting slammed in your face?

Matt Stawski 3:37
Yeah, that was I mean, I think when, when you're young, as long as like, I had Final Cut Pro. And I had my parents computer, you know, and friends and I we throw our money together. I mean, yeah, we borrowed gear from the school, you know, to shoot stuff. But we also bought like VX 1000s and VX 2000s. Like those skate video cameras. And as long as we had a camera and editing gear, we were able to, you know, I mean, yeah, the band and the label would be like, Hey, we got 500 bucks for a music video. I'm like, Cool. That's the guest to get to New York, you know, and that happened multiple times. But like, you know, at the time, like, I don't know, everything was cheaper. We were all I mean, high school, we're living at home, so I don't have any bills to pay. But when I got to college, you know, we were able to really stretch $1 You know, so we would shoot tons of stuff on like 500 or $1,000 budgets. I remember we got like our $7,000 budget and our mind was blown. For this video for this band called Evergreen terrorists. They're like this hardcore band from Florida. I'm still good friends with Josh James Susan that then he's actually getting into videography now and I'm kind of helping them with that but but we got 7000 bucks to shoot that in Detroit and we use all the money to get like a real Chapman dolly and like 16 millimeter, you know, camera, good lenses, some real lights and it was me and like two other guys and a makeup person and Hold it all up to the roof to this rooftop like 10 stores like literally at Chapman Dolly, a champion Dolly. And yeah, we had, we had like no no pas or grips or electricians or anything, we just did it all ourselves. And so it was, it was like, up until the point where I was like, actually doing music videos and record labels, I was still like wrapping up all the chords and putting all the lights away, you know, like everything you could do on a non union shoe. We're just used to it, you know, so we had tons of situations where, even though we were we, you know, you write a lot of treatments, and you get rejected a lot. But those treatments, those times, we did get the opportunities, even if the label had 500 bucks, you know, like, we just had to be creative. You know, we just had to learn how to shop in a fabric district and learn how to go to a party supply store and get confetti poppers, you know, and just like weird things to add production value to a video when you can't build sets and, and really like, you know, the city of Detroit, like just scout the city and find the cool alleys to shoot in and find the picturesque areas and shoot when the lighting is good. And all that stuff that you know the guerrilla filmmaking stuff, you just kind of learn on the fly, you know,

Alex Ferrari 6:08
I'll blow your mind because I'm I'm a bit older than you. So in the 90s and the 90s. I remember working on $300,000 budget music videos. With which low and third third string artists, not even the top. That's not That's not top level. That's not the Taylor Swift of their day. It was third string, they were the backup singers of the real people who were the label was trying to get out. I remember specifically, and I'm like, Dude, seriously, there was so much money. Yeah. Then Miami, no less in Miami. Now even in New York or LA in Miami.

Matt Stawski 6:44
Yeah. Where where you don't have access to like multiple rental houses and stuff. And that was I mean, I was I think that was the biggest budget I ever. I mean, I did a commercial that was bigger. But music video wise, like the Disney videos, videos, I did like the kid videos. Those were that was the budget and that was considered big like, well, it well, we could shoot two days instead of one, you know. But but but I mean, I yeah, I got into the game, right when I was just doing this, but a lot of the, you know, I heard a lot of stories from you know, a lot of Aedes and kind of lectures I worked with, you know, being on the set, like the Michael Jackson set where he didn't show up, and it was a foreign issue, and everyone got paid full rates. And they just said that, you know, kind of a thing. And now, so,

Alex Ferrari 7:27
So much money, it's so much money was coming on, right. It was insane. Well, I mean, also to be fair, I mean, everyone was still selling, you know, $20 CDs. Yeah. Yeah, there wasn't. It was a whole other different business model back then.

Matt Stawski 7:42
The checks where you get five cents, you know, residuals on Spotify and stuff, you know, like,

Alex Ferrari 7:49
It costs more to send the check than the check is worth. Yeah, yeah. So just send me a stamp. Send me a free stamp. Would you do that that are valuable? Yeah. So so when you were so you did a bunch of stuff, like, you know, like, and I did a bunch of that stuff, too, coming up as well, like doing these commercials and stuff like that, that wasn't getting paid? Well, when you first had a real client. And it was a big budget. When you walked on set. You had a real crew? Yeah. You know, and that was you're not wrapping cable anymore. Yeah. What did that feel like? Like, when you were in the first time you were in $100,000 Plus budget? You're like, Oh, God, this is real. Like, pressure. How did you deal with how do you feel on that day?

Matt Stawski 8:31
Yeah, you know, I can remember it too. It was it was like a follow up boy video in 2008. That I did. And, and that one was I think, like Pete once was dating Ashley Simpson. And I remember, there was like, paparazzi on set and like, you know, people doing a bat. Like, I think she had a reality TV show that was filming. There was like, all these cameras. And like, I don't know, you know, there was the MTV people and the BH one people and then our cameras. And so it was, it was intimidating, but but I do remember, like, Pete ones had my back, you know, he saw I did this Anthony green video that was really trippy with lots of animation. And that's the reason I was able to do follow up boy, because he he vouched for me, he's like, I want that I want that weird trippy animation style. And so you know, when the artists kind of, you know, has your back like that, all it takes is to sort of get a couple shots in the can and show the band, you know, and like, show them what it's going to look like. And when they sort of like how it looks, you just get that confidence boost. And then like the artist is going to they act a little wacky or on set, you know, and then they, you know, kind of give it their all and everyone sort of trusts you. So it's just, I think, I think early on though in that stage that I'm not gonna say fake it till you make it. But that sensibility does make sense. Like, you may feel like you, you know, there's some impostor syndrome for sure. But the I think the main thing about their acting that, that I've realized, like, in the last, I mean, I don't know pretty recently, maybe in the last five years is you just have to be the person in the room that knows the most about the thing you're doing. You know, if you're going to, you know, make a music video about whatever Detroit you just got to do your history and be able to tell all the executives all the, you know, record label people, artists like yo, Detroit, this isn't this, the spots are great. This is awesome. You know, you just have to, you know, do your research and know the most, you know, kind of a thing. So with music videos, it was all about pre production, just having insane storyboards, and references, and film clips and all this stuff. So when you're on set, you're showing the artists all this stuff, you know, I guess we didn't have iPads back then. But just flipping through via your laptop computer, and just showing the record label like, Okay, this guy knows he's got a vision. And he thought about this a lot. You know, I hated living. I think I had nightmares about, like, coming up with shots on the spot, you know? So, yes, it's intimidating. But if you just like, have tons of references with you, and like, really tell all your department heads exactly what you're going for. And then it's been that confidence kind of, you know, swells inside you.

Alex Ferrari 11:00
It's funny, the like, literally last week, my daughters were listening to a song. And they're like, what's the song? And there's like, then I don't get the data. I'm like, that's, that's CeeLo Green. And this is like, am I can we see the video? Like, I've never actually seen the video of this video. So I literally watched the CeeLo Green video, forget, like for four or five days ago. Not knowing that you directed it? Yeah. Oh, cool. Not knowing that you directed it. I just it just it was a happenstance. The universe has brought that to it. So now it's like it's fresh. In my mind. I just saw it like literally four days ago. And then I'm doing research and you're like, son of a heat directly. What was that CeeLo Green, because that was such a massive hit. First of all a green. I mean, so massive. Was that the thing that just took your career to another level?

Matt Stawski 11:55
It was for sure. I mean, that's the thing that got me representation. It got me an agent and a manager. You know that. You know, Eric Garfinkel and Britain Vizio and they're the ones that taught me the and the narrative industry, the film industry and got me reading scripts and all that so that that video was a big, a big help for me, for sure. And we didn't you know, it was the whole story behind that's really interesting, because I was working at refus TV, which is, you know, this woman, Kathy pelo runs that she also has a record label called Sargent house. And she's this like incredible, just punk rock woman that knows everyone she's like, knows the New York party scene. And she hung around with all these, I think she was a model back in the day, and she hung around with all these legends and she knew people in the theater and the Broadway world. And she was a commissioner for Atlantic Records as well. So when that track was, was kind of sent out, the song was called fuck you. And a lot of big name directors passed on it. Like I don't quote me, but I think like Mark Romanek and Spike Jones and Chris Cunningham, like all pass on that artsy room, you know? And she was like, well, we got like, a 60k budget, and we got to do this and one day and so I got to like write on it. And I just wrote that like Motown do copy treatment. And he loved it. So you know, enter, enter 16 hour day, you know, try to shoot this thing a candlelight Jack's up in the valley. And, and that's what like, kicked it all off. So it was a really good, like, I have to think Kathy pelo for that because, you know, a lot of people don't know, everyone's break is always a weird story like that, like it was right place at the right time, you know, kind of a thing because she happened to be the commissioner for that right for that video. And a lot of people happen to pass on it just because the song was obscene, you know, the title

Alex Ferrari 13:44
At the time until they did forget you which we need some radio play guys.

Matt Stawski 13:48
Yeah. And it just it had that viral thing because it was like an obscene title. But it was such a happy going do I? Like, like, you know, it sort of, you know, made fu this popular Mimi viral thing, you know, and so it's, it's, I always thought that was kind of fun. How that, that, that? That whole thing happened. It was it was quite the clip interest.

Alex Ferrari 14:11
It was it was what year was that? Was that? I mean, it was 2010. Exactly, because it still had a vibe. Because I remember the 90s when you had the MC G's of the world and the Michael Bay's of the world, were they using the cross processing and really vibrant colors. You had really vibrant colors in that I remember it wasn't gone like MC G Smash Mouth video was the day but it looked beautiful. And then you mixed in this whole like musical aspect to it, which was like, which is which was the sign of like, where you're going? Because this way you love musicals, and we'll talk about the musical side of you in a minute. But it was really, it didn't look complex in the sense of the budget. It wasn't it was one location essentially, and fluently. Wasn't that crazy? But it wasn't it wasn't expensive. budget it wasn't it was you did a lot with the money you had, and made it look really good. And one located basically one big look, or whatever.

Matt Stawski 15:08
Yeah, and we just like, it was one of those things where you just use the look, use the advantage of that location and neon lights and the colorful walls, and we just like saturated all the lights. And there was also something that happened to like, that was the first job I ever did with Lindsay incred. My choreographers and they did the blues movie too. And every music video in between, and we sort of like we had all the dance figured out with with the dancers. And this thing happened when we were playing the song on set, and like people were like snapping their fingers and bobbing their heads, and we're like, yo, let's just, let's really lean into the Little Shop of Horrors of it all. And even the background, you know, all the background actors that were sitting in the seats, like they just like kept bobbing their heads, almost like Betty Boop, you know, everyone's like moving to the beat. And that just added this, like, kind of funny, nostalgic touch to the whole thing. And I think everyone just loosened up and all the you know, all the people that were playing all the roles in the film and the different Seelos like, we're just real loose, and I think people were just vibing because it was a good song. You know, you don't always get like, a good song to times you have to do you know, I've done every kind of video, but that was just a great song. And I really loved it. So everyone was just bobbing their head the whole time. And it just we capture that energy, you know?

Alex Ferrari 16:17
And how did the town treat you after that? After that video? belle of the ball,

Matt Stawski 16:24
I booked I booked it good. You know, I kind of stepped up as far as music videos go. You know, and I was able to book a lot of jobs, and I was really riding that momentum. I think if I could go back in time, you know, I mean, I guess I, I would, I can't say I'd like change anything about my life. But I probably would try to use that momentum to push myself more towards narrative earlier, you know, because I, you know, I'm 37 now and, and I probably could have gotten into the narrative world a little bit earlier, but I just I just kept booking music videos for years. And that's kind of why I stalled on the narrative thing, because I was just working and Yeah, exactly. And you

Alex Ferrari 17:02
You got you got five yachts, brother, you gotta I mean, that's a lot to support.

Matt Stawski 17:06
Yeah, yeah. After the second yatch, I just had to keep doing the music videos, because the budgets got by yachts. I'm talking like the paper ones you fold up, you know? And, obviously, sir. So but yeah, I was I was booking some work after that. And it was cool. You know, it's a good feeling to do like eight music videos a year. I mean, I know some people like turnout 20 a year. But with all the post effects that I do, you know, I always do. It's like editing my own stuff. So eight was like keeping me really busy. And, and yeah, I was really busy after that, for sure.

Alex Ferrari 17:35
That's awesome. And now, we all as directors, there's always that day on set, that the entire worlds come crashing down around you. And you don't think you're going to make it you're not going to make it and arguably that's every day. But there's generally that one event that really stands out on a project. If you don't want to say the project, you don't have to say the project. But if it's a project, you could say say it, and what was that event? And how did you overcome it as a director?

Matt Stawski 17:59
Um, I have to say that that's only happened. I mean, yeah, we have tough days. And yeah, we have to like, you know, kill setups and weather happens and things like that. But like the toughest day it was this video I did for me it for me to the friend like me, it's a it was a Disney video, he was doing a cover of Bill and song. And it was just one of those days where the the setup for everything, we just didn't have enough money and enough people to light this location. And there was this big pole in the middle of our location. And it was so hard to move the camera around there and really tried to like, I mean, we at the end of the day, we pulled it off. But it was one of those days where we really ran out of time. And I had to like, kill half the shots, like literally half the shots. But, but they were the narrative shots and, and something and I mean, this is this is an interesting thing that happened. And this legitimately happened, we shot we shot nail against a wall for the performance stuff, you know, let them pretty just put like a blue color on the wall and let them all orange. And we shot a white medium close up. And that was like the performance coverage. He's an incredible performer. So it was like we had great stuff. And all that footage got corrupted in the cards or whatever. So the insurance for the production actually covered us they have another day of shooting. So we were able to get him on the stage and light him even better and getting better performances out and and no one was stressed out. So all that time that we didn't, you know, all the shots that we didn't get were able to get on the second day because a card was corrupted. And insurance actually covers that somehow, you know, I don't I don't know how that all works. But we got another day. So that was the most like that was one of the days where I realized like, wow, we're not gonna get it, you know, and the video looks cool, you know, his performance was incredible. It's all about him. So but I've never had I mean, I've heard those stories you know from you know, some Some more like season, you know, guys and gals that have worked with have, you know, the hurricane comes through and blows the, you know, the flags over and he stands flying and somebody got injured and there's like, you know, like, you know, people suing people and all that, like I've heard of that, you know before. I've never had like a nightmare day like that and I don't know maybe it's, it's a little bit of luck and a little just being prepared kind of a thing you know. But

Alex Ferrari 20:26
Listen, when I was putting my demo reel together, I shot 35. And I sent it up to do art, because I'll say it out loud. In New York, and they, the machine broke and burned out all my neg. For two of my spots for two of my out of the three spots. I did two of my spots gone. It was 20 25 grand out of my pocket, gone. And they're like, we'll do the new rolls again, for free. I'm like, Oh, really. And I was so young. I could have sued them. I should have done. I mean, I should have easily gotten because come on. So I had to go back and that's why my demo reel cost 50 grand but I lost it and I was better actually got back I got a better set of DPS. I did it. Same thing is you got to do it again. figured things out differently. It was an expensive lesson, but it was a lesson nevertheless. Imagine that.

Matt Stawski 21:13
Yeah, yeah. I mean, that's, that's I mean, I can remember back times like heart like like hard drives have gotten corrupted and things like that. Turned are like the weather my generation, your generation. We've turned into like command safe people like I'm always hitting Command save commands, making double backups and triple backups and like sending a hard drive to my parents just so I know. In Michigan, there's a hard drive with the thing in case my house burns down, you know. So when that happens, you turn into a worrywart for sure, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 21:42
No, it's in I came up with when the first habits were coming up, and those things crashed all the time. So I became an opposite, opposite, opposite opposite. Constantly. It's it's a habit. Now I'm used to the new stuff that just kind of saves in the background constantly for

Matt Stawski 21:56
Everything, it's a whole different thing. So but oh my gosh, I still have all those hard drives. Do they just like every time I do big creative stuff, and it's like, I don't even think the power outlets work anymore. You know, like, but I don't know.

Alex Ferrari 22:11
I just, I just moved from LA to Austin last a year ago. And I did that had a box of FireWire. 400. Yeah, yeah. And I and it all worked. They all revved up and I just downloaded them all into a solid state drive and just started dumping them like I don't need this. I don't need that. And then just put nice drills in the holes.

Matt Stawski 22:33
Yeah. Just recycle them. Yeah, I drove home recently. My like, I had like some sixteenths and 35 I can't get rid of mine. Yes. And

Alex Ferrari 22:43
I couldn't get rid of it. Yeah, my closet right now. I can't 35 I got 35 16 Super Eight, and a kick in pockets of them buckets of these 35

Matt Stawski 22:53
Prop someday you need it to like, you know, the other

Alex Ferrari 22:56
day did the day I actually I just retransfer them all to 4k or 6k actually, because I did everything to standard def before. Because I was like, You know what, let me go back and take a look at some of that stuff. And I did I transferred. So but eventually I'm gonna have to go to have to.

Matt Stawski 23:12
Yeah. Because because, you know, our mansions don't have the space for them anymore. You know,

Alex Ferrari 23:18
Obviously, I mean, we have to say that that's in my West Palm Beach,

Matt Stawski 23:22
Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 23:25
So another thing a lot of people don't talk about, especially filmmakers don't understand is the politics of a set. And musically, I I came up later in my life I was I joined a music video crew. And I did a lot of big music videos in the post side. And I was on set and you know, Justin Bieber, Snoop Dogg, you know, ludicrous. All these kinds of people are coming up. And I saw the insanity. Yeah, it's insane, like insane on set with a music video set. But when you started getting onto these other sets that weren't, they were more professional, quote, unquote. And you had these older crew members who saw this kid? I gotta imagine you got some pushback. Did you deal? How did you deal with that?

Matt Stawski 24:13
Yeah, I mean, I My personality is I'm very passive. You know, I'm, I can say, if I'm, if I'm confrontational, it's as kind as I can possibly be. I know. I mean, I had to, I always knew I was the young guy on set, you know, and I think anyone's gonna deal with that if you're directing because, you know, you're always going to get crew guys that are, you know, little little older than you. But, you know, I can't think there's ever been any like conflict. Like I know, there were probably people. I mean, obviously, we'd had like our 18 hour days where you're pushing people to art and stuff. And I learned from really good producers not to do that early on because someone gets an accent on the way home that's You know, I only had I had a very short lived career as far as pushing people too hard and having long days. And I luckily I worked with some really good like, I worked with this guy, Mark Russell chef is his nickname. I don't know if you've ever read, he's an incredible ad. And he was big in the music video seemed like he worked with Hype Williams and Mark Lobeck Yeah, he was like Hope's guy for a while. And when I got to that, like budget range where I could afford them, you know, he was my ad, and he had my back. And he was one of the, you know, like, the best Aedes are the ones that can like, you know, kind of yell and get everyone to listen to him, but like, kill you with kindness at the same time, you know, like, kind of, like, when it's time to, like, get the shot, like, let's go. He's that guy. And he, he sort of taught me a lot that I know, and he always had my back on set. And I think that helped a lot with those situations, because he was a veteran. And so just like the directing department being sort of, like supportive like that, like, he was able to push back at any of that, you know, like, any credit smirks or anything that came from some of the older people on set. And, and I also, you know, like, if you can remember someone's name and shake their hands on, look him in the eye and compliment them, if some let you know of some lighting looks incredible. It's not just the DPS, the gaffer, you know, it's like, so it takes a village every time and, and as long as you, you know, really make sure everyone sees that their craft is, is seen and respected and that they're doing a good job. I think that that's like the key, you know, to, to sort of getting that respect even being younger, but I don't know, if there was anyone that was a little bit better, just because I was young, like, whatever, I don't care, you know, I'm too focused on this insane, where there's so many shots you gotta get, and you have this amount of time and the clients like looking over your shoulder, like there's too much other stuff to worry about, you know, so

Alex Ferrari 26:56
Gotcha. Yeah. So I mean, if you have a good if you have a good first ad, or do good DP to to kind of Yeah, to help you with that stuff. That's helpful. But sometimes you I mean, I had guys who literally just like, literally try to chop my legs off underneath from underneath me. While on set, it's a different certain things you just have to figure out. I mean, at what point at some someone I walked on center that I thought it was a PA UPM hadn't met me yet. And they're like, Alright, you go get the service go. And I'm like, Dude, I'm the director.

Matt Stawski 27:29
Yeah, that's happened to me recently, actually, because, like, I had a couple, like, like, our second ad was like, like, because I just, like T shirt and jeans because I'm there to work. You know, I'll be on my knees like, and I'll get my hands dirty. And all you know, it's like, he's like normally the directors I work with, like, show up like with a suit and tie and makeup and their crazy hair and all this and I'm like, yeah, man, I'm just like your to work. You know, it's the same mentality. Like, it doesn't matter if you're sitting like and I also like don't like to sit like I'm always trying to stand because that was like it musically a world it was like, you see a shot, you're gonna run over and talk to somebody and then like, you just can't be on your on your butt. You know, I haven't had that luxury yet, you know, so maybe in a commercial I sat because that's like the bottle.

Alex Ferrari 28:12
Oh, yeah. It's all about like, four hours on live in the frickin bottle. I mean, yeah. And the clients, they're like, you're like, just do just just do let me know when you want me to yell action.

Matt Stawski 28:22
Yeah. But when you got like, a million setups in, you know, no time to do it. Like you're just, you're running. And I think as long as I mean, in a lot of people see that too. They see how physical the job can be, too. So it's like, back from that too, you know? So

Alex Ferrari 28:40
That's, that is true, though. If this crew sees you busting ass, yeah. But if you're sitting on a recliner, with your coffee latte, you know, in their button. They're like, Hey, guys, I need you to lift that crane up. 10 stories amici up. They're not that you need to do it. But they just need to see that you're. You're a general man. You're a general running, running the unit. And yeah, and they got to see you moving and they got to see that you're into it. But if if there's pretension Oh man, it's hard. You lose. You lose your crew you lose everything.

Matt Stawski 29:13
Yeah, yeah. And that's like, that was a big part of do like I never like I was never like posing for photos or like, you know, like, oh, yeah, I'm doing the whole the whole thing like look at this set we built you know, like, you know, like now you just like, you get a shot you go you talk to the actors or artists first then you talk to your DP then you talk to your ad and then you you know, you make sure they know what to communicate to their team. And and you just you just go in order and whenever the you know, the record labels talking to you, everyone else needs to like, you know, their first obviously but but yeah, it's just it's just making sure if you communicate that I think you get that respect. Like if you're very clear, and there's no like question marks or people are confused as to what they're doing. You know, and even if people say you make if they see you make decisions like You know what we're running out of time we gotta cut this shot. Like, if you do stuff like that, too, they're like, Okay, he's not gonna, like run us into the ground like we're gonna get through the day, you know? So, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 30:11
So if there was a statement, if you can go back in time and tell your younger self at the beginning of this journey, one thing, what would that one thing be?

Matt Stawski 30:19
It would be shoot a short film way earlier. Because my agent and manager were like, were always telling me shoot a short film, do a short film, you know, you don't? Yeah. Yeah. And, and I was, I don't know, I think I wasn't like cocky when I was younger, but I definitely was like, Oh, I can just go straight from music videos to features, you know, like, did it Fincher did it? Exactly. Yeah. And, you know, my first short film I did was, like, you know, with with, that looked good was like, 2016 2017. And I should have done that way earlier. Because, and just like learning narrative, you know, like, I think, you know, I learned a great deal in school, I actually really liked college. But you learn the most from just watching movies, just putting on the criterion channel and watching old shit, you know, like, and that's, and that's sort of the best film school. So I think, I mean, I do like to watch a lot now. And I did watch a lot in college and stuff, but I think I would have I mean, I have friends that you know, 400 they watch four movies a year, you know, it's like, like, every night they watch the movie. And I think that's the best because that the influences from all those films is going to like, consciously or subconsciously make its way into your film. I think taking taking your references and style from old stuff is the best way to go. Because if you take it from new stuff, it's obvious like, Oh, they're ripping off euphoria. They're ripping off, you know, you know, whatever new, you know, Tarantino movie or whatever. But if you take for a while, Tarantino kicks from oil. So that's a big circle.

Alex Ferrari 31:48
It's a vicious. It's a vicious circle. Yeah. No, you're absolutely absolutely right. That's why like, you know, PT Anderson, stole a shot from Boogie Nights from I am Cuba, that no one had ever heard of, unless you had a criterion, LaserDisc of it, or your Martin Scorsese or friends or for Coppola, who produced it or released that. And everyone was like, this shots amazing. And I'm like, wait a minute, that's from I am Cuba. But it's such a great shot. And it's so beautiful.

Matt Stawski 32:14
You know, I saw that for the first time just recently, because I had never heard of it. and Cuba. Yeah. I saw that one shot and I was this like, what is this? Like it? Just how did they do it?

Alex Ferrari 32:28
Yeah, no. And the thing that they did was how they did the stuff we're talking about? 1950s Yeah. Technology. These Yeah. Tank of 35 millimeter cameras. I mean, the tanks weighing a ton. Yeah, they're flying them around. Like they're like an iPhone on a gimbal. Like, it's not I mean, just insane. And then from the seal from a rooftop down an elevator walking around into the water, like, mind blowing mind blown.

Matt Stawski 33:01
And that's why that's why the whole practical way is always the best like and I think people even people that swear by CGI, you're not just gonna good CGI for sure. And I I like certain amounts, but you subconsciously know it's not real. You know? But when you put that real practical thing there or the camera really, you know, like what in your auto does and what they did in what's top good? Oh, yeah. Even talking Yeah. So that three times in the theater because I was just like, I noticed really happening and kind and

Alex Ferrari 33:33
Can you imagine if that would have been CG? Can you imagine if that was just wouldn't have made the money? It wouldn't people will be like,

Matt Stawski 33:39
Alright, yeah, that's a really good example of something that everyone's gonna hear before they see that that it was all real, you know, so there's like a good I think I think films should definitely have campaigns behind them if they do pull off crazy practical things, you know, like, like, even what was that film that came out? Victoria the one shot was a film you know? They said like, yes, this actually is a one shot film. It's not like a Hitchcock floor ground pass that we're doing like we shot this. I think they did it three times. And the second time was the one they used or something like that, but that was a full they started at 2am and or 3am and the film ended at 5am and it's an actual one shot thing and I don't care who you are if you know that information before you see the film it's going to make the experience that like when the guy plays the piano or he catches the thing or they have the squibs and the guy gets shot like you just know like wow, this was all planned out you know and it's

Alex Ferrari 34:35
It's another experience like seeing the the 18 Wheeler flipping dark night you're just like yep, you can tell that's real like that's there's no seeds you can't CGI the way it looks the motion the things that cook it just too complicated. For it to look real the way they

Matt Stawski 34:53
Did they did they do a Jackie Chan on that and show the show it multiple times. I can't remember if it was like

Alex Ferrari 34:58
Oh you mean like what I I'm sure they did. I'm sure the edit was like that. But it once it left, it was there. And then I think they probably cheated a little bit as far as just the edits, but nothing was. And then I think boom, boom, boom, I think they probably dam the dam like three times, like the Jackie Chan style. But

Matt Stawski 35:17
Yeah, you think in the edit, they were like, oh my god we have 18 Incredible angles of this but we can only show like three you know like because they pride so many. I also, I mean, I can't remember this, but I thought I saw a viral video. Where did they shoot that during the day and they just colored it to be nice. I

Alex Ferrari 35:33
know. I think that wasn't the behind the scenes. At least the behind the scenes that I saw was done. Yeah. Yeah. So it was yeah, that would be too difficult. Day for Night is tough in general. Like yeah, to do something like that with the light. No.

Matt Stawski 35:47
I think maybe it's because like, I remember seeing somebody filming from their apartment. And it's like daytime, you know,

Alex Ferrari 35:51
Maybe it was the preppers I don't know, because they had you know, it wasn't I don't think it was a one or I think they I think they could do it more than once. But who knows. But now we're getting it now we're getting into some geeky film stuff. Yeah. So yeah, you want to filmmakers get together we started going down that road. Yeah, I am. Cuba turns into Chris Nolan real quick. Yeah. So so your your feature film debut? Is the new film blues big city adventure. Yes. How did the guy who directed fuck you? The Blue's Clues. You know, you know a big Paramount release? You know? How did that happen? How did you get involved in this movie, man?

Matt Stawski 36:38
I have to say it's it's i i worked with Brian Robins back in 2013. Brian Robins Sure. You know was head of Nickelodeon had Awesomeness TV he when when he was at Awesomeness TV. I did like a sort of Team musical thing with him called side effects. And I just stayed in touch with him over the years. He then eventually got me like an Aquafina commercial. And then I did like a pilot for Nickelodeon with them. And I think the the script was kind of sitting around for a while with Blue's Clues, you know, like they had always wanted to do it. And the timing was right, because, you know, Steve went viral last year. And as far as the CO viewing ship, a lot of the adults that grew up with Steve now have kids that are growing up with Josh. So I think from a just, like, promote, like a free promotion standpoint, like, like, if the parents are gonna watch it, the kids are gonna watch it, because you're gonna watch it, you know, just it worked out, the timing worked out. And Brian just called me and he was like, Hey, man, like, we got this thing. And it's a musical. And I was kind of in that musical because he gave me a lot of creative freedom. Like, obviously, I don't forever want to be in the kids space. I don't want to be in the preschool space. But I want to show like, hey, I can take something with a you know, like an indie budget, and stretch every dollar and make it look like three to four times more than what we really had. Because that's what we had to do in the music video world. And, you know, fingers crossed, I hope like, like, I know that like our movies coming out the same day as disenchanted. You know, the big Disney tentpole, whatever, you know, they pride 100 million bucks on that. And if we compete in the smallest degree with that on streaming, like to the smallest degree, we put a dent in that. And that's cool, because we did have, you know, yeah, it was it was like an indie budget, but it was still a lot of the ways and the techniques we used were, you know, ragtag DIY ways of doing things. And so I was, I was kind of like, I liked the challenge of it, I knew the brand was important and existed and I just had this, this, you know, the fact that I was going to be able to make colorful, beautiful musicals. And with the musical genre, it's fantasy, so you can break so many rules. And so we're gonna do a lot of fun stuff. As far as the fantasy of it all. I was I was game. And also like, I'm not rich. So I'm going to take every job I can get. Like, literally, that's part of it, too, like I was, I've never been able to pick and choose my jobs, you know, so it was on top of the fact that it's an incredible opportunity. Like, you gotta keep working. Because in this industry, if you become irrelevant, it's a hard Pat back. You always have to have something like cooking in the oven. You know,

Alex Ferrari 39:17
There's 400 there's 400 guys or gals right behind you waiting in the wings to take over? Yeah, what you left, whatever you left behind. Oh, look, what when you were coming up as a little bit different. It wasn't as much competition. Definitely. When I was coming up. It wasn't as much competition but now.

Matt Stawski 39:34
Yeah. Yeah. Because you can use I mean, the, you know, the, this camera looks incredible. Now, you can even do that fake depth of field thing too. So it's like, man,

Alex Ferrari 39:46
It's insane. It's you imagine if we had this cup technology? Well, we're coming up as kids.

Matt Stawski 39:53
It was especially music videos to you know.

Alex Ferrari 39:56
500 That's an extravagant budget.

Matt Stawski 39:58
Yeah, yeah. that it's funny that this kind of like, this has been a problem sometimes because, like, my choreographers will film dance. And they'll, they, they're also directors too. And they like to kind of test out what kind of camera moves could work with the dance, but they're using this. And when we get on set, I'm like, well, we can't move that fast. This is big Steadicam or it's a dolly or you know, whatever. So it's like, a lot of times, you know, you have to, like slow down when you're when you're rehearsing things, but, but yeah, it was, you know, it was also just like, what a big opportunity and I just couldn't pass it up. You know, and I love and I love Brian and Nickelodeon is great to my, my partner Nikki Lopez works for Nickelodeon, too. We just happen to both have projects in Nickelodeon, so it's definitely a good family there. For sure.

Alex Ferrari 40:47
Listen, one of my first jobs was working in Orlando, Florida, Nickelodeon studios. You're at the OG I was the Oh, I saw Brian many times walking behind on set. Yeah, cuz he was producing stuff back then using all that and yeah, I serve for a a for trivia that no one cares about. One of my first pa gigs was global guts. Oh, I was on I was a Spanish translator in global in global gusts. So they would bring in like the Spaniards and the South American kids and I would be the ones translating for them. And I was on set there. And it's Oh, it was it was amazing.

Matt Stawski 41:24
Correct. Yeah. The global guts was the glowing democratic, right. It was like,

Alex Ferrari 41:28
Right. Yeah, it was it was a little bit different. I never did. I never did guts. I did global guts. So it was just always the international kids coming in. And man, it was so much. I mean, that was we're talking what 96? Yeah, yeah, in the hayday. So I remember seeing Brian and I remember seeing Brian, you know, on head of a class when he was, ya know, back, back back back in the day. No, I I've watched his career man. And he's pretty, he's a pretty remarkable dude. Like, he really hustled up to the point where now he's running the studio gotta give it to,

Matt Stawski 41:59
And, and everything Nickelodeon did in the 90s was so cool. I mean, it's still it still is like a really cool, like, company that takes a lot of chances. But I was defined by that, you know, this the Ren and Stimpy slime, like Nick magazine, like all that it was so different than Disney, you know, because there was there was Disney and there was Nick. And as Nick kids grew up a little weird, you know, and

Alex Ferrari 42:22
I would agree with you on that, that. They would do that.

Matt Stawski 42:25
Yeah. Yeah, so

Alex Ferrari 42:28
So when you This is something I've always I love asking the director who does musical and I've never done a musical scene. I mean, I've done music videos, but that's different. You're talking like a musical scene? Hey, I'm just gonna bust out into song. We're gonna start dancing in the middle of Central Park. How the hell do you approach something like that? And let alone with CG characters on top of it?

Matt Stawski 42:50
Yeah, yeah. I mean, like, the, the, the mentality of the music video is still there. You know, like, there is still but I think the most important thing that the biggest difference is transitioning into it, you know, because you, I mean, obviously, the old MGM musicals, they would just be talking and then boom, and then they start singing. But I think like, nowadays, you kind of have to justify, you know, like, the MGM musicals. It was always there putting on a show, you know, so that's where the musicals came from. And then, you know, but but some musicals like, like, the umbrellas of show was that sherbert I can never say that word. They were just singing the whole time, kind of for no reason. You know, it just was a musical. You know. So our, this film was kind of that same thing where Josh was auditioning Broadway is the flavor. But our justification of the musical was always the sounds of New York, the things happening around you that sort of create a soundtrack if you really listen. So the build up to all the numbers was really important on this one. So that's why that transition into the first musical number he's like, it's all chaos. And there's cars honking and people you know, car squealing and people yelling out hotdogs, pretzels and all this stuff. And then he kind of slows down and closes his eyes and his hairs heartbeat you start hearing like, oh, like the taxi cabs are honking and rhythm and the bucket drummers are playing in rhythm. So using the sounds of New York, that was how we got in and out of these musical numbers. And that was the thing. Yeah. Yeah. Because he can't you know, if you just start singing, dancing, like that's fine, but it's so much cooler, if you like kind of transition into sort of justify what you're seeing on screen. Is is a story element that Yeah, yeah, exactly. So and the other the other differences kind of, you know, when you kind of cut the dialogue to and the timing of everything, and I mean, it's that that's an interesting thing, too, because you have to like have a metronome going. You know, and like practice the dialogue because if you're recording dialogue, like you can't have playback going so you have to really rehearse all the dialogue that is in between two sections, and we were doing a lot like the songs that we that we did play back on set or not I think like the songs we ended up with, and I remember like we we shot this one section twice that Josh did. And we liked him so much we just doubled up the chorus in post production and just like made it longer because he danced really good from these two different angles, you know, so there was a lot of frankensteining and post to and that like drove you know, Steph thank my incredible she produced all the music and wrote one of the songs happiness is magic. And I mean, our post production was insane and I definitely drove her crazy but she was such a trooper and we change the song so many times after the fact but you know, it's it's a lot of you know, you fall in love with shots and you just got to use them all so you change the song I think the transitions is the biggest difference because in a music video just starting song plays on the left so

Alex Ferrari 45:50
Now there's another aspect to this film that was really interesting. It's the Spider Man No Way Home effect, where all of the hosts from all generations came in through the multiverse no I'm joking, but all come in. That was probably a big of a deal to Blue's Clues fans as watching Spider Man, no way home for you. And I when we saw that were like, Oh my God, that's Toby. Yeah, that's Andrew. And they're all together. And I'm like, I get chills when I talk about this. Because it's such a geek. You just like, you start like tearing up. You're like, oh my god, I remember when I saw Toby a spider man. So I imagine the same thing happened with the Blue's Clues people, like, I'm sure the parents were like, Oh, my God, there is a shot. And there's this. So how, what was when you guys when you read the script, and all that was that whole thing, bringing that all together as a director.

Matt Stawski 46:45
I mean, I thought it was cool when I first read the script, but I didn't I didn't realize the impact because I didn't grow up with Steve I was you know, Steve came out and I was a little bit too old. So it was more like one of those things when, after the fact, you know, like not, not after we were shooting, but after I got on the project. And he did the whole viral thing and talk to the camera. I realized like it actually makes sense. He was such a I mean Blue's Clues the first time, you know, the character, looked at the camera, talk to it gave the kids time to react and talk back. This is interactive TV show thing was pretty revolutionary. And he meant a lot to a lot of kids, you know, and they're all 2530 now. And, you know, just when you look online, and all the comments that whenever you post something, I mean, people were like, Yo, you helped me get through this, you helped me deal with anxiety, you know, you just like you shaped my life when I was like when I was an outcast. And I just went watch Blue's Clues and felt like somebody was listening to me. And it's, I didn't realize how much of responsibility was to both myself and even him performing in the movie. You know, how many people love that guy and putting them all together? I mean, I by the time we were shooting, I was like, Yeah, this is important, because there's all the rules of Blue's Clues, you know, like, you have to make sure you talk to the camera at eye level, you don't look down at a kid you don't look up at a kid, you know, you're talking on their level. And Steve was teaching me a lot of that stuff, too. You know, before we were shooting because he directed a bunch of Blue's Clues as well. And you know, seeing them all together. It's it's it is that thing, you know, because I mean, in the theater when Spider Man happened and people were throwing popcorn in the air stream, couldn't even hear seen, because people were screaming, you know, and everyone knew it was coming. You know, it had to guide my girlfriend. I wanted miles miles to be in there somehow too. But maybe that'll happen.

Alex Ferrari 48:31
Next time next time, we don't get greedy. Don't get greedy. I know. We got the spider but it's a spider verse. Okay, come on.

Matt Stawski 48:39
But but you know, like with this one, too, you know, it's coming. But we really paid attention to like, building up their intros. And when the first time you see them and even like the comedy because they're also they're also different. Yeah, they all were hosts, but their, their sense of humor is and the fact that like, you know, Joe is still wearing a stupid purple pink shirt, you know, and he runs a presence store, but the rent is high. And it makes a joke about that, you know, and the fact that Steve is this bumbling detective that has this great heart, but you know, he needs a piece of a bar of soap to help them you know, find clothes and stuff. Like it's, it's just so funny and, and ridiculous. You know, and, and it's so heartwarming. I mean, these guys are incredible, the show is incredible. And it was great to be a part of that and see it all happen. And again, it was something where I read the script, I was like, this is cool, but then once you sit down and work with them, and see them all on set, you're like this is this is a big deal. It's like 25 years in the making. So I was glad to sort of lend, you know, my my point of view, you know, to that whole process.

Alex Ferrari 49:37
Now when is it coming out? And where can people see it?

Matt Stawski 49:41
It's November 18 on Paramount plus, and you know, I don't know if there's gonna be rocky or you know, Midnight showings of it, but I think a lot of fingers crossed that happens because there's a lot of silly stuff in the movie that you could you could throw a pretzel at the screen or you could like you know, toss salt over your shoulder or whatever. I I feel like there's a lot of that fun stuff, but, but yeah, it's November 18. And I think internationally, it's like November 19. And then it's gonna come out at some other some other countries in December but yeah, Paramount plus,

Alex Ferrari 50:11
I mean, if the whole thing goes to hell, man with your career, at least, you know, and 20 years you'll go to a convention. It's just this little sign some autographs. Yeah. So I mean, I mean, you're good. You're setting.

Matt Stawski 50:21
Yes, I will, I will get those residual autograph, whatever, you know, sounding a little Funko doll that Steve came out with and

Alex Ferrari 50:30
Now I'm gonna ask you a few I'm gonna ask you a few questions ask all my guests What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Matt Stawski 50:37
I'd say write and conceptualize what you know. You know just if you if you're obsessed with Christmas make a Christmas movie if you grew up in if you grew up in Chicago make a movie about Chicago if you know a certain neighborhood there write about that if it's your cultural background and you're and you're really invested in that just write what you know because when you pitch in a room and you know more than the executives about something, you know, they will genuinely want to hear that story. You know, if you make a movie about something you know about you know, it shows you know so if you know something from back like you can be the get you have to be the only person that can make that movie.

Alex Ferrari 51:14
Good. That's actually really good advice. What lesson would what lesson took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Matt Stawski 51:22
Oh, gosh, more hours left on this now it's it's never worth it. I think I think on set it's never worth it to do anything that isn't safe. You know, there's always those awkward, there's all those there's those moments where like, obviously an A like there's so many people on set that don't want to do unsafe stuff, but you can sense when you're pushing something a little too much when a crew member is pushed a little too much when an actor's push too much. It's just never worth it like find a different solution because you don't want someone being too tired when the drive and home you don't want an actor to lose your respect. You don't want someone getting hurt. It's like it's just not worth it. Don't take chances with safety.

Alex Ferrari 52:02
Yeah, and I've had too many stunt guys come up to me and like I could I could be on fire like I don't need Yeah, you're right. You need to you need to you need to. Have you ever met a stunt guy who didn't do that? All of them do it

Matt Stawski 52:13
Every single day because it's like, Hey, we're just suspending this guy from wires but they want the explosions, you know? So it's always like, oh,

Alex Ferrari 52:19
I need you to jump 10 feet. I could do it. 60 feet, and I could be on fire. Yeah, while there's a tiger chasing me. I'm like, Dude, I don't need no You need to relax. Every single suck I've ever met.

Matt Stawski 52:31
Oh, yeah. Oh my god. I live

Alex Ferrari 52:35
There the craziest day of the craziest carnies in our carnival. I mean, they are nuts. They are endless, best wonderful, wonderful, loving way. They are absolutely nuts and they make our films so much better. And last question three of your favorite films of all time.

Matt Stawski 52:53
Okay, number one is going to be eight and a half Fellini, I'm obsessed with it, the whole thing feels like a dream. And it feels like looking at my own childhood even though it's a totally different culture. You know? Number two would be Natural Born Killers that thing just broke so many rules and all the all the formats they shot and how they shot it. And it's this like, awesome. Like Badlands love story, but updating and so 90s and it's I love that movie. And then man number three has got to be Clockwork Orange. It's just the I mean, I mean Kubrick I mean, every one of his movies can be in anyone's top 10 He was a director that made like the best horror movie all done the best warfare of all time. I mean, arguably, you know, the best drama of all time the best comedy, but Clockwork Orange is just I mean, it was my it has roots in my punk rock like high school upbringing. And that's just the movie we watched on repeat a million times.

Alex Ferrari 53:50
And you imagine releasing the first 20 minutes of Clockwork Orange in today's world?

Matt Stawski 53:57
I mean,

Alex Ferrari 54:00
How they how could they even do it then? And I'm watching I just watched it recently again, I'm like, his stuff is still so far gone so far out. Yeah, you could not release it. Can you imagine if a major studio released this?

Matt Stawski 54:16
Yeah, it's crazy too. Because everything that's like based off is really obscene and dirty and profane. You know books are always the dirtiest thing ever. You know? It doesn't matter how old it is like you could like you read it all Henry mo birthday like whoa, you know but you know that's where all the good movies come from is great books you know a lot of them do and so it's the the obscene will always be there. And let's hope the studios keep releasing it because they're the fun

Alex Ferrari 54:43
Matt man. It's been a pleasure talking to you, man. Continued success and congratulations on all the success you had and and thank you for bringing Blue's Clues to the new generation bringing all of them together, man. It's it's a lot of fun, man. So I appreciate you my friend.

Matt Stawski 54:56
Thank you for having me. Nice to meet you, Alex for sure.

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BPS 351: Confessions of a Hollywood Studio Test Screener with Terrence Martin

Terrence Martin is known for his films Holes (2003), Get Away If You Can (2022) and The Donner Party (2009).

His new film “Get Away If You Can” starring Dominique Braun, Terrence Martin and Ed Harris is about a troubled married couple hope that sailing across the open ocean might bring back the spark that’s been lost between them. But, their relationship is brought to the breaking point when one refuses to explore a mysterious deserted island.

Enjoy my conversation with Terrence Martin.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Alex Ferrari 0:09
I'd like to welcome to the show Terrence Martin man, how you doing Terrence?

Terrence Martin 0:24
Great, man. Thanks for having me. We love the show.

Alex Ferrari 0:27
Oh, thank you so much, man. Yeah, you've been telling me that you were you were a fan. And you've been listening to it. And it was kind of like a lifeline of like what's going on in the business while you were going through your opus of making a movie, an independent film for seven years and all that stuff, which we'll get to get into your to your new movie. But I'm glad I'm glad we could be a voice of reason. And scare the hell out of you as well, along with

Terrence Martin 0:51
Definitely hearing some of the other similar horror stories. And when you make something new, and you have your head down for seven years, when you come out the industry is completely different. So hearing from your guests, helped us avoid a lot of troubles as we sold our film.

Alex Ferrari 1:07
Awesome. Of course, of course. That's why we're here to doing that man. So how did you get first of all, why did you want to get into this insanity? And how did you get into this insanity that is the business?

Terrence Martin 1:16
Yeah, and I got bit by the creative bug really early. I grew up in like, blue collar town in Connecticut. This was not like the who's the boss, Connecticut. It was a pretty tough, a tough town. And I got into something they deemed the gifted program, right? Where they ship you off to another school with a few few people, which was like the worst thing you could call something at that time because all the other kids like resented you. But when I got to this special program, every week, the teacher said, Hey, what would you like to do? And I said, Well, I love storytelling, I love reading, I love movies. And she's like, go in that room and just write and I was I must have been in third grade. And I just started writing. And, and I would come back and the teacher would say now read it. So that to me and the class and and she would always say yeah, your stories are okay, but my peers, my friends would start asking me for these stories. So since third grade, I had a really great relationship with writing. And my cousin was in film school, she was much older than me, and she would then take her 16 millimeter camera, and we would make these fun little horror movies on the beach. Because, you know, it was the VHS generation. So I would skip school and come home with like a pile of movies. And, you know, I was really into horror films at the time. So it just was writing and filmmaking were pleasures for me at a young age. And I kind of stuck through through through college, I wanted to come straight out to LA at 18. But you know, parents are like, you're gonna get your degree, you know. So I went to a liberal arts school, and I was pretty miserable unless I was studying writing, filmmaking. And they allowed me to to finish here at UCLA campus, they were just starting this thing called the New York Film Academy in LA. And they let me do like, basically a half a semester as credits to take this program. And it was right on the UCLA campus and right after they went to you to Universal Studios, and they needed people to help with the summer program. And I got a job with them, which was basically just running all around the lot making short films with these like crazy high schoolers. So we would like be at the Psycho house one day making a film with one and one of my early students was Max Spielberg. So it was just like, crazy. Yeah, he didn't really love it had to love like Steven for filmmaking. But it was so crazy to be like teaching Spielberg son, you know, not really teaching just being a liaison for his short films. But it was a really cool. Yeah, it was fun, man. And it really taught me that I had a lot of work to do, because most of my other teaching assistants were straight out of UCLA, grad school. So here I am, like, hey, I'll help you get your film made. I'll read your scripts. And they were like, who are you? Man, you just came out of the New York Film Academy programs. So I realized straight off like this is going to be very competitive. And I better work hard, you know. So I just really started focusing on writing scripts and reading everything I could. I had already taken to Joseph Campbell and the hero's journey that was probably my favorite arc book about how the writing process should be. But then I just read everything, you know, put my nose to the grindstone and wrote 10 or 15 scripts and was lucky enough to have a manager take one out on the town. It didn't sell but it was the exact story of The Revenant. But told through the kids to the kids perspective, who was Jim Bridger, but it was that same strapping mission, which is like a famous mission. I remember going into two meetings. And just because they passed, I thought, well, if they're meeting I still have a chance to get this vague, you know, instead of just like cultivating a relationship, I would be trying to press you know, this mountain man script and I was meeting with this executive, she's like, Hey, you're really good with story. You're cool with characters, but we're working on Scooby Doo too. And I said, Can we call it Scooby don't make eyes rest. This American epic and her face was like, record stretch. And I thought, okay, like, I'm doing this all wrong.

Alex Ferrari 4:52
Like, why can we call it stupid?

Terrence Martin 4:56
I was making a silly joke, you know, but it was like, okay, Cool. Thanks for coming in for the meeting Terrance. We'll be in touch.

Alex Ferrari 5:04
So lesson for everyone listening, don't do what Taryn said.

Terrence Martin 5:09
But also realize like, I don't know that I want to be auditioning as a writer for Scooby Doo, like, I love the show as a kid, but I want to do my own stuff. And that's, that's when I started writing the Donner party, you know, which, which ultimately got me.

Alex Ferrari 5:21
So, so. So during this time, there was like a little, little side hustles you had to do in LA? To make a living, you've had some very interesting ones. Can you talk about your time as a test screener because test screenings, we all hear these legendary test screenings, like the airplane one, which was notoriously bad, because nobody wanted to admit that they liked it, or, you know, all these kind of movies that like the the ending of fatal attraction was changed because of the the test screening. So what tell us your adventures in the test screening phase and what actually goes on behind the curtain because I truly have never been, I've been in a test screening once or twice in my life, but I truly don't know how the studio's work within it and what the process is and who you know.

Terrence Martin 6:09
Sure. Well, I had, I had gone from the New York Film Academy and I knew that the summer program was ending, so I kind of just was walking around a lot and I got a PA job on holes, which is turned out to be kind of a hero to that generation was shot on the bus first movie, but man, it worked me I was a PA in the art department from start to finish. And I came out of that thinking, like, what kind of job can I do where I make my own hours, and I write and I don't know, if you ever living in LA, we see these guys like giving out free movie passes all the time. And the point that point is to rate the film. And I thought like, there can't be an easier sales job and get a person to see a movie. And it did turn out to be a lot harder than I thought. But it was still pretty easy. And it was really good money. Like if you put in the hours, you could work whenever you want, you could go to a cinema 12 at night and get people if that's what you felt like doing. And I liked the freedom of it. And they started to ship me off to other cities. So what would happen is you would get like a demographic you would say, hey, like I remember the ring was an early one, the first ring I went to San Diego and they wanted high school age, girls and boys. So we would go to high schools and we would talk to teachers and try to get like their perfect audience and then they would all fill out a questionnaire and the filmmakers get a score. Basically the main score is like how many people rated it very good or excellent. That's like the number one score because they can really say oh wow, we have a movie that super plays and then the other score is like how many people recommend it for sometimes the like it but they will recommend which can impact the box office. So I just went on this run for like four years of just a different city every Friday because basically if you're filling screenings they need you like they need people who are getting numbers just like any sales job. And we were killing it so I had this partner and we man we did the highest scoring movie just so people get an idea of like what studios really want was hitch Wilson it like I had never seen a movie score that high. I think it was like 99 or near 100 in both boxes and will and will snatch was at that screening and you just gave the scores to will and the director and their faces because they know how key the scores are to the studio and it's their faces just lit up like they won the Superbowl they were like, like that, like you can't get better than that like and the movie was a massive hit because it's such a such a crowd pleaser. You know, and I realized in the screenings when you make something just that pleases the crowd. It's a really special thing because the dramas even when they're good like Coen Brothers stuff, I don't know that they test so great because people need time to reflect you can't just put a paper in someone's face. Tall monkeys was one that didn't test well at all, but still had good critical acclaim and has now become a hit. But people didn't know what to make of it from the first moment. So it's not conducive to like saying, Yeah, I love this because you're just like, well, what the hell was that? I'm sure like 2001 You know, wouldn't test well either, even though it's a complete facet. Because Because these movies need more reflection. And probably the coolest thing I've ever seen in a test screening was I was working on Inglorious Basterds here in LA at the I forget what theater it was. But nobody had seen the film. And Quinton being who he was. And Harvey would generally bully when I worked for Harvey would generally bully filmmakers, he would use the scores to get to cut the movie he did. So quit and just took all the cards when they were done through the trash right in front of Harvey, and said I'm just going to talk to the audience about my film. And it was so great. It's so refreshing to see a filmmaker just so proud of his work. We can even want to see the scores. I mean, I wouldn't ever recommend this to a young filmmaker that has an opportunity. Unless your name is Alicia names. But yeah, but it was cool. Finally, a guy in the audience like had the courage to say hey, like, I don't know why you would use a David Bowie song in a period movie. And he goes because I'm the director and I love it. They're like, okay, cool. Okay, cool.

Alex Ferrari 9:53
Now, it's nice, but that's pretty fascinating. Now I've heard those stories. of Harvey during his heyday that he would bully filmmaker. I know studio 54 was a really big one. He just literally just took that away from the filmmaker and cut it up and made it into something that it really wasn't good. Later years later, the director got a chance to do a director's cut. But yeah, I've heard I'm imagine other studios and studio executives would use the test screening results to kind of bully or push around directors to get what they want. Right.

Terrence Martin 10:31
Yeah. And to be fair, sometimes the film's just not working. And right. Yeah. And they thought they had a crowd pleaser out. I thought they had a genre of film that scared people and it wouldn't work. So the directors would come in and recut it. I started work for Judd Apatow a lot. I did the first test screening of 40 Year Old Virgin. It was awesome. Because we were in 1000 oaks in the in the film broke. And there was only like 10 minutes left, like everything had been resolved. And everybody just stayed glued to their seats. And I remember I was sitting there, Seth Rogen, I said, man, like you are gonna be massive after this, because you could just feel it the energy, but John was really good because he's a comedy guy. So he could read the audience. And he could do a second test screening with a couple of key jokes and just tweak them in the editing room or reshoot something and then the crowd would explode. So for comedy I think test screening is like so essential even even on

Alex Ferrari 11:20
Even even on that level. But did you also see multiple test screenings on the same film so like you would see the original it tests bad they go back shoot, we had it come back and get like did you go through that process too?

Terrence Martin 11:35
Yeah, for for knocked up. I didn't test bad histones never tested that but but the ending was a boy, I think in the original in it. It was like addict joke. I don't know if I'm supposed to say this, but I don't think Joe would mind. He's such a cool guy. And it was like you had so much that the whole whole movie that when you change it to a girl and he had the ability to read the screening and make that adjustment, and it just made you leave with this kind of like warm feeling not not just a joke. I thought that was pretty brilliant that he made that adjustment. And I saw that a lot with filmmakers that were open to the test screening and those were the filmmakers the studio's really wanted to work with because they they knew that their their their film could be changed and when a director was new and they were too married to it, I found like wow, like a lot of guys never worked again after a bad test screenings because they were they were inflexible with their with their film.

Alex Ferrari 12:28
You said you also worked on the departed, right?

Terrence Martin 12:31
Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 12:32
With with with a young and up and coming director at the time they Martin Scorsese, Marty, Marty, something like that. It's easy. So skeezy what was it? So I'd love to keep because he's legendary for being on our tour. Like, truly, you're not touching a frame of my movie. So what was a test screening of like a legend like that was? And was he in the room? Did you do it?

Terrence Martin 12:55
Yeah, that was exciting, man. Because of course, I'm a huge like, for me, like one of the tops like, I mean, he just he just hits home runs like that's what he does. So I was so excited. And we were in Chicago at this cool art house theater. But he had been so like, nervous about that. He told the projectionists not to start with film until he gave the okay, but nobody could find him. And it was my job to find him. So I'm running around the theater, looking through seats, all the lights are already down, like the movies ready to go. And then finally I find them and I get on the wire. And I'm like, Hey, I'm here with Martin. And the projection is it goes, Okay, cool. We can roll now. So he had already talked to his technicians and made sure like, on his command only to go. And the movie was almost exactly what what came on the final screen. There was there was a few key scenes where Jack Nicholson was really improvising that that I noticed were a bit shorter. And I thought that was a really smart move on his part. Because you could kind of feel like, Oh, this is great acting, but the story wasn't moving at the same pace that it was. And it was really interesting for me that he even he who is you know, such an artist. Yeah. And his his famous editor. Thelma was there so that was awesome, man.

Alex Ferrari 14:06
That was so so so so Jack, because I know in that movie, Jack Nicholson, he would kind of you know, I think you'd do a take or two or how many takes of the script and then Marty would go go nuts and see what and a lot of that did the improvised stuff did fall into the in the movie and it's such gold because it's Jack Nicholson

Terrence Martin 14:26
But if you saw that first cut before and like it was like that, like in a few companies with a couple of minutes extra which I love, but I realized like I mean he won the Oscar for that so he could feel you know, it's so interesting when when you're in the movie house, you can just kind of feel the energy dropping, you know, which is funny that I made such an art film get away if you can, because this movie would never test well if you like the movie, you don't make but I just needed maybe all that testing I needed to express myself in a in an artistic kind of way. You know

Alex Ferrari 14:59
What lessons did you learn from that test screening experience as a filmmaker yourself?

Terrence Martin 15:04
I think when I'm writing, and my hopes are to make a big bigger budget movie to really think of the audience, you know, like, really think of how you're making people feel if you're trying to scare them really get that right. Is it like you're writing for the audience in a way? You know, film is a business and these big budget movies need an audience. And it really taught me that the audience is unforgiving. Even with a free movie, they would leave often, you know, they would say, hey, this movie is not for me. And sometimes you'd be dealing with like a half a theater and you would realize like, these guys have spent millions and millions of dollars these are not small movies had made a complete flop. And, you know, if you're not thinking of the audience, there are certain budget levels, you can get away with art, right? But when you're doing these big films, man you need to deliver

Alex Ferrari 15:48
What was the worst screening of a big movie that you ever or you could say, I mean, like, test screening anymore.

Terrence Martin 16:00
It was a it was a DC comic that never got another one made. But I liked the filmmaker a lot. But it was like a true disaster. And it was his first feature. And he didn't want to make any other notes with the studio. And he never got he never got to do like they took a huge risk in hiring him. And did that movie get released that movie? Yeah, got released that got released. I'll just say it was a DC comic hero, not the main ones. But but it was quite sad because they put a lot in there was some innovative stuff with the sounds and the music, but it just didn't deliver in some of the effects teams were laughable. So the whole audience would laugh, and not a good way. And instead of cutting that, which they should have done, they left it in and it's just it really took people out because you know, if you don't deliver great CGI with these big tentpole movies, that's where people are judging the visuals, right? So it would have been so much smarter just to cut it out. But, you know, it was just, it was quite sad because he was about my age, and I just saw him just butting heads and I was like, this is not going to end well for this guy. You know?

Alex Ferrari 17:05
I mean, if you're Ridley Scott or Martin Scorsese, you can get away with that because you've already had decades of creating behind you but when you're first up man, you and you get a shot like that. Yeah, to play you got to play ball it's a balancing act where you need to protect your you know, your artistic and you know, artistic integrity, but at the end of the day, people are spending God God just hundreds, like 50 million 100 million dollars. Yeah.

Terrence Martin 17:35
This was and he had the audience telling him to like we do like overwhelmingly just seen as laughable cut it taken away but it just you know, sometimes the filmmakers stubbornness, like you like it, and you don't care that the whole world and maybe your careers never gonna get another shot like that. And

Alex Ferrari 17:53
Yeah, yeah, good. No, no, no, no, I feel bad. I feel bad. What did he say? What did he do?

Terrence Martin 17:58
He put on his battle hat. It wasn't at all like taking notes. It was just like, I am battling. And that's that. And, you know, we've never got a chance to make a big studio movie again.

Alex Ferrari 18:09
I mean, I feel so bad for the guys who did bad girl. I mean, that's, that's hurt. I'm like, even bad movies get dropped into streaming. Why would they don't have a shell of $100 million. And Michael Keaton was back for God's sakes. Man, like what is going on?

Terrence Martin 18:28
Even if it doesn't play? Like you have so many fans that are going to check it out? And comment on it and talk about it?

Alex Ferrari 18:35
Like they release cat woman when I mean, is it worse? Like how much worse can it be than cat woman? Or cats? Let's just put cats. How much worse get gonna be the cats for God's sakes. Yeah.

Terrence Martin 18:48
And you have like a thirsty film audience for it too. So even if it's bad, it's like you're gonna have people watching it. And that's the main thing was streaming because you want eyeballs and time. So that one thing prize me.

Alex Ferrari 18:59
I think they really actually if they decided right now they just say hey, you know what? We're putting it on HBO. Max. Do you know how many people would just watch it just that weekend?

Terrence Martin 19:07
All Twitter would just be talking about this.

Alex Ferrari 19:11
It would it would trend as the as the kids say Would it be trending? So is there a Do you have an insane story like that? Just like I can't believe this happened in one of these screenings.

Terrence Martin 19:22
Well, yeah, I mean, the Quinton was pretty awesome, because I was like, wow, someday to have that power as a creative force. But I had a really good one, which was kind of sad to what Denzel Washington he directed a movie called The Great Debaters and that scored really, really high. But at the same time, he had that movie where he was she was like a criminal kingpin coming up in American Gangster Yeah, totally. But he didn't drink that one. He was it was a really it was really really so all the energy of his directorial debut went to that film and even when I was testing it, everybody's like, No, I don't want to see that Denzel one. I want to see that crime one. So Even though that movie scored super high, audiences didn't come out for it. But I remember like working with, like, didn't sell a selection. And I had the cars and he's like, how much to make those all good. And I'm like, you don't need anything like they're wonderful, like people are really loving your film. But it also taught me that people can love a film. But if it's not hitting the right marketing, or it's just not the timing, that, you know, it can still not be a financial success, even with Denzel promoting it and and I don't think he actually he only directed it.

Alex Ferrari 20:30
No, I did. Did you? Did you also work with the academy in some way? I heard you say,

Terrence Martin 20:36
Yeah, I had a job of one of my early peers had a job right out of film school, like hosting talent coordination on the red carpet. So he would basically hire you as a page for the Oscars and the Emmys. And you would do it on Friday, and you would get like a program of the whole show. And you would see like, three celebrities that you are in charge of making sure they were on camera when they needed to be. And that would include like meeting them on the red carpet and greeting them and, you know, there's every every now and then there's like a person who doesn't show up when the nomination and that's that's my job, like somebody screwed up in my job because that's highly coordinated. So

Alex Ferrari 21:16
You shouldn't be in the bathroom is what you're saying.

Terrence Martin 21:19
Yeah, exactly. And they should know exactly Hey, your your awards coming up or you're presenting and to commercials, we take them to the green room or the or the producers really want you at the start of the show. And that was insane because I started that in my early 20s. And I remember early on, Russell Crowe was one of his first years and the Academy Awards. I forget if it was beautiful mind or, or what came first, but they really wanted him at the head of the show. But his publicist was having him do like, interview after interview and it's like, okay, like we're three minutes to go and they just say grab rustle. We don't even care if it's in an interview. So I, being a good employee just grabbed turns like he's gonna punch me in the face. And I was like, Oh, my God, like I'm about to get hit I max Maximus. Totally. I think this was maybe even free. Free Gladiator. But But he said, What do you want? And why are you bothering me? And I said, No, I worked for the for the show. Like, if you don't get your ass in the seat right away, you're gonna miss the whole opening of the show. And he's like, why don't you just tell me that right? Come on. And I ran him in Entertainment Weekly, the next day was a shot of him looking at me and you could see me in the corner like, like this, like really small. And it nobody knew the context of it, but it was really crazy. And but I that could have been like, I could have been that guy, you know that. Everybody would have been talking about that. The next day, Russell knocks out a page on the red carpet.

Alex Ferrari 22:42
So So in your new film, it's called getaway if you can tell me the journey of the seven year because you know, I'm all about filmmakers making their movies. And I know we're all nuts. You know, we're crazy. When you get to the seven year mark, at a certain point, you just gotta go is this is this really? Should I keep going? You know, did you did you finance the How did you re mortgage? refinance the house? Maybe first born? Like, what was it? What was the journey? Why did it take so long to get up and running?

Terrence Martin 23:16
Well, I had, you know, through all the screenwriting and nothing selling through managers taking my scripts out, I wrote a script about the Donner party in my mid 20s. I had this like stupid gold, I had to make a feature by 30. You know, like, of course, and I finally did with the Donner party. But instead of doing it on my own credit cards, I ended up taking other people's money who then had Final Cut. So basically, like, even though I put together a cast, we had Gary Oldman at one point wanting to do that movie, we had some really strong interest, but I gave up Final Cut. And I didn't know how dark a place that would take me to to see producers making choices. It's all subjective, but that I did not agree with it all and then have that movie, come out and sell the Showtime and it was an early stream or on Netflix. So it did get a platform. But I was really disheartened. I said, I'm never going to do that. Again. Even if a movie takes me 30 years. My next one is going to be 100%. And I fell in love. I found the love of my life with this woman, Dominique. And she She's like the kind of person that I would watch a movie with. And we both get annoyed with the same plot lines and get excited about the same movie. So I thought, hey, like our tastes really lines up. Like what if we just did a project together? Travel the world go to different islands. So it's not a total loss like the movie set mostly on this island off the coast of Chile, but we went to kawaii first we did like a year of scouting, you know, and even if I have to put my own finances and take a loss, we don't have any children at this point. Like it's gonna be a great life experience. And when we did the rough cut, it was just her and I and we submitted that seven years ago to Sundance and like right before, they made their announcements to get like 100 views. And we were like, Oh man, like Sundance is really considering our Vimeo link and then we got a letter from the head of At that time saying, hey, like you just missed it like, guys, like there's something here don't give up on this project. And we were like, okay, cool. Like I had, I had met Ed Harris to hear a potluck at the Academy Awards, and I knew I could get him that footage. So I said, Hey, like, what do you think of it? Harrison, my wife was like, the abyss is my favorite movie, like. So we had to configure what we had shot to work at in but but we had sent it to Ed and didn't hear anything for like, four months. And finally, I get this little handwritten letter saying, Hey, guys, I got your link, I started watching your movie, I'm intrigued by can't figure out how the link works. Send it to me again. And we were like, Oh, my God, we have a chance. And he watched it. And he said, Hey, like, let's meet for breakfast next day. And after breakfast, he said, I was meeting you to tell you I'm doing the show Westworld. So this was the first time he was and I won't have time to do it. But after meeting with you guys, and seeing how you're gonna fit my character in, um, down, you just have to give me a year. So that was a whole year of just waiting for him, you know, fair enough. But we were like, we have an icon now. Like we have Ed, if he's really supportive of division, he wouldn't have done it if we hadn't shot that stuff. You know. So we knew that we thought we had something special. And Ed did too. So this encouragement kept us going. But when we cut the the head, cut it, it felt so into the male energy, which we didn't want, we wanted it to be very balanced. So we had to find an actress to play Dominique sister, and we actually she's from Argentina. So we ended up testing, Martina Guzman, who's one of the top Argentine actresses, and they have a really similar like, but that took a long time because she has a Netflix she has two Netflix shows she does. And she was into it. But again, it was I think waiting about a year. So that's another year of waiting, and then a whole editing process. And then it was only during the pandemic when Domian I finally like said, Hey, we agree with this cut. We had been through a lot of editors, and we just, we couldn't get the story to where we both felt it was everything it could be. And during the pandemic we finally did. We had an editor named Ross, who really came in and talked to us quite a bit and worked with a sudden, we finally got it to where we said hey, like, we're happy with this. Let's let's take it to market.

Alex Ferrari 27:11
So after so what are you doing the seven years to survive? Brother? You're living in LA? I mean, like, are you doing the pay? You're not doing page stuff anymore? Obviously.

Terrence Martin 27:20
No, that was that's just a temporary job. Actually. It's a funny story, man. The guy who I tested who was the best test screener, like he could just, he was he was like addicted to Italy, and he would just go to get hundreds of people and he was my partner on the road. But he was like total gambling. So we would go to Vegas for like long stretches. Adam Sandler love to test his movies at this place called sandstone, which is off the strip. It's like this, but it has an AMC in it. So he did all his movies there. So I'd be stuck in Vegas with this gambling addict for weeks now. Go and you know, play blackjack with him every now and then and lose and just say hey, I hate it's like, I don't want to gamble at all. Like I'm not into it. And he said, Well, why don't we try poker man, like you can really beat the game. And I said, Really, I don't know much about poker. But it was starting to like blow up at that time. And because we had so much downtime, I started to read books on poker. And you know, within a month or two, I was making double what I was making testing and I can make my own hours.

Alex Ferrari 28:13
So I started became a professional gambler.

Terrence Martin 28:17
Yeah, this was like the early 2000s. And the games were just rich. Like even in Hollywood, I would go up and actors wouldn't even know like anything about poker and it was just like a freefall during that time. And I would just start going. I don't know if you know, the commerce is like the biggest poker room in the world. It's right off the five right here in commerce, like LA was the home of poker even before Vegas. Yeah. So I mean, I just put all that into the film, really? And I thought hey,

Alex Ferrari 28:46
So Okay, I got it. I got it. Okay, so let's back up here for a second because I've heard of I've heard a lot man, I've, I've, I've done almost almost 900 of these at this point in my, in my career here as a podcast or an interviewer. I've never heard I've had professional gamblers on the show. Yeah, some actors who actually became really good. And they've gotten to the world series of acts of poker, of poker. Yeah, of poker. So I know of the world. But I've never heard of a filmmaker becoming a professional gambler. And using that, to survive, and to make a movie with

Terrence Martin 29:21
Yeah, I mean, for me, it's like, I'm not a gambler. That's why I'm so good at poker, like the gamblers are why you make money. Like I'm just sitting there, I'm playing the odds. I'm waiting.

Alex Ferrari 29:29
Your professional, your professional poker player, not a professional gambler.

Terrence Martin 29:34
Although all the regulars would make fun of me, because my wife would make me like an organic sandwich and I would take out my sandwich and listen to calm music, and they would be like, you don't even try to pretend you're a gambler. And I wouldn't I would just sit there for seven hours and wait for big hands. And at that time, I don't know if you still could be I think everybody's gotten quite better at poker, but there are those that just blow off steam and want to gamble and that's kind of what you're looking for. You go on Friday, Saturday, Sundays and

Alex Ferrari 30:00
That's pretty fast, pretty fast. And then you would go up like up into the hills and stuff like that the actors houses and stuff.

Terrence Martin 30:04
Yeah, I would. But you know, those, those games can be quite game dangerous. Like I've had, I've had a really famous actor that I used to play with, you know, robbed at gunpoint at one of those games, like, people find out those games are going on, and they can be robbed, and you don't have like, the safety of the casino to resolve disputes. You know, like, I actually got into a really, really big fight got thrown through a window and had to choke out this pretty well known actor over a poker dispute.

Alex Ferrari 30:32
We will we will discuss who that actor is off.

Terrence Martin 30:38
You all like that. I say I choked him out, because he's kind of a tough guy. But it was either that or just kept pummeled to the

Alex Ferrari 30:45
Will tell Russell Crowe next time, he shouldn't be messing with you. I'm joking. I'm joking. No, that's, that's really fascinating. Man. I've never I've just never heard that. I've just never heard that filmmaker doing that. So that's yeah,

Terrence Martin 30:57
Filmmakers out there, I don't recommend this. Because you have to have a certain makeup, you have to like love chess, you have to love game theory, you can't be a gambling addict, you will just lose all your money. You have to just like anything put in the work. You know, I read five of the top books of the time before I even said, do you still do it? Yeah, you know, sometimes, but, you know, the, the movies now ticking in? Or? We're, we're hoping that keeps me off the tables.

Alex Ferrari 31:27
I mean, it's, that's fascinating. Because I mean, yeah, I understood that poker is, you know, a game that you can kind of understand. And it's there's, there is some chance, but if you're looking at how the how the table is being laid out, you can, you can actually it's you can actually make it a goal a bit of a profession out of it.

Terrence Martin 31:45
Yeah, and after a while you develop a database. So you see, like, you have an edge, even higher than the house edge that Vegas has over the gamblers like 1015 percentage, and the good games that can go even higher. So it's just like, if you know what you're doing, it's just, you know, there's there's no losing, because you just have to put in volume to cover the losses. But any night, you know, you get aces, you get it all in and you lose. You gotta be cool with these people when they do that, because that's how you're making money. You can't get frustrated with people for breaking your good hands. You know, that's, that's, that's why you're making money.

Alex Ferrari 32:19
That's fascinating, dude. So you got it. So I want to talk to you about as a director, you got Ed Harris on set, who is an absolute legend. There's a, you know, in the trailer alone of your film, there's some intense scenes with Ed, where he is yelling at you. Only the way Ed Harris can yell on screen. He's such a great yell, oh, my god.

Terrence Martin 32:45
Cast him and I get some anger out of like when

Alex Ferrari 32:48
He like that when I when I heard that. I'm like, oh my god, it's the rock. Oh, my God. Like it's just like that yelling. So the so one, how do you approach directing an icon like that who's honestly coming down from the Mount Hollywood, and doing a little indie film because he kind of, you know, I enjoy it. I think we could do some cool stuff here. But he's doing it out of just truly love. So it's not like he's getting a paycheck out of this major. Roach, directing them, you know, an actor of that caliber.

Terrence Martin 33:19
What I loved about it is he directed Pollock, and he started and himself. So he's like, really sympathetic to our journey as independent filmmakers, he volunteers at the Sundance Labs every year, he's, he's really a good soul of support. But, you know, as far as having him on set, I was really glad that I was playing a submissive character to him, because I could feed into that energy as an actor. There was one really key scene in the office, like very close to where, and I hope Ed won't mind me telling the story because that really helped the scene become better. And I was super nervous. And I'm saying action, and he's not coming. And I'm like, oh, man, this is the big scene. It's even hear me and it's like, a minute goes by two minutes go by I say action again. And then all I hear is I hear you, motherfucker. And he comes barreling in and does the scene. So the reaction you see, is not just acting, it's like, he shocked me into the emotion that was needed for that scene. And afterwards, he smiled, and he said, Was that cool? And I was like, Yeah, that was awesome. And I looked at the footage, and that was what we had used. He wasn't afraid to, to take those kinds of chances. And, you know, we were open to them. We had like, worked on the script a lot at his house, but he knew it needed something it felt felt stale, but you know, and he injected that energy into the scene and I really thank him for it because that's what you're saying that yelling scene that looked on my face is is not just acting, you know? It's doing it Yeah, me being like, holy like I didn't know if like I shouldn't say action, like, like my brain was just doing a million different things that and that was the energy that was needed for that scene. So I thought that was really generous of him and you know, he's he's a good guy like for him to play this character to that is a bit controversial in this Political time period. You know, what? Was was generous of him because he's not like that at all in real life. Like, he's so supportive and cool.

Alex Ferrari 35:09
And he, I mean, he's, I mean, it's you're releasing the film on the tail end of one of the biggest movies of the last. Last, and he's in it. He's in Top Gun. And he plays he's just so good, man. He's just so, so good. He just chews up the scenery, with his performances. And I mean, he's just remark he's such a remarkable actor. Is there anything that you took away from him as as a as a creative

Terrence Martin 35:36
From an acting standpoint, I learned so much because I acted when I was younger, but I was never big into like driving across town to audition. I just thought it was such a lottery ticket that I've had friends become successful at it, but they really put in the time. And I much rather write or do projects on my own. But what it does that I found really helpful is he actually does the scene before the scene of the movie. So through improv, and he wants to, like play that scene out. So he knows how to go into that scene. So when we do the dinner scene, like we say, Oh, hey, Dad, how are you making steak come in. So we kind of like lead up to that scene. And that was really helpful to make sure when you're on the scene, it's not just figuring it out, like you've already come to that energy. And I had never

Alex Ferrari 36:17
On set? but Oh, really, so you'd like, like you yell action, or you would like work it before the scene?

Terrence Martin 36:22
No, just in a casual kind of way. So it was like, hey, like what happened five minutes before we get into the scene. And we do like a little improvisational exercise. And I find that really helpful, because then when you get to the scene, like the energy is already built to there, you're not just like, starting from scratch. Yeah, it doesn't take that doesn't take that much time. And it must have developed that technique somewhere. That's something I'll take with me forever, I thought that was a really good way to go.

Alex Ferrari 36:47
I've never heard that technique. That's a really, really good technique thinking about that. Because a lot of times you as a direct action, and you just,

Terrence Martin 36:56
Start yelling at each other, like,

Alex Ferrari 36:59
You've got to rev yourself up to it. So at least if you have some context of what happens before and after the scene,

Terrence Martin 37:05
Yeah. And if you're not, like, nailed down to like the reality of the script, right? Because you're just improvising the energy of it, you know, you're not even shooting. So it's like a kind of a free fun exercise. And that's something man, that was great. I mean, working with him was just so good, because he's a filmmaker too. So he's constantly seeing it from that side. And I had a great time on the Donner party. And the actors were more like, into the idea of my character, this that, which is typically how you go. And I came away from that with a much different experience. Like I only want to work with people who really get the overall point of the story that you can talk with deeply about the themes and ideas and not just their character, but how it all relates to the greater greater whole.

Alex Ferrari 37:46
That's fantastic. Now, as directors I asked this question often on the show, you know, as directors, we all have that day that the entire world has come down crashing around us. It's usually every day, but there's the one day, what was that day for you? And how did you overcome it?

Terrence Martin 38:00
Oh, man, well, we shot on this island called Robinson Caruso, which we as filmmakers talk this like guy into giving us a renting us their their yachts and getting in and told the captain, hey, yeah, we can handle open sea, like we've never done it before. But I'm sure we'll be fine. And two days, I mean, it was like a four day journey. And about half an hour in I wanted to start shooting right away, and our editor's face, just like turns completely white. And by the end of the, by, by the midpoint, he was coughing up blood. And it was very scary. And I just thought, oh my god, I'm actually like, people are gonna die on a movie like this is a disaster. And by the time we got to the island, we had already crossed the halfway point. So we couldn't turn back. So as soon as he hits land, he gets to a phone calls and calls his girlfriend and when necessary, so he says, I'm so sorry for everything I've done, My life flashed before my eyes, I'm going to be a better man. And the whole energy of us, our crew, our small crew, going through that just make everything a breeze, because people really had like this profound sea journey, you know, that they really thought like, maybe they wouldn't come out of it. So. So that was a very scary day. I mean, if I think if we hadn't crossed the halfway threshold, we might have turned back and certainly wouldn't have the movie that we do have.

Alex Ferrari 39:16
And I have to ask you, man, because you know, it being done an independent film is tough enough, but you decided to do it in nature. You decided to go on boats in an island, and going underwater and surfing and all this kind of stuff. Like, yeah, don't do if Jaws taught us anything, is don't shoot on the ocean. I mean, they mean, come on. So how was what was that like on a limited budget?

Terrence Martin 39:44
I mean, it was a struggle, but that's the kind of stuff we'd love to do in life. I mean, not to that extent, we now know like, the voting part is not a fantasy of ours, but we thought if we're going to pay for a film, like let's have these experiences that we'd like to have in real life as a couple together, and then we'll make Got a film too. So it even if the film doesn't have any successful I've had these amazing experiences. And I love being outside. I love surfing. My wife is an advanced scuba diver. So all that stuff you see with the seals is all 100% realistic. And

Alex Ferrari 40:15
Did you get the seal? Did you get the seals in? Did you fly those in from LA? LA seals?

Terrence Martin 40:19
We got to seal Wrangler. You know, we actually had a local guy that was like, yeah, the seals bite people all the time. So that was like the extent our wrangling was like, Okay, let's go for it.

Alex Ferrari 40:30
This is the insanity of being an artist and especially the insanity of being a filmmaker like there's normal people don't do this.

Terrence Martin 40:41
We were also able and filmmakers can maybe other filmmakers can benefit from this we were able to take from Argentina, some of the most talented people of the Argentine industry, and their rates are just not Hollywood rate. So you're getting a guy and my guy Lucio, he shot 40 50 movies that are good movies in Argentina bend festivals all around the world. But you're getting a much different rate than Hollywood union rates. So we were able to keep the budget low. And I'm I'm sure any country that makes films probably in India, you can also find talented people, you know, you can look outside the Hollywood channels.

Alex Ferrari 41:14
Absolutely. I know a lot of filmmakers have done that shooting outside and there's a lot of talented crew around this world doesn't always have to be Hollywood other than seal Wranglers. You need from Hollywood without question. And the financing of the film was also financed by you.

Terrence Martin 41:28
Yeah, it was all self when we got aired, we had to go sag. So we actually took on some some executive producers, but the same problems started to happen where they wanted to, even though they promised to say we won't have any creative input, it's just the nature of when you take money from someone, you you have to invite that and this project wasn't that it was a passion project for my wife and I so it wasn't one that they could kind of massage into being too much of a thriller or this. So we ended up buying them out once once we knew like we were going to kind of put out the movie and you know, in a way that we weren't getting like a ton of money upfront, because that's still what a lot of producers want even though that's very rare. I've learned that from your show, like Donner party I think was like a quarter million dollars up front, you know, so that at least a year was that what year Yeah, exactly. So but producers still think that's going to happen now. And from your show, I learned like not only you don't want that because you want and an honest distributor and you want your ceiling to be much higher than that. And if your movie catches on, and you have 80% of it, like you can still stand to do

Alex Ferrari 42:29
By the way out of that a quarter million for Donner party. How much more Did you get after that?

Terrence Martin 42:34
I got nothing.

Alex Ferrari 42:36
Exactly. That's, that's the game. They're like, yeah, we're buying your movie for 200. We're not telling you buying it, but we're gonna still just That's all you'll ever see.

Terrence Martin 42:43
Yeah, and I didn't even have a point on it. It was just like a for hire job, even though I basically did a lot of the producing. And I just totally didn't want to work that way. Again, it's like, part of the beauty of this industry is freedom for me, you know, I love making my own projects. And even if they don't sell or I don't get a chance to make a big studio movie, like it's fun, like, it's exciting and fun to do art and craft and story and the Hollywood interaction can be very disheartening at times, you know, it's mostly rejection. Yeah, I try to keep my creative, very separate. And over the years, my ratio of like, pursuing the industry has gone way down just for mental health, you know, so the more I'm creative, the more I'm doing this. And even if it's just a hobby, which I hope it's not, it's fun, you know?

Alex Ferrari 43:32
Now, how did you get the distribution?

Terrence Martin 43:35
Well, we had a great lawyer, he's like, started out on Monster and and rather than then tried to showcase at festivals, he had given me the distributors that were doing very well during the pandemic, and giving his clients accurate payouts you've been giving money and actually paying their client Yeah, and not like a little bit of money, like a lot of money. And these are like indie films with with one or two known guys. And this was his top one. And he said, Do you mind if I just share the cut with brainstorm? And I said, Yeah, sure. Like, I'd like to go straight to distribution. I don't want to do this whole journey of trying to get into a great Fest and sell it that way. And they liked it. And they said, Hey, like, skip it all. Let's just put it out and see what happens. So we were like, right on. Let's do it. Let's put it out. And and we just did press and some people, the first waves were pretty negative, but now we're getting some rave. Some people are really responding to it. So I think over the years, well, we'll find our audience and at least if you get some percentage of people loving your film that that can be a lot, especially for an indie. And where can people see it? Well, it's on Apple TV, now it's on prime and then we'll find a streaming home down the road. I'm interested because of your show. Also on this ad revenue. Where are you? Oh, Avon. Yeah, Avon seems to be a way to make some so I'm sure we'll do that. And then we'll end up I'm sure at some point with a streamer and a more long, long term kind of deal.

Alex Ferrari 44:57
I mean, there's no question that this kind of film will very well with Avon because it's oh no it there's no question you put Ed's face on the thumbnail, and people are flying by and they're gonna It's he's so popular because of Westworld. He's just a legend because of who he is. You put his face on there with YouTube on there in the background, but it's Yeah. And Senator Sullivan um, yeah, and thumbnail going by and I always tell people this, what do you do when you're watching? When you're going on Friday night? You're screaming you're going through your stream, or whether it's HBO or Amazon or Netflix or Hulu or whatever? What do you do? You scan? And when do you stop? Either when you find something that's in a niche that you absolutely adore? So if you're a surfer, you're gonna watch a surfing documentary or surfing movie, if you're a skateboarder, or things like that, those things might attract you. But generally, it's a known face that you you're like, Okay, I know, because there's so much gluttony of product in the world right now. That for me, even to try for five minutes to try something that I'm not know. Like, I don't know,

Terrence Martin 46:07
Switch. I do the same thing.

Alex Ferrari 46:09
Exactly. But I got to the point where I don't even try unless it's something I've heard about or I feel about. So that's why Adam Sandler has three picture 100 million dollar deals every years because Netflix knows that when you're there on a Friday night, and I've done it, man, I look. I love Adam Sandler films. I think they're fun. They're escapist. They're, they're dumb and ridiculous. And they're funny, and they're just, they're just what they are. Yeah, they were they are what they are. They know what they are. And they try not to be anything else. But oh, and when there's a Kevin James David Spade, a Chris Rock. What's his name? The other guy from Bigelow, those guys all the characters that are all the characters that are in the Adam Sandler universe. Sure, when you're scanning and you're like, oh, this new Adam Sandler movie. I know what I'm gonna get. Because it's safe. So, you know, you rarely watch it unless you watch something like hustle. Which was the New Adam Sandler movie when he's a it's a drama.

Terrence Martin 47:14
I love it. Yeah, the basketball recruiter Yeah, I love what he does like uncut gems. So and, of course the one he did Paul Thomas Anderson, like when he ventures into that he probably loses solid his core audience but you can tell like he's really going for it. He's a great actor, too.

Alex Ferrari 47:29
And he actually could play basketball from what I understand. He's like a real like, he actually played basketball.

Terrence Martin 47:33
I heard he has a cord at his house. And it's like a little Hollywood Game that goes on. Yeah, example when I was testing Adam movies like the audience when you would come to them with an Adam Sandler movie. Their face would just light up with good vibes. So yeah, he earns that money because a certain percentage of our entire country and world just love the guy you know, like he

Alex Ferrari 47:54
Someone's watching them as much as he might be trashed out, they're like, oh, it's an Adam Sandler. Go f yourself guys as someone's watching him.

Terrence Martin 48:02
Yeah, and printed critical responses so on I mean, they they missed it on so many great classic movies. The first critical wave is very negative. And it's takes years and Adam is gonna go down as one of the top guys like Jerry Lewis, you know, like, an icon of comedy, no matter how, how the reviews were at the time,

Alex Ferrari 48:22
And you have to ask to reviews even matter anymore. They don't they don't have the like the Roger Ebert or time those thumbs could destroy a movie. Or make make or break a movie. And then the time of any cool news when that was a real site that did a lot of big stuff. I mean, they destroyed Batman versus Robin like they, they took down an entire studio movie, because of what they did. They said about it. But these these days it is there's too much content moving too fast.

Terrence Martin 48:56
Exactly. You'd love for to get the tomato, but great movies don't get the tomato because it's tomatoes, easy. It's almost like Siskel and Ebert. Thumbs up, thumbs down, you get the red tomato. It's like, okay, it's interesting.

Alex Ferrari 49:07
Right! And even then, how many I mean? Yeah, it's nice, like, 100% Fresh. We all want 100% fresh in our movies. Yeah, but generally speaking. It does who like doesn't matter? Yeah, it's not it didn't, doesn't have to sway. I mean, people used to sit there and listen to Gene Siskel, and Roger Ebert and whatever they said, exact moved the box office, they

Terrence Martin 49:32
They were our friends, right? They felt like friends of you who are talking movies to you. Like that's how I felt growing up. So when they really went and you could see that energy. It was like, I have to see that. So but yeah, there's no reviewer now I think that commands that level.

Alex Ferrari 49:46
No, no, there's not even a website that really has that kind of juice other than Rotten Tomatoes, which is just basically a bunch of critics. Yeah, it's just aggregate. Brilliant. Yeah. And then the audience. It's like it's a weird it's, I don't know. I don't know what Anyway,

Terrence Martin 50:01
we had one five star that didn't even get to Rotten Tomatoes. And I tried to get this five star review there, and he reviews for a major newspaper. But for some reason he's not a sanction, rotten tomatoes here, but it's a shame because it was like a dude who really fell in love with get away if you can. That's awesome.

Alex Ferrari 50:16
These are the frustrations of filmmakers. I get a five star review. I can't put it up by nature newspaper. But so my friend, I'm going to ask you a few questions asked all my guests. And if you've listened to the show, you know what these are, so you better be prepared? I do. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to get a break into the business today?

Terrence Martin 50:36
I would say fall in love with the process, you know, like don't let the negativity can get in you. And I've seen it happen to so many people. And really not only like spoil your journey in this business, but spoil your life in a way and you fall it fall in love with creativity and writing. And you keep that separate from the business. And I'm not saying don't put all the hustle you have into doing it. But really fall in love with that process. And don't let anybody take that from you at writing, directing acting like you can do those things on the cheap and have it not be related to your success financially. And I think that that's been a key for me and something I would recommend to every creative person.

Alex Ferrari 51:14
Now what is the lesson took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Terrence Martin 51:19
Work with good people, man, even if even if, man I know how hard it is. But if you take money, as you know from taking money from the mob, it's not. To che, I know how hard it is now, because that's the science. You just want the money to do your project. But if you put those blinders on, you can really screw up your life or be killed literally.

Alex Ferrari 51:45
Yes, sir. As as my book has very, how not to follow your filmmaking dream, as I like to call it.

Terrence Martin 51:51
Yeah, exactly. So if you work with good people, you end up happy and that's nice.

Alex Ferrari 51:56
And three of your favorite films of all time.

Terrence Martin 51:59
This one is a tough one, because I was going to tell you, you should have a podcast just where you ask this question. It could be like five, bring up all your favorite guests and just talk about this. But because I'm writing like a bigger budget thriller, I've been studying thriller, so I'm just gonna give you the top thrillers of all time. And first is a sixth sense because I don't know if people now realize how big that twist was. That's all anybody in film was talking about was this twist to capture an audience's imagination with a twist. Like it's just I've been studying the script, reading it, seeing how it's been worked in. So I would say that, that's that's one 2001 Because it's I'm writing a sci fi thriller. And that's got the science but it's also got the thriller aspect, you know, the man versus technology. And it's just so beautiful. Like you can learn something new about it the each time you watch it, and my all time favorite thriller is Hitchcock's rear window. And I've heard it's just impeccably put together, beautiful cast, everything relates to the story. And because we'd get out if you can, we're so free and improvisational. I want to do a movie where you just Hitchcock was the best at shot structure, you know, like every shot, told a story and was related to the next shot. And so I've been really studying that film. I just think it's a wonderful movie.

Alex Ferrari 53:14
My friend, I appreciate you coming on the show and sharing your insane journey. Insane journey of making not only this film, but your journey through this business and how you've survived it because it is a it's survival and you're still at it, man. And I gotta give you props for that because a lot of people would have quit a long time ago, and just pick it just become a professional poker player full time. Exactly. No, you're insane. And that's okay. That's what we are. We are insane. So creatures that just like no, no, I'm gonna make my movie. Even if I gotta take money from the Bob. Fine. I'll just do what I gotta do. But I appreciate you my friend. I wish you the best of luck with your film. I hope everyone goes out and sees it my friend. Thank you so much.

Terrence Martin 53:59
Thanks a lot Alex.

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BPS 350: How To Make Four Features In One Year With Chad Archibald & Cody Calahan

Chad Archibald and Cody Calahan are Canadian film directors and producers known for their work in the horror genre. They have collaborated on several projects together, often through their production company, Black Fawn Films.

Chad Archibald and Cody Calahan co-founded Black Fawn Films in 2007 with a focus on creating independent horror films. They have since produced and directed numerous feature films, gaining recognition in the Canadian horror scene.

Some of their notable collaborations include: “Antisocial” (2013), “The Drownsman” (2014, “Bite” (2015), “Let Her Out” (2016), and “The Heretics” (2017).

Chad Archibald and Cody Calahan have established themselves as prominent figures in the Canadian horror film industry, known for their unique storytelling and visually striking movies.

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Alex Ferrari 2:00
Enjoy today's episode with guest host, Jason Buff.

Jason Buff 2:05
Today we're talking with Chad Archibald and Cody Calahan of black fawn films, their films antisocial to and bite just premiered at the Fantasia fest up in Toronto, and it's supposedly somebody like threw up and it was so gross watching the movie bite that somebody threw up, I think, you know, I don't know how true it is. But it's a great thing to for publicity, you know. And I think they after that they started giving out like barf bags with their logo on it and everything. So I mean, these, it's pretty amazing how they have been able to get out and find an audience. And you know, as we talked about in the interview, they get out and they go to horror fests and they go to cons and do you know, they're out there, really getting the word out about their films. And that's how they've been able to build up an audience. And one of the things we talked about a lot on the show is the key to filmmaking is finding your audience. That's all you need to have if you want if you make a film, and are able to sell it and get it out to people who want to see it. That's all you need. Let me go ahead and get to the interview. This is Chad Archibald and Cody Callahan. First thing I wanted to talk about was just coming off of Fantasia fest. And, you know, one of the big things we talk about is distribution and how people are connecting with their audiences. And first, I'm kind of wondering how much of a role Fantasia fest plays into your overall strategy for getting the word out? And how are things working nowadays with with the way that VOD has kind of changed and DVDs aren't as big anymore? Can you talk about just the way that you're getting your film out there? How people can find it, and how you're connecting with your audience?

Chad Archibald 3:51
Um, well, I guess the whole Fantasia thing we, we love going to this festival, it's fairly close to us, it's about eight hours from where we live. So it's, it's been a staple with I think we've had like eight films there over the years. But we, you know, we generally come up with you know, 3040 people, our entire cast and crew. And we have a we have a great time up there. It's, it's kind of like our little vacation from the year. And I mean, it's just aside from that is actually, you know, just one of the best festivals out there. It's, it's run so well. The organizers put so much effort into picking great films and making it such a great experience. And the fans that are like the audiences are just there's so much fun. So I mean, we go up there with our films to revere them but we also love just going to actually watch movies and and, you know, just see what see what's coming and see what's coming out next, I guess, right. Now, I guess as far as getting our films out there, you know, we We have a sales team that goes out to all the markets and whatnot like the FM's and, and whatnot. But you know, it's, it's difficult with any indie film to really get noticed. And there's just so many films out there. So, I mean, we try to, you know, first of all, I guess isn't, you know, we're trying to make, okay movies that, that we hope, kind of end up getting standing out in the sea of other indie horror films right now. So I mean, I think that's obviously the first thing that you got to try to do. But aside from that, I mean, we, you know, we use tons of social media stuff. We have worked hard over the years, creating relationships with fans and whatnot, we go to tons of conventions, and, you know, we're always, you know, trying to get out there and push her films and just as well push ourselves. We, we hire a ton of different people in different shoots. And we always try to treat people with respect. And it, I think, that kind of gets the word out there a little bit, too. I mean, Canada. And then aside from that, you know, we always come up with little marketing gigs. Like we had little barf bags that the bites. You know, we did a big any social campaign at the Cannes market. And yeah, I mean, just try to try to come up with interesting ideas to engage your audience's

Jason Buff 6:35
Has it changed a lot since the technologies become cheaper and people aren't doing DVDs as much. I mean, is it a harder field to get into, like producing horror movies?

Chad Archibald 6:45
Oh, for sure. It's, it's completely different now. And every year, it gets a little bit harder, which is, it's funny, because it's like we, you know, make better movies every year, but the industry kind of gets a little more difficult every year. But it's, I mean, you used to be able to make a film and sell it fairly easily, because any distributor would be like, Okay, well, I mean, we're gonna sell 100,000 copies, to the blockbusters and the Rogers out there instantly. So, you know, there's actually no way we're going to lose money on these films, right. So there's just there's tons of money to be made back then. And distributors nowadays, you know, they have to really work to get people to watch it, or rent it on iTunes, or, you know, there's just so many films accessible to everyone at the touch of a button. So it's, it's, it's now a matter of actually getting people to watch your films and getting people to actually, like, choose them out of the sea of other films. I mean, it's, it's definitely changed. It's an it's still changing. And it's getting, you know, it's just, it's getting more difficult, but it's also just, it's getting different, right? People are just having having to come up with new ideas. And, you know, for years, there's been, you know, people in studios, who would just be paid, like, you know, tons of money to just sit there and try to figure out how to, how to resolve the industry, because it's, uh, you know, so many distributors have closed down, I think there's, like, you know, 13% of the distributors out there still, you know, still still kicking, but I mean, so many of the smaller guys just got ate up by big studios, or just had to close the doors whenever, you know, all the DVD market collapse, right?

Jason Buff 8:39
Do you feel like that has anything to do with people like doing more self distribution, or just the fact that it's, you know, people aren't renting DVDs anymore? There's no more there's really not like a physical product anymore.

Chad Archibald 8:51
Yeah, I mean, they're still out there. We still release all our, our, our films on DVD and blu ray. But yeah, it's, it's, it's got to the point where I think people who are like real big fans who are like collectors of DVDs and whatnot, they don't want to pick that those up. And the people who don't specifically have a giant DVD collection that, you know, they they end up going on VOD, and, and whatnot. So it's, it is hard, but they're still you know, we go to tons of conventions and sell DVDs from a booth and there's still, you know, a lot of people out there that really, really liked them. A lot of people are happy spending, you know, a few bucks on getting an actual physical product, it turns into kind of a collector's item, you know, right. Whereas, you know, you buy it on iTunes and it just disappears after

Jason Buff 9:46
You can't, you can't, you know, autograph or download either.

Alex Ferrari 9:52
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Jason Buff 10:00
Oh, And so what, back in the early days before you guys had kind of built up this following what was your primary way of kind of getting the word out? Is it always been the same way? Or have you? You know, have you used social media and view you used? You know, I mean, I guess my question is, how can people who are kind of going in this into this for the first time, start building an audience, and, you know, focusing on who their core audience is going to be.

Chad Archibald 10:29
Um, I think, years ago, me and Cody actually traveled across Canada with a movie called never lost. And we just, you know, we, we rented movie theaters from Montreal to Vancouver, and just kind of traveled every day, we would go to a different location, different theater and try to, you know, cellar versus trying to screen our film actually proved to be very difficult. I mean, we, we had a great time doing it, and we met a ton of people, but it's to make something like that really work and come out financially, okay, it's very difficult to get people to come and sit in a theater, especially if you don't have a following in that area. You know, like we can, we can pack Theatre in Toronto, because, you know, all our friends and family are from here, but but it was, it was something that I think were a little, you know, we learned a lot from doing it. And, I mean, even even when we're starting out, like, the the biggest thing, I think, that we did was just, you know, try to surround ourselves and work with a ton of people who are really passionate, and just from, from their passion and excitement about the film's, you know, they would spread it to other people. And, you know, it's not like it was making a huge difference in the industry or anything. But for us, you know, little guys just making a movie. It does help get the word out there, you know, if you post something on social media, then you have, you know, 10 other people posting it as well. And, you know, all their friends on other front pages, see it, and, you know, it kind of spreads like that. And I mean, we also, you know, we went to we'd rent out theaters around Toronto and Guelph, and whatnot, and Scream Screen, some of our films, they're just trying to make a big show that we, we screened a film years ago, where we had, you know, we had a big party at a bar. And we invited the cast and crew and whoever wanted to come and we had bands play. And at the end of the night, it was like the big trailer release, and we released a trailer there. And then we, you know, a few months later, we went and we had another bigger party, and we had, you know, more bands playing, we released a new trailer that was there. And the third band was like, or the third time was like, a release, where we showed a few of our music videos for the bands that were playing there. And we showed the trailers and we released tickets for the actual screening at the Cineplex and we ended up selling out three or four theaters. Wow. Which was, you know, it was great, but that was, you know, back in the day whenever, you know, there wasn't youtube today, that's

Jason Buff 13:19
No, but that's exactly the kind of things that I hear from a lot of people now which is you know, if you want to have success filmmaking, especially, you know, way outside you know, in the indie film market, you really have to become your, your own giant publicity machine, you know, and connect with people versus some other people who want to, you know, have a company that's like, they're gonna make their film and then they're just gonna go out and sell it to a distributor that doesn't really seem to exist as much anymore.

Chad Archibald 13:49
Yeah, it's a it's definitely a challenge everything's a challenge and I mean, you have to take advantage of the things that don't cost money and ideas are one of those things that you know, you can often come up with ideas that you can do cheap or or I think if you can try to kind of think like a publicist a little bit just finding different angles of you know, how you can promote something you know, we had talked about years ago anti social which was you know, it's kind of like what a Facebook turned on its users into zombies. And we were gonna get, you know, little super cheap USB keys and put the trailers on them and you know, hand them out to everyone on the streets and stuff like that. So you know, people get a little USB key which would be a buck or two and you know, on the USB key there, it'd be like this you know, social media horror movie. But I mean, I think just even doing that there's there's the value of people actually picking up the the product like a USB key or whatever, but there's also a value in just just meeting All right, that'd be in like, Oh, so you guys are the actual filmmakers and you're actually on the street. It's almost like years ago when you're in line for like a concert and like, a guy would come over and be like, here's my band's tape. We're just handing them out to everyone. I'd like listen to the tape and be like, I met that guy. I think nothing FaZe did that years years ago, and I remember like, being like, I'm old school. I Yeah, added me this tape. And now he's, you know, now and watch his music videos on on much music when they played music videos.

Jason Buff 15:33
Right? Well tell me. Yeah, what's my error too? But, well, let me let me ask you one more thing about distribution. And then I'm going to change focus to, you know, screenwriting and some of the other aspects. Now, right now, you've got antisocial too, and you've got bite, and they both premiered at Fantasia fest? What what is the where do they where do you go from there in terms of like, I mean, are you guys kind of out of the the process now? Or are you just doing publicity? Or are you actually involved with where it's going to be going in terms of like, US distribution? European, just, you know, all that stuff? Is that like, where are you right now in that process?

Chad Archibald 16:20
I think we're, we're lucky enough to work with a studio. Okay, now called Breakthrough entertainment. And they have a team of people who, you know, we we've reached out to and sat down and discussing the festivals that the films are going to be in, or at least reach out to and apply to. And they also take it, you know, out as far as into the industry for sales. So I mean, we do our little part with the people that we know, to help out. But in all honesty, we're on our next film already. Well, yeah, we have a pitcher deal with breakthrough entertainment over two years. So we've just finished shooting the third of eight films, and where we're editing it right now and getting ready to go into production on the next five. So what

Jason Buff 17:10
That's like for four films per year? Yeah. Okay, well, let's let's go into that a little bit. Because that seems to me that seems insane. I mean, it seems like you guys probably, you know, make stop to eat for two seconds, and then you go back to work. Is that kind of your lifestyle?

Chad Archibald 17:28
Yeah, that's why I said Fantasia was our holiday because for nine days and, and as soon as we got back, we're back to work. It's funny, Cody's actually away right now working on better the dead, which is the third film that we're doing with Jeff Mahara? Who directed it?

Okay. So can we talk a little bit about? No, go ahead. Sorry.

Cody Calahan 17:54
No, it was just fine. Because I think we drove back from Montreal, I think. I slept in my bed for like, six hours, and then got up and drove to a cottage where we set up like all our edits, edit suites, and I've been here since Fantasia.

Chad Archibald 18:12
And that says, like, we have to kind of do these, these endurance trips of getting things done. So I mean, it's, it is insane. I mean, we, we really, were excited going into this slate of films. And I think the hardest thing is actually just just getting all the concepts together and getting them all approved by the studio and whatnot. Because, you know, like we said, it's it all starts with your idea and your concept being unique. If it's not a unique idea, then there's, you know, it's going to be very different, difficult to stand out.

Jason Buff 18:47
Well, there obviously has to be a profitable aspect of what you guys are doing, you know, so I mean, to to attract a company like breakthrough, right.

Chad Archibald 18:58
Yeah, I mean, I think the industry is, you know, the industry still buying movies, and they're still, you know, I think there's still a spot in it for sure. If you if you make quality films. And yeah, I think breakthrough is also kind of, you know, I think they've seen a lot of the films that we had done in the past for, you know, $10. And they can, they can see, you know, where we've come and where we're going and they really want to kind of invest in our future as well. So, this is, this is a first step to it.

Jason Buff 19:31
Okay, now I wanted to sidetrack for just a second ever. I wanted to sidetrack for one second, because I was reading one of your interviews, Chad, specifically, about desperate souls, which you made, I think when you were 22, right. Yeah. Now, you mentioned that you kind of messed up the sound and everything and you had some issues with that but ended up selling it to Lionsgate and Alliance films, right. Yeah. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 20:00
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Jason Buff 20:09
Can you just describe how that happened or how it's possible that you know, to do something like that, because I hear so many nightmare stories about filmmaking and things going wrong and people who are never able to, you know, their film ends up sitting in a closet somewhere, you know, despite their best efforts and everything, and I was just wondering how that kind of happened or if you can talk a little bit about that.

Chad Archibald 20:31
Yeah, you know, we went out and we made this movie and we made every mistake in the book. We we shot it and all the audio was so horrible that there's generators in the background of everything. I went out and bought three red heads, like three 1k lights and lit the whole movie with that I was just clueless all we knew is that there was these cameras DVS one hundreds that shot. Sorry, there's huge bang and so anyway.

Jason Buff 21:02
And that was the last we heard of Chad.

Chad Archibald 21:04
Yeah. Anyways, there's a these cameras dv x 100 said, We're the first cameras to really shoot 24 P. So it's basically you know, that moment when, you know, a prosumer prosumer camera stop looking like your home video, right. So we had pre ordered two of those. And I mean, I know at that point before then it's like, you know, to go out and film the movie. On a prosumer camera, it still had a very video II look. Right. So these are that does that HD? No, that was standard def, right? Yes. That's what I thought. Yeah. So. So we went out and we shot this movie, you know, we literally thought we could shoot it in a week. And it took you know, two years. Of course, were so clueless. And, yeah, we we made every mistake in the book, I ended up having to build a sound room in my basement and I rerecorded every line of dialogue every sound every movement every footstep in this room in Vegas video and linked it all up and made the m&e and because I figured out what an m&a was at that point. And you had Yeah, and then released a movie. And, you know, we went and met with some people in Toronto, it's, it's kind of it's difficult to get well, it's funny, because so many people think it's, you know, so hard to set up meetings with people in the industry. But I mean, if you have a product, if you have, you know, an idea or whatever it's like, it's really not that hard. Like people are generally, you know, interested in finding what's out there and finding, you know, connecting with people. So we always say that in meetings or whatever it's like, you know, reach out and try to try to meet with people like we we meet with people all the time, people are like, hey, you know, I'm trying to get into film and we'd love to buy a beer. That's, that's what entices us, apparently. But anyways, yeah, we, you know, got it to someone who who was interested in back then there's still again, Rogers videos and all those stores. So they looked at it, and they were like, you know, this is a, it's a complete movie, it's got all the pieces, it's got all the deliverables, which are a whole other story, but we got it all together and, and sold at Lionsgate and lights. And a, it's just, it's a worst movie ever. Like, I wouldn't be able to give it away. Just, it's horrible.

Jason Buff 23:38
That's the first on the show.

Chad Archibald 23:41
But it's, but the fact is, we made every mistake in the book. And I think from that experience, that's where a lot of the knowledge that I have now about filmmaking came from, you know, I think the problem with people is that, you know, people getting into the industry right now is they're so eager to just, like, jump into making a film. And, you know, sorry, that's kind of what we did do. So I'm not saying but I mean, like, there's technology out, there's iPhones, or whatever it's like, go out and just make mistakes and make every mistake that you can possibly do, and work on making and fixing it and figuring you know, figuring out exactly what you have to do to make a movie. And then whenever you actually get some money and put it into a film or if you're investing your own money, you know, you can you can have a better chance of it getting completed from on again. Yeah, there's so many people out there that did start they jump into a feature and underestimate it and don't know how to you know, resolve issues on them by themselves whenever, you know, shit hits the fan. So I think it's it's important if you don't have the money, you have to be able to trust yourself to figure it out to get the project done.

Jason Buff 24:56
Now, you mentioned deliverables and said that was a whole other topic. Can you just bring If we talk about deliverables, the importance of, you know, having the things that you need to give for to make sure the film is all legal and everything, just the kind of most important things.

Chad Archibald 25:12
Well, I mean, I think, you know, you have to have your contracts without your cast and crew and whatnot. There's, there's different kinds of deliverables. There's deliverables, if you want to sell the film, but if you want to do tax credits is a whole other list of deliverables. But I mean, it's, you know, anything that you can think of, that you think you might be available for, right, you know, location agreements. You know, if you're using music from someone, or someone's doing the score, you know, make sure they had signed some paperwork. And a lot of the templates are good enough online, you can search them, search them all up, just basically anyone you work with, who's adding anything creative, just make sure. Or if you're working, you know, if you do know, a distributor or moderator go to anyone and just say, you know, can you send me a list of what you would ask for if you bought a film? And you know, you have all your different you know, an m&e, like your music and effects tracks. So, you know, when you when you release a film you have, you have to deliver one track, that's all your dialogue, then you have to release additional tracks that are basically all the sound effects in the movie. So, you know, footsteps, close, explosions, all the music. And basically, then if you sell it to Japan, they can go they can delete your dialogue track, they still have all the other sounds of the movie, and then they dub over, you know, beautifully in and then of course, like your trailers, your poster elements, you know, 50 stills, you know, stills from set, poster material. Right? Yeah.

Jason Buff 26:50
Okay. So moving into building a project. Okay, and what I want to talk for a second about your process for screenwriting? Because a lot of our we talk a lot with screenwriters, and I'm a screenwriter and people like to know what can you talk a little bit about your process for beginning a project and how you kind of start putting together your screenplays. And especially since you guys are kind of cranking stuff out? What is the secret? If you found one for kind of getting to your final draft of a screenplay quickly and effectively.

Cody Calahan 27:32
I will, I think we used the immune challenges to write a lot more because we would make one or maybe two movies a year. But now since we're we are doing so much we spend sort of less time actually writing scripts and more time, just coming up with solid, solid concepts and then bringing on new new writers. And I think for us, I mean, obviously with every every movie, we do something good. And we're like, Okay, we got to do, we got to remember that do that again. But for every good thing, there's 50 past things we do. And I think as as we've sort of grown, you know, writing and you know, helping other people, right? And then getting people to write for us, is just trying to try to keep our ideas, you know, fun and simple and clean. Because I think both me and shadow made movies where at some point in time, there's a character who needs to explain something. And I think I think we've both had that moment of like, well, I can't cut the scenes, because I'm, I need to get this information across. But I wish I could go back. Because no, no point in a movie. Should somebody sit down in front of somebody and go and take a deep breath and explain why you're watching. And I've done it. I know lots of filmmakers do it. But I think for us, it's like every time we make a movie, you know will sit at Fantasia and then leave and go talk to each other and be like, Okay, so let's never do that again. Everybody loved that. So let's make sure we do that again. So I feel like every every movie even though they're all so so different, like any social to invite, I don't even know if you can compare them how different they are. Both of them came out of what we've learned from the drowns man and sublet, and any social one. And it's it's funny, because it's like, all of those movies are so different. But still, filmmaking comes down to like some pretty simple rules that you can play with and try to break but there's some things you just have to stick to because every time we we don't you can see the audience's reactions or read about it in a review. You can also

Jason Buff 29:46
Big make mistakes then that you learn from.

Alex Ferrari 29:51
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Cody Calahan 30:01
Well, I'd say I would say that the biggest one is, is having a, having a concept that that is cool enough that the audience goes, Oh, okay, well, that's interesting and something a little different. But don't go so wacky, that you need a character to explain why you're watching the film. And like, you know, even on any social, it took us forever to try to figure out a way to tell the audience that Facebook, but you know, in our case, the websites called Red Room, how does how does this website, you know, basically possessed people? And why is it doing it without having one character talk to you for five minutes. So it was about getting all those pieces of information and suddenly trying to put give them to different characters at different times. So by the time the, you know, the hammer comes down, and it's like, this is the thing that's killing people, you already have enough to put everything together so that we don't have to explain a lot. I think that one for for us is the the biggest and also trying to trying to keep when you're going to do such graphic horror movies, where people are throwing up at a theater, you got to remember that, like, for an hour and a half, if you're going to be that discussing that you kind of you should add a little bit of humor. Just just to release the audience here and there. And I think sometimes, you know, I mean, for me, personally, I can get so sore in the movie, and so intense about it that I want it to be so serious, but sometimes you can have to step back and go, Okay, well, there's a movie about Facebook, turning people into zombies. So let's tread lightly on the on the serious factor.

Jason Buff 31:46
So do you start out with a kind of a blueprint and put the whole thing together? You know, before you actually start writing? Or do you just kind of jump in?

Cody Calahan 31:54
I'm usually it's like, shall call me like, he'll be driving home? And they'll call me or something and be like, what about a movie? And like, you know, that that, and I'll call him and with with an idea. And usually we go through? I don't know, recently, we've gone through about 50 different ideas, just trying to find the right one to put our time into writing. But I feel like for us, it's not. It's not that we we take an idea. And we work on it so long that we figured out how to make it work. But we wait until there's that spark, or something different or like okay, cool. I haven't seen that before. And usually we we we wait for each other's reaction. And if the reaction is like, okay, that's really cool, then we keep developing. But as we go through so many different ideas, and sometimes we'll you know, well, we'll write a 12 page treatment, send it to each other, and the other person's like, Nah, not feeling it. My Desktop has like, his a folder called old movies. And I was just looking at it now. And there's, there's probably 24 treatments in there. None of which.

Jason Buff 33:01
Right? Do you have any kind of go to structure that you use when you're like plotting things together? I mean, do you ever use something like save the cat or, or hero's journey or anything like that? Or I assume for a horror movie, it's a little bit different.

Cody Calahan 33:15
Yeah, I mean, say the Cat's got some, I mean, that looks that looks great. Because I do think no matter whether if it's for drama, or comedy, or whatever, there is, there's structure things that have worked forever. So that so you know, there's some things to keep in mind. And especially if it's your, if it's your first film, I would never tell anybody did not experiment. I think that's the point of making movies. But you know, there's some things like that you need to you need to stick to like, giving your your character a reason to be in the story and not just being like, Okay, I'm gonna go make a horror movie. So I'm going to spend, you know, all the money on blood and gore. Because that's what people want to see. It's like, I think, you know, I think there's so many movies, I think audiences are getting smarter. And I think you gotta be, you gotta make something that's about people and stuff before, you know, heads are exploding. Not that we don't do that.

Chad Archibald 34:08
I think the other thing as well, that we've gotten used to doing and I think this is a little bit more of a producer writing thing is that, you know, you make sure that you can pull off what you're writing. So if you already know what your budget is going to be, or if you know that you're going to be doing it on your own with your friends. It's about coming up with ideas that you can that you know, that you can pull off well, as opposed to coming out, like creating ideas that are so big that you're just setting yourself up for failure. We mean, Cody have done it in the past. So many other filmmakers I know have done it, where it's like, you know, they've got a bunch of cops coming in, and it's like, as soon as you see the cops, they're just like a bunch of kids and they're like just wearing all these like, whatever blue dress shirts that are all big and wonky and it just takes you out of the whole story.

Cody Calahan 35:01
You know, you're reading the script. It's like, you know, the bad guys walk out and there's a riot scene, and then you go to shoot it. And it's like, your four buddies, your grips your gaffers. And there's like 10 people in the shot and you're like,

Chad Archibald 35:15
And none of them are actors. So they're all like, you know, there's always a guy who's laughing in the back and

Cody Calahan 35:20
staring at the camera. Yeah.

Jason Buff 35:24
Okay, so moving on from screenwriting. Going into pre production, I'm gonna try to get through this as fast as possible, because this is this is the kind of stuff people need to know a lot of people want to be in your shoes. The there's the touchy subject of budgeting, investing, and kind of having an idea of what a film can make. Can you guys discuss that a little bit? And how you figure out, okay, we can, for example, you know, $100,000, half a million dollars, a million dollars going up and up and up? It's like, how is there some sort of information you can give us about how all that works? And how you budget?

Chad Archibald 36:09
People love that question. It's so funny how often people ask me, like, what's that? What's the sweet spot? Like? Yeah, well, you know, you make a movie for that, and you're gonna make your money back or, you know, it's, I mean, it, it's different, because, and you always have to say this at the start is, it does come down to your concept, you know, you can make a movie, for 100 grand, that has a really good idea. And it could, you know, go insane, it could, it could make you millions, it could, you know, be huge, or make a movie for 100 grand, and it could not sell anywhere. So, I mean, it always does come down to your concept, and you know, the quality of, you know, filmmaking that you're that you're dealing with. So, I mean, there is no sweet spot, that's always going to be like, you know, this is, this is the safe area, you're always going to make your money back. Now, there's accounting things, like for example, if you wanted to use, you know, tax credits, you know, you can look at your budget and be like, Alright, we're gonna invest this much, and we'll get this much back in tax credits. And, you know, it's always a percentage. So it's, you know, depends on what your entire budget is. But it's, I mean, a lot of the stuff that we do is non union. And, I mean, we do things like ad social, to which union. So there's obviously a big gap there. When you go non union, you can, you can shoot stuff for a lot cheaper. And there's, you know, less rules that are going to demand your funds. But I mean, I think if you, you know, if you go and you make a million dollar film, you're probably going to want to go union, because you're going to want to like to get some names, and that's going to help sell your product, because I think it does kind of, unless your films that complete breakout head, it does cap out a little bit, you know, if you don't have any names in your movie, it can be really, really awesome. And still, you know, a lot of distributors will be like, I'm not gonna buy that, or I'm gonna buy it for this much money because it's got nobody at it. So but I mean, you know, there's, there's exceptions to every rule. You know, if people are looking for safe answers, that's, that's your safe answers that, you know, if you're going to, you know, make a movie for a million bucks, you got to make sure you try to get some names in it. If you're going to make a movie for nothing, then make sure you got a good concept to sell it.

Jason Buff 38:43
Yeah, and so where exactly do you find the money? Where's the money? That's yeah, what do you have any like phone numbers and addresses?

Cody Calahan 38:54
Yes, it is the best answer if we can answer that this podcast would be amazing.

Jason Buff 39:00
All right, well, I won't hold you to that.

Chad Archibald 39:03
Industry, they released the phone number.

Jason Buff 39:07
Phone calls from this guy. Okay, so the the main thing I'm what I've been saying is just you have to really, it's like any business, you have to build something that people are going to be interested in, you have to have an actor or actors or, you know, somebody with a track record. You know, I always advise people, you know, if you want to make a movie for $100,000, make a movie for $10,000 or whatever you can afford at that moment, and then, you know, build up, you know, and I don't know how you guys feel about that. But it just seems like most people that are making films, it's like they start out with something really low budget, and just kind of an even just shorts, you know, and then slowly move up with the next project. And as long as they can demonstrate that they have a track record, they're gonna you know, be able to keep making movies.

Alex Ferrari 39:56
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Chad Archibald 40:05
Well, I mean, it's so it's so tricky and it's so like, there, there's like, filmmakers do need to be, to have a sense of responsibility for everyone else. Because it's, it's become an issue over the years now that everyone can make a movie, there's so many people out there that are like, you know, I've never made a movie, but I just think that I was born to make a movie. So I'm, I'm gonna go out, and I'm going to talk to, you know, all these lawyers and dentists or whatever the hell and raise some money and we're gonna go out and we're gonna make the best movie ever because I was born to make movies, and I watched a ton of movie, so I'm just going to be the best at it. And then they go out and they, you know, make a shitty film or a great film, who knows, but chances are, like anything else, it's like, you get better at doing something by doing it. And there's a lot of people that raise a lot of money and lose a lot of money for people in the industry. Or not, not in the industry, there's a lot of people who, you know, sit back, and they look and they're like, Oh, this is like, you know, my sister in law's cousin's son, and he's a filmmaker, and he's telling me, he's going to, you know, hit the jackpot with this movie, and I'm going to give them 50 grand, and they're going to give me back 200 grand, because that's what his little paper proposal told me. And then they go in and invest the funds and into someone who's, you know, made a little booklet that looks really awesome, but has no idea what they're doing. And, you know, then then that person, you know, gets burnt and tells his story that, you know, never invest in a film, you'll lose all your money. And then independent, like, independent people fun, like financing films like that are, you know, they're never going to do it again. I think everyone should be working together and, you know, raising responsible numbers to try to be like, Okay, I'll, how would I get 10 grand from you, even if you lose, if I lose it all, and there's nothing back. Like, I mean, I could print off DVDs and sell 10 grand worth and, you know, a while, you know, it's like, there's still, you know, it's that much money, so you can like, you can still recoup it for someone. But I mean, we, you know, me and Cody know, people who have invested millions of dollars in products that never got finished. And it's, it's sad, but it's, you know, it hurts everyone in the industry. And it's, you know, it's, it's the responsibility now that everyone has the power to actually make a movie, you know, you can go out and buy, you know, a camera for $3,000 and make it, you know, a movie that could be a hit. So, technology's not really a factor anymore. It's just, yeah, you know, there's people out there that have done that they've gone and raised a million dollars in one shot, and maybe with like, casting their buddies in it. Now, it's a crazy. Again, like, I'm not saying don't be ambitious, but I just mean, you know, try to try to figure out what you're doing before you start spending people's money on.

Jason Buff 43:03
Yeah, it's funny, because, you know, back when I was more, you know, in the age in my 20s, trying to make films, I, I had a couple, I think I had three friends who got money by showing people around El Mariachi, and they get like they had they had an investor meeting, they were like, look at this movie, and look how much money this movies made, you know, and they went out and they shot their own movie, and nobody ever saw. I mean, this was back in the days of like, you know, 1635 millimeter, and it was a lot more expensive. But it was always funny to be like, everybody was using the same one example or clerks or, you know, back in like the late 90s, you know?

Chad Archibald 43:39
Yeah, yeah. That was uh, that's it

Cody Calahan 43:48
To go on, and try to try to find money and I mean, me and me and Chad and a few people, we spent a bunch of money and shot trailers for movies that we wanted to make. And we thought, okay, so we're gonna go out we're gonna make these shows we're gonna make them look super high quality, great little concepts, try to get the stories across in these short little two to three minute trailers and then start setting up meetings because we have something to show that will show that we can do show that we can drag bla bla bla and it's funny because I think we made four of them. And we've picked some but and just kind of realized that it's like to go like, Okay, that's cool, but it doesn't you know, show numbers doesn't show you guys can make money back but when we met breakthrough, we showed them the trailers and it's funny because they, they didn't necessarily want to make those movies but when we showed them the trailer, they were kinda like, Okay, do you guys can do you guys can do that. We'll give you a tiny bit tiny bit of money and we'll see if we'll see if this works. And that was that was an historical one. But I've mean half of the why we got that was a trailer for a completely different movie, but at least we You know, put all our effort into that, and we didn't spend too much money getting a getting a pitch piece ready, because that's the other thing, too, is don't spend 20 grand getting something together to pitch to get money for a movie. Make a movie.

Chad Archibald 45:16
Yeah, exactly. And we are like, we also, you know, there's a ton of people out there that will be like, Oh, we've got this DP, and he just did a huge film. So we're gonna put all his stuff in our reel, saying that, you know, our team has made it where, you know, he may have had a ton of money and, you know, a whole different group of filmmakers, you know, it is about the team that you're working with. Everything that we went to break through, it was stuff that, you know, our team had made, specifically. So you know, we can we can say that whenever we walked in, it's like, it's not like, we're just pulling people's reels and creating a team that's never worked together on a budget so low. And saying that we can pull off, you know, what you're seeing here, this was us going in there being like, we made this with, you know, out of our own pocket with the team that we currently have to do this, this film. So

Jason Buff 46:09
You get the feeling that a lot of these companies just want to make sure that, you know, you guys kind of know what you're doing. And it's like, okay, well, we can, you know, we just want to see that they can they have a beautiful image, they have good actors, they have they, you know what I mean? It's like they're there. They know how to make a movie, you know, versus a lot of these people who, you know, you never know, I get people that send me their shorts all the time. And some of them look, you know, high end professionally shot, amazing. And others just look like somebody with their, you know, handycam walking around or their iPhone and have no sense of, you know, cinematography, movement, storytelling, or anything, you know?

Chad Archibald 46:48
Yeah, and it's weird, because there's been like, we've got a ton of shorts and stuff sent to us. And sometimes it's like, you look at them, and they're just a mess, but you can see something in them. And you're like, cool. Let me know. Because I feel like the next thing that they do, they're gonna learn from their mistakes on this one. Yeah. And yeah, I mean, it's, it's, I think, it does come down to just proving yourself making sure that you know, people know that, that you can handle produce a good product. But also, just again, it does come down to content, like if Cody and pitch this idea of Facebook, turning people into zombies in the studio, then like that, it didn't matter what we actually did. It does come down to, we have a concept concept in the industry, you know, people say concept is currency. So, that's how you get creative. So, I mean, you can have, you know, tons of actors and tons of people involved and whatnot, and you bring it all together. And if you don't have a concept that's going to stand out, and you know, you're gonna get burned out. So it is all comes down to it. It's about you know, coming up with that idea that's going to stand out.

Jason Buff 48:00
Okay, let me I'm gonna try and do a little more rapid fire because I know you guys are pressed for time. I didn't mean to interrupt. Sorry. There's a little delay. Okay, so moving into production, who are the most? You know, you've got your screenplay? Where do you go from there? Where do you start? Do you work with like movie magic, start working on the budget, hire a line producer, how does what is the, from the end of the screenplay to the beginning of the filming kind of what what happens there.

Chad Archibald 48:38
So, usually what we do is once we get a treatment, or a script approved, we create our basic budget of the idea. And we start assembling our team, we're lucky enough, we've worked with a lot of the same people, because we're doing so many films back to back. But we've worked hard on you know, building a crew of people that we really trust we really enjoy working with and, and respect. And, I mean, that's, you know, it's another, you know, tell everyone is, you know, find people that you're happy working with, I get to work with Cody every day is my best bud. It's it's, it's, it's finally can doesn't seem like work, you know, obviously that some days it really do. It's more fun to work with people you like, and respect. And there's, there's a lot of people out there in the industry that want to make movies. And, you know, there's a lot of people that let it go to their heads right away that, you know, once the pressures on some pressures on of making a film, you know, they get angry or frustrated or, you know, blow up or whatnot. So, I mean, we, we worked really hard to find people who work really hard deal with stress well, and are always, always able to kind of put a smile on their face and

Alex Ferrari 50:00
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Chad Archibald 50:09
And, and continue on today. So I mean, it's it really makes a difference. Everyone on our crews treats each other with respect. You know, it's a key with with us doing all these films is that everyone, everyone gets along. And if there's an issue, you know, we all talk about it, we all figured out how to how to deal with it. We don't fire people we don't, we don't blow up at people, you never hear people yelling and screaming at each other on our sets. We make a point of making sure that we've got a crew that's, that's passionate, and we're all in it together. And we're, you know, we say black font family all the time, you know, we all we're all the brothers and sisters that can bicker and whatnot. But in the end, we're always we always have each other's back. Anyway, so we call all these people like to see, you know, see if they're able to come out and set up a crew figure out, you know, if it's a studio have to build, we're going to do get people involved there in our pre production times are pretty quick. I mean, we had, I think three or four weeks of pre production on by, and that's like literally from, you know, got the script, like, finished three weeks before we started shooting. So, you know, it all has come together really quick. But yeah, it's just, it's almost like a checklist for us now, here is the people that we need, that's called figure out where are we going to lodge people? Where are we going to shoot this where, you know, what do What elements do, we need to do, that's our gear, we've, again, because we were doing so many films, we've set up relationships with William a flag. So you know, every show that we remember that we're doing, we just, you know, we call them, everything's all our accounts are all set up, everything's ready, we just got a call center, just discuss what we're doing. And you know, they've got our back on everything, you know, television does all the cameras, as well as, you know, some support from from additional camera houses. But it's, you know, we've got it laid out with people that we really trust and work well, within, you know, luckily, we can kind of make all these calls fairly quickly and get everything together. That's from like a producing standpoint, I guess from a directing standpoint, it's, you know, it's even more of a challenge to get a film ready so quickly. And I mean, we're not we haven't done it, it's not like we go on and storyboard all of our stuff with the storyboard artists, you know, as amazing as that would be. That's one of the luxuries that we built, they were always jealous of, because we are making these films. So quickly, we do have to, you know, we end up with a, with a little booklet of like, chicken scratch, where it's like, you know, we've we've storyboarded everything out, but I mean, it's almost like it's in Chinese, it's so far. But I mean, whenever you sit there and actually, you know, go through it with with the DP can decipher it all and then get on the same page. And, you know, we, you know, sometimes we print them off and give them to everyone show everyone what we're doing every day.

Jason Buff 53:16
You just arrive at the morning with like, Okay, we're going to do, you know, this establishing shot, and we're going to do a close up here. And I'm going to you just kind of put all that together the night before and then arrive and do the shot list. Is that kind of how it works.

Chad Archibald 53:32
Yeah, like I mean, we have already extended the whole schedule, and works with us on figuring out the best way that we can, we can do this. And, you know, just go through, you know, they send it out to everyone the day before everyone gets it, they kind of give a little scheme of what we're doing, what rooms we're in. At the end of our days, we generally try to, you know, have a little discussion with our lighting team will honor what we're doing first the next day. And you know how we can get a jump on the day, because that's always the biggest challenge is getting the first shot off. And yes, so I mean, it's a that

Jason Buff 54:12
You have any advice for, like I recently watched the drowns woman. And the quality of the image on that is incredible. And I don't know, I don't know what the budget was on the film. But I was wondering if there were any sort of tricks or tips that you had for, you know, getting that kind of production value, and working at that kind of like budget level. You might need shot or is it just like you'd like the whole thing and then shoot from different areas.

Chad Archibald 54:43
I think I'm the draftsman depending on on where we're talking about, like we're the draftsman, there was a set that we had built. Right and I mean, you know, so many people talked about lighting and cameras and lenses and when not, but I mean it's, it's Something that people just miss, from like an indie perspective, so many people will just just totally skimp out on set design in our direction. Filling your frame with things and Cody came from our background. So, you know, when me and him started working together on stuff I really learned a lot from, from him and kind of his insights on that. Because it is, you know, it's like, light something beautifully, you can, you can have a great camera and but if if your frames not the pieces aren't all in right spots, then you know, it's not gonna, it's not gonna be the shot that you're looking for. So even like things like the John's been, like, we, we've built a bunch of our sets. And when we build their sets, it's literally like, it's us building the sets, it's not like, you know, we hire a big, you know, we have a small team of people that we really trust that are so hard working. And we all get together and build this stuff in a few days, and, you know, it's tired, it's nice, we're, you know, pulling 30 hour days and, and whatnot to actually build on but we do it so that we can actually have that control where we can, you know, put elements wherever we want them to create our friends and whatnot. So it's to start off, you know, that's how we, we try to, you know, make things look great Johnson layer was completely, we decided that we can shoot up in the basement, we don't want to be limited by, you know, your standard basement reps that look like every other indie film. You know, we wanted to use water and we wanted to flood plays, and you know, we can't do that inside of studio or inside someone's basement. So I mean, we could do it, but, you know, again, burning patients and people we can do it once. But as far as you know, you set up your room and you have your, your basic setup of like this is, this is kind of the look that we're going to have, this is our standard look for this room. And then accordingly, depending on how you're shooting things, you know, you have floating lights moving around, you have whatever you need to kind of, in taste the shot a little bit. And I mean, also, you know, keeping continuity with everything, as much as you know, you move later on, in between shots, and you know, make every shot look great, you know, so you don't want to go from a shot a wide where your actors faces shadowed, and, you know, you push into the close up and it's like, they're beautifully lit. You know, it's about standing the lighting for all the shots when you start when you start on your watch, you know. But I mean, it's often that it's, it's just about kind of creating, training or atmosphere filling your frame using using the foreground and the background we had in the Johnson lair, we decided we wanted to use these kind of aquariums. And we've kind of like hidden along so they were like old tomato plants that had dried up from an action that we had kind of dangled over everything just to kind of give everything a little bit more textures, stuff that light can kind of touch as opposed to just have inflatables, right. And then we we took all these aquariums, you know, filled them with dirty water and leaves and crap and then we threw through lights, little lights, and behind them, like just a little keynotes or short keynotes or whatever and let them all up. So then, you know, as they're walking through here, there's no like the only light source is kind of like these beard like, dirty, musty Aquarian. Very sad. That's what the illusion that that's the only light sources these things and they're always you know, there's something going on in the background and, you know, dirty water just kind of has like a little bit of a gradient to it to kind of, you know, create something a little interesting. And just visually appealing in the background. Yeah. Right.

Jason Buff 59:06
Now, can you talk a little bit about sorry, did you Skype okay. It's like doing a broadcast broadcast to the Middle East or something. Okay, so I want to one of the things that always jumps out at me literally, is, you know, these scenes these really gut wrenching horror scenes where you know, you've got your actress there, you've got you know, they're being dragged off or something horrible is happening to them. Can you talk a little bit about directing a scene like that how it feels being on set during something like that, because it just like, I've always been curious how, you know, just what are you talking about? Do you cut the camera, cut the scene and everybody's laughing two seconds later or what? kind of what's that? Like?

Alex Ferrari 1:00:02
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Cody Calahan 1:00:15
Um, I don't know, sometimes it can, it could go either way. Like, sometimes it's, you know, you'll shoot a scene where, you know, the bad guys getting killed or whatever. And there's a huge explosion of blood. And it sort of as soon as you've had the camera, it's like, you know, the gore guys are cheering and everybody's laughing because it's, you know, it is a little ridiculous, but then sometimes have those scenes where, you know, the actors get so into it, and you get so into it, and you're, you're pushing for the best performance and you sort of get a performance. That's, that's real. And, you know, so I think it goes either way, except, you know, we've had times where, you know, the scene ends, we say, Cut and it's just silence. And everybody's like, holy shit. Okay. Well, I think we can move on. I think kind of depends what what the scene, you know, what the scene is, you know, if it's, if somebody's running around with the chainsaw, people, often there's blood spraying everywhere, we usually get a pretty positive response from our crew. But if it's something more emotional, then, you know, sometimes it's one of those ones where I can't remember the exact scene. But I remember shooting some with Jeff Mahara, those are, those are usually our DP for everything. And I said cut and he just sort of looked at me and he was like, sort of had that holy shit look on his face and said, Okay, now we're moving on. So let's go to scene. Scene. 34. That was 20 minutes before this when you were happy

Chad Archibald 1:01:49
Yeah, it's, we, we did the film bite, and it was full of, you know, gooey, gross, disgusting, a eggs and dripping. Like it sounds to be like mucus. So it was really like, when you watch the film, it's it's pretty gross. But on sad it was, you know, you, you kind of know when you've got something good because you get those reactions, right. That's kind of that's like, what he's talking about whenever you have been foreseen, and it's like, blood explodes everywhere. It's like, you always like hope that when I was done, and he called cut, everyone cheers. And like, you know, it's always a bummer whenever you do one of those scenes, and it goes. And it's like, okay, it's quiet. It's like, shit, you always want that cheer at the end, you know, you want that. With bite, it was like, anytime is the stringy mucus stuff that like as soon as it's stuck to something, it would be like webs it kind of, is really very gross. And, you know, we had so much fun making a movie because, you know, it used to be called cut and be like, ah

So and yeah, but I mean, I think when it does come down to shooting national coverage of your, of your cast, or somebody you know, depending on what your movie is, if it's, you know, if it's a serious moment, and they have to stay in character. You know, a lot of times we'll keep everyone quiet. Or we'll even you know, try to keep as few people on set as possible. But yeah, I mean, we we've shot a bunch of films, we haven't gone into that territory of like, dirty, dark, like truly disturbing, like, upsetting scenes that are so uncomfortable to even shoot. I'm sure we will eventually add a little bit of a lighter tone to them.

Jason Buff 1:03:55
Okay, sure. They're pretty, pretty light hearted. family movies

Chad Archibald 1:04:06
About making like Serbian film or something like that, you know, it's like, I can't I can't. I don't know how people will react on a disturbing scene, like close. Sorry, I had a whole discussion about that movie today. So it's like I look at our movies. Pretty big hearted, you know, joking around and, you know, some of our stuff is a little cartoony even, but

Jason Buff 1:04:29
Uh, was that I didn't hear you.

Chad Archibald 1:04:33
Serbian even sometimes a little jokey and cartoony?

Jason Buff 1:04:37
No, but what film that you say that to what you were talking about?

Chad Archibald 1:04:40
Serbian film. Okay. Which? I don't know if Yeah, well,

Jason Buff 1:04:46
I haven't seen it. I've heard about it. I haven't. You know, it's not on my list that

Chad Archibald 1:04:51
You're thinking about things like that. It's like because I do I've often wondered. I seems They're true and disturbing, or like rape scenes or anything like that, it's like it, you know, we haven't done anything like that, and I'm sure it's, it's a tone that I'm sure there's a weird tone on set for those, they think it would probably be a, you know, something that would be very awkward to direct, or you would really have to put a lot of pay a lot of attention to how you're treating everyone and your actors and respect. And you know, if you're, you know, doing very serious thing, and you want to make sure that everyone shows after, like, take big breaks in between or if you just want to shoot, keep shooting, and you know, everyone can go cry at the end of it.

Jason Buff 1:05:42
Yeah, well, I mean, okay, talking about the I'm trying to wrap up a little bit, because I know you guys have to go. How do you deal with the emotional stress of shooting and everything? Is there any, any way that you have been able to kind of because I mean, you guys, you're shooting a lot of movies, but I mean, for a lot of like normal people? It's, it's, I mean, probably the most stressful thing you can do? You know? Is there any way that you've learned to deal with that overcoming, you know, doubts, or any sort of psychological aspect of filmmaking that you can discuss?

Cody Calahan 1:06:20
I think. I mean, that's kind of the great thing about Blackphone. And myself and Chad, because I think we lean on each other a lot. And we share. Like, when, when I'm directing, I mean, I'm him a lot. And when he's directing, he leans on me a lot. So it's like, at least we know, when we go into a film, even if we're not directing or producing, at least we know, when we go into film, that there's somebody else there if if something goes wrong, or something's like, just we can't handle it, something, at least are some of the some of the person there to powwow with or to, you know, just so we're not ever doing it on our own. But I'd say, for me, what I've learned over making movies is, you know, the minute you get there, put 100% into everything while you're there. But just, you know, try not to take everything home. You know, like Leave, leave, leave some of it. You know, it's, it's hard because filmmaking is, you know, 50% Worth 50% passion. So it's hard to leave it sometimes. But I mean, for me, I think it's made me a better filmmaker, not taking it home, not dwelling on it, and not allowing myself to sleep, because I'm thinking about a scene tomorrow, and I can't figure it out. So I don't know, for me, I, I try my hardest. And then that's not to say that I don't do it, but I tried my hardest to sort of give it all on there. And then, you know, I'll still think about it at home, but I try not to bring it all home.

Chad Archibald 1:07:44
Yeah, it's weird, like filmmaking is weird, especially indie filmmaking. The majority of the products we do are overly ambitious, but just enough, we'd like to think. So it's one of those things is like, you get what you put into it every day, which is, I think it's kind of a dangerous concept. It's almost like, you know, you're, you're swimming in the ocean, and you're doing a contest, and the more water you drink, the better you are, that's how you're gonna win. You just got to keep drinking water anymore. Why? Who whoever drinks the most water wins, where it's like, it's endless. It's not like, a drink all the water, you know, it's like, when you go to make a movie, it's like, there's always more you can do, there's always things that can make the shots better, or make your days go better, or make your, you know, film goes better or more takes and like it's never done. So I mean, there are points, especially directing, when you're just like, you're pushing so hard, and you're like, you know, you just want it to be better and better and better and bigger and bigger. And, you know, you have to kind of control yourself so that you don't get you know, one shot done in a day. It's so I mean, you know, it's, it's, it's always it's always a struggle, and it's always stressful. And yeah, like Cody said, you know, having working with people that you trust and be able to kind of lean on each other. And knowing that you're all in one together and you're all trying to make it work is is definitely what kind of gets us through through our shoots. Because we, you know, we tend to do very long days.

Jason Buff 1:09:26
How long do you guys usually shoot, like a typical film, you know, bite or antisocial to or the draftsman? How long did this take to shoot?

Chad Archibald 1:09:38
I mean, they're all different. I think bite took about 15 days and 15 days in Ontario and then we shot additional two or three days and

Alex Ferrari 1:09:51
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Chad Archibald 1:10:01
I mean, they're all different. But again, it does come down to you know, you're how ambitious you're going to be. Johnson was, oh, man, we just kept going back for more shoots and more. Anytime you're dealing with water, things like that, it just gets so insane. So it's it. I mean, we probably shot 30 days on groundsman, if you actually add them all up, hanging in social too, we shot a fair bit more than we planned as well. Not too many, I've actually been shot like, you know, 20 days or something like that on a social, too. Yeah, and we usually have an editor on side as well, who read it as we go. So we kind of get to actually, you know, on day two, we see one's footage, or we see day one scenes cut together.

Jason Buff 1:10:49
Right! I was gonna ask you that. So you can kind of see what if you're, if you miss anything, or whatever, you can just do a quick reshoot while you have everything set up. Right?

Chad Archibald 1:10:57
Exactly. So you can kind of run over and grab a shot that you mister, at least put it on the list and come on back on a weekend or something like that, to grab it. So I mean, that definitely, that definitely helps us move in. And it also gives, you know, the entire cast and crew and everyone a little bit of it's exciting, you know, it's like you're watching something and you see some scenes come together and they look really, really good. And you can kind of show the cast a little bit of their performance, you know, give them a little taste of what we're doing. You know, there's a lot of ways for the Casco and they do an entire film then they go on the Senate theater and watching like oh my god, this is horrible. And I mean, we all do I'm sure cast is some of our earlier films do that as well. But at least being able to kind of show them there. They have a confidence in the crew has a confidence that everyone's building some thing that's gonna look really good. And then come out and you know, it's a good way to kind of get everyone excited about the project and keep keep everyone's passionate levels up high.

Jason Buff 1:12:03
Okay, so moving into post production just a couple more questions.

Chad Archibald 1:12:07
You hmm, we may have lost Cody

Jason Buff 1:12:13
Oh yeah, let me that's not good. Hold on a second. Yeah, he doesn't look like he's on there. But maybe he had to leave let me see I can try texted me he's like dude, no more

Chad Archibald 1:12:30
Often it won't let him return a line and he let me

Jason Buff 1:12:33
Let me put them back on there we go. Like where did you go man, we were all we were concerned. I don't want to let him know that we didn't notice he wasn't there. There Cody. Hey, man. Yeah, sorry about that. All right. Yeah, okay, so let me let me launch into a few more quick questions about post just for our my people here the getting into the post production process. How long does that typically last? And what is the kind of can you walk through what happens first? What happens next just so people have a general idea of how it all comes together?

Chad Archibald 1:13:26
Yeah, we like I was saying we do a lot of our editing on set. So by the time we're done shooting a movie, you know 80% of it. Ideally cut and I we fairly fast turnarounds on our phones, I think we shot by in December and screen that the cam market in May. So again, like we'd like we were saying with, with all the LEDs that we have for production, we do the same in post. You know, red lab in Toronto does all our color correct? For each one of our films, and we've worked out a deal. So they know when it's coming in. Urban posters are post sound, you know, so we create our schedules with all of them. And, you know, we get an edit together, and we take it to the studio, we sit down with them and kind of get everyone's input and trim it down, make whatever changes you need to lock our picture, send it off to read lab, sit in there and do our color sessions with them. Send it off to urban, they work on on other sound edits, for whatever reason, we always end up on some crazy deadline like it's going to screen somewhere. And you know, it's a big panic to actually get it all done. But I mean luckily we have such great companies are working with and post that. They work really hard to make it all happen to anything excited when they see you need to work on something they get to see in a theater in two weeks. I

Jason Buff 1:15:02
And in terms of the drowns Minh, which is I haven't been able to see the other two movies because they're not out yet. But you work with George Flores on that, right?

Chad Archibald 1:15:14
Yeah, I've worked with George a bunch of times. Because

Jason Buff 1:15:19
George has a friend of mine, actually.

Chad Archibald 1:15:20
I love George.

Jason Buff 1:15:24
He always taught me more about filmmaking, I think when I was starting a small film, down here, and he was just one of the people that I was talking with about doing post sound. And he would just sit there for, you know, and talk about all these things that we need to make sure we had and everything. I mean, just very generous with his time. So I'm, I want to make sure I promote George on the show. Absolutely.

Chad Archibald 1:15:46
No, George did a film called Neverland. With me to go, and he did this. And, you know, we had such a great time working on with those zones. And, yeah, I definitely have a huge supporter of George as well.

Jason Buff 1:16:04
So the typical time from editing and doing sound, and when do you work with, like soundtrack music and things like that.

Chad Archibald 1:16:13
So we have, like, for example, drowns in a social bite, all the sounds were scored by a woman named Steph Copeland, who, you know, we get along with works so well with her, and she's so talented. You know, I'm sure we'll work on many more funds after this. But, you know, she loves to come in early as well. And just kind of minutes or, you know, she's already got stuff that she's working on before she even sees that is where she's just read the script, and she's getting ideas. And building functions, again, very passionate. artist, who just is always working hard and was, you know, really excited to project and we're not, you know, so we, as soon as we pitch a lock, that's kind of what everyone's always waiting on. Everyone's excited to be like, okay, feature lock feature luggage locks, as soon as we get it, we kind of, you know, press the go button, it goes to her, it goes to urban post, it goes to a red live, and everyone gets to start working on it kind of at once.

Okay, well, guys, I don't want to take much. And let me just ask you one final question. How? What can you give just a little bit of advice to people out there who haven't made their first film and are, you know, wanting to, you know, get out and kind of do what you guys have done? Do you have any sort of like, you know, if you could go into a time machine and tell yourself before you started, what what kind of advice would you give yourself?

I mean, the things that, that I would say are definitely, like we're doing now we work on tons of different ideas to find the right one. I would say spend the time Don't, don't get excited with with an idea that is just a generic throwaway idea and just dive at it to make a movie. You know, make sure you spend spend your time a lot of people write scripts, because they're, you know, they sit down as prescriptive, as if it's like, if they have a script, they're going to make a good movie, you know. So, work hard and make sure you understand the concept or your your film that you're going to make and make sure you really wanna make it because that's it to a lot of people lose passion halfway through their eyes. So again, this sounds not really, I don't really care about it. I mean, figure out, figure out what you want to make and figure out a concept that you're really passionate about the you know, you think she can, you know, matters what you want to do. Are you making a film to create an art piece? Are you making a film to sell to the market? Are you going to go for, you know, something that's going to make funds back? Are you trying to do something that's, you know, in our piece, you kind of have to know what you're going to do before you go into it. And then after that, again, take your time and find the right people to work with. There's a lot of great people in the film industry like any other any industry, there's a lot of great people and there's a lot of people that it's actually counterproductive to work with. So find find the right people you want to work with, surround yourself with some and find talented people and I mean, if you you know, go out and show how passionate you are and show people give people confidence that you know what your, your plan is, and you've you've worked hard to organize it and figure things out that you know, they will have confidence in you. And then aside from that, just go out on your own even with your iPhone and shoot some stupid stuff with your friends. You know, it's there's a reason why in film school they're like I go to do an action scene go chasing go do these because like they don't want you to come back with beauty for Chase team, they want you to go realize the mistakes and the issues that you're going to that are going to arise whenever you make a chasing, you know, just so the next time you do it, you you've already gone through a few steps. And, and learn. Now, if you do 10, chasing your 11th one is going to be amazing. And it's going to be even better than the other one. So, that's, you know, don't be don't be afraid to go out and make crappy shorts or whatever, like don't they don't even have to be shorts, you know, you're gonna get giant crews together and devote, you know, understanding how to do these things. And it doesn't take big cameras or anything. It's the same as everything else, you know, you just got to go out and make your mistakes and learn from

Jason Buff 1:20:45
Alright guys, I really appreciate it. Thanks a lot for coming on the show. And I look forward to seeing antisocial too, and bite. But anyway, thanks a lot, guys.

Chad Archibald 1:20:54
Thanks so much.

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BPS 349: Composing The Biggest Hollywood Blockbusters Of All-Time With Klaus Badelt

Klaus Badelt is a renowned German composer and music producer, celebrated for his extraordinary contributions to film scores and soundtracks. Born on June 12, 1967, in Frankfurt, Germany, Badelt’s exceptional talent for music was evident from a young age.

With an extensive background in classical training and a deep appreciation for various musical genres, Badelt’s unique ability to fuse different styles allowed him to craft captivating and emotive compositions. His versatility enabled him to excel in multiple film genres, from epic adventures to intense dramas, leaving an indelible mark on Hollywood’s cinematic landscape.

Badelt gained global recognition for his work on the film “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” (2003), where his evocative score, particularly the iconic theme “He’s a Pirate,” became an instant classic and remains a cherished part of film music history. This accomplishment solidified his status as one of the industry’s leading composers.

Throughout his illustrious career, Badelt collaborated with esteemed filmmakers, including Ridley Scott, Wolfgang Petersen, and Jerry Bruckheimer, earning critical acclaim for his exceptional artistry and ability to elevate storytelling through music.

Beyond his film work, Klaus Badelt has also composed for video games, television shows, and concert performances, displaying his passion for creating immersive musical experiences in various mediums. With a diverse and impressive body of work, Badelt’s influence on contemporary film scoring remains profound, inspiring aspiring musicians and leaving an enduring legacy in the world of music for screen and stage.

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Alex Ferrari 2:02
Enjoy today's episode with guest host Dave Bullis.

Dave Bullis 2:06
And this episode of the podcast, I have a guest who has been a composer in some of the biggest movies like Pirates of the Caribbean Curse of the Black Pearl, Gladiator equilibrium K 19. My guess I got to talk about all that about how you actually work with guys like Khan Zimmerman, how you actually develop soundtracks for these movies. You know how he actually got into that, because he actually was a film a completely different background. And we also don't talk about film hub, which is another avenue for filmmakers, again, it's all about this podcast is about is all exploring all these different avenues, talking about where the film industry is headed. And just hearing all these crazy stories, but how we all got here, and some of the crazy things that we've seen on set. So without further ado, with guest Klaus puddle.

Klaus Badelt 2:49
Yeah, I you know, it was a bit odd, like I had my first like tech startup at 18. And then assault that with 25 and turned around 180 degrees and then did music. And then I, you know, mostly film music, and then in Germany, and then I went on, I think, like 97, likely. So I went on to world Hollywood on vacation and got stuck here ever since.

Dave Bullis 3:17
So what kind of sort of did you have?

Klaus Badelt 3:20
That was already a tech startup there was like in at the time when they didn't call it startup yet to actually make money, and profit. And in order to hire the next guy. And they were writing software that's that at the time I because a part of that decision was that the German music universities didn't take me. So I didn't manage to convince them with my entry exam performance. So I did not, I'm just going to do the easiest stuff. Good stuff I know anyway, and that's a computer stuff. And then only a few years later, I then said, Let's This is good. Dinner was a very successful company. And I can feel it. Let's do music.

Dave Bullis 4:04
You know, it's so true with a lot of these startups is all about, it's all about future earnings or potential value. Have you ever seen a TV show Silicon Valley?

Klaus Badelt 4:14
Yeah, of course. Exactly. It's all true.

Dave Bullis 4:17
Yeah, it's amazing. I have friends, you know, who work out in Silicon Valley. And they swear by the show, they go it is absolutely so true to life. Where, you know, somebody makes, like you and I make a piece of software for a weekend in our in our apartment or, you know, dorm room, and suddenly, you know, we're selling it on Monday for you know, a couple million couple, you know, maybe even more, and it has it doesn't really have an audience or you know what I mean? It does it's just it's just like this theory piece of software that hasn't really proven itself yet. But the potential value is there.

Klaus Badelt 4:51
Yeah, no, it's, it's be creating a spin. I mean, we're going basically backwards here, but I spent the last year quite a bit in Silicon Valley and and Learn how they do things, they're not some of the techniques. And it's great though, it's great how to run a company I learned so much can believe. Compare this to La companies or European companies, how they operate is a very different different way of running things. And, I mean, it has to do with why I'm doing this, this startup as well in the film business to bring in different dimensions, even the way of looking at it, and helping to, you're aiming at like redefining, like a whole industry with us. Because our industry, you're in the film business doesn't really work. That way, you know, oriented with metrics, seeing that, you know, you operate fast and not out of your guts, but have data to back up what you actually do. And that's actually very refreshing to me. Now, as a, as a composer, where you it's interesting, it's quite a bit similar, even though it sounds like it would be just emotional when you're right and just intuitive. And that's true, but at the same time, now, I'm really getting carried away, stop me anytime. But if when you write a theme that say for movie, you are not a musician, you're a filmmaker, right? You you, you have the first five minutes or eight minutes, if you're lucky to introduce the characters, you have to be very careful about the arc telling the story you make people hopefully love the character. So they actually go along with whatever crazy story happens after. And there's a lot of, if you want to analytics about it directly, you know, like a script, they have the X you shaping a something and at the same time, you have to be very creative and emotional about. So this is a great balance. I work a lot with like songwriters. And when it comes to scores, they you can tell the songwriter to adjust or you know you to react or to, to, to tell the story that tell the story in just their absolute space. And that Afghans end in a disaster anyway, but that's different story. But you know, you i you end up being holding the hand and actually making it work to picture you like the director of, of music in a way. So that's shows me every time that it's quite different. Writing music to movies is quite different to writing music. And there's lots of analytics comes into play.

Dave Bullis 7:36
You know, what, what are some of the things you've noticed, just working from Germany to working in here? Because you always hear a lot about, you know, how were you know, America is always compared to Europe, both both in a good way and a bad way. So, what are some of your thoughts? I mean, have you noticed that you do like, what better working over here? I mean, because you know, if you if you were to stereotype Americans working, it's usually you never you never get a day off. You burned out your all your all your vacation days. And you know, you never stop answering emails on your phone.

Klaus Badelt 8:09
That's pretty much me. So obviously, I like it, but much better here. Now. I mean, look, I've been here for 20 minutes, not 20 years. And yeah, I think I can compare and also traveled quite a bit because of the movies. I went a lot to China, to Europe, different European countries, which are quite different. Anyway, the UK is very different to France, very different to Germany, when it comes to movies, but also to like, companies and their attitude and people. I mean, there's a reason I'm, I'm here and I'm staying here, and I live here is I do feel this lots more. I wouldn't call the cliche freedom, but it's much more open what you do look, I would have not have a career. If it wasn't, you know, I came here I had no basically education. And when it comes to music, and you can do whatever you like, if it was as long as you make, you know, make people feel comfortable, and you do a good job. And that's a pretty unique situation, I think in general, whether it's in, in tech or in film or music, but especially in in music maybe and film where you know, it's it's very hard to talk about music right to judge music, you have your opinion, I have my opinion everyone has. But what does the audience do? Everyone is different. So there's no measurement, no picture, you can see if it looks, you know, we can measure it, you can look at the frames, they look, move that visual effect of it over to the left, but in music is really hard. So you have to have that trust. And I think people here are much more generally open. You can totally scurried off quickly and then that's it. But you have much more of a chance, I think to do thing. And yeah.

Alex Ferrari 9:57
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Dave Bullis 10:07
Oh, I'm sorry, I was just gonna agree, you know, you know, as we as we talk about your music career, so at what point did you realize, hey, you know, I want to start composing musical scores for movies, and you've done some video games, too. So what point did you know that this is what you wanted to do?

Klaus Badelt 10:25
I always did more movie than music. I mean, I had my first I didn't have a keyboard first, I had like, a film camera first, and I shot some short movies with the neighbor's son and mother hen or something like that. But so I was felt for movies, but I really never knew that I wanted to do it. I, I, you know, like I said, I started with something very different. I wanted to but I was not like, I, I think part of fit was that I wasn't sure if I could do it. And even when I arrived here, and I sit here in front of, you know, the picture and then look at it like, wow, that's really hard. I mean, I've done this for years. But every time it's really, it's, for me, it's really hard to create music. And to be creative. It's really like, like a writer friend once said, it's like, you have to pour gasoline all over yourself and burn it. And when you feel a pain, then you actually start really creating. It's a bit like that for me. And I'm not alone, I think with that. So yeah, the process is as difficult as it is very rewarding when it works, but it takes a long time to get there.

Dave Bullis 11:43
So, obviously, I want to ask more about that. Because I think that that is a really cool way to put it when you start feeling that pain. And that's sort of the way you create. So if we were to sort of take that and dig a little deeper, do you think that the whole like starving artist, you know, create constant sort of pain? Do you think that if

Klaus Badelt 12:04
I noticed quite a few different types, when I worked also with directors and ultimate, also composers that it's really hard to strike the perfect balance that you are critical enough to create good stuff, but not question yourself to the level of pain that you cannot actually do in your way and beyond way of creating something good, because you might see it, and I think it has to do with experience. But also of course with character you can get get rid of. So it's it's this healthy balance where you don't be too full of yourself, but also be confident. I always say it's like, what you need is a lot of character, but no ego. And that's very difficult, right? So you have to bring in this, this profile and make it very unique, find the unique voice when you create, but don't bring in your own own personality when it comes to actually how to do the job. Because film is definitely teamwork. And that's actually the essential multimedia event, right? You have sound you have picture you have the actress you have, you know, the music, when all comes together. So it's been always the teamwork, which is what I like about film and I've never been the type who like says like, Oh, give me give me the picture. That needs to be the tape, right? Give me the tape and don't talk to me for six weeks, but always been always had like various studios where I move close to where the director is I had no, I have placed here mobile plays when the Warner Brothers and I sit next to the director, if they they're actually edit there or in our or in, in, in Beijing, where we have to go wherever the director is I want to be and right next to the editorial and, and talk not about music, but like just, you know, absorb what they do to you. So you're part of that creative team and to understand I'm often on the set to when they understand where but it is the director actually wants to get out of it, how he sees that arc of the scene, the emotional arc, etc. So you know, you're part of that. And you just have to express that in music, and the edit so to express this with, you know, that the Edit, but it's the same work.

Dave Bullis 14:23
So, when you're on some of these movie sets, and you know, you're getting that feeling and you're not really thinking about the music, you're more ingrained in in what everything's sort of like the minute you're engraved in the process of you know of how it's getting done and everything. Do you when you do go back to that to start composing the music for this like let's use Pirates of the Caribbean for instance. When you start going back and creating that music, you're just drawing from all that experience of being on set of you know, me talking the director of you know of what exactly that Knowledge is what the scene is about, or you know, or the sequence is about. We're just about the whole sort of underlying current of the whole movie.

Klaus Badelt 15:08
Yeah, actually, absolutely, yes. I couldn't agree more. I mean, maybe pose wasn't the best example, because they had virtually no time to create it. But I know what it it was a good example in that way, because you have to then trust your instincts, and improvise. And then it comes to your, what do you what do you do without thinking? But ultimately, it's a lot you're right. It's a lot of yeah, if you want experience to look, I have a lot of young writers who virtually want to prove themselves and I think I have to, and that's true, you have to but you know, the end here, this course, which all sounds like a pot pourri of stuff, because they want to show off, they don't really actively or consciously do this. But it happens like that. And when you make music for film, you're your subordinate to the whole multimedia event to the whole story. You don't, you don't want to not dominate. I mean, there's strong music you have to write off. And so yeah, you have to just be Be careful in the in the give and take.

Dave Bullis 16:11
So, so class, let me ask you this, when you're, you know, online, and maybe you're, you know, look just looking around at, you know, different websites and stuff. Have you ever come across some of the like the stock music websites?

Klaus Badelt 16:24
Oh, yeah, sure, of course,

Dave Bullis 16:26
What are your thoughts on that?

Klaus Badelt 16:32
It's like, I don't even do demos of you know, in this industry, you have this like, where directors asked like a handful of companies for demos. And it's not that I'm like, arrogant enough to say, like, I'm older, I don't do demos, it's about I don't believe in that process, because it's no process. It's a shot in the dark and something sticks. And then you don't know anything about the director, composer relationship, how it could develop, or if the composer understands your movie at the director. And so these sites are Yeah, of course, if you, I, I'm a writer, I always need a picture to work against, I need to be the the filmmaker. I admire that if you can actually write like, Hey, I imagined this kind of picture on here I go, I really, I don't think I've ever done that. So it's it must be a very hard job actually to do that. And as a director, of course, you you want that work relationship more than you want the music, the best directors I had, while I like to work with the best ways of working together was always a director where you where you do not want to show off where you don't need to. You don't talk about music. You don't talk about what instrument you would like God, that's actually the second secondary, but that's the output you don't want the input to talk about what it is not, symbolically what it is what's supposed to happen here. What's the emotional content? What What's that scene for? What's the moment for? How do they feel? And how do you want the audience feel. And by the way, when you write music, then you often as a director, also notice this the suddenly get into like the, the weaknesses of the movie, by putting music on it or, or writing to picture, you suddenly realize issues in editing and issues. And if we're not clear about that moment here, what do you actually want to say? So music kind of crystallizes, that gets takes it outside. And that's music as a filmmaker, right? As a character as a, as a part of the movie, not music, put in a slap on top, which sometimes works too, but it's not. That's not the same.

Dave Bullis 18:59
Yeah, like music as a as a character of of itself. You know, it's like the soundtrack of a level of a life because, you know, when you're watching a movie, it's the most interesting points of that part of that character's life, you know, and it's like, this is the soundtrack of your life. It means so yeah. So clouds. Let me ask you this, when you're watching what movie Have you seen recently, where you have just been like, sort of blown away by the soundtrack?

Klaus Badelt 19:26
I have to admit, I I'm the guy with the smallest score collection right? I have. My inspiration doesn't really come from move film music. And that's for several reasons. A when you actually work you, you inadvertently rip off and you don't want that sound in your head. You don't even know where it comes from. I mean, I rip myself off of project I did three years ago and realize much later like, Oh my God, that's the same thing. I can't believe I wrote this again. I literally had happened.

Alex Ferrari 19:57
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. Sir. And now back to the show.

Klaus Badelt 20:06
And nobody told me and nobody noticed, obviously, but I, I get my inspiration from very different kinds of music. So I'm the Roman to ask if you inspired by that kind of with this off, if if it always movies, it would be hard for me to point out to is, but these were non traditional composers, right. You know, we have too many guys who want to sound like Jerry Goldsmith, or you know, it's like this, this idea which is over. And you need to develop new things and still serve the film. And you get this when Oh, when I listened to a Brian Eno score that to me, well, not all of them, but there are some which were like, Oh, this is interesting, I would have not done it like this. And I probably will never be able to do like that. But that gives you inspiration. I have lots of playlists of songs, though. And classical music and then electronic music, or why keep as an inspiration, like to rolling in my in my head and in the background often just to where I get something from.

Dave Bullis 21:13
So, so when you when you actually ripped off your own score, was it air through air after the movie had come out? You're like, oh my god, did I write that I have that I already wrote that I write that.

Klaus Badelt 21:21
I was the years after. Yeah, it was a TV show, actually, you know, a rip myself off. And I had no idea. And nobody at the time told me and it wasn't like that bad. But I was the same tune. And it felt great at the time twice. I mean, for me, like, like, Oh, I did it. Look, it sounds great. Oh, my gosh, I really, this is good. It works. And I had done this before. And it's big. I don't know it happens in a adult you don't want to. That's the last thing you want. And last thing I want this to sound like something I did before the last thing I want to sound is like someone else who did something which for some it but it's really hard sometimes.

Dave Bullis 21:59
Yeah, it is, you know? So speaking about, you know, just of your process and everything like that, you know, what was the, you know, the absolute best experience that you've had making a score to a film?

Klaus Badelt 22:16
And it's so many I mean, there are a few would like, but I think often is the indie films, which are more you have an opportunity to be you have more integrity, it's easier to have integrity in terms of collaboration and, and there's less opinions out there and Hollywood, there's a lot of different opinions. And it's great to work like that. But it's easy then to like know, take the edge off everywhere. And then at the end, you sound the end up with something mediocre. Because nobody dares. It's, it's dangerous, right. So I had some films like I remember I remember, like life changing was like when I did my first film in China where the director Shankar Agha did me know, let me let me write a little bit put me up in a hotel in the lake to enjoy and write and I thought I came up with something, okay. And he listened to it and nodded and said, Okay, let me make some phone calls. I think I'm going to, if you don't mind sent you around the country for the next few weeks, and you just absorb whatever we show you. So you get a much deeper feel for where we are with all this. Yeah, basically like a 4000 year history lesson, compressed in a few weeks of sightseeing. And that was part of this whole process that went in I think if I look back, I can hear that the I was most inspired and that took me five months there and I remember when I came back here to Hollywood people asked me so where do you move to China? Like no, it just wrote a movie but no movie but i i That was like life changing moment where you just want to be as good as the director. And you know you'll never be you know, achieve that but you want to contribute and there's a deep Yeah, just deep inspiration. That was also a project where we never talked about me I visited him a few times so traveled to China. We met for a week or two and I don't think a single time we even looked at the film The first few times we discussed his life and his his symbolism in every shot and in every not short but in every scene what he envisioned for this and and you just learn and be taught politics he taught all kinds of things. And then you prepared to to give I think that makes a good director right to who is just interested in getting the best out of your creation instead of trying to squeeze you into a certain track.

Dave Bullis 24:57
So what did that what that what else do You went on this, you know, this sort of history lesson this 4000 year history lesson and, and in a week or two, you know, we did when you got out, you know, and they finally got back and they asked you to compose this piece. What was the outcome after that? I mean, what did you was it a success?

Klaus Badelt 25:17
Um, yeah, it was a big movie there, it was called the promise in China was one of the very first, you know, was 10 years ago. So it wasn't one of the very first like, big effects movies and, and the biggest compliment, I mean, you can hear the themes, I had so many inspired themes, and they, and they all did something for the movie at the right time. In the biggest complaint was like, look, I mean, I was this German guy, or European guy who lives in Hollywood and does a Chinese movie. So what you expect me I asked him at the time, so I'm not the guy who writes your age Chinese movie, it was all in Chinese, of course, right? And he's like, no, no, and he wants people to tap with the music to open up the film and the understanding about the film, to a greater audience to the audience. And that's exactly, okay, well, so I absorbed a lot of these Chinese instruments in history and stories and dances had like, I was in museums and mountains, you know, they perform dances to me, you know, listen to ancient songs, and all these different minorities, and absorbed all this and put this in, but not to, like, rip it off not to, you know, use this as a superficial color and impose myself on it, but to really like, you know, work it in and have flavors of this in there. And there was some European flavors in there, and of course, Western flavors in there. So that was so satisfying for me as a process. And you can, you can hear this in the inspiration. It's, there's something new creative, you know, when I heard some people told me that this is one of their favorites course, and not and they didn't know the story. So we can you can always hear how inspired you are.

Dave Bullis 27:07
You mentioned about the indie films. And I, you know, earlier on, I mentioned Pirates of the Caribbean, you know, I imagined just for the sheer thrill of it, because Pirates of the Caribbean, no matter when it would come out is going to be one of the biggest films of the year, you know, you know, from the first one to the fifth one, I think that came out a year or two ago. You know, it's just the fact that it's the pie, you know, it's a huge, huge movie. It's got Johnny dept. You know, it's got, you know, a named director of gore, Gore Verbinski, but if I could actually talk, and, and so I imagine, you know, when that when that comes out, I mean, I mean, I can only imagine a class where you could say, Hey, listen, you know, you see, he's telling anybody, friends, family, whoever, hey, you know, Pirates of the Caribbean that's coming out. You know, I did music for that movie. Because everybody instantly knows Oh, my God, that's Johnny Depp.

Klaus Badelt 28:02
Right, of course. I mean, it's always great to have something where, you know, your your, your family asked me so what do you do next? And you talk about the movie, and they're like, Oh, I never heard of it. But in then there's one. You know, there's the occasional film we're like, oh, yeah, that's in everybody's mind and theaters and certainly one of the music pieces but more known but I don't know look at me I mean, I'm proud of it, of course, but torquing this down, but I it's so many different things. And I always like to it's so easy to fall into this Hollywood trap to to like what you do too much. And Korea was never an option to me to be in the center of my own attention. Just did one thing after another and honestly, I never really thought about like, like moving here. And I was one thing I never would have thought about. I was on vacation, I guess. I don't know. Maybe I can do this. Of course I loved it. And I had the passion for it. But I didn't never expected it to happen. I never expected and the same thing with Unity, right? So I had right after pirates, for example, I didn't. Then the last thing I would want to do is to do 2345 17 Make it a TV show. But instead I remember at the time where I used the opportunity then to do movie with Tecton or do a movie with Wolfgang Petersen to do a movie with Shang chi again, all you know what I just said like went to China five months. My agent was like, pulling his hair and it's like, what are you doing? This is like the moment you put you can your career. Like it's not that I'm not interested. But that is exactly what to do right now, because of this enables me to do really interesting stuff. I've done a lot of French movies, nobody cares, or here in America. They don't travel but just so amazingly satisfying that someone will hear the word ultimately and then you get another job.

Alex Ferrari 29:56
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Klaus Badelt 30:05
Based on something you did, which nobody would have given you an A did suddenly comedy in New York. Wow. And what it would have hired me for New York style comedy. Because the Pirates of the Caribbean but they did that because they're heard, I don't know PDD Kaline in Paris when they went on vacation or you know, had a meeting and like, Who is this and what this German guy amazing, let's do that. So this is, I think if you constantly do good work and try to not really re Have you always reinvent yourself and try not to repeat too much, because everybody wants that, like in other play that put your music and pretend and say, I want exactly this. Don't change the note. This works great. Can you do this again? That's how often you get an assignment here is that you are in the temp and sorry, but the last thing I want to do is, if I was director would ask the composite, right, exactly. Same thing again. That's like, so not inspiring for anyone. And you probably can hear this and you can hear sorry, but you can hear composer would mention names of films definitely where you? You're like, well, I know exactly what happened in the cutting room, how they asked the composer what to do, and he can hear it. That's not what I'm interested in.

Dave Bullis 31:20
You know what I found that in class, I found that in the latest Star Wars films. I like Star Wars. I like the idea behind it. I mean, I come from it from more of a writing perspective. Because if I if you asked me what I what I am made out of everything, you know, don't be enough if that's why whenever someone says they're a jack of all trades, Klaus I kind of go well, everyone has to specialize in something, everybody, you can have knowledge of everything. But everyone at the end of the day, everyone specializes in something that brought because that's what brought you to the dance. You know, you have you know, there's one thing that you do well, so for me, it's writing. And when I'm watching the store with the new ones, you know, and I'm sitting there, I just go, I just feel like everything is exactly the same. It's the same beats, it's the same shots. It's the same music. It's so repetitive.

Klaus Badelt 32:16
Yeah, I mean, this is what now we're getting into what I think is a bit of a problem of Hollywood and a serious problem of Hollywood, the last few years, especially that we are not afraid to tell a story. But yeah, in a way, like it's risky now to tell new stories. It has to be a franchise. And then you do that. As long as there's a lot of people paying tickets for that. How can they be wrong, right? And then it's okay when we have to all create new keep the lights on and keep the industry going. It's just not so much what I'm I know, I did too. I was about to say I never did sequels. I did two sequels, I have to admit, but when it was I made sure that if possible, this was like okay, there's a friendship by the new director a new like a restart or something like you know, a fresh angle at something. Like when I did my first horror film I told the director I don't like horror. Irish it should I'm not a big horror fan. Sorry. But so why are you asking me and then we started talking it turns out he neither so we want to do something no genre but something different. And there was no okay was Well, I wasn't really whorfin But I guess Constantine was a lot of like, dark dark stuff and then ended up with almost like if a French impressionist film score. You know, I think that's interesting stuff happens and and we're a bit we've become a bit afraid of, of doing this year. And that's why indie film can often be this way you try out things and then they become mainstream. I personally think that indie is the new mainstream Anyway, look, the last few years last 10 years, and it's been always indie films, winning or being nominated for for all kinds of awards. But and there's always that commercial blockbuster thinking where you will have to do another sequel of another prequel of another TV show. I know I'm just coming off a film which has like it's the fourth installment but but there was a new idea again in there. This quarter. I think I can talk about is still in the making. It's called the ocean Ocean's eight. You know as the ocean's 11 idea on a very different cast and a very different fresh ideas. It's an all female cast and fantastic fun in it. And it's like smart, right? So that I can live with. And it's a good mix of being okay as commercially very viable. But same time. There's a lot of new and fresh ideas and there's a twist in it. And you can talk about, tell the twist, and work on the twist.

Dave Bullis 35:17
Yeah, I actually have heard of Ocean's eight, you know, the all female, you know, based upon the George Clooney movie, Ocean's 11, but instead of being all males or females, and so, I mean, when you do something like that, you know, and you're sort of brought onto this franchise? Is there any expectations at all? I mean, because really, I mean, what I mean by that is, do they are they saying like, Hey, listen, Klaus, you know, if you listen to Ocean's 1112, or what have you, this is what they did here. And we want something kind of similar. And is there anything like that?

Klaus Badelt 35:53
Yes, and no, look, I mean, they will have, they could have easily asked the the old composer to do that if they want that same thing again. But there's a reason they didn't. But there's also the expectations of the audience that you remember when working on Miami Vice, right? You the audience has a certain expectations or expectation and you as a director or a film as a compositor, you have to not cannot ignore the audience, you should never do that. You play with that? No, no. And my advice was very hard, because the movie was very dark and very different than what you know, the TV show was 30 or 20 years before that, but And here too, it's slightly different, but it plays with it. And actually, to me, that's fun that that's okay, that's smart. That's, that's fulfilling the expectation and hopefully, adding the twist to it. So it's interesting and fresh again. That's fun. That's not like, Okay, I have to do Pirates of the Caribbean times 17. And they want exactly the same thing.

Dave Bullis 36:57
You know, I actually really enjoy the oceans movie. So I mean, I'll check out Ocean's eight. But, uh, yeah, it's kind of like, again, you know, I was saying, I totally get what you're saying about the indie films. It's kind of like, you know, writing you know, it's a it's like composing itself. You know, we are on an indie film, you can, you have a lot more freedom as we you know, but when you're on a big blockbuster, you know, your freedom is kind of constricted. But when you again, when you're telling people about it, you're like, Well, hey, listen, I just did music for excetera they like, oh, wow, I actually, you know, me like, holy crap. Johnny Depp. Sure, I keep going back to Johnny Depp. But he's, he's a very good example.

Klaus Badelt 37:33
Say, you don't have that obsession with Johnny Depp. I like that. No, but I know what you mean. Yeah, no, it's this Exactly. Like it's so tempting. But again, I mean, I remember this when my mom asked me, so I just came out of the meeting with Steven Spielberg and, and he kind of ripped half of the score apart on Gladiator. And we're like, gosh, this was one of the hardest days of my life at the time. And, and I tried to tell a little bit like, look, mommy just did this. And she's like, Okay, what, do you eat enough? So, you know, it grounds you she didn't care. And you you get back to like, okay, you know, what, you need to bypass all this hype about yourself and about others and I think just get to work so I'm not really impressed. Ultimately, with when it comes to celebrities, it's only I'm impressed when, you know, they're getting good sales like when they actually deliver him and when you work with them and you realize and understand why they are who they are. Then it gets very, very interesting. There's some directors out here new work with Tom Cruise. So then it's you understand you know, where that where the success comes from? If you have to have a chance to work well but but again, only an indie it's it's as refreshing as as taxing to your creativity. And again, you can you have more freedom to get out of the no to out of the box thinking. And you can see now that the audience is really tired of the same kind of Game of Thrones and Batman's and stuff, right? They, yeah, they see it, they watch it, but you know, we know they did a lot of gather a lot of data about this too. And not only there felt it, but there is data that people are want more variety. Now that you have the internet you watch much more and you have theoretically access to much more. You don't have these gatekeepers because of shelf space right before you could go to Blockbuster only and they had limited shelf space so you they couldn't put up everything. Or the theaters could only take on one movie night or something. But now you have all this plus the unlimited resources of the internet. So you should be able to watch much more and more more people want that.

Alex Ferrari 39:58
We'll be right back after a word from Our sponsor and now back to the show.

Klaus Badelt 40:07
They expect like everything to be available and that's a big chance of indie I think that you have now the chance of being successful without being broadcast style popular. That means you don't have to have the millions of millions of viewers or tickets sold or something. Without that your movies a flop, I worked on many flops, I know exactly how hot my pressure is read a and how limiting can be, but now you can create something and you make this foreign or maybe a smaller segment of an audience or have more integrity it's a little bit like music, like used to you have to you had to go to a recording studio, you had to use that two inch machine, that tape machine and it was all very expensive. You had to pay the 1000s of dollars per day. So you had to have all this machine would pay for this and you know the industrial these days are like for a few years now you can actually write you know, I've heard the best productions coming from your laptop of some I don't know Pro Tools or whatnot on it and, and it's really great stuff you don't need add on it sounds amazing. Isn't the talent good ideas. And we have this now in movies too, right? That's the big chance of indie we have now digital production pipelines make it very, very cheap for you to produce now including visual effects on your laptop at Starbucks, which rivaled those we do here in in those visual effects studios. But not only visual facts, you know, that's just an example of everything you just you still need just like a music a good idea. Tasteful implementation, etc. That's still the same. But you have now a great opportunity that you can move now a lot of things yourself and that there's a demand on the other side for all people who want to watch more different things want to watch and give you give the attention to your Indie film. Whereas before they didn't even have access to it. Because it wasn't there wasn't available. And now we can make it available world.

Dave Bullis 42:30
Yeah, you know, you mentioned Tom Cruise, by the way to Klaus, you know, I once met I forget what he what he actually is the Tom but I he just said that the he had before you ever met Tom. He goes he always wondered what he was going to be like. And then he said once I met him, I knew why he was successful. And he goes he wakes up every day at four or five in the morning. He gets up he just starts going and he goes he never complains about having to be on set or don't take he never complains about having to do extra work. He goes all the guy does is he party who is you know, he's professional as can be. And he goes he goes I've never seen him with with a bad attitude whatsoever. And he goes, you know, he gets a lot of crap in the media for different things. He goes but you know, all that aside, he goes the guy just is a really hard worker.

Klaus Badelt 43:22
Yeah, and the tabloid news that's one thing but as a hard worker, exactly. I mean, he was issued fantastic to work with us, probably the only you only have the director on the film, I work with him. But you know, you only like producer who, you know, he had no problem seriously, going out at night to the deli and get everyone who was still working because we had to work all night for the last few nights to get us some food. So he had Tom Cruise, looking over my shoulder taking an order for Jerry's Deli. So that's true. And that's not like you want to be a nice guy. He's just like, Yeah, let's do it. You know, keep keep working. And I really appreciate that. And then you can see how this leads to success and well of course how it can lead to divorce but he's a very reasonable man. So in the in the in the news and everywhere. So again, focus always, like I said earlier, like to focus on actually working with these guys. And that's when they gain my respect. And then they will realize oh, yeah, okay, I don't know why.

Dave Bullis 44:27
Yeah, yeah. And see, again, stories like that about Tom, you know, just, you know, insanely hard worker and just likes what he does. And, you know, that's why when his movies come out, you know, I'm always interested to see how well they do began with the whole balancing the tabloid side of things and you know, I mean, I you know, I saw the mummy and I can definitely see what they were trying to do with it. You know, I just think that the the mummy as itself, the premise itself works at its best When Brendan Fraser had the cab, the six cyclists, I agree because Brendan Fraser is just he's just that he looks like a leading man. But he also can act like a goofball. You don't? I mean, and it said funny, and he and you don't I mean, and it just, it works so well, I think the mummy with Tom Cruise just took itself too seriously. And I think a lot of audiences now, you know, with all the options, you know, with all the options of TV and YouTube and everything else and, and also with still going to theater. I don't know if it if it found its I actually I know, it didn't find itself, you know, some of the some of the horror and that was was was fantastic. But I just think at the end of the day, you know, it's a lot of pressure to put on a movie to set up an entire universe. So you know, essentially it has because you know what it you know, it has to do so many things. Well, at the same time, it has to be a movie by itself. So you don't either. It's just it's a lot to do and I think it got pulled in too many directions.

Klaus Badelt 46:01
That happens a lot. And again, it's hard to because we seem to only be able to do franchises and re re re manufacture refactor them. But now Oh, like that's the big thing to do. Yeah, I totally understand what you're saying. Like, the perfect anti hero, you know, was Frasier and you know, reminds me of I don't know Harrison Ford. You know. You know, Indiana Jones like he's like you want that character was like, you know, he's a goofy, but he's more like, he can do he can do it, actually. But he doesn't want to. That's not the character. You know, you. Yeah, it comes in Tom has always Tom Cruise. Right. And that's not whether he's good. Or he's a great actor, actually. But he really I really admire his skills. No, no questions, no matter what, how thin the movie exactly is. But he's really great. But he's always giving himself and into it. So do you expect that it's hard to play against your own character?

Dave Bullis 47:04
Yeah, it's true. And he's doing what he likes and doing what he loves. And he has his own stunts, too. You know, and I know because we talked about distribution. I want to talk about film hub. I know we're starting to run out of time. See how it's you know, Klaus is kind of like a movie. It's like how crab? How do we get all this in here? We've got too much to cover. We don't have enough time.

Klaus Badelt 47:24
No, don't worry about it. No, this is not supposed to. I like to talk about creativity. And I like to talk about the force and the awakening. Now indie should have and I want to bring because I believe in it myself. And I've done it a lot. And with indie film, and I believe that there's now this big change and, and distribution, whatever the the the overall solution is that we have now as indie filmmakers, and new confidence we should have it. And who doesn't have it yet should learn about it. Because it is now possible, all I'm doing all the time now is with either with music, in films to support this in with film up, I'm doing this, to support it on a much larger scale, hopefully, that you can now check this off as a commodity, you can now you know, you cannot do films cheaper with your digital cameras, you can now do visual effects cheaper with or on your own, you can now check that off and check off distribution, you cannot be in every living room in the world. And you have to think of the world and not just your own country or you know, we have to stop thinking in domestic and foreign terms. We have to stop with territorial limitations. We have to stop thinking, windowing this is all what the audience doesn't want. This is all what the industry wants to make a bit more money, you know, to exhorted even more to milk the cow more. But just like in music we've seen, music is like a few years ahead of us in film, we can see how things happen there. Because also, the difference to me is only like bandwidth, right? Music is just less bandwidth needed. But you can see the same flow. And you can learn from that you can see how unimportant a big industry can render itself. And then they come back to what's the actual value. Hollywood does have a big value. But indie film has a much larger value of bread, then we have given us so far, and to strengthen, strengthen that in this case with the distribution platform where you don't have to pay anything and just be there and let it check it off. And then keep creating. And we have much more much more to do there. It's still, even though we have the internet and everybody can watch and do whatever they want whenever they want it in wherever they wanted.

Alex Ferrari 49:56
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Klaus Badelt 50:06
That doesn't mean you don't make movies, by the way for cell phones, right? Like this has been talked about, like the last 10 years. But that's not the case, you just have much more freedom as the audience now to watch what you like, it's harder to find what you like, because there's so much more now. But we have to now put all these tools into place all these digital tools into place, and leverage them as filmmakers, you got to move on and, and embrace this too, we have to stop being that dinosaur ourselves. And there's a lot more to talk about, right when it comes to. But in general, it means like, this is a great opportunity is the digital opportunity now, to create actually very beautiful and meaningful film. Again, more than if I may say, so Hollywood, is dares to produce at this point.

Dave Bullis 51:02
In that's why, you know, stuff like film hub, and I and I was reading your website. So, you know, I've had other people on here, like Jason Brubaker from distributor, you know, things like that, where, you know, people are, you know, companies like yourself, they're, you know, it's a way to get on Amazon, it's way to go on Hulu. You know, so people can, because those are where the eyeballs are right? You know, especially with Amazon, and especially with Amazon, the way it's becoming, they're trying to get more into the video market, you know, who was Hulu? You know, and all these different channels? You know, how do you stand out? How do you get your film on there? Because I mean, even a couple years ago, I remember, you know, just talking to people, and I would say, how the hell do you even get a film on here? You know, how do you get a film? On any of these platforms? You know, do you have to get in a sales agent to pitch to him? And, you know, a few years ago, maybe it's only mean, and actually, you did have to, you know, they had to have the contacts, they had to go through this. And then you had to have deliverables the right way. And, you know, her high ratings. I mean, seriously, and your Netflix has their own way of delivering films, you know, and it's just, you know, do you have all that? Even deliverables a few years ago, before that, Klaus, you know, you had to have? Do you have a 35 millimeter print? You have this? Do you have that? And you're like, well, for indie filmmakers, you know, that's, that's, you know, what, what, how much did prints use the costs? Cost, like $50,000, I think, or something like that, or maybe a lot more so. Right. Exactly. Yeah, yeah, seriously, I would say it's, you know, and so, so that's why I wanted to have you on class to talk about filmhub. And just all this stuff. I know, we can't, we're running out of time. But, you know, just just in closing, Klaus, you know, is there any sort of parting thoughts that you wanted to say, to sort of put a period in this whole conversation?

Klaus Badelt 52:47
Well, again, like I think it's about to me, it's about like, and I love coming on the show like this is to talk about the strength of indie, and that we have to develop now really quick, our own confidence more than we think that often I still I was at Sundance again, and everywhere I go on these festivals is, we still think too much of what we want to achieve is to beat the old system to get your film being picked up. In in terms of, like, like recording artists in music, that also already means the kiss of death, you have to develop it on your own and be your own, have an ownership model, we have to change the model. And then the creativity can actually continue. And so what we're building here with this film, for example, what I'm doing with my movies, into support, like Chinese movies is like there is such a variety out there. And we just have to keep going. creating great stuff. And this is now a much more open world. And then maybe next time we can talk a bit more about how I how I see how, what the what, in my opinion the right way or for what is the right vision forward is where this industry can be in five years. But that's maybe too much for now. We could talk about Alexa.

Dave Bullis 54:02
I know I'm actually now I'm tempted to you know, keep talking to you. Just me I know you got I know you gotta run. And I'm just tempted to give you did to get you hanging on just to just sort of finished that thought. I mean, you know, that's why, you know, I'm getting back into the swing of things too. You know, I got just burned out from doing things and now for for listeners who you know, listen to the past couple of episodes Klaus, they know I'm actually going to start making I want to make a faux trailer again, just a fun fake trailer and throw it up on YouTube. I've been doing a lot more stuff, just with with back and getting into the saddle with this creative stuff I always been writing and you know, it's just it's just getting back into it because I realized you know, I just talked with everybody leaving you know, every guest you know, I always hear different things and it's just important to give keep going and keep trying and get back out there. Because I mean I flat out would be very honest with everybody I got so burned out clouds from just the amount of bullcrap. Just from like, you know, projects never went anywhere. Where to you shoot a project and then somebody holds it hostage on a hard drive, which I've seen, you know, that only happened to me once, thankfully. But other people, it's happened to them like two or three times, you know, just crazy. Because I just sing in the dark the whole time, you know, when it got to. But, but, you know, again, I know you have to go Klaus and, you know. So again, I want to say thank you for coming on. And where can people find you at online?

Klaus Badelt 55:25
So we're at filmhub.com and my own personal website is klausbadelt.com or klausbadelt.com So you can you can find me there and go from there and reach out on Twitter. We're a film hub HQ. I monitor that personally, too. And yeah, get in touch and let's think let's keep creating that revolutionary like that. And I love that, you know, going back getting back into it, too. We have to keep creating. That's the idea.

Dave Bullis 55:52
You got to have one foot in theory one foot and practice. It's dangerous when you don't I mean, so. Exactly. So it will thank you. Thank you Klaus. I just thought is off top my head buddy thought taught me. So, everyone, it's Dave bulls.com. Twitter. It's at db podcast. Klaus, I want to say Aveda sane. And in fact, you see that rudimentary German helped out

Klaus Badelt 56:16
That'll help you worldwide. No, thank you for having me. A lot of fun. Keep following your podcast and hope it was in little bit insightful for someone.

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BPS 348: First-Time Filmmaking, Oscars & Netflix With Scott Copper

Scott Copper (Director, Screenwriter, Producer) made his feature film directorial debut in 2009 with Fox Searchlight’s Oscar-winning CRAZY HEART, which he also wrote and produced. The film, which starred Jeff Bridges, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall, earned three Academy Award nominations, winning for Best Actor (Bridges) and Best Original Song (T Bone Burnett and Ryan Bingham). Cooper won an Independent Spirit Award for Best First Feature and earned WGA, USC Scripter and Independent Spirit Award nominations, for his screenplay.

Cooper’s follow-up was the Leonardo DiCaprio/Ridley Scott-produced OUT OF THE FURNACE, starring Christian Bale, Woody Harrelson, Casey Affleck, Zoë Saldana, Forest Whitaker and Sam Shepard. For his work as writer, director and producer, Cooper won the Best Debut and Second Film Award at the 2013 Rome Film Festival, where he was also nominated for a Golden Marc’Aurelio Award. Next was Cooper’s 2015 Warner Bros. gangster film BLACK MASS, which Cooper both directed and produced and which made its worldwide debut at the Venice International Film Festival.

The box-office hit garnered wins from critics associations across the country, and earned lead actor Johnny Depp the Desert Palm Achievement Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, as well as a Best Actor nomination from the Screen Actors Guild. In 2017, Cooper’s western epic HOSTILES debuted at both the Telluride Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festivals, earning widespread critical acclaim. The film reunited Cooper with his OUT OF THE FURNACE star Christian Bale and featured performances from Rosamund Pike, Wes Studi, Jesse Plemons, Rory Cochrane and Ben Foster. Cooper followed this up with ANTLERS, an exploration of yet another genre in the Guillermo Del Toro-produced horror film. Searchlight released the film to acclaim in October 2021.

Most recently, Cooper re-teamed for the third time with Bale on THE PALE BLUE EYE, an adaptation of Louis Bayard’s novel of the same name. The film tells the story of a series of murders at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1830 and a cadet the world would later come to know as Edgar Allan Poe. Robert Duvall, Gillian Anderson, Timothy Spall, Toby Jones and Harry Melling round out the cast. The Netflix film will debut in Fall of 2022. Born in Virginia, Cooper now resides in Los Angeles.

Please enjoy my conversation with Scott Copper.

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Scott Copper 0:00
I mean, even when you work with trusted collaborators, there will be moments on set where there is Sturm and Drang as the director, and as the writer and as the producer, you have to be able to solve those issues.

Alex Ferrari 0:12
This episode is brought to you by the Best Selling Book, Rise of the Filmtrepreneur how to turn your independent film into a money making business. Learn more at filmbizbook.com. I'd like to welcome to the show, Scott Copper man, how you doing, Scott?

Scott Copper 0:26
Great. Thank you, Alex.

Alex Ferrari 0:28
Thanks for coming on the show. Man. I'm a fan man. I've been a fan for a while. Man. You you're doing some really good work, brother seriously, man.

Scott Copper 0:35
Thank you. Thanks. So upper and tougher.

Alex Ferrari 0:38
It's man, I I was just talking, I was just talking to somebody a few minutes ago about how the movie business is changing so dramatically, even from when you made Crazy Heart to now getting somebody to the movie theater. If avatar is having a problem. I mean, is a problem? You know,

Scott Copper 1:01
I suspect people go out for that though.

Alex Ferrari 1:04
I did. And I saw it. It's one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen in my life. Like what Jim Jim did was, ya know, it's remarkable, but it's doing well. But people are like, Oh, I should be doing better. And there's a lot of pressure on a movie like that. But other than avatar in Top Gun last year. It's tough to get people out.

Scott Copper 1:24
Man. Yeah, well, in fact, maybe that was happening also a little bit before COVID Certainly accelerated during COVID. Look, it's expensive to consider dinner and parking and then price of a movie, maybe for the kind of movies that I make. And some of my favorite filmmakers, perhaps the ticket prices should be lower. And then right will be more likely to come out because there really is nothing like experiencing. And in fact, that film will not have the same effect on you, regardless of what it is if you're watching it anywhere. But in this.

Alex Ferrari 2:05
There's no There's no question my friend. But But you've lived a very interesting life in the film industry. You've you've you came up as an actor. So my first question, how did you and why did you want to get into this insanity that is the film industry?

Scott Copper 2:19
Well, look, it's you don't choose your obsessions, your obsession, you choose you right very much. I also spent, I was born and spent a lot of my formative years in this kind of artistic crown jewel of Virginia called Abingdon, Virginia, where the State Theatre is also a lot of great music comes out of that, that region, the mountain empire, as well as a lot of arts and crafts. So the arts were always a part of my life. My father would take me to see films at a young age at a local college. And then you know, when you're young, and you're transfixed by that, and you also had spent time as an actor, Christian Bale and I had discussed this, that people who get into the film business aren't meant to have office jobs. And I think I realized that at a young age, I also realized at a young age that there were actors who were a whole lot better at this vocation than I, especially when you're on the other side of the camera and your first film is your you're recording Jeff Bridges for posterity and Robert Duvall and Maggie Gyllenhaal and Colin Farrell, that quickly makes you realize that there are people who do it a whole lot better than you. And then my second film was Christian Bale and Casey Affleck and Woody, Willem Defoe and Sam Shepard and, and Forrest Whitaker and Zoey Sadat. And then I'm like, Okay, well, I'm definitely not gonna be an actor again. So, but quite honestly, Alex, this is I mean, I couldn't imagine a better job than being a film writer, a film director. I mean, I suppose being Mick Jagger, or Bano, Eddie Federer, someone who's a rock star, right and sings to at 100,000 people, certain events. But I love being able to express myself as a filmmaker. I love the people that I've met over the course of my career. I mean, look, I've been for an actor with an unremarkable career, I have been incredibly fortunate as a filmmaker, I'll just say that.

Alex Ferrari 4:31
You know, it's interesting, because a lot of people like, you know, everyone could play basketball. You know, generally everyone could take a ball and try to make a shot, but we're not all Michael Jordan or LeBron James. And, and that's, I think that's where you were at?

Scott Copper 4:44
Well, sure. I mean, even Robert Duvall, who was my mentor and expressed to me and still does how much he liked me as an actor Jeff Bridges the same thing but but I just have much more fun doing this and and I never even really had A chance to grow as an actor, I wasn't getting the kind of challenging parts that, that I now write for actors and I adore actors. And performance is critical to me and, and, and working with actors that I've always admired. And, you know, also being able to work with actors that teach me something, as Jeff certainly has, or Robert ball or Christian. Or even Johnny Depp. So I'm blessed man i But that's, that's just the truth.

Alex Ferrari 5:36
So at what point? Because I'm assuming as you were going down the path as an actor, there might have been some rejection not much, I'm sure but some rejection all

Scott Copper 5:45
The actor who isn't? Who isn't rejected a lot. Right. So I'll look at started 12 I mean, so yeah,

Alex Ferrari 5:53
He had he had a good start. That's Little Spielberg independent film thing. He did. Yeah. But so when you're going so when you're going through the the acting process, at what point did you say, you know, what, I'm not going to hit the all star team as an actor, I want to jump to the other side of the like, what was the point where you just said, I'm

Scott Copper 6:14
I was just auditioning a lot, and you know, kind of becoming a bridesmaid coming in second. And, and, and not getting the parts that made me want to become an actor in the first place. I think everybody who's you know, a young actor coming up in the 90s, one, you know, a career or at least I did, like Sean Penn or dinero, or PacMan or Pacino. So, when you're not getting those parts, and you're going up for leading men, and you're not really loving them, but you have to support yourself. It just, ultimately, the rejection, that's a lot. And I mean, look, we all get rejected, certainly in the arts, sure, when you make things that, that take big risks, for sure. But it was really just the continual process of of auditioning and films that I would have liked to have been in not getting parts in them. Whether it would be thin red line or Saving Private Ryan. And then I was doing a Western with Duvall being directed by the great Walter Hill, who's also a mentor of mine. And, and and you've all said, you know, you should really write something. And of course, I ended up at the time I had spending a lot of time considering writing the film about Merle Haggard. He had too many ex wives getting the rights were difficult. So I ended up writing precis Hart and Duvall was the first person to read it. And, and you know, Alex, the truth is when Jeff Bridges says yes to your film, it changes your life. And that's exactly what happened to me.

Alex Ferrari 7:52
So is that how you got? Because I was gonna ask like, you're basically a first time filmmaker at this point. Yeah, you've been on set for a long time. But you're a first time writer.

Scott Copper 8:00
That's right. never directed a film. I've never directed a commercial. I've never directed a high school play. But I know this world. And I know that by surrounding myself with great collaborators, production designers, customers, cameraman, women, that sort of thing that I knew that I can tell the story. And Jeff, I remember it is is though it were yesterday, Jeff said, so this is your first time. Yeah. So it is. He said, Well, I've had a lot of success with first time directors, Fabulous Baker Boys being one of them. That I'm in. And you know, Alex, at that point in my life was never the same.

Alex Ferrari 8:40
And so I have to ask you, first day on set, you're sitting, you're the big man on your big man on campus first day? How do you deal with not only the pressure of the first day and making sure that you make that first day, but you're looking through the lens? And you see Jeff Bridges? They're like, and you're directing a legend? Multiple legends, by the way in that film? How do you deal with that as a director?

Scott Copper 9:07
Well, you deal with it by forgetting to call cut. And my ad cabinet shows looking at me as the scene had finished. And I'm transcendent, this is the truth and I'm transfixed and, and she looked at me, she said, and I said, Cut. And literally, it was like, my god, I remember that night that Jeff Bridges is taking dialogue that I have written in taking it to places that I never expected. And that's especially because I've written specifically for him. That's the sign of a great actor. And now, five films later it's happened in, in every film, thankfully.

Alex Ferrari 9:46
So the one thing that's so impressive about your work not only the writing and the directing, but the cast that you're able to attract is honestly unheard of. I mean, your second film, that list of actors, any one of them could have been the star. But a lot of them took secondary roles because they wanted to work on the project. How do you attract all of these? I mean, it's film after film after film after film. As I'm going through filmography, I'm just like, how the hell is this guy grabbing, I know it's the material. But like, even good material doesn't attract a lot of times because of politics and schedules. And this or that.

Scott Copper 10:23
And often that is that is the case, it's difficult to get all the actors that you're referring to everybody else wants, and trying to fit them into a schedule is often one of the most difficult things to do about making a film. But I think, look, certainly the success of of of Crazy Heart has helped when when you're filming, your first film is nominated for three Oscars of wins a couple. That certainly changes the calculus for everybody else, when they see how wonderful Jeff is Maggie and Colin and Duvall, and on and on and on, right. So that probably doesn't happen if that film doesn't have the success, but it did. And then out of the furnace had kind of like a murderer's row of actors that all of whom are, you know, considered to be favorites of mine. So I think once those two films were made, I think actors felt like you know what he, I can feel safe with Scott, because that's the key is to really make an actor feel very safe, safe to take big risks, knows that I'm going to protect them not only on the day when we're shooting, but also in the cutting room. I think the actors that we're talking about know that I'm more interested in films that push me into an uncomfortable space, I've spoken to all of them about the great danger is really doing safe work, where all of the edges are sanded off, so that a lot of people will like your film, The Academy or people who are voting bodies, right. And I think they realize that those don't, those concerns don't really concern me. So it's all about telling a very honest story, a very authentic story. And a story that's not afraid to not let the audience off the hook. I think striving for consensus is not something that I tend to do. I don't make films out of fear, and certain actors respond to that.

Alex Ferrari 12:32
And so another thing about working with all of these amazing actors is I know that all of them have very different processes. So as a director, I mean, as a director, how do you handle like when you have, you know, four or five different of these actors in, in a scene? You can't just yell out direction, you got to kind of go,

Scott Copper 12:52
I've never do that I own two actors that nobody hears, but the actor, I'm actually exactly mixer has turned off all mics and nobody on set will hear the direction that I give Sam Shepard, right? Where Robert Duvall, Christian whomever it is, I think, why don't think I know you have to be very specific, with actors. Don't talk in the abstract. It's really about who is your character? What does the character want the scene? What's the subtext? And again, make them feel safe, safe and free to take big risks. And every actor comes at a scene differently. Casey Affleck and Willem Defoe couldn't be more dissimilar in terms of styles. You have to on the day balance those styles to make sure that all ideas are welcome. But that we're all trying to serve the theme of the film. And what's the subtext of a theme. And then when you cast people, Willem Defoe has made that around probably 100 films or Christian who's made 50 Evolve is made 100 I mean, it's like, and I've said this before, it's almost as though you're like a jockey at the route. Imagine wanting to be at the Kentucky Derby, you're on the best. And it's a little bit of guidance here, a little bit of guidance, they're showing the whip, you know, and then let them run rest of the work. I mean, that's the key is like not getting in their way. And helping an ice ball would always say to me, the key to being a successful director of performances, which is what I hope I am, is knowing how to help an actor when he or she is in trouble.

Alex Ferrari 14:29
Now with crazy heart you I mean, again, you very rare example of your first film being nominated for three Oscars. It doesn't happen quite very often. How did you

Scott Copper 14:42
I gotta be honest

Alex Ferrari 14:43
Yeah, I that was my question. How did you handle the print not only the pressure, the accolades the year, the greatest the ego trips, being in the center of that hurricane and then after winning, you know, the film winning a few a couple Oscars, and how the town entreated you because Hollywood's a dangerous place. And, and but you already been in town a bit as an actor. So you've seen a few things that I'm Oh yeah. So how did you deal with it man?

Scott Copper 15:13
Well, by making a film that was the complete polar opposite, which was out of the furnace, which, you know, I hope to make as an L.A giant crime film. Right, that would remind me of smaller version of The Deer Hunter, right? And you feel like, okay, well, you're definitely not going to sand off the edges. You're not going to strive for consensus, you're gonna make a film that is as hard hitting as the people experience who actually live there. Right. And fortunately, that's where Christian and I met in Braddock, Pennsylvania Mayor John Fetterman, who's now the senator from Pennsylvania. Right. And I know how tough it was to live in a place like that probably still is in Braddock. So if you're being authentic to tell him the story, that's really the key. And you don't worry about what others will say. You know, worried about what category voters will say you don't worry about what critics say because if you look at most of Stanley Kubrick's films, they were not well received when they first came out.

Alex Ferrari 16:18
All of them almost I think all of them unanimously were not well received.

Scott Copper 16:21
And time is what settles the score. Right? So often, you see movies that go on to win Oscars and receive a claim and you watch them 234 years later, if not sooner, you've and you realize that they don't really hold up right so if you're if you're playing and these actors that I work with know that you're playing for the long game. And really what what means something to me is that when I hear from people who are also filmmakers who have responded to me whether it's Bogdanovich with crazy horror, whether it was Michael Cimino calling me or William freaking after seeing out of the furnace, you know, Michael Mann, who was has been very kind to me, Mike Nichols, like all of these people that I admired, really reached out to you after seeing your films and, and continued to applaud you and continue to push.

Alex Ferrari 17:14
How do you as I mean, as a filmmaker, there's so many traps with that, because you know, when you're getting you're, you're basically the people you admire calling you telling you that you're great. And to keep going. The ego has to fall into how do you keep that in place? Because that's a problem when you have so much

Scott Copper 17:33
Yeah, of course, yes. And you have to, of course, my wife would disagree with saying that I feel like I have no ego she

Alex Ferrari 17:42
Wives do that.

Scott Copper 17:43
Yes. But ultimately, it's really about serving the story about telling the stories that that you want to tell. And you and Alex, what you try to do is, is try to keep ego out of any decisions that you make. Which is often very difficult for artists to do, whether you're a painter or whether you're physician, whether you're a filmmaker, Jeff Bridges, said to me, I don't care what happens to a movie when it comes out in terms of winning awards that the reward is, is in the journey for him. And it's the experience and the more movies that I make. That's the truth. It's when you and a group of gifted collaborators are, are all striving for the same goal. And I think that's really important. I think, also, I have tended to try to figure out how the how to tell the truth about how tragic and unfair life is without losing hope. You know, most narratives lie to the audience about how life works out. And shocking. Yes, and

Alex Ferrari 18:53
Hollywood does that. No, you're kidding me?

Scott Copper 18:57
Yes. So that's our bread and butter. It is yeah. So for me really, it's it's about, you know, working through the difficulties in my life by dressing them through art.

Alex Ferrari 19:09
Fair enough. Fair enough. Now, the one thing that's not spoken a lot about in, in the filmmaking space, especially in the film, schools, and for young filmmakers coming up, is the politics of the set. As a first time director, you know, you have collaborators who you might have chosen wrong, you know, incorrectly that you didn't align with what you want it or or try to enforce their vision on top of the director. Have you dealt with any of that? And if you have, how did you overcome it?

Scott Copper 19:37
No, frankly, I haven't. Because I didn't think so having gone to film school, actually, all six of my films have been incredibly harmonious. Now I work with the same crew largely over and over because we have a shorthand, and you know, my films are not inexpensive and every moment counts. And every minute is, you know, you can just hear the dollar sign I think it was Kubrick again who, who said that actually, prepping is much easier editing, you're much more relaxed. But when you're shooting, it's like you're in this cauldron of fire because you have to make so many decisions every day. And you're dealing with production designers, actors, cameramen, and women sound. Everything is coming together at once. So the key is, how do you hire people that see the world as you do, who will make push you to become a better filmmaker, because I didn't go to film school and all of my film school is reading as much as I can about film directors, watching their movies over and over and over with the sound off, how do they move the camera. Most importantly, when they don't move it, how they use composition and missile scene and lighting, staging, to help tell the story. And which is more and more difficult because we're living in the most impatient of ages. Because of this, right? And because we're getting instant, in social media, we're getting instant gratification constantly, and that we were no longer patient. We have to you have to really resist that when you're making a film. Because if you were to put an audience today in front of 2001 I knew what that was. Barry Lyndon The Godfather even and it never heard of these actors have seen it, people would find it painfully slow, boring. And if they were watching home, they would turn it off. Not everybody but a lot of people. And you have to resist that. You have to say okay, well, this is the story I'm telling you, you might find it to be a slow burn. But I said this before making you know, experiencing a film in a cinema is not like getting an enema. You don't want to have wanted to get over as fast as possible. luxuriate in Stanley Kubrick's world, or in Jane Campion's world, or countless other filmmakers that have inspired me for years. Right? That's the key. So. So it's really about trying to assure an ego, hire people that see the world as you do know their work incredibly well. Take meetings with them. And then you will just learn to push one another. I mean, even when you work with trusted collaborators, there will be moments on set where there is Sturm and Drang as the director, and as the writer and as the producer, you have to be able to solve those issues, you also have to be open, and realize that all ideas are welcome. And that is the key, you can't only just say it's my way, you have to very strong vision. But it's clear that there are people that you hire, who will bring ideas to make you not only a better filmmaker, that makes the film better.

Alex Ferrari 22:46
Now, how do you approach the writing process? Because your your, your, your work is so character driven? How do you how do you just deal with the writing process?

Scott Copper 22:57
Quite quite frankly, and and I work very long stretches from early in the morning, through lunch, take a break, and then get back at it because I do kind of what Coppola did, which is like this vomit draft, where you don't go back and edit. You literally write the story from page one to page 120 or however long it is without going back to edit and reading it it very often will be terrible to see if if this is a story that you would want to race out to see on Friday night. That's my litmus test. And before I became a writer, I would study Robert towns work I would study free King's work I would study the network perish is the whoever. And I would I would try to understand these are all people who write characters. How is it that they're telling the story largely through subtext. And they're telling it visually, they're telling it with spare dialogue? All these sorts of things that you just keep writing, writing is rewriting and and eventually you come to a place where we feel like you can share a screenplay with Robert Duvall, who's the first one to to read crazy art or now, the person who reads all my scripts, whether he's in them or not, is Christian Bale. Right. Christian has been making films since he's 12. He'll tell you if a story of a character is working quickly. And it's great to have and I'm very fortunate to have those kinds of trusted collaborators who read my things, and help guide me because so often, and even in the editorial process, you get very Snowblind it's snowballing and you can't quite see think things are great. But then there are other people who will come in and say this didn't quite land for me. This isn't working. This is overstated. This is understated. So all of those sorts of things. I'm just getting a text from my pal Casey Affleck right now speaking. So Alex, that's really hitman. It's about how do you use other people's ideas? Look at I mean, I can't say enough to young filmmakers read great screenplays. see not only what a writer is trying to express, but what they aren't. So much is left to the unspoken, that will make a real connection with the audience. And I tell people all the time, first time filmmakers tell the truth. write stories that are close to you that you know, and personalize everything. Because then if you do, your theme will become universal. And it will speak to most everybody because we're all suffering, right? And we all if you if you deign to make the kind of films that I do, you want to move people, or you want to challenge people, a great filmmaker who shall remain unnamed, once said to me, and this guy's one of the greats. He said, Scott, if everybody likes you film, it's likely not very good.

Alex Ferrari 25:57
Very true. Now do you outline at all

Scott Copper 26:02
If I'm adapting something, if I'm writing an original, it's funny because I use Kubrick again, because I've read everything he's ever said, Oh, me to my friend to me to all of his interviews. And he would never direct an original screenplay always has to be based on existing material, because he says you can sit down in one city and tell this is a story that I want to tell. This is what I want to spend the next five years of my life. Outlining can be really quite helpful. If there's existing, the pale blue i Very sprawling novel, more characters that I could, that I could or should explore on a two hour timeframe different if you're making a limited series. Something that's longer, more sprawling, you should certainly outline but original screenplay. It helps it helps to give you guideposts as you're writing for sure. But certainly, if you're adapting something, and it's really all about finding the essence of the novel, or nonfiction pieces, or magazine, or whatever it is you're adapting podcast. And then it helps to outline that for sure. But there's also something very freeing about not knowing where narrative is going. You have a kernel of an idea, like out of the furnace and off I went in and just wrote, and I was doing press for crazy hard. I was in Pittsburgh, drove over to Braddock, Pennsylvania, wrote very specifically for all of these locations, took images. Out of that came the narrative. So I do both. I've just just adapted something that I hope to make certainly my next film or a film after that. And I didn't outline, I'd read the novel four or five times William Goldman, but certainly once he realized he was going to read something and read it two or three times, did I like it the second time as much as the first, what are the themes? Who are the characters that I'm going to exercise, who the characters I'm going to focus on. That's, that's the piece that I just that I've just adapted with that. When you have someone who's given you a great piece of source material, like for instance, those by art in the pale blue eye, you can take that. And if the author knows and understands that a film is very different than a book, you could just use a sea and off you go. So it really is is project continue whether I outline or not. I don't do always.

Alex Ferrari 28:42
Now, as directors, there's always that day on set where we feel like the entire world's coming crashing down around you the sun's every day there is that but there's that one day that's like, oh, I don't think we're going to make it that day that you like holy cow. What was that day on any of your projects? And how did you overcome it?

Scott Copper 29:00
Well, you never have enough time. Honestly, even though you've got and I've got 55 days to shoot this Jesus, I had 24 for crazy heart. Every day by the time you're finished up, you know, there are no easy days on a film set. One of them of course is is if you have to vacate a location because it's a restaurant that you've rented or someone's house and they're ready to move back in. Or it can be because you have monsoon rains coming and that would have been in hostiles where I was shooting the sequence towards the end of the film where Rory Cocker this character before he before he meets his maker and it's pouring rain and it's I think it's probably 38 degrees. It's going to be snowing later. Rory is dressed only in a very thin shirt, but we hadn't quite gotten the scene but I could tell that he was. He was very affected by the weather and was starting to become hypothermic. I'm not a doctor, I'm supposing I can see how it was affecting him. In these monsoon rains up in the Continental Divide, you just can't control but it was giving me everything that I wanted in the scene. So you're trying to balance somebody's help with also trying to know that you have to vacate a location, vacate a location and trying to balance the scene but and I would go to Rory and say, Listen, I think we have this. But I'm also very concerned that you are experiencing something now that you shouldn't be. No, Scott, I haven't quite gotten it is what Rory would say, we're going to keep pushing. And then you're sitting behind the monitor next to the lens and you're thinking okay, man, I've got to stop him because he'll keep going until it until he falls down. Because he's that kind of actor he's so great, Rory, great actors I've worked with. So seems like that really pressure you or when the monsoon rains and rattlesnakes have come out of the ground, they're everywhere, but you're still shooting, you know, those sorts of things. So it's all about really balancing. And you know, if you're 810 1000 feet above sea level, and oxygen very difficult for people, it's always trying to balance those sort of things, or shooting the pale blue eye and and it's eight below zero. And those are long days. And you want to make certain that the crew are well taken care of. But if you're the writer, director, producer, and you're in a location, and you're focused on that, and then but you're also concerned about the crews. Well being you know, those are things that you really have to juggle as a filmmaker they certainly don't teach you in film school having gone to film school, I don't know for sure, but I suspect they don't rattlesnake. Elevation,

Alex Ferrari 31:57
I missed the rattlesnake. Bears bronze class. When I went at least it wasn't there. It wasn't in the curriculum. I went I went.

Scott Copper 32:08
Right. Maybe there should be a class on.

Alex Ferrari 32:10
I mean, if someone's listening at USC USC film school should have that exactly. Now, I've talked to so many writers that when they are when they're writing, and it happens, it's happened to me, it happens to every writer, I think, is when you're writing you, you're almost channeling, you're almost like it's something flowing through you to what point to the point where after you're done, you look at and you go, Holy crap, who wrote this, this is good,

Scott Copper 32:41
Almost every time. And quite frankly, it comes from a very deep, subconscious place. I mean, you're very conscious as you're writing it. But you're not questioning that my wife asked me that all the time when she when she reads something. She's like Jesus, where'd this come from, and you can't quite really understand it. And, and quite frankly, the more films you make, and the more experienced you become known as a film director, but as a film writer, the more difficult it gets about saying less, and not over imparting to the audience, and trying to give them enough information to keep them satisfied, but not too much information. And that's where you become more conscious about it. But generally, if you're writing, if you're in that flow, and that stream of consciousness, and it's coming from a place, don't question it, and don't stop

Alex Ferrari 33:30
So it seems like it's, you know, we could call it the other side, the ether, wherever ideas come from ethics, Spielberg talked about it. And I think Prince and Michael Jackson talked about it as well, like where ideas come from. And I think Spielberg said it in an interview where he's like, if an idea comes to me, I know that if I don't act on it, in a week or two, I'll hear that Marty got it, or someone else got it, because the idea needs to be birthed into the world. And they chose you first. But if you don't move, they'll move on to the next one.

Scott Copper 34:02
Look at those are three geniuses that you just mentioned. So I wouldn't question any of that, but I think he's probably right. And I try not to I try not to question anything, honestly, in terms of where it comes from, because when you make the kind of films that that I make you you have to understand that no two people see the same film. Right. And which is why I think it's so frankly, absurd to rank art as we do in America. What's the best, you know? Who do you Who do you think's a better painter Cy Twombly or Jackson Pollock? You're gonna have very responses, right from a number of people when you present them with that. Are those better Meyer miles or Coltrane? Right? Those were things in the fact that we that we rank are something that are a whole nother discussion. Keep out. But you can't really be concerned with any of that when you are making a film, or when you're. So these come from don't know, how are people going to receive this?

Alex Ferrari 35:13
Oh, God, no, you can't think that. No, you have to just let it come out. And, and that's where I think a lot of writers

Scott Copper 35:20
Will be generic and easily forgotten.

Alex Ferrari 35:24
One thing I've noticed with your work is, it seems that there hasn't been a drop off. Meaning that the level that you were able to set the bar, you were able to sit with Crazy Heart, you've been able to keep that film after film, on the level of the writing and the directing, because to be honest, and I know you know this as well, there are directors who pop, but then they overthink or they and then you could start seeing it in their work, their work starts to drop off, unfortunately. Do you think when you wrote crazy heart where you were basically, there was no pressure to recreate the heart? Oh, no, no, that nobody? No, no. So it was such a freeing experience that you let go? Yes. Do you? Are you able to continuously do that with your work? Or do you start to get in your own way and stop that flow sometimes from happening?

Scott Copper 36:13
Well, both only because my work explores the darker corners of the human psyche. And since crazy heart have gotten progressively darker, although pale blue eyes, certainly it's not that I mean, that's much more accessible. So you try to guard against that, only because you know that your films affect people in ways and I've been to countless screenings over the last six movies, where people have come out of my films as though they were just, you know, festivals, screenings, because they were just hit by a two by four. And you can tell that they were deeply moved or deeply angered, or upset. Whatever it is. So you're sometimes mindful of that, like, you know, and I never tried to make the same film twice, you make it music film, you make a gangster movie, a Western for our family, hard trauma with antlers. And now this. So I never tried to repeat myself, but I also never let the audience off the hook. And that is something that you sometimes have to be reminded, because look we want I mean, movies are an expensive endeavor, and their investment want their movies at least to break even. But they want to make money. You know, it's cliche as it is it is show business and not show art. So I've been lucky to make the kind of films that I make. And quite frankly, I think actors and other directors, whether they're my contemporaries, or people that I have long, long admired became a filmmaker, because of them, have embraced my work in ways that the public just isn't aware of. And that really keeps you going. Walter Hill, got an email from Walter today, telling me how much that he loved pale blue eye. And what he thinks is my same reason I bring it up because you just mentioned it, and how he's seen my career ascend. And if you know, I think people are thankful when directors really, really respect the audience, and want to give them something that's challenging and something that's different, and most importantly, something that, and I do believe this will stand the test of time.

Alex Ferrari 38:31
Let me I gotta ask you this question. Because I mean, we you and I are both of the generation that remembers all those great filmmakers. You talked about all those great movies, from the 70s in the 60s in the in the 80s. And I feel like those kinds of filmmakers and to be honest filmmakers, like yourself aren't dangered species right now. Because of what's happening in the in the business. There's, it's, it's just getting crazier and crazier. And if it wasn't for people like Netflix, you know, a pale blue eye, which is your new movie. That's not getting a theatrical release today. That's not being made today. It just wouldn't get made unless it was with a streamer who wants to do that kind of work. Because the studios, honestly, if Scorsese is having a problem getting his films made, and he has to go to netflix. We're all in trouble.

Scott Copper 39:28
So we'll make it his new film.

Alex Ferrari 39:30
Right, exactly. So what do you think about the future of where we're going? Because as a film lover, I'm seeing I'm seeing a problem, the new generation coming up. It's,

Scott Copper 39:41
I mean, Christian and I just spoke about it today. Because the pale blue eyes debut on Netflix, it's been in theaters for the last two weeks. I mean, I'm eternally grateful that Netflix have allowed this film should people want to see it in the big screen experience to debut in the top markets. All over the world, you got two weeks to see it in a theater, if you want to see that. And should you want to wait until it comes to your house, which is what most people will do to your home theater. That's how the majority of people will see my film, then that's how they're gonna see. I am eternally grateful that Netflix, Apple, Amazon are making films that the legacy studios no longer want to make, because those are the films that that the reason I became a filmmaker, and the movies that still excite me, I mean, I've been asked to do major superhero films, or the kind of films that that guarantee an audience have been offered as many times and have as of yet elected not to do them because I want to tell these stories. Stories that make me want to race out to see a film on Friday night. It's getting tougher and tougher. Because if you look at this fall, and some of my pals their films, that debuted in cinemas just no one came to see them. And these are excellent films, and made them with the highest craftsmanship in great performances. And it's a bit terrifying, and we're heading into potentially strike here. we potentially could be facing the facing, you know, economic headwinds. So all of these things make it more difficult for people to get their films made. Certainly more difficult than than it does for Scorsese. Or, or, or your those Landmaster, myself, whoever are making, you know, challenging adult dramas. But still, it's never easy. And I fear that people until we're really beyond COVID, which we certainly are not. I think an older audience won't come back. And I think ticket price is probably going to have to come down to entice people to come back to the cinemas. But I can assure you because you look around the world are such great cinema being made. And those are the films that I most respond to, quite frankly, international filmmakers who've inspired me a great deal over the last 1520 years. They're still getting their films made. Their their home, countries sometimes help subsidize them, which we don't quite have here. It is getting tougher, but then every year movies come out you think okay, great. This is why we love cinema. It's just just getting harder and harder. Alex and James Rockwell any filmmaker, you should make the film you're about to make is though it's your last.

Alex Ferrari 42:58
Yeah, and it's good. You know, a lot of times, well, first of all, I think what you said about foreign films, we're getting access to them so much easier now because of streaming services. They're just coming in, and something like parasite winning the Oscar and things like that, that would have never happened. No, 1020 years ago, we just wouldn't have happened. So that's a good, those are good signs. But the younger generation of filmmakers coming up because I teach these filmmakers I they listen to me all the time. And, and they watch the show. And it's I see them at festivals, and I see them at events and I talk to them and it's just it's so much harder now to get stuff off the ground than it was before and especially to tell the kind of challenging stories that you're telling. And I mean, any of Kubrick's films, any of them tried to release them today. Oh, any Kubrick film today release it. It's not it's not even possible. You can you imagine the Clockwork Orange, I watched the other day, just the first. The first 20 minutes of that. I'm like, you can't release that today. It's just not in today's environment. You can't release a film like that. Or a taxi driver?

Scott Copper 44:10
No. Are you kidding? Are students dispirited from from following their passions? Or do they you know, it's gonna be a tougher road to hoe?

Alex Ferrari 44:21
Well, this is the thing, man, I think that filmmakers, the younger film generation coming up, are still stuck. A lot of times in the glory days, which in many ways for our generation was the 90s, which was the independent film movement, the Sundance movement where and I've spoken to a lot of these filmmakers, you know, the Ed Burns and the Robert Rodriguez and the Tarantino is these guys that there were legendary stories of what happened in the 90s. And they're stuck into that world that like think that that's the path and I keep yelling from the top of the mountain. This is not the way anymore but you can't. I talked to Ed burns about Brothers McMullen. That movie wouldn't make it De Klerk wouldn't make it today. El Mariachi wouldn't make it today. Slacker wouldn't make it today. It's there and they think that that's the path. So then I have to kind of break that illusion a bit. And then they go, Well, what do I do? And I go you that the game is so different now. And it's so much easier to make a film. But it's so much harder to get it seen. Because when we were coming up, it was impossible to make a film cos you needed 35 You need 16 If you were lucky, and then you had to really understand technology, you really need to understand lighting now anyone can make it I had Shaun Baker on a few a couple times on my show it what did he did with tangerine with the iPhone and and cameras are so cheap and things look so good

Scott Copper 45:45
Sean's doing it the right way.

Alex Ferrari 45:47
No, Sean is amazing. And he's, you know, Red Rocket, I love red rocket. I saw I saw that in the theater shot that 16 It was great. But that but that it's I think people are starting to get disheartened a bit. And I think what we're our generation looked into the 90s, let's say for for hope. And and of course, obviously the 70s and the 80s. And the 60s and the great filmmakers and the legends. We were we kind of like if you remember when that when everybody wanted to grow up to be a rock star, right. Then, in the 90s, everybody wanted to grow up to be a director, because Quinton made it so cool. And Robert made it so cool. And it was just like everybody. Yeah, so Soderbergh everybody was so cool to be a director. Now, the younger generation didn't, they want to be content creators. They want to be YouTubers to tell their stories, and they're able to monetize they're much faster than they could with film. And then don't get me started about film distribution, which is a whole other world that I've deep into as far independent film distribution. So it's such a difficult, it's so hard, man, at certain levels. Yeah, you're gonna get the rank Googlers that come out of film school and, and make some great films and your film like crazy are these but these are anomalies. I mean, your story is an anomaly, right? So I don't know, I don't know where this conversation is going. But I just love to hear your thoughts on where you think from your point of view.

Scott Copper 47:09
Well, now you might want to crawl up in the fetal position. Jesus, Alan Toro, who write my film antlers, and yes, it was a great pal of mine said, he said, Look, you know, if COVID remind us of anything, we know that we need food. We need shelter. We need medicines, and we need stories. And we will always need films, we will always always need long form television. Whether it's content, as you mentioned, on YouTube, whether it's short films, people need stories we always have ever since when we go back to caveman, right, the corpse of corpse, in cave art in caves in France and elsewhere. So that I'm not concerned about what I am concerned about are the economic headwinds. The difficulty to entry for the marketplace? The marketplace and distribution. And my hope is that that I don't know that we're on the tail end of COVID. Hopefully, still have it now. And it's as bad as ever as intense as ever. Hopefully, once people come back, the older audience come back to cinemas, perhaps it will get easier. But I don't know that film going is the first choice for 18 to 34 year olds. I have kids, they love going to the cinema. They try to go as often as possible. But it's also because I'm a film director, I love to go to the movies. But they're also on Tik Tok all the time. And they're on Instagram and they're on YouTube. owns YouTube. Yeah. So it's it's there are many things that are challenging our time for movies. Because it's expensive and time consuming to get to the to the cinema. I hope that changes. I hope that that will shake out with COVID and the Lego studios now realize that making films, like the films that I make are more important, but it's really all about economics always has been,

Alex Ferrari 49:25
But you know, it has but I think that the studios are now run by corporations and by boards of directors. Oh, but before they were run by filmmakers, you know, you know, I mean, arguably Iger, Bob Iger is probably the only guy who understands it. Look what he's done with Disney for God's sakes. He got his back and think he's back. He understood he understands storytelling understands filmmaking. But I remember growing up I worked at a video store and we would have movies like What About Bob? You know, and these smaller films in Virginia. Right, exactly. So the smaller films with big stars Nice budgets, you know, 10 million 15 million, that there was a shot that do 10 Of those, and one would pop, and the other ones would do, okay, and then maybe two or three would bomb, but they will all work together. And there was more content, more ideas, more things. And that's why we're going back to those times to mind those ideas, because everyone's terrified of doing that kind of stuff right now, where Netflix, and Amazon and Apple aren't scared to do that, because their business model is different. That's right.

Scott Copper 50:28
And I suspect that there are a lot of different streaming platforms, which are expensive for people to have six or eight of them. I imagine that there will be fewer going forward. And but those will still be providing great content. And that's, of course, Netflix and Apple and Amazon Disney plus who are well capitalized. But then I think you'll probably also see some consolidation. And the less buyers the worse off for all of us.

Alex Ferrari 51:03
Agreed my friend agreed that's without question

Scott Copper 51:06
Companies like Sony Pictures, classics, and my good friends at Fox Searchlight who backs Yeah, a couple of my films, and they and they really are run by filmmakers. Films, year in and year out. They're great supporters of film

Alex Ferrari 51:24
A24 A24.

Scott Copper 51:26
And, and and now and of course, Netflix, Netflix as a whole division that will allow you to make Romo or Bardot or power of the dog or the pale blue eye or on and on and on. And hopefully we can continue to make that because there's so many young filmmakers who are listening to this podcast or your podcast in general, who have stories to tell and should be absolutely, there's no problem. And if you can, if you have that burning desire that says this is the only thing I can do with my life, which is ultimately what I said, then you'll find a way to succeed and tell your story.

Alex Ferrari 52:01
Amen, brother, I think that's that's the key is it's not and maybe you should, maybe you can back me up on this. It's always not about the talent. But perseverance, because there's a lot of people who are around. They're like, man, they're not the best, but they just stuck it out.

Scott Copper 52:18
They just survived. Oh, yeah, we all know examples of that for sure. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 52:24
And that's something they don't teach you in film school. It's like, I don't look, Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson, Michael Jordan got cut from his high school team talent wasn't enough talent wasn't he had to go and hustle and work and build it up and keep going. And, and that's something that I try to I try to yell at from the top of the mountain here as well.

Scott Copper 52:41
Hey, if you had my pal, Adam Sandler on to talk about hustle,

Alex Ferrari 52:45
Please, I would love to have Adam on the show. Please call them up and let them know because I love the show. He should be on. I don't know why he didn't come on hustle. I love by the way, love that movie, love.

Scott Copper 52:56
He's a great, great man. And he's great in the film. And

Alex Ferrari 52:59
If he's if you want to talk about Adam, and people always ask, like, how come Adam keeps getting all these this deal on Netflix? And I always say like, the reason why is because when you're on Friday night with your wife sitting on Netflix, and you're scanning all those thumbnails and you see Adams face. You go, I know what I'm gonna get. And I'm gonna get some livers, man, and he's going to be super funny. Or when he gets into this drop dramatic stuff, which is so underrated. It's dramatic acting great. He and he just he gets it and he understands his brand. He understands what he's doing. And man, he unlike any other actor, I really, he's he's done such amazing stuff over the years. Whether you like yeah, whatever you like. I don't care if people like his films or not everyone has their opinions on stuff. But you can't deny what the man has done. And continue to do it keeps knocking it out of the park. I love to hustle. I love to hustle. So good. I love the guy. So let's talk about the pale blue I you know with Netflix, I you know, it looks beautiful dude. It's stunning. It is stunningly shot. It almost reminded it almost has a Sleepy Hollow vibe to it as far as it gets. Yeah, that's right, that that has that kind of texture? Well, for sure. It's It's stunning, man. So tell me how that that whole thing came to be and and how you were able I mean, I'm assuming you gave the script to Christian Christian said yes. And then Netflix.

Scott Copper 54:31
Yeah, he read it probably a lot. I don't know 10 or 12 years ago after we get out of the furnace. That he was too young to play Augustus landour The world where he detected with too old to play. Edgar Allan Poe, but we'd always talked about it. I mean, I've written a lot of things that I think he and I will make at some point. It's all about as we discussed early on in the podcast, all about timing availability, what we feel like making but we both We're interested in what drives someone to madness, how much pressure has to build before they explode. And violence is what causes morality and decency to erode and otherwise decent people. Right? real horrors seldom have easy explanations. And that's what we wanted to explore with the story. In terms of the aesthetic. It was a it was a brutal shoot is all my wife thinks I'm a masochist. But like I said, it was incredibly cold was bracing winds coming from the northeast, or just almost revenant style. Yeah, it was it was tough. But that was all in serving kind of this Gothic aesthetic, and, and really trying to serve as a, an Edgar Allan Poe origin story, that the two hours that take place in this film, motivate Poe to become the writer that we know and love, the writer of the McCobb, the man who bequeathed to us detective and horror fiction, the man who writes about tragedy and death and the Satanic and the occult, and where life ends and death begins, all those sorts of things that kind of course, through this narrative. And I thought that again, in trying not to do Safe Work. Christian stood on that ledge with me. And then we both took the took the leap, and we're, yeah, so once I attached Christian, my agency, creative artists took the screenplay out and, and we got a lot of bids from Legacy studios, a lot of bids from streamers. But Netflix made us an offer that we thought was too good to pass up in terms of having both a theatrical experience and streaming my first platform experience. And also, quite frankly, there there have the ranks are filled with great filmmakers who really understood the film and allowed me to make the film that you see. I hoped that people find it, you know, starting today on the on the streamer and, and allow people coming behind me to make films that are similarly difficult to make in this marketplace.

Alex Ferrari 57:21
And you've worked with Christian so many times now. I mean, you guys are you're the Scorsese to his dinero at this point, or to his DiCaprio, at this point. Christian is one of the greatest actors of his generation. There's no no question one of the greatest actors of his generation, and his physical transformations that he's done over the course of his life, which I know it's harmed his health.

Scott Copper 57:43
Oh, it has to harm himself. And

Alex Ferrari 57:46
There's nobody who's ever done anything at that again, and again, and again. And again, from the machine is to Batman. You're like, what, how? Tao? How? It's really remarkable. What is the what is the biggest lesson you've learned working with an actor like him?

Scott Copper 58:05
No detail is too small. And always striving for the truth. always striving for excellence, and realizing that we can always do better. And you need people like that to make you a better filmmaker. spoken about it publicly, Christian is my closest pal, my closest collaborator, is a brother to me. And and I'm thankful that as a director, I've had someone who has served as a muse for, for the stories that I want to tell, and people continue to come out and see our work, it won't be the end of it, our collaboration for sure. But he pushes me to be the best filmmaker I can be. And and quite frankly, I admired him more off the set than I do on music is incredibly devoted father and husband and you'll never see Christian in the public eye. You never see him on talk shows. Because he always thinks the less the public knows about him, the more easily they will believe Him as Batman, or Dick Cheney, or Augustus landour and the pale blue where he pumps his gas who he's partying with, where he went through holiday. Never see it.

Alex Ferrari 59:16
Yeah, it's almost a Daniel Day Lewis vibe to because when Daniel, he just wouldn't you don't? Nothing. You didn't do nothing about it. He just show up. 310 years later, I'll do a part now.

Scott Copper 59:27
And that way, you're able to be transported with the filmmakers to a world never even question. Hold on. Is he dating?

Alex Ferrari 59:36
You're right. You're right. He's brilliant. He's brilliant on multiple levels without question, and I have I continue to write for him. Now I have a few questions. Ask all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker or screenwriter trying to break into the business today?

Scott Copper 59:49
Tell personal stories, tell personal stories that you know will connect in a very universal way to people in America. Are people in Iran, people in Afghanistan, people in Ukraine, all people need stories tell make personal films?

Alex Ferrari 1:00:08
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Scott Copper 1:00:14
It's difficult but patience, and to believe in yourself into Believe in your stories and to believe that you will ultimately cultivate your talent in such a way that it will be undeniable that people will want to work with you. But it all takes patience and experience.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:32
And the toughest question of all three of your favorite films of all time.

Scott Copper 1:00:38
I would say even though I have yet to make a documentary, I love them. I would say Barbara couples, Harlan County, USA. That's a great movie. One thing that really has influenced me the Maysles brothers salesman. It's another I would say John Pierre Melville's, Last Samurai.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:06
Nice. Very nice, very nice list. My friend, Scott brother, I appreciate you coming on the show and and sharing all your knowledge and experience with the audience, man and please continue to make movies man.

Scott Copper 1:01:15
Great questions, man. Keep it up and please people. In all seriousness, don't lose faith. We got to tell stories.

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BPS 347: Oscars®, Zombies, James Bond And Tom Hanks With Marc Forster

Marc Forster is a German-born filmmaker and screenwriter. He is best known for directing the films Monster’s Ball (2001), Finding Neverland (2004), Stay (2005), Stranger than Fiction (2006), The Kite Runner (2007), Quantum of Solace (2008), and World War Z (2013).

His breakthrough film was Monster’s Ball (2001), in which he directed Halle Berry in her Academy Award-winning performance; the film also starred Billy Bob Thornton, Heath Ledger, and Peter Boyle. His next film, Finding Neverland (2004), was based on the life of author J.M. Barrie. The film was nominated for five Golden Globe Awards and seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Johnny Depp.

Forster also directed the twenty-second James Bond film, Quantum of Solace. In 2013 he directed the film adaptation of the novel World War Z, starring Brad Pitt.

His latest film is the remarkable A Man Called Otto.

Based on the # 1 New York Times bestseller “A Man Called Ove,” A Man Called Otto tells the story of Otto Anderson (Tom Hanks), a grump who no longer sees purpose in his life following the loss of his wife. Otto is ready to end it all, but his plans are interrupted when a lively young family moves in next door, and he meets his match in quick-witted Marisol.

She challenges him to see life differently, leading to an unlikely friendship that turns his world around. A heartwarming and funny story about love, loss, and life, A Man Called Otto shows that family can sometimes be found in the most unexpected places.

A Man Called Otto stars Tom Hanks (Philadelphia, Forrest Gump, Cast Away), Mariana Treviño (Club the Cuervos), Rachel Keller (Fargo) and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo (The Magnificent Seven).

The screenplay is written by Academy Award® nominee David Magee (Best Adapted Screenplay, Life of Pi, 2012; Best Adapted Screenplay, Finding Neverland, 2004) based upon the best-selling novel “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman, and the film A Man Called Ove by Hannes Holm.

The film is being produced by Fredrik Wikström Nicastro, Rita Wilson, Tom Hanks, and Gary Goetzman.

Enjoy my conversation with Marc Forster.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Marc Forster 0:00
I feel once you connect with an actor to make them feel comfortable and understand the visions you have, that's the key thing.

Alex Ferrari 0:08
This episode is brought to you by the Best Selling Book Rise of the Filmtrepreneur how to turn your independent film into a money making business. Learn more at filmbizbook.com. I'd like to welcome to the show Marc Forster. How you doing Marc?

Marc Forster 0:22
I'm good thank you and you Alex?

Alex Ferrari 0:24
I'm very good, my friend. So my first question we're going to jump right into it is, how did you get started in the business?

Marc Forster 0:31
You know, I grew up in Switzerland, in the mountains in Davos, and you know, surrounded by just nature and not much the parents in a TV. And I always had to play outside to entertain myself versus being entertained. And, and that's sort of inspired me to become a storyteller. The first time I saw a movie in a theater. So that's what I want to do.

Alex Ferrari 0:52
Now, how did you get involved with Monster's Ball because that was a such an impactful and crazy movie.

Marc Forster 1:00
You know, I made a movie called everything put together. And that premiered at Sundance. And the writers saw that movie and time producer, so they all saw it. And they said I would be right for it. And they were trying to get the movie made for like eight years. And the first first couldn't get made. And it was you know, originally Sean Penn directing was Robert De Niro, Sean Penn and Marlon Brando. And it was too expensive. And the first thing they asked me, look, we've been waiting to get this chance for all this time, we would make the movie with you. But can I make it for $3 million. And I made the Sundance movie for 50,000. I said $3 million. I couldn't do that. So that's how I started.

Alex Ferrari 1:40
So when you're when you were directing Haley and Billy Bob in that film, like, Did you just see what was going on with Haley's performance at that point, like, because she was amazing.

Marc Forster 1:51
You know, I didn't predict that she would win an Oscar at the time of shooting, but I definitely saw it when I saw performances, she was extremely powerful, extremely raw and vulnerable. And, and that's what we discussed, and we wanted to go for and that it felt real. And, you know, because how they, you know, is such a, you know, glamorous and beautiful human to really make it believable, the part I felt she worked extra hard.

Alex Ferrari 2:18
How did what advice do you have for directors who want to pull those kinds of raw and, you know, to those kinds of emotions out of an actor, what did you do to make her feel comfortable enough to be that vulnerable on screen.

Marc Forster 2:32
And, you know, ultimately, you you, you know, you discuss the part in depth in your vision and depths, and you communicate your vision. And I feel once you connect with an actor to make them feel comfortable and understand the visions you have, that's the key thing. I mean, for the most vulnerable scene between the intimate scene between Billy Bob and her, you know, there was a closed set, of course, and, and closed everything that they felt totally protected and safe.

Alex Ferrari 3:01
No, now you you made the jump from indie to slightly larger budgets, just slightly, from, from Monsters Ball to the James Bond, how did you handle psychologically the jump from 50,000 to 3 million to a couple 100 million?

Marc Forster 3:17
I mean, that there were a couple of movies between Yes, there was. So so, you know, I had like, I think finance they like for four or five movies in between. So I did the budgets increasingly much bigger. And you know, the one Catona was the one before the Bond movie, but still, it was only like the $25 million range. And it's, it's like, same thing if you have like a, you know, a small sort of boutique shop, or a boutique, you know, custom made shoe to store and then suddenly become CEO of Macy's or something. And, and it's a different thing, you suddenly have so many more people so many more questions. You're shooting seven, seven countries, seven countries all over the world, you know, this $20 million budget and, and history of a franchise that one of the most or the most successful franchise in history, and you suddenly it's suddenly when you start reflecting our thinking, I hope I am not gonna, you know, this is not an awkward guy that that ship is not gonna sink because otherwise my career is over.

Alex Ferrari 4:25
Right, exactly. So what does that feel like being on the set for the first day of shooting Quantum of Solace, and you just sit there like, okay, there's a million people running around trying to get this thing going, how did that feel being on the set on a Bond film such a legendary franchise?

Marc Forster 4:41
You know, to begin with, we started on purpose, the movie very intimate, was not some of the big big action sequences and big sets, so that it felt very familiar to me. I knew the territory. I knew how to do those, those scenes and and from that we started growing, but you know it what feels Like before, you're always under the radar, nobody really cares. And then suddenly a Bond movie and suddenly you have the world press attention on you. And that that is actually the biggest pressure and that I didn't know. So you don't you don't study don't think about that, that suddenly, everyone, and everyone will write about you. And before that nobody will hear.

Alex Ferrari 5:23
How did you deal with that psychologically? And how did that affect if it affected at all your creativity, or your process?

Marc Forster 5:28
I mean, the the process of movie was a tricky one, because there was a writer strike going on, at that time in 2008. So we had a sort of unfinished script, and then the strike was October to February. So it was very tricky. It was often just me, Craig and me in the trade are trying to figure out what we're going to do next. So so that was the even more pressure, I think, if it would have been a completed script that everybody said, this is fantastic. Let's just go and shoot it, it definitely deflates some of the pressure. But if you have something that's not completed, and you're suddenly stuck in that position, and you have a release date, in place, only five weeks to cut the movie. It's, it's kind of intense.

Alex Ferrari 6:09
Now in I mean, obviously, you also worked on World War Z, which is another small, independent budget. How did you deal with the stress of heading up such big productions? I mean, as a director, there's just so many people in so many departments, and you still trying to be creative and still be intimate with your actors? How do you handle that stress?

Marc Forster 6:29
Um, you know, I'm like, it's interesting. I like it was the it's for the mob Israel sequence when the zombies came over the wall. Yeah. Remember that sequence? Of course. So when I drove in the morning, I had a driver drive me to set in multiway, shelter and alter, and we came to set and we pulled up. And he looked at 2000 extras and helicopters in the air and buses and vans going on Friday night, but a driver literally had an anxiety attack, just looking at it.

Alex Ferrari 7:01
Not helpful.

Marc Forster 7:03
And I was like, whoa, what, what are you doing today? So you just go out and you just have to focus and you can't, you have to plan out all the chatter. Yeah. And I think that's one of the key things for directing in general. You know, you have so many voices always in general, from the financier, studio, actors, producers, whatever they do, we stick to your vision, you when you hear chatter, it takes some some stuff you like, but ultimately, you have to stick to your vision. And I think it's part of the art in that to be able to stay calm and blend it out.

Alex Ferrari 7:35
Now, as directors, you know, there's always that day that you feel like the entire world's coming crashing down around you. I'm assuming you have that every day. But um, there's more than there's that one day on any production, that you don't know how you're gonna get through. So what was that day on any of your productions? And how did you overcome it?

Marc Forster 7:51
I think, you know, I would say when we're shooting in western China, the Katonah our line producer forgot two hours before digital it was still wishes to do film. And Atlantis forgot to order film. So so we sort and left you know, short ends. So basically, where we're shooting these scenes, there was a six minute dialogue scene and only have like two minutes of film. So I couldn't tell the actor you can only piecemeal this and she was doing as a piece of so the actors like actors are playing six minutes of roles and acting the harder but only two minutes of filming it. So at the end, I knew there was no film and then I peed I basically next time I'd just shoot the middle and then the end. But sometimes the actress didn't ascend Why do you do so many takes and the second we got it then it was so great. And and but they weren't aware that was super stressful is thinking of these great performances, but you don't have to go on film. And just telling them oh, you know, we don't have a film in the camera right now. Which is like out wasn't, wasn't the right thing to do.

Alex Ferrari 8:56
Now on your new film, a man called Otto which by the way I saw and absolutely loved this such a beautiful film. And Tom Hanks is this newcomer Tom Hanks is fantastic. By the way,

Marc Forster 9:07
A real discovery.

Alex Ferrari 9:09
A real discovery without question. How did you get involved with this project? And also like, it seems like you're going back to your roots a little bit. It's a very intimate film, very small in scope comparatively to the other big things you've done over the over your career.

Marc Forster 9:24
Yeah, you know, I wrote the book, and I was so touched and moved. And I laughed, and I cried, and then I saw that was a Swedish version of the film, which I saw was good, too. So this movie, we have to become a very conversion out of this because it's so you know, it's so funny, but it's also so touching and dark. And it's like both but ultimately, it's a life affirming film. And what I loved about it brings the neighborhood back together. I think we are also divided these days. And I think that still at the end this is you know this I always feel like it's one country where we all need to work together. And even though we have different point of views, and there are so many different characters on that street, which is so sweet, and I like the new neighbor, the Mexican family that moves in across the street, who she comes over and tries to use English food. And I think food is one of those great things that we can literally all share, which, which definitely wants was someone's heart, but she's so persistent, that neighbor that her name is Mariana Trevino, marriage plays Mosel that autos character, who Tom Hanks plays, just that ultimately can't keep us opens up. He can't, he can't take it anymore.

Alex Ferrari 10:40
Do you? Do you still get nervous when you're directing people like Tom Hanks, like, on the first day on set? You're like, Tom Hanks is here.

Marc Forster 10:49
I mean, no key is I love that. And I think he's one of the greatest stars ever. He's definitely, you know, greatest town that we work with. I mean, it's so extraordinary. You know, after 40 years, he still loves what he does, and, and is a big movie star. And he comes in the morning and he sits on set and he never leaves. He's like, in like a meditation. And, you know, usually stars of that caliber, you take to take that out to trainer, he never he stays there all day long as a crew, he just sits there with the crew, and then you realize, change, life doesn't leave. And it's just this concentration and this sort of just being there. It's pretty, pretty special.

Alex Ferrari 11:29
How do you approach the different? How do you approach different acting styles? And you're directing? Because, you know, Tom Hanks is very different than a Halle Berry. That is different than a Brad Pitt? Like how do you adjust multiple characters in the same scene?

Marc Forster 11:43
Yeah, it's basically you, you have to, like find a way to get to connect and see what what the actor needs or not, and how open they are, and how willing you know, some of you know how, how willing they are to collaborate. And I was pretty lucky throughout my career that I always worked with actors who were very open. And we had, I never had, like, you know, the sort of nightmare situation, and that they were very focused and prepared and, and on time, so I never dealt with, with with the, with the Divas of the show business, which I'm, I'm very, very blessed. But at the same time, you just see what what they need, and really try to feel them out. Because sometimes it's better to say nothing than too much said, because sometimes the actor needs that space, and they find it and you as a director, maybe just have to say maybe we can just try a different prop, you know, try this or that it's less than giving you a demo direction is let's try something a different direction. So so that's, you know, how it how it really from person to person difference?

Alex Ferrari 12:47
And how did you balance the darkness of the story with the humor, because you did it so masterfully because you? I mean, you definitely touch upon very, very dark themes in this in this movie, but yet you're laughing and crying and dealing with those things. It's a very fine balancing act you did.

Marc Forster 13:05
Yeah, it's it's a lot of it is in editing because you know, we obviously shot a little bit more here and there. But it's it's finding this balance also, between the flashbacks and present day that you go, you don't stay too much in the flashbacks to come back that emotion. So stay connected with Tom and in the present day. And also in the, in the flashbacks. Ultimately, they just give enough information that creates sort of a mystery and enough for you to wanting to keep watching. And it's juxtaposing sometimes the dark was the humor strangely direct, you know, when places the hinge breaks, and he's on the floor, and he lands right next to the paper wisdom was the you know, yes to $5. And then he says, Let me get that takes you right back into the human.

Alex Ferrari 13:51
Right. It's just like, like, what is he's just did that. And he's like, no, like, it's a good, good. So the deal I gotta keep so beautiful. Now, I'm gonna ask you a few questions, ask all my guests Marc, what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Marc Forster 14:08
I mean, ultimately, I think that, you know, today, you know, you can make your film on your phone. Basically, what it really comes down to is a great story. And I think also, when you find your story, the more personal connection you have with that, the better. It's either, you know, if you don't have the funds, I would recommend to do a short and then have the feature script ready. So you shoot the short and then say, look, there's my short and this feature is going to be and that's how you know how to raise money and, and figure it out and get actors and people that would love the short that's that's take our bet on this guy, or to make a feature for if you can raise the money. But no matter what it all comes down to the script, that the script is really strong and be free. I think it's important to keep it to other people to read the script to have them have a look, get feedback and just keep working. on that, but I think the stronger the script is better. And another thing is, once you make a movie, and you have a movie that works, let's say at Sundance or any of the festivals and someone buys it, that you have a second script ready, because you don't want to too much time say, Oh, I have nothing, I have to write another script or find something for next year or two, to get that going. But at that time, we live in such a fast society that that might have been too late. So I think to have a second project ready is important as well.

Alex Ferrari 15:29
Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Marc Forster 15:37
I think, you know, patience is definitely something you always have to learn, like, even sitting in traffic and staying home. You know, it's like impatience with these people was, you know, as your kids was everything it's like, just to be patient. I think it's really a hard one.

Alex Ferrari 15:56
Um, what did you learn from one of your greatest failures?

Marc Forster 16:01
Yeah, you know, they always say Silicon Valley is built on failures. And seeing failures are truly key for an artist for anyone, because you learn from them. For instance, after Finding Neverland, I made a film called stay. That wasn't Ryan, Ryan Gosling only walks great task where you McGregor great cars. And, and it the critics didn't love it, the artisan love it as part of a little bit of a following throughout the years. But when ultimately, when I made that movie, I think, why doesn't this print that movie work? And then I and out of that movie came straight from fiction, which also is sort of absurd and comedic. But then we worked and I was able to make that sort of absurdness that movie emotional. And it wasn't able to do that in state, even though visually is cool and compelling. But it ultimately didn't connect with people emotionally. And, and strain. Friction that so.

Alex Ferrari 17:05
So then, in the hardest question of all three of your favorite films of all time?

Marc Forster 17:10
Three of my favorite films. Well, I mean, it's a tricky one. You know, like, I love a lot of the dead directors. You know, I love I think in my Birdman, Swedish director, I would say like wild strawberries of his own, we really enjoy it. I, you know, I mean, there's three. There's a tough one,

Alex Ferrari 17:33
Three today. I know it changes tomorrow. So it will be on your tombstone. Don't worry.

Marc Forster 17:38
That, you know, I like you know, I always loved the Marx Brothers duck soup.

Alex Ferrari 17:46
It's so good. It's still, it still holds today.

Marc Forster 17:50
Yes. And I think Howard harps bringing a baby. It's one of my favorites. Because I just love how fast that dialogue goes, and how she performs that. And that's also one of my favorite films.

Alex Ferrari 18:04
And where can people watch A Man Called Otto.

Marc Forster 18:08
Hopefully, they all will watch it in the theaters. Because it's a movie that really, you should experience in a theater. And it's one of those movies, you know, people seem to come and come out for it. And it's something you want to expense together. You laugh and you cry. And you don't want that alone alone at home for TV. So right now, it's still theaters for next couple of weeks. So please go and support it.

Alex Ferrari 18:29
And very last question. I'd love to hear your opinion on this. Yeah, as a filmmaker, we grew up as filmmakers, we grew up loving movies at the theater. But that seems to be it becoming more and more of an endangered species unless there's certain kinds of films. What do you what are your What are your hopes for the future, my friend because it's tougher and tougher to get people at the theater nowadays.

Marc Forster 18:51
You know, Man Called Otto was the kind of movie Hollywood used to make. Yeah. And they don't make very much anymore. And I ran into a few people answered, really, they said, we have hope again, because the main hook auto seems like people came out to see it. And we didn't think those kinds of movies would stop in a theater. And I'm so glad they came and supported the movie. And I hope you know that people keep coming out for movies like that, because that will keep those movies alive because the financier is obviously in the studio's will not pay for a movie when no one shows up. And they very quickly have the algorithms you know that so many people don't. The decisions today are not being made anymore by the gods by like the old studio heads or people it's mostly made by algorithms and marketing. So can I market a movie with who is more can we sell it? They run these numbers and that's that's how it gets done mostly.

Alex Ferrari 19:45
Marc it's a pleasure talking to you my friend. Please keep up the fight the good fight, my friend, keep making the films you're making. I really appreciate it.

Marc Forster 19:52
Thank you so much, Alex. Have a good day! Take care!

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