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The Craft of Screenwriting Tentpole Films with Boaz Yakin
We have for you on the show today screenwriter and director, Boaz Yakin, The writer behind The Punisher, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights, The Rookie, & Safe and directing, The Fresh, Remember the Titans and the comedy-drama, Uptown Girl among others.
Growing up in a talented theatrical family, it was only natural for Yakin to pursue a life in film or some sort of performing arts. His dad, who was a teacher at Juilliard and a theater director enrolled Boaz into the famous Stell Adler script analysis class when he was only 17 years old. Thereafter, he tried out film school at US City college, later transferred to NYU, before quitting school after his first script was auctioned and got him in the door at 19 years old.
At age 22, Yakin wrote his first produced film, Marvel’s The Punisher. When Frank Castle’s family is murdered by criminals, he wages war on crime as a vigilante assassin known only as The Punisher.
In 1990, Yakin co-wrote one of the action films of the times, The Rookie, starring star boy Charlie Sheen, and Clint Eastwood who also directed the film.
But his big hit came right after, FRESH, Yakin’s directorial debut is an emotional coming of age story, that offers a realistic glimpse of the dangerous life in New York City’s projects during the crack epidemic.
Michael, nicknamed Fresh, a 12-year-old kid running drugs for gangsters, notably Esteban, inspired by the chess lessons of his father, an alcoholic speed-chess master played by Samuel L. Jackson. Fresh devises and executes a brilliant plan to extricate himself and his drug-addicted sister from their hopeless lives.
Next up for Boaz was directing the box-office smash REMEMBER THE TITANS.
Academy Award® winner Denzel Washington shines in REMEMBER THE TITANS. Based on real events, this remarkable story celebrates how a town torn apart by friction and mistrust comes together in triumphant harmony. After leading his team to fifteen winning seasons, beloved football coach Bill Yoast (Will Patton) is demoted and replaced by tough, opinionated Herman Boone (Washington).
How these two men overcome their differences and turn a group of hostile young men into champions is a remarkable portrait of courage and perseverance. You and your family will never forget the Titans!
His blockbuster smash, Now You See Me featured big industry names like Morgan Freeman, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Michael Caine, etc. The $75 million budget film grossed $351.7 dollars.
The plot follows an FBI agent and an Interpol detective who track and attempt to bring to justice a team of magicians who pull off bank heists and robberies during their performances and reward their audiences with the money.
Boaz continued his blockbuster ways by working on the $200 million tentpole film Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, starring Jake Gyllenhaal.
A young fugitive Prince and Princess must stop a villain who unknowingly threatens to destroy the world with a special dagger that enables the magic sand inside to reverse time.
Boaz and I chatted about his creative process, the business side and political side of screenwriting and directing in Hollywood during this conversation. He was extremely raw and honest about what it really is like working inside the Hollywood machine.
Enjoy this conversation with Boaz Yakin.
Learn screenwriting from legendary screenwriter James V. Hart (Hook, Contact, Bram Stroker’s Dracula)
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- Boaz Yakin – Official Site
- Boaz Yakin – IMDB
- Boaz Yakin – Instagram
- Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time
- Bulletproof Screenplay Script Coverage Service – Get Your Screenplay Covered by Industry Pros
- The Foundations of Screenwriting: Writing for Television & Netflix
- BPS Presents: Writing for Emotional Impact (FREE AUDIOBOOK)
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- Indie Film Hustle TV (On-Demand Real-World Screenwriting Education)
- Storytelling Blueprint: Hero’s Two Journeys
- The Dialogue Series: 38 hours of Lessons from Top Hollywood Screenwriters
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Alex Ferrari 2:15
Now guys Today on the show we have Writer Director, Boaz Yakin. Now Boaz has been a successful screenwriter and director in Hollywood since the early 90s. He wrote a couple of my favorite late 80s early 90s films The Punisher starring doff longeron and the rookie starring Charlie Sheen and Clint Eastwood. He made his directorial debut with his first film fresh which you wrote and directed, and went on to direct Remember the Titans and writing scripts like uptown girls Dirty Dancing Havana nights, the Prince of Persia, the sands of time, the blockbuster smash, now you see me and directing films like safe with Jason Stapleton and the family film, Max. And that's just to name a few. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Boaz and just going into the weeds in regards to his creative process, the business side and politics side of screenwriting and directing in Hollywood. And to be honest, he was extremely forthcoming, raw and honest about what it really is like working and building a very stellar career in Hollywood. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with Boaz Yakin. I like to welcome the show Boaz Yakin.
And how you doing, buddy?
Boaz Yakin 3:43
I'm great. Thank you for having me, Alex.
Alex Ferrari 3:45
Oh, man, thank you so much for being on the show, man. Like I was saying, before we got started. I'm a fan. I've been a fan of yours for a while of films, you've written songs you've directed for sure. And it's, you know, it's, I just wanted to have you on the show to talk shop, man.
Boaz Yakin 4:00
Thank you. I'm glad to do it.
Alex Ferrari 4:01
So. So um, so first and foremost, how did you get into the business?
Boaz Yakin 4:07
Wow. Now this is a long time ago. Right? I know.
Alex Ferrari 4:11
You were only 25 bucks. How is that?
Boaz Yakin 4:13
Yeah. I haven't seen that for a long time. I, I was, you know, I grew up in a very with a very theatrical family. So it's kind of a family business. My father's a teacher at Juilliard and a theatre director and I always had that in my life, you know. And, in fact, I was lucky enough that when I was in high school, my dad got me into Stella Adler ad with a great acting teacher Stella Adler's script analysis class when I was 16 0 17. She never let anyone my age. See her classes and that was probably the most important school I ever got. was hearing her break down plays from the social Economic, religious personal perspective. And it really filled me up even as a teenager with an appreciation and a love for writing, even though it was ostensibly an acting class. And I thought I wanted to become an actor and I didn't get into Juilliard. And almost immediately after I went to film school, I went to a US city college because my grades were so bad in high school, I had to go to City College, and then I did get into NYU for a year. And this is a long time ago, this is the 80s. Now, what I think a lot of people don't necessarily understand, who are younger, is it screenwriting and getting into the movies wasn't as popular of a thing back then, as it is now. So for instance, I could get into NYU with grades that were pretty shitty. Today, I would never, ever get into Tisch, like with the grades that I got into Tisch with in the 80s, right. And I, I remember, my some teacher, one of my film teachers gave a course, a few days of how to get into the movie business. And it was all about like, you know, getting into a production company and working in internships and all this kind of stuff. And I have to say, I had a panic attack, because I hate real work. And I kind of attacked him after class. And I was like, Dude, what do you do to be a movie director? I can't listen to all this production companies. And he was nice enough, he said, Let me take you out to lunch. And he took me out to lunch. And he told me that a lot of directors start out as writers it was editors decides that I can do that. Right. So I actually wrote a screenplay on my spare time, when I was a sophomore at NYU. And my dad knew a guy who knew a guy, you know, and I'd sent him the script. And next thing I knew an agent from LA was calling me up saying I want to, I think I can option your script. And he did, he auctioned it. And I optioned it to a producer who had, at the time was already older and had produced some big films like he had produced the exorcist and a couple of things. And I auctioned the script. And I ended up moving to Hollywood, at like, 20- 19 years old actually left school. And I was terrified. But I came out here to work. And I started a career very, very young. I didn't the script never got made that it up. But it got me in the door, took a while for me to get stuff made. But I got in the door, and I started working, that must have been like 1986 or something.
Alex Ferrari 7:34
So the film that you wrote your first produced credit that I saw, which is because during that time 88, 89 I was working with a video store, I was still in high school. So between basically between 87 to 93, I'll go head to head with anybody in general pursuit, as far as film are concerned. So you made a few films, or you written a few films during that time. That was the hidden one of them being you wrote the first Punisher
Boaz Yakin 8:07
Yeah, I did. Was I mean, it was rewritten, rewritten by the producer would have been a lot better if it hadn't been but
Alex Ferrari 8:16
the theme of the show I hear,
Boaz Yakin 8:18
yeah, well, no, sometimes your shit, isn't that good. And someone else makes it better. I mean, that's happened to me once or twice. But but that time, it was just that Yeah, I was very young. I was like, 22. And I pitched them The Punisher idea. No one was making superhero movies at that time. In fact, you know, and, and it got made, it got made
Alex Ferrari 8:41
within a pitch the Punisher, and then then they went, they called up Marvel and said, Hey, can we get the rights to me?
Boaz Yakin 8:47
Yeah. And remember, at the time, Marvel, no one was making Marvel movies they were making like Captain America, and like weird rubbers are so bad. Like, and it was like, did you know so no one was making Marvel movies. Basically, yeah, I pitched the Punisher to this mentor of mine, who was a producer as well as a writer, and took it over to new line or new new world new worlds pictures, not new world pictures. And they went for it. And I wrote it. And what was interesting was that a lot of the time, their concern was it was to comic books. Right? Meaning that like, he had a skull on the shirt and all this stuff. So they changed a bunch of that stuff. And then very shortly afterwards, the Batman film The Tim Burton did, came out. And sort of right, they were around the same exact time or right afterwards. And it sort of changed the game in terms of what people were willing to do and how they were willing to approach it. But yeah, that was my first produced credit.
Alex Ferrari 9:45
So that for people not around at that time, in 1989, which is an amazing year for films. You couldn't walk the street without seeing a bathroom somewhere.
Boaz Yakin 9:57
Yes, that's right. Very big.
Alex Ferrari 10:00
It was everywhere. And it's so funny like punishers alerts and comic books. But because Batman is not comic books at all,
Boaz Yakin 10:11
But they really went for it with that with that version of the film. And that kind of opened things up for people a lot.
Alex Ferrari 10:17
Yeah, and that's, that's something a lot of screenwriters starting out have to understand is when you are, and even when you're more established you once you sell that script, unless you're a producer and or director on it, the powers you kind of let go, it's like you put it out.
Boaz Yakin 10:34
You know, I mean, obviously, I've managed to move into directing, after some years and all that. But one thing that I always, at the time when I was young, and I wrote scripts, I found it very painful to like write something and then have it taken away and completely reworked by somebody else. At this point in my life, when I'm writing a, quote, unquote, studio type film or something like that, I just for It's been years now I just want to do a draft or two, and then please fire me and take it. And like, you basically know that unless two or three other people rewrite your script, it's not going to get made
Alex Ferrari 11:17
Boaz Yakin 11:18
So when you're dealing with more personal films, with independent films, that's a completely separate story. When you're dealing in the studio system, you do a lot better for your health and mental well being understanding that you're part of a factory, that there is zero personal element involved, that you have to just be willing to like do your best as a craftsman and a professional, which doesn't mean you're not doing good work, right? It just means that you're treating it as a craftsman and as a professional, and hope that whatever combination of elements comes together and that they go make it somehow and that you make some money. But as a young person, you have this dream as a writer, whatever, that somehow Your voice is meaningful and that the film is going to reflect with it. Forget about it. So you know that that's definitely a learning experience. I think that screenwriters go through.
Alex Ferrari 12:13
Yeah, cuz everyone can, I'm going to be Storkin or I'm going to be Terrantino no first script out. I'm like,
Boaz Yakin 12:18
Well, but don't forget that Quentin direct his own movies. He's a filmmaker, right? PT Anderson direct his own movies. Wes Anderson direct his own room, right there. If you're going to be a script writer, it's a whole different story. You may be Aaron Sorkin you know, some of it, you know, he was also for the most part, someone who did television. I mean, he did a few features, right. But his his real, his real kind of claim to fame is television. And in television, the writers can, which is very different than feature films. That is a different world when we talk about TV, and now TV is much bigger, right? Like network, like, the writer in the writers room. And the executive producer is a different story in movies, the writer is not in the same position as the writer isn't in television.
Alex Ferrari 13:06
So then after the Punisher, you do another one of my favorite films of that time period, which is the Rookie with ..., it was in my mind,
Boaz Yakin 13:15
it's hard for me to talk about these things, you know what I mean? But like, Okay, why not?
Alex Ferrari 13:21
And the rookie, in my mind, I remember it fondly. I don't I don't want to watch it again. Right now, because I love the memory that I have of it. And then you know, start start a Clint Eastwood and a young, a young Charlie Sheen. So it was it was a warner brothers film, it was it was a studio project.
Boaz Yakin 13:39
Yeah. And look, I have to say I'm grateful, immensely grateful for it in the sense that like, first of all, it was I was 23 years old. It was a lot of money. And not just that, Clint was incredibly generous with me. And allowed me to watch him direct the whole film. I was there behind this, that the monitor the whole time and never spoke. But I got to watch his process. I got to see the way he ran a set, I got to understand the way he set up shots and constructed sequences. And it was an incredible film school. For me, it was probably the greatest film school I've ever had was just to sit behind Clint and watch him direct the whole film. And, you know, there's not a lot of actually, as I've learned, there's not a lot of filmmakers that would even allow a writer on set for more than two minutes, or two days, you know, and the fact that as long as I shut up, he let me sit there and just watch every day was was really something and when I directed my first film, so many of the lessons that I learned from from Clint Eastwood were there. So I'm forever grateful for it.
Alex Ferrari 14:52
And it's so funny because I was talking on the show to John Lee Hancock, who also did a movie with plant called a perfect world and he did yeah. The exact same thing he did with John Lee was just like, now I'm hearing it. And I'm hearing these stories as I'm talking to people who have worked with him. He does that for writers. And he didn't leave you and young people, just writers who were directors yet.
Boaz Yakin 15:15
Yeah. And he's he's very generous and very giving. And the thing that was really interesting about watching him direct. One of the things that's amazing, and really was something I learned from, aside from the creative aspect was how drama free Clint is, and how much he likes a drama free environment and how little he'll tolerate, you know, excessive, you know, emotions and like, and I appreciated that I love a quiet professional environment without drama without bullshit, you know, and I've had it, because I'm not Clint and people create that, you know, but as an aspirational work environment, it really did teach me a lot. But the other thing that's interesting about and I know this is about writing, but that's really great about watching Clint work is that Clint does very, very little planning, right? Like sometimes he'd show up on the set, and it would pick up or he'd go in a location scout and he'd see the set for the first time on the location scout. And he would basically plan out how to do a scene on the way to work, right? He didn't have a lot of shortlist, no storyboards, no nothing. And what that did was it created an environment where essentially, you're watching the person construct the scene right in front of you, right? There's nothing more boring than to watch a director's coming in with all of this planning and all the storyboards and everything. You're basically watching something that's completely pre planned. I mean, it can be fantastic, right? But with Clint, you really got to watch him create the scene on the spot. So you learn. And what was interesting for me was that like, after a few weeks, I could literally tell you where he was going to put the camera next from what to like, and be right 25 to 30% of the time, like, because I started to understand the process of how something was constructed. You know, and it really was an incredible film school on that particular way.
Alex Ferrari 17:16
That's amazing. That's an IT he did he directed he directed the movie too, right.
Boaz Yakin 17:20
Yeah, he starred and directed it.
Alex Ferrari 17:22
He directed Yeah, because it well, we could talk about calling for hours. But that's a whole other. That's a whole other show for another episode. Now, how did you make your jump? Because I know a lot of screenwriters listening to like I want to direct How did you make that jump from that to fresh which is your directorial debut?
Boaz Yakin 17:39
Well, what really happened was, you know, I am, you know, when you're young and kind of like your life is like that John Fabra movie in LA what was that movie?
Alex Ferrari 17:49
It is Swingers were
Boaz Yakin 17:49
Swingers, right? Like, yeah, like, that's literally what it was like to be 20 something in Los Angeles at that time. And you I didn't even enjoy that movie, because I was just kind of like, this is not like, it is boring. Like what happens when I walk outside? You know, now you watch it. You're like, God, super entertaining. And then, you know, but at the time, it was just like, what this shit like, no, but But anyway, that's it pretty much exactly what our lives were like. So I had a number of friends that I was making at the time, right? And a couple of my best friends was like this, this guy called Scott Spiegel, who co wrote Evil Dead two with Sam Raimi. And my friend Lawrence Bender, who was just an aspiring producer at the time, and, and I had put them together, I knew them separately, and they made Lawrence produced this little horror movie Scott did on Trudeau. Right
Alex Ferrari 18:39
Boaz Yakin 18:40
And after the rookie got made, honestly, I had gotten to a place which is, by the way, still, what I struggle with all the time in this creative field that we're in is that, you know, I started out trying to write commercial films and action films and all that, but I very quickly, so quickly, because I was only barely 23 realized it's not very much what I wanted to do at all with my life. And actually, I decided to quit the business and go live in Paris and write a book like, like most young Americans off to try and do. But before I left, I put together Scotty and my friend Lawrence, and I had met Quentin Tarantino through my friend Sheldon. And both Scotty and I were like, I was like, you gotta meet Scotty and Scotty actually ended up becoming friendly with Lawrence. And he introduced Lawrence to Quentin. And so while I'm in Paris, Lawrence and Quentin went away and made Reservoir Dogs. And I really had wanted to leave the business and so on. And I did write my book that never got published. And when I came back, Lawrence and Quentin had finished the movie and it had gotten some kind of like some real hype behind it. And it was Lawrence who pulled me back in Lawrence was kind of like Boaz. If you read the script, I think that we make can make for a low enough budget. I think I can get the money for it and so I spent half a year or however long researching and writing trash it took me a while on that one It took us a while to find the funds some French financing and we made the movie but that's that's how it came together It was actually Lawrence who pulled me back in after I was going to quit you know?
Alex Ferrari 20:21
Yeah. And from what I heard is more inset that as legend goes more into the one that'll quit and Hey, give me a minute. I'm gonna see if I can find money he's like, Man, I'm just gonna do this 50 grand with some friends on the weekend it that's why
Boaz Yakin 20:35
That's actually true Lawrence connected with Monte Hellman and with I think Lawrence pulled in Harvey titled said give me a little time. And he pulled on Harvey Keitel and managed to make the movie for like a million something rather than 30 - 40,000. So the Lawrence was the Lawrence was instrumental in that.
Alex Ferrari 20:52
Now, I'm one of the films that you directed that I absolutely adore. And I've seen as participant encounters Remember the Titans. It was just such a wonderful, wonderful film. How did you get involved in that because you didn't write that one right? You were just a director?
Boaz Yakin 21:07
I mean, I did rewrites But no, I look it was I had made I had made fresh. I made a movie about a frustrated Hasidic housewife with her nasal webinar called a price of always a popular genre. Backdrop is pasta has Coulter box office go frustrated see them. Although they didn't really did one on Netflix this this year that got a lot of attention, I have to say. It's called was it called Unreligious or something that I don't remember. Shira Haas was fantastic. And anyway, but um, I was actually in a position where I was having a hard time as I always find myself a hard time getting anything made. The Bruckheimer people reached out to me about the movie, and frankly, I would, you know, the truth of the situation is this. None of the big directors that they wanted to, for that movie, were willing to do it because Disney was only giving them a very limited budget. So the usual Bruckheimer suspects, you know, Tony Scott, people like that, we're just like, I'm not gonna do this,
Alex Ferrari 22:13
I don't, I don't get I don't get up for less than 100. Now
Boaz Yakin 22:16
He was doing what he does sometimes, which is he then looks for like an independent, whatever, someone that he can bring in. And I needed a job. I had no interest in making a football film or a Disney film. And that, you know, but I recognize that if I didn't try and do something like that, that I was going to be in trouble. And I kind of audition for it. I The script was like, 140 pages long. And then one weekend, I kind of cut 40 pages out and restructured things and showed it to them. And they were like, Okay, you've got the job. And I went in and I made it. I wish I had been less conflicted about it and enjoyed the process more, it was very challenging to make a film that became like, by far the most successful film I could have made. And it was the film I was the least interested in, in many ways at the same time, you know, and that's always a blow in some way. I wish I had handled it better. And with a little bit more fun and grace, but I it's it's sort of what, what ended up happening.
Alex Ferrari 23:22
Yeah. And it wasn't, it was a fairly big hit. I remember,
Boaz Yakin 23:25
I was a huge hit, and it's very watchable till this day. So
Alex Ferrari 23:30
I mean, I could turn it on with my girls. And we just watched it, it just, it's just such a it's just that that twist the heartbreaking scene and you're like, Oh, my God, like there's still emotion, so much emotion in that. And what was it like working with Intel on that project and directing it? Once you're, you're out? You got to? You got to two features under your belt at that point, right? And then yeah,
Boaz Yakin 23:49
Alex Ferrari 23:50
Is that right? So then you got Denzel who was Denzel at that time, he still stands out.
Boaz Yakin 23:54
He was Denzel. He wasn't Denzel post Titans and post training day which he made those two movies one two punch really solidified themselves, like the major star, but at the time, he he still was, you know, he still was Denzel Washington. And you know, I, I can't say that. It's like, I direct you basically just where are you going to be you know, and then Okay, let's make the medium shot and but, you know, we he knew what he was doing to an extremely high degree. I think he was seeing the same movie as I was, you know, and so it went pretty smoothly in that regard.
Alex Ferrari 24:35
Now, let me ask you, when you when you write, do you start with character? Or do you start with plot? I always look at the question.
Boaz Yakin 24:45
I think I always start with character. Always except the man even, except for when I'm trying to come up with a more commercial Hollywood type idea. Then sometimes you think about plot, no, of course, plot always involves character in the sense of, there's this guy, or this gal who does this, and this is their problem. And this is what they're trying to solve, oh, it's about a spider fell out of the sky, you know, I don't know, it's always a character. It's always a human being. But, you know, with a more sort of, quote, unquote, commercial ideas, you know, you tend to think more of the situation. You know, and and I think with more personal work, you think more about the emotional and kind of his social emotional situation and the person's. But it does always start with with the character.
Alex Ferrari 25:38
Now, what, what advice would you give writers who, to on how to write a good protagonist? Something that like that can drive that story?
Boaz Yakin 25:49
Wow, I mean, that's such a personal kind of a thing. You know, I mean, I don't even know how to advise someone on something like that. Not not being evasive. But I do think, I guess, I mean, again, it's different when you're writing a studio film, and when you're writing a personal kind of a piece, it's quite different, although maybe certain similar rules apply, in terms of not being boring, and so on. But I think a strong connection to what that person wants, and meet, or at least what that person is searching for, even if it's unspecific. Right, because I mean, I think that's the thing that I think is sort of frustrating about trying to write commercial films or is that, you know, people are always asked to kind of come up with a very specific want or need or desire that somebody has. And if a person isn't driven in a particular direction, people have very little patience for it. Whereas I find that a lot of times, human beings, right, we are in an ambivalent state. And that a lot of stories that are interesting to me are about ambivalent people who are in a particular cycle of their lives. And somehow something happens to them in that space, that moves them into recognizing what it is that they are needing or wanting, or connecting to, and so on. But I always find myself starting from a very ambivalent state. And I think it makes for interesting pieces, but it makes for pieces that take more patients in the opening stages for an audience to get into, does that make sense?
Alex Ferrari 27:42
It makes perfect sense. It makes perfect sense. One area that that is not really talked about enough, I think with screenwriters, and I think this is where screenwriters and filmmakers for that matter, get sideswiped in our business is the politics behind the scenes, the stuff that you have to deal with, about how to get that how to get us to finance how to how to deal with personalities, how to deal with ego, how to deal with agendas. Do you have any advice? Because obviously, you've been able to navigate these waters
Boaz Yakin 28:14
Not so well all the time. I mean, when you think about the fact that I've been in the film business for 30 years
Alex Ferrari 28:21
Boaz Yakin 28:22
Like, the amount of scripts that I've actually had out there that got made or that you know, hey, the most personal work I've done, I paid for myself. Like the to like the movie, I just made a Viva this other movie I made it's very dark and painful and personal death and love. I paid for them with my life savings, no one finance them. You know, and not not a lot of people do that. And the last one I did before that this little strange little kitsch horror movie thing I did called boarding school. Like, I paid for a ton of it. Not all of it, but for a ton of it. And it's it's very, like, it is very challenging. And, you know, making a movie, even a lower budget movie. That's the thing, right? That that's the thing that's so difficult with our business, right, is that it takes so much money to make a movie, even if it's a small film, right? Even if it's a few, even if you're talking about a mic what they call a micro budget movie. Hey $150,000 in the real world is a fuckload of money, right? And people don't want to give you their $150,000 any more than some big company wants to give you $15 million. Right. And everyone wants to know there's going to be a return on their investment and Odetta. And it makes for a completely uncreative not risk taking, not kind of encouraging exploration environment, especially here in the states where you have no funding from like the government or anything like that, right? So there is no Lars von Trier here. There is no, there is no Thomas vinterberg here, right like it. There are good filmmakers here. Right. The Cohens are incredible. But somehow that filmmaker has to find the Zeitgeist that that work, they have to fit their work into an environment that makes a certain amount of money, right. And they have to, you can't really explore or, and fuck up and discover the way you can. And other art forms the way writers can, or painters can or even musicians can write. And it makes for a very boring array of work.
Alex Ferrari 30:53
So when you talk about politics and trying to get your stuff work, like, I would easily say that 90% 95% of what I think the most interesting stuff I've written is never got to the light of day. Now, am I saying it's great, or that that it up? No, not at all. It's interesting, though. And that doesn't really cut it in our particular field, because people have to feel they're going to make money off it. So it's challenging. And if you want to be a script writer, and if you want to sell your work, and if you want to be a solid, you know, you have to make sure your work can fit stars in it still till this day, and that actors who have some kind of a name are going to want to do it. It has to sort of fit cleanly into some kind of genre that people feel they can make money from. And, you know, anything that isn't that is very infrequent.
Right? And even when you were coming up, I mean, look, can you imagine taxi driver? Or Raging Bull? Getting finance today? I mean
Boaz Yakin 31:58
No, no, the differences. I mean, we all know that, like movies with the actual budgets that feature, you know, production value, and all that, that you can make with certain stars and all that in the late 60s 70s, very early 80s, that doesn't exist anymore. They take more chances with streaming shows and things like, you know, the taxi driver of then became the Breaking Bad of today, right where you have? No, but I will say this as much as they take chances. And they have like, you know, dark protagonists and things like that, right? All started by the sopranos, I suppose, right? Like and all that. The fact that these things need to go on for three, four years, to me inherently saps them. Have for me personally, have a genuine creative perspective. So at that creative art, I guess it's such a silly word artistic or something like that.
Alex Ferrari 32:59
I understand what there's like, like, there are there, there's this film, there's a shows that just go go go go. But something like Breaking Bad. Who this event actually said it this is this is the arc. It's five seasons, this is how long they wanted.
Boaz Yakin 33:12
I mean, five fucking seasons of it. Like, I mean, it's a good, right. But after a few episodes are like I get it, he's breaking bad. I mean, what more do you need? Like, what can you say in five years that the Godfather two couldn't say in about three hours? And I'm not saying you know, and I don't know. So. And by its nature, it becomes diluted. There's like a ton of directors, even if some of them are very good. There's a writers room filled with writers
Alex Ferrari 33:42
a different vibe.
Boaz Yakin 33:43
It's a it's a product of some kind, it can be wonderful. It can be a great show that people love, like the wire or whatever. But it's still a product, a corporate product. Whereas there is still something to an individual film, you know, whether you're watching, you know, the master by PP Anderson or Grand Budapest Hotel, by west or some where you go. It's a piece, it's other piece. It's complete in a division, its perspective, it says what it wants to say. And that's it, you know, that that day is close to being done. And it was certainly easier in the 80s was already getting more difficult than it was in the 70s. And in the 60s. That now I think it's completely shifted.
Alex Ferrari 34:34
Well, I mean, if you look, if you look at Well, first of all, I think that one thing you said the product television is it's close to a product as we can create in our industry. Because you know, like that bottle you're drinking from right now that's a product. It's a battle. It's a price you make it for certain costs, and you get certain you get, you know, markup and that's it. Television is the closest thing we have to that that's why they just keep pumping them out because you can keep pumping up product product.
Boaz Yakin 35:00
A lot of super talented people doing it. Oh, and making high level writing high level work apps. And yet, there's something about it.
Alex Ferrari 35:11
No, I get I get you. But if you look, you're saying that, you know, you were sent mentioning Wes and MPP. And these guys, I'm noticing that films that actually get some budget, have some star power is rarely the young, unknown directors anymore, or even the young, you know, maybe have one or two, it's the colon, that it's the guy that came up in the 90s. In the early 2000s. The had those they came in at that right time, and they're there, they've got the keys to the castle to keep doing that. I mean, Woody did it for
Boaz Yakin 35:45
Well, you know, what happens now? What happens now, it's sort of like, you know, it's what happened was, like, because the corporate structure is become so overwhelming, like, right, like, you can't be a robot, like, you can't be the class anymore. And like, do four or five album and then finally, like, the media realizes, oh, shit, the class is awesome. And then put them on a tour with the who were already bloated and all that stuff. And then the class basically fall apart. But they've had like five fucking class albums before they, you know, the rock, the Cavs Bon Iver commercial, and it's done. Right. Right now, if someone does something successful for two seconds, Disney marked like big jump on these kids. And some kid who just did like, you know, a great first Sundance movie or whatever it is. The next thing you know, is they're directing like some gigantic Marvel movie they've been set or a jurassic park or whatever it is. And that's also what people want, like, people are starting to approach this idea of making their first film or whatever as this sort of like, entree into like, the main corporate product. And so you get good first films still. But you almost never get to second, or third or fourth, right? It's like if you went and made Reservoir Dogs, and the next thing he did was direct, you know, Captain Marvel, whatever, you would have never gotten Pulp Fiction, right? Never. And that's the difference is that people are still making Reservoir Dogs here and there or, you know, their versions of it. that no one's doing the second one and the third one and the fourth one that really allows a voice to grow. That's what was had that PT Anderson Wes Anderson, Quint, the Cohens huge, I mean, they're the best American filmmakers right now. Like, today, you do one thing, that's good. And the corporations are just all over you. And it's super tempting. You can't blame somebody. And it's getting harder and harder to get financing for second and third films, right. So essentially, it's almost like a little beauty contest making that first films like this little beauty contest, so that you get picked up by the corporations.
Alex Ferrari 38:08
And it sucks. No, and it's really good to like right now. So if today, Joel and Ethan, bust out blood simple, then the net, they're there on a Netflix series, or they're they're doing a Marvel film or or they're doing a gritty Star Wars Show. I mean, it's, you don't get
Boaz Yakin 38:29
And what's kind of, I don't need to go dark with it. But what's kind of depressing is how much what once was like a synopsis he asked and kind of like, film lover community, right has basically been co opted by the corporations into becoming this sort of Geek community that just like, will argue about, you know, how big hammer should be or whatever it is. And they genuinely care about this stuff. Whereas once that type of person was caring about, you know, what the next Scorsese movie was, or what the next parent you know, Terrence Malick movie was and now it's become this kind of I don't know what you even call it,
Alex Ferrari 39:19
It's, it's like it's a different thing. I mean, it's the basically now people listen to like, Oh, these two old farts are just talking about the good.
Boaz Yakin 39:28
I I enjoy. It's like, the thing that that I find difficult is that it's not like is that people have the priorities are so weird. It's like, people aren't looking at like these gigantic entertainment. Like we used to look at these gigantic studio entertainment movies, whether it was Indiana Jones or whatever. In the day. It's like, oh, man, this is so much fun. I'm like, this is so much fun. It's so entertaining. This is great, like fun product, but I'm going to put my attempt Going into something else, my attention, my critical faculties, my discernment, my my real focus into something else as both a fan, a critic, a, you know, a creative person. But that level, I mean, their level of attention paid to stuff that's essentially well made version of McDonald's hamburgers. It's like, and the kind of discussion that that gets is what has flipped from the way things used to be. So anyway, folks getting around to shipping,
Alex Ferrari 40:40
I mean, but there's still the Criterion Collection for the rest of us. And we get it. And we get to do that still. And I remember like, I had my laser dip. And I had, you know, with with Scorsese commentary, and Coco commentary, and Dracula, and I'm listening to them. And that's the cinephile in it. But yeah, it's, it's just a different world. And there's nothing that's been wrong,
Boaz Yakin 41:00
I have to admit that as an American. I mean, not to be like that. America bothers me. Like, my brother. And I just did this deep dive again, into like, how yummy is Jackie's entire, you know, old one, or smorgasbord? Or smorgasbord. You know, she's a genius of some kind, right? And he's a genius. And he is a popular filmmaker. I mean, he is the Disney of Japan, like he is the Spielberg and Disney wrapped up into one of Japan. All over the world. His movies are like enormous. And in the States, finally, because of like, they're on Disney plus, whatever, you know, people have finally seen a little bit but no one talks about it. Right? Like, that's not what people do here. I'm not saying it's not possible to make beautiful popular films. But I just feel like our particular culture and our particular filmmaking culture is is is pretty frustrating. I get it. I get it on in 10%. I understand exactly what you're saying.
Alex Ferrari 42:08
And we can keep going down this path for a while but
Boaz Yakin 42:12
Okay we'll go with another path. What path would you like to go down?
Alex Ferrari 42:16
So now the you actually wrote a sequel to a beloved classic called dirty dancer, and you deserted dancing Havana nights now? I particularly liked. I liked it a lot, because I'm Cuban. But you know, Viper,
Boaz Yakin 42:31
Really talking about things I'd rather not talk about anytime.
Alex Ferrari 42:36
I loved it. I thought it was a lot of fun. watching that.
Boaz Yakin 42:41
Glad you did.
Alex Ferrari 42:43
Apparently, I'm the only one is what you're saying.
Boaz Yakin 42:46
I think you're like the only one. Like I find it very difficult that it's on my IMDB page. And when I do when and when I do something else people always like Oh, the guy who wrote Dirty Dancing too. And you're like I did a fucking written you know? Wish. I know I come off like the crankiest person in the world. I'm not really but here's something is difficult talking about screenwriting. By the way,
Alex Ferrari 43:14
Sure go ahead
Boaz Yakin 43:18
as script writers, we have to make a living. Right. And I say this, you know, in thought, like, we have to make a living. There are a few brilliant people, like Quentin or PT, or whatever that everything they like to do is what other people like to see. And they managed to like, right? A lot of us have to make a living, because this stuff that we make our independent stuff isn't as successful, blah, blah, blah, you've got to keep a roof over your head, right? And what you can't do as a filmmaker is having non diploma, right? You can't have a non diploma, like when I do rewrites for Jerry or for whatever My name is, you know, jack Ryan, you know, and when I do my own stuff, it's Bo as a key because there's a lot of egos involved and a lot of people's pride involved. Right. And so like if you're going to do a rewrite for a producer on a project and everyone Hey, my name is good enough to be on this movie. What your net, it's not good enough for you. You know. Larimer McMurtry said something really interesting in this book about script writing he wrote called stone plan. You know, and it's like a series of essays about filmmaking. He's a fantastic novelist is right. And he's written some beautiful scripts. That's not really been his focus, but so he has some interesting and always funny and biting stories about Hollywood. And the thing that he says it's so interesting for anyone who takes Script meetings or tries to get jobs in the screenwriter or whatever is that there's this sort of illusion in our business, that you need to be passionate about the material that you're working on. Right? That like, when you're going to take that writing job for that script about the dog who flies and saves the day that you can't come in there and say, yeah, you know, I'd like to do this, because I just got a kid and I need to build an addendum to the house, and I can really use that. $150,000. So, yeah, I'm down to write the story about the dog with the cake. Right? You have to come in there and be like, you know, when I was a kid, I had a dog. And, and, and you know, and the dog died when I was 14. And I realized that dog meant so much to me. And I can really identify with this material, I think it's going to speak to everyone who loves it. Right. Right. And as Larry McMurtry says, some of the worst work ever done has been done by people passionate about that work. And some really incredible work has been done by professionals who, you know, decide not to do and who decided to do something because they needed to pay the rent and put their craft and imagination and intelligence do it, and fucking knocked it out. Right? Like, like whoever wrote, I don't know, anyway, I'm not going to get into specifics, but there's a lot of very good commercial work that's been done by people who did it with a sense of commitment, and and, and intelligence and professionalism, but not because they were dying to tell that particular fucking story, right. And I think that that sort of illusion that we need to create that we're so passionate about everything we do, because otherwise you won't get hired, basically puts people in a situation where a lot of the work that you see like a lot of you know, an A name on a script, like whether it's dirty dancing to or whatever it is, it's like, yeah, you know, you did a job, there were four writers on it, what your, what that piece ended up being has very little to do with what you actually wrote and maybe recognize three words of it, and some structural changes that you put into it, that were deemed significant enough by the Writers Guild committee to give you a credit, right? And you're happy about it, because it means you get residuals, and you got a credit. And that means you might get another job, right? But does it reflect you as a creative person? No. And you could argue, well, then don't do the jobs that don't reflect you as a creative person. Right? If that's going to be something difficult for you later on in life, don't do that job. Don't do things that you don't believe in. I get that point of view. I know people who haven't done it, and I've done well, I know people who haven't done it and are like, out of the business. And for me, it's always been this sort of juggling act of trying to find a way to do things that I like to do that really do reflect my perspective. And things that you go back. If I don't make some money this year, I'm fine. Oh, you know, this thing? Yeah, sure. I'm down. I know how to do that. Right. And that's the thing, that being a professional, you know what I mean?
Alex Ferrari 48:16
I love I love that you bring this up, because it is a almost a myth, that the struggling artists that so passionate about everything they do, and you know what, of course, you know, at a certain level, your private things and things that you do are at that, like, I'm passionate and passionate. But man, when I was coming up, I would take jobs directing stuff that I'm like, I don't want you know, or I would do, I would do post and I'm like, I don't even I don't even want my name on. You know, but it was it was it was a paycheck, and you have to do and that's what a professional is. Yes. Like you said, there are those few geniuses who gets do both, but that those are anomalies. You know, the Coen Brothers barn anomaly. pcns is an anomaly Wes Anderson's an anomaly Tarantino's an anomaly, these guys are anomaly in our business. So for the rest of us, sometimes you got to take jobs that you might not be happy with, or do something else, or figure another way out to tell your stories. I mean, I know the duplass brothers, they just dropped their budget down to a place where like, I could do whatever the hell I want. And they just go out and do it. Great. If that's the kind of storytelling you want to do, and that makes you happy as an artist. Great. I mean, I heard the story when the duplass brothers were brought into Marvel, and they were offered a movie and they're like, yeah, we're good. Yeah, we're, we don't want to do that. Because they understood what was that going to be entailed? Let them kind of talk about today. But that is a myth that needs to be broken that you like it's all about the passion and it is about the passion but man you got to eat sometimes man or Yeah,
Boaz Yakin 49:45
I mean, look, I I just made a film that really was that. I mean, I basically I lucked out, in the sense that this movie that I wrote, I every once in a while I write something I'm like I have right so I wrote this piece. A dance movie about the this thing called a diva about the difficulty in being both in your masculine and feminine self and the struggle in that regard. So I did a story about a couple where I had four actors playing two people, a man and a woman playing each of the two characters. It's a dance movie. It's a sex movie. I mean, it's it's fun. It's so much sex and dance and experimental
Alex Ferrari 50:27
disulfide argument 500 million worldwide box office.
Boaz Yakin 50:30
Exactly. I i. And you know what, I, I got a surprise check. from years ago from this little comedy I made for a for MGM called uptown girls. were like, 15 years later, money that I didn't realize I was owed, suddenly came to me. And I was like, I'm making my movie. And I took that money. And I put it into making this movie. And I made it and i and i love it. It's unique. It's different. It's personal. If I had $20 million, I would just make 20 of these things and not give a shit who saw them or who didn't? But I don't. So after you make one of those things, suddenly you're like, Oh, fuck, what do I do? I guess I got to find a way to build again, to pay the bills, and to make sure that I can make another film or whatever it is. So it's this constant dance, you know?
Alex Ferrari 51:37
What I love about you was and what you're because, again, from if someone just let's say your IMDb, they just like, Oh, well, he's this and he's doing that. And you're just like, Look, man, I pasted this myself. I'm an artist. I'm still I'm still hustling. I'm you're still doing it the way you want to do it. The normal the normal mind. And I always tell this filmmakers, it's been the worst that we're we've been infected. It's a horrible disease that we have, because it lies dormant for years sometimes, and then comes back up. The normal human being would have seen that check and said, Oh, good, I could put it away. And they asked for security. Maybe I can invest it. You said, I can make my movie. That's what I love about that. I love about you.
Boaz Yakin 52:20
Well, yeah. And you know, I mean, I think the other thing that is very, again, we're not talking about our outlier, don't makers who both do exactly what they want to do and get funded funding for it and all that. But I think that a real hole that people fall into. And maybe it's good, I think in some ways, maybe I should have done a little bit more of it. But I it always freaked me out is that when you find a way that you're successful, you make Remember the Titans or whatever. The next thing you're offered is like 10, big sports movies or like another job. And I had that opportunity after that movie. And I kind of freaked out. And I was like, This isn't who I am, this isn't what I want to do. And if I go down this road, I don't think I'll ever remember who I really am. So I pulled back and tried to do my own thing with moderate levels of success, rather than, you know, pursue the thing that's most comfortable. And that makes me the most money. And I'm not advising it to anyone. I'm not advising it to anyone. But I am proud of the fact that at my age, and after doing this for a long time, I'm still when I can pull it together, experimenting and trying things I've never tried before, and trying to do things that are off the beaten path, rather than just sort of perfecting this thing that I quote unquote, know how to do over and over and over and over again, may be great for some people, and some people may be creatively inclined in that way. But I find that very uninteresting. You know,
Alex Ferrari 54:01
What i what i respect about what you're talking about what you're saying what you're doing is that you're still willing at this stage in your career that you've been in the business for a long time, you've done a bunch of stuff, you're still taking the swing at the bat, you're still taking swings at the bay at the fete where a lot of guys. And a lot of a lot of professionals who are at this point in their career. They just want to say say I'm just gonna do I'm gonna do the sport.
Boaz Yakin 54:23
I know people who want to stay safe the minute they do their first thing that does well okay, I've known a lot of people like that. Honestly, now that I'm getting older and I'm like starting to look at that like oh my God wouldn't be nice just to be on a beach in Hawaii for the rest of my fucking life and stop with this shit. Now, like go oh my god, what am I an idiot? Like? I think a million dollar good. You know, like, I would have been nice to have some money to buy that fucking house in Hawaii, right? Instead, I made this RTS movie that no one's ever gonna see. So it is it is it's a mixed bag but you know the Truth is, as someone dropped the check on me tomorrow, I would turn around and make another movie with it. Right? Yeah, I wouldn't like Hawaii. So maybe that's something.
Alex Ferrari 55:12
But that's the sickness. That is the sickness of being an artist, you know, and being a brave artist because there are artists who are brave and artists who are brave, and you are brave artists, no question about it. Now, you know, I was gonna ask you about Prince of Persia, was that the
Boaz Yakin 55:25
Alex Ferrari 55:26
It's a rewrite. Okay. So,
Boaz Yakin 55:28
Actually, I love I became really good friends with the guy who created the video game and wrote the first draft, right, but that's very much an example of what I'm talking about in the Hollywood world, right? Like, there was a video game. Bruckheimer bought the video game and hired Jordan was a wonderful guy to write the original script, then they hired another writer to rewrite Jordan's script. Then they brought me on to rewrite the third writers, the second writers script, I did a bunch of work on it, a couple of drafts and then went, I think this is what I got for you guys. And then they hired two other guys to come on a writing team to come on. And they wrote the rest of the way for like, the next year and a half. The movie comes out, and it's like six people have written on it. I guess they decided that what I did had enough of left in it to have a credit. And that's a credit that you have, you know, and it's interesting, because people say, Oh, you wrote Prince of Persia right now like, yeah, I mean, I guess, is there two words in that thing that I did I that, you know, I don't even think so. But that's what that particular machine is. You make money. You get residuals, you get health benefits. This is the reality, dude, this is the reality of being a writer. And you cannot fucking complain about that. I mean, how many jobs are there in this world? Other than these fucking Elan musk types, right. But how many jobs are there in this world that you work on something for a few months, you make hundreds of 1000s of dollars, you get health benefits? If it does, well, later, and ancillary markets, you keep getting checks every year for a few $1,000 that you Whoa, I didn't reach out to you pay by the you know, $20,000 for Prince of Persia came in five years later, right? fucking amazing, right? So it's a factory, it's a machine, you do it to make a living? And that's, you know, I'll never get another job again. I'm sure if any one of these people listen to this.
Alex Ferrari 57:43
Or maybe you'll get the right job?
Boaz Yakin 57:44
Oh, no, I think I think people know, I think this, which is why sometimes I have a hard time getting those jobs, you know, and care about the dog with the cake. He doesn't care about the dog with the K I don't, but I'll do a good job. If I have to do it. You know what I mean? And and, and that's the thing, look, you know, what can I say? No, I get it. So. So when you when you What was your involvement with now you see me without an original or that? You know, that's an example of a friend of mine, a very good friend who's become who's actually a great person to talk to, because he's a writers writer, my friend and record. It worked for like 10 years, and I didn't mentor him a bit and co wrote something I mentored him had a lot of years of not succeeding, a lot of years of not succeeding. And he had this idea for a script that at the time, I remember we were sitting in a car, and he called it something insane, like poof, or something like that. And he was like about four magicians who robbed a bank in Vegas. And in Paris from the stage in Vegas. I was like, Ed, the dumbest idea I've ever heard, right? Like, I was just like, don't bother me. There's no money. There's no money here. No, it was just utterly brutal, dark, personal film that I called Death and love about horrible family dynamics and stuff like that. And after I finished it, I was kind of in a place where I was like, holy shit, I don't know if I'll even know how to ever write another commercial script. Again, this is like a year later or something like that. And I was talking to Ed and Ed said, Boaz, I wrote the first 15 pages of the script. Fucking read it. Right. So I picked up Ed's first 15 pages. And I read them and I was like, ah, like, essentially, everything that now you see me became very successful, right. And second, moving on, is based on that first 15 pages of EDS, his concept. And I was like, Ed, this is a great idea. How did they do it? And he goes, and I was like, Oh shit. Like that, huh? And I was like, I guess I better get in here with you, right. And so I then got in with Ed and we basically fleshed it all out. But it was Ed's concept, right? And then I came in, and I helped him figure out how everything would work. And we came up with all the solutions, and then the theology and all that. And we wrote it. And in fact, it got sold. And it was interesting, because we had one of those moments where they finally after a few dot drafts, replaced us with someone else. And Ed was very upset, you know, he was hurt. And I was like, Ed, this means they might make the movie.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:48
And that's exactly it's like what I was telling you before, right until they hire someone else to rewrite you. That movie is not getting made. And, and they did, and they ended up making the movie. But Ed and I really created the concept, and the first draft and then they took it from there,
Did you because it's a pretty common did you go down the rabbit hole of magicians and how magicians do things like me?
Boaz Yakin 1:01:12
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. For the time that we wrote it. Absolutely.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:17
Did you interview that
Boaz Yakin 1:01:18
Expert, an expert on all that stuff? While we were writing?
Alex Ferrari 1:01:21
Do you call? Did you interview magicians? Did you talk to me? Just what kind of research did you do for that?
Boaz Yakin 1:01:26
Well, I mean, we do have the internet.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:30
Boaz Yakin 1:01:31
Which by the way, has made research a completely different experience than it used to be back in the day, when we had to go to library. He didn't call people, all that stuff, which was an interesting experience in and of itself, right? It was much slower, but in some ways richer. But yeah, there's the internet. And we also interviewed two or three magicians and blah, blah, blah, but you know, did our research.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:55
And of course, he took a couple trips to Vegas, obviously, just for research purposes.
Boaz Yakin 1:01:59
I think I've been to Vegas already. I don't know if we went there for that. But yeah.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:05
But right now that you've directed the phone call max. Again, I'm now I'm afraid to ask about any buildings, right? Is that is that a film that you were like, really passionate
Boaz Yakin 1:02:14
Massacre is a film actually that it, it was sort of like me, trying to make amends in a way for myself for how I felt when I was doing Titans. Whereas I also found myself again, in a position where I needed to make a movie, I had written a movie to sell with my friend, Sheldon, an old friend of mine, who loves dogs. And I had some idea about a dog. And I was like, he was like, Come on boys, we have to write this. And we wrote this movie, and sold it to MGM, I had no intention of directing it or anything, I sold it. And about a year later, I found myself needing to do something. And the producer had actually the producer called me up and asked me to take a look at the script that someone else had done some writing on and said, Well, what are your thoughts on it? And I read the script, and I read our draft. And I was like, you know, I think if we can go back to our draft, I know how to make this movie and make it appealing. And I call them and I said, Look, if you guys want me, I'll direct this. As long as we can go back to our script, did it? And they said yes. And I went, you know what, let me just try and have a good time work with some nice people and make some kind of an appealing movie. And for everyone, I can you tell everybody what Max is about the max is a movie about what they call an N WD a military working dog. So it's about a dog that gets traumatized in Iraq and gets his his handler killed. And then he gets adopted back into society by the family of the guy of the marine that was killed. So it's about a traumatized that dog who has to sort of like, get his shit together with his family that adopted him. So it's almost like an old school 5060s Disney kind of a movie those days those Disney movies had kind of an edge. You know, like when you watch Old Yeller or something like that. He just kill that bear like that. Those boards just Gordon. Wait, that kid just shot three walls like they don't do stuff like that. And I think we are at the end What the fuck? like wtf
Alex Ferrari 1:04:27
Soiler alert for everyone who hasn't seen all yellow?
Boaz Yakin 1:04:29
Yeah, spoiler that like family movies back in those days were like definitely a lot more hard bitten than they are now. And And anyway, so it was sort of like a callback to like those 50s kind of like Disney Disney family movies, the 50s just go back to the 80s.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:46
Remember, Neverending Story, or secret or man? \
Boaz Yakin 1:04:50
Alex Ferrari 1:04:51
He could have named the animated dark blue film.
Boaz Yakin 1:04:53
Yeah, that was a little harsher.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:54
That was a little harsh and neverending story that killed the horse and you're like, I'm like Are you kidding? Like never. I mean, they're, they're freaking out about the Swedish chef right now on the Muppets. I mean, can you imagine
Boaz Yakin 1:05:07
Is that the character that they say is a negative stereotype? Why they put the disclaimer to the Swedish chef?
Alex Ferrari 1:05:14
Is the Swedish chef. Yeah. See the chef?
Boaz Yakin 1:05:17
Holy shit, man. I'm in let the as you get, but this is the one area where like, I'm like aligning with all these whiners about cancer, like come on people. act as if it's,
Alex Ferrari 1:05:32
I don't want to go into that conversation because that's not what you at a certain point, you just got to go look, movies were made at a certain time. shows were made at a certain time. Just have a conversation about it. And at that time, didn't look Can you can't even imagine. Like I was watching Clockwork Orange today. And the first 20 minutes of talk of words are in our insane, In. Insane. And I was remember, cuz I saw when I was a kid, and then I watched it again as an adult. And it just it just reminded me and like, first of all, what it seems Kubrick is obviously imagine a film like that being released today. You can't allow people to lose their collective mind over that.
Boaz Yakin 1:06:20
I mean, one of my favorite filmmakers of all time is Ralph Bakshi. You know, Ralph Bakshi?
Alex Ferrari 1:06:26
Boaz Yakin 1:06:27
He made animated films back in the 70s. And he brought adult animation into the mainstream for a minute before he burnt they didn't let him keep going. But he made Fritz the Cat. It was the cat guy. Yeah, which was based on our crumb stuff, but the great movie, but it is based on our concept. Then he made two super personal movies that are I think that just some of the best films of the 70s. One of them is called heavy traffic. And one of them is an exploration of black politics and identity. He was Jewish, but black politics and identity called coonskin, which is so Roche's and one of the greatest animated films of all time, and you watch content, and try By the way, it ended his career then in the 70s. Although you may have to imagine now, can you imagine if someone made that film today, and it's a masterpiece, it's amazing. So it's a different time, you know, then hey, maybe it's okay for a minute to absorb that, you know, to absorb this different time, but it does make for a blender stew.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:36
Oh, there's, there's no your 70s 70s 60s 70s and 80s and 90s were much more interesting.
Boaz Yakin 1:07:43
Yeah. But by mid 80s, things started to go like
Alex Ferrari 1:07:48
compared to today, the 80s
Boaz Yakin 1:07:49
maybe my parents are dead, but yeah, but he's
Alex Ferrari 1:07:52
like the 60s.
Boaz Yakin 1:07:54
Like the 70s I have a by 8483 84 things were like, you know, starting to go down. I was just I was just you know, it was the kind of movies I was trying to write at the time that I was just literally watching like one of my friends and they like one of those you know, at HBO stations they have or whatever and you just flick through them and like Rambo First Blood Part Two came on. And like back in the 80s that was like actually an acceptable action movie. Like were you like, Oh, yeah, Rambo. He's fighting this. And you want it now and you're I literally with laughing out loud the entire time. I mean, it's it's a porn film. Basically. It's like just shiny greased up guy blowing apart hundreds of people and and just walking around it and you're just like, what am I even watching? What is this?
Alex Ferrari 1:08:51
If you want if you want to go down
Boaz Yakin 1:08:52
I really enjoyed it. I thoroughly enjoyed enough but I was like, it's a relic of a different time. a different mentality. a different perspective. Like it's actually surreal. The movie is actually surreal. And at the time, no one thought that
Alex Ferrari 1:09:10
I think Rambo was that there was that Rambo but then there's another film around the thing came up the same year even. That was even more than Rambo which is Commando.
Boaz Yakin 1:09:24
It came out after Rambo.
Alex Ferrari 1:09:25
Yeah, it came out. Yeah, around the same time. It was like a year or two different Yes, it came out afterwards. But commando is even more surreal. I mean, they literally have cardboard cutouts being blown up. In deceit.
Boaz Yakin 1:09:37
Oh, commandos. commandos, hilarious. I mean, on ramps that Rambo is a better movie in some notes, right?
Alex Ferrari 1:09:43
Rambo's the better.
Boaz Yakin 1:09:44
It was surreal. The 80s became absolutely surreal. kind of fun. Anyway,
Alex Ferrari 1:09:55
talking about the good old
Boaz Yakin 1:09:57
weird ass movies that you like, wow. We were actually trying to make those things back then and now you look at them and they're like, what is that?
Alex Ferrari 1:10:04
I remember when look when I was during that time in theory to the 80s, late 80s and early 90s I, you know, john Claude Van Damme. Steven Seagal did there was a greatest things ever for me. And I remember Bloodsport being show good and so revolutionary.
Boaz Yakin 1:10:20
The guy who wrote that as the guy wrote Max width my friend Sheldon.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:24
Oh, yeah. Oh, really? So Alright, so he wrote Bloodsport, right. I felt amazing appetite to Sheldon now. I gotta get. I gotta talk to
Boaz Yakin 1:10:34
Directed Lion Hart.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:36
Yeah, no, we I saw I spent I spent two months with Sheldon and john Claude in Hong Kong making doing rewrites on double impact. Okay, so now what do you see the writing this on your IMDb? I would be talking to you. Because I didn't get I was uncredited rewrite, but I was there. Okay, so you now Okay, so now See, see how the how the conversation has turned?
Boaz Yakin 1:10:58
Okay, so we're just gonna watch this. I'm telling anybody,
Alex Ferrari 1:11:07
Just as you make your movies for you, I make these interviews for me and if someone listens to them, fantastic. Alright. So you're in your Sheldon, here. That was a pair of Europe. Hong Kong making double effects. I remember going to the theater, seeing double impact and going. That makes all the sense. Absolutely not cost. What because jakab was that that was that? Was that a universe? That was a universe? Yeah. JOHN quad was in the studio system at that point. He hadn't left yet. He was he was working. I think it's Warner's or Sony or somebody like that. He was working. But that was a big. That was a big release. I remember that. That was what was it like being on that set? Because it was john Claude at the height of his powers. You know, and Sheldon had just done Lionheart was a huge hit for universal. Like, what was that? Like?
Boaz Yakin 1:11:56
I thought it was fun. I mean, basically, I was living in Paris. Remember, I told you I left the movie business. I was living in Paris. I was with my younger brother. He had just gotten super sick. It was winter. And Sheldon calls me up. And he's like bow, we're making double impact in at the time. I remember what was called was based on the Corsican brothers. This old Alexander Dumas story about these two twins, and they ended up updating it into Hong Kong and, and so that was like, and we could really use a few rewrites or whatever. Do you want to come to Hong Kong for a month and help us out? Right? And I was like, Eric, do you want to go to my brother? Do you want to go to Hong Kong for a month? And he's like, Yeah, what's the fuck out of here? And I was like, let's do it. So I was like, Yeah, man, let's go and they flew me into this hotel. This is before Hong Kong turned back to the Chinese. It was still a British protectorate or whatever it was called. And we just found ourselves hanging out with john Claude having dinner with bolo Yang from like, Enter the Dragon bow from Dragon. Yeah. having dinner with john Claude and bolo and bolos family and me and my brother. Were just like, Oh, my God. pinner with bolos is fucking insane. I mean, I had already known john Claude, right. Like I had been Sheldon and john Claude brought me in to help edit, re edit a movie called Cyborg, which was john Claude second. I was, like, total mess. And I cut my teeth editing, re edit, helping to re edit that movie. So I mean, I was friends. I was that was friends with those guys. And, and my brother and I spent a month, month and a half in Hong Kong. And just like, it was so much fun. We just like would write I would write a little bit in the morning, I go to that, like I try and do notes and I was there when they auditioned all this this stuntman and all this kind of and it was it was super fun. Like the culture clash of it all was super fun. I introduced Sean cloud the jungles movies, he had never seen one before. Nearly Yeah. Among amongst us guys. Like we had just seen. Better Tomorrow and a better tomorrow to I don't know if hard boil that come out yet. I mean, if the killer had come out yet, I don't think it had even come out yet. Maybe it was.
Alex Ferrari 1:14:15
That was later later. 80s.
Boaz Yakin 1:14:16
If certainly a better tomorrow and better tomorrow to had come out. And we were like john Claude, man, you've got to see this movie. And john cloud saw the movie and it's like, I have to shoot two gun. And that's why in double impact, there's a couple of couple of scenes where he's where he shoots to God, a great impression of a bah bah, bah, bah, what do you think of this idea? Bah, bah, bah. That was my conversations with john claddagh. Like, and it was super fun. It was super fun. It really was cool. So basically, your film school essentially was and why did they couldn't use what editing Cyborg that was a lot of my son's school. actually edit. So I've worked in clinics that was before and then Clint Eastwood
Alex Ferrari 1:15:03
Yeah. No cuz I remember editing, because I remember Cyborg and it was it was okay because I am. There's that there's a time a time period and die on the job on afficionado so there was Bloodsport, but before blisworth it was Black Eagle. Then came after Black Eagle, which he had a small part. Oh, no, no retreat, no surrender. Then he went into Cyborg and remember Cyborg? Yeah.
Boaz Yakin 1:15:23
You know. And by the way, I do have to take a little credit for this. He had just made Bloodsport. Yeah, we're super excited about him. Like, like cannon films, I think or whatever. And they made sideboard and it was such a complete and total it was visual, but it was such an utter mess. And they were going to basically just put it straight to video. Luckily, not straight to audio, right, but straight to video, and audio. And show them again, show them to john Claude said, Hey, do you want to take a look at this and I looked at it. And I was like, Guys, I had an idea if we can completely recut and restructure, and like re put like new dialogue on like scenes and data. And I just since it wasn't my movie, I just went in there and went crazy. I flipped the film, I reversed it. I turned it upside down and made sequences out of stuff that weren't sequences, and show them to john Claude to edit in the other room, and we were all just editing away. And then I
Alex Ferrari 1:16:25
John Claud was editing as well?
Boaz Yakin 1:16:27
Yeah, would show them in the room like composite, really smart dude. And, and, and we were at and we all like sort of re edited the movie, and I restructured it and they edit in the other room. Then I left they reshot a little ending. And they looked at it and they liked it so much. They put it in theaters. Mind you, it's not a classic. But it made money in the theaters. It made money and kind of saved john clods career. Like if that had gone straight to video as his second movie, he would have been in trouble. Instead, his second movie ended up getting a release, making a lot of money, and it just sort of took off from there. So I'm always very proud to have been part of helping john clods career stay afloat at a time when it looked a little a little shaky.
Alex Ferrari 1:17:10
It was a little bit and of course, as long as you have a split in there with I still remember that split between the two walls is a pain in the rain of good times during the 80s. Now, real quick, I wanted to ask you about your new project Bingo. called the harder they fall. Is there anything you could talk a little bit about no J visa, a producer with Lauren's on that?
Boaz Yakin 1:17:36
Yeah, what my mind and my friend James Samuel, who was a mutant comes from music, mostly, you know, he's a songwriter. And he, he directed a couple of shorts, a couple of his own videos. And he had this concept for this Western that he'd been trying to make for years. And he asked me to help him with rewrite it. He had, he had written the original drafts. And it was filled with great ideas, but a bit unruly or quite unruly. And I basically helped kind of pare it into something that I think was more like Mabel. And James then came in and rewrote on that. So we wrote, ended up writing that script together, based on his concept and the end, and they made it and they just shot it, it's, it's going to come out on Netflix at some points, great cast. And yeah, it's an all African American spaghetti western, basically. But it's going to have like a lot of music and all and he definitely has a vision and a style. And yeah, he just did. He directed it. And he it's a huge budget first directorial film, I mean, unbelievable. But again, taking those kind of chances. They're taking those kinds of risks. And I imagine it'll be fun. That's awesome.
Alex Ferrari 1:19:01
That's very awesome. I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all of my guests. What is the biggest mistake you see young screenwriters make?
Boaz Yakin 1:19:12
Interesting, I mean, I'm gonna kind of not answer that question. Just in the sense, just in the sense. I don't tend to really focus on screenwriting in my ingestion of movies. I tend to think of it I think, filmmakers, you know, I tend to think that filmmakers I never know when I see a screenwriters name on a movie, how much of their voices in the movie or not?
Alex Ferrari 1:19:42
Or let me, let me rephrase the question. What were some of the biggest mistakes you made when you were first starting out at this?
Boaz Yakin 1:19:49
Well, nothing's a mistake you're learning. Okay, you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:19:56
you need to go through so you're basically saying we got to go through some of these hardships in order Democrats, you got to cut.
Boaz Yakin 1:20:01
Yeah, you're learning. I mean, you know, your process as a human being is filled with self imposed barriers, externally imposed barriers, some of which you cross, some of which you don't, you know, there's no mistake, right? Like, you know, like I could say, you know what, when you're writing a Hollywood movie, it's a mistake to take anything personal. Right? But it's not a mistake. You just have to go through that experience. Get your ass beat, and then somehow come out of it as either as a human being who can absorb that with a thicker skin or a deeper capacity to like, handle things or not. But there's no mistake in it. It's It's It's just the process.
Alex Ferrari 1:20:50
It's a great and I answer I love it.
Boaz Yakin 1:20:53
That's, that's my answer for your question
Alex Ferrari 1:20:55
What are the three screenplays that every screenwriter should?
Boaz Yakin 1:21:01
Wow, again, I don't really read scripts. I see films, right. Three well written films. Oh my god, there's so many well written sounds. Just pick three that comes to your head. Three well written films Ingmar Bergman's persona, yep. Mr. Bergman's scenes from a marriage, especially and winter, like, biting my bird. So, if there's another word that you want to see anything with a really well written script, watch a Bergman movie. That's my advice.
Alex Ferrari 1:21:46
Now, what advice would you give a screenwriter wanting to break into the business today?
Boaz Yakin 1:21:53
I have no advice. Make a move.
Alex Ferrari 1:21:56
Because it just don't make something write something make.
Boaz Yakin 1:21:58
Make a fucking movie. I mean, are you know, I don't know. I have no idea. I have no idea.
Alex Ferrari 1:22:06
World is so different. Now. It's just
Boaz Yakin 1:22:07
it's so different from like, I mean, I'm still trying to stay afloat in the business, right? That's a different thing. It's like trying to stay afloat. And I feel like I'm trying to reinvent the wheel for myself everyday. That's the thing that you mentioned before, when we that's what's so crazy is that, like, I've been doing this for so long. And every time I finish something, or whatever, I feel like I'm never gonna work again. Yeah, and sometimes, you know, like, right now I'm kind of in that zone, where I'm like, Oh, shit, am I ever gonna get another job? Like, Oh, my God, am I ever gonna make another trip like, and then one day you find yourself making something, whatever you're like, holy shit, I can't believe that happened. Like, I've always been really jealous of people that just seem to work, and treat it like a job. Because I always think it's a miracle every time I get a job, or every time I make a film. I'm always in shock. I'm always in shock, you know, but in terms of how you get in now, it's a totally different world.
Alex Ferrari 1:23:02
And what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business
Boaz Yakin 1:23:05
Oh, my gosh. gratitude.
Alex Ferrari 1:23:13
Yeah. grateful for everything.
Boaz Yakin 1:23:18
Gratitude to God, the Creator, the universe, whatever you want to call it, for being a part of it. Not taking things personally, no matter what it is. Understanding that nothing in this universe is personal, even if it might seem like it is. That's been the hardest. And the most important lesson for me
Alex Ferrari 1:23:39
I can I know I can keep talking to you for a long time, at least three, four hours, but I want to respect your time, and I do appreciate you.
Boaz Yakin 1:23:47
Thanks for having me, man. It was fun to talk to you.
Alex Ferrari 1:23:49
It was an absolute pleasure talking to you, man. So thanks again,
Boaz Yakin 1:23:52
down the rabbit hole of disappear.
Alex Ferrari 1:23:58
I want to thank Boaz for coming on the show and dropping his truthful knowledge bombs on the tribe today. Thank you so much, guys. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, head over to the show notes at bulletproof screenwriting.tv forward slash 114. And if you haven't already, please head over to screenwriting podcast calm and leave a good review and subscribe to the show. It really helps us out a lot. Thank you so much for listening, guys. As always, keep on writing no matter what. I'll talk to you soon.
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