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Simon Kinberg Scripts Collection: Screenplays Download

Simon Kinberg (born August 2, 1973) is a British-born American filmmaker. He is best known for his work on the X-Men film franchise, and has also written such films as Mr. & Mrs. Smith and Sherlock Holmes. He has served as a producer on others including Cinderella and The Martian, the latter which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. His production company Genre Films had a first-look deal with 20th Century Fox. Kinberg made his directorial debut in the 2019 X-Men film Dark Phoenix from a script he also wrote.

Kinberg was born in Hammersmith, London, England to American parents Monica Menell-Kinberg and Jud Kinberg, a New York City-born writer and producer. From age six, he was raised in Los Angeles, California. He is Jewish. Kinberg graduated from Brentwood High School, and then from Brown University, Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude; in 2003 received his MFA from Columbia University School of the Arts, where he won the Zaki Gordon Fellowship for Screenwriting.

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

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


(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).

THE 355 (2022)

Screenplay by Simon Kinberg – WILL POST AS SOON AS IT’S AVAILABLE

DARK PHOENIX (2019)

Screenplay by Simon Kinberg – WILL POST AS SOON AS IT’S AVAILABLE

LOGAN (2017)

Produced by Simon Kinberg – Read the screenplay!

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (2017)

Produced by Simon Kinberg – Read the screenplay!

DEADPOOL (2016)

Produced by Simon Kinberg – Read the screenplay!

THE MARTIAN (2015)

Produced by Simon Kinberg – Read the screenplay!

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (2014)

Screenplay by Simon Kinberg – Read the screenplay!

SHERLOCK HOLMES (2009)

Screenplay by Simon Kinberg – Read the screenplay!

MR. AND MRS. SMITH (2005)

Screenplay by Simon Kinberg – Read the screenplay!

Sam Raimi Scripts Collection: Screenplays Download

Below you’ll find a list of every film in Sam Raimi’s filmography that is available online. Watch the videos below to get a deeper insight into the writing process. If you find any of his missing screenplays please leave the link in the comment section.

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


Watch Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead “Prequel” short film Within The Woods.

(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).

BOOK OF THE DEAD – Early Draft of Evil Dead (1979)

Screenplay by Sam Raimi – Read the screenplay!

EVIL DEAD II (1986)

Screenplay by Sam Raimi and Scott Spiegel – Read the screenplay!

DARKMAN (1989)

Screenplay by Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi, Joshua, and Daniel Gordan, and Chuck Pfarrer – Read the screenplay!

THE ARMY OF DARKNESS (1991)

Screenplay by Sam Raimi and Ivan Raimi – Read the screenplay!

THE HUDSUCKER PROXY (1992)

Screenplay by Joel and Ethan Coen and Sam Raimi – Read the screenplay!

DRAG ME TO HELL (2009)

Screenplay by Sam Raimi and Ivan Raimi – Read the screenplay!

ASH vs EVIL DEAD (2015)

Written by Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi, and Tom Spezialy – Read the screenplay!

DOCTOR STRANGE IN THE MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS (2022)

Screenplay by Michael Waldron & Jade Bartlett – AS SOON AS IT’S AVAILABLE


Sam Raimi – How Does Horror Comedy Work?

A horror comedy, in theory, seems very hard. Comedy provides joy by making us laugh, and happy. While horror movies prey upon our deep emotions, disturbing and unsettling us. If successful, they thrust us out- causing uncontrollable laughter or genuine fear. While their aims are different, comedy and horror movies both affect us on a base level. This sets them apart from other genres of movies. So what happens when the line between these two genres fade out? What is so fascinating about horror comedies is that there are so many radical ways to approach it. Maybe the most appropriate method is putting comic features as well as characters in scary movies (which started way back 1948). There is also the medi-textual approach that balances both genres (having a horror and comedy scene).

There is another method used by one of the experts in the horror-comedy “Sam Raimi.” Unlike most horror comedies, there is a scary part and funny part. In this case, the funny parts are the scary parts and vice versa. What Sam Raimi understands is that the creation of a scary movie is more or less the same as the construction of a comedy. There is the setup and a payoff, suspense and then a scare.

Horror movies, like action, is the kind of genre that relies totally on the manipulation of a formal element (the controlled perspective, or the style of editing that can be utilized to create vivid stretches of pregnant intention or immediate action).

The makeup of a scary movie and that of a comedy are the same (a payoff and setup). These two genres rely mainly on ‘timing’ to get the best results. Without the few seconds of intensity to arouse some form of anticipation, both the laugh and scare will fall flat. On an emotional level, these two genres have a significant disparity, but on a physiological note, there is so much in common.

However, when the two genres are being combined, the result can be a very strange satisfying experience which plays with two main opposing sides of our subconsciousness and at the same time gratifying both. And so, even if you decide to play it out through an open comedic situation, dialogue, or gags through a unique creation of Sam Raimi or just as Edgar Wright does, it is entirely up to you.

There is no wrong or right method to produce a horror-comedy movie, but Sam’s approach is much subtle than most directors in the game. The outcome of the integrated piece is hard to recognize and very unexpected, thus making it thrilling, potent, and surprising. So instead of making these two scenes a distinct unit, he intertwines them, making it the same thing. Like the ‘Evil Dead’ movie by Sam Raimi in 1981, the primary tool in his approach tones just like me musical note. Playing them in the right sequence to put the viewers in a role of ‘mind blowing’ experience.

BPS 195: The Profitable Feature Film Formula with Rob Goodrich & Jason Armstrong

Today on the show we have film producers Jason Armstrong and Rob Goodrich.

Armstrong and Goodrich founded Walk Like A Duck Entertainment, a film production company that develops and produces high quality scripted and non-scripted content.

With a combined 30+ years in the entertainment industry, Armstrong and Goodrich have held positions in all aspects of production with a focus on IP acquisition, development, packaging and raising capital.

The company has forced strong and supportive relationships with filmmakers and talent, advising and collaborating through all aspects of production.

Jason and Rob are currently in pre-production on Andy Armstrong’s SQUEALER, and recently completed production on the following films: SLAYERS (starring Abigail Breslin, Malin Akerman, Thomas Jane), DIG (starring Thomas Jane, Emile Hirsch, Liana Liberato), SKELLY (starring Brian Cox, Torrey Devitto, John Palladino), and SALVATION (Claire Forlani, Thomas Jane, Skeet Ulrich, Theo Rossi, Ashley Moore).

They have also acquired life rights of John Fairfax, an adventurer who crossed both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans in a rowboat, which they’re currently developing with Tiffany Fairfax, widow of John Fairfax.

Armstrong and Goodrich puts a premium value on developing creative and strategic partnerships across sales, distribution, co-production and post-production companies. The trajectory of a project varies on a case by case basis, Armstrong and Goodrich are uniquely positioned to manage all aspects of a projects lifespan.

As music, publishing and sync-licensing continue to establish increasing revenue streams and relevance in a financial model for a film or TV series, they have established 6 To Midnight Music, an ASCAP / BMI affiliate with a Co-Publishing deal with BMG Music, headed by Walk Like A Duck Entertainment partner, Cameron Goodrich.

Film producers Jason Armstrong and Rob Goodrich have created a way to produce profitable feature films in record speed durning one of the craziest and uncertain times in film history. I sat down with both producers to see how they are doing what they are doing, how they ramped up so fast and how they are making money with there system.

Enjoy my conversation with Jason Armstrong and Rob Goodrich.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome the show, Rob Goodrich and Jason Armstrong. How're you guys doing?

Rob Goodrich 0:17
Good. Thank you so much for having us.

Jason Armstrong 0:17
Great. Thank you!

Alex Ferrari 0:19
Thank you so much for coming on the show guys. You guys are you guys are as they say, in fuego right now, doing a lot of a lot of productions. And I want to and you have a very kind of like a different way of doing what you guys are doing, which I really want to kind of get into. But before we get started, man, how did you both get started in this insane business?

Rob Goodrich 0:43
Well, I leaned over to Jay, he's my senior. So I'll let him go first.

Alex Ferrari 0:49
I'm sure and I'm sure he reminds you about that all the time.

Jason Armstrong 0:55
Or vice versa.

Alex Ferrari 0:56
Exactly.

Jason Armstrong 0:57
So yeah, no, I started off in the business originally as a copywriter in in commercials and everything. And then Antalya commercial down in LA met a producer asked me if I was interested in writing for television. So So then he developed a children's while sort of a tween series. At that time, he had an Oprah deal with Nickelodeon. So it was originally something for Nickelodeon. And then Disney came in and, and sort of swept, swept, swept it away, to get worked, worked on that, and then created another series. I would say probably about a year after that, and and then you sort of fall into that writers room, you know, sort of the in house writers and, and everything else. But that was sort of the the early, you know, the early stage into the business was was very much from a writing perspective. And then in that tween world, and then started slowly moving into producing, you know, my own content, having a little bit, a little bit more control, obviously, right or over the creative to an extent, to an extent that that stage, and then yeah, and then did a lot of children's series Brucella children series, a lot of CO pro deals. At that time, I was in Canada, so I was doing a little copro deals between Canada and the UK. And then just kept, kept rolling into two different things. There's some obvious some lifestyle stuff that came into play. And then and then dove into into the features.

Alex Ferrari 2:35
And how about you, Rob?

Rob Goodrich 2:39
Well, you know, it's funny, I never, I never considered myself much of a film guy growing up, I always enjoyed going to the movies, I enjoyed renting movies. But you know, as far as telling you, who was in every movie, who directed it just never really was my forte, I never took a huge interest, what I did find was that I had a really good rapport with people. And I had a good, good ability to sort of put pieces together. I found that through playing sports as a kid and, you know, always sort of being in a leadership position. So I guess through college, which had no film intentions, I started to develop more and more of an interest in entertainment. I ended up working on the music side. First, to be honest with you, I was working with a lot of artists helping to coordinate sort of like those radio concerts that they would do, seasonally. So what that really did was that taught me how to work with artists and work with sort of the in and out demands of not just a rapper or a band or this or that, but their entire entourage. And so it was sort of a culmination of taking my ability to sort of put puzzle pieces together and my growing fascination with film. So through that sort of music thing and introductions to a lot of managers and sort of that, that circle of that high level music world. I took an interest in film, and I did what we all sort of hope I hope we all do his IPA, IPA on a ABC reality show, which I will not name. Realize that that was not for me. And then I got a call from Paramount that said, hey, you know, you you work with Justin Bieber? On the music side? Would you have any interest in coming and sort of consulting as a producer with us on the Never Say Never Bieber tour, which Paramount did? So I worked with some of the other producers on that prior. And that really sort of kicked it off. I mean, I think it's I don't know if I had a career path set in mind. I've always looked at producing in sort of a broad scope. You know, I think entertain entertainment is entertainment and what is entertaining to somebody is different to another row, I, I've always taken my background in music, transitioned into film, and a little bit of TV. It's all sort of just being the same thing. You know, it's all just sort of management from top to bottom. So through that, ironically enough years later, that's how Jay and I met under the roof at BMG Music through a colleague who said, I think you guys would really mesh well. And so we'd both sort of taken our own paths in the film world and had some success with that, and certainly climbed our way up, and touched every corner of the business and had some success and had some failure and got our bruises. But by the time Jay and I met at BMG Music, it was actually to discuss the film and immediately hit it off. And I think it was that perfect moment where we collided and could really complement one another with where we were at in our own careers and where we were, you know, aiming to go.

Alex Ferrari 6:03
You know, it's so funny, because I've been in the business now for 20 odd years. And, you know, when you're when you're working with somebody, especially a producing partner, it's like dating, like you're getting into a marriage you are, you know, there's no question about, especially when you're like, on one project, it's like that, let alone multiple projects over the course of years. So that's something a lot of filmmakers don't really understand about the partnership scenario. It's you're dating before you get married, and, and you're married after you signed the deal to make the first film. And then you're like, alright, well, we dated already. You know, we could divorce after this project, but we're going to go through this project.

Jason Armstrong 6:47
As soon as you create an llc.

Alex Ferrari 6:54
No question it is, and there's so you guys seem to like, you know, from what I was able to gather through your IMDB profiles, you guys have been hustling for a while, in your own worlds. But it seems like when you guys got together in more recently, actually, you just started all of a sudden, like you were in a lot of productions, and a lot of different things going on at the same time. So that's very unusual for a new, you know, producing partnership that I've seen, I don't see like it just doesn't, overnight, just come up, you guys have both been working out. You've done some work in the future world who doesn't work in television world, but really not likely, you're doing now not at the level, you're doing it now with the cast and things like that, what kind of what started this explosion of, of these, you know, doing so many projects and with the caliber of people you're doing so recently,

Rob Goodrich 7:45
You know what it was sort of a collection of years where we very mindfully said, you know, let's, let's get that IP, let's get the content, let's make sure that our catalogue is full of stuff where we know we can pull something out. And when we've got that extra piece, we can really start to package it more seriously. And, you know, look, I mean, we've been fortunate with the snowball effect. We've identified IP that we that we think fits into the market well, but we've also identified a time that, unfortunately, has been so damaging for so many businesses, we've, you know, we've used a formula in the past two years, where we've been able to create, you know, marketable films, for modest budgets. And, and really, when the world has been so scared about, you know, big crowds and heavy footprints, we've been able to go shoot these movies, you know, not on a Netflix budget, we're not concerned about insurance, but really more on a smaller budget with smaller crews, where we can say to actors, look, we need you for six days, or we need you for three days. We've limited our shooting schedules, and you know, this, the scope of our films are sort of in that mid range. But you know, we've shot six this year as a result. And I think that snowball effects, when you can go to an agency and actually deliver a fee on time and escrow. And you can get an accurate, calm and have a pleasant experience. It really has a positive effect. And I mean, we're fortunate now where we've got a lot of agents calling and saying, Hey, what do you have that I can sneak in accurate? Or would you look, would you look at this project. So so we really were aware of not trying to jump the gun and just make a movie to make a movie, but really be a little bit more strategic in how we rolled it out.

Jason Armstrong 9:39
Yeah, and also, I would say I'm just sort of add on to that. You know, through that time, a story can be achieved in just the same way haven't be self contained. You know, you can still have great stories that doesn't that don't have to have an incredible number of company moves and have all these different settings. There was you know, through COVID, there was this opportunity to still have, you know, tell great stories, and focus very heavily on the character development through the story. And that could be achieved, you know, with fewer cast members of your locations, and still, you know, still deliver great content that didn't speak to the market. So, you know, it was it was just that opportunity, and also to touch on the other thing that you mentioned, Alex, with regards to sort of moving quickly. I feel as though there's, you know, everyone's sort of, if they've been involved in the business from every angle for a long period of time. So, I mean, like, Robin, I like before mentioning, the PA, you know, worked is, I mean, I've been a scripting, you know, I've been a continuity director, I mean, I've been a general, I mean, so like, hearing through all these things, and what happens with all that is you have, you start to develop this very, very large network. And when you find someone to partner with, that isn't so safeguarded, and protects that network, because I feel a lot in our industry, you know, even if people partner together on one film, you're like, Oh, these are my guys, or these are, this is my network, this is who I access. And the problem is that just puts up these walls immediately. That shouldn't be there, because this is a collaborative business. I mean, that's, that's where you thrive. And I feel as though Rob and I wouldn't be partnered, our success sort of happened very quickly, because there were none of those walls it was, each of our networks became one large network. And we're able to sort of pinpoint where certain strengths and certain projects could stand and, and access those without delay. And I think that's sort of you know, that's, that's what you that's what you need to do, if you're going if you are going to partner together and build a slate, and evaluate the IP and determine whether the market speaks to that, you know, that content and everything you need to be able to, you know, open book with regards to what your access is.

Alex Ferrari 12:00
It's interesting, because if I go back to the analogy of the marriage, when you start dating someone or you, you start moving in with somebody, you don't have a joint account just yet. You have separate, you have separate accounts. And then when you have a joint account, it's serious. Now we're sharing our money. So it's the same thing. You're sharing your contacts, you're sharing your network. And by doing that, you're able to basically put gasoline on the fire because you're able to access so many things. Yeah, I've been with I've, you know, I've had I've partnered with people, they're like, I, I hang out with Tom Cruise every weekend. I'm like, Can Can Can you? Can you? Can you talk to Tom Cruise? No, no, I can't. That's very sensitive. I can't talk to Tom Cruise. I'm like, yeah, what the hell are we doing here? I'm using as exempt. I don't know anybody who knows toppers. But anyway. But I get the boy, you get the point like and, and it could be something as like, Oh, yeah. Me and Thomas Jane, go hang out. And we go golfing. Oh, can we maybe pitch them this project? You're like, well, that's, it's my that's my connection with Thomas. That's not with you know, it's weird. But it's, it's kind of this whole energy that a lot of people in the industry have of lack of, of fear. Because you know, I think you go it's gonna agree this entire business is run on fear, Hollywood is run is completely run on fear on FOMO fear of missing out huge deals have been dropped huge amount of money have been dropped purely on the fear of losing out. And if and we and we unfortunately have seen some of those movies over the years, but But Rob, you were talking about your formula, can you kind of dive into this, this formula that you're that you're you guys are working on that are able to do all this and today's environment? Cuz I think you probably started prior to COVID. But you were kind of like, primed, ready for it when it came out in a way.

Rob Goodrich 13:50
Yeah, we really were. You know, it's interesting look, at the end of the day, for any filmmaker, it's always about money. And and not necessarily, hey, how am I going to make money? But how are we going to source money. And I think that's where that's where I think we really separate ourselves. We, you know, we're genre agnostic. And by what I mean by that is we don't measure ourselves to a horror film or a drama or this. I mean, we're looking at the market, we're filmmakers, but we're also businessmen. And we want to be able to say, alright, if I want to do this one day, I have to have the track record of doing XYZ before that, to be taken seriously. Right. And so we're really in the business of establishing partnerships, creating, you know, good relationships with people. I know, that sounds sort of cliche. So a big part of our formula is, you know, who do we like to work with? Because who can we call next to say, Alright guys, you know, I'm in I'm in Las Cruces, New Mexico right now. So okay, guys, here's the tax credit here. Here's where we know we're certain soft money sets. Can we go to the usual partner so we start to analyze a product Based on certainly location, and what those tax credits look like, so we can get some semblance of where, where our financing structure comes into play. As that's happening, we're in daily communication with our sales partners, our distribution partners, really working backwards, so that we can say, alright, this finance plan actually does fit in line with the scale of the film, the budget, we can make this type of movie with this amount of crew, for instance, we're a union production company, we're always hiring union crews. So by working backwards, obviously, like a lot of filmmakers, we're in daily communication with those distributors, or those sales companies say, Okay, what do we think about this cast list? What do we think about this so that everything that we're doing, we're checking a box, so that we don't have that pardon my French that oh, shit moment, you know, when we're supposed to go off, I, if I just did this differently, if I just had that actor, or I just thought about that other seat currently. So we really, we try to work backwards to a degree. One of the things, you know, that I think it has been working for us is, you know, we built some good relationships with talent. We've We've got actors that enjoy working on our set, we try to keep it relaxed. And, you know, we welcome the creative feedback and collaboration. So when we're able to call an agent or an actor, and say, Hey, we've got this project, or they're calling us and saying, I'm looking for something for two weeks, what do you have? Well, that's such a big piece of the puzzle, that we're then able to really get that packaging process, going a lot faster. You know, we're not necessarily always hunting, to make a movie, bring it to a festival, get all the awards, do everything. I mean, it's a different climate today. As we all know, we were very interested in exploring and evaluating every project and every sales opportunity every day that we're prepping, filming, and then post so that we're always elevating the value of a project. We're looking at streamer deals, we're looking we look at the article, but we're always exploring what that best fit is for any film. And we've been very fortunate. I mean, New Mexico has been terrific. Massachusetts has been terrific. Toronto has been good to us. So I hope that answers part of it.

Alex Ferrari 17:30
So usually, what you guys are basically saying is don't shoot a $2 million period piece personal film, with no stars attached shot in black and white is generally it's generally not what you want to do. And that's the approach of so many filmmakers they just like I want to make art. I'm like, great, if you want to make art make it for $5. Don't make it for 5 million and mortgaged your house, which I've had people on the show who have mortgaged their house have lost their house, because they're like, Hey, I think this is gonna go it's the craziest in our business is so insane. Because I've talked to investors and the like, you guys, this is insanity. I'm like it is Yeah. But yeah, if you know what you're doing, it can be you can make money with it. But the scope of of, you could spend $2 million and have literally a useless product, you spent $2 million on cookies, you have $2 million worth of cookies you could sell. Right? So there's a product, there's a product there.

Rob Goodrich 18:33
Yeah, you know, and we're not afraid either. And I think it's important to be honest, in this business, I don't think you have to be a jerk. But I think it's good to be transparent. And look, I mean, we know how to finance films, we know how to package talent, we know how to sell films. So we can we can analyze a project from really any perspective, not to say we're the best at it. But you know, we've got a pretty good understanding of each, so that when we're talking to a filmmaker, or we're talking or evaluating a new project, we can very easily to your point, say, look, I totally love where you're coming from. But here's why that wouldn't work, right? In today's world. Instead of saying your project sucks, we're not going to do it. Maybe there's some value in it. So then we can have a more collaborative conversation and say, Look, this is how we might approach it. These are the types of people we might bring into it to help you see, you know, this follow through with your intentions. We never want to say no to any project off the bat. But we are pretty quick to say, here are the things that we know won't work. And that's based on real time, experience, real time, market trends, real time investors, etc.

Jason Armstrong 19:43
Another thing I would want to say too, is I mean, a lot of art is a timing chance, right? I mean, it really does play by time and chance, especially within the arts. So there are things that are going to speak to certain types there. You know, there's going to be an audience for certain content at a certain time. And unfortunately, you know, something can get lost. If it if it isn't, you know, released or, or evaluated at the right time. So I mean, that's the other thing that will pay very close attention to is, is recognizing you know what, right now, this would be unfortunately the it's not so much even how it's being built out so far is just that it will not achieve the audience that it should right now. So in order to and then that and then that becomes just this lost art. And to your point before it is a business. So if it's, if you are going to do it as a hobby in the arts, then that is one thing. If it is going to operate as a business, then yes, you need you need to develop something that people want, and that will sell. And, and that doesn't. And then there's a lot of fear that surrounds that, then people when they hear that they start to think, oh, how is that going to jeopardize the creative? How is that going to alter this, this, this and this, this, and it doesn't actually have to do that. And, and at the same time, let's let's look at that, if it's something that is not flexible, that cannot be flexible, cannot be examined, you know, in order to sort of build it in a different in a different way than it might be it's something that just sits somewhere and is never seen. Never heard of no one's ever aware of which is fine. But one of the one of the most valuable things in the art world is literally in you know, having an effect on people you know, provoking a conversation, excitement, anything like that. That's that's that's sort of the the largest payoff outside of VR was that, you know, investors obviously, one of the largest payoff is actually having that developing an audience having an effect on its audience. Right. So that's, you know, that's something you really, you know, you do have to pay attention to the timing of these things. And if something's not now it can't be a year from now it can you know, in or find a way for it to be that So,

Alex Ferrari 21:54
Right. So in other words, contagion not gonna come out right now. As a brand new movie. Not really like it. I don't care if it's Steven Soderbergh not happening right now. Nobody wants to see them. How many? How many? How many pandemic movies have you turned down in the last two years?

Jason Armstrong 22:15
It's wild.

Alex Ferrari 22:16
Right?

Rob Goodrich 22:18
It's funny how quickly people pick up on a trend and go, here. I've got this. What do you think?

Alex Ferrari 22:24
I've been yelling on my show for the last two years. Nobody wants your pandemic script. Nobody wants to watch it. Nobody wants to see it. I don't care if Meryl Streep's in it. Nobody wants to watch it. Because we're living it. It's kind of like having a terrorist movie A week after 911. So one of the things is there something that you see, in your, in your day to day, some mistakes that you see filmmakers make when they're pitching to producers, or trying to pitch you guys a script, or or project or something like that, because there is a you know, I do my best with this show to educate as many filmmakers as humanly possible about the realities of this business. And the realities of life. Don't run up to you at a Starbucks and go, here's my script. Read it. I don't know who you are. You don't know who I am. You don't know who I am. But here read it. There's certain ways of doing things. Is there mistakes that you consistently see that you can kind of call out and hopefully help some people listening?

Rob Goodrich 23:22
Well, Jay, I can jump in first. I mean, I think I think a common thing that sort of gets under my skin a bit just because it never works. And I never, you know, we've all pitched something before, right? So I don't ever shame anybody for doing that. You know, when you come up and you say, Oh, I've got money attached to these investors or this actor, I want to call BS every time. I mean, one of the ways that Jay and I typically vet a project and about five seconds, is I say, tell me where your bank account is. And I'll make a $1 deposit. Because if they've got a bank account open, well, then they're more of a business to me. But it how do you have these investors? And how do you have this infrastructure set up to make a movie that we can just jump in and start packaging? It's not really set up. And then it's the Phantom investor or it's the Phantom actor, who to your point earlier is like the cousin of Tom Cruise that went out once but I don't want to call him yet because he's, you know, Uruguay. So that's a big red flag. I would much rather see a project when somebody says, Hey, I love this movie that you guys just did. I think I have something that might connect with you might not let me just send you a logline. Or would it be okay, if I just send you some preliminary info? Without all the baggage, you know, then it could be more appealing to sort of say, oh, you know what, this is pretty cool. Let us follow up. Let us see where it's at. Because we have the tools to help package that if it's something that we like, it's just sort of the

Alex Ferrari 24:59
So the letters of intent, not so much?

Rob Goodrich 25:11
it's nice to have I guess?

Alex Ferrari 25:14
Be honest, be honest, it's absolutely almost useless. It's like it's literally it's absolutely almost useless letters of intent. I got I was up, I was packaging a deal. And the producer was like, Oh, we have this letter of intent from this Oscar winner. And, and I saw it. And everywhere he, I mean, literally, if he could have tattooed it on his frickin chest, he would have tapped because everywhere he walked in, he's like, here's my letter of intent with this dude, that I spoke to unconvinced the first talking point. Yeah, that's first talking points. I have a letter of intent from this Oscar winner. Here's his signature. So all that says to me is that you were able to calm this poor, older actor with a little commitment. No, no. The letter What? No, I said letter of intent, sir.

Jason Armstrong 25:52
From the talent, a letter of commitment for the financing,

Alex Ferrari 25:57
Commitment, stop it.

Rob Goodrich 26:00
Well, you know what, here's here's the, here's the behind the curtain of all of that, right? Yeah, we obviously work with a number of agencies and ensure projects from that. And they'll have talent, quote, unquote, attached, that are, quote, unquote, attached. So it's hard enough for the people that are in the industry, the managers, the producers, the talent, actually have a project that is that far along. So when you've got somebody that is fairly new to the game, or trying to break in, or has a great idea, it's just that much more unbelievable, to no fault of their own. But it's just such an uphill battle. I mean, really, where we are in an industry right now. And we're, we've had some success, not to give the company sauce away. But look, you make an offer, you make a payer play offer, and you deliver the funds. And that's going to make it real to an agent. And it's amazing how quickly that reverberates through the industry. Oh, wow. They, they actually escrow that talent, a day before it was due, or was due, oh, yeah, they signed the contract. So that's what makes it real, no one is attached until that money is in that account. And for better or worse, where we are, I mean, it's such a competitive market right now, there's so much out there, and there's so many places to put content, that you've got to make it real by putting the money in the account. And you got to be willing to part ways with it. And with that comes a lot of risk for producers. But you know, you got to be confident in what you're doing.

Jason Armstrong 27:26
You got to be offering the model that you put together, right? Because there's always been a filtering system that's existed, right? We know that. And it's because otherwise, there just be so much being channeled into all of these outlets. And now there's just so many, so the filtering system is just become even more prominent, and important. And so the way to actually get around that is to have everything built. So if you are going to engage, you have the money to engage, it's not, it's not oh, we're engaging, and then there's going to be this long period of time where nobody's talking about it, because you couldn't really have the follow through. That's, you know, immediately that's a red flag and people are going to take seriously. So the second that you do engage with the people that you do need to put your project together. Everything has to be in place. So that if you get a yes, immediately.

Alex Ferrari 28:22
And that is that's refreshing, because that doesn't happen in our business at all. It's a lot of talk, it's a lot of talk a lot of luck in the lip service and all this kind of stuff. And I mean, God, how many people like oh, I have this guy attached, or I've got this money's about to drop. Oh, I love that term. The money's about to drop tomorrow. It's dropping. Oh, we got pushed back. Oh, because his allowance hasn't hit yet. Because, you know, he's a multimillionaire in England. And his wife gives him a million dollars every month as in and he just wants to be in the movie. And we've Yep, sure. I'm not telling you stories, you're gonna hurt. It's a small, it's a small little roll, like maybe at the bar or something, you know, give him two lines, and he'll finance the whole movie. Like we hear all these stories. And by the way, everyone who's not watching this we're all laughing we're all we're also we have smiles on our faces because we've all heard these stories before. But it's so fascinating over my career, it doesn't change now what those stories that we're just talking about happened to me in the 90s when I was coming up and they're still happening today and they think that they work and that's why I kind of call out you know letters of intent and like the all this kind of stuff that's all kind of fluff you know or I could get this guy on the phone right once walked by this person or you know I parked cars or where this guy plays golf or something. There's always so many of these stories but when you guys are doing is interesting because you're actually I don't know doing what you say you're gonna do. Which is oddly a rarity in this business. How I've always found it fascinating how anything ever gets done in in Hollywood and I can't even comprehend at the 100 $200 million world, how many moving parts? How many things because even that world, they're still financing these things, they still they're still banks, they're still like, you got to go? Absolutely. I mean, it's not like, Disney is just writing checks, though they probably can at this point, but they're smart enough not to use their own money. Yeah, right. You know, it's

Rob Goodrich 30:24
Our big thing, too, is look, I mean, we've got, we've got projects in pipeline for the next year or two years that that are those studio level films. But for right now, we're the world's at where we're at, we control the clock, you know, and we're able to really, we're able to work with AD's and work with mine producers and work with directors that we can talk to every day. And, and, you know, we can control the financing and the model, and control the sales and control the marketing, you know, to a degree, right, but we're able to control the clock a little bit more, which is, which has been helpful, and it keeps us busy. But it allows us to sort of work with and to spit out a product that, you know, we know, sort of shares the integrity that we went into it.

Alex Ferrari 31:13
Can you guys talk a little bit about the importance of a bankable star, based off of budget. So you know, cuz I always tell people, like, Look, if you got a $50,000 movie, anytime you could put a bankable star, and even if it's a phase, do it anytime, at any budget range. But as that budget continues to go up, you at that point need to have bankable stars of certain magnitudes depending on the budget. So certain actors can finance a million dollar, or $2 million, even a $5 million, but they're not going to finance a 30 million, then you need another two or three of those guys. Well, you need Bruce Willis to show up. Or you need to, you know, and Bruce does I think movie a week now I think he's doing a movie a week.

Rob Goodrich 31:55
A One day One day shop.

Alex Ferrari 31:59
Pops up it's 365 movies this year. It's fantastic. But, but filmmakers don't really get that a lot of times and they're like, Oh, I wanted to, again, it goes into that hobby thing. Where like, oh, I want to be pure. I'm like, Well, I'm not the best actor for the role, then do it for 50 grand, don't do it for 500 grand. So can you talk about the importance of it, and then how you're able to attract these actors, I think we kind of touched upon this, like money talks. So if you show up and drop some money, you're gonna get people's attention pretty quickly.

Rob Goodrich 32:29
We through the years, everybody's got a gatekeeper. Right. And so the agents and the managers, they're gatekeepers, it's like any business, you know, you sort of all come up together, or you meet here and there. In my world, I was in Venice Beach for a long time. And it took a lot of the sort of the razor blades out of the agents out of the managers, when we were having a beer at Hinata, or the whaler or, you know, at the beach. So forging those relationships, you know, it's a q&a, you know, we're on the producing side, they're on the, they're on the deal side. So we've been able to, over the course of a few years, balance each other, say, Hey, let me you know, pick your brain on this, let me pick your brain on that. So that access to talent, or that access to a quick read, has been very beneficial. And that's a relationship thing. And I hate that term, but it is relevant, like any business. I think that you know, money talks, that's how you get your talent, you got to get to the talent. So how do you get through the gatekeeper? Oh, good story, some level of packaging, and then the offer that you can come in with. Now, once that talent is there, what we really focus on is having a good experience, you know, we want our talent to feel as though they're valued on set, they're not just a hired piece, you know, and so far, that's been pretty successful. Those conversations, go beyond the film, they turn into text messages, hey, you watching this game? Or hey, are you gonna be in LA or boulder or this or that? So it is it's relationships. And then, you know, we've been very fortunate to sort of repeat working with certain actors, and then when you do that, like anything else, it's human nature. People say, Well, these guys got to be doing something right. This guy's working with them a number of times and they bring in their friends and it's sort of a pyramid

Alex Ferrari 34:26
It's like kind of like who's dating the you know, the hot girl and then like, and then all the other girls all the other girls are like, well, in this ugly dude, obviously is I'm not the guy with the ugly dude. But

Jason Armstrong 34:40
I didn't know this was visual. So normally we need to

Alex Ferrari 34:48
But it's it's always kind of like but it's it goes with investors too. It's like who's the first one to the party. And then when you you have, you know, a hot girl or a hot guy at the party all the time. Everybody else all the other guys and gals go away. And why is that movie star hanging out with these guys? Constantly? Yeah. And then like, then you start investigating it. And they they're like, Oh, well, this. And I have to ask you, though, you know, once you build relationships with actors, which I've had the pleasure of being able to build relationships with actors over the years, I call them up sometimes directly, I'll go, Hey, man, I got a project you want in? We've already know it's a, it's a one on one relationship that we've built over years. And I go, I don't want to cut out the agent because you don't want to piss off the agent. So can you talk a little bit about the political minefield that is calling up the actor directly? Or maybe talking to the actor first and then go into the age? How do you guys know it straddle that?

Jason Armstrong 35:41
Well, we do exactly that. So I mean, we'll we definitely play by the protocols of how to detect it. Because the reality is, even if you have that relationship, you can have that conversation, you do need then to engage the team, because there's a lot of moving parts behind, you know, and certainly in the caliber of the actor actress, it that, you know, that teams obviously larger or smaller, there's a lot of moving parts in there. And, and you could probably have a Creative Conversation with talent for a little while. But in order for it to become real, it has to it has to go through the proper channels. And I feel as though there's a lot of cases where there is maybe that one on one relationship, and, and they'll talk about something for, like for an extended period of time. And because they haven't started engaging the right parties, it never really gets there. Because things are being built behind all of these talents. All the time. I mean, things are being evaluated for them to be started. Their schedule is filling up. I mean, sometimes their schedule is filling up, almost without their being aware of it. And it really I mean, I mean, they have to, they have to, they have to okay, but my point is, it's like there is a machine behind them. That is that is handling what they are attached to what they get engaged on. So So we typically, and I don't want to speak for both Rob, like for both of us, but we typically will have that conversation, but then we will then we go immediately to their team. So that so that everything, there's just clarity, and everything was just transparent, right from the start. Otherwise, it's almost getting the reset button. You know, you engage have this long conversation with town, and then you hit up the team. And it's like, you might hit reset, because right, it starts all over again. So

Rob Goodrich 37:35
Yeah, I mean, let's not pretend that there are egos that go top to bottom.

Alex Ferrari 37:39
What Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait a bit. There's egos in this business? No,stop it.

Rob Goodrich 37:44
So the funny part is, is there, I hope agents and managers aren't listening. But you know, a lot of times, there might be bigger egos on that side of the aisle than the talent. And so I think that if you're not sort of appreciating and respecting every lane of the business, sure, then there's a lot of butthurt people, and they will literally stall, what could be a pretty easy transaction, you know, they get paid, the Africans paid, we get our actor, you know, and so, you know, what we try to do is, even if there's that personal relationship, we're very quick to stay in our own lane. Hey, you know, actress acts or actress bathroom, what, you know, we would love you for this project, we're gonna have our attorney reach out to your representation and have this go the right way. We present offers through the appropriate channels, we really tried to lead on our legal Well, we can just sort of create some buffer between what could be a relationship, whether it be an agent or an actor, and the actual business. I mean, we all I like to think we all have the same goal in mind. And 99% of the time, that's the case. But to Jay's point. I mean, we really are adamant about just doing things the right way. And we're the type of people that will go the extra mile and do the extra work. And if that means, you know, one extra step to make sure that that last person was on that email, or got notified that hey, this is gonna come through. We just wanted to do it this way. Well, then everybody's on the same page. And then that that actor or actresses team, then they can determine how to sort of circulate around something and we're very hands on from that point.

Alex Ferrari 39:25
I can't tell you how refreshing this whole conversation has been so far. I can't it's for people listening. It just doesn't happen. But what you guys are saying is what should be the industry norm, but is not. There's so many different kinds of players out there who don't do the basics. This is not like revolutionary stuff. You guys are talking about that. It's not rocket science, guys. It is it is basic, like basic thing. Like if you want to make coffee, you need a coffee bean like it's a simple, real basic stuff for most people. Like I'm gonna make coffee But out of mind, I'm like, Okay. And I'm gonna, and then I'm going to tell you it's it's the best coffee in the world. And I have a letter of intent from the best coffee being in the world. So it's remarkable, remarkable. Now, another thing that I find fascinating, but you guys is you guys are a production company. So but you do have deep wells in the investment world, meaning that you you finance your own projects, essentially, how do you? Or do you have any advice on pitching investors on your projects and how you kind of package them to a certain extent for for filmmakers, because that is, obviously everybody wants to know, like you said, at the beginning of this conversation, it's all about how we're going to get the financing to make art and hopefully make some money doing it.

Jason Armstrong 40:44
Well, I think that sort of circles back to your, your original, one of the questions that you made, Alex, which was if young filmmakers are trying to put something together, and they're going around to either look for a CO production partner, or something along those lines. One is, you know, betting things properly. And, and to making sure that you do have a model behind you. But I mean, for, for investors, it's recognizing that it's a business that you are, you're selling something. So you know, one of the things that Robin a conversation that Robin I have had with, with people when when we maybe don't see eye to eye, they brought us something, and we're looking at building it out with them, because we actually really do like the IP and everything. And don't worry, this is circling back to financing and money. But, you know, looking at building it out, is and there's some pushback look at them saying, I mean, tell me about another business that can operate that way. Like, take yourself out of the film business, and save what other business on earth could ever operate that way? Right? Where people would where people would be like, let me in, you know, let me let me give you my hard earned money, right, that I've been working for years for and I don't even care if you inherited it, it's still it was somebody, right? Somebody worked horses part earn money and put it into this, right? I mean, so that's like, the first thing you have to think about when you're approaching anyone is, wait a second, like you in depth, take yourself out of the arts, if you're trying to if you're trying to get people to give you a lot of money for an art take, remove yourself from it and recognize how would this operate in any other format? Right. And if you can see that, then that's great. But that's the that's one of the first things that Rob and I will say to someone, how would that ever work? So then outside of that, it's, it's like any business, you are trying to mitigate risk? Okay. And one of the one of the first things that anyone is going to talk about with regards to film, or sorry, or any, any, any form of media, for that matter, is, it's a risky investment. It's, it's a risky business. Because what you're selling is you're selling the product, but but you're also you're relying on people to like it, not that they need it, and especially right now, where there's endless content available to everyone. Now, it's not so much like, oh, you know, well, I need it, I need something to watch in the evenings, right? I mean, the kids have gone to bed, ideally. And now, you know, I can sit down and watch something and escape for a little period of time before you know, the morning comes there, they start to get that, that well is mess. So now, it's got to it actually has to be It can't just be the content. That's not what you're selling, are you actually selling something that people actually like, and what? So So I mean, that's, that's the whenever we talk about finance and bringing in money, we one we will have a model, so that we can show, look, we've evaluated the market, we recognize that the budget is going to speak to the market right now in this Shaundra our talent, this comes back to where you asked about, you know, or made a comment about finding that a Lister or that star that is going to drive sales, or be your most marketable piece in the film. You know, you have to actually, you have to pay very close attention that because not every actor speaks to every genre. And that'll be something that a lot of people present to us, they'll say, Oh, we think this person is perfect. And you know, and they sell so well. And be like Well, no, they sell so well but not not genre. They there's there's no knowledge in that. So yes, there are no name, but then you do have to actually it has to be you know, well researched as to whether they are going to inform sales speak that. So all of that is is basically just trying to find ways to mitigate the risk of investment on every project.

Alex Ferrari 44:53
And it is it is when you're when you're hiring an actor or a name actor, you're basically paying for marketing upfront, is you are investing in a marketing budget up front. So if you're getting if you're paying for Thomas Jane, he has a built in audience and a built in built in awareness that he's been able to build up over his career that has valued you. Can you do that for Bruce Willis? That's telling investors and that's telling people who are buying your film and buyers, you've, you've pre invested in marketing, where in a world where you know films of your size, you can't compete with the studio's just there's no way you can compete marketing money. There's just you can't you can't market your film.

Jason Armstrong 45:38
We're not matching. We're not matching our budget in marketing PR,

Alex Ferrari 45:42
No, no, are doubling or tripling. Yeah, exactly. And even if you did, what, what would that be? What value? Would that bring? Like? Seriously? Like, how could you would you even make a dent in the universe have some sort of awareness, but you put Bruce Willis in your movie, there's automatic awareness is automatic. So when you're scanning through 1000 things, you're like, oh, there's Bruce. Or there's Thomas, or, you know, there. And that's what you're paying for when you hired these these named actors. And that's what filmmakers need to truly understand. And also, another thing I always try to say is some actors. We were kind of joking about Bruce Bruce is still Bruce. And Nicolas Cage is still Nicolas Cage, no question. But there were certain actors who oversaturated the market with themselves. And I worked on movies, where the like, oh, this poor guy, like paid a good amount of money for this one actor, but he did 25 movies that year, I'm not exaggerating. And he went out to the distribution companies, like we already got three of those guys have that guy this year, we're good. And he got sick, he got saddled with a movie they couldn't sell, because the actor was oversaturated. So there's, you've got to kind of figure that out as well. It's a, it's a lovely type rope, we work we want.

Rob Goodrich 46:51
That's why we do pay close attention to speak pretty regularly with our sales guys and say, you know, what's in the pipeline for this individual? You know, what do we need to be aware of not today, but six months from now? Right? You know, I want to add one more thing to the financing. So, two things, really, I think the most important thing for people to take away is you have to be flexible, and you have to adapt, that adapt to the money and you have to adapt creatively. Because they're, they're intertwined, no matter what. So one of the ways that we really kickstart our projects, we have skin in the game, we'll put skin in the game as a company, so we can give an investment group and investor another company for a copro some level of confidence that, that we're in it. You know, we've got something to lose to we're working

Jason Armstrong 47:39
It is like being alone. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 47:44
Misery, misery loves company. Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Rob Goodrich 47:52
The other thing I was gonna say in sort of, as we're looking at financial models, and as we're looking at sales, and how do we maximize something being marketable, we have not not changed the the gender of an actor or an actress in a film, we have flipped roles, because we've identified Oh, well, you know, that actor might be more might be better as an actress, because we can get this individually and might increase the marketability, so long as it doesn't take away from the creative. And, you know, Jay and I are very, not pushy, but very upfront with our filmmakers to say, look, any suggestion we have, we're in your corner. As a director, we're in your corner as a creative team, we are always going to be pushing for what makes this movie, the most marketable, most commercial it can be, because aside from the money, that means more eyeballs are going to see it. So if there are ways for us to make improvements like that, that's how it all connects the marketability, the commercial ability to sales, the money, the investors get their money back, they come back to us and say, What do you have next, and the actors are happy.

Alex Ferrari 49:03
So it's a win win, win win across everybody across everybody's and that's, again, another rarity in our business. To say the least. Now one thing, most most filmmakers have this problem and I think everybody at any stage in the in the game other than in the studio system is distribution is actually making money with their product. Because before the you know, with the cost to make the product was such a difficult thing and expensive thing. Now you can make a pretty high quality product with the right people at a low cost. But getting it out to the marketplace and actually generating revenue with that is more difficult now than ever before. In the ever changing landscape where T VOD used to be a thing now is no longer a thing really, especially in the independent film market. S VOD is great, but they don't pay you for three years. So how do you how do you make that business work? You know, a VOD is great, but you know so and then foreign sales is not what it wasn't the 90s or the early 2000s, and you don't have DVD to fall back on anymore. So how do you guys, you know, generate revenue with your films? Like how is it like how were you doing sales agents? Are you doing pre sales? Foreign? What? Where's that kind of work? I mean, obviously, don't give me numbers. I don't want to your entire business model guys, but just generally,

Jason Armstrong 50:19
No, absolutely. I mean, look, we honestly, it's, it's different with every film, so that that's just a fact. You know, there are a lot of there are a lot of filmmakers right now that are a massive part of their finance model is foreign sales. So they'll they'll lock in a certain amount of foreign sales, and then they'll maybe try and leave domestic open, but more often than not, they'll, you know, make a big domestic deal, too. And then they'll evaluate with that shortfall or that gap. And

Alex Ferrari 50:49
Is this pre is this pre production? Or is this after production,

Jason Armstrong 50:53
Pre production,

Alex Ferrari 50:53
So your pre sell your pre selling based on selling

Jason Armstrong 50:56
On pre selling to foreign, and then even looking, and then looking at an MG domestically, and then evaluating what a gap or shortfall could look like, Okay, now, that's so that could that back, that's why that's we need to pay very, very close attention to the film. So, you know, to how it's how that genre has been performing over the past couple of years, how your talent within the in the film have been performing, or who you're looking at signing into the film, have been performing over the past couple of years. Because if you have sort of pre sold the fill to all the major markets, and now you're you are recognizing that you still have a gap or a shortfall, and you're filling that with potential equity, instead of or maybe looking at your senior financing and thinking of bridge or something along those lines. The problem is that, that is where you can find yourself in a spot where you're training someone you saying, Well, this is what's left. And you know, we need this as a as a shortfall. You want it as equity or make an equity investment? Where are you pointing to the potential ROI for that money for the person that's coming in, because you've pretty much sold the Fill everywhere, where it's going to perform well. And if if you were so in need of the money to make the film, to greenlight the film, that you weren't able to evaluate the best deal, either from a domestic sale or in foreign, you weren't really looking at the windows, you know, or like when it was gonna be built. So you're all of a sudden, you're sitting at a spot where sure you got a complete model if they fill the gap, but how are you? How are you explaining to them where they're going to see revenue? Right, because things are going to get eaten by the foreign distributors and then the sales agents going to take their fee and then it comes back in and then if you were working with senior financier to cover all that, then they've got their fee and then that's coming out and and then all of a sudden, there's all these things are getting paid out ahead of this gap, or shortfall and the gap or shortfall doesn't even have any collateralised territories or profitable territories to sit on so so that's something to be very, you know, conscious of when you're when you are examining that sort of pre sale model, which we do and then if you know if you if you have a strong enough relationship with with sales and distributors and you can engage in these conversations and not have to perhaps you know, sell your film right up front but but have those conversations recognize what its worth is again, that's a lot of that is relationship based but it's also having worked with them in the past and delivered right so so there's there's that and then then when you're speaking to to someone from an equity standpoint, hard money as opposed to soft money, you can say look, we've deliberately left this this this this open, and let me show you how this genre and this talent has performed and not not five years ago.

Alex Ferrari 54:05
Yeah, so no Blair Witch projections, and no Paranormal Activity projections that's a horror movie and your sales pitch now like they made a billion dollars you could too

Rob Goodrich 54:18
Those other ones when they show you the comps in there from 2003

Alex Ferrari 54:25
Blair which is still on every low budget horror movie comp ever

Rob Goodrich 54:31
We see insidious Blair Witch

Paranormal and paranormal don't forget paranormal.

Jason Armstrong 54:37
Yeah. See, that's that's also so that's that's that's that's the other you know, that you know, we're that's what brings up a very important subject. We deal a lot with sort of savvy investors, right. So that have already been in the game so they expect a certain thing from our model. They know that they're going to get a game If they're evaluating it from a from hard money standpoint, that that we have, we have we can answer to their ROI we can answer to their immediate ROI. And, and we even have room in the waterfall, right? I mean, because, you know, people love talking about the waterfall. But there's so many cases where the gap is a shortfall, it would take so long for them even get their ROI, their initial ROI and their investment. Forget about the back end points. I mean, my God,

Alex Ferrari 55:30
Well, it's kind of like, it's kind of like a river. And it's going over to a waterfall. And at first, it's wide open, and the waterfall is plentiful, and there's a lot of water running through. But every time you throw some new financing, there's another log, there's another, there's another giant rock, and then all of a sudden that waterfall starts slowing down to the point where it's a trick by the time it gets to the edge. It's it's a trickle, but you sold them. You sold on the open waterfall. And that's the problem.

Jason Armstrong 55:57
Absolutely.

Rob Goodrich 55:57
I can't tell you how many times we've been distracted at earlier stages that Jay and I are big, you know, contract guys, right? So everybody knows what's going on? Everybody involved? You put it in the drawer after you sign it. Hopefully you never look at it again. But there's no lingering. Well, what about this? What about that kind of conversation? I cannot tell you how many how many projects have been stalled by producers or other individuals fighting for back end points. And you just want to say you got to make the damn movie first. Oh, yeah. Yeah, then maybe we'll see. So. But that's, that's a target. I always sort of get turned off by

Alex Ferrari 56:39
Oh, everybody. I mean, how many times I mean, I've had I mean, when I was first starting out, we were meeting my original producing partner when I was just starting off off a short film I was producing that was getting a lot of heat around town. And we were taking meetings, we were fighting about the feature rights were like, I want this credit. I want that credit. And I want this back end point. I'm like, and you know, only time kind of shows you like you're idiots. There's this is not Spider Man, guys, you need to calm the hell down. Like it's not you want to fight for those points. Absolutely fight away. But there's no potential let's make the damn thing first. And then let's talk about talk about what's kind of music. It's the same thing. Who's got the publishing rights? It doesn't have the publishing rights, same thing.

Jason Armstrong 57:23
Yeah. And, and I think that's the thing when you're saying sort of saying people using the Blair Witch on you know, on a deck to help sell their film or to help or to help work on investment for investors, you know, drop some hard equity into it. It's I mean, that can work for for investors that have no experience in the business dentist, a dentist. Well, that's sexy. I mean, yeah, I can't get an ROI like that on any other investment.

Alex Ferrari 57:50
But it's so but it's immoral. It's immoral. You can't you can't throw an anomaly. Blair, which was an anomaly, parent paranormal activities anomaly and didn't send

Jason Armstrong 57:59
There's no longevity to that. Right. There's no longevity. So you'll make one movie. And Robin, I've had this conversation many times, we have no interest in making one movie. That's so if you if you deceive, right, essentially, that's pretty much what it is. You just see, of course, investors, or you just see partners that are coming in on your project, and never coming back. And anyone they know, is never coming back saying you. You haven't forged a relationship that's now going to come back on your next two or three films.

Alex Ferrari 58:31
It's toxic, it's toxic,

Rob Goodrich 58:33
Starting from scratch all over again, on your next bill. We put so much work into building that out, would he go nowhere.

Alex Ferrari 58:41
And then and then and again. On top of that you're not even starting from scratch, you're starting worse than scratch because now you've got a bad reputation out there. And now you're gonna fight against that. That's when you move. That's when you move from Louisiana to Atlanta, Atlanta, and then from Atlanta to New Mexico, and New Mexico to Vancouver.

Rob Goodrich 58:59
Well, it's crazy, because it's such a it's such a big, big business, and it's expanding across the world. But it's a

Alex Ferrari 59:06
Small business

Rob Goodrich 59:09
That traveled

Alex Ferrari 59:10
You have no idea like I'm sure if you and I started you guys and I started like talking off air about who we know. I promise you we know the same people. And I've talked to so many people on the show and I'll be like, Oh yeah, I worked with that guy. Or that guy. I started with them when they were coming up or oh this guy or that. There's this but now and it's it's people think it's a big business. It is not everybody knows everybody small world. It's very small and it never ceases to amaze me how small of a world it really is in our business. And if you piss somebody off or you do somebody wrong, it will come back to you. There's no question, no question about it and the best advice I ever got for being in the film business and everyone listening knows this because I say at nauseum don't be a dick right? that goes from the grip to the PA all the way to the producers in the director. Because you don't want to work with you don't want to work with a dick. Oh,

Rob Goodrich 1:00:09
Well, you know, I always find it takes more energy to be a dick to just either be nice or walk away.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:17
Well, that's for you because other people have made it into an art form of being a dick. Have you run it? Have you run into that guy? I've run into that, but he might just only one. There's only the one guy in Hollywood. Who was a dick. Everyone else is super cool. But now, so what do you guys up to next? Well, your next project.

Rob Goodrich 1:00:39
So we're out in Las Cruces, New Mexico right now doing a film called Squealer with Andy Armstrong of the Armstrong family, huge stunt coordinating family and he is behind the camera right now. Big second unit director. So our idea behind that was let's take a sort of a horror thriller actually feel and punch the hell out of it and really pump up the stunts make it look like something people haven't seen before. We've got West Chatham, Theo Rossi, Catherine knotek, our cast is growing we're attaching to more today. We're thrilled about that. We dropped a pretty good nugget the other day in variety. We've acquired the rights to fame adventure, John Fairfax, who if you haven't been familiar with who this man is, the most interesting man in the World commercials were based off of him. Wow. So we're, we're very excited rode the ocean twice single or guys wild

Alex Ferrari 1:01:37
Single word, single or really?

Rob Goodrich 1:01:41
Yeah. So I mean, I would advise anybody to go to his obituary New York Times, John Fairfax 2012, your mind will be blown.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:51
So you mean to tell me that sharks have a week dedicated to him is what you're saying.

Rob Goodrich 1:02:01
But now we're looking at a couple of big properties. We just, we just options, something with Thomas Jane, we're going to copro his next movie of Western late spring. And a number of things in the works. I mean, we've been very comfortable and excited and happy living where we've been living right now. And I think 22 and 23 are going to see us take a take a Leap, leap forward with some sort of higher caliber higher scale projects. That really, instead of doing this, four to four to seven movies a year, probably get it down to about three or four,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:38
Three or four Bigger, bigger ones, as opposed to bigger pictures. Yeah, that's a good four to seven super fun.

Rob Goodrich 1:02:45
That's a pretty good standpoint. I mean, we're always, you know, if we're EP in a project, that's fine, if that makes sense for us, and we can be of use, we're always looking, and we're always happy to help friends or finding projects. But from a real hands on producing standpoint, I think we're really looking to, to elevate the scale of what we're doing a bit, and we've got some good property to deal with.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:08
Now, I'm gonna ask you guys, quite a few questions asked all my guests. What advice would you give to a filmmaker trying to break into the business today? Well, JJ is literally pissing himself right now. Jay is literally pissing himself right now.

Rob Goodrich 1:03:22
My assistant Alyssa, who is a huge fan of this podcast.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:27
Oh, that's awesome.

Rob Goodrich 1:03:28
She is She was a PA. And on our last production, I said, you know, I just My hands are too full to the production office. Do you guys have anybody who can help me out a little bit? Well, I'll tell you, she and her boyfriend have been the hardest workers on set as PDAs. And what they ended up doing on our last film was Alyssa was working with me on her third film, she's now flying out here to work with us. Her boyfriend ended up driving talent around, ended up working in different departments. So my advice and j then you can chip in is get in, get in there and PA, because if you are within eyeshot of somebody you're within your shot, and you're within arm's length, and they're going to pull you in, and they're going to give you an opportunity to say, come help me out. And eventually that conversation turns into, Oh, what do you want to do? Oh, you want to be in the camera department? Well, let me see if I can get you to be a camera PA, something along those lines. My big thing is start at the bottom. You know, you don't have to have a script. You don't have to try to be a filmmaker to be a filmmaker, I would really urge you know, try to get in on the ground and do as much as you can onset or in an office working with the people that are doing it.

Jason Armstrong 1:04:39
Yeah, I mean, so just to touch on and carry off what Rob said. The Yeah, I mean, really get engaged, get really engaged because understanding all the roles is so valuable. I mean, even if you're even if you're a screenwriter, an aspiring director, anything Understanding every everyone's job that's required in order to produce these things to deliver these things, because it's a lot of moving pieces. And if you're ignorant to any of those moving pieces, it's gonna affect your ability to, to, to properly present yourself or your material. So, so yeah, I mean, get in there, get different jobs, you know, even if it's not something that you want to do, learn it so that when you do actually get that door open to the, to the field that you love, you can actually speak intelligently, but what you need from different departments, different key heads, everything else. And then I would say outside of that, don't be precious, just don't be precious over your material, right? I mean, God, the number of people that are sitting on potential IP, and they're like this, well, I just it, this isn't the right, this isn't the right fit, or, you know, this, I'm worried that they're going to do this with it, or if I show it now, it's not gonna work out, and then I'm gonna, you know, and then it's gonna be gone. So, just don't, because the truth is, you will do that forever. And then then that material that you thought was just so valuable, it's not relevant, or, or you've given everyone so much time to either touch on a small piece of it, right? Because, you know, so many of our ideas, and so many of our creative ideas that we come up with, they're, they're triggered from something we've read something we've seen something we've experienced. And to think that there aren't a vast number of people that are experiencing the same thing, and might have similar ideas or anything else. So get it out there. See an opportunity? Don't hold it close to your chest. You know, be smart. Be smart, right? I mean, protect. Sure, Mark, but don't be precious.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:56
Yeah. And I always tell people, the business is tough enough, man, you don't need to throw more obstacles in front of you. There's going to be plenty of them along along the way without you screwing yourself up. Just you know, don't as as, as a famous sage once said, don't don't push the river. Don't it's yeah, don't push it's gonna flop.

Jason Armstrong 1:07:13
And you know what the best thing to say about you know, don't be a dick. Honestly, our business is stressful enough. Oh, God. I mean, be around dicks. Come on.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:25
Oh, and we all have been we all had been when we were coming up, we all have to do we all have to deal with either bosses or? Or egomaniacs? Or you know, or sociopath. I dealt with a mobster for a while. That's a whole other story. That's a whole other conversation. Um,

Rob Goodrich 1:07:42
You know, I'll tell you a quick story real quick. And I don't want to press time. But you know, I was a PA before and we're talking about Bruce Willis. And, you know, he was he was due to come into the office, and I was working for a very well known producer at the time. And he was neurotic. And I was like, why are you erratic? He goes, well, well, Bruce really likes a clean office, which understandably, and I'm looking around, and I'm like, David, this place is spotless, and he gets on his hands and knees. And he gets under a desk and he pulls out a piece of trash. And I got it, I'll get it. I'll get it. I'm the assistant, right. And he goes, doesn't matter. We're on the same team. I'm going to get reamed out by him. He doesn't know who you are, doesn't care who you are. And he goes, I'll just do it myself. I'm right here. That little lesson taught me so much. I'm going to just go ahead and do it. We're all in the same team. I don't have to have any level of hierarchy, hey, you go do this. It's got to get done. And I think if you can lead by example, it travels down all the way down the line. I mean, for some, for somebody that's coming up, you know, impressions matter. And if you if you listen, and if you're, if you're astute, and you're a go getter, and you don't have to talk to necessarily, you know, just absorb everything and be in the room. And I think that that could really go a long way for a lot of people.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:04
I mean, I saw a video of Keanu Reeves on John Wick for carrying camera gear up Astaire upstairs. Yeah, on a company move. And everyone's like, look at Keanu Reeves. Oh my God. He is literally you know, a saint. And I'm like, he's a human being man. He's, he said, he's just a good dude, man. I mean, he's like, he's just a good dude. That's all it is. Like, he's not like, he's not Jesus guys. You know, but he's, he's a good dude. And I love to work with them. As I'm sure everybody. So Kiana if you're listening, any three of us, any of us would love to work with you, sir. Well, we'll make it work for you. We'll make it work for you. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Rob Goodrich 1:09:48
Yeah. So you know, out mine is it's it applies to both. I have two young daughters. The lesson for me has been didn't know when to turn it off. So I always just been a hustler my whole life. And I always thought, Okay, I have to do all of these things if it's ever gonna happen, bla bla bla, you know, part of it's a function of being where we are career wise, that makes it a little easier. But, you know, especially during the pandemic, I was much more able to just press pause on everything, have lunch with my kids. And I think that that has translated into work as well, where I don't feel like I need to answer every email within five seconds. You know, there's a, there's sort of this, like, hurry up and wait mentality in Hollywood, but there's panic if I don't do it now. So I think the lesson learned for me is that it's okay to sort of take a be, you know, it's certainly been reflected in my work as well. Because I'm, I'm more you aware of what I'm putting out there. And I'm more conscientious of let's, let's just not push, push, push. But let's actually take a second, sit back, a take care of yourself for a moment, enjoy what's around you, and be you know, take some time to make sure that what you're doing, you're doing right,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:11
But is that but that also is his age. I mean, your 21 year olds are not generally coming to that enlightened state. You know, and it took me a while to man, I've been hustling as you can see still hustling with everything everywhere. Non stop. Yeah, to a certain point, my wife actually said, you don't, you don't need to garage sale anymore. We don't need you to go hustle out, you know, this or that. I got a real quick story. I gotta tell you, because it's so funny. And I think it really hits this point. A years ago, when we moved to LA for the first time. I was, during Christmas, I always figured out how to hustle things. So I figured out that on GameStop, there was this video game that you could buy on sale for like $15. But on Amazon, it was on sale for $50. So I was like, Oh, wow, this is cool. So most people are like, Oh, you must have bought like a whole bunch of things from GameStop. I'm like, No, that's way too much work. So what I did is I posted it on Amazon for 60. Anytime a sale would come in, I would then have buy it off of Gamestop put their address in and have Gamestop ship it directly to them. So I was basically doing auto arbitrage. And I pulled in like oh before Gamestop stopped, like 40 or 50 sales in before Gamestop saying what the hell's going on with this account. And I was so proud. I went to my wife. I'm like, Look how much money we made for Christmas. This is great. She's like, we didn't move across the effing country for use of video. We're here for you to be a filmmaker. I was like, oh, gosh, and this like that moment. You just have to go okay, I need to pull back for a second. Really what's important, and why am I here? What am I doing? As opposed to the I gotta make money? I gotta make money. I gotta hustle. I gotta hustle. I gotta hustle. Jay, what's your what's your answer to that?

Jason Armstrong 1:13:06
Uh, well then see, if we're looking at you know, without the years and age sort of coming into play. And young, I would say not to wait for tomorrow, like, where it's gonna be a little bit more perfected. Right. And, and so, and Rob was just sort of touching it like, I've got two little girls too. And same here.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:29
Yeah, same here. Amazing. Well, well, twin girls, twin girls, man, it's a I'm 25 Look what they've done to me. I'm 25 years old. Look what I've done to me.

Jason Armstrong 1:13:39
I think that's the thing. You know, I mean, it's it's basically, it's a you don't, because there is that, especially in this business. And again, you sort of touched on that where I was sort of saying to be loving, precious. It's, um, it's waiting, you know? Oh, it'll be I'll have this other piece attitude by tomorrow, or this will be finessed a little bit more by tomorrow. And then that tomorrow becomes the tomorrow tomorrow. And, and yeah, I mean, that's just it ends up being wasted time. So I would say I would say that that's something that took me a while to learn at the beginning. Especially as a writer at that time. It's it's you know, yeah, don't wait.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:22
The art of good the art of good enough. Yeah, the art of good enough because if not, you'll be five years on one script. And, and last question, three of your favorite films of all time.

Rob Goodrich 1:14:39
Oh, boy, you want to jump in there?

Alex Ferrari 1:14:42
Not really.

Jason Armstrong 1:14:49
I mean, this guy you got to put in Weekend at Bernie's.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:52
I mean, obviously, obviously,

Jason Armstrong 1:14:55
Obviously Weekend at Bernie's has to be in there.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:00
David Oh God I forgot the director's name well, man

Rob Goodrich 1:15:04
Whatever you say is gonna sound better than mine

Jason Armstrong 1:15:08
I don't know we can hit one hit one we'll go bounce back and forth.

Rob Goodrich 1:15:13
Okay so I'll give you my three but one of them has an A attached to it So in no particular order we've got Rudy we've got Tommy Boy we've got Love Actually.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:27
Wow, so that pretty much told me everything I need to know about you sir. It's a pretty much got your entire personality wrapped in those three films.

Rob Goodrich 1:15:36
And I'll give you I'll give you my three a national treasure.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:41
Oh my God.

Rob Goodrich 1:15:45
Listen, I'm in this game. entertainment. Entertainment. I swear to God if national treasures on I am not moving and I can recite every line.

Alex Ferrari 1:15:56
I am I think I think you're not gonna have a beer sir. Those three those those three combination that's a hell of a. That's a hell of a compliment. Love actually thrown it will laugh. Tommy Boy, Rudy.

Jason Armstrong 1:16:10
It's so true though. If you actually back up and just evaluate your favorite films, but the films that you've watched 1000 times rideable number of times, and if it's on you don't turn off. And you actually don't even start multitasking. But watching well actually, I mean, that happened what for that? I can't even imagine the 100th time over the holidays. This you just keep watching. Because it's always on the holidays. And all of us go anywhere. And

Alex Ferrari 1:16:43
It's it's it's you know, we all could say Citizen Kane. We could all say Godfather but I haven't watched this again since film school. And Godfather is not a movie I watch every weekend. You know it's and don't get me wrong Godfather is an AMAZING film. But it's those movies that you just watch again and again. You know, for me, Shawshank fightclub the matrix that solid, solid solid three like they turn on, then you want to get into the 80s actions Lethal Weapon predator, Die Hard. And then we now we could just

Jason Armstrong 1:17:18
See this is what? I can't do this. I start saying

Alex Ferrari 1:17:24
Oh, but this was Oh yeah. You know, it is I always like throwing that out. There's like it's three that come to mind at this moment in time. It will change tomorrow will change five minutes from now. But at this moment in time, That's it boys. It has been an absolute joy talking to you guys. I wish you guys nothing but continued success in what you're doing. And I appreciate you guys coming on and sharing some real knowledge bombs with with my audience because if they need to hear it, they need to hear from people who are doing it and doing it right. So I do appreciate you guys coming on man and much continued success. You guys.

Jason Armstrong 1:18:01
Thank you.

Rob Goodrich 1:18:02
Thank you. It's an honor for us and we're fans of the podcast and you know, we're looking forward to making more movies.


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BPS 194: Inside Making One of the Most Insane Indie Films Ever! with The Daniels

Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, collectively known as DANIELS, have been writing and directing together for over a decade, initially with a slew of viral music videos, commercials, and short films, then with feature films and TV directing.

They’ve developed a reputation for combining absurdity with heartfelt personal stories. Oftentimes they incorporate a unique brand of visual effects, and visceral practical effects into their genre blending projects.

They have directed music videos for Manchester Orchestra, Foster the People, and won a VMA for their video for “Turn Down For What,” which Scheinert bullied Kwan into being the lead actor in. Kwan is a really good dancer.

They wrote and directed the feature film Swiss Army Man starring Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe, which went on to win the Directing Award at the Sundance Film Festival, received multiple nominations, and gained a large cult following.

While they were writing & developing their new movie Everything Everywhere All At Once, a kung fu sci-fi dramedy starring Michelle Yeoh, Scheinert went and directed a small redneck dramedy called The Death of Dick Long, also released by A24.

When an interdimensional rupture threatens to unravel reality, the fate of the world is suddenly in the hands of a most unlikely hero: Evelyn (Michelle Yeoh), an overwhelmed immigrant mother. As bizarre and bewildering dangers emerge from the many possible universes, she must learn to channel her newfound powers and fight to save her home, her family, and herself, in this big-hearted and hilarious adventure through the multiverse.

They both live in Los Angeles. One of them has a son. The other has a goofy dog. But to be honest Daniel does most of the work.

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Alex Ferrari 0:44
I like to welcome to the show The Daniel's. Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert how you doing guys?

Daniel Kwan 3:45
Good. Thank you for having us.

Daniel Scheinert 3:47
Pretty good. Hello!

Alex Ferrari 3:48
Good, guys, thank you so much for coming on the show I am. I am a fan of what you guys do you guys are insane. And I love about you. It's, it's, it's such a wonderful thing to see the work that you guys have been doing over the years. That's the only word I can use is insane. But in the most wonderful way humanly possible. So when you guys got into the future game, I was so excited to see like Swiss Army Man, Miranda Bailey was just on the show a few weeks ago. And she was like telling me the whole story about Swiss Army Man. I'm like, how the hell what the how is that? How did that get financed? What happened? It's just like, it's her fault. Exactly. She told me, she told me the whole story and is it was fascinating. But before we go down that road, how did you and why did you guys want to get into this insanity? That is the film industry?

Daniel Scheinert 5:50
I just did whatever my brother did as a kid. So like, he did like math team. So I did math team. And then like, he and his friends started making movies. And so I started making movies, with with my friends in high school, but but there's that's a very different thing than the industry, you know. And it's interesting, like, I did a lot of theater as a kid. And then the older I got more, I was like, Oh, I don't actually want to be an actor that industry seems not for me, you know, and, and the film industry is, you know, there's, there's a lot of warts, there's a lot of problems and things but like, you get to like, especially as a writer and director on your own terms, collaborate with friends and tell stories, you know, like it was the funnest thing I'd ever done. I was I just got hooked and and we're so lucky that our careers we still get to do it in a way that's pretty similar, you know, to like the the high school college version of making movies.

Alex Ferrari 5:50
No, no question.

Daniel Kwan 6:56
For me, I I'm like the, in the heroes during the talk about the refusal to the call, you know, you run away from the thing, and I feel like I've been running away from your bio pics can be more interesting than mine. I guess, though. Yeah, cuz because I get yeah, as you refuse the call. Exactly. The setup is so much better. But I, I grew up really disempowered for some reason. And I don't know where it comes from, like, I did not believe in myself, I didn't believe that I had worked and, and yet people would tell me like, Oh, you're pretty good at this, or you're pretty good at that. And I wouldn't believe it. And I just kind of run away from all of it. Especially coming from my mother, you know, my mother would be like, you're a good storyteller. Why don't you write some more? And I was like, No, Mom, you know, that's like, that's stupid. That's a waste of time, that's not going to help me get into college, I was a very nervous person had a lot of anxiety. And so everything was about what was the most practical route forward. And I was miserable because of it. Because I wasn't how I my brain, you know, wasn't built for practical, it was built for, you know, wild, insane storytelling. And apparently, my mom, when I was younger, met a Christian like a fundamentalist Christian fortune teller, for lack of a better word. And she saw me apparently this this, this soothsayer, and the great bio, exactly. So wild is fast, and it's fast. No. But she she said to my mom, your son, I was in like, third grade, just like your son is going to be a great storyteller one day, maybe even a filmmaker. And he's going to spread the word of God. And my mom never told me this story until much later until, like, as an adult, she's told me now, but now I understand why she was pushing me to go to film school, which is so funny. Anyone who is a Asian American kid who is the kid of like, the son or daughter of immigrants will understand how profoundly strange that is. To have a Yeah, to have a Chinese mother, say, Son, don't go to business school, like go to films go to film school. And so I did what, you know, all children do. And I ignored my mom and I went to business school. So again, I was like, fuck that. I don't want to do that. Sorry. I don't know if we're allowed to swear on this. Fine, it's fine. Art that for that. I don't want to go. I don't want to risk my life. I don't want to be a miserable starving artists. I'm gonna go to business school. And I was miserable. I was I was I hated every minute of that experience. And that was like, well, maybe I should go to maybe I should try this out. And so it's even when I went to film school, I didn't want to be a director because I looked around. I was like, I'm not a director. I don't know how to talk to people. I don't know how to command 100 people in a crew. And so I was like, I'm gonna become an animator. I'm gonna learn how to animate and just make things on my computer by myself. And that's where I met this guy. And and this experience of meeting, Daniel shiner has been one in which every single time I feel like I don't belong in this industry, kind of like going back to your question of like, how do we get into this crazy industry? Anytime either of us felt like we didn't belong or the way that we worked and processed, our arts felt incongruous with, with how the industry worked. shiner being such a contrarian, we'd be like, so what, let's do it anyways, and I think was one of the biggest, most satisfying lessons I've learned over and over again, with every project is like, Oh, the way things are, aren't, aren't exactly how they have to be. And in fact, we can find better ways to suit ourselves. And I think if more film students learned that like that they can build a film process suited to their specific style. Just like every painter has a different process. Every poll has a different process. Like growing up, you learned about all the tours in film school, and I didn't see myself in any of their work, you know. And so I'm sorry, yeah, we have a it's all good. It's all good. If a dog in the background, it happens. It's all good. And so anyways, yeah, it was it was a series of accidents. And we have slowly built a career around this project of trying to figure out how can we be ambitious filmmakers who make great work that we're proud of, while still staying grounded and human and not not be assholes? I think that's one of the things that for some reason our industry has really built up is this idea that like, in order to make great stuff, you have to be a really mean person.

Daniel Scheinert 11:33
But in order to have a good biopic, I think we might have to turn me into the villain for the second half. I'll be like the manager of Brian Wilson. Yeah. Mercy. Oh, me, Paul Giamatti. Like taking advantage of you. Like you should take more drugs more ADHD

Alex Ferrari 11:53
That helps with your creative process. Absolutely. It would be the equivalent of my Cuban parents going go be a filmmaker. Yeah, go ahead. Because when I told when I when I told my parents I wanted to be a filmmaker my mom's like okay, let's do it on my desk like what what do you what? Yeah, what is that? What is that I'm like I can be a PA I can make $100 a day. That was that was my pitch to him to be

Daniel Kwan 12:14
It's so practical. You know how to appeal to an immigrant father I can 100 bucks a day dad come on

Alex Ferrari 12:20
$100 Cash a day. That was as far as my vision of my career had gone now you guys you guys obviously got a get started with shorts and and and then made made your bones and music videos. By the way, some of the music videos, some of the most interesting music videos of the last decade have been directed by you guys. And I'm not just smoking smoking

Daniel Scheinert 12:44
Smoking our butt

Alex Ferrari 12:46
Smoking your butt blowing smoke up your butts. I came. I came up in the 90s with Fincher and rubberneck and all these amazing films, I love music videos, especially in the 90s, late 80s, early 90s is when the form really took took you know, they took it to other places. So when I saw what you like, you know turned down but what I was just like, What is this? This is I mean just the clocking of the gun cocking as she sits on his face is a level of brilliance I have not seen very often in music video so thank you sirs.

Daniel Scheinert 13:23
Creative peak.

Daniel Kwan 13:25
That sound effects was

Daniel Scheinert 13:28
On your face

Alex Ferrari 13:29
It was just such a beautiful thing. It's such a small thing and only I like everybody else might have seen other things but when I saw that, I'm like they're filmmakers.

Daniel Kwan 13:40
That is to our audience. That's where the metaphor or the the term smoking your ass came from.

Alex Ferrari 13:51
So you guys did some amazing work in music videos. What lessons did you bring from your music videos experiences into the feature world which are obviously two different though I could argue to say that Swiss Army Man and and your current film both are just really long music videos, in the sense of the visuals are just insane.

Daniel Scheinert 14:09
Like the fact that like there's music nonstop. Like,

Daniel Kwan 14:13
We rely on music a lot.

Daniel Scheinert 14:15
Yeah. Yeah. So yeah, I mean, we learned a ton. Obviously, like some, some incredible music video directors do kind of like non narrative aesthetic tone poems. And we always did like short films, we always like tricked a band into paying for our short films, you know, like, they were very narratively driven. So we, we kind of were honing our voice as writers while doing music videos. And that made the transition a little, like, more organic, I guess, you know, because we were like, Oh, we're, um, you know, a lot of videos have like a beginning, middle and end turned out for what doesn't have much character development. But you know, there's a little bit of a linear story, you know,

Alex Ferrari 14:59
I'd argue to Say there's a lot of character development. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Daniel Kwan 15:14
Notes you see the world right bends around the protagonist over time. This is the constant in the world is when you don't turn down in sales turns up exactly. But to piggyback on what he's saying, like, we didn't think of ourselves as writers like I again, I don't even think of myself as a director at the time we first got hired for the for a dancer or a dancer. Yeah, there's so many things that I we did not

Daniel Scheinert 15:36
He's the star have turned down for what that's him.

Daniel Kwan 15:38
Yes. Yeah. In case you didn't know.

Alex Ferrari 15:39
It's fantastic.

Daniel Kwan 15:42
Thank you. But so we treated every project as, as Film School in some ways to be like, Hey, we've never worked with a DP before. What's that? Like? Let's let's bring a DP on for this one. More? Oh, well, you know, what is what is the production design team supposed to be? In? What's that? What's that relationship supposed to be like? Let's let's bring on a production designer. And every project, we just built our family out and started adding more and more people and learning new skills. You know, we like I've always wanted to play with motion control camera rigs. And so we did that for a battle's music video. We've always wanted to do

Daniel Scheinert 16:18
We started out doing a lot more like visual effects. Yeah. And we slowly learned more and more practical effects. gags Yeah. Yeah. Oh, that's so much more fun when you can actually like, blow up in the air mortar have a breakaway prop,

Daniel Kwan 16:30
Right. And then like, we wanted to play more with stunts, and just see what that was like. So we did a foster people video about car chase. And we learned that we hate shooting car chases, you know, so every every project was was like a selfish way for us to learn something new. And then by the time we were ready to do features, like we had accrued a team with a very specific skill sets that, you know, really supported our process. And we felt like we were ready. The only thing that was really hard, I'd say the hardest part of the transition was the timeframes of, of music videos versus features, you know, music videos, you prep, pitch, write, shoot, edit, and release within a month. With features, you know, it takes you a year just to write like the first draft sometimes. And that was a that was a real struggle to like, slow down, and step back and say no to everything and basically turn off the faucet that we had of work coming in. Because we were at the peak of our of our music, VO careers. And we had to step away from that and say, You know what, I've always we've always wanted it to be filmmakers, who did features and narrative. And that was probably the hardest part. And I see a lot of contemporaries, who are in the music industry, who never did that. Never had the I don't wanna say discipline or self control. It's more just we had each other to keep each other accountable. So we, we were the ones who were able to say, Hey, should we pull back and we had someone who, who basically was there to keep us accountable and not get tempted to get pulled back into the whirlwind that is music video,

Daniel Scheinert 18:09
And we got lucky. You know, we know friends that do turn off the faucet and write a screenplay and can't get it made.

Daniel Kwan 18:15
Yes. It's hard out there.

Daniel Scheinert 18:18
But yeah, yeah, we learned a lot. We still use all the same tricks and work with all the same crew.

Alex Ferrari 18:24
Yeah, that's the thing is once you once you find people that you can work with you hold on to them for dear life, because it's, you know, there's a comfort level there. You could you could just look at them and they know exactly what you want. Or they're, they know what you want before you know what you want. So once you walk into like, perfect, exactly the aesthetic I want. Famous.

Daniel Scheinert 18:43
Now we're going to like, quit working with them, although,

Alex Ferrari 18:46
Obviously, obviously, obviously, that's what you do. You let you leave them alone. And you go get high Oscar winners. Just Hi, Oscar winners.

Daniel Kwan 18:53
All of this. This is the this is the industry way.

Alex Ferrari 18:55
Yeah, exactly. Now I so you guys have done some insane projects. What is your writing process? Like? Were you two working together? Because I write but I write by alone. I've never written with somebody else. So how do you guys go back and forth with the writing process?

Daniel Kwan 19:10
Yeah, it was a real that was a real learning. Like that was that was a lot of growing pains in that like leak from music videos to screenwriting, because neither of us thought of ourselves as writers. But when you're a musical director, you're constantly having to write new ideas. And so our process for music videos was actually pretty organically formed from the fact that we just had to be constantly pitching. Like we put out two or three pitches a week to different songs, and we get rejected 90% of the time, but that really like the exercise a part of our collective muscles where we were basically throwing ideas back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, until someone laughed or someone gasp or someone emoted and then we're like, okay, what is that? Why, what like, let's let's latch on to that. And then we would start to throw ideas back and forth until they became these snowballs that kind of kept attaching more and more or conceptual ideas, narrative ideas, visual ideas and like we would start putting on different visual references that we'd pull up from YouTube or Vimeo. And we would never write anything down, it would all just be in our heads and just be ping pong back and forth for a couple of weeks, you know, without writing anything down, just seeing what stuck. And then finally, when it came time to pitch, we just write it all down and send it out. Which is great for music videos, because you have to have that speed. Once we transition to features that became really hard to do to ping pong the feature back and forth without writing down without you know. So what is our process? Now I feel like he changed.

Daniel Scheinert 20:36
I feel like it changes on every project. And that might be the lesson you know, is that like, we're cons. It's almost like a weird therapy exercise. And if you do the exact same thing, each time, you're not going to like make discoveries, you're just going to like, kind of create, figure out a pattern of how to make a similar, but not as good thing because it's not as like authentic and heartfelt and, but we still bounce ideas off each other a lot. We spent a lot of time apart. And we're each other's biggest fan. And also like biggest like, critic, because we built kind of a common vocabulary and trust of each other's thoughts. So it's a lot of like, time apart and coming back and being like, I have this thought it really resonates with me. I do I write very poorly by myself. And so like, sometimes I'm hungry to be like Dan, hang out with me. I want to throw ideas out.

Daniel Kwan 21:33
Sometimes Daniel Daniel Scheinert comes from like, an improv background. So everything about that world is about like reactions and

Daniel Scheinert 21:39
Collaborative and a sort of an extrovert who's feeds off other people's energy. And then Kwan is like, introvert extrovert. And so like, every once in awhile, he just disappears. It's like, nope, leave me alone. I'm writing, you know, and he'll come back with, like, really great stuff. But sometimes, you know, the great stuff is five times longer than we agreed it was gonna be back to the drawing board of like, how do we do we keep it all which parts do we keep? You know, it's an editing process. And just a lot of trial and error.

Daniel Kwan 22:09
Yeah. So with our first draft for everything everywhere, we spent a long time outline together, throwing things back and forth the ways that we have been talking about and then shot it went off to do his other movie Death a dick along with not a porn. Yeah, not respectable.

Daniel Scheinert 22:29
Exactly. It's misleading, I understand.

Daniel Kwan 22:32
But I wrote the first draft while he was gone shooting that movie, and it came back and it was like 240 pages, you know. So it's, I'm definitely I have ADHD, I realized, while writing this movie, and I think because of that I'm different, very generative. I'm just constantly writing constantly, I have notebooks that are always open, I have like five different. I write stuff on my phone, on my notebook on my laptop on my, you know, I just need to be writing constantly on things. Otherwise, my brain will explode. I just need like, let them out. And so I handle a lot of that over to shiner. And then China just like points out things that are working and points and like, tries to help form it into something that like makes both of us excited. So it's so far it's been more like scares the producers less. Right. Exactly. That's, like I'm, I'm very ambitious. And China is very practical minded. And so I think the combination of our brains has been very, very good.

Alex Ferrari 23:33
You know, it's funny when I had Miranda on the show, everyone listen, you gotta listen to Miranda, the producer of Swiss Iron Man. The stories that about how that movie got me because I was fascinated and like, how in God's green earth did anybody put money up for this film? Like, In what world is this movie exist? Apparently this this and this universe? It exists and others it might not, but in this universe exists? And she said that she said, like she talked to I think somebody intercompany and they like she'd read they're like, we're not gonna make this right. We're not gonna make the movie about the farting with a dick. And that, really? She's like, No, we're, we're really gonna make you gotta you guys got to listen to that interview. It's so fantastic. That pitch Yeah, no, yeah, there was like, how did you? How did you come up with the idea? It's such an insane idea. How did you come up with it? And how in God's green earth do you pitch that in a room?

Daniel Scheinert 24:24
Which ones was Army man? It was Army man. Yeah. The idea started work were the same way. Like all our music videos started it was kind of like an an image or a gag or a little scene that like, made us laugh. And it was just the opening scene of a guy. Initially the idea was like, feeding a corpse beans. Like it's fuel, and then writing it's far it's off a deserted island to freedom,

Daniel Kwan 24:53
But it was like very beautiful and like it was very

Daniel Scheinert 24:57
And then we were like, that would be a funny like the

Daniel Kwan 25:00
The music that shows, right. Yeah, the music I was listening to was Ben Zeitlin, you know who did be some Southern Wild, his short film that he did before that was called glory at sea. I don't know if you guys have seen it, but it's fantastic. They have best ambitious indie film, made on with no money. And like it was such an aspirational thing for us to watch in college. But the score is incredible. And Ben, you know, worked on the score, but I was listening to that score while we're on an airplane. And just imagining the beauty and the catharsis of a man riding off on a farting course was like making me laugh. But I will say that, like, a lot of our stuff, as wild as it is, comes from a very practical place. Because, you know, you mentioned in the 90s, the great music players like Fincher and Romanek and Spike Jones and Michel Gondry know, they had big budgets, you know, $5 million stars, stars who, you know, millions, when we were when we, by the time we got into the music industry, you know, Napster and streaming had decimated the industry, so that, you know, we were working with $10,000, you know, most of that 10 20,000, or whatever. So, we got to, we got stuck in this really interesting mode of, of filmmaking, which was very practical and based off of problem solving. So like, we happen to be flying to Alabama to visit his family, and do sort of a mini writer's retreat for another movie we thought we were going to write, and we were asking ourselves, what resources do we have there? Because we should shoot something while we're there. That'd be fun.

Daniel Scheinert 26:33
And they live on a lake in Alabama, their neighbors had a boat. And so we were like, maybe we could do a weird gag with a boat.

Daniel Kwan 26:40
And I was like, Okay, there's two of us. Okay. It's a short little thing with two people on the water. What could that be? And that's where this idea came from. And I think like, a lot of our work is kind of coming from very practical, like, problem solving. And so yeah, so that's where it came from. I pitched it to him. And shine, it was like, that's amazing. We have to make it and I immediately regretted pitching it to him, because I was like, I don't want to make that though. You know, like, I don't want to show that to my exactly the person, the person that Miranda's company who said, we're not really going to make that as like, oh, yeah, that's that was what I was saying to it's not Yeah, they weren't. They weren't crazy for thinking that. And then it just, it just kept grew. It really was like a cancer in my brain, and are both our collective brains. It doesn't have growing and more ideas kept latching on to it.

Daniel Scheinert 27:28
And then it became a long short film about like, the amnesia, the like, the amnesia corpse, trying to figure out what happened to it and learn about life. And then that short film got bigger and bigger. And we were like, maybe it's a feature that would be hilarious. Like an almost as like a joke. We started fleshing out the feature, and then

Daniel Kwan 27:47
You know, as a joke, we pitched it to a in a general meeting, we were actually speaking of industry. So we're getting we're getting passed around Hollywood, doing general meetings, and we kept pitching our joke ideas, because we didn't have any ideas that we thought would appeal to most studio heads or to any producers. And one day, we decided to pitch this movie to a producer almost as a joke. And he leaves

Daniel Scheinert 28:09
Like, do you really want to make that? Yeah. And we're like, yeah, he's like, why haven't you written it? And he's, and we're like, oh, because we don't think it would get made. And he's like you. If you believe in it, you should make that no one else. No one else is ever going to make that movie. Like, mysteries are true. And it was like, it was a good kick in the ass.

Daniel Kwan 28:26
Yeah. So yeah, that was Lauren. singly, one of the producers on our on that film was the one who kind of liked Miranda. Yeah, he kind of like pressed the button to turn, turn that part of our brain on and say, Don't do it. Why not?

Alex Ferrari 28:41
Yeah, but I have, but I have to ask, like, you guys did some pitches. Right. So did you What were some reactions from the pitches? Like I gotta believe that somebody's like, I could just see the pale white skin of a of somebody, like just all the all the blood flow coming out of their bodies, like, you guys. You're not serious. Sorry. Yeah,

Daniel Scheinert 29:01
Were pretty good at pitching our ideas because we're also like, self deprecating, and, like, totally ready for the, the criticism, you know, I agree and like, and sort of have the attitude of like, you know, if you don't get it, it's not for you. Don't please don't, please don't give us money. Like, I don't want you in a great you know, regretting this or, you know, just every draft and every screening. Like not getting it but but it was hard. Yeah. And it took like someone with a weird sense of humor like Miranda like to say yes, that got the ball rolling. And then I will say something we discovered later that really helped was we we got the band Manchester orchestra. Robert and Andy to start making some songs for us when we were developing it. Before it was Even though officially greenlit, And then we started pitching it with music. And we were able to pitch the opening scene and press play, and just start describing it as you heard this, like, oh, gorgeous music. And it was such a different feeling in the room where like, people were suddenly like, what the hell's going on? This music is making me emotional, and it's so beautiful. And what you're describing is profane and stupid and should not I should not give you money. But I think it helped, that really helped crack the pitch in that case, just to be able to, like, you know, play music, which is something we still do sometimes.

Daniel Kwan 30:49
Yeah. The other two things that really helped us was the fact that two things happened. While we're in the middle of trying to get funding and trying to get actors. The first thing that happened was we somehow got into the Sundance Institute, like the Sundance screenwriters lab for the screenplay, and we were like, what? Like, who at the sun, like, you know, right? Think about Sundance, you think about so many other movies, and not so sorry, man. That's not what you think about when you think about Sundance. But you know, to their credit, they saw something really earnest in our work, and they saw our past work and saw that we were trying new things, and you know, what is Sundance if not a place to foster new voices. And so they brought us in, and it was, incredibly, creatively, just exactly what we needed at that point in our careers, regardless of whether or not the movie was gonna get made. It was so healing. And it also showed us that there was a place for us in this industry in the way that we were talking about at the beginning, where we were talking about, maybe we don't belong here, it's like, oh, the Sundance Institute was one of the first places that we went to were like, Oh, this beautiful, creative environment can exist. And it does exist. And we should be chasing after this. And so that was really great. But we got the stamp of approval from Sundance, which made suddenly our foreign corpse movie people had to like, really lean forward and and process and then maybe have

Daniel Scheinert 32:13
Robert Redford so this. So this is a good move.

Daniel Kwan 32:15
Exactly. Yeah. Robert Redford, his stamp of approval. And then, oddly enough, while we were at the Sundance Labs, we were so fed up with how intellectual we had become, we had been talking way too much about themes and characters and, and all this stuff that is really important. But after a while, as filmmakers who want to be on set who want to be making things and really expressing things that you can't even put into words, it was very frustrating. And we happen to get a song in from Columbia Records from one of our Commissioner buddies, Brian Downes, who, who works at Columbia, he sent it over, and it was turned down for what and he was like, What do you guys want to do with the song it's kind of a wild song. And so we were like, this is perfect. Let's turn off our brains. And let's do the opposite of what we'll be doing no theme, no character, no, just like pure ID, let's create something so wild and so frenetic and beautiful and strange. And then basically, will basically will hold nothing back. And will will will say to the, the label, like I dare you to let us make this. If they actually let us make it and we'll have to go make it. And so we did that. We put that online, instantly a viral hit. And so we got the viral hit, we got the Sundance stamp of approval, and suddenly making the foreign incoax movie made a lot of sense to you know, certain investors obviously, we still scared away a lot of people but yeah, we're really lucky.

Alex Ferrari 33:41
No, it's it's it was the right place. Right time. Right product. And also, the thing is, a lot of people might not see this in your films, but there's so much emotion in the characters. There's like, you know, everything everywhere. You're you know, you're tearing up like it's yeah, they're hot dog fingers. But there's so much emotion behind what's going on. Same thing with Swiss Army Man, like you tear up watching that film. So it's not just insanity for insanity or gag for Gag sake. You know, there's, there's heart behind it. And that's what stick makes you because, you know, I can't say anybody can come up with a 40 corpse idea. But in the wrong hands. It's a movie about a 14 corpse total but yeah, and what you guys did you elevated it and that's because what Sundance saw in your work, you're like, Oh, there's more here than just the gag. The gag is just super It's interesting. It's no one's ever seen this before. And that's what's really beautiful about what you guys are doing. Now. Now you guys, you know we all as directors, we're all on the onset. And there's always that one day on set if not every day, but always that one day specifically the the entire world is coming crashing down around you. The world is coming to an end. You're not going to make your day you're going to lose the actor. The sun has gone the camera fell in the lake What was that day for you on Swiss Army Man? And how did you overcome it?

Daniel Kwan 35:06
We probably have different answers for this. But yeah, go first. Yeah,

Daniel Scheinert 35:10
We shot sorry man in like five weeks and a bunch of we had a bunch of travel days in there too. So it wasn't even like five days of shooting per week. And week four, we did four night shoots in a row. And it was like all the bear stuff and like, and we just burned the candle at both ends and started going insane. And

Daniel Kwan 35:34
I thought I was gonna want everyone's getting sick.

Daniel Scheinert 35:36
Yeah, I thought I was at rock bottom at that point. And then I got sick after that, as we traveled up to Eureka, with a small crew to get all the beautiful redwoods stuff. So like on day one or two of wandering around the redwoods that morning, Quan like wanting to rewrite the scene, again, we were constantly rewriting while shooting on that one was not a good idea. And so like, and he was like, we don't have time to rewrite it. Oh, well, but it's a bad scene. Let's go shoot it. And I was sick and sad and demoralized. And that was how we started our day. And then we went out into the woods. And while shooting it, I just started feeling like I was gonna pass out like just, and like hopeless. And we were just kind of a boring scene where the camera we're just doing normal coverage. But I was like, the movies going to be a disaster. It's not going to work. That's not going to work. Dan hates it. I don't even know how to give notes on this scene. I like walked away and walked up to my producer Jonathan Wong. And I was like, I don't think I don't know if I'm I don't know if I'm gonna make it. And he's like, what's up? Apparently, I said something. Like I said something where he he interpreted as like Daniel thinks he's gonna die. But I thought what I was saying was that I couldn't finish the movie, but I'm not sure what if I was speaking English. I was like, I was like, You were gone. I was like, close to a mental breakdown. And that seemed turned out great. It's great. The writing was fine. Like in the edit. We like our met him edited it together. And we watched him. We're like, What the fuck is good. That day was so sad. I guess I don't have to direct I guess the key to directing is to walk away is to walk away and get sad. And it'll turn out good. But uh, but yeah, we did. We learned a lot of lessons on that movie about how to manage morale, you know, and, and that that's a huge deal on a feature that like, it's not just about do you have a good idea and a good plan? It's about like, are you taking care of yourself?

Daniel Kwan 37:35
Are you take care of your crew?

Daniel Scheinert 37:37
Are you taking care of your crew and, and we and we left that one being like, whew, a lot of room for improvement. You know, like it got too hard.

Daniel Kwan 37:46
My quick stories last day, or sorry, the last scene of the movie is everyone on the beach. I'm sorry, spoilers for anyone who hasn't seen it. There's a beach. There's A beach. Everyone's on the beach.

Alex Ferrari 37:57
There's some there's some beans.

Daniel Kwan 37:58
Yeah, exactly. And then we, you know, a small budget, no lighting equipment. Nothing. We literally we had to wait for, you know, the 1520 minutes of magic hour to shoot that entire scene. And it was Radcliffe's birthday. I remember. And Radcliffe really wanted to lie down in the water, even though it's freezing cold. Like we're like Daniel we have, we have a dummy. And he's like, no, no, no, I want to be here. I want to like I think it's important for Paul to see me here to be part of this and like, okay, great. And so we neurotically blocked it all out and tried to like come up with a plan to shoot that whole scene, which is like, you know, 1213 It feels like 12 setups, right? It's like everyone has their own Spielberg pushing on like in the medium shot plus three or four wise plus a couple of very specific shots between Radcliffe and Paul. Anyways, it was a lot of set shots. And we had to do it in 15 minutes. And so we literally we just our anyway, I think we on our No, I feel like we once by the time we started shooting, it was like half an hour and we basically just didn't cut we went we basically we made the plan and Larkin was operating for the whole movie or DP. And so he knew exactly like when, where to move from each setup. And so we'd be like, Okay, we got it. Next up. Okay, we got it next. Okay, we got it. Next up, okay. Now, everyone, all the actors get ready, you're gonna shoot your one shot and we're just gonna do a couple takes back and forth and we move on to the next person. And like I said, I don't know how many times we cut but we really like there was no time to sleep. You know, we just went like, Okay, now you're close up. Okay, now you're close up. No, you're close up. And then we missed the last final interaction between Paul and and Daniel. As the sun was setting, we cranked the our ISO was cranked wide like like as high as possible.

Daniel Scheinert 39:50
Real bad. And Larkin was just muttering we have to stop.

Daniel Kwan 39:53
Yeah, it was it was so grainy and like, and we're like shit I think we might have last week. I don't know. I don't know if we got our funds. Only and it was just like a really just scary feeling to have to like, we didn't nail the ending. And, you know, we like like Shannon was saying we were kind of already, like, burnt out from the process of making this film. So that was definitely like, that was week two. Yeah, that was.

Daniel Scheinert 40:19
Yeah, that's the end of week two. Yeah.

Daniel Kwan 40:22
So that was really scary. And you know, we ultimately finagle some some

Daniel Scheinert 40:26
Was it week one because maybe on Friday, I sort of remember the schedule in my head, but it was fast. I remember as being like, Oh, my God, we just started and now we're shooting the ending.

Daniel Kwan 40:35
Yeah. And we're exhausted. And we're exhausted. And like, yeah, I guess it's a short film. We're Yeah. So we just learned a lot of the limits of of our, you know, of our budget versus our ambition.

Daniel Scheinert 40:46
But we've been, I will say, like, you know, I hear stories of films that's gone wrong. And I've and makes me feel so lucky. That like, like, it's, it's been hard and things have gone wrong, but just because it's just because it was ambitious, not because of like, we've been so lucky that, you know, we haven't worked with assholes. And that, like, we've had good producers and that we've headed off a lot of the really disastrous types of things that can go wrong before. You know, we got to set so we're Yeah, we're such lucky filmmakers that you know,

Daniel Kwan 41:22
These are our horses.

Daniel Scheinert 41:23
These are ours. Like I was tired, and it was hard.

Alex Ferrari 41:26
Yeah, it's not like Coppola on apocalypse. Now. You're not in the jungle for three years with a gun to your head. So it's not putting things into perspective.

Daniel Kwan 41:34
Yes, exactly.

Alex Ferrari 41:36
That's No, those are no, I feel but I feel both of those. I love the Best Directing tip just walk away depressed, and it'll come out fine.

Daniel Scheinert 41:46
Weird. I mean, we did kind of thing this was starting man, there was a part of a masochistic part of us that we're like, it's about a guy kind of losing his mind in the woods. I think that might happen to us while we do this, but maybe that'll make it an interesting movie. This will be our Apocalypse Now.

Alex Ferrari 42:05
I was about to say this is very Apocalypse Now a very method directing. It's very,

Daniel Scheinert 42:11
I don't aspire to do for that. Yeah. Now, I like having fun.

Alex Ferrari 42:17
So speaking of fun, I just was I had the pleasure of watching everything everywhere, all at once. A couple of weeks ago. I think at this point, we can we can half ago, I saw it. And as I'm sitting there watching it in theater. I'm just looking at it and going. I'm so glad this is in existence. I'm so glad somebody put this out into our art mold over our universe. And then hotdog fingers show up. And I'm like, oh my god, I love this film. There's Hochberg fingers. I have to ask, how and it's such a beautiful and I joke, but it's such a beautifully done movie. And, and I'm not smoking about again. But that's it. I promise you there'll be some YouTube comments saying no. Smoking uh, but no. But honestly, though, I'm watching it. And it's, you know, Michelle Yeoh is a is a goddess. Data from the Goonies oh my god, what a powerhouse actor. I was not. When I saw him. I was like, Oh, look, it's data from Goonies Oh, he got work. Fantastic. You know, that's why that's the first thought. And then I'm like, holy crap. He's really good.

Daniel Kwan 43:26
Yeah. And then underestimate data.

Alex Ferrari 43:30
I heard his voice when I heard his voice. For the first time I have this data. He's like, I just because I've seen the Guney 1000 times. Of course, yeah. Jamie Lee Curtis, and then just the whole cast that you put together. It is such a beautiful ballet of insanity. And emotion. It's remarkable how. And I have to ask you the same question again. How on God's green earth? Did you guys come up with this idea?

Daniel Scheinert 43:54
Yeah, I mean, I feel like we could do a whole podcast one day about where ideas come from and how it's a mystery and what isn't the human brain? And how does neuroscience work? And this is of the neurons firing that make us giggle? And then at what point does do we then test that against the culture to see if it's something worth putting out there as opposed to just an inside joke? And much of that is, like, with intent, and how much of that is pure luck or just like subconscious, you know? This thing's like

Daniel Kwan 44:26
Like, we're, we're all discovering that genius doesn't come from individual ideas don't really come from individuals. We're all just conduits for this like bigger, mimetic battle that's happening all around us.

Daniel Scheinert 44:37
We're gonna get philosophical with your very simple

Alex Ferrari 44:40
ExI love it. I love it. So you're channeling, channeling

Daniel Kwan 44:43
Channeling

Alex Ferrari 44:43
From the ether from the ether from

Daniel Kwan 44:45
It's all from the ether. And I think the only thing that makes us different and I think the thing that is our superpower is we say, Yes,

Daniel Scheinert 44:51
We say yes to the idea that we haven't seen that sound unproduced. Yeah,

Daniel Kwan 44:56
We say yes to the to the bad ideas, we say yes to the things that should not be A mostly because the moment we tell ourselves, oh, this shouldn't be made. We we question the angles, like why not? Hold on, but it didn't resonate with me. This is interesting. Yeah. Oh,

Daniel Scheinert 45:20
If it sounds on producible, that means no one else is going to beat us to it.

Daniel Kwan 45:24
There's also that

Alex Ferrari 45:24
There's no competition. There's no competition.

Daniel Scheinert 45:27
There is like, I was just talking about the philosophy of ideas. And there's, there's this book impro by Keith Johnstone. It's like an improv book that I read in an acting school. And he has a chapter about creativity and about how, you know, effortless it is for the human mind. But it's hard for a lot of people because it's trained out of us, like our school system, and our culture teaches us how to curate and focus and ignore, you know, playful ideas. But that like, it's, it's like, if you don't do that, like if you talk to like hunter gatherer cultures and stuff, like it's creativity is like, effortless and it's everywhere, and that there was an he loves. There's some anecdote about some like, that's like an Inuit tribe or something that like, one of those tribes that has, you know, 20 words for snow. And they think that there is a sculpture inside of every rock. That is that is that has to be discovered. Not that there's a sculptor who's really good at it's like, and they're like, so instead of being like, Dan Quan is a really good sculptor. The way that the tribe talks about it, apparently, is there like there's a lot of weird rocks around lately, like what's with all the, all the rocks have some really interesting animals inside lately, and I just thought it's such a beautiful counterpoint to how we normally talk about, you know, creativity,

Alex Ferrari 46:52
And not to spoil anything, but you know, there might be a rock or two.

Daniel Kwan 46:55
Yeah, they're pretty weird rock. Yeah. Weird. But yeah, I feel like to sum it up, I feel like every idea we had in this movie, a 10 year old could have come up with, you know, like, it's all it's no hotdog hands and cocking rocks. It's like, there's nothing special about any of this stuff. It's just the fact that we, we chased it, you know, and I think I think we're like there's a sort of naivety there where we like, foolishly chase after these things.

Daniel Scheinert 47:24
Ourreal skill isn't coming up with weird ideas. It's convincing people to invest millions of dollars and to risk their entire artistic reputation out those good ideas.

Alex Ferrari 47:36
You guys should do a masterclass on how to convince people to give you money to do ideas, because you guys are the masters at this because not once but twice with to like, again, the pitch How is that? How do you pitch this? They could such a visual thing? And and how do you attract the cast that you do? Like, it's, that's the other thing is that like, you guys are going off and doing it with some unknown actors. You're bringing in some of the top actors around to do the show yo, was Michelle Yoda how she has not been a lead in a movie outside of Hong Kong is beyond me. Like I could I heard that I was like,

Daniel Kwan 48:12
I know, we felt the same way. We were like, what?

Daniel Scheinert 48:15
We did not know that. And so let's tour

Alex Ferrari 48:18
What she's she's so she says she's a goddess. She's amazing what she does, and how she how she played this part was so beautifully. I mean, it's so beautifully directed. And everything is just, it's, it's just going better. As I'm talking to you. The images are flying back into my head. Hotdog fingers. I still have nightmares, by the way, about duck fingers. When I first saw the motions. I was just like, why has no one ever done this before? And I go, I know why. It's disturbing. It's a wonderful, beautiful way. It's like, Oh, my

Daniel Kwan 49:00
But to our earlier point, like you say, why? How come no one has done this before? Ever since our movie has come out? It's only been about a month now. But yeah, people have been sharing past work that feel like somehow we ripped it off or whatever that we've never seen before. So like there's been two or three different instances where people have sent us hot dog finger scenes from other movies that we've never seen. Or, like, you know, there was a children's book, my friend sent me a children's book, where they're just to talking rocks on a hill. And I was like, This is amazing. You know, like it's all there. It's on the ether. It's just it's how you cook it you know, it's how you it's how you make the stew that's that's

Alex Ferrari 49:36
No pun intended. No pun intended with no look. I mean, it's not that it's not that we haven't seen that before. I can't remember seeing it but like you see like a movie like I forgot one of the Spy Kids had guys made of thumbs, you know and like giant Yeah, you know, like it's not that but the way you guys that fingers in the way the movement and stuff was just so and I don't want to make this a podcast about the hotdog fingers but it's just such Have a just an amazing visual. How did you guys do the quality of visual effects on such a low budget? Because this is, this is not $100 million Avengers $100 million as a catering budget for Avengers. But how did you guys use it to make because the visual effects are remarkable. They really are.

Daniel Scheinert 50:18
Wow, thank you. Yeah, I mean, we, you know, coming up in music videos, we did a lot of our own effects at first. And then like I said, we

Daniel Kwan 50:26
But that was kind of our calling card, like, labels would reach out to us be like, Hey, do you have any cool visual effect ideas that are cheap? Oh, yeah,

Daniel Scheinert 50:34
Those guys who can do like, yeah, like tons of effects for no money, because you just do them yourself. And that was our, our thing. And then we learned a lot about practical effects, mostly by working with Jason because of our day, our production designer. And, and kind of brought all those tricks to this movie. And so a lot of it's like, not that fancy, you know, and, and while writing, we would write gags that we knew could play to our strengths. So we were very rarely writing things that were going to require, like a huge VFX team to strategize and bring on 3d generalists to design myths to figure that out, you know, and instead we're like, oh, no, it's, it's all going to be practical. And when it's not, we know which tricks we're going to use. And they're not too hard to pull off.

Daniel Kwan 51:27
Yeah, we're using a lot of the same techniques that, you know, filmmakers in the 80s were made, we're using, it's the only difference is in the 80s, or the 20s. Or even like wondering, oh, yeah, yeah, a trip to the moon, a trip to the moon, like, just like the match cuts with the with the poof of smoke, like, we're just using those same exact techniques. Except the difference now is, we don't have to do 20 takes to get the practical effect, right, we can do one and a half good takes, okay takes and then we fix it in post with with with our very, you know, rudimentary skills as after effects artists. And so we're kind of cheating every way we can to make the illusion of, of these effects work for as little effort and as little money as possible, which is why I think people say, like, the one talking about the fact that we had about like five to 600 visual effects shots. And it was done with a team of like five to seven people, we say seven, because we're also including ourselves in that number.

Daniel Scheinert 52:26
And there were a couple of people who came on for a few weeks, but the like, core team was pretty small, like really small, the coaching was like our friends were people. And we all just like had synced hard drives. And we would just like, we did it on After Effects. And I think some of it's very impressive what the guys pulled off, you know, and somewhat was very ambitious, like the kind of bagels, bagels. But the other kind of secret weapon is that Kwan has great aesthetic taste. And with a small team, and it all being an After Effects, it was possible for like, Dan to push certain shots over the finish line. And instead of giving like 20 emails to try to refine it, he could just be like, great, give me the project file, open it up, I'm going to spend an hour or two, that's exactly how I want to feel we're done. But like, we didn't have to do all the effects that we also got to put our fingerprints on it.

Daniel Kwan 53:21
Yeah, efficiency there. Because I think one of the reasons why so many visual effects in movies look the same is because they, they there's so many layers of communication between the director and the visual effects artists now that you kind of as a director, you go into these post houses, and you're not really allowed to play that much you're not allowed to explore. And that's really frustrating as directors who love visual effects. And so this was a way for us to be able to have our cake and eat it, we can, we can do it for less money. And we get to have our fingerprints all over and really play with the style of how it's going to feel.

Daniel Scheinert 53:59
But people who are great at visual effects. would listen to your comment about our effects looking incredible. And they'll be like, no, they don't. Because a lot of it's like real, real janky little janky. But there's like a charm to it. And it's about energy not about like, pause the pause the frame. That's a perfect shot, you know, kind of

Alex Ferrari 54:20
I've been I've been a VFX producer, a VFX supervisor, a lot of indie projects. So I mean, I understand you're janky but it's perfect for what you're trying to do. It's not it doesn't have to be Thanos throwing a moon at somebody. But that's not what that's about. And that's why I'm like even at that budget level, it still looks phenomenal. And you're so caught up with the kinetic energy of the scenes. I mean, the bagel stuff and all me you just get caught up with it you just like you're in it because if I'm looking at all that law, that comp was just a picture sort of blurred that a little bit more if they could have just comp that a little bit better or thrown. No, I wasn't there. I was in the story. So with that, I'm sure if I go back and analyze it, I'm sure I'm sure you guys go back and analyze it like, I did I do that 100 $200 million movies. I'm like, how did that get through? Like, obviously see, that's a really, when my wife is looking at a movie and going, that's a bad green screen. And it's like a $200 million movie. I'm like, oh, figured it out. Have a few more at last couple questions asked all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Daniel Scheinert 55:31
Adjust your goals, bro. breaking in. Breaking in shouldn't be your goal, because a lot of people break in and then they're sad. And they make the world a worse place. And they make like upsetting weird content. And they talking about us talking about us.

Alex Ferrari 55:48
Look what happens when you follow your dreams, everybody.

Daniel Scheinert 55:51
Turns out, I'm cynical, this was all a front. All these nice jokes for you kids. As you know, I like to say that, like, if you love making movies, chase that feeling find people that you love making movies with. And, and maybe you'll end up getting paid to do it and and find a niche, and then that'll be great. Or maybe not, and you'll still be happy and, and having the therapeutic beautiful experience of making and sharing artwork, you know. And that breaking in can sometimes be the worst thing for you, you know, if you don't get to make what you love, or with people that you love doing it with. And so, it'll happen. If you just make stuff you love. You know, you'll find your niche in the world, you know, and that niche might mean your local film festival. And that's dope. Awesome, you know, or it might be a 24. And that's cool, too.

Alex Ferrari 56:57
And that and that's fine, too. And let's just give a shout out to a 24 Thank you for allowing and helping movies like this to put on to the world because there's just really isn't your only isn't that there? Isn't that another a 24?

Daniel Scheinert 57:10
Their fighting the good fight getting tricking people into watching provocative challenging things.

Alex Ferrari 57:16
Right! It's fantastic. Now what is the lesson that took you guys the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in lif?

Daniel Kwan 57:24
Longest to learn. I'm trying to think of lessons I'm still learning right now, maybe something I'm trying to figure out is this balance of, of, it's more than work life. Because I think work life is like, that's, that's a given. Everyone has to tackle that. But it's like, it's from a leadership position. Because, you know, again, I never wanted to be a filmmaker, I never wanted to be a director, I never wanted to be a leader. And so a lot of this feels like it's been put upon me in a way that like, makes me very uncomfortable and unsure of but the balance of, of being a a leader, who is also who's just as concerned with the final product, as the process is something I think I'll always be learning and always reflecting on, I think with this movie, we got really close to a perfect process, in that and the fact that like, it's the most ambitious thing we've ever done, it was is like foolishly, foolishly ambitious for how much money and time we got for to make it. And yet, it was the most fun, the most loving the most just gracious environment. And I like I really, I really think it was like, it was so much easier than so sorry, man, even though you know, technically it like it's like, exponentially harder in every way. As far as production goes. But because we went in with the the goal of creating a, an environment that was just really fulfilling, and, you know, all push towards this idea of letting everyone who walked on tourist sets, be able to show off their best version of themselves. You know, that was like one of our goals was to empower people to just, you know, become the best version of themselves on our set. And it was so fulfilling and so fun. And I have so many great memories of the shoot in a way that I can't say the same for our previous work. And I think this is something I think we'll always be chasing after because if we can have it all if we can be ambitious and you know, creative directors who also just build in beautiful environments for peace. able to exist in into Korean like that that is going to be such a beautiful, beautiful thing to prove to our industry, you know. to myself into our crew, but also to the rest the industry.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:22
That's a beautiful answer. By the way. That's a beautiful answer. That was a really wonderful answer. And last question, three of your favorite films of all time.

Daniel Scheinert 1:00:32
Ah, this is always hard. I like giving different answers, you know,

Daniel Kwan 1:00:37
You go first.

Daniel Scheinert 1:00:42
I love I love a crazy documentary. Love American movie, the movie, boys trying to make their movie not available for rent digitally anywhere. For some reason. You got to figure this out. But

Daniel Kwan 1:00:56
The first thing that my brain went to was Magnolia, probably. That's why I just keep returning back to because it's a movie that does everything wrong. And it feels so right. And it doesn't matter. You know, like, and I'm like, I wanted to be chasing that as a filmmaker for a long time. Just that feeling that I got when I watched Magnolia for the first time

Daniel Scheinert 1:01:23
My brain just went to like, Moonlight is insane. It's just like the hype, it pays off is great. So beautiful. And like it was like at the right place at the right time where like our culture was trying to like quit being so homophobic. And like, it was like, here's how like, here's, like, empathize with this person, like 100% successful and it was like, just like this, like, epically important thing for our culture. And for me, you know, to just like to fall in love with this love story. And for a beautiful heart. Yeah, to thing and for it to win Best Picture. Yeah. And then for it to go. And he feels alive. Yeah.

Daniel Kwan 1:02:04
I'll go back to one of my childhood favorites, which was it's probably the movie I've seen more times than any other movie. It's Groundhog's Day.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:11
It's a masterpiece.

Daniel Kwan 1:02:14
Yeah, it's a masterpiece. And it became like a spiritual guide for this movie, because it was a film about, about nihilism about the treasury of existence, but wrapped up in a really fun comedy. And they and then he pulls off both those things wonderfully. And I was like, I want to do that with our movie, The whatever we do with this film, it has to pull off both of those things. It has to be so much fun. And so philosophical and insincere. And so the long answer is only

Daniel Scheinert 1:02:47
Princess Mononoke gay. Oh, yeah, just blew my mind when I was a kid. And then I've been I've been thinking about it lately. And just how like, brilliant. Like the the ambiguity of good and evil is in that and how important it was for me as a kid to like to chew on that, you know, when like, we're usually fed these kind of like violence is the answer beat the bad guy stories, like just go blow up their building was like, is the moral of, you know, a lot of, you know, action adventure movies. And it's like, no, this one's confusing, and it's about people with different interests. And also, you're gonna fall in love with a little wolf girl. It's very confusing and exciting for me as a kid.

Daniel Kwan 1:03:35
For my last answer, I don't want to say this because it's so obvious, but I have to say it just because I need to pay tribute to how much it the movie means to me. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Never heard of it.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:50
Never heard of it. Who's in it? No. No, that's me. boundary is a master. I wish he would be making more movies. Now. I want somebody please listen to give him a budget. Let him do whatever he wants

Daniel Scheinert 1:04:03
Back up with Charlie. He spirals a little like, I think I would if I didn't have Dan.

Daniel Kwan 1:04:10
Yeah. And you got to have a balance is just, yeah, it's the movie that like that. Really. I feel like it changed me as a person and made me understand. Yeah, my world, my the, my place in the world in a completely different way. It was, I think it was the first time I experienced meta modernism in the wild. This this idea of trying to get beyond postmodern, like post post modernism. And it was so cathartic and healing for me to see that play out in a story for the first time. So that yeah, it's incredible. And also, it's just so much fun, like the filmmaking of it. It's just so fun. And obviously we stole so much from boundary when we started making these videos and even in our features, you can see his fingerprints in it as well. It's all there.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:55
Yeah, guys, it has been an absolute pleasure and honor talking to you guys so much. On a continued success, I tell everybody to please go watch everything everywhere all at once. It is. It is a brilliant piece of cinema and I'm so glad it exists in the world. Thank you guys for doing you. Thank you for being a conduit for the insane. And to bring it into our universe, my friends. Thank you so much.

Daniel Kwan 1:05:17
Thank you for having us. This was fun.

Daniel Scheinert 1:05:17
Yeah.


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Denis Villeneuve Scripts Collection: Screenplays Download

Denis Villeneuve born (October 3, 1967) is a Canadian filmmaker. He is a four-time recipient of the Canadian Screen Award (formerly Genie Award) for Best Direction, winning for Maelström in 2001, Polytechnique in 2009, Incendies in 2010 and Enemy in 2013. The first three of these films also won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Motion Picture, while the latter was awarded the prize for best Canadian film of the year by the Toronto Film Critics Association.

Internationally, he is known for directing several critically acclaimed films, including the thrillers Prisoners (2013) and Sicario (2015), as well as the science fiction films Arrival (2016) and Blade Runner 2049 (2017). For his work on Arrival, he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Director. He was awarded the prize of Director of the Decade by the Hollywood Critics Association in December 2019.

His latest film, Dune (2021), based on Frank Herbert’s novel of the same name, premiered at the 78th Venice International Film Festival; the film received critical acclaim, was a commercial success at the box office internationally, is currently his highest grossing film to date, and earned him Academy Award nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture, with the film itself winning a leading six Oscars at the 94th Academy Awards

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

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


(NOTE: For educational and research purposes only).

DUNE (2021)

Screenplay by  Denis Villeneuve, Jon Spaihts & Eric Roth – Read the screenplay!

BLADE RUNNER 2049 (2017)

Directed by  Denis Villeneuve – Read the screenplay!

ARRIVAL (2016)

Directed by  Denis Villeneuve – Read the screenplay!

SICARIO (2015)

Directed by  Denis Villeneuve – Read the screenplay!

PRISONERS (2013)

Directed by  Denis Villeneuve – Read the screenplay!

ENEMY (2013)

Directed by  Denis Villeneuve – Read the screenplay!

BPS 193: The RAW Reality of Being an Indie Producer with Miranda Bailey

Miranda Bailey is a prolific producer, actor and director, known for producing high quality independent films. Her passion for bringing compelling, well-crafted stories to the screen has been the driving force in her distinguished 15-year filmmaking career. Bailey has produced over 20 films, among them the Oscar®-nominated THE SQUID AND THE WHALE and the Spirit Award-winning THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL, as well as James Gunn’s SUPER, the Sundance hit SWISS ARMY MAN, the critically acclaimed NORMAN and the indie hit DON’T THINK TWICE.

Bailey’s directorial narrative feature debut BEING FRANK, an offbeat family drama/comedy premiered in the Spotlight Section at the 2018 SXSW Film Festival and was theatrically released June 2019. She assembled a decorated cast including Grammy-nominated comedian, actor, writer, producer and New York Times best-selling author Jim Gaffigan, two-time Emmy winning actress Anna Gunn, Samantha Mathis and Logan Miller. 

Karen Kehela Sherwood of Imagine Entertainment produced the film alongside Amanda Marshall of Bailey’s Cold Iron Pictures. Bailey’s made her documentary debut GREENLIT – a humorous documentary examining the hypocrisy inherent in Hollywood’s “green” movement – premiered at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival to critical acclaim and was acquired by IFC International. Bailey’s second documentary, THE PATHOLOGICAL OPTIMIST, the film was released theatrically by The Film Arcade and on VOD by Gravitas.

In 2018, Bailey teamed with Gurl.com co-founder Rebecca Odes to launch CherryPicks, a groundbreaking aggregate movie review and rating service by female critics for the female audience. The site went live in 2019 and over 800 female critics are subscribed to provide their reviews on the site.

A production powerhouse, Bailey’s Cold Iron Pictures has amassed an extensive list of critical and commercial successes, including SWISS ARMY MAN, starring Golden Globe-nominee Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe, theatrically released by A24.

DON’T THINK TWICE, directed by Mike Birbiglia, starring Gillian Jacobs and produced with Ira Glass (This American Life) was distributed by The Film Arcade. NORMAN, directed by Joseph Cedar (BEAUFORD, a Foreign Language Film Oscar nominee), premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was released by Sony Classics. Bailey also produced I DO…UNTIL I DON’T, directed by and starring Lake Bell and Ed Helms.  Additionally, in 2019, she produced the Sundance hit documentary, THE UNTITLED AMAZING.

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LINKS

  • Miranda Bailey – IMDB

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Miranda Bailey 0:00
Hello. Is this Miranda Bailey? I'm like, yeah, like this is me something about her. Did you crash and audition last week for the da da da da And I was like, Uh, yeah, well listen that is unacceptable. I will tell you something right now, you don't do that in this town.

Alex Ferrari 0:16
This episode is brought to you by Indie Film Hustle TV, the world's first streaming service dedicated to filmmakers, screenwriters, and content creators. Learn more at indiefilmhustle.tv. I like to welcome the show Miranda Bailey how you doin' Miranda?

Miranda Bailey 0:31
Pretty good. How are you?

Alex Ferrari 0:33
I'm doing great. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I'm I'm excited to talk to you about your adventures or misadventures in the Hollyweird business.

Miranda Bailey 0:44
That's a good way to explain it.

Alex Ferrari 0:46
I'm sure you have a few stories that you can say on air and probably a couple more out there.

Miranda Bailey 0:52
I could say it all on air now.

Alex Ferrari 0:55
Well, that's, that's, that's amazing. So first question, How and why did you want to get into this insanity that is the film business?

Miranda Bailey 1:04
My father was friends with Brian Dennehy and Brian Dennehy became kind of my mentor resource. And I went to the set of Little Miss marker when I was a young child. And I saw this little girl acting with him and decided that I wanted to do the rest of my life. Because that was the women that were there were, I think a script supervisor now that I know who it is a teacher and the little girl. Sounds like so I'll be an actress. So then, I studied acting and then came well, while I was in college also was directing and writing just because it kind of came out of me and was producing accidentally in theater I didn't even realize it was producing. Then moved to Hollywood, Hollyweird and got very lucky at the beginning. You know, crashing audition got my sag card, you know, made a lot of money on a commercial, Denis Leary accidentally, my ego went really high, and crash roller once reality hits, and started getting partisan stuff that I didn't really have any control over. And so I decided to start making more stuff that I liked to be in, or to at least be in existence, then being stuff that I didn't like, anyway, now I got into producing.

Alex Ferrari 2:32
So I wanted to go back for a second. So I love to hear stories of when the ego goes up. Because it is fantastic. It's a wonderful ride. First part, at least. Wonderful, Rhys, how did you deal with it? Because I always, the reason I do the show is to try to let filmmakers know that you are in a boxing match, and you're gonna get punched in the face. I don't care who you are in the business. Punches are being thrown at you left and right. Most filmmakers don't even know they're in a fight, let alone that there's a punch coming towards them. That is one of those. That is one of those things that the ego when you get that first award, the first red carpet, the first time someone says ooh, you're like the next Spielberg or the next Nolan, or this kind of thing. The ego builds up. What so after you did that commercial with Dennis, Larry and made, you know, a gazillion amounts of money back then because I know what money was made. It was a national, I'm assuming. So you

Miranda Bailey 3:29
They had that played on the Superbowl.

Alex Ferrari 3:30
Oh, Jesus. So you were just like, this movie business stuff is easy. Why do people talk so hard about? So what was it? What was it like just going up? And then what was it that caused the fall of the reality when that punch came?

Miranda Bailey 3:46
Well, you know, you know, in hindsight, you know, 26 or seven or however many years later, I think I'm really lucky that my ego was slammed down so quickly. Because ever since then, it's been massive, you know, climb up this ice, you know, mountain, like ice climbing. I slept. Yeah, yeah. And so, I mean, it really was I was very fortunate. And, you know, I was 21 or 23 or something like that. So, you know, I didn't believe in fortunate I believed in you know, destiny. And,

Alex Ferrari 4:33
Of course, and you were destined, obviously,

Miranda Bailey 4:36
Well, I know I'm destined.

Alex Ferrari 4:39
Obviously, obviously, we all are,

Miranda Bailey 4:41
It takes a lot more work to get to that. I mean, I don't know exactly what my destiny is. I will be a grandma someday, I hope

Alex Ferrari 4:49
Okay, fair enough.

Miranda Bailey 4:51
But um, ya know, I was squatting in this house in Mount Washington and Every morning it was for sale party, we were in the basement, we put the mattress up and slide it behind the washers and dryers or whatever. And then we'd have to be out of the house. And my roommate at the time, and I had just gotten there, like, I'd been there maybe two weeks. And she had an agent through her aunt for commercial, and we didn't look anything alike, like at all. And she asked if I wanted to crash the audition to see what it was like. And I was like, Sure. And, you know, I was like, not nervous because I was crashing, I put on my ugliest dress, you know, so she looked hot. I didn't wear any makeup. I put my hair in long brown braids, because she had like a short blonde Bob and she was tall and skinny. And I was like, shorten whatever. And wrote my name down on the sheet. And then it's like eight and so I wrote like, independent. And then it's like their phone number and I wrote my phone number. And I think I was teaching Pilates at the time. That was like my job, which everyone didn't know what it was or like Pele it's what is it? At Pilates. And I remember driving like, like on the on this very curvy part of the 134. That's pretty dangerous. And my leg Motorola rings. And you know, there wasn't really caller ID and like, Hello. I'm gonna like, I'm like, yeah, like this is me something rather Did you crash and audition last week for the lottery? And I was like, Uh, yeah, well, that is unacceptable. I will tell you something right now. You don't do that in this town. Nobody does that in this town. Okay. You don't pass auditions. I was looking everywhere sending everywhere trying to find independent doesn't exist, and I can't believe you did. Don't ever ever do that again. And I was like, Oh, I won't definitely. Just real quick though. Like are you calling to tell me never to do it again? Or? Or am I getting a call back? She goes well, bolts honey. That's amazing love with the United talent agency straight case she's trying to appear. You've got her on Saturday, you've got to call back. Oh my god. This time. Here's your agent Socrates expecting your call.

Alex Ferrari 7:11
This movie business is super easy.

Miranda Bailey 7:15
I'm like, Okay, so like that Saturday, I go to the thing. I have one line. The word is the internet's I say the word the internet. I booked a job. It's an international commercial playing ball with Dennis Leary. I go on set I meet this really awesome girl. Samantha was I think we were friends for a while. I don't know what happened to her. And there was another guy on set I also kind of ran into through the through the worlds and we're like all at a coffee shop like computers or whatever. And like we would like look up and say the internet. But like Dennis Leary would like walk by us while it was talking to the camera. And it was so cool. And like it was it just felt so like I needed to be there. I loved it. And you know, and then I had a couple more auditions and couple more callbacks, but I didn't get anything. And then the department, the commercial department for UTA shut down. And they had to go find an agent. And that's when reality hit. It was not that easy. It was not and then and it was just definitely not easy.

Alex Ferrari 8:18
So that's that was the rise in the fall of the ego. And that's honestly your right, it was probably the one of the biggest blessings you had is at such a young age because I'm sure you've met a few people along your journey that that did not happen to them early on. And they're still dealing with their egos in their 30s 40s and 50s and older. And it becomes

Miranda Bailey 8:39
Much more devastating for them when things don't work out for me. I just expecting to not work.

Alex Ferrari 8:46
That's your, That's your place. You're like this is never going to have this movie. The money will never drop. That star will never sign. This is never Oh, it did. Okay, great. We're never gonna get into Sundance. Oh, were going to Sundance Great!

Miranda Bailey 8:59
Finally ended up at FCM after like a meal of a toy toil and just like crazy stuff, which had to happen from like a short that I directed as an exercise to get out of the documentary. I was directing. It was too dark for me. Sure. So I needed to make a comedy at my house. Now from that shore, that's how I got representation with echo Lake and ICM, and this was, you know, seven years ago, so like 25 years into struggling to try and you know, get the right representation then finally, like I remember when my dad short this guy emote to my manager now, but he's one of the first people I met in Hollywood. And, you know, he's, you know, he's, he's, he's big time, right? And I would never act even ask him or consider him to represent me. I mean, he's he saw a diverse movie greenlit that went to South by, it was like a comedic documentary and and whatnot but so golden in my short to get like notes or something like to see like, Hey, do you want to take a look at this and see if you have any like, thoughts. I called him back. He's like, incredible. This was amazing. I want to represent you and I'm like, What do you mean? I want to be your manager. And I'm like for what he's like directing and writing and I'm like, what does that mean? Like, what do you like? And she's like, I'll get your jobs and I'm like, Really?

Alex Ferrari 10:30
Okay, so, I don't know. But it sounds like that casting director for the Superbowl commercial sounds very similar to your manager invoice. Like, exactly. Now, I mean, you've worked on some amazing projects. You know, super and Swiss Army Man, I got to ask you about Swiss Army Man. How in God's green earth did that get made? Like how is that movie like that is so wonderful. It on paper? I can't believe this is a good pitch. It's a horrible pitch on paper. How did Swiss Army Man get made and thank you first of all, for having a part in bringing it to life? Because I'm so glad it exists in the universe. But how did you how did that movie get made?

Miranda Bailey 11:20
Well, you know, it's interesting because that is kind of like the point where my confidence as opposed to ego allowed that to happen. So you know, I did squid in the whale Before Noah Bombeck could get arrested like no one would no one would even glance his way after Mr. Jealousy right. But I there was something there and then this feeling, you know, in your stomach kind of thing. And then I had that same thing with James Gunn was super. And you know, I said yes to that. And then Diary of a teenage girl Mari. So these are all either fail. Like, you know, no one will hire this director again, or director, jail people or new directors that have a voice or like so I gave Jill Solomon her first writing job ever. Which never made the movie but it was from a short story called Courtney Cox's asshole. And then, I hired her to write me talk pretty one day into a script, but then it didn't end up happening. She wrote it, but the movie didn't end up happening because David didn't want to get made, but I still on the script. But so by by asked by after Mari, I was like, you know, I kind of feel like I know it when I feel it. And I had had some other directors that I worked with, where I didn't have that feeling. You know, that didn't work. So it was kind of like I knew it was it was it's like, I can't explain the kind of kinesthetic feeling in the air when you are like, No, you're like, I think this person has vision, like a vision of their own that is unique, which is pretty rare. I mean, I wish I did, honestly. Sure. I mean, I hope I do. I just don't know what it is yet. But so I had done job cedars Norman. And Ken, he's like a director with, you know, an incredible vision. And it was going to be his first American film footnote in Israel, which was nominated for an Oscar, which is most beautiful film. And so Oren moverman had asked me to come on, come on to footnote and on footnote, I admit, I guess I guess I had met this, you know, this team of, of financiers and this team of producers, and who I'd also knew some of them from time out of mind. Because Oren moverman is one of those people I think, has real vision. So this guy, Lawrence, he he's on his movies, and he comes into town and we're at this house, I'd finally gotten into the Soho House. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 14:06
That's when you finally got in.

Miranda Bailey 14:07
Like getting into the Aspen house because I still wasn't cool enough to get into Hollywood house. And there's no filmmakers here. So they needed filmmakers here. So

Alex Ferrari 14:16
Right, exactly.

Miranda Bailey 14:18
I'm still not calling out for the hot whatsoever, for the record, but

Alex Ferrari 14:24
I was. I was I was invited once. I pretend that I'm invited. Yes, exactly.

Miranda Bailey 14:30
Yeah. So he's got a lab. What are you working on? What do you got going on? I gotta go on. And he starts telling me well, this is what I'm looking to partner on. And he's given me one story. And I'm like, Yeah, kind of seen that before. And it gives me another story. I'm like, that sounds depressing. I love Dan Stevens. But no, that sounds kind of depressing. And then, you know, there were just a couple of these ones. He gave that. I don't have anything like new doesn't have anything like, it's like, well, I have one but You're probably not gonna like it. And it's something that these kids have never seen a movie before. You know, they made a music video. And you know, it's about a guy who falls in love with a dead guy not fall in love with best friends with a dead man and in the forest and his boners a compass. And it's called Swiss Army Man, and he uses the dead body like a Swiss army knife. And I was like, any actors attached? He's like, No, not yet. And I'm like, What's music video turned down for what? And I go.

Alex Ferrari 15:37
Oh, oh, those guys.

Miranda Bailey 15:39
Oh, okay. How about this Yes. greenlit will make a one and a half million dollars, because that's what I made diary for and the squid for. And, you know, it's two people, whatever. And let's set a meeting for tomorrow. And he was like, Really, that's like the last one I would imagine that you would use feminists be into. And I'm like, whatever. i It doesn't feminist, non feminist, you know, like, being lost in the woods, and being so what's your opinion on I hadn't read the script yet. So that night, I read the script. And it was like, insane. But if you know that music video, sure. You're like, I get it. And then the script still needed work or whatever. So Daniels come in, and I show up at the office. And I'm like, I say to Amanda Marshall. I'm like, Hey, so we have a meeting today for it's with Daniels. Who's that their music video directors. I've already greenlit the movie. You know, here's the script. And she's like, are you serious? I'm a guest. So she goes and she reads it and she comes back. She goes, you're not? You're kidding, right? Do not going to make this movie. She's, she's like, we're not making a movie about a guy who's Boehner tells them where to go Miranda, who was just his girl. He's like, she goes, and I don't even know how half of these things like how does he become, you know, a motorboat or like, whatever, like, watch this. So I play the music video. And she goes, Ah, wow, cool. I get it. We go and we meet with them. We tell them a couple of things about how we, you know, feel that the, you know, it needs to be dude, basically development stuff, and structure and stuff. Yeah. And we give this offer and of course now, this is where the Hollywood douchey this becomes Hollywood douching. This is where their agents and managers were like, Oh, great, we got an offer. So then they're like, well, we want 7 million. And now we're gonna shop it around. We have an offer from pictures. And I'm like, normally, if it comes back to if there's something that happens and something comes back to me, I'm like, you know, but with this one, I'm like, go ahead, shopping around.

Alex Ferrari 17:57
Let me know how that works out for you.

Miranda Bailey 18:01
Like have fun. I can't even get a black woman to be a lead. Okay, good luck with this. You know, like so, you know, and I tried many times, and it was it was hard. So they just did the companies that will put a lot of money behind things. It's like they need a sure thing, of course. And this was far from that. And so they went around for six months, chopped, it came back to us. And then we did a budget realize it was like around more around 3 million. And then we were like, Okay, well the best thing to do here because they at one point they were gonna play the parts, or Daniel, Daniel Quan was gonna pay for that play part. And I'm like, listen, we really need like, a indie art house. Starling. Yeah. And then you need your international like James Patterson type guy. Right. And so we went to Paul Dano because our new Paul Dano and and what Lawrence was working with Oren. And he said, Yes, and then we got James Patterson on but James Patterson didn't want to rehearse. And we were like, but these are like, even before a take. Okay, like, that's impossible. It's for the dead body.

Alex Ferrari 19:35
All of that. Like there's a lot of logistics. Yeah.

Miranda Bailey 19:38
Camera maneuvers, and special effects and practical effects and stunts, like you have to hearses. So, we were like, Okay, that's not gonna work. And I'm like, well, there's that Harry Potter kid. He's valuable. That dandy guy. So we call Daniel Radcliffe's agent and his agent was like, Oh my God, that clip has been begging to work with the guise of this music video if they ever were gonna do anything. Oh, wow, that was really easy. And that's how that's how they came on. And I have to say that Daniel Radcliffe, I mean, everyone knew Paul Danna was a genius, right? Yeah. But Daniel Radcliffe to me, just blew me away his. And watching him work and watching how precise he was in watching his getting to know him and like his process and being there. And I mean, that's the hardest role in the whole movie. I mean, there's only two roles in the movie really? Like they're really they're there. They both both of those guys. Paul and Daniel, like their champion.

Alex Ferrari 20:48
Yeah, no. Yeah, they're they're two titans. So two titans in the space. And when I saw that, I was just like, how in God's green earth Did This Get Made? Like how, like what things needed to line up for this to be in front of my eyes right now? Any baby destiny, it's destiny. So that's, that's a fantastic so right now i Now I can die in peace, that I know how this movie finally got to the screen. So thank you. So there's always that day on set. And I asked this of all my guests, that the whole world's coming down crashing down around you. And now most filmmakers say that's every day. But there's that one day that you feel like oh, my god, I can't believe this is happening. Why am I here? How am I going to get out of this? And it could be a million things. You've lost a location, the actor doesn't want to rehearse that day, whatever it is, what was that day for you on any of your projects? And how did you overcome it?

Miranda Bailey 21:45
I can think of two. Okay. The most recent was on God's country where there was suddenly a pandemic.

Alex Ferrari 21:55
Right, we heard that we had Julian on the show. So we heard that that holster because that was his too, by the way. So what's what's the other one,

Miranda Bailey 22:03
But I had to fire them.

Alex Ferrari 22:06
For your perspective is a little different.

Miranda Bailey 22:09
Yeah, and I and we had money in the movie or company of money in the movie, you know, you don't know if you're ever going to make it again. Obviously, that's it same you know, him as a film director, but like, for me is someone who is like, here's a people that may or may not ever work again. And I have a choice whether or not we can keep going another three days to finish the week, risking Tanduay getting back to London or not. Or pulling, pulling the plug. So Tanya, we can get back to her. Just brutal. Um, but fortunately, it all worked out. And we came back a year later. And we did it. So right, you know, and the other one was, on this film that I directed, called being frank with Jim Gaffigan, which premiered at South by the whole culmination of the movie of this guy, hiding between these two lives, ends up at this one, like, you know, Starling festival, in this small town. And it has to be very, very choreographed of where each person goes, we have two cameras, where where each shots going to be where it's so and so's place where so this was placed. And we have this, we had like, found our location, it was near this lake. And two days before we were and we're almost done with a movie, and it's like it's the final it's like the big scene. And if this scene doesn't work, the whole movie falls. But we had really, really figured out a way to make it work with the location like this tree here will block him here because we'll be here. This person will walk this way leading us over here to the popcorn to whatever right the all based on this location that had hills and levels because that way you could hide right? Like you could figure out a way to miss each other. So I'm onset directing this scene, which is already insane we didn't have enough extras for the pool it was freezing and they're extras on their phones. I'm like it's I've been that like just like the phone I'm looking at a phone I'm looking at a phone. Right right right. It's not a book put a book if somebody

Alex Ferrari 24:37
Wants a book

Miranda Bailey 24:41
And we kept moving the extras around you know like pool in different bathing suits and

Alex Ferrari 24:47
And time is in time is ticking and money's burning.

Miranda Bailey 24:51
Lunch break happens and turns out that for for the big scene that we're shooting, not next day, but the day after for two or three days, we lost the location, of course. But they have a place that we can go look at right now right over here, power that's available. And I'm like, okay, so me and my IDV or OCR get in the car, we go to the park, and it is just a lack

Alex Ferrari 25:26
Cinematic, extremely cinematic is what you're saying.

Miranda Bailey 25:30
And we look at each other. And he's like, none of the blocking that we had before her, or any of the setup will work. And I'm like, I know. And I'm like, so what's the chance of us getting the other place back and then another line producer, another bruise like zero. And I'm like, so what's the, what's the possibility of us not having to do it here and they're like, zero, this.

Alex Ferrari 25:58
And you gotta run and you've got to figure it out.

Miranda Bailey 26:01
Yep. And that was, after we shot that whole day. We went to Iran and I went to the park, and figured it out until sun went down. And then the next day during break, and during afterwards, we also kept figuring it out, how will how a block and how we'll shoot it. And then the next day, we began.

Alex Ferrari 26:30
But that's the thing that it is, I think that filmmakers don't understand it that the world is every day, every day, something goes wrong. Very rarely does everything go exactly according to plan because it never goes according to plan. And I love I remember the first day I walked them to set to direct my first big thing and I had a shot list that was obscene. And the first ad picks up and goes, Yeah, we're gonna shoot about five of these. Before lunch, I know you've got 40 We're gonna shoot. So pick the five you want. And if you're really good at those five, we might be able to add two more. And you're just like, but I spent all night putting that together like yeah, I don't care. That's not the reality of the world. And I always try to explain this to filmmakers before they go on like these, just the whole world's gonna come crashing down. And this is what it'll teach you in film school. They don't teach you how to adjust and pivot on the day second by second because the costume didn't show up. food's not there. You're losing locations. The camera doesn't work because it's frozen over or overheated. I'd like it's just obscene amount of things that could happen. And it doesn't really the only difference is when the bigger budgets is generally on a much bigger budgets, the studio stuff. Things still go I've still I've spoken to those those filmmakers and they're like, Yeah, we just we lost a location. Like even the big the 100 million dollar movie. They look like we just ran grabbed the camera, me and my DP and the actress and we stole I'm like you stole shots at 100 million plus movie because we stole shots. It's just

Miranda Bailey 28:11
I mean, this is what I love about camera tests. I'm always like, let's get it set. So our cameras can be usable.

Alex Ferrari 28:19
Ohh that's Amazing. Oh, that's great. I never thought of that.

Miranda Bailey 28:22
Yeah, I mean, being able to produce alongside alongside produce the movies, and watch and learn from James Gunn, and Mari Heller and Daniels and not and and the bad ones. Not that the bad. I'm not a list, you know, but there we have ones made mistakes. There was this one that was too afraid to talk to the actress. I'm like, she stopped folding laundry like she didn't she just talked to her dad, you know? And I remember he's like, Well, you tell her and I'm like, I'm not the director. You know, just knowing like, Okay, I if I you know, that didn't work or like, you know, seeing someone just do bad things to you know, or make bad choices, and seeing people make good choices and watching how different people prepare, you know, working with Mike Birbiglia and like bow, both actors who wrote directed and starred in their material, and I was able to produce those. They have very different ways of going about how they do it. And that was fascinating. And it definitely made me feel like hey, you know what, I could do that sometime. And it'll be totally different than theirs. But I've learned like, from there like brilliance, and then the and then the bad things that happen on set with with the same stuff, how they handled things. And producing really an enacting really kind of got me was my best film school as a director.

Alex Ferrari 29:49
Right. Right. Well, let me ask you a question as a producer, when you pick the wrong horse, in any department, it could be the director. It could be an actor. It could be a You know, as a crew person, when you pick the wrong horse, obviously, the higher on the on the totem pole being the director, the actors are the DP. How do you adjust that? Aren't you like you? Like, what do you do as a producer? Like, oh my God, he's not talking to the actress like, What? Are we going to finish our day? Are we like, how are

Miranda Bailey 30:18
Were pretty much screwed I mean,

Alex Ferrari 30:23
I love that.

Miranda Bailey 30:24
Yeah, I mean, it really, it's the script, right? It's the product. Sometimes it comes just as a script, and you build around it, sometimes it comes as a script, director, and then you help cast it. But it's that director's job to really hone it in. And it's my job as a producer to get the director's vision correctly. So even though I wouldn't have made the same choices that Lake Bell did on I do until I don't, my job was to support her choices. And that's kind of what you have to do as a, or the way I look at producing personally. And so I would say one of the most important lessons that I learned was producing or directing, or even mentoring, because I doing a lot of mentoring of people, not through programs, just individuals. Is, you really have to love it. Because if it doesn't make money, like anything I did, and I have done things thinking, Oh, this will make money never does.

Alex Ferrari 31:39
And then oh, this will never make money.

Miranda Bailey 31:41
This will never make money. And it does, but I love it. And it does. So it just makes, and I've done things that you know, this, this, you know, it's things. So, honestly, if you love something, because it's hard, if you love something, whether it's a commercial success, or a critical success or not. If you love being there every day, then it's still a win, you know? So and I'll go back to like, you know, with my bid Yeah, I loved I was like, you know, I was like determined to do his next project. After Sleepwalk With Me, I pretty much stalked him, you know, in a nice way without a craziness and was like, I don't want you could have turned in a bunch of blank pages. And I would have said yes, like, so I knew I was going to make his next movie. And that was a success. And so we were really lucky. But I didn't know I really didn't think it'd be Who the fuck wants to see a movie about improv actors not by make his next movie so badly that I was willing to overlook that plot.

Alex Ferrari 32:52
Right. That's how you like, I don't care, I don't care what it is,

Miranda Bailey 32:54
I don't care. Because, you know, and that was successful, you know, and I enjoyed, I enjoyed it. And, you know, became really good friends with Kate Micucci from that, and worked with beautiful people and great, great DPS and great, just great everything. Like, I love Mike, I love everyone on that, you know, Kagan's rad, everyone. So when when that stuff happens, it's really great. You know, and then when the for instance, with lakes movie was similar, you know, it wasn't a critical success. It wasn't a commercial success. But I really loved working on it. And I loved watching her work. And I love watching, you know, working with my friend Amanda on it. And, you know, we got to be in California and you know, Dolly wells and I became close, and she is hilarious. Yeah. You know. And so it's

Alex Ferrari 33:55
Now when you're looking when you're putting a PAC a project together, what do you look for in a director? Or the what are the traits that you specifically look for in a director?

Miranda Bailey 34:07
Um, well, I do seem to do a lot of I seem to do a lot of first time directors. So I can't really explain it because it's not like a looking, it's more of a feeling. And it's, if they can see it, and explain it to me, and I can see what they see. Then I know that they know what they're doing that what they want. If they're wishy washy, or you know, unsure, you just feel it in the room. And oftentimes, you don't even get to that point because you already feel it in the writing.

Alex Ferrari 34:52
With the writer directors, you generally work with writer directors, right. Seems like it. That's generally the way it goes.

Miranda Bailey 35:00
I mean, it's not a it's not a mandate or anything.

Alex Ferrari 35:04
What is what is the biggest misconception that people have about a producer and what they do?

Miranda Bailey 35:10
Well, people think we make money

Alex Ferrari 35:16
Do you make obscene amounts of money and just trucks of truckloads. You've got a Pablo Escobar problem like the rats are eating my money. I have too much money that

Miranda Bailey 35:24
I've got mattresses stack full of money behind me. It's just invisible. The best kind of money perceive success money

Alex Ferrari 35:35
That's the best kind. You can't spend it though. You can't spend it not to

Miranda Bailey 35:39
Like Bitcoin because it gets you into parties and restaurants. And you don't have to pay anything.

Alex Ferrari 35:47
Gotcha. That's the perceived the perceived riches of being a producer's wanting to know. Yeah, people think you're like, when you're in the film business. Oh, you must be making a lot of money. I'm like, no, no, no, that's, it's, that's the top one of one of 1% that, like, make that kind of grit. And that's all you see. I would say.

Miranda Bailey 36:07
Hey, I'm here I'm gonna tell you something!

Alex Ferrari 36:10
Im still fighting baby.

Miranda Bailey 36:13
Movie, or something's gonna happen where I will make money like actual money someday. $30,000 I will make more than that in a year. On a movie someday. I just got to stick in there. I just gotta hang in there

Alex Ferrari 36:31
Another 20 years. Ad I got this. I got.

Miranda Bailey 36:35
We're trying to do TV now. So I'm like, maybe there's money.

Alex Ferrari 36:39
Well, that's, I mean, everyone knows that. That's where the money is, is in television. So it's,

Miranda Bailey 36:45
Trying to get in the door of that is like, Fuck, it's hard. No, no. We just shot a TV show a Hindi nine episodes are selling now. I don't think that's been done yet.

Alex Ferrari 36:57
It's been done a couple of times. idea on the note is not a bright, it's not a bright idea, generally speaking, but the pandemic, you have to do what you got to do.

Miranda Bailey 37:09
Sorry, it's nobody GQ plus story. It's about mental illness. It was super important for me.

Alex Ferrari 37:18
I love this. I love I love that this is such a raw conversation. So people really have a look filmmakers who just are new to the business, get an understanding of what the business is really like, is there's so much perceived perception about the business. And I always tell people, the Hollywood's really good at the sizzle, but they suck at the steak. And

Miranda Bailey 37:39
Great, great if that's okay, is that a mug? Because I'll buy it.

Alex Ferrari 37:45
Because it's so true. Because Oh, and I always use the I always use the example of because I was from LA I lived in LA for you know, over a decade. And, and I always anytime someone came to town relative to like, Hey, we're not going to Hollywood Boulevard like no, you don't want to go to Hollywood Boulevard. I go no, no, that's where the Oscars are. I'm like, yeah, that that that 50 feet is basically all looks good. And I go that is a perfect analogy for the business. Because on Oscar night, Hollywood Boulevard looks amazing. But if you go a block over to the left or a block over to the right, you better hold on to the purse. It's and the farther you get away from the COVID another Kodak

Miranda Bailey 38:32
Oh, it's now it's just insane. But I was there for the Irish screaming the premiere. And I will say it looks just like you know the

Alex Ferrari 38:41
Oh, the Chinese Theater of course. And all of that stuff.

Miranda Bailey 38:44
That was awesome. But that's the only time I've ever or like when we did super. And that was at the Egyptian Yep, yeah. But don't go there just to like go see the stars because you can actually the stars go on forever. Oh, forever and ever go to the stars by the spied by the good coffee shop.

Alex Ferrari 39:02
It's exactly. But I use that as an analogy. Because it's a perfect analogy of what Hollywood sells. It sells the image. But the reality is, I mean, if you just if you live in LA for any short amount of time you realize it is a Boulevard of Broken Dreams. So many people go there with these bright eyed and bushy tail ideas about the business. And that that reality hits hard. And it's not an easy, it's not an easy grind. It is his grind. Like you just one day. And you're you know, arguably a very successful film producer. And in your you know, I mean, you've done some amazing projects. I mean, you've done you've done you've worked with amazing people you've made amazing films, but you're still you still awesome at it. You still grinding it you still do. And I tell people I'm like I know Oscar winners who are like I gotta still hustle the next project that you know the boss will get me into a party but it's not gonna pay my rent. Like

Miranda Bailey 39:58
By God's country. I remember someone one of my Hey, friends is distributors who's kind of betting on it or whatever they were planning on doing a words campaign? I'm like, Yeah, well, Warzone payment. Words don't keep the lights on. So bring your number up.

Alex Ferrari 40:12
Yeah. I don't want an Oscar nomination. Another million.

Miranda Bailey 40:18
It is you have, you know, there is an amount. I mean, I do, like a cockroach. And like, I feel like, you know, slowly the world, but people quit around me. And if I can just still be there that time.

Alex Ferrari 40:38
You just gonna wait everybody out. But you know what the, you know, the funny thing is about that. Keep working, keep going. But you know, what I and I've said this so many times, you know, I've been in the business close to 30 years. And I know people who are less talented than many people I know. But they just stuck it out. They had a willpower to keep going. And they're less talented, less experience, and they just keep that just keep grinding and they outwait everybody else. So people are like, Oh, I know this talented person like talent, man talents, the beginning of the conversation. It is, it is because there's, you know, a lot of talented directors and writers

Miranda Bailey 41:20
Talented is needed, like so I have this quote on my website, Miranda bailey.com. Yes. I just put on my website that that I read in the newspaper in the Hollywood Reporter that first week I was here, okay. Oh, I clipped it out. And I have it somewhere in some journal, you know, some pasted it down. And I don't know who said if someone important, probably. And it said talent isn't what gets you in the room. But it's what keeps you in the room?

Alex Ferrari 41:49
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Miranda Bailey 41:51
So I would I do think I'm talented at this point. But I know that that's not enough. And

Alex Ferrari 42:01
Then there's hustle, then there's experience, then there is craft and there's all these other things that you need to be good at. Not just just that,

Miranda Bailey 42:09
Yeah. You know, basically, if you can be, you know, for me, the most important thing right now is authenticity. Yep. And that is the hardest thing to find, when you first come to LA, probably for people who are going are getting into the movie business. And it's it's hard to be authentic, surrounded by inauthentic people. So but I think that the pandemic has really helped kind of the world realize what in every business what they want to be and who they want to be and who they want to be around. And I think that my hustle was really, really killing me before the pandemic, you know, authentic, but I was definitely doing things very fast. And I am kind of bad like this, like Sundance and South by has kind of gotten me on this again, and I'm like, whoa, whoa, spring break, let's go. Like, let's like, vacations get to kids. Yeah, it's more important for me to go to that go to the Oscars, it's more important for me to I live in Aspen now, like, it's more important for me to just, I don't care how much I like the project. If the person involved that is a producer involved, or a director, or social or even an agent involved or whatever is an asshole. I don't want to do it. No, because my time, my time now, I'd rather sit here and create this movie I'm working on with Oren moverman, or one of the five movies I'm working on or movement because I love him and he's my heart and soul. My brother that may never get made, then, you know,

Alex Ferrari 44:03
Life's too short. Life's too short. And as you get older, the the, the the level of crap that you put up with starts to drop dramatically. When you were 21, you'll put up with a whole lot of crap that you won't put up with at 41 or 51. And it just started you just start and it's you just start dealing with and it's so true. And you really start finding out what's important to you. Because when you're young and you're starting out in the business, it's all about the business, your entire identity is wrapped around the business. But as you get older you start to realize oh, I'm more than just a director I'm more than just a writer you hopefully get to that point that you realize I'm a father I'm a mother I'm a sister a brother I charity I do other things besides just this and yeah, it takes time it takes time. It takes time to realize and

Miranda Bailey 44:52
I think supporting other filmmakers like has been a you know are other people who want to be producers want to be writers or want to be directors and stuff. That's because Have a great joy in my life. They're not just making our movies, but even just helping them get their movies made that stuff is, is because no one ever helped me. And in fact, it was kind of the opposite. They tried to hurt. So I always said, you know, if I ever get to a point where I can be valuable enough to help other people, that doesn't mean give them money to make their movies, right. But give them support and encouragement, then I will do it. And that's been something you know, that's a non-country, which just premiered at South By the way that came about with me is, I had been Frank that I directed, and merkt ahead, Ingrid, which she directed at the bendfilm Festival. And we were talking as directors, and she told me about her next idea. And she's like, but I just don't know what to do. And I'm like, Well, you know, I'm here for you anytime you need it. And she's like, well, will you be my mentor? And I'm like, Yeah, of course. And so my relationship on that movie, obviously, it ended up becoming later on, you know, bringing on my company and my agency and like, I need the right publicist, and you know, now finding the right agent for her and, you know, finding the right festival to premiere out and stuff like that. I'm just so fucking proud of her.

Alex Ferrari 46:23
But that's, that's a joy. That's the joy that you look for now. And that's the thing that I look at, when I started this show six, almost seven years ago, my life changed. Because I started giving back, I started being of help being of service to other people. And and then now I get to talk to people like yourself, all the time, where I would have killed to have this conversation with you early on in my career. Now, I'm just like, This is amazing that I get to talk to you at a different place. And, and hopefully, my intention is not to get anything out of it. For me, that's I don't care. I'm here to have a great conversation that hopefully will help other people. And that's the intention I have with all my guests, regardless if they want Oscars, or if they're just a new filmmaker just starting out. And that has been so rewarding. And it's, it's changed my life. So I think you're feeling that too, just by helping others and mentoring others and giving back in that way.

Miranda Bailey 47:18
Yeah. So it's great, because then, you know, you're a part of something that you love. Right! You know, and and that's just that's, that's it

Alex Ferrari 47:29
Now, how, how, because you've been doing this for a while now. Can you tell the audience how the independent film space has changed in the last five years? Not 20? The last five, arguably the last two or three? How much more difficult? Is it to make a movie, get distribution, get your money back in return for your money for your investors? Is there how has it changed from, you know, 25 years ago?

Miranda Bailey 47:59
Well, we're in a very, very state of who knows because of the pandemic. Sure. So that's obviously problematic when it comes to shooting things. And if you get shut down because someone gets sick, or if there's a new variant and and you know, we are still in a pandemic, even though people are not talking about it, I mean, my husband and my two kids just got COVID Again, by longer so that I could get to Hawaii for my vacation. But I'd say one thing that I I'm, I think is great about the last five years is that the idea of windowing, which has, you know, has has collapsed, so there was for a while and are about 90 days is a real theatrical release. And otherwise it stay in dates. And there's really no in between. And then they were calling something called like broken windowing. And I'm like, that doesn't sound good. We call it creative windowing. So creative windowing. And but it was still very hard to navigate. And that what people don't understand is when you selling your movie, you're gonna get way more money from Florida and everything if you had a traditional 90 Day release. But you had to play in so many theaters, and your box office numbers had to be so much money in order for those deals overseas to actually kick in. So as soon as that change, you're kind of screwed. So for instance, with being frank, we released it through film, arcade and universal because we didn't want to take necessarily in any of the other offers, which is good because we made more money than the other offers by now. But our deal with Universal was a 90 day doing, which I didn't think would be the right thing for being frank. But that was the filmer K deal. If day and it should have been day in but Did you know universal at that time was doing 90 Day theatricals. So now, with us being able to watch at home, you know, marry me, let's say that now that the rom com coming back, which I'm like, hallelujah,

Alex Ferrari 50:18
Thank God.

Miranda Bailey 50:20
I need some more. I mean, that's my favorite genre. So I usually never get to but you can put it on TV and still make a million in the box office opening weekend. And on on Peacock, it had a gazillion people sign up for peacock and watch it that opening weekend

Alex Ferrari 50:39
I did. I did my wife wanted to watch it so

Miranda Bailey 50:44
The numbers or anything and I, you know, so that that's really great. I mean, I think the other thing and this is probably just for me, because other people I, I want to make I want to direct to one of those movies that you're like, oh my god, did you see the ALI Wong movie or the movie? And they're like, oh, yeah, I love it. Who directed it? I don't know. Like, it was on Netflix or it was on this. That is my ideal situation. Because then you do not have to be a director like with a point of view or say something or, you know, is he ripped apart? Or is it now in authentic way?

Alex Ferrari 51:21
Correct! No, you're absolutely right. It's changed so much. I can only imagine Disney how many how much how many subscribers Disney plus got from all the Pixar movies? Oh, yeah. All that stuff and HBO the whole last year? I mean, how many people signed up

Miranda Bailey 51:37
Played all the best they played lately? And Harry Met Sally. I watched it like four times.

Alex Ferrari 51:41
Exactly. So they're it's the game has changed so dramatically. Is there a place right now? In your opinion? For the well, we would have called in the 90s? That independent an independent film from the 90s? The? The slackers, the clerks the El Mariachi is the Brothers McMullen. Those films. Is there a marketplace for that anymore? Those kinds of films?

Miranda Bailey 52:03
Yeah, there is there is, you know, there's Magnolia, there's AFC neons doing their own wing, which is called Super. There's film arcade. Those, those are the ones who are doing those movies. And then, of course, there's self distribution models out there now that you can do that, you know, because there's nothing I mean, once someone asked at South by when I was on a panel, like, you know, what do you think about idea of self distribution to this and it's competed, that's I'm like, look, the more places there are, for us as filmmakers to be able to put our money or movie out there. So instead of it sitting on on our shelf, or in our closet, it's on Apple, or Amazon or whatever the better because no one wants to make a movie and not be seen. Now that has nothing to do with money, or minimum guarantees, or anything like that. But you know, there's more places for you to see a movie, there's ability for you to make a movie, the market. You know, big sales had been gone for a long time.

Alex Ferrari 53:14
Oh, yeah. And pre and pre sales as well.

Miranda Bailey 53:17
Well, pre sales is a totally different kind of thing. It's not in for independent film anymore.

Alex Ferrari 53:21
Yeah. The days of AFM and just having a poster. I mean, unless you have a relationship with buyers,

Miranda Bailey 53:28
I know Nick Cage movie that Stallone movie and movie you're fine, solid, but you know, or big or big director, but if it's like you need making a movie starring my best friend, you know, Zack, Sal Lin, we're not going to pre sell it.

Alex Ferrari 53:44
No, no, and you're right, it's just that that world is is gone. And I always tell people with with self distribution, you got to hit the ball so well, to get to make real money in that play in that space. You got to really know what you're doing, really understand a lot of different things to be able to generate three, four or 500,000

Miranda Bailey 54:05
That does it. So like the arcade, we do self distribution. I mean, Bleecker Street's also doing service deals. Sure. So you know, I think as long as you use those companies that really knows what what they're doing, and they'll guide you then then then you're good.

Alex Ferrari 54:23
Now I'm gonna ask you a couple questions ask them I guess what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Miranda Bailey 54:28
Um, don't

Alex Ferrari 54:30
Run away get an accounting job No. You gotta love it.

Miranda Bailey 54:36
You know, I don't know. My advice is always changing. You know, I would, I would say is understand that it is a collaborative art. And if you can't collaborate, you will make it because what doesn't bend breaks?

Alex Ferrari 54:53
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Miranda Bailey 54:59
That I am not fat despite magazines or movies, and what they have said, and then I don't look like everybody else. And I want to thank Shonda Rhimes. For this. She's the one who allowed people to go and be seen that are real people. Because when I got to Hollywood, I was called, not fat enough to be the best friend, or skinny enough. So but I was really funny. So I needed to gain or lose 20 pounds in order to be successful. And I was not pretty enough to be the lead. And those were the rules for me as a woman.

Alex Ferrari 55:38
Wow. And they told you that

Miranda Bailey 55:40
This more than once

Alex Ferrari 55:43
Wasn't like one outlier, it was a constant.

Miranda Bailey 55:46
That's just the way it was. Wow. And life is not over when you're when he turns 30 If you're an A woman in the business, in behind, or in front of the camera, my dad learned how to ride a horse at 65 years old. And he then became a horse champion by the time he was 75 years old. So you know, just stay on the fucking horse.

Alex Ferrari 56:12
And three of your favorite films of all time.

Miranda Bailey 56:15
Oh, gosh, True Romance. Number one favorite film of all time. That's amazing. Then I'm gonna go with my fair lady.

Alex Ferrari 56:25
Obviously, both double double, double.

Miranda Bailey 56:28
Thirdly, Some like it hot.

Alex Ferrari 56:31
Oh, very good. Wow, that's, that's a heck of a screening night. And run to where can people find out more about you and and see what you're doing?

Miranda Bailey 56:42
Well, my website mirandabailey.com, because my dad was smart enough to get my name on websites when they first started so lucky because you know, you know, Shaundra Wilson would asset by now has my writing, directing, acting producing in it. And it also has the some information on Cherry picks, which is a website that I started for female critics to kind of put them together and give a score for female critics. And that's the cherry picks.com That's a really fun. It's kind of like, I want it to be the cut meets Entertainment Weekly meets rotten tomatoes for women and non binary people. Fair enough, but it's you know, we show this was Army man's on there. I mean, Ford versus Ferrari, I will say is one of my favorite movies in the last five years. It's so good that

Alex Ferrari 57:36
It's such a good movie that says Miranda, it has been entertaining as hell talking to you and also very educational. I appreciate you taking the time out to talk to the tribe and dropping your knowledge bombs on them. So I appreciate you. Thank you again.

Miranda Bailey 57:52
I had to go drop something else. So thanks so much, guys.

Alex Ferrari 57:56
I love it. Thanks so much.


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BPS 192: Writing & Showrunning Friends, Grace & Frankie with Marta Kauffman

Marta Kauffman is an Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning television writer, producer and showrunner behind the hit series Friends and Grace & Frankie. After graduating from Brandeis University, Kauffman got her big break alongside David Crane when their pilots Dream On (1990) and The Powers That Be (1992) were greenlit. The pair then launched Bright/Kauffman/Crane Productions with Kevin Bright and became the trio that created the iconic sitcom Friends.

Marta’s expansive and successful career includes creator, director, EP and showrunner credits on a number of television series, films, digital series and projects. In 2015, Kauffman started her production company, Okay Goodnight, with industry veteran Robbie Tollin and Hannah KS Canter.

Their first series, Grace & Frankie, starring Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Martin Sheen, and Sam Waterston premiered on Netflix in 2015 and is Netflix’s longest-running original ever. The series has received multiple Emmy and SAG nominations and is premiering the final episodes of its seventh and last season later this year. In 2018, the company produced the documentary Seeing Allred, which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival and is currently available on Netflix.

Kauffman has received a number of honors and awards including the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for lifetime achievement in television writing from the Writers Guild of America, the 2016 Outstanding Television Writer award at the 23rd annual Austin Film Festival & Screenwriters Conference, The Kieser Award at the 44th Annual Humanitas Awards, and Variety’s TV Producers Impact Report for consecutive years in 2019 and 2020. Okay Goodnight and Kauffman currently have numerous projects in various stages of development at multiple networks

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show, Marta Kauffman. How you doin' Marta?

Marta Kauffman 0:14
I'm good. Thanks. Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 0:17
Oh, my God, thank you so much for coming on the show. You know, I'm slightly geeking out because obviously I am of the generation of when Friends came about. So I was in I was there, I think I was their age when Friends was. So I'm about I'm a little, like, only few years younger than the cast. So I was really feeling it. And I always wondered, how can someone afford that apartment in New York, but we could get to that later. But, um, and I wanted to kind of go down the road of how you started, how did you get started in the business?

Marta Kauffman 0:53
Um, honestly, I started as an actor, and discovered when when there was nothing in college for undergraduates to act in David Crane, and I said, Well, let's write something that that we can act in. And very quickly realized that the writing was a lot more fun than the academic. Yes. And we wrote a musical. The following year, we wrote another musical that ended up off Broadway. And when that show happened, our theater agent at the time brought a woman named Nancy Josephson who said, Why aren't you two doing television? And we went, Oh. And she is to this day, still my television agent.

Alex Ferrari 1:45
That's amazing. That's amazing. So you, so Was there something that started you on the path of trying to even be in this ridiculous business that we call show business? What was the thing that kind of lit your fire?

Marta Kauffman 1:58
You know, I've always loved telling stories. I didn't growing up know exactly what that meant. But and it wasn't until I started studying theatre and writing myself that I sort of said, I There are stories I want to tell, there are things I want to say and things I want to do. And you know, my mother was a dancer. My father could play any instrument you put in front of them. So I grew up in a very creative household. So it as much as they didn't want me to go into the business. She told people for a long time that I was going to grow up and teach mentally handicapped people, and we told them forever, until I finally had to move to LA and said, You know, I'm really doing this and she was furious. But once we while we were still living in New York, we were going back and forth between LA and New York, and I had a baby at that time. David Crane was like the other parent. We do one rule, I couldn't nurse during a pitch. That was a decent rule. And we were writing stuff and nothing was happening, and nothing was happening. And then we got a meeting about dream on interest. And, you know, they were looking for writers to do something with these millions of, you know, tapes that they had of old TV shows, and they were scraping the bottom of the barrel talking to to, you know, musical theater writers. But we were able to come up with something and get it made.

Alex Ferrari 3:50
Right. Like it, it seemed like from your from your proof from your, your filmography that, I mean, it seemed pretty quickly you got something, you know, you got a pilot produced, like, which was Dream on. And, you know, and it seemed very, it seemed quick, but I always wanted to know, like, how did you get Dream on? Like, how, because there's not a lot of time between when you first got your first writing gig to being a showrunner like you jumped pretty quickly. And that generally doesn't happen in the business.

Marta Kauffman 4:25
You know, again, I have to thank Nancy Josephson for this, um, when when dreamin right before Drumond happened. We met with the agents, and she was there and they said, What do you want to do? And we said, we want to write our own show. And they said, no, no, you can't do that. Was miss you. You've got to work on somebody else's show. And my feeling was, I had a baby. If I'm going to be spending time away from my baby, I'm going to have it be my thing. And then dream on happened. We wrote a pilot, we shot the pilot. And we were trusted to run the show. But I, it's a miracle. I don't know who convinced who,

Alex Ferrari 5:22
Like, how does that happen? Like in? I mean, I don't want this everyone listening, you have to understand that this is not the normal route of things. You don't know young writers are not given shows to run. And that was an HBO show at the time, right? I think it might have had a little something to do with. Yeah, might have had some to do with H because it was HBO and HBO was in the wild, wild west at that time period. Is that a fair statement?

Marta Kauffman 5:44
Yes, it really was. We were one of their first shows. And I think they were more willing to take big swings, then then other places might have been a network would never have let us do this.

Alex Ferrari 5:57
No way. That's what Yes, that makes that makes a lot more sense. Now, you

Marta Kauffman 6:02
Also simultaneously, we got a job. And this is what brought us out to LA what we've just here working for Norman Lear's company developing TV. So that was also happening at the same time. Um, it was we did a suspend and extend thing, which means we suspended the contract for a little while. So we could do dream on an extended at that length of time. And then we had to do both a show for them. While we were doing Dream on. And David, nice to say we used to pass the baton on the freeway as we pass each other going to the other room.

Alex Ferrari 6:44
That's amazing. Now, your first writing gig was everything's relative. And that was the first as your first official writing gig as a writer in a room

Marta Kauffman 6:53
As a TV writer. Yeah. Well, I would say my first writing gig was we wrote questions for a game show.

Alex Ferrari 7:00
Okay. That's amazing.

Marta Kauffman 7:04
But we'll put that to the side. Fair enough. Yes, that was the first that was the first TV experience we have. So then as what was terrible,

Alex Ferrari 7:15
Which okay, so I wanted to get into that, was there a major lesson you picked up from being on that show as a young writer that you brought into the rest of your career?

Marta Kauffman 7:26
Um, well, one of the things we learned was, we want to do our own show, right? We were not in the room for the rewrite. And the rewrite was massive. And, you know, we didn't have the experience to understand exactly how this works, and that they're going to take it and put it in their own vernacular, you know, the way that their characters speak, which, you know, we watched the TV show was barely on the air for a minute before we did this. And it was a, an experience where there was very little communication, very little inclusion. So yeah, that was our first experience. Thanks for bringing it up.

Alex Ferrari 8:14
Anytime I'm trying to bring up the worst and the best of your past. Learning, I'm trying to I'm trying to pick up some learning tips along the way, some lessons that we could give to everybody. Now, what is with you and you and David, what is your writing process? Like? How do you start? You know, a show idea or have any kind of storytelling? What how do you start like literally your process? Do you wake up in the morning, every day? Go to the to the desk at eight o'clock, I'm there. How's it work?

Marta Kauffman 8:42
So that's a very interesting question. And my process has changed. Since you could no no longer writing together, I had to learn a whole new process, I used to say that I wrote out loud, because David was always at the keyboard. Got it, he won't be at the keyboard. And I had to learn that I wasn't going to be able to speak things out loud. So I started acting in my head. And what I discovered about the way I write is that I write in waves. I'll sit down, study a scene, do my vomit draft is what I call the first draft. Do that scene. And then I have to walk away for a little bit until the next wave comes and I know what the next scene is about. And I sort of let the first scene settle. And then let the second scene start to bubble up. And as soon as things start to turn, in my head, I jump back in and ride the next wave. Now sometimes it's more than one scene. But generally it's it's it's about riding waves as opposed to I'm picking these hours and these hours and these I leave my day open.

Alex Ferrari 9:57
So it just anytime that during the day you're Just like okay, Muse, I am here. Yep. Anytime you want to show up, it could be at eight in the morning, eight at night midnight whenever.

Marta Kauffman 10:08
Well, it's a little more disciplined than that, in that I, if I know today is a writing day? Sure, I'll sit down. And the reason I call it the vomit draft is I know that to get started, I just have to get words on paper,

Alex Ferrari 10:21
Right!

Marta Kauffman 10:23
However terrible they are. The words have to go on the paper. And once that starts, once you get past the blank page, then the waves start to come start coming. And it's it's not really I mean, yes, I do like to call my museum, but it's not a matter of I'm in the shower, for idea happens. You know, and I jump out and go sit right.

Alex Ferrari 10:50
I gotcha. I gotcha. Well, I always love asking this question to creators, you know, even when I write, there's that moment that, you know,

Marta Kauffman 10:59
Excuse me one second, I realized I didn't really answer your question.

Alex Ferrari 11:02
Okay. So go ahead. Oh, yeah. to process the process.

Marta Kauffman 11:05
Yeah, there's a little more about the process in terms of creating a new show, okay. There are a couple things. Sometimes there's IP, a book, an article or something. And those can be incredibly inspiring. We have a couple projects based on books, and they're very exciting. And and I hate to say this, but part of why they're so exciting is you don't have to start from scratch. You have a basic idea of characters, and perhaps the shape of a story. And yes, it has to change. And it's I'm not saying it's easy. But it's a different process than when you're doing a show from scratch. And you know, here's the logline ID and then you have to discover who each one of these characters is. And you have to discover what the story is. And it is a painstaking process. It's a painstaking process. But it's one that I mean, generally. It's one that I don't write down immediately. Okay, I percolate on it for a while.

Alex Ferrari 12:32
You let it simmer? You let it Yeah, you let it kind of, you know, satay in your head, if you will?

Marta Kauffman 12:37
Yes, exactly. Exactly. And I find that sometimes that the walking away, is when my brain is most productive.

Alex Ferrari 12:46
Agreed, agreed, 100%, it's sometimes you just gotta go for a walk, go take a shower, go into Drive, whatever that thing is for you. I always found it. And this was a question I was gonna ask you, with, with creators, especially writers, I've always found the moment that you're able to tap into the flow, huge that the wave, which is the first time I've ever heard it referred to as a wave that you kind of ride a wave of inspiration, or that the thing is coming through you. I always found it that we're almost conduits from something else. I don't know where it comes from whatever you want to call it. But writers generally, and I think most writers I've spoken to have agreed with me on this is that there's that moment in time where you, you're just writing and then you stop and you read it. Like who wrote that? Right? Do you find Do you find that happening to you? Like you kind of like in that flow? It's not all the time. Sometimes it's much harder than that normally. But you get those moments.

Marta Kauffman 13:40
I'm the pilot of friends was one of those moments.

Alex Ferrari 13:43
I imagine it is. Yeah.

Marta Kauffman 13:45
That I mean, and mainly because we always say it wrote itself. Right? We didn't do anything. We just put the words on the paper it just wrote itself.

Alex Ferrari 13:56
It's just something some from some other place it just kind of like you guys were chosen, like you two are going to do it and it just all of us. And I've heard that from from from creators who've created these amazing properties and television shows and movies that when it's when it's so well received around the world, it's generally like something that just kind of like, like Rocky and Stallone like when he wrote Rocky, he's like I wrote in three days. The rough, the first draft, right? It was just there. It just it was it's like who wrote that? And that's

Marta Kauffman 14:28
Like, it's a little bit like one of my favorite pieces of sculpture is I think it's called the slave. Okay. Um, and it's a big square piece of marble. And coming out of the marble is a figure. The bottom half of this figure is in that big block of marble Sure. It exists in there. You just have to click All right, rest of that sculpture is in there. So it you know, it sort of makes me wonder if what we're doing is knocking away removing all the stuff that gets in the way from the piece of work that you're trying to create.

Alex Ferrari 15:21
That's yeah, that's what it is. Is it? Is it the VINCI or Michelangelo? Who said that? I think one of the Michelangelo? Yeah. He said, That is like I just there was, I just took the David all the pieces that weren't the David. Which sounds so simple. It doesn't, yeah, just just write, it should be fine.

Marta Kauffman 15:41
No, and the other thing, I think that gets in the way for a lot of writers and we've spoken to writers about this, but I think many of us feel like fakes.

Alex Ferrari 15:54
Oh, imposter syndromes. Absolutely. Imposter syndrome. Oh, big time.

Marta Kauffman 15:58
It's a big thing. It's a big thing, which is what makes it so hard to face the blank page. So hard to look at your vomit draft. And I always said, I'm a Rewriter.

Alex Ferrari 16:15
But the match. But let me ask you a question to why. Why do you believe that is? Because you're absolutely right. By the way, me speaking to, I mean, Oscar winners and Emmy winners and everybody. They all you know, they all seem to have that even after they've won Oscars after they've won Emmys. They're super successful. And yet, every time they get onto the page, there's like, I feel like someone I've heard this, like, I feel someone's gonna come into the door and go, What are you doing security? Get him or her out of here? Like it's but it's a weird thing is that thing is just inherent in writers weren't artists in general, because it's not only writers directors feel the same way? Actors feel the same way. Why do you think that is?

Marta Kauffman 16:56
I think if you identify yourself as a writer, then your failures are more painful than you think like I failed as writer as opposed to well, I'm not really writer. So that's why that didn't work. Right? I think that's a little piece of it. Sure. I, another piece of it, is that, as artists, we strive for perfection, which we never achieve. We just want to make it better and better and better. And we, I think, come face to face with our limitations on every script. I mean, I watched friends, mainly, what I see are the things I wish we changed.

Alex Ferrari 17:49
But that's an artist. That's always the way it is.

Marta Kauffman 17:52
Right. Right. I think that's part of it. And I think, I mean, in my case, I actually had a teacher write on a paper, once that I was the least in my AP English. I was the least perceptive student she'd ever had. And like, never be a writer.

Alex Ferrari 18:10
Those are the best stories ever. I love those stories. But that but that that kind of fed the fire a bit I'm I'm imagining?

Marta Kauffman 18:17
Well, what I realized is, I can't write an essay. Right? I can't write an essay. I can write dialogue. But I cannot write it. I couldn't write a novel for I just couldn't do it. I write you know, dialogue. That's what I do. I act it out in my head. I play all the characters and, and I it's, you know, in shorter sentences, you know, I don't have to be descriptive. I have to be clever in how I do exposition, and stuff like that. So I think that's, that's certainly another piece of it for me. I haven't yet met a writer who doesn't feel the imposter syndrome.

Alex Ferrari 19:14
I really haven't either. Yeah, it's just it's not again, it's not just the writers I think directors to to. I mean, I mean, maybe James Cameron not but but even in the quiet moments of James's Mo, you know, I'm sure there was a moment of like, No, I don't think so. I think I think he's good. But most, but most mortals, most mortals do feel that especially as artists are concerned. Is there anything you wish you would have been? You wish someone would have told you at the beginning of your career? And like Man, why didn't someone tell me this?

Marta Kauffman 19:56
There are a few things I wish someone had told me I wish someone had told me that there was going to be misogyny that I could do very little about.

Alex Ferrari 20:10
I can imagine.

Marta Kauffman 20:12
I wish someone had told me that. And and I faced it a lot. I'll tell you one story, we writing a movie. And I had a had to have a minor, benign tumor removed from my breast. And it was happening on the day that we were supposed to meet with the producer for whom we were writing this movie. And David sat down with this producer. And he said, I love the script. I wish it had more TNA. They said, By the way, where's Marta, and David Flint, she's having her tea operated on.

Alex Ferrari 20:54
I can imagine in the, you know, the 90s 80s and 90s, that, you know, there was no me to movement, there was no awareness, there was no real way there was nowhere for, for females and people of color to, there was no, there was nothing, you just had to deal with it and move forward.

Marta Kauffman 21:12
Didn't really have role models. I mean, mine was Rosemarie from the Van Dyke Show.

Alex Ferrari 21:17
Minds was Robert Rodriguez from El Mariachi is the first time I ever saw a Latino filmmaker. I mean, they had been before but Robert was the first guy I saw was like, Oh, my God, I can I can be a filmmaker, I can go out and do what I want to do it with, you know, I'm sure Spike Lee was for other people and it of a certain generation, you know, Melvin van Peebles, and the list goes on and on. But you didn't see a lot. Now. It's, I mean, so much more, there's so much more to be done. But there's so much more representation out there. There's so many more different stories from different perspectives, which are so important.

Marta Kauffman 21:56
I think there's finally an awareness that we need to do that, that all people need to tell their stories. Right. Right. Exactly. And that there's an audience for that.

Alex Ferrari 22:07
Oh, yes. Exactly. It because at the end of the day, it generally always, you know, I, I had a, I had when I came up in a video store, you know, in the 80s. In the 90s, I worked in a video store. And there was one moment where I, there was a, I had some had a racist situation happened with a customer. And they called up my Oh, my boss, and he was like, I can't believe this Latino kids telling me I'm late charges or something like this. And I was first time I'd ever really been, you know, in front of fronted with that. And he said, I'm going to tell you one lesson, he was a Jewish man. And he said, the only color that people care about is green. If you can make the money, it all goes out the window and a lot of ways. And I found that that's generally the way it works. In Hollywood specifically. Do you agree with that? Like they just like if you're making a lot of money for the company, or for the movie or for things? doors, the doors, but just I don't know, it's I don't know. I would just love to hear your opinion on that.

Marta Kauffman 23:12
Yes or no? Yes. And no, I mean, after, during friends, you know, David, and I would go to a meeting and there were certain men who would not look at me, in the meeting, walk straight to David. And I'd be sitting right there talking. They'd look at me when I talk, but then they would talk to David. Um,

Alex Ferrari 23:39
And you had the biggest show, you had the biggest show on television.

Marta Kauffman 23:43
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's it. It's gotten better. I have seen a real change since I started in this business in the 80s. Short Course. It's, it's been massive. And I still think we have a very long way to go. But I feel like finally people are paying attention. And I won't get things like we were pitching a movie where there were two women at the center of the movie. And the executive said to us, if it isn't Sandra Bullock and Meryl Streep, you're not getting the movie made? Nobody wants to see a movie about two women unless it's those two.

Alex Ferrari 24:27
Even now, or

Marta Kauffman 24:28
This was maybe six or seven years ago?

Alex Ferrari 24:34
Still close enough. And that's, that's another thing I want people listening to understand. I mean, you've obviously had a lot of success in your career. It doesn't mean that you get to do whatever you want and that a lot of a lot of writers think that like oh, well you wrote friends and and Grace and Frankie you do what you basically all you do is make a phone call. You get something financed and you get something produced. I've talked to everybody I've talked to. I've talked to all these It's not the case, they all have to hustle, do it even even well into their 70s I've had people that like, yeah, I, I still lose jobs. I yeah, I still get rewritten.

Marta Kauffman 25:11
It's actually one of the pieces of advice I was going to say, young writers is you can never rest on your laurels ever, ever. Um, you know, because the next minute you're out there developing, and for whatever reason, just because you're an Oscar winner doesn't mean they're gonna buy the movie.

Alex Ferrari 25:32
Correct! Correct.

Marta Kauffman 25:34
I mean, we went through a year of Developer Summit this year, that was sheer hell, not the development part of it. But the part where, you know, the, just the pluses. Yes, that's what we want. And we write in the go, we don't want that anymore. The lion. We had quite a few of those kinds of experiences. We actually were writing something we pitched something about a pandemic. But it's not really about the pandemic. It's it. Anyway, it's based on a book. Sure. We pitched it right after the news from Wuhan came out. Oh, yeah, exactly. They bought it. We wrote it. And then we're like, yeah, yeah, we're not.

Alex Ferrari 26:27
There's nobody wants to watch a pandemic show. Nobody know.

Marta Kauffman 26:32
We're moving. That's another thing that happens is you get caught life life, the world where you have a great idea and you go pitch it and they go, Oh, we have an idea about brothers, even if they're completely different.

Alex Ferrari 26:45
Right! No, yeah, exactly. I'm assuming there were a lot of terrorist scripts were shelved after 911. Like,

Marta Kauffman 26:54
I That's true.

Alex Ferrari 26:55
I it's just it's, you know, it happens things happen in the world. And, and then also, sometimes the opposite happens. There's a script about something that all of a sudden you have Mandalorian. And like, Oh, we're looking for that. And it just happened to be the timing for it. So timing works.

Marta Kauffman 27:08
And there's also there's also a tendency to oh, that worked. Let's do more of that.

Alex Ferrari 27:18
Of course, that's Hollywood's bread and butter.

Marta Kauffman 27:22
Rather than let's find something new and fresh and exciting. Let's just do what's good. It's no, it's got to be Ted lasso.

Alex Ferrari 27:32
Oh, God. How many Ted lasses by the way, Ted last was absolutely phenomenal. I just finished binging it for the first time. Oh, it's wonderful. But now I'm sure how many Ted lasso rip offs are going to come up. I mean, I always I always go back to Pulp Fiction, how many Pulp Fiction rip offs were there, once Pulp Fiction came out, and there was like five or 10 movies that came out, they're all trying to be Pulp Fiction, because that's just the way Hollywood works. So I have to ask, so I have the question I've been wanting to ask you is how did you come up with friends? How did friends come to be? How did it get produced? How did someone say? Sure, six kids living in New York? I think you'll be okay. How, what's the story behind? I'm sure you've answered this question a couple times.

Marta Kauffman 28:15
Um, so basically, we had just finished doing Dream on, which was a show with a single lead, who had to be in every scene which was extremely difficult on him. Every scene he was in. So, David, and I said, the next thing we do is going to be an ensemble. Okay, we didn't want to do that. And we started developing some stuff. We did a couple of pilots that obviously didn't work out. And then we were doing this was our second year of development. And we started thinking about where we came from. We lived in New York, we were part of a group of six people who did everything together. In that case, four of them turned out to be gay, which was a shock honestly, at the time, who like really but we were extremely close. And then I was here in LA driving down the street and I saw a sign for insomnia cafe. And I thought, that's, that's where to go. You know, the place you go get coffee is the place to go talk and to be together and to you know, it just felt like besides the apartments, which you always see this is, this is the meeting place. This is the gathering place. We actually sold it to two places, ended up at NBC, obviously. And there was a period of time right after we did the pilot, where they said, you know, we're worried about doing a show about six young people, that's not going to get the audience except for young people. Can you bring in an older character? Maybe the guy who owns the coffee shop, the coffee house,

Alex Ferrari 30:35
Your Schneider?

Marta Kauffman 30:36
Yeah. We used to call him a cop. And we said, No, you don't need that. They are everything for each other. They are their community. They don't need to go to some old guy for advice, or women. They don't need to go to someone for advice, because they have each other. And they let us do it.

Alex Ferrari 31:09
In how so what point, you know, in the casting process that you go, Oh, we have something special here was it after the first pilot. I mean, that because that magic that that cast has, and I'm not I'm not saying anything revolutionary here. But the magic of the friends cast is so palpable, you could just say, you can sense it. When these six people got together, it just worked in a way that is unexplainable. Like you couldn't write your letter, write that as a story. It's, it's,

Marta Kauffman 31:41
You know, it was, it was not easy to cast with 140,000 people. I mean, it was it was not an issue. But at our first rehearsal, the first time all six of them are on stage together. I got to chill up my spine. And sort of when Holy shit,

Alex Ferrari 32:09
Really that early. You felt it

Marta Kauffman 32:11
It was the first time they were all on stage together.

Alex Ferrari 32:14
So you guys didn't do chemistry reads or anything like that. You just You just cast them individually, and then threw them together and what happened happened, essentially,

Marta Kauffman 32:24
Yeah. Wow. Yeah. Alchemy happened. That's gold. Yeah, little gold. And this is one of those cases the stars were aligned. Things would have been different. The stars were aligned.

Alex Ferrari 32:38
Yeah. Wasn't there like wasn't is it Jennifer that was on another show? Or was on another show? Yeah. And she had to get she had to get out. And I think I think I think it was in the reunion. I just saw that. She said, Yeah, yeah, go to that show. He'll get canceled after a year. Something like,

Marta Kauffman 32:55
That shows not gonna make you a star.

Alex Ferrari 32:57
That's the quote. That's the quote. Yeah, that's the story. That's like gonna make your star.

Marta Kauffman 33:00
Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 33:02
And, and that was the thing too, with that show with the characters that were also beautifully balanced. You know, you had the flighty one, you add the you know, the series, you know, the not as bright one, the two bright, like, you balanced the characters, I mean, just a balance that you and David were able to put together of the characters just on a character development standpoint. How did you develop each of those characters? Or did this cast bring in some flavors that you later added and developed more with him? Or did were they pretty fleshed out originally on paper?

Marta Kauffman 33:36
The answer is a little bit of both. Look, a character you write is one thing in your head. And then when an actor breathes life into it, they bring something to it. And it elevates it, especially with this past, they elevated everything. One example is we didn't originally write Joey as stupid. But he played it so well. That it just became part of who he was. And that was not in our initial description of him.

Alex Ferrari 34:13
So he wasn't originally the dim one. Correct! Yeah, but he was the actor. He was an actor.

Marta Kauffman 34:19
He was an actor.

Alex Ferrari 34:20
So brilliant. Dr. Jake Romano. I mean, oh, God did all those lines. I mean, there's so many. I mean, the list of quotable lines from that show. Were any of them ad libbed? Or were they all broken in a room with with the writers do they you can remember like, Yo, how you doing and all these kind of things like that.

Marta Kauffman 34:44
Well, we may have written how you doing but but the way he did it, right is what made it incredibly special. How you doing as a line is like whatever.

Alex Ferrari 34:55
How many people have said I mean, we say that, uh, how you doing? Yeah, yeah, but it's performing made it

Marta Kauffman 35:01
His performance made it.

Alex Ferrari 35:02
Yeah. And anytime you refer to that you never hear someone guide that line how you doing as how you do it like everyone does. Everyone does that. Right? And, and to find six characters, six actors who melded so beautifully together and stayed best friends really to this day. such good friends is almost unheard of in a series environment for 10 years without somebody wanting to kill somebody look as look like his family, we all get families or families we all have, you know, fights and things like that. But generally speaking, they all stayed together for the entire show. Ah, it's remarkable it is it is I don't remember another series that had this kind of ensemble. And the other thing that I found so fascinating about the show, is there really wasn't a breakout star. And I don't mean that in a bad way, because they all were breakout stars. And that's unheard of, you know, it's your experience as well.

Marta Kauffman 36:03
Yeah, in my experience as well. And you know, it was also when we cast it, we didn't want to cast a star, right? We didn't want someone who was going to pull all the attention towards themselves. You know, by an audience, we wanted six people who worked as a unit, who made the characters come to life. And who could, you know, hopefully meld? And you just won't know, you don't know until you do it. But but you know, it worked out.

Alex Ferrari 36:41
Yeah. Wow. And Courtney was the only to my knowledge was the only kind of known person at that time, because she had been, she had been, you know, into movies, and obviously the perspex thing, music video, and she'd been around for a little bit at that point, but she wasn't a star per se. She was a known actress. Right? What is it? Like? Can you discuss the process of breaking an episode in the friends writers room? Like how do you do from season one to like season eight? Like, what are the main differences from breaking that first season, as opposed to breaking the eighth or ninth or 10th season?

Marta Kauffman 37:19
Well, the biggest difference is in the first season, you're making the arcs, you're creating the relationships between people. By the time you get to the eighth season a you really know who they are, and be there are things in the works. So what starts to happen is, the show begins to tell you what the stories are. Interesting, you know that the show tells you which direction to go in, for example, our idea with Monica and Chandler was they have a one night stand, and then it gets really, really awkward. But the audience reaction when we shot it was so huge had to go. Wait a minute. What are they telling us? Yeah, and we had just switched courses. But we had to, you know, you have to be incredibly flexible along the way. That's number one. In terms of breaking a story. You know, it's a bunch of funny people sitting in the room going, either. You know, what might be funny. And then it's spitballing and spitballing and spitballing. And sometimes it's I gotta tell you what happened last weekend.

Alex Ferrari 38:42
Right! And they bring

Marta Kauffman 38:45
As an example, the Taylor's story. Joey and the Taylor.

Alex Ferrari 38:53
Oh, god, that was amazing. I remember. Yeah.

Marta Kauffman 38:56
True story.

Alex Ferrari 38:57
That's a true story? He went he went a little too far. And he's like, up in the ball. And you guys will it has to be Joey has this up first.

Marta Kauffman 39:09
Ofcourse he does.

Alex Ferrari 39:12
Yeah, so Yeah, cuz I remember when, I mean, look, I've seen the show. I've probably watched it a ton of times over the years from the first viewing and when it hit Netflix, I want to hit HBO Max and I just, you know, watch it. Now my kids watched it. My kids are I think when they start watching it, they shouldn't be watching because it's inappropriate, because they were eight. But we'd fast forward they couldn't get a lot of the references. But they would now even to this day, they'll see Jennifer Aniston somewhere like oh, there's Rachel or there's Joey or there's Chandler and they that's that's how they refer to the actors because they just that's all they know. it's generational. Now. It's like one of those things that will be brought along to other to generate and that doesn't happen very often in television.

Marta Kauffman 39:56
You know, I have a My youngest daughter is two 23 now but when she was 16 and the show went to Netflix, a friend of hers said, Have you heard about that new show called friends? They thought it was a period piece.

Alex Ferrari 40:16
Yeah, they thought like this is a great new show. And remember when I hit Netflix the millennials were just like, this is fantastic this this period piece show. They're talking about CDs and stuff is amazing. The phones were this big and they used to go someplace and sit down. It's amazing. It's I heard about that couldn't stop laughing when I heard that. It's, it's remarkable. I have do you have a favorite episode? I know. That's hard to say without the hundreds of episodes. Is there something is there one that you just like, that's the one that really did it for me.

Marta Kauffman 40:50
No, it's a little bit like saying Do you have a favorite child? But yes, I do. The episode with the game and Oh, yes. embryos, the empty embryos. When the other part is Phoebe is getting her eggs fertilized Wright Brothers. Of course. That's the other piece of the story that's in there.

Alex Ferrari 41:25
But it was the game it was you mean the game when they lost the apartment? Why? Oh, it's it's that's an amazing episode one of many. But that

Marta Kauffman 41:33
I love that episode. So much. I love it so much.

Alex Ferrari 41:36
It's It's It's perfection. I want to ask you.

Marta Kauffman 41:40
I love to. Um, but but that to me is that's just my favorite.

Alex Ferrari 41:45
Now, is there something that you look for specifically in a potential writer for one of your rooms?

Marta Kauffman 41:51
Yes.

Alex Ferrari 41:53
What is it?

Marta Kauffman 41:56
That I can be in a room with that person for 12 hours a day. No matter how good the writing is, if the person is obnoxious or too shy, or too shy, it's true, are afraid to talk. I won't hire that person. Look, you read a script, you respond to it or you don't? Correct. Part of what happens is as you start to put together a writer's room, you go alright, this person is really strong on story. This person's really good at jokes. So the script I read of that person may have been hilariously funny with not a great story, but that's okay. In a writers room.

Alex Ferrari 42:47
Right! You're taking the best pieces, you're taking the best pieces,

Marta Kauffman 42:51
Right! You want to balance you want to balance but I also feel that when people stay with the show, they start to you know, gain depth as writers of course, you know, and and learn and learn to strengthen their weaknesses and show their strengths.

Alex Ferrari 43:11
I mean, the best advice I've ever gotten for being in this business is don't be a dick. Best advice I've ever gotten, and it's and people are like, Oh, you've got to be super talented like, that helps. Don't be a dick. I promise you. You could be the best writer you could be the second coming of William Goldman. And if you are an ass and you can't work with them at any in any any field in our business grip. Gaffer DP director, writer. If you're hard to work with, in maybe you get in, I've always seen this too. Maybe your talent gets you in and then you become the dick. The moment you stumble, the second you stumble, you're gone. And yeah,

Marta Kauffman 44:01
We we and I feel that you're right. It's about the whole business. I mean, as a showrunner, one of my priorities is a happy set. Absolutely. A safe and happy set. And anybody who can't participate in that can't stay on the show. There's nobody else there's no yelling, period. End of story. You don't yell. Right. You know, there's an end there are ways it's being show runners sometimes it's like being a camp counselor. I'm not always but sometimes that is what it feels like when you're sort of supportive, supporting uplifting cheering on your cast and crew. To make them feel good about coming to work every day.

Alex Ferrari 44:58
It's not easy. A lot of people think I mean, look at Hollywood and being in the in the show business and, and television. It's fun. Don't get me wrong. And I know you know that as well. It's fun. But it's hard work you work 1218 hour days sometimes. Yeah, everyone's well compensated at all, that's all great and dandy, but at a certain point, it doesn't matter how many, how many dollars come into your checking account, it's still 18 hours, and you're still busting your your butt and you and I can't even imagine the prep the financial pressure of being a producer, on a show like that, you know, and because at a certain point was one of the most expensive shows on NBC, his roster at a certain point, you know, that we're making a lot of money with it as well. But that pressure as long as well as trying to be creative, as well as trying to keep a happy set. People don't think about things like that. But it is an immense amount of pressure. I can't even understand this point.

Marta Kauffman 45:45
It's true. It's a lot of pressure. It's enormous stress. But and I would say this to a young writer. We work too hard not to find joy in what we do. Great as a writer, if whatever you're working on doesn't speak to you. It's not going to come out well, and you're not going to be happy doing it. Absolutely. It's got to be something that you feel in your soul in your gut that this is something I have to write.

Alex Ferrari 46:24
Well, I have to tell you, my new obsession is Grayson, Frankie, and I, my wife and I watching it and I saw the trailer for it when it came out originally. And I jumped on. I think I jumped on Season One. I was an early adopter. And I was just sitting there going, how in God's green earth that this get made? I can't I'm so happy it did. On paper. It doesn't play well. But you know, you mean like, you know what I'm saying? Like, you know, it's it's something that you never see you never see people of that age. On on a show. Obviously, you I think you had the same luck that you had with Dream on. HBO was the Wild Wild West, I think Netflix was very much the wild, wild west. To a certain extent. It's still it's the wild west over there. And you pitch them the show. I'm so happy that it exists in the world. And we're obsessed with it, by the way. So thank you for making it. How did you how did Grace and Frankie come to be? How did that idea come to be? Because some of the ideas in that show are just wonderful

Marta Kauffman 47:30
Umm, well, it was kind of a fluke how it started. I had lunch with a woman named Marcy Ross, who was head of the television department at Sky dance. We'd known each other previously. And she said the Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin want to do TV. I thought she meant together. I called my agent and I said, Is it true? The Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin want to do a show together? She said, I don't know. I'll call you back. And 20 minutes later, she calls me back. And she says they do now.

Alex Ferrari 48:17
Because you were asking.

Marta Kauffman 48:19
Yeah. Well, and also because they hadn't thought about doing it together, you know, and it was like, their friends course, they were very excited about it. And then, you know, we knew certain things we knew we wanted it to be about what it is to be that age, sex and sexuality and friendship. And we have a few pads to it. And I was sitting in the car with my daughter who is now a VP of my company because she's so freaking good. And she's the one who said what if they are women who don't like each other? Their husbands work together in a law firm and the men fall in love and want to get married.

Alex Ferrari 49:08
She's the one that came up with that. What? Oh my god. What? That's amazing. And and the ketamine Martin and Sam it just

Marta Kauffman 49:21
And then it tell you Alex, there were days when you could do table reads. Look across the table, right. Am Waterston Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda and Martin Sheen, and I would go what is this real?

Alex Ferrari 49:46
It's remarkable and the topics Yeah, I mean, I've never seen a show like that because it's just something you never see characters of that age on on television as the main star, just just it doesn't happen. There's usually a side character But there's that then the topics they cover like you're talking sexuality, that's taboo. You don't talk about things like that. And then that they open up a vibrator company is just the most brilliant thing I've ever seen. And then the toilet thing and oh my god, it's just, every season keeps getting better.

Marta Kauffman 50:18
It was all for us about life starts at any age, right? Um, and also was a little bit about no one talks about Dr. vaginas but they're a real thing. Right about them and you know, on Netflix, you can talk about it.

Alex Ferrari 50:36
Right! This is not gonna happen on on on a network show. Guys, and fairly even not happened on any of the major networks. That's just not gonna happen. But, you know, by the way, did you I'm sure you've seen it at this point, the SNL wrap.

Marta Kauffman 50:52
Oh, my God. Oh my god. So it made us so happy. We watched it in the writers room, and we were just so happy.

Alex Ferrari 50:59
Oh, my God, Pete Davidson. It's just the it was the bet if anyone's not I'll put a link to it in the show notes. It is when I saw cuz I'm a fan of Saturday Night Live. So I was watching it. I'm like, are they? Are they doing a rap about Grayson, Frankie? This is the most amazing thing I've ever seen. And that Jane and Lily showed up at the end

Marta Kauffman 51:16
I know it made us so happy. Made it.

Alex Ferrari 51:21
Yeah, it's not crossed over. Because that's the thing. It's because on paper. It's not a great pitch. Don't get me wrong. It's not a great pitch on paper. Because you're like, well, it's only going to it's earned this is what the studios would say it's only a certain demographics gonna watch us only an older generation. Is that kind of the generation that we're going after. But their biggest fan base is young millennials. Yeah. You know, and Gen X like myself and like and everyone in between because good story writing is good story. Good acting is good acting.

Marta Kauffman 51:51
Well, it's no similar to friends when they said, you know, you can't do a show about six young people right out we've always said and this was the case with Grayson, Frankie too. If the stories are identifiable, if you can connect with the characters and the stories or something you can empathize with, then it'll work. No matter how old they are.

Alex Ferrari 52:17
You're absolutely right. And in the you have the record now of the longest running show on Netflix. There is no other show. No other show that's ever done it and that was the thing in the wrap to I love that. It was like in the log is flicks. Again if on on on paper, you would have told me Oh, yeah, this is also going to be the longest running show on Netflix as Netflix is infamous for more than two seasons, you're out. Right to three seasons, you're out if you can make it the four or five my god you're at this point your Orange is the New Black or House of Cards. You know, but this little show and it's that little bit this little show about you know, older people talk about Dr. vaginas and vibrate. That's now longest running show on Netflix. I mean, do you do you believe? I mean, I think you said it already is like it identifies and crosses the generations. And that's why I think people connect with it so much. And I mean, obviously it's the performances as well and Jane and Lillian Martin and Sam are just their magic as well. You've you've hit you've hit the lottery twice. I did it.

Marta Kauffman 53:27
I'm very grateful and very lucky.

Alex Ferrari 53:33
So I have to ask you I heard the rumors. is Dolly showing up? Dolly is it is official out there.

Marta Kauffman 53:42
Yes.

Alex Ferrari 53:44
Because on Season Three I'm like when it's Dolly gonna show up as a cameo. Jesus, somebody bring Dolly back, please. When I see the three of them again, because I'm of a generation that remembers nine to five I love nine to five I watched it. Oh god so many times. It just was one of those movies at that time. That movie was a monster hit. Wow. She was it was in the zeitgeist at that moment in time. And the three of them are so magical together. I cannot wait to see that. I'm just dying to see what you guys do with them. And when our winners show up with the final episodes because I already binged the second you teased out a few episodes

Marta Kauffman 54:26
I don't have an official date yet. Okay. I don't have an official date yet hopefully in the next I think it's gonna be in the next few months.

Alex Ferrari 54:37
Next few months so yeah, as this we're recording this in January so hopefully in April sometime last what I'm hoping for Yeah, hopefully around April sometime it'll come out and how many episodes are left? Oh 12 total?

Marta Kauffman 54:52
12. Left. We were six. It was 16 episodes.

Alex Ferrari 54:57
Oh, that amazing you got extra because there's normally what was The normal episode run

Marta Kauffman 55:01
13

Alex Ferrari 55:02
So you got three. So good. I'm so excited. I cannot wait to watch Grayson Frankie again, see where this where this this start? I'm no seriously it's like there's very few shows that I get obsessed about Grayson Frankie. I'm also obsessed about Cobra Kai because it's a Cobrar Kai. So, but is is, I don't get obsessed by shows. Oh, Yellowstone too. I don't know if you've seen Yellowstone?

Marta Kauffman 55:28
I haven't yet but I am. I'm having my knee replaced. I'm saving it for that.

Alex Ferrari 55:31
Oh, it's off. Taylor is off. It's amazing, amazing writing. Now I'm gonna ask you a few questions I ask all my my guests. What advice would you give a screenwriter trying to break into the business today?

Marta Kauffman 55:44
Well, a couple things. One is, before you take scripts out there, get some friends together, read it out loud. So that you know that you have a product that is acceptable. And then I would say and I know, there's a lot of controversy about this. Um, I think agents can be extremely useful. I happen to have had a very good experience with mine. Other people have had good experiences. Some have not I understand that. But I think getting an agent is really important. And that's, by the way, one of the ways you do that is knowing other writers who can say hey, I met this person who has a great script and to do that. I really think getting into a writers room being a writer's assistant starters, a writers pa if you have to be a writer's assistant, we had every writer's assistant we had except for one ended up being a writer on the show.

Alex Ferrari 57:04
On what show Grace and Frankie are friends are both Chris and Frank.

Marta Kauffman 57:08
Quite a few on friends as well. But on Grayson, Frankie everyone, really? That's awesome. A woman who started as a writers pa ended up as a producer in our last season.

Alex Ferrari 57:20
How does and I have to ask how do you go from writers PA to producer in the scope of the series? Like why so people listening can understand what she did that.

Marta Kauffman 57:32
Well, in my room, I run a very democratic room. Okay. And if a writer's assistant has a joke to pitch, I want to hear it. Okay. Um, I, you know, I want to hear what they have to say for writers assistant has an idea. The room may not necessarily be the right place to do it, but then pull me aside and say, you know, I was thinking, what about this? And then we can go back in the room and I can say, Brooke just had this amazing idea.

Alex Ferrari 58:02
Because there is that there is a politics of the room that that that's not spoken about a lot is like how to, you know, especially there's a showrunner side of the of the room. But then there's the writer side and how to politically do it without stepping on toes and egos and things like that?

Marta Kauffman 58:17
Well, it depends on the showrunner. Exactly. It depends on the showrunner if you have a showrunner with an ego i It's tough, but you still would learn a lot in a writers room. And, and start to get to know writers. I mean, I a lot of my writers were working with the writers assistants reading their scripts, giving them advice.

Alex Ferrari 58:39
That's great mentoring them almost.

Marta Kauffman 58:42
Yeah. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 58:44
That's amazing. That's great. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Marta Kauffman 58:52
Wow, that's a really interesting question. And I could go in a bunch of directions. I'm not going to go to the dark place. You know, bringing it full circle. I think I learned that I'm a writer.

Alex Ferrari 59:15
Took you a while to figure that out?

Marta Kauffman 59:17
Yeah. Took me a long time.

Alex Ferrari 59:20
Really?

Marta Kauffman 59:21
Yep.

Alex Ferrari 59:23
I want everyone listening to hear this. That someone is as accomplished as you had a long time to figure out that they were really a writer that that imposter syndrome was was bad. Do you still deal with it? You have to not deal with it as much. Did you still deal with it? Really? But you but you figured out like that's just a voice in my head? I'm a writer.

Marta Kauffman 59:48
Yeah. Yeah, I figured out all right, I've done before I can do it again. And just get words on paper. Just get words on paper. And then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:02
Are there three pilots that everyone should read in their specific genre that you would recommend?

Marta Kauffman 1:00:11
Um, you know, my so called Life was an amazing pilot was I remember it was an amazing pilot. I learned a lot from watching that pilot. So that's one squid game had a pretty good pilot.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:32
She says, What the hell with that Jesus Christ that show? What a thing like how well like I don't even I have to do it. I have to get that show runner on the show. I've just if he speaks English, I want to speak.

Marta Kauffman 1:00:46
You know, I It's funny that I mentioned those because I don't watch a lot of comedies. Okay. I mainly watch dramas because watching comedies work for me.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:58
Right! You're analyzing it, you're picking it apart. You're like, oh, that didn't hit right. That didn't hit right. Why did that get through?

Marta Kauffman 1:01:04
Or how did they get to that? How's that the story? Why is that doesn't make any sense or whatever.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:10
So you know, alright, so So mostly drama. So squid games, my so called life and what was the third one? You think?

Marta Kauffman 1:01:17
I'm debating between a couple.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:19
Okay, you could toss them both out.

Marta Kauffman 1:01:22
Sopranos had an amazing pilot. David was I mean, Jesus. Genius, genius. But I have to say I recently watched a show that I've long since forgotten about. The pilot for lost is really good

Alex Ferrari 1:01:42
The pilot was amazing. Amazing. Oh, remarkable. I mean, they kind of, you know, it took them. They went off. They went off the rails a little bit.

Marta Kauffman 1:01:53
They didn't know where they were going.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:54
They were just like, in a smoke monster shows up. Like, but that first season was yeah, some of the best television. Yeah, in a long time. I always throw in Breaking Bad because I think it's one of the Oh, that's a really good. I mean, you add another 15 minutes to it. It's the it's the best independent film of that year. It's true. It's remarkable. And just for fun three of your favorite films of all time. She's wiggling in her chair. She's wiggling in her chairs.

Marta Kauffman 1:02:29
I am, um, I loved there's so many. And some of these may be a little controversial. To Kill a Mockingbird. Fantastic film is an amazing film my favorite film made from a book, Now this one's a little strange. The original West Side Story. Okay. I grew up on I will sometimes just watch the dances.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:08
Oh, they're so beautiful. Amazing. Did you see the new one by the way? Did you see Steven? Yeah, I hear I haven't had a chance to see it yet. But I hear it's phenomenal.

Marta Kauffman 1:03:19
Watch it and then we can have a conversation.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:22
Okay, fair enough. Fair enough. Okay, and what was that and what's another one?

Marta Kauffman 1:03:30
Um, what was the first one he said the favorite

Alex Ferrari 1:03:34
To mark To Kill a Mockingbird?

Marta Kauffman 1:03:36
Oh, the favorite.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:39
Oh, the favorite. Oh. Which one?

Marta Kauffman 1:03:42
The one with Olivia Coleman.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:45
Oh, god. Yeah, yeah. Okay.

Marta Kauffman 1:03:48
I loved that.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:50
I haven't seen that movie forever. But yeah, I remember that movie.

Marta Kauffman 1:03:54
Oh, it's just Oh, and I also love arrival. I do love science fiction. I watch a lot of science fiction. Really? Sad arrival. Great

Alex Ferrari 1:04:02
See that you never think that Marta coffins like a big sci fi fan?

Marta Kauffman 1:04:06
Huge a huge sci fi fan.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:08
Did you see that? Have you seen Mandalorian Do you watch any of that stuff? Or? No? I do. Did you enjoy it? Yeah, I enjoyed it. This fun? Yeah. It's popcorn. It's popcorn.

Marta Kauffman 1:04:17
Exactly. Exactly.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:19
It's popcorn. It's fun. It's you know, it's not changing dinner. Right? It's not a it's not going to change the world. But man, is it fun? And I just started watching the book of boba and just like, it's fun as hell man. If I saw I saw this meme of. It's like kids playing with Star Wars toys. And it's like Jon Favreau, David Fillion, and then making the Mandalorian and they're just literally having the fun playing with there. Isn't someone's filming it? Um, Martha, thank you so much for being on the show. It has been an absolute pleasure talking to you and it has been.

Marta Kauffman 1:04:55
Thank you Alex. I appreciate your thoughtful questions.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:58
It was wonderful talking to you and continued success thank you again for bringing for Friends into the world and also a Grace and Frankie and I cannot wait to see what you're up to next. So thank you again so much.

Marta Kauffman 1:05:08
Thanks so much. Bye


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BPS 191: Swingers, Scream & Rudy – The Art of Producing with Cary Woods

Today on the show we have legendary film producer Cary Woods. 

Cary Woods is a film producer best known for producing worldwide blockbusters such as Scream and Godzilla, the beloved independent films Kids, Cop Land, and Gummo, and modern classics like Rudy and Swingers.

Woods is also responsible for producing the breakthrough features of such notable directors as James Mangold, Doug Liman, M. Night Shyamalan, Alexander Payne, Harmony Korine, and Larry Clark, as well as the screenwriting debuts of Jon Favreau, Kevin Williamson, and Scott Rosenberg.

Woods’ filmography features a lineup of A-List actors, including: Robert Downey, Jr., Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone, Marisa Tomei, Christopher Walken, Harvey Keitel, Mike Myers, Laura Dern, Heather Graham, Ray Liotta, Burt Reynolds, Drew Barrymore, Matthew Broderick, Courteney Cox, Timothy Hutton, Andy Garcia, Neve Campbell, Sean Astin, Michael Rapaport, Jean Reno, and Steve Buscemi.

Born and raised in the Bronx, Woods graduated from the USC Gould School of Law before beginning his career at the William Morris Agency (now WME). As an agent, Woods represented – and in many cases introduced audiences to – the likes of Gus Van Sant, Uma Thurman, Jennifer Connelly, Milla Jovovich, Charlie Sheen, Matt Dillon, Todd Solondz, and most prominently, Gregory Peck.

At WMA, Woods also represented many of the industry’s most successful stand-up comedians including Sam Kinison, Andrew Dice Clay, Gilbert Gottfried, Sandra Bernhard, Tommy Davidson, and Jackie Mason.

After developing the Indie favorites Heathers and Drugstore Cowboy as an agent, Woods accepted a position at Sony Pictures Entertainment (the parent company of Columbia Pictures and TriStar Pictures) as a Vice President – Office of the Chairman, reporting directly to Peter Guber. Woods later segued to a production deal at Sony, resulting in the release of a succession of iconic films, including So I Married An Axe Murderer, Rudy, Only You, and Threesome.

After starting his own production company – Independent Pictures – the explosive release of the 1995 cultural phenomenon Kids (starring then-newcomers Rosario Dawson and Chloe Sevigny) began a streak of culturally significant, critically-acclaimed independent films produced by Woods under his banner.

The next few years saw the releases of Citizen Ruth (the first film from future two-time Oscar winner Alexander Payne), Beautiful Girls (which introduced American audiences to Natalie Portman), and Swingers (springboarding Vince Vaughn to comedy mega-stardom).

His 1996 film Scream (the most successful film of “Master of Horror” Wes Craven’s career) marked a turning point for the entire genre, grossing over $170 million and setting a box office record that would stand for 22 years. The film instantly and single-handedly pivoted horror toward postmodernism, spawning a massive billion-dollar franchise (consisting of successful sequels, a TV series, toys, and Halloween costumes), as well as inspiring countless knock-offs in the years since.

Gummo – the directorial debut of Kids’ screenwriter Harmony Korine – received the FIPRESCI Prize at the 1997 Venice Film Festival. Bernando Bertolucci, the famed director of Last Tango in Paris, praised the film, calling it “The one revolutionary film of the late 20th century.”

In 1998, the first US-produced entry of the iconic Godzilla film franchise would become Woods’ and Independent Pictures’ single highest-grossing film, earning nearly $400 million.

Woods would go on to serve as co-Chairman, and Chief Creative Officer of Plum TV, in which he was a founding partner. Broadcasting in the nation’s most affluent markets (i.e. Aspen, the Hamptons, Miami Beach), the luxury lifestyle network would go on to earn eight Emmy Awards.

Enjoy my conversation with Cary Woods.

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Alex Ferrari 2:20
I like to welcome to the show Cary Woods how are you doin' Cary?

Cary Woods 3:33
Thank you very much love being here.

Alex Ferrari 3:36
I I've been a fan of your work as a producer for many years. You know, me coming up in the 90s. As a young filmmaker, I was influenced by many of the films that you worked on. And we're going to we're going to go down memory lane a little bit and I'm sure from our other conversations, I know that you've got some good stories.

Cary Woods 4:02
Well, I'm flattered.

Alex Ferrari 4:04
So how did you get started in the business?

Cary Woods 4:09
Well, I went to Southern California to go to law school. And I did so at the University of Southern California law school. Not long thereafter, I realized I didn't really want to be a practicing lawyer and and I loved film. And being the guy from the Bronx, the notion that I was going to come to California and end up in the film business would have been like you're telling me I was going to be an astronaut. But if you're in Southern California news, throws stone you're gonna hit somebody who either is or who has a relative in the film business from a television business, which I did at law school. And nonetheless, long story short, I made my way into the William Morris mailroom passed the law school.

Alex Ferrari 5:03
Very cool. And that's it. That's where many, many a career has started.

Cary Woods 5:10
Excuse me?

Alex Ferrari 5:11
That is how many, many have a career in Hollywood have started it?

Cary Woods 5:16
Yeah, I'm definitely not alone with the William Morris mailroom as a starting place.

Alex Ferrari 5:22
Now, how did you get from the mailroom to producing your first project?

Cary Woods 5:27
Well, um, my first project do you mean as a as a film producer?

Alex Ferrari 5:33
As a film producer correct.

Cary Woods 5:35
Well, I had ended up working as an executive at Sony Pictures for join Peters and Peter Guber, I was hired as an executive working for them. And when seemed I just didn't want to be a studio executive. I wanted to be a movie producer. And I had a friend Rob freed who had a production deal at Columbia, which is where I was, and I was given the deal there. And Rob had been working on a movie called sewing Married an Axe Murderer. And I think at the time, he was developing it and Chevy Chase was attached to play the lead. But we weren't getting any traction. And I had a friend who was an agent at Uta, her name was Cynthia Shelton, and she represented Mike Myers, who I was a gigantic fan of on Saturday Night Live. And she thought that the part would be great for Mike. So I said, Well, you know, I love Mike. Let's see what he thinks. He reads a script. He really, really likes it. He wants to make a substantial amount of changes, but we love all of the ideas that he had. And he did make those changes. And then we were lucky enough to then have Wayne's World come out and pretty much making the biggest comedy star in the world. And so Tristar, which was where the movie was set up, was thrilled to have Mike Mars now be the star. So I Married an Axe Murderer.

Alex Ferrari 7:19
And you rode the Wayne Wayne's World tidal wave.

Cary Woods 7:24
Well, you know, it's like when you have the guy who just starred in the biggest comedy of the year before starring in your comedy. Movie, it's kind of a stroke of luck.

Alex Ferrari 7:38
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And you also you worked with Peter Gubers. Who, who are obviously, you know, legendary film producers, what were what were some of the lessons you took away from working with them.

Cary Woods 7:55
Peter was incredibly first of all he's very, very smart in you can't teach that. But he was an incredibly organized guy. So we would get on the plane, and he would take out a sheet of paper, and he would go over his to do list and his to do list would be anywhere from 20 to 50 things that you would be constantly reviewing of things, projects that you were doing together. And so that you would basically I mean, and there was no particular time of day that you would be going over them. I we were together a lot. And he would go you having a to do list and I go Yeah, and goes, Okay, let's, let's go through it. You know, and it'd be like, Okay, what's going on with this? And what's going on with that. And basically, it was just a sense that projects are constantly on, you know, the reading the moving forward, or, or nothing's happening. And when you go through those lists, it's sometimes painfully obvious that you haven't done anything on something for a few days or a few weeks, or whatever it is, but he was tightly in control of everything that he wanted to get done. And so yeah, so that was pretty much a pretty good learning experience.

Alex Ferrari 9:09
So I've been asked so many times over my career, what a producer does carry. And you know, the question is such a loaded question, because there's so many different kinds of producers. But in your opinion, what does a producer do on a on a feature film, let's say?

Cary Woods 9:25
Well, you know, I'll go back and make that same pun, which is, how long as a piece of string? I mean, really, there are so many different types of producers. I mean, I think one, probably one of the best ways to do it is isn't talk about it is that without whatever contribution that person made, there would be no movie. You know, that's a producer. If that person didn't exist, you would have never seen that movie. You can be a little bit less strict about it and say, okay, the movie wouldn't have been the same movie it would have gotten made. But it would not have been the same movie without that person. Sometimes good sometimes bad. Yeah, the academy actually has rules about it, which is that it used to be to be a member of the Academy, Producers Guild, you had to have two credits, but they couldn't be shared amongst more than two people. So if you shared credit with one other person, you got to have a point. And you needed four of those to equal to, if there were three or more, it counted for nothing. So that's the way the academy strictly looked at produce. I don't know if it still does. I mean, I joined many years ago, and I was asked, Well, do you have four credits? And I said, Well, yeah. And but I didn't realize that that was the math that we used to be curious to see if that's the way it's still done. But they basically, were recognizing that there was two producers that were required there. Now you can have, I don't even know how many producers but I don't even know if there is a number. That is can you have 30? I don't know, I don't really know the

Alex Ferrari 11:17
I'll tell you what I worked up. I worked on a project that had 30 producers, because I did the credits on it. And my God, it must have taken me two weeks just to do the credits, because everybody's like, Well, my name is above this, and I have a shared card with this. And where's how big the font? Oh, it's insanity.

Cary Woods 11:35
My guess would be that we're not for I think they're probably a few of those that had they not existed, the film probably still would

Alex Ferrari 11:45
Couple probably a couple

Cary Woods 11:48
It took the strict definition, then that would be I mean, you know, a producer makes the movie happened, it doesn't, you know, either the movie wouldn't have happened wouldn't have happened in the same way, then there's no point in their executive producers

Alex Ferrari 12:05
Co-producers

Cary Woods 12:07
Or can make a significant contribution. I mean, line producers, the people are on the field actually putting the movie together physically. They don't often get producer credit, they get co producer or associate producer, Executive Producer, they physically make the movie, like I count them among people, without whom there wouldn't be a movie, you know. So there's a lot of different kinds, and basically, some contribute and actually make the movie or make the movie better. And some don't, you know, and that's, that's what it comes down to.

Alex Ferrari 12:42
So you you made a movie earlier in your career that it obviously impacted me. And of course, I can't watch it without crying even to this day, which is Rudy, how did you bring a story like that to the big screen? I mean, it doesn't seem like a automatic blockbuster idea.

Cary Woods 13:04
Well, Rudy is the producer of the movie, Rudy you know, he felt that this was a movie. He felt his story was a movie. And there was a brilliant sports movie called Hoosiers. Also an Indiana sports movie that was written by Angelo Pizzo, the same person who and and Rudy loved that movie and being Rudy. He meaning he wasn't going to let anything get in his way. He came out to Los Angeles and he found Angelo Pizzo. And he said, I want to tell you my story. And Angelo being the kind of guy he is he's a great guy didn't slam the door face and said, Yeah, I mean, come on in and he starts telling them the story. And Angelo, thanks. Yeah, that's, if that's a true story. That's a movie. And Angela starts writing it. And I mean, Rudy is the, you know, the movies about him. But he, he's the he is the producer of the movie in many, many ways. He didn't get it made. But if you think about the person who first saw an idea, a story and said, Wow, that could be a movie. In this instance, that person was rude. And it was also Angelo after that, who confirmed it and wrote it. But yeah, that's how that happened.

Alex Ferrari 14:28
And how'd you get involved?

Cary Woods 14:30
And then I got involved because my partner, Rob freed. This was one of the projects that he had percolating when we joined together at Columbia. And, and it was right at the beginning of the project getting going in and then David, on SPA or director met Sean Aston in Chicago, and called the SAP and said I've got our Rudy, when he said, What do you mean? He goes, I mean, he was showing us and Rudy Rudy was involved in every part of that movie because he was just that kind of infectious guy. So just around. And Rudy felt that Shawn Aston should be rooting. And then that was it. Now, at the time, Sean asked, and wasn't the big star casting Sean asked and didn't really help us with the studio saying, Oh, this movie, but that Shawn was perfect for the part, you know, obviously, and we just went at it. This is the guy

Alex Ferrari 15:41
And then did you and then you peppered and you peppered a bunch of good actors, and very known, respected actors around Sean, to kind of round out the cast.

Cary Woods 15:53
It was never really a cast heavy or star heavy thing. It was just based on the fact that it was a true story. I mean, we had tape of Joe Montana on the Sunday morning show where they asked literally, they asked him what was the most exciting sport? What happened the most striking moments for you in sports, and he starts to tell the Rooney story. He goes, Well, when I was a sophomore at Notre Dame, he starts telling story, Joe Montana, and we had this on, that we were showing to the studio guys, you know, because we were saying this, these are the kinds of people are going to come out this movie for us. I mean, we did so much there's so much into getting a studio behind the movie. I mean, one of the things that happened when this was because I had worked for Peter Guber before I you know, turned it into a producing deal with Sony, I invited him to one of the Notre Dame games that year they were in the top five or 10 and there was a game against Michigan, if anybody's not a college football fan, this will bore you but if you are, you're going to love it and we invited him to come to that game. And you know, we got him seats on the 50 yard line in that morning, you know, they were gonna fly in on the Sony jet had a bunch put together a Notre Dame pack of like, you know, a fanny pack and a scarf and gloves and they will all put it in each of their seats on the plane without them knowing about it so that when they came on the plane, they had all the stuff flying out to South Bend for the game where they were when the plane was meant on by a South Bend Police Force and driven in to the stadium you know, with you know, police sirens blaring and then went were brought into the tunnel so that they could come in the tunnel to their seats. I mean, we did like a whole thing. And you know, they loved it and obviously you want the studio to be beat this was in the middle of production you want the studio to be in to your movie and to love it be that matter as it relates to their How much are they going to spend on it? What dates are they gonna put it out and all of that plus it was incredible fun.

Alex Ferrari 18:22
Yeah, I couldn't imagine I can only imagine Yeah, I remember seeing it in the theater. I remember when it came out. Everyone was just you know, it's one of those it's it's always on the like the top 10 sports movies of all time because of Rudy story. It's pretty remarkable. Honestly. This whole store

Cary Woods 18:41
Angelo Pizzo and David Anspaugh, the director credible. I mean, the those same two guys did Hoosiers, which arguably is another movie among the top 10 best sports films and like, same guy. Yeah. You know, and they're both Deanna they both went to school at Indiana. They were college roommates. I mean, they are Indiana, Indiana.

Alex Ferrari 19:07
Now, how did you go from a film like Rudy? And I'm not sure if it was the very next one. But I know it was a couple movies down to kids. Which is it? I remember going to the theater to see kids. It's, you know, obviously the legendary Larry Clark made that. I remember seeing it in the theater. I don't know how old I was. I must have been Oh, I was older than the kids in the movie. But not by much probably about five or six years. And I just was like, How Did This Get Made? How did this get out? And and I remember hearing but like it's you know, it's there's so much hoopla about a film like that. How did you get involved in with kids and how to come to life?

Cary Woods 19:50
Well, Gus when I was Gus Van Sant, first agent at William Morris. And, you know, we obviously remained friends after I After I went off to be a producer, and he called me up and he said, you know, hey, look, I got this script, you know, Larry Clark is directing it. It's incredible. I mean, he just went on about how much he loved it, and how much you love this writer and blah, blah, blah, what I read it because no one's gonna make it. And I said, I'd love to read it. And I had, literally about three weeks earlier met with these guys who were about to, they were, they were gonna invest about five to $10 million into the film business. And we're talking to me about things that we could potentially do together. So I read the script. And he sent me that and Ken part, two scripts at Harmony Queen wrote, and I literally either read them in the same night, or one night after another, I couldn't believe what I was reading, because it was, it was so fresh and so original. It's he was writing about a generation that he was part of, and usually it takes about seven to 10 years for somebody to become old enough to write about that generation. So if you're writing about in 1617 year olds, usually you're about 25 When you write, but harmony was writing it when he was 17. So he was living it and writing it. And it was incredible. And so he told me harmony is coming to LA and would I meet him? And, and I did and, you know, he looked like he was 15. And, and we just spent the day. I mean, I knew he was gonna make the movie after I read the script. And then I flew to New York immediately to meet with Larry. And, and then that was it. I called the guys and I said, I think I found our first movie. And, you know, and I sent it to them. And, you know, they said, I mean, I'm still to this day match you if they've ever read it or not. But I was extremely enthusiastic. And, you know, it was, it was really, really fresh and exciting. And Larry had, I mean, talking Larry, it was like he had directed 20 move. He didn't have an iota of doubt about what he was gonna do with that movie. And, you know, so so we went forward.

Alex Ferrari 22:31
And that kind of I mean, it was also a young, a young Rosario Dawson was her first project. I mean, you guys literally plucked her off the stoop, didn't you in New York, right?

Cary Woods 22:42
Barry and harmony walking in the Lower East Side. And her mom, Rosario and a mom on the stoop talking. And they heard her and they heard the dialect. And they just stopped and walked over and said, you know, this is they've just started talking to her. This is what we're doing. Would you like to be involved? I mean, Rosario doesn't have you know, she's not in the movie all that much. But you know, really important point. And obviously, she's Rosario. She was fantastic. And yeah, it was just one of those things where they just passed by hurdle on the stoop. A mother is incredibly interesting woman too. And, yeah, that's exactly how it happened.

Alex Ferrari 23:28
How? So I remember when that movie came out. I mean, it was obviously done independently. It wasn't done by Studio. I, if I'm, if I'm if I'm correct, correct. There wasn't a major studio behind that film.

Cary Woods 23:43
Correct.

Alex Ferrari 23:43
Right. So it was done independently. And I remember when it was coming out, there was so much controversy about it because of the subject matter and kids and the sexuality of it all. And, and I've just never seen something so raw and honest, because I was a kid, too. We all were, and we all knew what was going on with those during those years. I mean, that was a heightened version of that. No question, at least in that group of kids. But how? How did you get this out? Because I remember there was like picket lines. People were like, well boycotting this thing come out.

Cary Woods 24:19
Well, I can tell you this. There's a lot of thought into it. We hired first of all, I hired a lawyer called off the Garbers, who was one of the kings of First Amendment law, he represented the New York Times. His daughter, Liz Garbus is a pretty important documentary filmmaker right now. But we showed the I anticipated that we could find ourselves people you know, and down south or wherever, actually challenging us legally. And so I wanted to have, you know, a legal opinion shutting that down. Before it could even happen. I mean, there was nothing about The film that in any way skirted the law, but I just wanted to be sure that we had all of our I's dotted and T's crossed. So off the Garbus, you know, was our first amendment lawyer. So he he did that. I mean, we were very, we knew going in I mean, we, everybody was legal, you know, everything was done correctly, because we knew what it was. And we knew that it was dynamite. But at the same time, we were dealing with St. Kitts, so you're you had to be extremely cautious about the way we went about things a couple of guys was sleeping, you know, at Larry's house, or at Harmony's house, because otherwise, there were times where you just wouldn't know if they would show up. You know? And

Alex Ferrari 25:53
That's how you get that that's how you kept an eye on that's how you kept an eye on?

Cary Woods 25:57
Well, yeah, you know, because, I mean, they were excited to be in the movie, but, you know, when, when, when the movie was done, they went back to being kids, you know, to being done, which meant they were out.

Alex Ferrari 26:09
Right. And I saw another documentary about many of those kids. And they became, you know, just legends on the streets of Washington Square and all that. But after that movie came out, it was it was one of those movies in the 90s, like that only could be released in the 90s. I don't think that that there's no way in God's green earth that kids could be released today. In a theatrical experience.

Cary Woods 26:33
I don't think no. Just couldn't get made that, you know, that movie wasn't independently made. Nobody was giving anybody the money to make that movie. I think that we had one shot, and we were lucky. We took it. And that was it. You know, but it was just one of those things where it all came together. And and I think having it,

Alex Ferrari 27:02
I think I love that film, too. I think it's one of those films that independent filmmakers should definitely watch. And it's such a almost cinema Veritate way of looking at it you feel like a fly on the wall during that film. It is it is one of those quintessential 90s films to say,

Cary Woods 27:21
I'll tell you how many times people ask me how much of it was scripted. And how much of it was scripted was almost 90% Virtually every word was scripted is you know, there's the scenes, the girls talking scene where Larry and Irene let them go, you know, just say, Sure, go for it. But other than that, every single word in that script was scripted. You know, that's,

Alex Ferrari 27:45
I mean, remarkable. It seems so natural. It seems like Yep. It's dialogue that it, it's like, there's no way someone sat down and wrote that. But

Cary Woods 27:55
Well, he was there, Pierre, he was there. He was, he was a skater. And these guys were his friends. And he hung out with them. And he knew how they talked about them. And he, you know, so you couldn't possibly be, you know, he, he was there. These were these. This was the kind of dialogue that he was part of it.

Alex Ferrari 28:21
Yeah, that's remarkable. Now, now, you also worked on another movie, which is essentially one of those quintessential 90s indie films. And they're, you know, I always you know that that whole time period of the 90s is where the independent film boomed again and you know, for mariachi, Two Brothers McMullen and clerks and all of these films, and one of those films was Swingers, and swingers was one of those films because for me, when it came out, it was one of those. I can't believe they made that in the sense of like, I How did they make that movie for such a small budget? How did you can you tell me how that project came to be?

Cary Woods 29:03
Well, all of that stuff. Well, I came into it a little bit late, but here's was my relationship to it. Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn, we're both in Rudy. John fans currently Rudy's best friend. Yeah. And John fabro played the quarterback at the end. He's a little bit of an asshole, so I got to know them in that movie. John then went off and wrote in John and Vince are friends in John went off and wrote that script, which is kind of a little bit of their story of his and Vincent story in Chicago. And Doug Liman the director. Originally, John wrote it to direct it. And Doug Liman got the script and read it and wanted to direct it and he offered to find the answer this father As a lawyer, and he had clients, and they were gonna put together the money to finance it, and it wasn't a lot of money.

Alex Ferrari 30:06
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Cary Woods 30:16
And, you know, when John was going to star in it, and he wrote it, so he agreed to that. He agreed to do that. So then the movie happened. And then when it was done, they weren't getting into festivals, and they were having some, so they called me and they said, Hey, would you look at this movie? You know, I think he may like it. And then, you know, I'm like, sure. I loved it. I absolutely knocked me out. I couldn't believe how much I loved it. And you know, and then we did some work, they did some music stuff, and, and they didn't get into Sundance. And I remember calling people. back a couple weeks before Sundance, I started to call around to the studios, to set up screenings for people who were, you know, the heads of the studios saying, Look, if you haven't been, if you haven't not been to Sundance yet, so you haven't spent any money, which is good, because the most valuable film in Sundance this year is not going to be in Sundance, I'm going to send it to you right now. And essentially, they watch the film, you know, it wasn't in Sundance, and people started to like it Now eventually, Harvey one with whom I had a deal. He really wanted it. He just, he had to have it. And there was one other company, who, whose person whose highest level person who can see the movie had seen it and liked it. But in order to get it bought, the person who could say yes or no to that level of decision, wasn't in the state, and was going to be another day before he came back. And so basically was like I either had to take Harvey Weinstein's offer, which he hasn't even said anything yet, or dance for day two, until this guy got back to the United States without even knowing whether he was gonna say yes, even if he did see it. So I really didn't have a short thing. I had no one of the offers. So I got a tremendous amount of pressure from Harvey Weinstein about, of course, so he didn't know really, that I didn't, that the decision maker wasn't around. He didn't, he didn't know that he didn't know how long it would take for the guy to be back. You know, he just knew that I was holding out, you know, like, he was gonna see it any minute. And he finally said, Well, you know, I said it look, you know, if you want it, make me an offer that makes me take it off the table so that I don't do anything irresponsible to my partners, you know? And he said, Okay, well, what's that number? And I told him, and it was a larger number than I think he thought, but he said, Yes. And, and so we he got the movie, and he put it out. I never was really happy with the way he put it out. I don't think that the movie, it gained a tremendous amount of acclaim and fame after it's released, but didn't do didn't have a really big box office rice. But, you know, but he put it out it is, you know, and then, of course, on video and streaming, it became a thing, but I don't think he really understood what it was when he put it out.

Alex Ferrari 33:56
But that so, it so let me ask you though, because I remember that, if I remember correctly, because it's been a few years since then. The budget of that film was like to 200,000 a quarter million or something like that, right. 250 Yeah, accordingly, accordingly. So it was a $250,000 budget film. And Doug Liman made that movie look like it was made for me, you know, at least three or $4 million, if not more.

Cary Woods 34:23
Doug is a super, super talented guy, super talented guy. The casting was incredible. There was no stars movie, you know, Heather Graham, the only sort of known person in the movie, but she didn't work at her anywhere near what her salary would have been. And, you know, he did a beautiful job. He's really talented, you know, and in in those kinds of movies, the script was so good. You know, when you think about movies that don't cost a lot. It's the screenplay you know, that screenplay. I was just sad. You know, what people remember about that movie is no one really remembers the shot. They everybody remembers, Oh, mine come up to me Oh, remember the shot when this happened, but they will come up to me and say your money, you know,

Alex Ferrari 35:15
Oh God, I mean that guy. Oh my god, how many lines that movie is like one of the most quotable movies of the 90s. I mean, it was everybody was quoting that movie and I was in college, when that movie hit and it was just like everybody was talking about swingers and how they got it made and, and how it looked and it looks like such high production value. It's so It's remarkable because do you think a movie like swingers would even dent the world today? In today's marketplace? I mean, the quote, the script is good, obviously it but

Cary Woods 35:49
It's hard to know. I mean, it's look, the movie is a love story between these two gods. Right? They love each other. Sure. No, John and Vince love each other. Is there room for with a different backdrop for two guys of that age really loving one another as friends? I think so. I mean, that's the kind of story those stories happen. You know, and, and I think, you know, well written and well told, you know, not not about swing music, but about around something else. I think it worked. You know, I mean, those are the kinds of human relationships that are gonna always resonate one way or another.

Alex Ferrari 36:31
And in the end, the investors of that film did okay.

Cary Woods 36:34
Everybody did great.

Alex Ferrari 36:39
I know, I remember I read something that Doug lime was like, yeah, there was some dentists that we got some money from, and, and they got a check back. And they're like, when can we do more of these movies? Is this the way it always is?

Cary Woods 36:52
Well, look, everybody did great. But, John, you know, John Van, and Doug really did. And it's not because they all got rich on that movie, but their careers just all took off. And their careers are incredible. All three of them have amazing careers right now.

Alex Ferrari 37:11
Right! And Vince Vince is I mean, he built a car to his his comedic career. And John is built as not only acting career, but also his directing career. And Doug is, he's a fantastic, fantastic. Is he gonna do that? That space movie with Tom Cruise? Now? They're gonna actually shoot in space.

Cary Woods 37:28
They're talking about it. No one talked about it. I'll tell you, John bathroom thing that's amazing about him is that when he was on the set of Rudy, he was always around the director. I mean, there was it was so clear that this guy wanted to direct and that he would direct, you know, he was he was constantly around the director picking his brain, you know, it was like, it was very clear that this was a guy that would one day be sitting in the director's seat

Alex Ferrari 37:58
And launched the biggest movie franchise in the history of cinema. Can you imagine if you would have said, Oh, the guy from swingers? Right? It's gonna launch a multi billion dollar franchise that Hollywood has never seen before. Yeah. And now he's redoing it. And now he's heading up Star Wars, essentially. So he's done. Okay. He's money. He's money as they say,

Cary Woods 38:26
He is money. Really smart. And he really works hard.

Alex Ferrari 38:31
Yeah, I heard he's the nicest sweetest guy on the planet.

Cary Woods 38:34
Sweetest guy. Yep.

Alex Ferrari 38:36
I hear. So so then you got to work on another project from the 90s, which also is kind of a redefined genre, which is scream. How did you get involved in screaming and how did was it like,

Cary Woods 38:53
Well, it was weird one because, you know, some of the people might company you know, some of the development people read the script came into my office. You've got to read this script. This heart phone came in. First of all, it was called scary movie. Right? Right. You got to read the script called scary movie. I go, Well, what is it? It's a heart. I said, but you guys know, I don't like horror movies. Which is the truth. I'm not a big horror fan. It's not a horror film. It is a comedic. It's a spoof on the horror genre. It's calm. So I said, Well, I like comedy, and I like spoof so I read it. I loved it. It was hilarious. And so I, you know, I read I loved it. And I immediately called up the studio and I sent it over them and said, We got to make this thing. So it was Miramax. And they agreed, and, and I knew Drew Barrymore and I sent her the script for the lead, not the part that we know that you Barrymore played, and she wanted to do it. And so then, you know, then that was it. I Drew Barrymore and the script, and you know, we were ready to go. So, um, and then and then when then that happened, but I then got I got a call from drew a few weeks later saying that she didn't want she wanted to play the part of girl number one. And I'm thinking wow, okay, great, cool. So we're gonna play that, like, how do you want to look different? Like, how do you want to do that? She was No, no, I only want to play girl number one. And I thought, oh god that goes to movies. My league just left. So I say, well, that goes dead on page 22. She goes, yeah, no, I love that part. I want to do it. And I'll do anything else. I'll do any publicity or anything like that. Now, at this point we had with Craven, you know, he had come on. And so the film itself was more solid, you know, yet Wes Craven directing it. And she said, you know, I'll talk to Wes, and I'll explain it. And I. And when she explained it, she said to me, Look, if I die on page 20, whatever, then anything can happen after that. The audience will, nothing will surprise them, they'll be up for anything. Because, you know, if they've killed me on page 22, then anything could happen. I knew she was right. And I went, I called Harvey wanting the next day. And I said, Look, Drew doesn't, you know, wants to play girl number one, but she will let us you know, she'll do all the press that we wanted to do. And, you know, you'll save millions of dollars, because you won't have to pay her much. And you'll still and he said, Okay, let's do what is Westbank? And I said Wesson is fine. He said, Okay, let's do it. And a few remember the poster for school one? Oh, yeah, Drew Barrymore's? Right. That's it. He's in the middle. She's in the movie for like three minutes. And the poster is her beautiful face with her blue eyes, you know, shining out of the poster. Hilarious.

Alex Ferrari 42:30
But she was so it was Drew's idea to be that part. It wasn't it wasn't was his idea.

Cary Woods 42:35
No, no. Wow. Drew Barrymore is brilliant. Some actors sometimes just have an instinct about these things that you just don't see. I mean, Matt Dillon had it about drugstore cowboy. You know, drugstore cowboy was written for a 40 year old man. You know, Gus, drugstore can be the, you know, firstline 40 year old Bob. And I had given I was an agent and I gave it to Matt as a writing sample, because I had just signed Gus as my client. And I wanted him to hire Gus as a writer. And I gave him drugstore cowboy is a writing sample for the script that he wanted to write. He read the script. And he called me up. He was happy to see you. I go, why he goes, I'll tell you what, dinner so we go to dinner. He goes, Listen, I have to play this part. I met the guys 40 years old. We've already sent it to Bill hurt, which we had sent it to Bill hurt after kiss of the Spider Woman. He goes, No, that's too old. He can't be 40 because if he's a 40 year old guy who has been a drug addict, since he's like, 13, there's no so persuaded me and I introduced them. You know, I set up a meeting with him and Gus, and he persuaded Gus to and ended up being a drugstore cowboy. And it was purely because he saw something about that character being 20 years younger. That the writer director didn't see surely I didn't see. And you know, we were connecting it to Drew saying that she should play the part of the girl. Girl number one she didn't even have a name she just drove number one. Sometimes out to see things that we don't see. It's an interesting,

Alex Ferrari 44:32
It's and that's the brilliance of that movie. I mean, if you don't kill me, spoiler alert for anyone listening if you don't kill a bear. If you don't kill Drew Barrymore off in the first three or four minutes of the film. I'm not sure the movie does well, it even it's the thing that it was the Hitchcock aspect of things you know, you killed off your main lead. Well, wait a minute, if I could, I just killed off Jubair more. Nothing is everything's out the window. And it was So perfect with a commentary on the horror genre and what Kevin Williamson script was doing. And it was a remarkable script now, I got to ask you though, with with working with Wes, did you? What was it like working with, you know, kind of like a legend? You know, and he was at the, I think at the top of his game at that point.

Cary Woods 45:19
What it was like was Yes, sir. What else do you need? Yes, was a horror movie with West Craven, for now. And, you know, and I'm not even a guy and even if I was didn't matter, I'm not even a guy who like pretended to, you know, have a great interest in the genre of great knowledge about the genre. Only news ahead, Wes Craven directing a horror movie, you know, so that was it, you know, whatever he needed was, what was what my job, you know, and, and he was a pleasure to work with.

Alex Ferrari 45:58
Now, how did you get involved with Cop Land, another film, that just is, I mean, one of the starting films for James bang Mangold, who, who's had a decent career, since then,

Cary Woods 46:10
I had, I saw heavy at Sundance, Jim angle, first movie, and I flipped out for it. I just flipped. And, and I'm very director centric, you know, if I see a filmmaker that I really like, and that's interesting, I want to talk to them and meet them and see what they're interested in, you know. And so I saw heavy at Sundance, and Jim was there. And, you know, the beautiful little movie. I don't remember if at the time movies were selling for a lot at Sundance, but it wasn't that kind of movie wasn't going to be like a big commercial thing. But beautifully done. And I met with him and I said, Well, what do you do you have anything you want to do? Next? He goes, Yeah, I want to do a contemporary Western. It takes place in a police to any pitches me Copland? I go, That sounds really great. You know, when when you're done writing it, can I read those, I'm done writing it. Great. Let me read it. So I read it, I love it. I say I want to do it. I go down to Harvey I go, I think I found our next movie, and I give him Cop Land. And then, and he loved it too. And then he sent it to John Travolta, they had just finished Pulp Fiction, and he sent it to John Travolta to play the lead. And I remember going down to meet with John Travolta who liked it. But who as he put it, wanted to get paid. And what he meant by that was that apparently on Pulp Fiction, knowing that pay, no. And Pulp Fiction then became a big giant hit, and John Travolta now was back at what his price would be on the open market, which was nowhere near what Harvey was gonna pay him. So he said, Look, I love it. I want to do it. Tell Harvey I just want to be paid. And so. Okay. And then an agent at William Morris. I think John Stuart storm was at ICM at the time and somebody at William Morris, who was trying to sign him sent him the script, because an agent thing to do is to send a script to somebody at another agency that their own agent might not have thought of them for, which is what happened here. Stallone had never heard of the movie. And he read it, he loved it. He was down in Florida, he offered to fly up to New York and meet. We met him, you know, he said he was going to gain weight. He couldn't have been any nicer or any more respectful. I mean, it was like, you know, the opposite of things that you heard about Sly Stallone, and you know, he was going to be working with a first pet Well, a second time filmmaker, but essentially, you know, first time filmmaker, and couldn't have been a nicer, more respectful guy couldn't have been, and he, you know, he, he worked as hard as you can work on that port. And I think he did a great job. He was great.

Alex Ferrari 49:36
And how did you put together that cast and being it's an insanity of a cast?

Cary Woods 49:43
It's always a script, really. It's always about it's about the script and the director. You know, if you have a script and the director can go into the room, and persuade the actor that he's going to get what is on the page if the actor likes what's on the page. You're going to get him, he's not going to do it because he likes you because you're a nice guy, and you'd be the guy to go out to a game with, you know, it has to be these are artists and they want to do something that's gonna challenge them. And that was a really, really good script. And then of course, as we kept going on this cast started become better. So then the actor was like, Well, wait a minute, you've got De Niro and Stallone and yeah, you know, so then all of a sudden, it becomes like a snowball effect with Harvey Keitel, you know, and it's like, all of a sudden, yeah, you know, now you want to be part of

Alex Ferrari 50:36
Nobody. Nobody wants to get to the party first. But once once the mood right, once the movie is dating a pretty girl, all the pretty girls want to come?

Cary Woods 50:45
Exactly Well, we had a lot of pretty girls at that party.

Alex Ferrari 50:48
There's no no question. No question. I mean, you're looking at I mean, Robert Patrick Lee Ray Liotta. Like he just got the list just goes on and on. You just watch that movie. You're like, how did it get this guy had to get this guy, holy cow. It was, and still alone is probably one of his best performances in, throughout his career

Cary Woods 51:06
Go out as a producer and say, Oh, well, I'm so amazing. It isn't you don't have a script, you could be I don't know, whatever you are, you have to have a script. And you have to have the right talent director that's going to be shooting it, you know, and then they you predicting the made, you can make it look good as a producer, if you have those two things, you know, without them. I don't know what else you can do.

Alex Ferrari 51:29
Exactly. Now, you also worked with a young, a young filmmaker, writer director, by the name of M Night Shyamalan, on his first feature called Wide Awake, which has, which he's completely gotten nothing to do with his career. As far as his where his path, but yet you worked with EMI at the very beginning of his career. What was that experience like?

Cary Woods 51:58
That boy, graphical, very nice guy. Here's the thing about an night, first movie or second movie, you did a little thing in India before that. But he carried himself again, like Larry Clark, he carried himself like he had directed 20 movies. I mean, this guy knew filming. Or he knew what he wanted to do. And he was he's going after he's a pleasure to work with. And this was the kind of thing where his Indian movie and him he the power of his talking about his script and about what the movie was going to be and just as intelligence made us feel, and it wasn't a very expensive movie made us feel like well, yeah, we want to be we want to work with this guy. And that was a major milestone.

Alex Ferrari 52:47
And then and then as I say, the rest is history when he wrote that little ghost movie.

Cary Woods 52:53
That will go smoothly Correct.

Alex Ferrari 52:56
Did he Did he mention the ghost movie while you guys were working together or not?

Cary Woods 53:00
No, unfortunately. He and the Weinstein's had a falling out shockingly, the shocking. Shockingly, another director that didn't want to work with them ever again. And just my luck, I'm stuck there. And he goes off and does that movie, you know? And I'm just like, you know, nothing I can do about it, because I still had my deal where I was stuck at Miramax, right. So, yeah, so there were a number of there were a number of those.

Alex Ferrari 53:36
I'm sure. I'm sure there was a couple of drinks after success came out.

Cary Woods 53:42
Yes, listen, I love them. I wish nothing but the best and I surely understood why he didn't want to do anything with those guys again. So you know, no quarrel for me.

Alex Ferrari 53:52
Of course, of course. And then you know, so you've been living during your career at this point. You've been living in the indie world in the Miramax world, you know, it basically in the heyday of Miramax, which was the 90s, basically from the early 90s, all the way into the basically the early 2000s. And then you got to jump into a very deep pool, working on a huge big budget blockbuster like Godzilla with Roland Emmerich, who is, you know, arguably one of the best action directors and spectacle directors. Honestly, I think in the history of cinema, what was it like and what did you take away from that experience from working on smaller budgets, smaller films to jumping to

Cary Woods 54:38
The truth of the matter is that it went backwards. I worked on the big ones first. I had my deal in Sony before I did kit or gumbo was good shirt or any of those, you know, Godzilla was an odd thing because I was dealing with a guy. We always chasing down the rights to Mr. Magoo. You And there was a Japanese company called toe toe ha that represented that owned the rights and there was a guy in the Valley who represented them in dealing with people who wanted to come to them for the rights and I came to them for the rights will came to him to see if the right for Mr. Magoo available may work. And I went back to Tristar and Colombia which is where my home was. And they wanted nothing to do with Mr. Magoo. And despite the fact I have to go tells the guy from Magoo that they don't want to do it even with Mike Meyer, they didn't like the dailies on AX murder. Don't that's a whole other story I read not even get into because it's so aggravating. But, um, I mean, Mike Myers was a comedic genius as far as I was concerned, and the studio didn't like the dailies or So I Married an Axe Murderer. So consequently, they didn't want to get the rights to Magoo for Mike Myers to write and star and Magoo. I mean, think about that. Any event, I had to go back to the guy and say, Look, I'm really sorry, but the studio is passing. It was Oh, that's too bad. But you know, what just became available is that my clients own the rights to Godzilla. And up until now, the director who created it was alive and he didn't want to share the reading want us to option the rights to an American studio, but he passed away sadly, a month ago now my clients are willing to do it. And I'm Godzilla. So I raced back to the office. And they said, No. And I had worked for Peter Guber, who was their boss. He was the chairman of the studio overs. You know, Columbia and Tristar. I tracked him down. And, you know, basically he said, Well, how's it going to go? Not that great. This is what happened. And he goes, the rights to Godzilla the fire breathing monster, I go, Yes. He goes, Oh, no, we have to do that. Leave it with me. And then again, that was it. They got the rights. No one was happy with me. But nonetheless, we got the rights.

Alex Ferrari 57:20
And you said you had to jump you had to jump over a couple people said to get that project greenlit.

Cary Woods 57:25
It was the kind of thing that you're not supposed to do. So if I was taught political politics in studio 101, I broke every possible rule.

Alex Ferrari 57:38
But it's Godzilla man.

Cary Woods 57:40
But it's Godzilla man. Yeah, it was Godzilla. And you know, just sometimes, it just happens so often, when you just know somebody is missing. You know, somebody's missing something here. Anyway.

Alex Ferrari 57:53
And I remember I mean, I remember when Godzilla came out, it was the marketing budget on that, oh, God, Oh, my God, it was everywhere. It was. I remember, they took big chunks out of like, the Empire State Building or something like that, like they had a banner. And it looks like, literally, there was a chunk missing. It was

Cary Woods 58:13
For the premiere screaming in New York was at Madison Square Garden. Madison, in the marketing was brilliant. You know, you have to say, I mean, size does matter. I mean, they were having so much fun with it, you know, um, it was fun. It was a it was a fun project to make into market. You know?

Alex Ferrari 58:43
What was in that? Obviously, that was probably the biggest budget thing that you'd ever worked on,

Cary Woods 58:48
Yeah, by by a lot.

Alex Ferrari 58:50
Right. So what was it? Is there any little lessons or gold nuggets that you kind of pulled away from that experience?

Cary Woods 58:58
Can you do a movie that size? Have a director like Roland Emmerich? You know, it's having some experience and doing movies of that size is really important, because it's not what I did. No, it's not my thing. And he knew exactly what he was doing. So

Alex Ferrari 59:21
Yeah, it's remarkable. It's remarkable now that they give Marvel movies to younger, inexperienced directors or just they maybe have one or two indies under their belt, and they get thrown into this 100 and $50 million beast. But I think that that's a machine.

Cary Woods 59:39
I think the exactly, I think the infrastructure is in place right now, where the line producers and everything else, where you basically can put somebody in there who creatively puts together who talks about what it is they want to do, and then they've got this giant team of people who can make it happen. ad budgets that work for them. And obviously the budgets generous, but I don't think I think it's it. They've now got it down to a science, especially at Marvel. They didn't you know? How many of them were here? Are they turning out?

Alex Ferrari 1:00:16
Three three to four if you include the Sony stuff? Yeah, it's

Cary Woods 1:00:20
I mean, it's essentially it's right. They got it down to a sign.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:26
It's a factory. It's a factory.

Cary Woods 1:00:27
It's a factory.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:29
Yeah. And there's, you know, those kind of movies. God, I just remember, seeing Godzilla was freaking everywhere, man. Like there's, it almost reminded me of Batman 89. Like, it was at that level of marketing.

Cary Woods 1:00:43
It was, well, you got to remember the guys, the producers of Batman. Damn, you know, the studio about Godzilla. Makes perfect sense. Yeah, it's probably not a complete coincidence.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:59
Now, um, what are you working on now? What are the projects you're working on now?

Cary Woods 1:01:04
Well, we just finished shooting a movie, The John Slattery directed go Maggie Moore, starring Jon Hamm, and Tina Fey. And based based and actually, it's based on a true story of a killing that happened about 30 years ago outside of Euston two women about the same age pretty much kind of nondescript in their 40s. And they were both murdered three days apart about 30 miles from each other. And the thing about it is, they both had the same name. So three days, murders three days apart, 30 miles apart, pretty much the same age with the same name. They investigate and the authorities conclude that it's a coincidence.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:03
Of course, of course it is,

Cary Woods 1:02:05
Of course. Alright, a pearl. Paul Birnbaum reads about it and thinks no possible way. Is that a coincidence? So he concocts a tale. And this was on America's Unsolved Mysteries. I mean, Robert Stack did an episode on this. Our writer saw it and thought this, you know, this is perfect fodder for like a, you know, Fargo like black comedy, which he wrote, and is great. And Slattery found it and he put it together. And you know, him and Faye are incredible. Nick, Mohammed from Ted lasso is in it. And he's great. I love him and Ted lasso. And yeah, so I'm excited about that. We just wrapped that a couple of weeks ago. And I'm doing a teeny tiny little movie called man with a really talented, who I think you spoke to called Steve Friedman, who's like a 21 year old kid who basically put together a movie for like, $15,000 as a crowdfunded thing. And somebody brought him to my attention. And I took a look at, you know, a few minutes of it and just spoke to him for a little while, and it was clear that he was talking to a filmmaker. So

Alex Ferrari 1:03:26
Yeah, he has he has a very interesting story and he's going to be on the show in probably a few weeks after your your you air. But he, he's great.

Cary Woods 1:03:36
He's very much one of a kind. He's funny, Tik Tok generate he's an old soul from a different generation. Yeah, yes, very much. And, and he's really smart. And I think really talented. And I only don't know many people who love movies as much as he does. He truly loves cinema. And he's a throwback and I'm really and he's 21 So I'm really curious to see what the future holds in store for him and I have no doubt it'll be great things but it's fun it's fun working with you know another 21 year old director kit you know, it's been a while for me

Alex Ferrari 1:04:14
And he probably has any probably has a ghost movie that he's gonna direct soon soon after.

Cary Woods 1:04:19
Oh, I would imagine but this time I'll be the producer

Alex Ferrari 1:04:23
There you go this time you're not gonna let that go? Yeah, no.

Cary Woods 1:04:27
He's not having a fight with the studio.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:31
You're the studio you're in the studio.

Cary Woods 1:04:33
I am the studio right now he's I don't know that his ghost movies gonna be the next one. But he'll do whatever it's gonna be it'll be interesting.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:46
Now as a as a producer carry me. We all you know being on set and working on projects over the years. There's always that day that everything's around you is it everything is crashing down around you. There's you're losing the sun and actor doesn't show up the cameras broken the director as a fit. Something happens as a producer, that the whole world's coming down crashing around you? Is there a specific project or day that sticks out in your mind? And how did you overcome that day?

Cary Woods 1:05:17
I think interesting question. For me, it's, it's different than than a day on a set. Okay. For me, it's more like the movies going away. In other words, like for me once we're on the set the movies happening, so there's a day and you're gonna have a problem with that de you'll fix it somehow. To me, I'm the bigger calamities is Oh, shit, they're not making the movie. You know, the bigger calamity for me was getting the phone call from my lead, you know, Drew Barrymore. Like, I don't want to play the lead, I want to play the girl who's gone on page 20. You know, and I literally, I'm on the phone, and I'm seeing the movie go away. I'm seeing myself having to go up. Oh, well, we lost the lead. So they're not gonna make that movie. And there's that, you know, it's more like, those are the kinds of things I mean, the other kinds of things. I mean, I've never gotten the calamitous call, you know, like my directors, mother died, or my, there are those. Look, we're human beings, and we live human life. No, so it is divorce, there's death, there's all accidents, that can kind of happen. But even those things, you know, will close you down for a couple of days, but you're still making the movie, the other kinds of things where you're just your movies gone, you know, it just went away, you lost your lead, or the money is not coming in, you know, the money changed their mind. Those are more the kinds of things that I've had to deal with. And Drew's probably the best example of one where it was like, Oh, God, there goes, it's, it's, I mean, I have to get ready to have the meeting, where I'm gonna go try. Now I was sold, she sold me, you know, I mean, creatively, I was totally sold creatively, it wasn't my saving money. With them, it was gonna be, hey, you're gonna save X amount of millions of dollars, you know, and it's a good idea creatively. So I was plotting how I was going to sell it to them. But, you know, I got lucky that they saw it that way. And they ended up making well, they got lucky too. And they ended up making the movie, but it could have easily gone another direction.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:42
Now, I'm going to ask you a few questions asked all my guests. What, what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today.

Cary Woods 1:07:52
But in one, it would in a filmmaker,

Alex Ferrari 1:07:55
As a director as a director,

Cary Woods 1:07:57
Shoot, go out there and shoot stuff and put it on YouTube and get it up. And as much as you can shoot, and if you can write, write as much as you can write? Because, look, it's a different era. You know, when I started in this business, saying to some kid go shoot, well, how am I going to shoot a camera cost $60,000. Now you can go, go get yourself a phone for $500. And shoot, you know, and all you need is a couple of friends or a couple of actors. Do it sweet. Did you know that's basically trees, the model of a guy who didn't have anything, he had a phone, and he started shooting things and cutting, cutting it on the actual phone himself, and putting it up on YouTube. And that's there are a lot of people who are doing that. And now there are a lot more places than YouTube and there's tech top and there's Instagram and there's just go out and do your thing, because there's no reason not to because there's no barriers to entry as it relates to economics.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:59
Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Cary Woods 1:09:18
One of the biggest one of the biggest bands, the thing that gets in the way of people both in life and in art and in this business and many businesses ego, put your ego aside, you don't have to be overly modest, but none of that means anything. What means something speaking since we're talking about movies is what's on screen, or you know what ends up on the screen with your name on it. That's all really that needs to map. You know, the rest of it is like what position credit or you and all of this kind of stuff doesn't really matter at the end, you know? because you can, I won't get asked me about a lot of people and a lot of movies and I won't know what position they were in, I'll just know if their name was on the movie or not. You know, it doesn't matter. You know, Jim Brooks, great filmmaker once said to me, because he was having a screen, I was developing something with him and examine a screening of a movie he had just finished. And he invited everybody in the office to the screening. And very often, you know, a lot of filmmakers are really precious about who gets to see a cut to the movie. And he was invited in the receptionist's and the secretaries and everybody, and I sit there, Hey, Jim, how you know, you're really generous with who you invite to your early screening. You know, well, how come you feel so comfortable doing that? He said, hey, look, these are just stories, and everybody can have ideas about stories. And so therefore, they can have a good suggestion. And if they do, at the end of the day, it's gonna say, directed by Jim Brooks. And I thought that is it's both humble, and it's confident. Yeah, and it's smart. Now, and that's the truth. The end of the day, what's up on the screen is what's gonna matter. The rest of it is all just noise.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:19
Great, great. Great lesson. Now and lastly, three of your favorite films of all time.

Cary Woods 1:11:24
Oh, God.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:25
Whatever comes to mind at right now?

Cary Woods 1:11:27
I mean, come on. Um, well, what you know, it's like me. Okay, the godfather shockingly shockingly. Mean Streets. Marty. And then where do I go from there? Well, I'm going to exclude any of my own movies because they could be in there but um, uh, huh. I mean, just because it's Citizen Kane. I have to say Citizen Kane. Sure.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:08
Hey, that's that's very respectable list. Very, very.

Cary Woods 1:12:11
I mean, you know, you don't want to say Oh, well, yeah, Citizen Kane in The Godfather, but then you watch them in your Yeah. How else can you not?

Alex Ferrari 1:12:20
I mean, yeah, I mean, my list is always generally each it fluctuates. But it's you know, it's it's Shawshank Redemption, Fight Club, the matrix, Blade Runner. I mean, the list goes on and on Pulp Fiction, you

Cary Woods 1:12:34
No, there's so many there's so many.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:37
There's so many. But I always like to like what's coming at the top of the hill? What's, what's the mike throw away, like, if it comes on on TNT? Or if it see on streaming or something like that, you just throw the remote away and just keep watching.

Cary Woods 1:12:49
What have you seen it like? I I mean, I saw Mean Streets not too long ago. I'm talking about showing my son, the godfather. All of this has been happening in the last three weeks. And I guess I was talking about citizen. I mean,

Alex Ferrari 1:13:04
It's fresh. It's fresh in the mind. It's fresh.

Cary Woods 1:13:07
Yeah. But I mean, if I would have seen about a year ago or so I saw Goodfellas at the film forum in New York. You know, if you talked to me a week after that, it would have been good phones instead of means

Alex Ferrari 1:13:19
As as much as it should be, as it should. Yeah. It's, it's It's tough. It's a tough, it's a tough thing. It's a tough thing. But Karen, I really appreciate you coming on the show my friend and Oh, my pleasure and sharing, and sharing and sharing your knowledge with everybody. So I appreciate it. And please, keep making great movies my friend.

Cary Woods 1:13:39
Thank you very, very much. I really appreciate it.


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BPS 190: How I Made My Filmmaking Dream Come True with Andy Erwin

Andrew Erwin and his brother Jon are the filmmaking team known by most as the Erwin Brothers. The Birmingham, Alabama born brothers grew up around college football and entertainment. Their father, a local news anchor introduced them to the television industry at a young age. As teenagers they began their career in sports television with ESPN as camera operators.

After several years working in sports they transitioned into directing music videos and documentaries. They won music video of the year three years consecutively at the GMA Dove Awards working with some of the top artist in Christian, Country, and Rock music. They went on to produced the award winning 9/11 documentary The Cross and the Towers (2006).

In 2010 the brothers shifted their focus exclusively to developing feature films. Their first feature narrative, October Baby (2011), was a coming of age drama about a young girl named Hannah (Rachel Hendrix) trying to find her birth mother. After a strong grass roots campaign the micro budget feature debuted theatrically in the top ten eventually landing on the front page of the New York Times.

Andrew and Jon’s sophomore release Moms’ Night Out (2014), starring Sarah Drew, Sean Astin, and Patricia Heaton, was their first venture into comedy. The crowd pleaser had a successful theatrical run with Sony’s TriStar and continues to grow its audience on dvd as a cult classic.

Next Andrew and Jon tackled the epic true sports story Woodlawn (2015), starring Jon Voight, Sean Astin, Nic Bishop, and newcomer Caleb Castille. It was a deeply personal story for the Erwins. One of the characters in the Alabama story is their father, played in the movie by Astin. The duo continue to live in the Southeast as they write and develop stories of redemption and hope with a strong emphasis on their faith roots.

The inspirational true story of Kurt Warner, who overcomes years of challenges and setbacks to become a two-time NFL MVP, Super Bowl champion, and Hall of Fame quarterback. Just when his dreams seem all but out of reach, it’s only with the support of his wife, Brenda, and the encouragement of his family, coaches and teammates that Warner perseveres and finds the strength to show the world the champion that he already is.

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome the show. Andy Erwin, how you doing, Andy?

Andy Erwin 0:16
Great man! It's good to be with you. And good good to talk movies.

Alex Ferrari 0:19
Yeah, man. Absolutely, brother. So, man you've had, you've had a very interesting career, to say the least. But how did you get started in this insanity that we call the film industry?

Andy Erwin 0:30
I mean, I think anybody that gets involved, either they pay a lot for film school, or they run away injured during the circus, and we were kind of more of the circus kind of performer route. And so, um, you know, my brother and I, we were kind of studio rats, my dad was in news. Growing up, he was the news encouraging 11 in Dallas, and the CBS affiliate there. And so we always grew up around kind of the industry. And, you know, when we kind of became teenagers, they let us use the equipment from midnight to 4am if we worked off the books for $10 a day, and, and so it wasn't at the CBS affiliate, I won't name no one can say brookwater Child child labor laws. But we did that when I was 15, my brother's 12. And we just kind of fell in love with telling stories. And so I went off to college in New York, and and John was in high school, and I just heard what he was doing back home, I was like, that's way cooler what I'm doing. So I dropped out of school. And we started working on the weekends for sports networks, like ESPN as cameramen. And that paid the bills for us to the other five days of the week, to to be able to have this hobby grown out of control. So at that point, we live in Birmingham, Alabama, started a little production company ended up working into documentaries and music videos, with this idea of one day doing features but it took about 15 years till we got to our first one. And it was a it was a it was a crazy journey to get there.

Alex Ferrari 2:04
Very cool, man. And so you were you were you were hustling as a camera guy trying to get his trying to get their movies made. And you got your first micro budget film made, which was October Baby if I'm not mistaken, right?

Andy Erwin 2:19
Yeah, it was a small, it was a small budget film. We did it for about $750,000. 19 days shoot. There at that point, we were doing a lot of music videos. And so doing a lot of rock videos, we were kind of good at blowing things up. And so, you know, if we couldn't figure out how to interview video, we just blow something up. And in fact, the last treatment we did for a band called skillet, it's Dan comes out, things blow up, it starts to rain, more things blow up, it stops raining, everything blows up. And that was the whole treatment. And, and that video kind of blew me blew up. And so you know, and so we, we ended up directing more and more second unit kind of things. And getting on film sets, doing stunt sequences was kind of our thing. And then, you know, we just said it's now or never we need to take the opportunity to try to do you know, see what we could do on our own. And so we said, rather than lean into all of our tricks or anything flashy, listens to a small little character drama. And there was a friend of ours named Gianna Jessen that was had an incredible story about her life story that we heard and we just said, what if we fictionalized that, and kind of put it in the context of this kind of kind of romantic kind of coming of age story. And do that little $750,000 micro budget should have never worked? Did it? Like, if we had known what we know now, I mean, that like we would have told ourselves never to go for it. But we raised the money to both put it out in theaters and do it ourselves. And it made enough money to give us a chance to do more. So it was that was our that was our journey.

Alex Ferrari 4:04
Now that ignorance is bliss, isn't it? When you're young?

Andy Erwin 4:08
Yeah. Yeah, it is. It is. I mean, you because, you know, they say whatever, doesn't kill you makes you stronger. But there's certain things in this industry that actually kill you. And so, you know, I think if you knew all that going in, like we would never, I mean, I talk to my kids all the time. I'm just like, I look at like just the recklessness of a 13 year old and I'm like, Man, if I had known now when I was a dad, there was no way I would have done some stuff as a kid. Cuz he just like that could actually kill you. But you know, when you're young, when you're young and ignorant of those things, you just say hey, why not do it like this? And I think as a filmmaker, you know, it's better to try that stuff out early. And, and not to get a little bit more reckless and sometimes it works and sometimes you die.

Alex Ferrari 4:55
Exactly. Hopefully figuratively, not literally In our business now, but with October Baby, you actually took it out on your own and you actually did your own kind of the job do your own, like, for walling it off of it and getting it on the world. And how did you actually get it? Because it was a fairly big, big hit for such a small budget.

Andy Erwin 5:15
Yeah, I mean, for such a small budget, we felt like we really needed to be disciplined to do something that was just about kind of character relationships. And we've done this tiny little pilot for a small TV network that didn't make it. And we did a little, little pilot with this small cast that we that we fell in love with. And, in fact, one of the cast members that we discovered was James Austin Johnson, who is now the new Biden and Trump on Saturday live. He, he was in Nashville, and he sits broken out this year. But he was as funny little kid, there's 19 years old, you're in Nashville. And, and so we took that cost, and the pilot didn't get picked up. But we're like, we love this cast, let's insert them into this story that we're writing. And so we wrote it around that task. And when we get done with it, it wasn't meant to be a kind of a controversial film at all, it was really just based on my my friend Gianna story. But it hits some kind of, you know, raw nerves with different people and, and there's a lot of distributors that were nervous to kind of take it out. And we just had that we had that independent film spirit, they were just like, Well, why not take it out on earth again. So

Alex Ferrari 6:34
Again, the ignorance the ignorance is helpful

Andy Erwin 6:36
It's the ignorance. And then and then we went, we went and raised the money to put it in theaters and hired, you know, Samuel Goldwyn, to put it out. And it really should have been a train wreck, and it worked. And, and, you know, I think the goal with any independent filmmaker, especially early on, is for your product to do well enough to find an audience. You know, that's, that at least validates enough to allow other people to take a risk on you to let you do another one. And, you know, so we weren't aiming for a homerun, we were really aiming to, let's get on base. And let's do a story that we believe in. It's a story that we're proud of. But, you know, but it's not, it's going to shatter records. And let's get on base show that we can do this. Have one under our belt, and let's keep going forward. And that was what October Baby was for us.

Alex Ferrari 7:25
Now, with your music video background, what did you bring from your music video background into the into your narrative feature film? Because I mean, I've directed music videos a ton, and there's a lot of you get a lot of hours on set, which I think helps a lot. And you know, with, well, you deal with craziness that you would never deal with on a feature film.

Andy Erwin 7:45
Yeah, I mean, oh, my gosh. That that, I mean, I think there's a lot of things. I think, first of all, it's kind of like, you know, short films with a lot more volume to it, because you're working on somebody else's budget, you know, you're not having to go out and raise, you know, $20,000 a pop to do short films, you're, somebody's paying you to do it. And, you know, and back then there was actually budget for music videos, that's kind of, you know, going to where, you know, you can't do it unless, you know, you're a college kids, but back then they accept budgets. And I think I think several things, it allowed us to kind of get just time in the saddle, and to try different things. And I think just like any other art form, you know, for a long time, up front, you make your way imitating other people he's trying stuff on, until finally, there comes that moment where you find your voice, and you're like, Oh, this is the kind of stories I tell, this is my style. For a long time, up front, you're just trying different things on like, what it goes like this, it's like that, and doing music videos allowed us to kind of try a lot of hats on. And so we started out in more than a Christian contemporary world, and, you know, had a lot of fun there. But, um, but then, you know, moved into country song, and then we ended up doing a lot of stuff in the rock world. And that was where we just got to experiment. And the second thing was, is allowed us to learn how to deal with big personalities. And I think there's, you know, I think every actor wants to sing, and every singer wants to act. So there's, they're, you know, intrinsically kind of the same species. And, and I think he just learned to deal with, you know, fragile egos deal with people that need to feel safe. Know, artists, whether it's a music artist, or an actor wants to look stupid, and I think typically, a lot of the neurotic behavior that is exhibited is just from people being afraid of looking stupid. And so it is the loudest to learn how to navigate a lot of that stuff. So it knocks some years off of those headaches of learning how to speak that language. So that when we stepped onto a film set, it's just like, oh, okay, this personalities familiar, at least and, and then and then my brother, my brother in law Particularly the media is more visual. And he brought a lot of that visual style into how we shoot.

Alex Ferrari 10:06
Yeah, I mean, I think as directors, we, the thing I've talked to actors all the time is they just want to feel safe. And if you can make them feel safe, they'll give you the best, they'll give you the best they can. But if they don't feel safe, that's when the problems occur.

Andy Erwin 10:21
And I've worked, I've worked with a lot of actors that, you know, there's certain actors I've worked with that have a reputation for sideways sideways energy. And but, you know, I just, you know, a lot of them are like, no, they're sweethearts, as long as they feel safe, that sideways energy means he had a toxic film set, or a weak film director or somebody that didn't really know what they wanted. And they felt like they had to, it's the same thing that happens with kids, when like, you know, my kids at home, if there's not like some boundaries and stuff, and they feel like they're in charge, you know, they don't feel safe, then that's where you get all the sideways energy, but they really know where they fit in the family. And you're giving them really good boundaries, and giving them enough leash to be their own people, and not trying to control them, but you're trying to direct them. And it's imperfect science, but it's really about that safety. And that's what creates that with actors. And I think we started learning that with a lot of the crazy neurosis that happens on music videos.

Alex Ferrari 11:20
Oh, music videos. They are they are wonderful, aren't they? But if there was a podcast, we could just tell stories of what happened on set that we can legally say publicly.

Andy Erwin 11:32
Yeah! I would have to change all the names. There was one, there was one music video I did, where, where there's two artists that I won't name sure that that might have booked the men but um, but the the the label paired this, this group together, and they're a duo, they're famous duo. But they didn't get along. And so because they didn't really they weren't, like best buds, the way they appeared on the screen. They were like, two different artists that were sort of artists they paired together. And so, you know, they had their own tour bus each had their own tour bus. And it was a hot summer day, and we're doing this music video. And I would go into one's tour bus and say, so until, you know, we're ready to get on set. It's like, well, what so and so my partner, is he ready to go? Now is that why am I going out until he does, like, I'll be right back. And I go into their tour bus. And I'd be like, Hey, man, and I just went back and forth for like 30 minutes until I taught one of them into coming out first. And so it was constant.

Alex Ferrari 12:35
And I'm sure that's probably one of the most tame stories you have.

Andy Erwin 12:40
That's the one that I legally, I'm not afraid of getting sued for that one. So

Alex Ferrari 12:45
Now that you know, as directors, man, there's always that one day on set, that the whole world's coming crashing down around you. camera's not working you losing your life, the actor will come out of the trailer, all this kind of stuff. How what was that? What was that worst day for you? Which there's an argument of me that every day has one of those, but what what was the one that sticks out in your mind? And how did you get over it? How did you get through that process that day?

Andy Erwin 13:10
I think you know, I think as a director, you know, you always, I mean, the first two or three days of filming any film, the first few days of principal photography, you're questioning all your life choices, and you're like, it's all burning down. This is why I get exposed. This is where they find out that I don't know what I'm doing. You know, and it just and you develop kind of a little bit of that marathoners pace, and you get into a rhythm. And I think the biggest thing you have to learn as a film director is that you got to let certain fires burn, you know that, you know, you're not going to be able to put out every fire every day, you just got to get you got to you got to keep one from consuming the entire set. And so there's little fires, they're always burning got to get used to. There's any point in the day, there's at least five people that are going to be tested you. And I think as you have more time in the saddle, you get a little bit more calluses where you're like you're not, you don't lack empathy, you're not immune to the fact that it's hard. But you just have to be okay that people aren't okay with you sometimes. And but for me, the biggest catastrophe that ended up I think actually making a better film was on the movie Woodlawn, you know, and so Woodlawn was another independent film that we had done. So it was one that was the most personal to us. It was it was a story that my dad used to tell us as a bedtime story growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, and it was the one that we wanted to make. And it's a true story about the last part of integration in Birmingham, Alabama in the 70s. And this one little football team that was the last integrate. And the first black superstar that came out of that system is Captain Kidd, Tony Nathan. And so we raised the money to do it. It was the most money we had raised at that point was about 13 million. And we went out to start, you know, it was a week last week of pre production. And I cast the kid out of out of London to play the role of Tony. I don't know what it is about British actors, but they make a big play the best people from the South. Just look at anybody on TV right now that's got a southern accent. I guarantee you, they're from England. But but sort of, so I cast this kid, really good actor that's going on to do some good things. And the week before we started filming, for whatever reason, that would not an explanation. The Embassy in pulled his visa, they wouldn't let him they wouldn't let him travel. And we're like, you know, we didn't have the budget to push. So, you know, instantly. I was like panic, I just said, and our casting director starts, you know, just throwing out all sorts of names of people that were good actors, but I'm like, what, are they athletic? Do they play football? You know, because it was so important that this actor be able to do a lot of in camera stuff. And, and so we were panic, there was this one kid named Caleb Castiel. That was the stunt double for Tony. And Caleb had auditioned for Tony. I hadn't seen this audition was a particularly good. But he just had this charisma that wouldn't quit and said, Well, if I don't get Tony, I'm going to do the stunt double. So he shows up the stunt double. And this kid played for Nick, Nick Saban University, Alabama. And he runs like a gazelle man, he just is pretty to watch. And I was just, you know, I'm kind of a person of prayer. And I was just like, man, what do I do? And I just Caleb's name popped in my head. And I was like, surely that him he's been in one TV commercial.

Alex Ferrari 17:05
Surely not. Talking to the voice in your head, surely not him.

Andy Erwin 17:13
Just it felt right. And he just had this, this, this spirit that wouldn't quit. So I called them up. And I just said, Caleb, I need you to get over to the studio. I'm going to give you every opportunity to win this role today. And he said, I've been waiting on the call, I signed my died today auditioned with the date and said, This is the day I got the role. He said, I just knew it was mine. And I was like, holy cow. So I threw him in a room with Jon Voight, who's playing there, Brian. And Caleb just in good acting is about how you respond. It's about being in the moment being present. And it's not about acting, it's about reacting. And Taylor just reacted incredible being in the room with an Oscar winner. And he had the skill. And the whole movie, we call this the whole team together said, you know, this movie is about rallying around this kid Tony. And the team rallying around him, we're gonna rally around Caleb, He's our guy. And so he became the star, he became number one on the call sheet that day. And it made the movie. And since then Caleb's broken out, he's on one of the leads on NCIS, Los Angeles now and is doing incredible for himself. But that was the day he went from being a stunt guy to being number one on the call sheet. And I think a lot of times on a film set, the worst moment where you feel like it's all going down. It doesn't always work out. But a lot of times there's a doorway there to make something better.

Alex Ferrari 18:38
You always plan you always may have a plan, but it generally rarely ever goes according to plan. And it generally, generally, I'm gonna say nine out of 10 times it's a better than what you expected.

Andy Erwin 18:51
It usually does. I mean, and I think that's the hardest thing for young filmmakers. I think it was a big lesson for me there. But for young filmmakers, and that was my third feature at that point. But for young filmmakers, there's this fear of if I let go of control, that that people are gonna see that I really, that I'm a fraud. And I think any artist feels that. And I think as a result, we hold it tighter to the best be like I don't want you to judge me. Don't Don't judge my ugly baby. And, and I think what I've learned is, when I do that, when I have done that, the best I can hope that for that movie, good turnout is the one that I have in my head. There's no room for discovery. But when you kind of loosen your grip and you trust the close group of collaborators to speak into that process and have this policy of best idea wins. Then there's this element of discovery where it doesn't matter where that idea comes from. If it's a great idea, let's use it. And it just it when you realize that you have control because you're in the chair. You are the director there A lot of power that goes with that, that allows you to look at other people's ideas. So you discover things that you wouldn't have other other ways. So it makes a better movie.

Alex Ferrari 20:08
You know, I always find it fascinating. I've had I've had, I've been blessed by speaking to so many amazing, high high and performing people in this business, Oscar winners, Emmy winners and so on. And it'll never ceases to amaze me. The whole concept of imposter syndrome is something that is so prevalent in I mean, I'm like, I talk to somebody, I'm like, you want an Oscars like, Yeah, but I get I get sick when I go on set for the first day. I'm like, Yeah, wow. And it's so I always like, I always like to let independent filmmakers know it's okay. Even even the top of the top legends have issues with imposter syndrome. It's not something that's just you. Everyone's got it.

Andy Erwin 20:50
Well, I remember hearing Joe Wright talk about the first day Yeah, on on set with Gary Oldman on darkest hour, and he's like, I thought my job was supposed to be just making the environment around Gary, right. So that he can, you know, do its thing and it gets in the first day. And Gary leans over is like, you know, what do you think? Was it too far? He said, Joe realize that that moment, he said, really great directors want to be directed away from really great actors want to be directed. And, you know, that idea that any you know, anybody always has that feeling of I don't really know if I'm doing it right. And so after directing point in Woodlawn, I love I love the minute, but he called me he called me late one night. And John was like, Andy, it's, it's it's boy. Am I any good in this picture? I'm like, you're great. He's like, if I'm no good, just kept me out. Just cut the character completely. As a job, go ask your Oscar, bro. You know,

Alex Ferrari 21:52
You're okay!

Andy Erwin 21:54
Or, you know, or, you know, I directed Cloris Leachman and she had Oscar and and this latest one Anna Paquin. She's the youngest Oscar winner. It's just it never goes away. It just all of us feel like how do we stumble into this job? You know, and there's, there's a fraction of a percent of people that are just so qualified, they can do whatever they want. And there's an arrogance that goes with that. But I think even in that case, even in that case, there's I think it's motivated by insecurity. You know, I had a great interaction with Denzel Washington when we were I was mixing underdog and we're on the we're on the sound stages at Sony. And he was mixing letters to Jordan next door. I had underdog Michael Mann was was mixing his TV series he's doing right now across the hallway. And then Jason Reitman was test screening. Ghostbusters on the fourth stage. So we're all on stage six. And I texted somebody, and I said, Oh, my gosh, how did I get on this stage? She's the imposter here. And my filmmaker friend Rob backs and all four of you.

Alex Ferrari 23:05
I'm sure I'm sure Denzel at one point or another said that the same thing about like you because he just like everyone starts somewhere, man. No one just comes out an Oscar winner. No one just comes out knowing everything. You got to go through the process. You got to get the bumps I always call you gotta get the shrapnel. And that shrapnel is what makes you man. But yeah, you're absolutely you're absolutely right. Now, man, I got to touch on I can only imagine man, I recently after I watch American bug, which we're going to talk about in a second. I went I went back I was gonna meet let me go. Let me go watch that, because I'd seen the trailers and never seen it. Man, that movie was was impactful. Man, it was such a powerfully emotional film. And it's just, it's such an oddity, because it's like, hey, let's make a movie about how a song was written. Now, it was one of the biggest songs of all time, but it's like, you know, to hear that, like, let's go see how my heart will goes on was written. Like, it's nothing. So how do you make that though? That would be an interesting, I've seen the making of that movie. Yeah. How did you? How did you get that? How did you get involved with that? How did you want to tell that story?

Andy Erwin 24:13
Yeah, yeah, you know, it was, it was funny because, you know, we do pedal into stories, and we do very much gravitate towards stories of faith. I think that's become much more mainstream experience over the past 10 years than maybe when we first started. It was much more a tiny little niche kind of early on but now it's kind of found its footing where you know, the same way that other niche genres like you know, superhero movies or horror films have found their footing in something that's more mainstream you know, but but but when we started we were trying to find that hopefully we've been part of that solution you know, as well as others like divan Franklin, but with with I can only imagine, you know, we were not smart enough to really go out and find great stories. They just typically land in our lap. And I was screening we did a comedy, I do not recommend directing a comedy. It is very tough. We did a small comedy. Our second film was a small comedy for Sony called mom's out. And, and it was definitely, you know, took years off my life but but in the middle of that I was tasked screening a comedy up here in Nashville. And, and I just was cold calling a lot of people in in the community that might be interested in watching it. And so I reached out to Bart Miller from the band Mercy Me who wrote the song I can only imagine. I wrote, I wrote him on Facebook, and I just said, Hey, we don't know each other. But we run in the same circles. I'm test screening my film tonight. We'd love for you to see it. You want to come see it? He said, wrote back right away. So I just moved here from Texas. Yeah, I would love to see it. And at the end of the film, he really enjoyed it. And he said, Can we talk? And he said, There's a movie studio that's been developing my life story, the story myself and past five years. I would love you guys to take a look at it. And I said, Well, it's kind of serendipitous. They sent us the script this morning. Oh, and it just was kind of one of those things. And then I was like, What are you doing tonight? And he's like, Well, what are you doing? I was like, I was gonna go watch Captain America at midnight. He's like, I was gonna do the same thing. I was like, did we just become best friends. But the whole stepbrothers thing, but I I read this, we read a little bit of script, and the script just didn't jive with me, because it was just that it was about somebody's life experience. And it ended on a downer note, and they said, you know, one day, Mark wrote a great song. And it was like, we're like, we're like, this isn't a movie. It has to be something universally relatable. And it has to be something that's beyond just the song. And we sat down with Bart, one day, and my brother asked them Bart, if I were to say, Can I hold a gun to your head and say, Is there a god? What would you say? And he said, Absolutely. Because the change I saw my father, he went from being the most abusive men are know, to be my best friend. And if something can change his life, they can change anybody. Really. That's interesting. And then I was doing an interview, about a year later, when we're promoting Woodlawn. And the host asked me off the air. He's like, what story are you working at? Looking at that next? And I said, Well, off the record, we're looking at the story of I can only imagine. He said, Oh, my gosh, he said, I was at the Ryman that night when Amy Grant pulled him up on stage and gave him a song back. That's the most magic thing I've ever seen in music. I don't know about this. So I call it Martin. I'm like this happened. He's like, Oh, yeah, man. That was the big magic night in my life. I forgot to tell you guys that. I'm like, you idiot.

Alex Ferrari 27:47
Help me help you!

Andy Erwin 27:53
Like, that's a movie. And I'm like, is your triumph. And so we engineered that whole film. From the standpoint of what would it be, I think there's something universally relatable about the kind of the Father wound that a lot of guys have, in particular people in particular guys, and that desire of every man because that fraud, imposter syndrome, wanting to have their father stand and applaud them. So we're like, what if we engineered the moment at the end, that is an empty room, and he sees his father, and the whole movie builds to that moment. And you know, and then, you know, this abusive father that eventually stands in approval. And for men in particular, when they watch the film, it catches them way off guard and brings really big emotion. Because of that, and it's beyond something of faith. I mean, faith is definitely a huge part of the story, but it's really about that universal desire of redemption between a father and son. And I think Dennis Quaid killed it. I think it's one of his best performances as the Father, and I'm really, really proud. I'm really proud of how the film turned out. And that was really the launching point. We had a disagreement with the studio on how to make it. They said there was only 17000 people on the planet that would watch it. Because it was just

Alex Ferrari 29:16
To be fair, to be fair on paper not a good sign.

Andy Erwin 29:19
No, not at all. Not at all. It's a song about a Christian AI. It's a movie by Christian song like they're really, in fact, the day that we started making it there was a big deadline article that said the music biopic is dead. And that was the same year that that stars born and Bohemian Rhapsody, and a bunch of others came out. So you know, guess the article was wrong, but But you know, I think we had a big disagreement and so we went out and again raised the money to both make and release it. We did a blended find a book PNA and the production budget, which was the production budget was about 7 million on it. And, and then we bought it out from under the studio and made it independently And then right before, right when we started shopping it, roadside attractions came along and said we know how to put this out because we specialize in kind of wards films that are niche. And they had just done Manchester by sea. And that was their big, you know, hit. And we're like, Okay, we'll trust you with it. If we can do this deal with your sister company Lionsgate too. And so Lionsgate stepped aboard, we did a deal with them and rented the system and put it out. And then little $7 million film did 86 million, it was so good breakout month,

Alex Ferrari 30:32
Not a bad so that so that turned out of what started at a studio studio didn't believe in it. The way you guys believed in it, you took it back from the studio, put your own money, your own money in and release it yourself. And then of course got all the money out of it.

Andy Erwin 30:48
But our investors didn't really invest. And we didn't do too bad either. I mean, my kids are going to college, but it definitely was life changing for us as well. But yeah, we did, we did get a page one rewrite, you know, our version of the story. And that's when the studio who had worked five years on it and couldn't crack the story. Didn't like that. And we decided, hey, we're gonna stick with our vision. And we made, you know, you don't always want to go all in, in the moment. But there's certain hands where you're like, This is my island moment. And so we pushed out all the chips in the middle of the table. And it was either going to be a success or a disaster. And we just happen to land on the front side of that.

Alex Ferrari 31:32
Yeah, it landed landed on black for you. And yeah, there's no question. But look, there are those moments in life where you're given a choice you like, are you? Are you in? Or are you out. And unfortunately, so many filmmakers make that, that they do that all in at the very beginning of their career. And they like mortgaged their house, and they want to tell the story, and it doesn't work out well for them. So your story is definitely an anomaly. But then for everyone listening, well, they did it. I'm like, Yeah, they did it. But look at the story they had, they had a song that millions upon 10s of millions of people around the world knew you had, you had an audience, that's what the studio didn't understand. They didn't understand that, that there was so much love for that sort. But then again, it wasn't just about the song, it's really about a son and a father.

Andy Erwin 32:19
It's about the ingredients, like, you know, that's why you can't go all in on every hand, you know, the ego and the ego, artists in each person that says, Oh, this is going to be, you know, that's only one component that the bit the bigger things are branded IP is king, you know, having something that has a following. Then secondly, so that has the story ingredients, you know, for us, we very much look at kind of how, what, you know what Jordan Peele did with Get out. I mean, he had a great horror movie, and appeal to his core fans. But he had this rare universal overlay to it that appealed beyond just, you know, slasher movies that had a social justice appeal that had a hitch Hitchcock feel, it was something very something for everyone or, you know, or movie like quiet place that did that same thing. It was about that universal idea of father tried to make his family safe. The father mother tried to fight for their family that was beyond a horror movie. And so those ingredients are rare. But we have the ingredients, you have the branded IP. And then the third thing is tank. It's all about timing. Like, I can only imagine could have happened 10 Other ways that 10 other times and I'd say no, no, there's times it fails. Right? It just the the timing was just right. And all this stuff lined up. And and we just happen to fall into that. And so

Alex Ferrari 33:49
So now your new film, American underdog, which, by the way, I absolutely love my wife and I we got the screener sent to us man with my wife and I my wife's like my wife doesn't know but football much, but I'm like, Look, it's a good movie. Look. It's got this guy in it. It's got Anna Paquin. She's like, Oh, Sookie, I'm like, yes. Okay, from true love. So she's like, alright, I'll watch it. And we're there on like, a Saturday afternoon. Oh, we just start watching it and we're just like, son of a bitch. This thing's grabbing. Holy shit. That's like it's grabbing, pulling me in like what the hell like I knew who Kurt Warner was. I didn't know the extent of his story. I knew he was an underdog but I didn't know the details. But but it's but the key was watching my wife watch it, who knew nothing. And she was like, getting involved in the emotion and the characters in the story. But football was just an aftermath. Like, that's just that doesn't even matter to her. It was all about the characters. And again, we were saying IP, I mean, you've got Kurt Warner, who's a very famous football player, and then you throw the word underdog and then you throw the word American underdog. Might as well just put up Stallone and rocky up there at the same time. Like, you were hitting up, but you are hitting a bunch of good. So when I saw it come through my, my view, first time the trailer, I was like, Oh, this is gonna do well this will be this. This is gonna do just fine. How did you guys get involved in this story, man?

Andy Erwin 35:14
Well, it didn't hurt that the Rams won the Super Bowl and gave us the home video but um, yeah, you know, it's again one of those things that fell to us. And I'm really grateful for it. But 20 years ago when I was a sports care, man, the only Superbowl ever worked was in 2001 Super Bowl in New Orleans. And it was Kurt Warner and his second Super Bowl against Tom Brady and his first and and you know that the story we tell in a movie had happened the year prior. And I just remember watching Kurt and being like, just intrigued by the guy. There's something very rocky ask. I mean, I think the films that influenced this one the most were rocky, Cinderella, man and warrior where there was really a lot of fighter stories about kind of one man against the world and fighting for something that the stakes that drove what what happened in the, in the arena. You know, there's something very rocky asked about Kurt, and but I just remember watching him go over the stands, interact with this spiky haired, beautiful lady. And that was his wife, Brenda, and I always said, I would love to know the story behind that I never knew that I was going to be 20 years later that my brother and I would be the one to direct the film. So when it came back around, I can only imagine him we then another movie after that. And then as we were finishing, you know, the touches on the script for the story we're gonna make, somebody said you ought to talk to Warner's, again, it's a film that stuck in development. At another studio, we specialize at that. And they said, but if the option is up and in, you might want to look at it. So we went to their house in Phoenix and said, you know, we're not here to pitch you what your story is, what do you think your story is? And Kurt said, it's about the things off the field that drove what happened on it. Everybody knows to football, but I want to, I want them to know what I saw in my, my wife, Brenda, and my son, Zach, who's disabled, and blind. And we're like, well, we can do that story. We know how to do that story. So when we stepped into it, and then the pandemic kit, and through all of our plans in the air, and then we finally, as we were writing the script, zactly vies a longtime friend from Shazam. And you know, and Chuck and all that. And DAX and I were talking on FaceTime one day, and we had the same agent, and he said, What's this Kurt Warner movie, I keep hearing my name thrown around. And I said, was that the book for the next three years? I wasn't going to pitch you. And he said, No, let me read the script. And I sent him the script. And he texted back at midnight that night, so let's make a football movie. And then I called, I called up the producer team. And I said, why this land? Exactly. I didn't mean to. But he said, and they're like, great. And so then it kept pushing because COVID And finally, we just like, if we push one more time, we lose that because he's going to do Shazam, too. And so we just call them and said, Hey, guys, what you screw it number that we have to hit. And they gave us the number we had to hit to make the movie. And we said, Okay, we've got to chop this schedule from 45 days down to 30. To make it and so it was the most stressful thing I've ever done in my life. But we kind of all that turmoil we focused it on. Like, this is the story we're telling, this guy had the deck stacked against him. And we're all going to live her own story together in the middle of trying to film in a pandemic, you know, and that once he was on board, he rallied around that and then Dennis Quaid, he looks so much like Romeo quaintness equate, I'll let you play anybody you want. But I think it's special when an icon plays an icon and I had been a highlight reel addict for meal. And I said to him, he's like, I'm you for me. I want to do it. And then you know, and then all these great character actors came on board like Bruce McGill, and you know, Adam Baldwin, and chance Kelly and all these guys. And then the really what's in it over the top was, we're like, it has to be about it's a co starring thing. It's not It's Brenda is very much the equal lead of the store. She's the underdog on the other side of the coin. And when Anna Paquin read the script, she fell in love with her. And she called me and she said, You know, I've never done anything interactive with really anything inspirational. I don't know anything about sports. I don't really know anything about faith. She's like, is that a problem for me playing the wife of a prominent sports star that's a Christian? And I said, Absolutely not. And as long as you can really try to fight to understand the person you're playing, and make it make what is important to her important to you. It's like That's exactly how I work. Like, well, who wouldn't want to work with an Oscar winner? And once she signed on it for me medically took off. And she had Zach paired so well together because Zach typically does the action comedy thing. And he doesn't well better than anybody. But Anna really grounded him really well with her drama and and typically goes for the hard, gritty characters. And the Chuan glass can artists kind of things. But Zack really kind of pulled her lifted her out and showed this lovable side that people haven't seen her before. And so it made an incredible, and just we just like, this is our moment, we have to do it. Now. If we don't do it now, it's never gonna happen. We just rallied around that. And again, it could have been a failure, but it just worked. So

Alex Ferrari 40:41
And both of them played parts that they generally don't play. I mean, you don't? Exactly Yes, Zack. No, I've never seen Zach in a dramatic way he they both killed it. They both I think did. He was Kurt. I mean, there's just no no question about it. And then when you see it that obviously when you see the the images of Kurt in the in the credits and stuff like that, which is just like, fine, man. It's just, it just hit it that I wasn't I wasn't prepared for it. Let's just put it that way. I think it catches, it catches you off guard. You know, I'm a pretty look, man. I've been a filmmaker for 30 years, it's hard to catch me. It's hard to catch me. So it's when a movie does get me like, Oh, son of I didn't see that comment. Generally could see things coming. I didn't see that come. And so you have and I and it happened with me. And I can only I can only imagine because I didn't I didn't see it coming. So the way you guys are approaching stories is it has a very unique perspective. And yeah, you're coming through faith, and that angle of it. But it's hits you at an emotional level that generally you don't expect as a film as an audience member, because so much of the stuff that we consume today. So McDonald's, fast food kind of entertainment, and then when a home cooked meal shows up, you're not ready for it.

Andy Erwin 42:05
Yeah, yeah, exactly. I mean, if you're used to McDonald's, when, when there's, you know, broccoli on your plate, you kind of roll your eyes at first, even though that's really what your body needs. And so it's like, how do we dress that up in a way that makes it non threatening, but then allows still allow something of substance? And I think that, and I love hearing you say that? Because I think the audience that I value the most out of any audience. I mean, absolutely, we serve a Christian audience that loves stories of faith. And I don't, I don't, I don't, I don't apologize for that. But the audience that I valued their opinion the most, is the audience that we call the benevolent skeptic. The Benevolent skeptic doesn't have anything against faith, there's nothing that they feel negative towards it, but it's also not something they naturally consume. And when you can kind of catch them off guard, and earn the right to be heard, and leave them with something to chew on, and the things that they didn't expect. You know, it leaves them with something that maybe not a part of their natural daily diet. And I think it's really cool. When somebody from that audience, you know, we did another we did a, we did another film last year at the same time, which I don't know why we did that we're just a glutton for punishment. Well, we did a, we did a documentary called The Jesus music, which is about the history of Christian music. And it was one that was just a passion project. There's a love letter to a lot of our friends. And there was a there was a critic that I've since become really good friends with on through Instagram, but I didn't know him at this point. But he wrote he his critique of the film, and he said, he said, I'm a self professed, you know, you know, agnostic, borderline atheist. And he said, This is not my normal thing, but I expected one thing and I came in realize, you know, I feel like somehow the ER was tricked me and changed some of the neural pathways to my brain. And he said, I'm kind of pissed about it. And, and, no, it's like, it's like that dog on it. You let me in. And I think that that sacred ground because I'm not there to try to de force mean anything to anybody. I'm not there to try to create controversy. I'm just there to plant a seed of hope. I think people desperately crave right now,

Alex Ferrari 44:21
Right in America, dog American underdog is not is not preachy at all? No, it is so subtle. It is such a subtle message. But the message in there that rings the most to me is the story of the underdog, which everyone can, everyone can feel the story of hope, the story of love the story of a family. Those are the things that that ring the most out of that movie to me, and everyone can really connect with that. And then of course, you throw in American football, then you're ready to rock and roll.

Andy Erwin 44:54
Right! It was it was really cool because in that universal overlay, I think good filmmaker, influences The most in our career that we kind of aspire to is Frank Capra, Frank Capra. Frank that just that old school, you know, Sicilian optimistic immigrant kind of perspective in that world war two generation that blatantly peddled hope. And people a lot of times didn't know how to take it at first, you know, it's a wonderful I couldn't find its audience until years after the release. But he was just so good at it. And that's something I think in cinema we've lost that. For whatever reason, the backlash, backlash that we don't have the antihero, there's nothing wrong. The antihero, you know, I love the Godfather is one of my top 10 films I love. But there's become so much of that it's become so saturated in this fatalistic kind of perspective, that I think as a, as a industry, we've forgotten how to hope. Yeah. And so for us, I think the thing that we peddle without apologizing is a rush of hope. And it's a feeling that people don't know that they need, but then when they experience it, they walk away, they're like, I can't help but smile, and believe in something better. And, you know, for me, a lot of that hope comes from stories of faith, but there's something universally related to believing, you know, on top of that, that I think, is something for everyone, regardless of where they come from. That's what we want.

Alex Ferrari 46:23
Now, I'm gonna ask a couple questions asked by guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Andy Erwin 46:28
You know, I think your individuality your uniqueness is your brand. You know, I think a lot of times people come in, and I want to be like, you know, one size fits all to this. And I just want to be vanilla and kind of find I'll do anything. But I think it's your uniqueness that will make you stick out, I think that uniqueness will also present the biggest obstacles up front, because people want will want to put you in a box and say, Well, you need to fit over here, you just fit over there. Like I'm neither and and continue to lean into your uniqueness and find stories that display that at full volume, that allow there to be time for other people of like minded taste, to kind of center around your brand. And that will be you know, where you find your breakout. Like for years, David Russell struggled with finding out like, what's my brand, and he would have all that frustration, until he really leaned into the idea of my brand is a dysfunctional family. That's what I know. And so then he does stories like the fighter and Silver Linings Playbook enjoy. And those are all about dysfunctional families and their dish charming sense of the word. And that's where his brand really popped out. So I just think for me, my brand was about hope and about faith. And and that's what we leaned into and didn't refuse to be categorized in one side or the other. And, and then eventually the brand comes out of that. So that's what I would say. My biggest advice is embrace your individuality.

Alex Ferrari 47:57
And last question three of your favorite films of all time.

Andy Erwin 48:00
Oh, man, that's, that's that's a tough one. I love en. Casa Blanca is probably my number one. I think particularly because they hadn't written into the movie when they started filming it. And it just discovered it along the way. It's perfect. It's so perfect. I would say that you know, it's wonderful. Life is number two. I love Frank Capra. And, and then I would say I love a movie that really caught me off guard when I watched it was Ron Howard Cinderella Man, I absolutely adored that movie. That was so good. For you, it'd be number number four and then number six through 10 would be Spielberg films.

Alex Ferrari 48:43
It just all just just let's just list them off. And where can people and where can people see American underdog?

Andy Erwin 48:51
Yeah, it's out everywhere now digitally on Blu ray everywhere, wherever things are sold. And it's it's doing really well and iTunes is number three on iTunes right now. So check it out.

Alex Ferrari 49:02
Brother Andy, I appreciate you coming on the show man. Congrats on all your success and continued success to you my friend.

Andy Erwin 49:08
Thoroughly enjoyed the interview my friend!


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BPS 189: I Sold My Eggs To Finance My Feature Film With Sonja O’Hara

Today on the show we have writer, actor and director Sonja O’Hara. You might recognize here from my feature film On the Corner of Ego and Desire where she played an insane director at Sundance.

Sonja O’Hara is an Emmy-nominated queer writer, director and actor represented by WME and Management 360. She was chosen as one of the “10 Filmmakers To Watch” by Independent Magazine, selected by a jury from MovieMaker Magazine, the Sundance Institute and Austin Film Festival. (Past recipients include Barry Jenkins of MOONLIGHT.)

Sonja just directed two back to back features which are currently completing post-production: MID-CENTURY, a provocative thriller starring Stephan Lang (DON’T BREATHE) and two time Academy Award® nominee Bruce Dern, produced by Jeremy Walton (THE INVENTOR with Marion Cotillard), and ROOT LETTER, an adaptation of the popular Japanese PlayStation game, written by Tribeca Film Festival Narrative Prize winner David Ebeltoft and starring Danny Ramirez of THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER.

Sonja also created and directed the Webby award winning series DOOMSDAY which was nominated for the 2021 Daytime Emmy Awards. For DOOMSDAY, she was awarded the “Best Director” prize out of 4000 submissions at The New York Television Festival. Sonja sold her original series ASTRAL to Adaptive Studios.

I wanted to have her on the show to discuss not only her directing career but also wanted to discuss her remarkable story on how she financed DOOMSDAY…she sold her eggs! This is easily the most unique film financing method I’d ever heard of. She made a film about her experience called Ovum.

An offbeat young actress who will do anything for a part, ends up giving up a part of herself when her method acting exercise goes too far and she ends up selling her eggs.

Enjoy my conversation with the remarkable filmmaker Sonja O’Hara.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show Sonja O'Hara, how're you doing Sonja?

Sonja O'Hara 0:15
I'm good, thank you so much for having me Alex. I'm excited to be here.

Alex Ferrari 0:18
Oh my god, I'm so excited to have you on the show people, people from the tribe might recognize you, as the star of my last feature film on the corner of ego and desire we have. I mean, you've you've, I'm not gonna say you've turned into Julia. Because a little bit because you're not directing a whole hell of a lot. But, but you're definitely not the crazy direct that you played in the show.

Sonja O'Hara 0:49
An extreme version of like, you know, the worst way that I could ever become, but

Alex Ferrari 0:53
No, no it was. So let's talk a little bit about just for everyone listening, how we met, and how we originally work together, and then kind of how that and we'll, we'll go. And that takes us to certain direction. So how did we originally meet and how do we work together?

Sonja O'Hara 1:09
Well, I had a mutual friend, I filmmaker named lava, Lucia. And Rob had told me that he was going to do this crazy experiment, where he went to Sundance to, uh, he was going to go to Sundance to act in a mumble core film, by this dude who's a director and also a noted podcast host. And I started, like, doing all my research. And I was like, This guy's real. Like, he has a movie on Hulu right now that I was like, checking out. And I was like, wow, I'd kill to do that movie. And he's like, you know, I think they might still be casting. And then I reached out to you. And sort of in fatica, Lee was like, I am this character, I can do this. And we had a phone call. And next thing I know, I'm being flown to Park City, Utah. I had never been there. I'd never been to Sundance, I wanted to go to Sundance, and I was 14 years old and Nova Scotia. And suddenly, I'm like, living right on Main Street, shooting a movie, like, like 24 hours a day, for the week of this thing. And it felt completely surreal. Like I never it was unlike anything that had ever happened to me.

Alex Ferrari 2:12
It was so funny. Because all three of you all the main characters, you Robin and Randy, all of you had never been to Sundance. So when you guys like I took you through I was your guide through Sundance, because I've been there so many times. All your reactions. Yes, you were acting fantastically but, but most of it was just like, oh my god,

Sonja O'Hara 2:31
I couldn't believe it. I was just like, the whole time. It was just you know, you've seen so much like footage, like behind the scenes stuff of these like Sundance, like gifting suites and the Sundance like you had like all these places, and we're like literally knocking on doors. And we're like in the Sundance lobby lobby, like filming, like, filming.

Alex Ferrari 2:51
And I would be getting upset. And I would be getting upset for people getting in my shot. I'm like, Austin, please like Alex, we're not supposed to be I'm like, I don't care. I'm a director Get out of my shot.

Sonja O'Hara 3:03
Yes, that was probably one of my favorite filming experiences ever.

Alex Ferrari 3:07
I mean, it was such a and I think that's how I sold it to you too. I sold it to all of you like, Hey, I don't know what's gonna come out of this. But at least you will have an amazing story in 30 years that you'll go. There's this one time I shot a movie at Sundance. And this is how it went down. At that minimum, you would have that? And and we did. And we definitely that definitely a story there.

Sonja O'Hara 3:27
Well I was a little scared at first, because you were like, you know, we're going to be a bit disruptive. And we're going to go in there and people won't know if it's real or not. And I was like, oh my god, I'm about to be a speaker at South by Southwest. Like, what if people think I'm obnoxious, like my character, and then you just forget all about your acting. And you know, it ended up just being a joy. But I was nervous.

Alex Ferrari 3:48
Yeah, I appreciate you thinking that this was as big as the Avengers than now everybody wouldn't be typecast as the crazy director. But not as many people have seen the film. But so, but it was really great. And we were so lucky because my producer, my co producer on the project, Adam had this ridiculous, ridiculous sweet apartment on Main Street. And I still remember we built we filmed you guys coming in. And the looks on your faces. You were just like, What is going on? It was insane.

Sonja O'Hara 4:23
You guys held that party there every year. And suddenly like everyone meeting at Sundance, I'm like, You should come to this party. Like I'm not telling them that it's going to be filmed and part of the movie I just think the network Hello Agents come to this party.

Alex Ferrari 4:36
Which brings me to another which brings me to another lovely side story to our adventures at Sundance on the corner of ego desire. Is that you know you were hustling hard from the moment you got there at the party. We have recorded conversations with you. Because at party if everyone doesn't see the movie There's a big Sundance party there. And basically, it's a live party. And you guys are just kind of thrown in there. And we're just kind of like ad libbing and having a good time. Yeah. But you guys were all miked. So I so while we were setting up a shot, you are literally networking with somebody, and you're like, Oh, the call me back on set, I gotta go. But here's my card. I'll talk to you a little bit. And I was just like, I heard that in post. I'm like, this girl, man. Oh, my God.

Sonja O'Hara 5:26
I know, I forgot. Sometimes I even know the love on me. And I would like meet a casting director or something else is like, absolutely choosing. And it was.

Alex Ferrari 5:35
So one thing. And one of those nights I think it was the night is Did you see the room the room with us, or you didn't see the room with us?

Sonja O'Hara 5:42
No the crew decided to watch the room, I snuck off to go to the APA agency party, because I had seen in variety, a list of parties that were happening for the agencies, and I knew no one that was going, and I just went off and snuck into the party. And mingling that night, I met an entertainment lawyer who ended up making a bunch of introduced introductions to the big agencies and helped me get with my agent all because I went that night. And I've always thought that, like, if I had stayed in and watch this movie, maybe my career never would have started at all. So very crazy thing, like just how it was serendipity you know?

Alex Ferrari 6:23
It was, well, if you would have never done the movie, you would have never had all of these opportunities. So it's it's so interesting, because, you know, we weren't paying the millions yet for our cast at the time of making that movie. So you were just like, I'm just gonna go on this adventure. I'm gonna just do my thing. But when you were there, you figured out I gotta, I gotta hustle this and I got a network and I got to try to do as much as I can. But it's such a great example of hustle. Because I mean, seriously, I, I was, I mean, hustle, respects, hustle. And you were you definitely there. So you guys, I yeah, I know, you guys want to sit down and like, you know, geek out over the room. And that's great. But I'm going to go sneak into the APA bar party. And all of a sudden, you got your agent there. And then some of the guests that I was recording, you you would connect with you like I remember like, I remember one guest specifically, who will remain nameless, got up from the chair after I got done interviewing him. And you bolted.

Sonja O'Hara 7:21
Send it on,

Alex Ferrari 7:22
Like this poor man, you were just like a hawk, like offer on fresh meat. You jumped in, you're like, Hi, I'm Sonia. Here's my card. And you eventually connected with that, that guy and he's been able to work with them. It's just really, it's really interesting to see how that all worked out. And then as the movie, you know, got made and everything I kept seeing on Facebook, you know, on social media, how you've been doing stuff. And I was like, Well, I mean, she's directing now. And she's like, I know you were a director prior to getting to ego and desire.

Sonja O'Hara 7:55
But before them I had been doing indie projects on my own right, like I had been doing self funded micro budget projects. And one of them ended up getting enough traction that I was like on the festival circuit with it, and getting to do some, you know, speaking as a panelist to talk about, like breaking out from just being an actor and as a multi hyphenate to like, you know, getting selling like a couple indie shows, but I wasn't yet being hired and offered scripts to direct things as a director for hire. And here I am playing this like pretentious, like art film director. He's like taking the world by storm. And like, next thing I know, after I do your movie, I'm like, I just moved, I hadn't even moved to LA yet at that period, because I flew in from New York to do the movie in Park City with you. And then I moved to LA right after that. And then I'm pitching on all of these director for hire jobs. And like saying some of the same things that we have in the movie. And like, in the movie, like even when I'm like, Oh, this is like the shape of water meets transformers. Like I'm still like having to like see these ridiculous comps. And pick the people are taking me seriously and giving me money to make the movies. I'm like this is very, very surreal.

Alex Ferrari 9:10
So that character would everyone if everyone listening while it goes and watches it, which is available everywhere on Amazon and all sorts of places. You watch it for free. But you know, you were an extreme version of directors. But at the end of the day afterwards, I've had a lot of filmmakers come up to me and even, you know, high end professionals in the business who have watched the film. They're like, Yeah, I know her. Yeah, I know that character. I know. I've spoken to that director. I've spoken to that filmmaker a million times. And I'm like, I thought we were really off the off the reservation. Personally. No, no, no, we're pretty close to the reservation apparently.

Sonja O'Hara 9:48
Because I think people like that care so deeply and that pretentiousness comes from insecurity and you don't yet have an outlet to prove your ability and you're just so extra and like I'm not really like a type a nerdy person anyway. And hopefully it doesn't manifest in me being a psycho, but I definitely have been, like, over amped about things. So, you know,

Alex Ferrari 10:07
No, you weren't you were built to play that role. There's no question about it. Now, you but you start off as an actor. So how and why did you want to get into this insanity?

Sonja O'Hara 10:18
I mean, I have been acting since I was a kid in Nova Scotia, like when I was growing up, I would see Elliot page at auditions. And I remember when when, when the movie hard candy went to Sundance, like my goal has been Sundance longer than I could ever remember. And at some point, I had, you know, moved from Nova Scotia to New York to the acting school. And then I moved to Los Angeles at 20 years old. I was fade down, always personal assistant, which was such a trip.

Alex Ferrari 10:47
Ohh my god the stories, the stories,

Sonja O'Hara 10:49
Stories, I know and she was had this production company, and she was doing an adaptation of the plane masterclass where she was going to be playing Maria Callas. And I just saw and she gave me the advice that if you wanted to have any sort of autonomy as an actress, you had to produce your own things. So when I went back to New York, and started studying screenwriting, and when I made my first feature at 25, my goal was really just to launch myself as an actor, and then you just fall in love with making movies. And in the process of that I hired a really lovely director for that feature, but I didn't bring that person on until I had already cast the project and rehearse the project and like done and blocked it. And, you know, was shortlisting it. And I became a director in the process of making that first movie ovum. And then you just like above, and like I thought, you know, I made like a budget, you know, a $17,000 micro budget feature, which is still bigger in budget than what you did Ego and Desire.

Alex Ferrari 11:44
Much, much bigger, much, much bigger.

Sonja O'Hara 11:48
I had the bug and I just couldn't stop making things. But I still, you know, acting was my first priority. And I still act and I still love it. But now, the like, the feeling of fulfillment I get from making movies and being part of every part of the creative process is unlike anything else like me, you know how it is?

Alex Ferrari 12:05
Yeah. No, I have to ask you, though, was, and I might be mixing the plot with the reality. Did you sell your eggs to produce that movie?

Sonja O'Hara 12:15
Yes. And made and was like writing about the process of selling my eggs to fund my very meta while I was actually selling my eggs at this, like, you know, these egg donor clinics in New York where they were looking for designer eggs, and they're like, she looked more like Amy Adams or Emma Stone. Okay, check this box. This is how we're going to pitch her to potential like, you know, people who wanted like Norwegian eggs, and then half Norwegian. And it became like a very surreal experience. And I felt like I was auditioning, just like, I'd go to a cattle call in New York. And it was the same as being at like an egg casting. And then I wrote about that and then funded the movie, and made like, $100,000 selling my eggs and dudes get like, you know, 75 bucks in the candy bar. Women can make real money. So I made multiple projects with the egg money.

Alex Ferrari 13:06
You know what? So so listen, I've heard I've heard everything. I've literally heard every which way to raise money for a movie. I've heard it either through my show, or through people I know or just watching the industry. I've never heard of this. This is the first time I've ever heard on you. Film director selling her eggs and producing multiple projects with her egg money.

Sonja O'Hara 13:32
Oh, yeah, egg money was really like the golden goose for

Alex Ferrari 13:36
No, no pun intended.

Sonja O'Hara 13:40
One day, you know, there will be like 18 year old egg babies that see a billboard for one of my movies. No, like, is that mommy? Like I know what's gonna happen. But

Alex Ferrari 13:50
You know, talk talk about commitment. I mean, I don't know how many how many dudes out there would sell their their eggs.

Sonja O'Hara 14:00
There was a day that I had to go from my egg surgery for my first round of egg donation to acting in a film where I had to go through an exorcism in a field and you're supposed to be like on bedrest. And I'm like, launching around like lying in a field and getting shot. And like, it was really they were like, you should, you know, like, be, you know, in bed for like three days. And I was like, I gotta act like this is why I'm doing it so

Alex Ferrari 14:24
The thing, the thing I love about you is your tenacity. You you have a tenacity, you have an energy, that energy that you brought to Julia in my movie. There is there is parts of Julia with you within you. There's no There's no question. Yes, the extreme versions are funny and everything like that. But this, you know, wasn't a stretch. Like I didn't know that when I cast you about all of this. I'm like, oh, you should direct him and stuff. But but as I started working with you and I started seeing your pride now, over the last few years after watching, you grow as a filmmaker and as an artist. I'm like hurt, you are so tenacious, which is such a lesson for everyone listening is like, I'm sure you had a billion nose. It's still good and still getting.

Sonja O'Hara 15:09
Yes. And I just like everyone goes on social media, we share the highlight reel of what we're doing. But we get nose constantly. We get notes from festivals, we get those for offers for movies, I audition for big things that go to stars all the time. No is such a standard, but it stopped even factoring into my confidence. Like I don't even care about the news. Like I don't even ruin my day anymore. Like I used to be really sad if I lose out in the role. Now. It's like, I close those emails. And it's like, one second later, it doesn't even like stay in my psyche. Like I'm now actually past projection. I wish I could say that was like that in the dating world. But when it comes to work.

Alex Ferrari 15:46
Oh, the heart is what the heart is. There's no question. Now, you did get a chance to work as an actor on some pretty big sets. In network, what were some of the biggest lessons that you pull from working on those big sets, you know, that you have brought in to your own directing.

Sonja O'Hara 16:05
I mean, I think that there were many directors that don't really talk to actors on set and are so much more focused on working with their DP. And actors just sort of feel like moving crops. And there were many times that I just felt like I'm seeking some sort of validation that I'm trying to find, like one morning to make bold choices or something that my choices are landing. And I felt like a lot of the time, people just didn't really care. Like you were just like a moving prop to many filmmakers, not the great ones, obviously. And I knew that I wanted to take care of everyone on my set as a director, and I don't care if you're a day player, if you have one line, if you're a featured background, like I wanted everyone to feel like they were part of it as a collaboration. Because when I feel safe and celebrated, I feel like as an actor, I can make bold choices. And when I feel ignored, I feel small. And then I'm more likely to you know, not do anything that's especially spontaneous. Right?

Alex Ferrari 17:00
Right. Because you're not feeling I always tell people, like actors want to feel safe. And they want they want a safe environment. So I just I love to hear your perspective on and I don't mean to keep going back to ego and desire, but it is our experience together working as, as an actor and the director. You know, that was a very intense and wild experience. I just met you that day. I had never physically met you any of the cast was almost Skype.

Sonja O'Hara 17:28
One zoom. Yeah, exactly.

Alex Ferrari 17:30
It was just like, Yeah, we did a zoom. And that was it. So then, when we met, you had to figure me out pretty quickly.

Sonja O'Hara 17:38
Yes, and you are so good at fostering a sense of you are warm and kind. And the way that you are on your podcast is exactly how you are in person. So like I felt safe to make choices and to fall on my face, and like, be ridiculous. And you'd given me a script, none of the beats that we wanted. But you were so open to playing and taking like chances with things. And that just makes you feel emboldened to make choices and have a real performance. Like, I'm often afraid of directors. And I think many actors are that way too. And that just doesn't give people the you know, it doesn't make people feel ready to like, take on the world if they're, like, you know, afraid to make choices,

Alex Ferrari 18:18
Right! Absolutely. Because if you if you don't feel safe, then you're not going to not only give your biggest you're not going to give your all but you're also some actors might act out, some actors will be in a protective mode and say, Hey, I'm just going to take care of me because obviously, you're not going to take care of me. So I'm gonna just, I'm gonna just do me not listen to you. And then this is where problems occur because the director did not foster that environment of like, you are in a safe space. No one's gonna hurt you here. No one's gonna judge you here. Let's try let's play because that whole movie was trying and playing. We were all on an adventure. Like, I literally got on the plane and didn't know if I had a movie. Like you asked me like, Do you have something? I'm like, I think so. Like I don't know if I'm gonna make my 73 minute deadline than I wanted to make over 70 Like I think 70 over 70 minutes. I think Mark do plus one said if it's over 70 minutes, it's a feature. So I'm like I just need to make enough I need to shoot enough to get over. But we had no time to look at footage. Like I just saw glance by in like, I bring you over I'm like here this is a cool shot we got or here's Mormons, but we had no time we were running we were shooting we were like constantly on Oh that one night. By the way. I have to I have to I have to call you out on the one night that we shot on Main Street excuse me in the morning we woke up at the crack of dawn to go shoot the movie poster shot that whole sequence the snow was falling the lights do they remember the whole lights were all dimmed up on Main Street?

Sonja O'Hara 19:52
Like like it looked like we were on this like beautiful studio law right there would be no cars going down Main Street. We had to ourselves, I was able to stand in the middle of the snow on the road and just look out at like the Egyptian Theatre and all like genuine awestruck.

Alex Ferrari 20:07
It was it was, but you unfortunately made the one choice. I know you regret it, which was the pant choice that you made at the beginning of the movie.

Sonja O'Hara 20:15
Yeah. I thought I wanted to look like happen hot and we're talking leather pants and heels on like icy like total rookie move because like I listened your podcast was like, were double warm socks, like wear flat shoes. Bundle up, and I'm in these like, stylish freaking leather pants that I was like, Oh, great. And I was freezing. And I'm like shivering and dying. But that she would be she would wear that she would wear leather pants. So I stand by your choice. Voice.

Alex Ferrari 20:45
But the thing was, the thing was beautiful, too is you never ever complained. None of you did. No one complained. I think the only complaint I heard was when we were at the party and we were shooting outside. And the boys didn't have their shirts on. I mean that their jackets on they had their shirts on. And I just pulled them out there. And for a normal conversation that takes four or five minutes, you might be able to pull it off with maybe just a sweater. But we were out there for an hour.

Sonja O'Hara 21:11
I had a major confrontation scene.

Alex Ferrari 21:15
I had a parka. You had your jacket on, like

Sonja O'Hara 21:18
And they were just shivering. And they were such good sports about it. I could see they were freezing. Like you can see their breath like they're using it. But like poor Randy is like, you know, it was it was

Alex Ferrari 21:29
It was insane. Now, you got an opportunity, right? Shortly after we work together to direct your first feature as work for hire because of all these things. By the way, I'm still waiting for my residual checks. But we'll talk about that. No, I'm joking. I'm joking. But what was it like for you walking on the set for the first time on that kind of project? That's not your project that you're a work for hire? What's that feeling like?

Sonja O'Hara 22:00
It was pretty intimidating. I was lucky in that I got to bring my long term DP from Brooklyn, I got to fly him to Louisiana. And we had made so many projects on shoestring budgets that we have sort of an intuitive way of how we work. So but it was still hard to convey this sort of small way of working to suddenly being on a big set. Like they he's such an indie DP that he wanted to be camera operating. And they were like, What do you mean, you're the cinematographer, like, we're going to give you a team. And he's like fighting to operate his own camera. And I am fighting to hire actors that I know and trust that will give me great performances. And they're like, we have the money for some names. And you're like, okay, and you're just sort of like expanding. Like, there's so many times that I don't, I didn't have the sets to be able to do these epic, beautiful wives. And I'm having you do these tight, claustrophobic shots. And suddenly, you know, you're on a real set with real production designers and things that I just didn't have access before. To, and it sort of just expands, you know, you're able to do things you were never able to do before. And that was great. There were some ages and problems where I felt like they were older local crew members that I look like I'm like freaking 19 years old half the time. And like I'm on set and I always directed like a floral dress. And I have like no makeup and I'm like this like happy like and I don't seem like the typical director like a man with authority, the whole space.

Alex Ferrari 23:24
Where's your monocle? You didn't have a monocle. I mean nothing.

Sonja O'Hara 23:27
And like, there was one day that I showed up with like, no makeup hair in a ponytail, and like a T shirt and sneakers and someone thought I was a PA on my own set where I was a director, you know, and it's like, you can't take any of it. Like I had no ego about it. But for the first week, I felt like judgment inside i from these like really seasoned crew, like half of them had just come off during the whole season Queen Sugar, and then they're like on my movie. And it's my first time with like a real crew and these numbers of people. And but by the second week, they got what I was doing, you know, and then I'm still trying to do little indie filmmaker things. Like I'm trying to get my like Terrence Malick like shot at Magic Hour. And we're like about to lose the sun. And all the departments are like last looks last looks. And the script is like this isn't in the script. And you're like, Oh, God, I just want to be able to be creative and get this shot of my own journey on a swing, as you know, that just get lost in translation to make bigger films.

Alex Ferrari 24:23
So so that first week when you're done because I was gonna ask you that because like I was I was at one time I know it's hard to believe the young guy on set. I one point I was always the young person in the room, you are still the young person in the room. But one day soon, you will not you will not be the youngest person in the room. But I remember walking on sets, I was directing commercials and and I would have this DP or I would have this production designer out of this first ad who'd been around for 1000 years. And they look at this who's this kid and they start trying to you know, puff up their chest and like Now you really don't know what you're talking about kid and that there was no respect there. How did you deal with that as a first time, not a first time filmmaker, but a first time filmmaker this scenario,

Sonja O'Hara 25:10
I mean, I luckily had producers that believed in me that I had come in and beat now more, more, like, you know, filmmakers that had far more resumes than me, because I've responded to the certain script. And I knew an exact vision of how I would do it. And I impress them in the light phase when I was like making mood boards and cutting together sizzles and doing all these things to get this job. So they knew that I had a vision, and I was passionate, and the actors understood it. And because I'm an actor, first I speak actor, and there's no person on that set, that's not going to feel like I care about their performance. So me and the actors are always good. But there is some issue sometimes with crew members that like, often it's the first ad, they've done a million movies, often they went to AFI, they like are really qualified. And they see me as this like young person who maybe has gotten the job because of optics right now, or in a post me two world. And it's proving that Sure, absolutely. Women are getting jobs. But I also have a voice and a vision. And I can do this, and I'm not going to do it the way someone else would. And I might make mistakes, but I'm going to deliver a movie with heart that's good and has a unique point of view. But I might just do it in my own way. And trying to act like other directors is not going to be the way that I accomplish that. So I learned I the first while I was trying to be like every other director on set. And now I throw that out. And I'm the free spirited little happy director. And I know that I'm not like everyone else, but my way works, too. It's just a different way.

Alex Ferrari 26:38
So you know, I've had, I've had many female directors on set, I'm actually gonna set on the show, because I always love to hear their point of view and their experience, because it's an experience that I just don't understand. Because I'm not a woman. And I had to deal with my own things, you know, being a Latino filmmaker coming up. And there's, there was a whole, there was a whole thing that I had to deal with coming up as a commercial director. But as a female director, I have to imagine that, you know, you got not only ageism, but just guys were just like, Who is this chick? And how is how dare she direct? And it couldn't be

Sonja O'Hara 27:16
Film at me, you know, they're trying to, like, catch me?

Alex Ferrari 27:20
Or like, have you, you know, let's do this scene, you know, like that scene that really did on Blade Runner. And you're like

Sonja O'Hara 27:28
I've started to just own what I know. And what I don't know. Because I think that if somebody catches somebody posturing and pretending they know something that they don't, that's more of a way to lose them. And I might have different references than they do, right. And I might be talking about shots on euphoria. And they might be talking about Rashomon. But that's okay. You know, we can find different ways that there's like, a different way to meet in the middle and still make great movies.

Alex Ferrari 27:51
But, but as far as I mean, because you have the pressure of being a director, you know, on your first big set, and then you've got also these situations, and you you actually very eloquently said it, you know, they might, because of optics, you know, oh, that's why she got this job. You know, as a creative, do you have enough stress, just doing the job, let alone with all this other stuff? Is there a way? Is there any tips that you can give other, you know, female directors or other young directors who have to deal with things that might, you know, might not affect other other directors of different ages? Or races or so on?

Sonja O'Hara 28:27
Yeah, I mean, I think that a lot of the time, the things that people are saying when they're upset, it's more that they wish they have that opportunity. It's not really about you and your work situation about where they are at that moment. Like largely, things aren't personal. And largely, people don't really care about you the other person, right? They're just like, endowing the situation with all the other people that they've met that maybe weren't deserving and maybe that person who's your first ad your second ad, is actually a killer filmmaker, and I wish that they would get these opportunities to but what I say is like, I didn't just get handed a job because of being a nepotism hire, right? Like I'm from no money in Nova Scotia, Canada, like I my mother remortgage your house to send me to acting school in this country, right? Like, I'm not from any of it. And I just made micro budget things for a long time because I loved movies, not so somebody would hand me, you know, a movie, like I didn't have any horse like aspirations. I just like to make good weird creative work. And it's just like finding those like, like minded weirdos who want to hire me to do it. So I largely Don't let these haters on set, you know, hurt me will get me down. And often they become my friends like the very people that doubt me the most, I often learn a ton from them because I don't have an ego about it. And there's so much like I have to learn, right? I'm a good filmmaker, but there's so much more I can learn. And I've just become like kind of Zen of like, it's okay, I'm gonna make a good movie. We're all in this together. But you'll know my name. My attitude about it.

Alex Ferrari 29:57
I always I always, you know for me three I always I've told this story on the show before, but I think it's it's a story that do needs to be repeated. I was on a show once that was, I was producing the show the whole series, I was the director. And we were under a lot of stress. We didn't have a lot of budget. But you know, we were able to shoot this whole show. And I had this older first lady who didn't know who I was had no, I'm not that I am anybody but understood, didn't do enough research to know that this is someone who's been directing for 25 years at the point that I did it. So I thought I was you know, who's this person who's this guy, and was giving me crap on day one. And I had to pull him aside and I said, Hey, man, look, I've been doing this for a long time. And I didn't want to pull them aside. Sometimes you got to show teeth. But I never showed teeth publicly. Because that's disrespectful was, yeah, always quietly, Hey, can I talk to you for a second? I'm like, Hey, man, I've been doing this for a long time. I don't appreciate the way you're treating me. And I've done this so much that between me and my DP, I don't need you. And I can, I don't need a first ad on this gig. I can do this by myself. So if you don't act, right, you're fired. And from that moment on biggest cheerleader he was? Yes, sir. No, Sir Howard, because he finally realized, oh, okay, this guy understand. And he was a frustrated director. And that's okay. It had nothing to do.

Sonja O'Hara 31:23
And they tried to make other people on your crew think poorly of you, because of their bad attitude. And I definitely thought things were, the crew has listened to my DP who's a man instead of me. And we're like, laying down dolly tracks for something that I was dead hadn't approved. And there are times that I have to just be okay being like, that's not what we're doing. And

Alex Ferrari 31:43
So children, children come back to the table. What we're doing,

Sonja O'Hara 31:48
When people called me miss, oh, like, I Miss Frizzle, from the little like, you know, on set, because like I do, I'll be like a really nice kindergarten teacher. But when people are condescending, I'm like, that's not how we're doing it. And then we like, you know, get back to what I meant to do.

Alex Ferrari 32:05
And that's a, that's a great way, a non abrasive way of doing it. And it's in people, it means you got to be pretty heartless and not react to that in a good positive way. And there's only so much that you can take before you you just go, Okay, I'm fine.

Sonja O'Hara 32:20
And you have to make your day and like there were times that it becomes bigger than me and people are getting in the way of that I'm like, Okay, we literally have to, and right now I'm only having to shoot maximum, maybe five pages a day. And you've told me stories about how many bajillion pages that you're doing. And I have such respect for that. But, you know, I'm like, I have to make my day I can't go over budget. And there's like a pressure there that's bigger than me and like my sentiments towards, like making art in a beautiful collective.

Alex Ferrari 32:46
It's, it's a really fascinating conversation. It really is. Yeah, and like that one show, by the way, we shot 96 pages in four days. And that's instant. And it was with Austin, my good buddy and DP, who's the best and he we were able to just knock it out. But it was just so funny, because I just had to run the first idea of like, dude, I'm literally paying you like, it's my production company producing this

Sonja O'Hara 33:14
All the time in LA where I go to a party. And people imagine that I'm just an actress, or I'm somebody's girlfriend. And it's like a bunch of crew guys that I could hire that I'm like crewing up for my next movie, right? And it's deep. He's talking down to me and acting like I don't know anything about cameras or lenses. And they're talking about like, glass and wood, all this stuff. And they just think that I don't know. And I might remain silent. But I'm like, You're not you could have had a job. And you just took yourself out of the running for this. Because you're being sexist,

Alex Ferrari 33:43
Right! And never just never judge a book by its cover. Never judge a book by it's just, it's old mentality. It's an old mentality. And that's how like, you know, when I was a younger filmmaker, they did that to me, they just would like, you know, they would like oh, this is a PA. I'm like, Nah, dude, I'm the director of the show.

Sonja O'Hara 34:03
Yeah, but then they get hard. And they see that I'm with a mega agency. And then there's like this quick about face and how they treat me. But it's, you know, you want to work with your friends. You want to work with like, cool down to earth, people that are going to be lovely when you're doing a 14 hour day, right? If you have an attitude, it's just not going to work, you know.

Alex Ferrari 34:20
Now on that first project or either of the two features that you've finished. There's always that day that we all all directors have, that the whole world coming down, crashing down around you. What was that day for you? And how did you overcome that obstacle?

Sonja O'Hara 34:39
Yeah, I had an actor on a project that had a really strong emotional response to he just wanted more coverage. And he wanted us to spend more time on a scene and the show must go on and I'd gotten what I needed. And there was an actor who just had a full breakdown, and was threatening to like, call their agents and more We're talking like history, Onyx. And like blaming everyone and not seeing logic. And it's going to cost our day like the actor was like refusing to do a stunt. And we had like all these things set up. And there were times that I think that so much of directing is just people skills, and be able to step up and be a leader and be like a freaking, like, I just have to like spin things and be kind and support. Because like, I'm knowing that I have to make my day I'm against the clock, I'm being told by the producers that I have to be able to get this particular actor to like, do his thing. And I'm just having to like hold hands and stroking egos, and all this stuff that I wonder if I'd have to do if I were a man, to be honest. But I got my I thought the person around, I like convince them. And on another movie, too, I had an actor who didn't have enough time was kind of a star who didn't have enough time for hair and makeup. And she just wanted to like blow our day, because she had the power to do so. And each time it's sort of like me getting like having an out of body experience and being like, Okay, I have to convince people to do the thing that I need for the to get the movie through it. And I just like, I don't know, it's like, my blood pressure is through the roof. But I'm just looking this actor in the eye, and like holding their hand and saying we can do this and convincing them to come to set. And it's just, I've had a number of those things.

Alex Ferrari 36:20
So it's interesting. I mean, I doubt that Ridley Scott was directing either of those projects that they would have been this issue,

Sonja O'Hara 36:25
They wouldn't have it would not have been. Yes. And then later, these actors become my biggest ally on social media and in the media, and talk about supporting female directors. And I always think it's interesting, because the reality isn't always that.

Alex Ferrari 36:38
Yeah, it's interesting, because you have to deal with things that I doubt that that that first direct that first actor who lost his his crap. Um, you know, I don't think he would have done it with someone like myself.

Sonja O'Hara 36:51
No, he wouldn't have he absolutely. He's a gifted actor. And like, you know, it's fine. And I forgive but

Alex Ferrari 36:58
No, no, no, but yeah, it's completely 100%. But it's, but it's great training for a director, because I've had that I've had, I've had actors who either weren't doing their job. And that all comes from insecurity, that guys, that was all insecurity and fear, and just.

Sonja O'Hara 37:14
And I have to say that now that the bigger actors like the marquee names, I've largely had wonderful experience, yes, have any sort of a need to do it, they want to have a smooth day, they want to make this a great cameo or whatever else. And they're lovely. And sometimes I do see like, it takes like a day for them to want to take my specific direction. Like before them, I see them sort of watching out for themselves. And they're worried that if they take a direction from an early career director, and it makes them look bad, they're the one that's going to suffer. And it could affect maybe their rate on the next movie, but they watch me direct other actors. And within a day or two, I've won them over. And then we're working together beautifully. And in tandem, you know? So it's just, it's, you know, and I think the more movies I do, you're just going to Command more respect, you know, ultimately, and I just worked with the beautiful Bruce Dern on the movie was the most supportive, wonderful human ever, like telling me stories of like, working with Hitchcock, and like collaborating with Tarantino. And like, I could have sat down and listen to this man talk forever, like our ADR session was in just like regaling his stories. And like, it was like the most fun ever, like he's the coolest dude.

Alex Ferrari 38:26
I mean, I've had the pleasure of working with those kinds of actors as well. And they're just, they're just such, they're old school, they're Pro, they come prepared. There's no ego, they're about the work. You know, and it doesn't matter if it's a $1 million movie or $100 million movie it did. They're bringing their stuff. But it's interesting that you say that they look at you for those first couple days, because they're protecting themselves. That happens with all directors to a certain extent, and all and all actors, because even from, you know, actors that I've talked to who are very established actors who work with really established directors, for the first time, you know, when you're on set, you want to figure out how, how do you? Is this going to work? Because you've got basically two titans. So you know, when Meryl Streep is on set, and she's working with Steven Spielberg, for the first time, you've got two titans. Yes. Now, either one has equal power. Yeah, for sure. They're just equal power. So, you know, obviously, they played the game long enough that they wouldn't have signed on unless they really felt that they could vibe and things like that. But at a certain point, you just have to figure out like, how it's one thing to have lunch with somebody and maybe even go away for a weekend and go to you know, and things like that and hang out with them and all this kind of stuff. But there's nothing being on set. And there was one story I will I will have heard which is so amazing. There was this one actor and I can't use their names because it was an Eric story, but it was brilliant. And I'll tell you who the actors are after we after we stopped. But there was this very famous actor who was chasing this very famous director. I mean, just chasing them to do this movie. And like, you got to do it, you got to do it, you got to do it. And finally he broke them down is like, Okay, let's do the movie. First day on set, that actor tested. That director, that director had been directing at that point, for two years. Very well known director, and the actor, very legendary actor. And he tested him, not to his face, but by his actions. So there was a scene that something happened. And there was a PA that was supposed to do something. And he was like, this pa isn't doing the thing the way he's supposed to be doing it. And I want him off the set. It that's it. And then the director came down is like, Alright, what's going on? He's like, I want them off the set. He's not doing what he's doing. Right. And he was testing to see how far he could push. And after the fact, then that director who is just old school directed a billion freakin things. Like it was a commercial director, and he did all this kind of stuff. He's like, you act, you do the thing. Let's start again. Wow. And never, and never and never had a problem with him again. But he was being tested by a very seasoned actor to see if he's got control, or am I going to be able to walk all over him? I don't care if he's a seasoned director or not. And the director just called them right off right there. They won instantly. And if he didn't do that, the whole shoot would have been hell. But from that moment on the shoot pretty much ran smoothly with that actor, though, and he's that actor is known for being difficult sometimes. But he's a genius. So I get it.

Sonja O'Hara 41:59
Well, right. Totally. And like there I was, like directing Stephen Lang, you know, obviously, yes. Come on. Don't breathe franchise, like he's amazing and super skilled. And he's such a force. But there are times that like, you know, he just requires a really professional set that moves quickly. And he deserves that, because he shows up, so ready to go. And he knows all day long, huge pages of dialogue. And it's like, I can't have my focus puller, doing like, everything has to go smoothly. And it's like, you just step up your game, and you're working with people like that. And like I learned so much from him. And by the end of the movie, he was like, I want to be in your next movie. And now we have this like, beautiful bond. But for the first couple days, he's watching me and then we'll go up to the monitor. He's like, That's a stylish shot. And then like, thank you. And you know, and it's like, he's looking at all of it.

Alex Ferrari 42:45
He's just been around. He's been around, he's worked with James Cameron, like, you know,

Sonja O'Hara 42:50
He's talking about working with these people and like having lunch with Dustin Hoffman yesterday. And you're like trying to not be intimidated. And he's not meaning to name drop. He's like, I just worked with Sandy Bullock this week. And I'm like, awesome.

Alex Ferrari 43:02
Tell Sandy, I said hi.

Sonja O'Hara 43:05
But like, they're the coolest. And I learned so much from working with those actors, but they don't give me any problem. Like they're there to up my game. And I you know, it's really collaborative.

Alex Ferrari 43:14
If you as long as you bring your A game with actors like that, and now only actors like that dps at that level. Oh, yeah. Production. No hope. You mean you weren't when you're working with an Oscar winning DP? You better know what you're talking about. And you don't need to know his job or her job. No, absolutely. You don't need to know about glass.

Sonja O'Hara 43:35
Yeah, I have to know what you want. And that's where I'm so involved with the shortlist, especially because I often act in things that I direct to. So I have to have such a relationship with my DP that for this last movie, mid century, the last week, I'm like acting in it for five days, and I get four weeks first, we're just directing. And we did the schedule that way deliberately. So you know, by then you can relax a little bit more in the last week. But those days that I'm acting and directing,

Alex Ferrari 44:02
How do you do that? Like, how do you do that? How do you like the one scene, the one or two scenes that I acted in the movie, we were together, I was playing myself. I was playing myself. And I was just like, it was just so awkward. And it was weird. And it was just like, how do you it's such a weird thing. I think every director listening should act in a scene with an actor just once. So they can see so because I saw your performance, you were like right next to me in the in the scene that we did together. And you would say stuff that would be like so audacious, that I haven't told you like I'm a disenfranchised millennial. I was like, I said, Cut. I want to slap you with that. Oh my god, that's so obnoxious. That's brilliant. Let's do it again. But being in the movie, and watching it from that perspective, is such a weird experience for a director because we're usually separated. Yes, it's so I love to hear your point. Because I mean, I don't consider what I did acting, I was just playing myself. But what

Sonja O'Hara 45:10
Cameo I mean, I don't know, for me, it's sort of trusting those collaborators, right, because even the days that I'm acting and getting to sit in hair and makeup, and like I'm having to like be holding my little monitor, and I'm still like directing. At some point, I have to turn off my director hat and be an actor in order to give the performance in my own movie that is going to be solid. So it's just on those days, really handing it over knowing that my DP knows exactly what I'm trying to go for. And trusting those around me and you feel like you're in a theater troupe at that point, and everyone has your back. And everyone's rooting for you to succeed, and trying it different ways. And just trusting and not being at the monitor and not trying to like do two things at once. Because then I can just see it in an actor's performance when they're like backseat directing. So it's like just trying to be present with my scene partner. And I've been lucky, like in this movie, I had a single Shane West and I grew up like I saw A Walk to Remember when it was like a shirt, right? You kind of have like a talent crush on these people. But it's just trying to be present in the scene. And then as soon as I'm done that scene, then I can go back to being the director. And then later in the edit, I might be extra anal about those scenes, because there are certain things that maybe micromanage and you're like, Oh, God, why did I do that? Or whatever. But it's really fun, and you feel very alive. But I try not to do three at once. Like if I'm acting, writing and directing, like, I think, ideally, I don't do more than two of those things on the same movie.

Alex Ferrari 46:35
Right! Because it's a lot. It's a lot. It's, it's, it's, it's so interesting. It's so interesting, because when you you know, I've had the experience now because of the show to, you know, speak and have long conversations with some amazing filmmakers. Some that I grew up with some that I have palette, I love the talent crush, I'd love that term talent crush. But you know, at a certain point, you know, that last for a minute, because I'm sure the first day when Bruce Dern walked on set, you were just like, Oh my God, but as a professional, you have to like, I can't, I can't get out right now. I need

Sonja O'Hara 47:09
I don't keep out my rules. I don't keep out till ADR when the movies in the can. That's how I could actually be a little starstruck. But before then we are just peers, we are on a set, right? coworkers. And it's like, you can't let any of that like mysticism about this person that you grew up watching. And but by ADR, that's the only time I'll ever take a selfie with an actor before then I'm like, a little more closed off, and I'm just trying to do my job. See what a big deal.

Alex Ferrari 47:34
Yeah, like you can't go on send the first day and just take a shot with them. Like, it's like, it's so you want to though.

Sonja O'Hara 47:40
I want to and I want to so badly but I've just learned that I have to keep like there's just a certain level of calm, I assure I can't even let myself fangirl like you're there to do a job. And you are there to make them have the quickest, most easy day possible. But then later, you know, when I become their friend, when you're promoting the film down the road, then they're like, oh my god, I had no idea you were even a fan because I was like, very chill.

Alex Ferrari 48:07
It's similar to me, when I'm talking to somebody, when I first meet them on the show. I'm like, okay, boom, boom. And after an hour, two hours of conversations and the recording stops. I'm like, dude, okay, that movie that you did, and then I'll just and then and then I'll pick up but I won't kick out prior to that. Because it's um, you can't, you just can't, okay?

Sonja O'Hara 48:24
We're having a rapport with them. And you're both equals, in that situation, you are having a dialogue and you're being of service to other people. And that's what I kept on reminding myself but later, I'm like, Oh, my God, you're my favorite actor, you know?

Alex Ferrari 48:35
So how do you so how do you I love asking this question of directors who work with these kind of caliber actors? How did you approach directing a booster and receive like, like, what was your literal approach to like directing them?

Sonja O'Hara 48:49
Well, I mean, I try to see everything they've done beforehand. So I'm never stumped, because Bruce Dern will throw an obscure movie at you. And you kind of need to know the reference. So I want to know everything about them before I try to read interviews before to talk about what their process is. Both Bruce Dern and Stephen Lang are actor studio guys. And I was an observer at their Actors Studio in New York. So I knew that I could talk to them about sort of method things and talk to them about private moments and just geek out about these things. And then I try to ask people just directly, like, how do you work, you know, and, and I'm just really cognizant of never getting in the way of the process, never ever giving someone a line reading. Like, it's really just sort of respectful. You know, what I mean? Like, there are times that you have in your head, like a certain idea of how you might want something to go, and then these people are going to throw such a different direction at you, that you just have to be so like, you are in awe of their ability, and I just I relinquish control and it might go a different way than I want but it's going to make me look good if I'm supportive of the thing that they're going to do anyway. And then just watching them do a take before I ever do give them any sort of direction and sort of earning that, you know, back in with them, and trying not to get too heavy, because there were a couple times in the beginning that like, I could write an essay on what every scene means. And like letting that go and trying to just, you know, sometimes it's so much simpler than you think. And you're like, Wow, this is brilliant. And I don't know, I mean, I think it's just like being kind and open. And, you know, they're, they're experts, and they'll make you look good. If you're just, you know, in any way, like, open and present, you know? Yeah, no, doctors are harder to direct than pros. That's how I kind of see it.

Alex Ferrari 50:32
I agree with you 110% professionals who've been around forever, who were sometimes legendary, these guys and gals, both that just, they just show up, they do their job, they know what their lines are. It's the younger actors, it's the more inexperienced actors is the is the more insecure actors, who are the problems that you have to

Sonja O'Hara 50:51
That's where a lot of my day will be working with somebody who's more experienced, and the bigger actors, but it's also like trusting that I have something to say, and that my directions are worthwhile, and that we're in this together. And I've gotten far more confident about like saying what needs to be said, without, you know, worrying that maybe I'll offend someone, because I think if you're invested in them having a great performance, and you're both together trying to make a great movie, you're just collaborating, and I try to not think about their stature, or anything else if you're just trying to make a cool fucking movie.

Alex Ferrari 51:21
Right! And they would, and they appreciate that. Because if you are like, Do you know who you are? Like, yeah, you can't, that that hurts the process? Because yes, that might be fun for a minute, but then you've got

Sonja O'Hara 51:36
No yeah. And I mean, like, I'm an actor, and they're an actor, and maybe we're doing a scene together. Or maybe I'm watching them doing a scene. But like, I don't know, we're just in it together and your team, team members together. And that's really like, given me a lot of calm going into set with these people. And like we're just in it together.

Alex Ferrari 51:54
Did you what was a big lesson you picked up from Bruce, as far as acting or see from just an actor's perspective, you're like, wow, I, I'm putting that in my toolbox.

Sonja O'Hara 52:04
I mean, Bruce does a thing called giving a doing a Jersey, where he makes you at the end of any take to just keep rolling until he basically says cut, and he's gonna throw out some improv things. And they're usually gems. And it was interesting watching Stephen Lang, who doesn't really do that, and Bruce, who's going to wing it, and like, do a total a bit and seeing them work off of each other. So you know, not calling up too soon. And sort of like letting them have their human behavior was something that was cool. And then Bruce likes his actors, Bruce reads lips, and it's really hard in a time of COVID with masks, because he's an older, he's 85 years old, right? And he wants to be able to read your lips in order for him to be able to hear things. So like, that was tough. Like, there were some miscommunications of just, you know, that's a challenge. And he likes his actors to be I mean, he's director to be like, really close, like, you're not back at video Village. And I'm like that anyway, like, I'm on the ground next to a scene with my mini monitor, like I'm like, right in the action. But he said he doesn't like directors that are like, distant and removed. And he likes people that are just really open and forthright. And like, I just learned so much from, like, just the way that he talks about movies. I mean, it's like being in a masterclass, but still trying to make us make our day because you can tell. Right? And you're like, it's film school, but I also need you to do this thing right now. And you'll laugh and like, do the thing. But

Alex Ferrari 53:31
That's That's to say, to say the least no, that's, that's, that's awesome. Because I yeah, I have to ask you, what do you what was there? Is there something that you wish your your you could tell your younger self? Is there something that you could go back and that you just didn't like, Man, I wish somebody would have told me this.

Sonja O'Hara 53:50
Yeah, I mean, I think that with auditions and casting, I see such incredible actors all the time auditioning for like projects that are wonderful, and they're not getting the part because they're literally not the type that you need to serve that story and do that thing. And I just thought I was awful and untalented all the time when I was younger, like the amount of time that I just beat myself up about not getting something and it was so completely out of my control and it had nothing to do with my ability. So just hearing like, you are enough. You have talent, you have a voice and you're going to have the career you want but be patient like I had no you know like I just wanted everything 10 minutes ago and you know I think it was just chilling out like was really important and I had no chill you know?

Alex Ferrari 54:37
I I'd argue still have very little chill but chill saw. Yeah, yeah. No, I mean, but that's the energy you have when you're when you're young is that you just are like this energy like I want I want to write like when I was in my 20s I'm like, why hasn't Hollywood figured out I'm a genius yet. What is going on? I should have I should be directing major motion pictures at this point in time. No, I mean, Orson Welles did it a 23 Spielberg did it at 27. I mean, what how old was Lucas when he did do a Star Wars? Like I mean, you start doing that kind of crap to yourself. And my everyone, I always asked that question, which I'll ask you in a second, like, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn? For me, it's patience. Patience, is patience is patience. And I'll drop a name from one of my former guests. Richard Linklater, who said, the best the best advice he gave, he gave us like, what are however long you think it's gonna take to get to your to make your movie, it's going to be twice as long, it's gonna take twice as long. And not done twice as long and twice as hard. For sure. Still, and he's still hustling it. He's still going after it

Sonja O'Hara 55:48
End up like achieving the things that you've always wanted. And then you realize like that your idea of like, achieving the goal feels good for a second. Like when I got my Daytime Emmy nomination last year, yeah, all I wanted was to be able to be like, I'm an Emmy nominee, and then you get it. And then you still feel like a big imposter. And it still doesn't like, you know what I mean? It's like, anytime you get the goal, it feels good for a second, and then you're still back to being yourself, and stuck in your own head with your own fears. It's and that sort of forever,

Alex Ferrari 56:19
It's the best piece of advice I could say to people is that the life that life and specifically our career, but life in general is the journey, not the event.

Sonja O'Hara 56:28
It is. And it sounds cheesy, and like it's so hard for people to understand it. But like, I love what I do, I'm gonna do this at freaking 98 years old. I'm certainly acting, writing and directing. It's the great love of my life doing this stuff. And it's such a privilege to get to do it. And like sometimes you have good years, and sometimes you don't, but like everyone, no matter what stage they in, that they're making it, they're still feeling like they're not enough and that they're not talented and like it doesn't that doesn't really go away. And I always just imagined one day, I'd have the big agency and I'd be doing bigger movies, and that my life would be without problems. And that like everything would feel hunky dory. And you still I still am like the nerd. I was at 17 and acting school in New York. Like that doesn't change, you know?

Alex Ferrari 57:11
No, absolutely. And one thing I'd love to just touch upon is that imposter syndrome is something that I've asked the biggest, most accomplished writers and directors in Hollywood, won Oscars, who've won Emmys, world legends. And they all say, I haven't watched it still, I still have it. And I'm like, But you, you you made friends. You know, and I had Martha Kaufman, who's who's gonna come on the show in a few in a few weeks. She said, Yeah, I still have it every day. And you're like, like, like security's gonna walk in. And oh, what are you doing here? You're not supposed to be directing who gave you get security? Get her out of here, or get him out of here? Well, it's a weird thing all the time. But that's an artist though. But that's a

Sonja O'Hara 58:01
And I think that you have to be vulnerable to make good art, and letting yourself be vulnerable. Lets like the demons come in a little bit to make you feel like why do you deserve this opportunity? And like, Why does anything I say matter? And like that happens. But I just tried to tell myself, somebody was going to get this job, why not me? You know what, like, you know that, like, we're all trying our best. And like, I'm just going to keep on making movies. And you just have to remind yourself that like you have intrinsic worth, and you have something to say, and that whenever people talk about waiting until the perfect circumstance to make a movie, I always get upset, because that's never going to happen. And growth is inherently uncomfortable, right? So the first time I ever do a new movie, I feel deeply uncomfortable. And I feel like I can't physically do it. And meanwhile, I've gone into pitch on that movie where I've tried to convince everyone. Oh, yeah, this is so easy. I've got this, I'm going to give you the best movie ever. And then I get involved with the creative process. And then you doubt everything. But I think that's part of what makes work good.

Alex Ferrari 59:03
But that's the process. But that's the process. Well, I mean, that happens with everybody, every director at any stage of their career. They're still they're still trying to figure it out. They're still like it's brand new to them. You know, again, and I've had that privilege of talking to these these these amazing artists and you just start to realize you're like, you put them up on a pennis pedestal. Yeah, but they're, they're filmmakers. They're there. They're writers. They go through the same they have to make their day. The camera might not work the sun the light might be going away on a $200 million movie. And on a $1 million movie. It they struggled with the same the process is the same. The paint brushes are different the players might be different. But foot like if I use of baseball or football analogy, if you're playing it with your friends on a field. High school football is the exact same is professional NFL football, right bought at home Another level and a whole other speed and a whole other level of performance. But the game is the game, no matter who you are, and at what level you're at, the game doesn't change. And that's, that's, you know, you could be playing on the sandlot. Or you could be playing in a major stadium. You hit the ball, you catch the ball, you throw the ball.

Sonja O'Hara 1:00:17
And I always feel better with directing. It's such a collaboration, right? Like, yeah, trust Bunheads. And you trust the people you're working with. Like, it feels like we're all in it together. Writing is a process that's far more painful for me. Because I feel like it's all me sharing my most like my demons on the page. And that I'm going to be skewered for it. And like, it's just such a different, more vulnerable process to me, and much harder for me to do it. Like I can daily show up to set and be a director and give my all and then like that with with acting too. But writing is like one of those things that I'm crippled with levels of like, you know, the imposter syndrome in a different way. So I think we all have like different things that, you know, come easier, and like writing will always feel like you'd like purging something really significant. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:08
That's amazing. Now, I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I ask all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker, a screenwriter trying to break into the business today?

Sonja O'Hara 1:01:15
Make your micro budget feature, just go and do it. And no excuses, like, make this thing yesterday? Because you will not have somebody else give you money until you've put your heart and soul and finances into that first project. So go make it because that's the only reason I have a career

Alex Ferrari 1:01:29
And sell your eggs.

Sonja O'Hara 1:01:30
And sell your eggs. Absolutely!

Alex Ferrari 1:01:34
If you have to sell finance your first feature that way? Absolutely. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Sonja O'Hara 1:01:44
I think finding your tribe, like there's an urge when you first start to get into the industry that you want to reach up to people that are ahead of you. And I think that you're going to find most of your valuable collaborators with people that you're currently enacting class with, or you're making that student film with, and those collective of artists that were my own peers, or people that I'm now bringing with me from project to project and that feels really good. So realize the worst and the people around you.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:10
And three of your favorite films of all time.

Sonja O'Hara 1:02:13
Ooh, Mulholland Drive is probably my favorite film of all time. I'm all about Eve, and Betty Davis film Love that makes that makes sense. And who, um, I've been really obsessed with Fincher his films recently. Oh, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:35
I mean, we're all they're all. I mean, you've talking to a Fincher fanatic. And I had Jeff crone worth as dp on the show. And we so geeked out on his process and how he works he's been he's been doing he's been working with him since fightclub. So you know, he did grow with the dragon that too and social network and like dude, social network had to get that shot how to do this. How do you do that? Like it was just fascinating. But yeah, Fincher note, no question.

Sonja O'Hara 1:03:02
I feel like I want to make a movie like Black Swan. I think that's I just psychological haunting stories of ambition are what keeps me up at night. And what I'm interested in making

Alex Ferrari 1:03:11
That makes that makes sense. And I think Julia would definitely like all believe, I think that's definitely our top. And what's next for you? I know, you've got 1000 projects going on. You should be doing the next Avengers soon. What's happening?

Sonja O'Hara 1:03:25
My movie mid century is going to be coming out this year, I said, signed with a very cool distributor. And you'll see news in the trade sometime soon about that. So that will be coming out. And then my series doomsday that got the Emmy nomination will be released on VOD and demand and all the streamers on March 1st.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:44
Very cool. And how about the other film you have going on.

Sonja O'Hara 1:03:48
The other feature is in post right now. And it's about to make its festival premiere. So I'll be able to announce some information about that soon.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:56
So I am so happy for you in all your success. And it's so fun for me because I literally was there at the beginning of this part of your journey. And I'm so glad I had a small, just a small part in helping you get to where you are today, just by casting you in a movie. I'm not taking any credit whatsoever for what you've done. But just

Sonja O'Hara 1:04:20
You were fundamental to where I'am today.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:23
I am not. I'm not hunting for I'm not hunting for a compliment. But I but I'm just glad that could be part of the the the journey in one small way. And I'm really glad to see it. And I every time I go on Facebook, I see your happy face pop up like hey, you know, it's me Quintin and we're just hanging out. I'm like, but, but you know, but that's the kind of stuff I'm like, oh good for her man. I'm so happy for you. So, continued success. I cannot wait to see the films you make in the future. And I hope this interview inspires a lot of other directors and female directors out there to tell their stories. So I appreciate you.


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