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

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

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

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

Andrew Kortschak 4:46
Thanks for having me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 12:12
Now, what is NQ.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Andrew Kortschak 20:26
We do. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 20:27
That's insane.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 38:05
Of course,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 48:03
Hmm, good choice,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 14:59

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 32:58

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 35:30
Shawshank Redemption, Shawshank Redemption.

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 35:54
Neither did Kubrick neither did Kubrick

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 53:49
Oh my god.

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

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

Stephen Karam 53:53
We are next interview.

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

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

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

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

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BPS 276: Reality Check: What Really Happens After You Win an Oscar® for Screenwriting with Tom Schulman

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Tom Schulman 0:00
With another scriptlets Thing Called Love at second sight, to Lorimar. And then Warner Brothers took it over but and you know, that just turned out to be a disaster being made basically at the same time. In fact, they finished that first and my parents come to visit and we went to see the finished version of that movie. And my dad, it was like, middle of the day and my dad afterwards said to me, you've got to find something else for a living you know?

Alex Ferrari 0:26
This episode is brought to you by Bulletproof Script Coverage, where screenwriters go to get their scripts read by Top Hollywood Professionals. Learn more at covermyscreenplay.com. I'd like to welcome to the show, Tom Schulman. How you doin, Tom?

Tom Schulman 0:40
I'm very good. Alex, nice to meet you.

Alex Ferrari 0:42
A pleasure to meet you as well, my friend. I've I mean, first of all want to say thank you for being such an instrumental part of my youth growing up in the 90s.

Tom Schulman 0:55
I hope I hope you like the result. But

Alex Ferrari 0:58
No, I mean, from I mean, you know, obviously Dead Poets Society. But what about Bob when he struck the kids? So many great films from that, from what, just What About Bob is one of my favorite entities. I wish it and I always always, anytime I talk about Hollywood and the way it used to be, I always use What About Bob as an as an example. And like, they wouldn't make that movie today. Studios wouldn't make it What About Bob? But my God, Isn't it an amazing thing that did at least it existed at that point. But I wish they would make these kind of smaller films, they used to make the 10 or 15 films, and one, two or three temples and they kind of throw them all out and one or two will take care of everybody. But now it's just like.

Tom Schulman 1:41
No they don't have that love of movies anymore. You know, as executives, they're just it's all bottom line.

Alex Ferrari 1:47
It's all IP. It's all superheroes, but yeah. You know, like, I think that Spielberg said it best, I think just like the Western, it will play itself out the superhero genre eventually.

Tom Schulman 1:58
It's hot. It's been around for a long time, but I think he's right. I mean, certainly, Steven Spielberg about that.

Alex Ferrari 2:04
Well, well, obviously you can, because if not, you know, there's there's things that happen. Lightning comes down. It's crazy. Black, yeah. Black accounts just drain of money. Like what happened?

Tom Schulman 2:19
Right, exactly. Just suddenly, you know.

Alex Ferrari 2:25
Exactly. That was that was Stephen right there that did that. I didn't touch my screen. Yeah. Yeah. So my first question to you is how and why in God's green earth? Did you get into this insanity that is the film industry?

Tom Schulman 2:39
Boy, that's a good question. You know, I grew up in the South, I grew up in Nashville. And, you know, I later found out that that the South was kind of a dumping ground for horror movies, AIP, American International pictures, companies, if those movies didn't perform outside, south, but so I grew up, you know, every Saturday going downtown with my friends on a bus, and why going to two or three really lousy horror films, you know, and it really I like movies. But you know, that was just kind of a junk form of entertainment. But then in college, they had a Film Society. And they started bringing really interesting movies in, you know, things from Kurosawa and Fellini, and Bergman, and, you know, just stuff that I had no idea of movies could do. And I just was fascinated by that. And senior year in college, I had a chance to either write a term paper about one of the novels we were reading, or make a short film. So of course, everybody in the class made a short film, I made all Super Eight film and it's terrible, but just fell in love with the process and thought, This is what I want to do.

Alex Ferrari 3:53
Well, the thing that's interesting is that when you were coming up, it wasn't a cool thing to be a director. It wasn't even in the zeitgeist, it wasn't a thing that was even possible. Honestly, there was very few people doing it, you know, compared to today, where, you know, I remember growing up and the only behind the scenes I saw was a Star Wars documentary in Raiders of the Lost Ark documentary that was and whatever books I could find at the library, there was no other information about the filmmaking process that you that you jumped in and like, you know, I think I'm gonna give this a go is amazing.

Tom Schulman 4:27
Great. In hindsight, it's so stupid, but you know,

Alex Ferrari 4:32
Well, isn't it isn't it amazing though the the delusion of the filmmaker in the screenwriter is it's his, his or hers, best friend and worst enemy? Yeah, at the same time, because you need the illusion to do what we do.

Tom Schulman 4:49
You did. It's so true,

Alex Ferrari 4:50
But at a certain point, the delusion becomes a handicap when you're like, Well, I'm the greatest, or I'm gonna see you at the Oscars, or Steven Spielberg is going to produce mine Excel this insanity starts to come out

Tom Schulman 5:03
The megalomania comes with it, you know for sure you know the same little power you have in the, in your world of creating it on the scrap page or, you know, if you're directing on the set, suddenly you're just, you know, I have a friend, a director and he said after he gets through shooting a movie, he finds himself running IT people running into him on the streets of New York. And it's because on the set when you walk from the monitor to the to the actor, everybody moves out of the way, but you know, after the movie, nobody's moving. You know, they don't know who you are.

Alex Ferrari 5:34
You mean I have to get my own coffee. What are we savages?

Tom Schulman 5:40
Yeah, and says he just loves to put his hand out in a Diet Coke comes in, you know, just, it's

Alex Ferrari 5:46
It is. It is a strange, strange carne kind of lifestyle, isn't it? You know, I always say I always say we're carny folk. You know, we're carnival voc because it's you. We ran away with the circus, essentially, to do what we do as filmmakers as a screenwriters at any level, whether it be Oscar winner, or just be working filmmakers. It's, it's the circus. It really really is. Really?

Tom Schulman 6:11
Yeah, yeah. And yeah, you just hope you don't end up in the, you know, within the deformed area of

Alex Ferrari 6:20
Yes. Where are the freaks? Where the freaks, let's just say we don't want to end up in a Guillermo del Toro Carnival.

Tom Schulman 6:26
That's for sure. Yeah. Or any of the cartels and those horror movies I saw as a kid, you know,

Alex Ferrari 6:32
Oh, good, Lord. Sorry. So you make sure you make the decision to like, Okay, I'm gonna go to go go be a writer. And as insane as that is, I'm assuming it didn't just use words, your first script and all of a sudden, the door swung open. The money just started tossing at you all the opportunities when the I'm assuming there was a time period where you were trying to hone the craft getting slapped around by the town?

Tom Schulman 6:57
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 6:59
So how long was that? How long was that window?

Tom Schulman 7:02
That window was about I mean, it. I mean, I guess, 10 years. I mean, in the sense that I mean, I started getting work. And basically, after about four, four and a half years, I started getting enough work, to not have to, I mean, I still kept my day job. But I, you know, did Mark i You never know, you just you're working from one one, you know, to another, but it was I was thinking, wow, I'm saving some money. This is I seem to be getting steady work. Nothing's getting made, but I'm getting paid to write. So okay, you know, so optioning some scripts selling a script or two. And then so that was about four, four and a half years. And then another five years of, you know, a couple of things getting made for television, but they bore no resemblance to what I had written. You know, that kind of thing. So you just you made it.

Alex Ferrari 7:55
So I mean, the gladiator wasn't your original vision, sir.

Tom Schulman 7:59
I don't think so. Yeah, No.

Alex Ferrari 8:03
So yeah, I've heard I've heard stories of in for the young uns listening, there was these things called TV movies of the week, back in the 80s and early 90s, which, which was a really fertile ground for a lot of filmmakers. Because that was where they face they get their foot in to show people what I mean, Spielberg got dual TV.

Tom Schulman 8:27
Still, it's a great movie. And yeah, it's yeah,

Alex Ferrari 8:30
It's amazing. So during that time, what did you do to keep going, because there was no indication, at least, that you were going to be able to make a go of this.

Tom Schulman 8:42
It's, it's really hard because you know, you're just, there is no bottom rung of the ladder, or you go home, I'm on and now I can, I'm on my way, you know, you're just you're always jumping for it until you've suddenly, you know, as they say, you can't make a living in this business, you can only make a killing and that's kind of true. There's just no in between, particularly back in the old studio days. You know, there were he's getting made. And you know, I think I think my world opened up a little bit when John Carpenter made Halloween again, because I was writing you know, low budget horror films at first that was my you know, what I'd grown up with and and so people were suddenly and and maybe even before that, were buying, you know, indies were made were horror films.

Alex Ferrari 9:26
Yeah. When the the got Easy Rider was a kind of thing. And yeah, yeah, but that was the 70s and 80s. But yeah, I mean, I think it was when John actually did that was the first really truly like full blown indie. Yeah, out of nowhere, didn't have Jack Nicholson and Peter Fonda. And like it was, yeah, no, but it was still but it was still it was still not, it was still not what it wasn't in the 90s. The 90s is when the independent movement as we know it really exploded. So how do you go from the gladiator TV movie of the week, two Dead Poets Society, how did you write? Like, how did you come up with it? How did you get it out there? It doesn't seem like in today's world, you put out that Poets Society, it's going to be, it's going to be a tough sell because of its a drama and this and that. And BBB, in those times, late 80s, early 90s, they were still making films like that. So I guess it was a little bit more open to that. But that's still not a slam dunk by any stretch of the imagination.

Tom Schulman 10:27
Not at all. I mean, interesting, because I think it just tells about the times Dead Poets opened with the first Batman with with That's right. Yeah. And, you know, Little do we know, at that point, and Batman did really well, but little did we know that that was going to be the trend that started to, you know, take Hollywood away. And, and, but, ya know, it was it was a very hard. I mean, at first, I can't really remember why I decided to ride it, I'd been where I had been being paid to work, you know, not getting movies made. And I think a lot of the stuff I was writing or just things I thought would sell and you know, they did, but I don't think I was that good at that stuff. You know, and, and then just I had been telling this story about this, this the basic Dead Poet's story to a girlfriend for a while and she was going God, that sounds so good. You gotta write that she and I broke up, I got married my wife saying the same thing. And I finally just said, Okay, I've got a couple of months here, I'm gonna just sit down, clear the room out and do it. And I did you know, and, and my agent at the time read it called me up at two o'clock in the mornings. And it's the best script I've ever read. Let's talk in the morning, I'm okay, great. And I went into his office that day. And he said, You know, I've been thinking about this, I It's a great script, but I will not be able to sell it. And, you know, if you want to get this made, if you want it to be any more than a writing sample, I hate to say you're gonna have to get another agent. And I said, Well, I, you know, I understand all the deficits of this script. But yeah, so I left and I, you know, I think took five agents, before I got another agent to say yes. And that agent said, I've only read half of it. But there's some clients here in our, in our company that, you know, actors that I think might be good for it, some young people and I remember thinking, Boy, what if he ever reads the second half and drops the project? You know?

Alex Ferrari 12:27
Yeah. Yeah, that ending was a bit. It was an interesting ending, to say the least.

Tom Schulman 12:33
Yeah. So. And then, Stephen half, two, who had read the script, just maybe a month after I got that new agent, and a year and a half later called him back and said, You know, I just can't get that script out of my mind. Let me I want to option it. I think I've got some some some connections that might be interesting. Little did he know, every studio had passed. I mean, it was just, you know, as dead as dead could be. Yeah, I mean, it does the people at Disney and it was touched on at Disney that eventually bought it. You know, they did, we did get a meeting there. And they said, you know, it's a strong story, but poetry, you know, Dead Poets Society that three, you know, or any one of those words in a title is death. But this is all on the same one. And they said, Why don't you make it about you know, making them a dance teacher? Oh, right. Because of course, what had just come out but Dirty Dancing. Yeah. So.

Alex Ferrari 13:34
That's amazing.

Tom Schulman 13:35
Yeah. And then out of nowhere, you know, maybe three years after I wrote it. Stephen half gave it to Jeff Katzenberg, who read it, then bought it immediately. And you know, we had a meeting two days later, and he said, we're making this movie let's, let's cast it and go so

Alex Ferrari 13:52
My God so was it was Jeff Katzenberg, who got it and yeah, and took off with it. And then then Robin and Peter Weir.

Tom Schulman 14:03
Scene witness the day I finished the script, my wife and I went out to witness and I just said, God, if I could get him you know, and she said, well send him the script. So when I polished it up and so forth, I did and of course they passed now that I didn't you know, so that you know a couple years later to get him was amazing.

Alex Ferrari 14:22
That's that's so interesting for a script of a film that was so well received, obviously, and the script that eventually won the Oscar. I love hearing the stories that it was not this the town knows nothing William Goldman says the town knows nothing it takes one person with just a slight bit of vision just and a little bit of the holidays yeah to roll the dice and and obviously some power and some power Yeah,

Tom Schulman 14:49
I mean it's it's a me too situation. You know, somebody always told me you can learn everything you need to know about executives by watching two three year olds on the in a sandbox, you know, If there's an object, it's like an old bucket that sitting in the corner, if nobody want, it'll sit there for weeks. But as soon as one kid gets it, they all start fighting over it. Right? And at that age, kids can't their necks won't go like this. So the answer to everything is No. So you know, that's those. That's the executive mindset. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 15:22
That's a that's actually a brilliant. I've never heard that. That's actually brilliant and very, very true. You know, you get you get Robin Williams, who at that point, Robin was Robin. I mean, he was still Robert Williams. He wasn't Oscar winning Robin Williams. That was a few years away. But he was still Robin Williams. Yeah. And by the way, that title Dead Poets Society only title worse than that Shawshank Redemption. Yeah, when Robin

Tom Schulman 15:54
You know, so

Alex Ferrari 15:55
And that in that movie? Who's even heard of that? Right, exactly. So we, what is it like working with Robin and Peter, were you on the set? Did you know how would that help? I mean, you must be again, coming from TV movies of the week two. That was the first big one, right? That was the first

Tom Schulman 16:11
Oh, yeah, yeah, I have sold strangely enough, on the same day that the Katzenberg bought Dead Poets, I sold another scripts Thing Called Love at second sight, to Lorimar. And then Warner Brothers took it over, but and you know, that just turned out to be a disaster being made basically, at the same time. In fact, they finished that first and my parents come to visit, and we went to see the finished version of that movie. And my dad, it was like, middle of the day, and my dad afterwards said to me, you've got to find something else for a living, you know, and then I know, I know. But then we went over to Disney and looked at I got them to screen a few dailies for my parents of Dead Poets. And they said, Dad said, Well, maybe you got a chance, after all, we'll see. But, yeah, it was it was, you know, it was? I don't know, I kind of all I was concerned about at the time, was that there gonna make what I wrote, you know, so it was, I wasn't playing defense by any means. But but, you know, I was in there sort of fighting for my, you know, for and didn't really have to, because I was, you know, we all had the same basic vision in the movie. So, it was it was amazing. And Peter Weir. I mean, it's funny, because his first question to me was, why don't you direct? Why are you directing this, I can sort of feel from the way you write it, that that's what you want. And I said, Peter, personal, no one's giving me that. If I were directing it, I would just step aside for you. Number one, but two, you know, are you crazy? Nobody this thing is barely getting made, you know? And he goes, he I understand that. And then he said, Well, you know, I would like be on the set. And, you know, if, if, if it gets boring, you know, that's, I'll understand. But you know, since you wanted to wreck, he said, I've made eight movies. You know, I'm happy to sort of help any way I can. I mean, he was so generous, you know, so, you shadowed Peter Weir, essentially, the whole time? Yeah. And we just had, you know, he would always say to me, just feel free to I mean, the first day, he said, Just anything you're thinking, feel free to just talk to me about it after take, you know, and after about two takes as soon as the override walk up to him and go whatever it is said to me, you know, what, just count to 10 Before you talk, and then then say it to me. And I said, You know what, I'll just go home. And he said, No, don't get offended. Just Just please give me a chance to have my own thoughts. And then you can talk, you know, so I said, Okay, so I did that. And maybe on the third or fourth take of the first shot. He said, Well, why don't you go direct the shot the scene? I said, Peter, I'm sorry, I'm talking to him. I said, No, no, I mean, you'd have an idea go. So I walked out on and Rod, I see Robin, look over at Peter and Peter nods. Okay, so I give Robin something to do and come back and he does it. And Peter said, What do you think? And I said, it didn't work. And he said, I don't think it works either. But nice try and Okay. Well, we'll try that again. Some other time. You know, he was amazing. Absolutely amazing. And I said, Well, what if I screw this up? He goes, I'll fix it.

Alex Ferrari 19:13
Such a car. So much confidence in Oh, yeah. Comfortable. He's so comfortable in his own skin at that point, that he's doesn't even have an ego not even threatened by you in any way, shape or form. He was just so generous to you. That's wonderful.

Tom Schulman 19:28
Yeah, he was he was fabulous.

Alex Ferrari 19:30
So So okay, so I have to ask, because I've had multiple people on the show who've worked with Robin. And what is it like seeing Robin on the set? You know, I'm assuming he rift he had to?

Tom Schulman 19:42
Oh, yeah. Well, interestingly enough, the first he shot I think we shot for three days. And then he had to go off and, and he was in a play on Brian. I think he was well, Waiting for Godot on Broadway with Steve Martin. So he was kind of going back and forth. But the play was two weeks away from the end of its run. So We got him for three days. And then he came back and we had him for the rest of the shoot. And you know, the first three days he was so on book so perfectly on that there was it was a little bit dead. And I was saying to Peter, this is I'm worried. And he said, I am too, but don't worry. And I said, Well, what are we going to do? He said, Well, you got two weeks to figure it out. So when he got back, it was kind of like that the first take again, we were in the classroom for the first time. And he said, Peter said, I got an idea, let's do an improv. He said, Robin, if you were just teaching these kids, what would you teach them? And he goes, Oh, I might read to them, might teach them a little Shakespeare. And Peter said, we're gonna roll cameras just come in and do it. And Robin immediately came in, and he saw that teacher, you know, he had no script. So he started connecting with the students in the way he's so good at as a stand up, but also as an actor, and he realized right away, oh, this is a dialogue, even if the students aren't saying anything. So he, you know, that improv stayed in the movie, we've got that we had that. And then, you know, from that point on, he completely got it felt absolutely free to do whatever he wanted. And it was great.

Alex Ferrari 21:06
And imagining that young cast who turned out to be a couple of heavy hitters came out of that cast. Yeah, that's right. They must have been, you know, like, improving with Robin Williams,

Tom Schulman 21:19
Ya know, they were up to it. You know, they were they, he was a young guy, so nice to everybody. It was just never any sense that you couldn't, you know, he just, he was so encouraging. Why not, you know, you just, it's pretty soon you relaxed, and you just said, whatever you want it. And that's what they did.

Alex Ferrari 21:40
So what was the biggest lesson you learned from Peter watching him on that set, as a director, or as a storyteller in general,

Tom Schulman 21:49
Say, as little as possible to the actors, unless you have to, you know, really give them a chance to do what they what they've brought to the to the party, and then intervene, if they're off, you know, but don't over direct, don't walk up and go, Okay, you know, this is the moment we're going to do that. And this is what just happened and all that, see what they bring, because 99 or 89% of the time, their instincts will be right. And if you tell them on the other thing was always answer a question with a question. If they'd say, Well, what's happening here? And he got what do you think? And then they would, you know, he knew we talked through all this stuff, but that allowed them to own it, you know, they'd say, Well, I think this and that, that puts it into the actor's body. So very simple, deceptively simple, you know, but but very effective.

Alex Ferrari 22:42
Now, the one thing, and for everyone listening, this is going to be a spoiler alerts, if you have nots, it's not our fault. It's like, what 32 years old or three years old at this point, this movie, it's not our fault. If you haven't watched it, if you want to skip this part, we're going to talk about a spoiler alert here. The ending of that film, I can't imagine it ever getting made today, just ever. How did you have the balls of Katzenberg, and we're and yourself to put this out there in that way? Because that is such a touchy subject suicide is such a touchy. I mean, obviously, it's a minefield, to touch in, but it's perfect for that film. It is, it's necessary for that, but you can't, you can't move that you can't end that film without it. At least being satisfied. You know, better. How did how did you guys approach that? How did Peter approach it? How did Robin approach it? How did you approach it? Like, because it's such a touchy thing. And at what point did you say in the writing process? I'm gonna this is what's gonna have to happen in this film?

Tom Schulman 23:48
Well, when I wrote it, I was too naive, I think, to think that it was anything's difficult, you know, just Steve was part of the story. It's where the story had to go. And that was that, you know, and when Peter and I met and started talking through things, you know, at one point, I don't know, we've kind of avoided the suicide for a while. But finally we got to and I brought it up, because I said, Peter, you know, frankly, now I've got to see people's reactions and talk to people. I'm worried about this. He said, You know, I had the chance to meet Ingmar Bergman once and Bergman told me that the only thing you could do that would absolutely destroy a film was killed, have the main character kill himself. And so I said, Oh, my God, and I said, What are we going to do? And he said, we're going to hope Bergman's wrong. Okay, so that was kind of it with him. And we never had debates at the studio about it. It was really Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 24:42
It's because because Katzenberg is a filmmaker. He Yeah.

Tom Schulman 24:46
I mean, I think I'm sure they thought about it, but they never said anything to me about it because I think they saw that you couldn't have this. It just wouldn't be a good story without it. story wouldn't work. Certainly the ending of the movie with the very Indeed, the movie wouldn't work without it. And, and, but, and then, you know, anything short of that would have just to be kind of whip out, I think.

Alex Ferrari 25:08
Right, exactly. But the soul, the soul, the soul of the script would have been gone.

Tom Schulman 25:13
Yeah. They you know, they wanted to change the title of that. Well, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 25:18
To be fair. Yeah. To be fair. Let's find what it is. What What were some other names that you could do remember that?

Tom Schulman 25:26
Yeah, they asked the marketing department and the distribution people to all eat, they made each of them come up with 20 alternative titles to the store. So we had like, this thick, you know, piece of paper double on both sides with just hundreds of names. And they picked Keatings way. And on and up. For the first few days of the shoot on the slate at the studio's insistence was Keatings wet. And Peter was a little bit worried about it. I remember we went to a video store, and he would love to whenever somebody would recognize him and say, What are you doing next? He said he really wanted up, then they would go Yeah. And then he would pitch them the whole story of the movie, take them he, and because he loved to tell the story. That was the way his way of, you know, really getting into it. And I remember one guy said Robin Williams, and that was not a comedy is it? And it kind of chilled Peter a little bit because he realized people were going to come expecting Rob into being a comedy, which this wasn't, but it just sounded. So he said I'm a little bit worried about the title. But after about three or four days of seeing that on the slate at the he called he called me and said I'm, we're going with Dead Poets Society, to hell with Keatings way. I've told the studio that's the title and just That's it. So what are they going to do? So they're going to take it or they're going to fire me? So I said, Okay, so.

Alex Ferrari 26:50
Yeah, that's Keatings away. For God's sake.

Tom Schulman 26:55
No, I know that that was a TV movie title, right. I mean, that

Alex Ferrari 26:58
That wasn't TV. But Robert was that Robbins first? Dramatic, like deeply dramatic role.

Tom Schulman 27:06
Bizarrely, he had made a movie about two years before PBS in black and white called seize the day. Yeah, about it. And when I heard that, I mean, not having anything knowing that Robin would ever even be, you know, a possibility for the movie. I went, Oh, my God, somebody's made a movie called seize the day. It's a bit it's exactly like this. But I it's always my paranoid. And because, you know, I you sort of assume that once an idea hits you. It's hitting 40 other people at the same time that guys work that way. But anyway, it was not that it was a very dark, very grim film about an in Brighton plays an insurance agent who does anything but seize the day. He just lives a very small life. And so that was a very dramatic role and kind of Walking Dead. I hate to say it, and I mean, maybe I should see it again. But But no, he had done. I guess, Garp he had done.

Alex Ferrari 28:04
Yeah, well, one of the garbage stuff, but it's still but none of those are hits and it was still pretty Good Will Hunting. So yeah, this was the first time they showed his chops. But by the way, before we walked before we did this interview, I went back to watch that trailer just as just to kind of like remind me of haven't seen the movie in a while. And they the first 60 seconds it's set up almost as a comedy. Yeah, like it's set up as a comedy and like, I'm when I'm watching it. I'm like, My God is setting this up as I mean, they kind of get a little bit more serious at the end, but it's really an uplifting treat.

Tom Schulman 28:39
I know, I know. Well, you know, then the marketing department does what it does, right?

Alex Ferrari 28:44
Exactly. So alright, so the movie comes out. It's It's a hit. It's definitely hit it in the in the video stores for sure. Because I was working at the video stores when that came out in the 19. I was in high school. So I remember recommending that film constantly to people in the people coming back like he did tell me about the ending. But it was beautiful. So you go and it gets nominated, you win an Oscar. And now you're kind of you know, you basically, you've hit the dream for all screenwriters pretty much you've won an Oscar, how does the talent treat you? How do you deal with it? Because I've heard out of there Oscar winners on the show. It varies on how the accolades how the town treats you, you know, all of that stuff. How did you how did you handle it? And what was it like?

Tom Schulman 29:34
It was it's, you know, I mean, I by the time the Oscars came around, I had already had to fairly, you know, hit movies in the theaters. Honey, I Shrunk the Kids and Dead Poets both came out within a couple of weeks of each other right? did really good business. So you know, I was getting offers and stuff that just put it up to another level. And then it's it's hard because people start saying, you know, I'm not going to Give you notes, and you kind of go, what does that I just don't, I would never want to tell an Oscar winner, you know what to write and you kind of go, You know what, I'm no better now than I was when I wrote this. And you know, I need input, I need feedback, I don't I need your honest feedback or, you know, I That's just you thrive on that. It's not always, not always pleasant. But that's, that's what you do. So it was hard that way. And, you know, also just to be diluted with so many offers, literally, if I had been diligent about it, which more more diligent about it, which I should have been, I would have been reading, you know, a scripture tonight for a couple of years,

Alex Ferrari 30:42
Because I want you to direct, not just

Tom Schulman 30:45
Write direct write and direct, but you know, I put it whatever you want to do what you know, really, it's, it's crazy. And, and so I don't know that I handled it well, because I still really wanted to, I had my own ideas of things I wanted to do. So I kind of kept putting those offers aside in a way and you know, looking back, I turned out really good things. And if it was, you know, just go some big shows, some big shows that when they hit, you know, to their credit, a lot of times, you know, I would read the book that was offered, and I did not see what the movie that they made in that book, you know, so some very excellent people got a hold of it with a better grander vision than mine. But still, it was it was hard. And it just, you know, you kind of go from, from, you know, your own your own house, you know, getting the mail and taking care of your family to this thing where you you know, you could literally eat lunch and dinner on somebody else for five years. Honestly, it is never stops. People want to take you out what is it Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 31:52
It's it's, it's the golden ticket in many ways. But just like lottery winners, some people deal with it differently. Some people that destroys them, right? Some people don't take advantage of the situation when it's presented to themselves. And it's, look, it's you, there's no book on it. There are some more interviews like this out there, where I ask these kind of questions of Oscar winners. I'm like, Dude, how did you deal with this? You know, but it's a it's a small club, the Oscar winning?

Tom Schulman 32:23
I mean, for me, it was, the luck of it was is that the, you know, five or 10 years of working, you know, basically in my basement, you know, alone doing it prepared me because I had written a lot. So, you know, I felt I never confident, but I felt pretty good that I could about delivering what you know that if, if I got a job and liked a project that I can I could give them something that you know, at least they wouldn't hate me.

Alex Ferrari 32:53
Did you? Did you after you won the Oscars? I've always fascinated about this. Do you still were insecure as a writer?

Tom Schulman 33:01
Oh, yeah. Yeah. And but the expectations go up right now. Winter, they expect everything you turn in? It's got to be genius, because you don't? Yeah, at least I felt that. But you know, it didn't take long to shake that. You know, you can you just I mean, mainly fortunately for me, the day after the Oscars, I had to get up on a plane and go and have some meetings with Bill Murray over What About Bob? So it was just immediately back to work. You know, What About Bob was kind of, you know,

Alex Ferrari 33:32
That was a that was a that was a that was a pretty big hit as well, if I remember. Yeah.

Tom Schulman 33:36
Yeah, it was. I can't remember but ya know, it was it did well, and but I had that work to do. So it was I didn't have

Alex Ferrari 33:45
A chance to overthink things you were just not really working. So with with Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Again, did you did you were you brought in on that? Was that an original idea? Are you you were brought

Tom Schulman 33:58
I was brought in. I mean, I would say 10 days before the anticipated start of production for the first day of production. They fired the entire group have they fired the writers they fired the director, they fired the producers. I think I had heard that Rick Maraniss had bought that it was he had been sold that it was comedy. It wasn't a comedy. And my agent called me and said, You're starting this rewrite tomorrow, and you've got, you know, eight days to turn it to fit to turn it into a comedy and I'm like, What are you talking about? So he sent it to me? I said, I know I can't even get through this. It's a drama. What are you talking about? I've already committed you're doing it. You know, there's a meeting tomorrow at eight o'clock. Be there? You know, I'm like, Oh my god. So that was like a Wednesday and I went to the studio and I said you know what, I gotta think about this. I don't I don't I can't just start writing. I got it. I have a take on it. They said no, no, you understand a week from Saturday. Hey, this is going in a pouch to Rick Maraniss. He's reading it on Sunday. If he's doing it, he's going to be in Mexico on Tuesday starting to shoot. If he reads it and doesn't like it, we're scuttling. I'm like, Oh my God, and then they said, so start to buy. I said, No, I'm gonna start on Monday. I'm gonna think about it for three or four days. And they just every two hours, Katzenberg would call me and go, you're ready to start. Come on, start. Just start writing. Just put some boards down. That's all you got to do. And I'm like, No.

Alex Ferrari 35:29
I remember when that movie came out again, this is this is prime video store time. During when that movie came out. Oh, my God, that was such that was a monster hit if I remember it was, it did lot of business theatrically it destroyed in the video store, spawned a sequel spawned a ride or show a Disney

Tom Schulman 35:50
Write and a series to you know, yeah, that's right. Yeah, no, it was. But you know, it was the idea of the previous team that was you know, all credit.

Alex Ferrari 35:59
It's genius. It's a fairly genius idea.

Tom Schulman 36:02
Yeah. So, yeah. So that that part is, you know, but But yeah, it was and it was a surprise hit. I mean, it actually was released along with Batman against Batman.

Alex Ferrari 36:13
I remember that. Actually. I remember that weekend. I was like, What's this Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Genius by that concept is fairly genius. Especially for the time period that it came out in. Yeah, it just was perfect. Perfect for that time. But I mean, you look, you go back and you look at that movie, you're like, Yeah, you know, the visual effects just weren't ready yet.

Tom Schulman 36:35
I know. I know. It's fine. At the time they work but you know, I can remember, you know, because I always saw those Flash Gordon Saturday mornings. They made in the 30s. And you kind of wonder, will Star Wars ever looked like that? And it kind of did after a while? You know? It's really polished it up a bit. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You know, but when you first see it, it's so amazing. You just, it feels like that is as real as it's ever gonna get. And it's perfect. So

Alex Ferrari 37:04
It didn't bother the box office. Let's just put it that way.

Tom Schulman 37:08
Yeah, the sort of fake grass and weeds and honey didn't either but the big the ants head and yeah, yeah. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 37:15
It was like it reminded me of that. That movie in the 50s. It was a them is called them. The giant ant.

Tom Schulman 37:22
Yes. Yeah. Yeah. The I think that what had happened was is that the previous team had told Disney they wanted to do all the special effects kind of analog old style, that the B would be a man and a B suit, if you know that thing. So Disney had them shoot a test. They saw it. They just said goodbye. That's it. We're not doing it that way. We're getting other people. So they got Joe Johnston, who was a model maker. Yeah. Um, and, you know, that's, that's,

Alex Ferrari 37:51
They call Joe. I remember. I think I saw them the ILM documentary or something on Disney Plus, he was like, yeah, and then they called me for this Honey, I Shrunk the Kids movie, and they just needed someone who could do some effects. So I got the job.

Tom Schulman 38:03
Right. Right. Right. And it was George.

Alex Ferrari 38:04
It was George Lucas who, who gave him the attaboy like the Donnie Brasco. He's, he's he could do it.

Tom Schulman 38:10
Yeah, I think Jeffrey called George and said, Who you got. And George said, I got this, you know, he's a modelmaker. But he's, he's brilliant. And he can do it. Just that okay. You know, so

Alex Ferrari 38:22
Those things don't happen today. Like, unless it's unless it's a Steven or someone from the old guard. making those calls but I think once that generation is gone, these the new gen. There's just nobody that has that kind of juice anymore, or has that power to even do it. No one a Disney, other than maybe Iger could do.

Tom Schulman 38:45
Eisner was part of that. I mean, of course, the firt I had made it because I had gotten sick every time I went to Mexico, I made it because they said well, you know, you're going to be on the set. I said, Nope, not going to Mexico to be on the set of this movie that I'll watch dailies here, not going to cry. No. So they said, you know, at that point, they had them because we went into a seven days, you know, process but the first day the dailies came back, I was there and something happened. And Jeffrey looked at me and said, Did you write that little kid said something. He said, Did you write that line? I don't remember that in the script. I said no, but I like it. And he they stopped the dailies. And they said, Get Joe Johnston on the on the on the phone. So they got him on the phone. I remember David Hoberman, who was head of production was talking to him and he was saying, you know, we're not going to improvise. We've worked really hard on this script. We and then he hung up. And Eisner said what happened? He said he hung up on me. And I like oh, so Eisenberg goes, what do we do? Katzenberg said, Well, we can fire him or we could make his life miserable. Or we could go along and see what happens. And iser said, What do you want to do. And Katzenberg? Let's go along, see what happened. I was Joe's career was on the line, I don't think he ever did. But But, and you know, he did a great job. So

Alex Ferrari 40:15
That's amazing. That's amazing. So whether we do outline when you work

Tom Schulman 40:24
Extensively, I mean, I outline I take notes for months, or however long I have. And then you know, to the point where I'll have 150 pages of just notes, sometimes I've written the same scene twice, and don't even remember it, but, and then I go through and I organize them, I make sure there's space between them, I print them out, I slice every idea in paragraph or whatever scene into a separate thing, I put them in a pile, I pick it up, and I go, Oh, this is Act Two somewhere, and I leave the floor open. So I lay this whole thing out along the floor. And there is the point that I start, there's there places where I don't know how I'm going to connect scenes, I might not even know how this whole section is going to work. But while I'm figuring out what's going on with all the other stuff, those little AHA connection moments happen, you know, so it's a, it's a really good process, and I just stumbled on it.

Alex Ferrari 41:19
Do you do you? When you're writing? Are you trying to tap into the ether? Are you trying to do that thing that that kind of flows through you or not? Because no, you're just what

Tom Schulman 41:32
I'm just into the story completely into the story and characters, you know,

Alex Ferrari 41:37
They're the ones driving it. So you're not trying to like waiting for inspiration or the muse to show up?

Tom Schulman 41:42
No, no, they are the Muse and it'll show up if you work with them. You know, if you're just there, the ether, to me, is a kind of place of self criticism of thinking, oh my god, nobody's ever going to make this. Okay. I just You just read that somebody just sold a horror film for a script for $15 million. Anybody gonna buy this piece of crap, I'm, you know, this this thing, I'm working on no chance that all those things come in, you got to leave them out. You know, that's the so just stay with your story, you know, get through the first draft, maybe at the end, you'll just go this was a bad idea. You've wasted a couple months, whatever, but probably not.

Alex Ferrari 42:24
Something comes out of it. You're a better writer, you're a better writer,

Tom Schulman 42:26
You're better. Absolutely. You know,

Alex Ferrari 42:29
Now, how do you do? How do you deal with studio notes?

Tom Schulman 42:32
I kind of figured that the people giving the notes have the same pride of authorship that that I have. So you know, their job to give notes, right? So I want to encourage them to give good notes. And I do the same thing to them that they do to me, which is the if they're good. They'll always start by going wow, we love what you did. And of course, they're going to shred it and eviscerate it. But by telling me how much they love it and giving me all that support. I'm open and I do the same thing to them when they're giving me the notes. I go Oh, that's interesting. Really good, huh? I write everyone down is if I love it, and they feel very good about my response. And then when I come back and go, Yeah, you know, I love this note, I love that one. But this thing you know, I'd like to do it. But it doesn't work. Because of this. They listen because they know I'm on their side. If I'm defensive in the room, you know, which I did when I was early going. They're just like, Oh, we got a defensive writer and they're not gonna listen to anything you said. But if you're if you're open there, you just you form a great relationship and then they go Yeah, you know, you're right. That would ruin the whole rest of the movie if you did that. So

Alex Ferrari 43:39
You don't drop because I've heard some writers do this is that they'll put something in so ridiculous. Just to give them some some meat. You don't do that.

Tom Schulman 43:48
Now I'd never do anything that I think would would be it

Alex Ferrari 43:52
Because it possibly might get stuck in there if you're not.

Tom Schulman 43:55
Absolutely you know, don't don't ever write anything you don't want shot, you know, and

Alex Ferrari 44:00
Did you ever did you ever hear the story of what Goodwill Hunting? What they did put the script in the middle of the script. They put this massive orgy sex scene with will haunting and his friends. And there's this giant thing. And I forgot who it was. I think it was either Chris Moore or I think Chris Moore told us telling me this story on the show. And it's like he gave it to the studio which was I think that was Touchstone as well. It was a touchstone or Hollywood one of those Disney arms if I'm not mistaken. Oh, or Miramax. It was a Miramax film at the time. Yeah. And then I think it was somebody who read it and they're like, you know, we love the movie, but that orgy scene in the middle. This is seems a little out of place. And they go we want to make sure that you read the entire thing. So we stuck that entire scene in there. That's how we know if you actually read it or if you didn't read it, because if you read it, you're gonna say something.

Tom Schulman 44:56
That's great. That's so smart. Yeah, the interesting thing too Mi is most people and I'm guilty of this myself, when they hit something that really bumps them and bumps them badly. They don't read anything after that, really. They just they think they have, they will finish the script. But you know, you get in a meeting and you go, boy, that thing or they'll start you can tell something's really wrong that thing on page 20. What did you do? You fix that? And you come back and they go and God, well, all that stuff you fix in the second half of the script. It's amazing. Where did you get? How did you do that? And just a day, and you know, it's been there all along. They just couldn't, they couldn't process it. Yeah. So it's, it's interesting that way

Alex Ferrari 45:38
Sometimes, sometimes I've heard, even I've done this on a couple of jobs where I'll just write the same. I just, I'll just send it to them again, after the note, and they'll go, Oh, it's so much better this time. I'm like, That's great. I'm crabby. Your notes are fantastic. Is there is there anything you wish somebody would have told you at the beginning of your career? Well, hoping a little nugget of something you like, man, you know, when you win the Oscar? Well, that besides that, besides that,

Tom Schulman 46:13
People told me so many things, I got a lot of good advice. You know, most of the advice was if you can do anything else with your life, get out you know, because you no matter how talented you are, this movie is gonna eat this film is gonna eat you alive. And, and people told me that, you know, but I was too stubborn. And you know, to listen, that's not going to happen to me, you know, me, and everybody else, you know, ever picked up a pencil. But you know, I don't know. I mean, people have told me, you know, just only fight the important fights Don't you know, and I don't agree with that. I actually think you do better. You know, I mean, I've had people say why, why don't you know, come? Can't we just do that? Like, No, why would I agree to do something and why would you want to do something? That's not right for the movie, every little detail. We have no idea what's going to bump this audience and throw them out. So let's not let's not make any mistakes if we can help it you know, we're gonna make plenty but let's not consciously do something that we think is just okay. You know? No, I got I think, I think I can't think of anything. I mean, maybe I'm just Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 47:30
Okay, fair enough. Fair enough. Now, tell me about your new film double down south, which you wrote and directed. I was telling you I saw the trailer and it's so refreshing to see with Fred the trailers great. It's well put together shot gorgeously, but I'm really intrigued by the story because I've never seen a film about Keno. And in the south, which is like this unique normally it's in the big city like color money or something like that hustling bars, but tell me about that film.

Tom Schulman 48:00
I grew up as a soldier in Nashville. And, you know, as part of a misspent youth, we'd go to this pool hall called 20th century pool hall, which was to dive in a fairly shabby, then Jabby part of Nashville, and three guys named Nick ran it. They were Nick Nick Nick, the old it middle, Nick and young Nick, young Nick in that play was about 30. I guess old Nick was just crotchety old guy middle, Nick was a genuinely mean person, you know, and you just, you'd never want to ask him one question. You never talked to him again. He was so dismissive. And I was, you know, he hated kids there, but he let us come in. Because you know, we spent money on and in the corner, they had this game called Kino pool, which was this board you put on the table, there are holes in the board, there are numbers for the balls, and there's this double hole. And if you make a double, you get to shoot again. And you the bet doubles. So if you are playing for five bucks, and we both put $5 on the table, and I make a double on the break, you have UNL me 10 bucks, and I get to shoot again and the beds now 10 bucks, and if I hit the double hole again on the break, you owe me 20 bucks. So people that are good at doubling up and you know, the first time I played I made the mistake of not quite understanding that and, you know, almost lost my watch and never got to shoot because if you shoot and miss, it's the other guy shot and he gets to keep going until he misses. So it's it's a diabolical gambling game. And there was this really good looking woman. I have no idea how old she is. But I mean, I was 14 she would come into this place every now and then and would be back there with the guys playing Keno and you know, we'd sit back there, my friends and I just gawk at her and she never gave you know even glanced at us but it stuck with me because it was a rough crowd. And she seemed to she was I never saw her smile. She is a tough tough on brand, you know. And so she was kind of the for years, I thought I want to make something store I want to write a story about this, but it never just kind of went away. I couldn't figure it out. And then maybe, I don't know, a year a little over a year ago. I just went, Oh my God, I know what that is both of those to be because I had a friend whose brother ran a poker game in accounting, you're outside in Nashville. And it was kind of a he was really smart about it, because he, I mean, it was illegal. But he paid off the cops. And he would bring star poker players from all over the United States in advertised them, you know, kind of underground and poker players from all over which show up to see if they can beat these guys, you know, and he took a cut of the pot. That's all he did just cut the pot. Yeah, so that that those two things were sort of the inspiration for this plantation house, where this game of Keno is played is a kind of, you know, high stakes keynote.

Alex Ferrari 51:03
I mean, I'm dying to see it. I can't wait to see it. It looks it looked really cool. It's like it's an original idea. I just haven't seen that before. And that's such a rarity. In today's world, you just because everything has been made. Everything is every story has been done. But but this is just a unique placement for it. So. So this is I think this is an independent film at this point. Yeah, yeah. So how'd you get? How'd you get the cash? off the ground because it's not easy nowadays.

Tom Schulman 51:32
My friend Rick Wallace, who is we've been friends since the late 70s. television director was worked for bochco for years, ran some bochco shows, great guy, just dear old friend read, read the script. And he's he's moved to New York, outside of Seattle. And he said, You know, there's a whole group of people up here that every now I meet him, and again, they say, if you've got any, any, you know, movie ideas or whatever, you know, we've invested in some low budget horror films, blah, blah, blah. And I said, Sure, give them the script. And you know, what, it just, they just came through, it couldn't have been any easier, you know, the budgets very low. So, you know, and, and they were just like, the day with the money was supposed to be there. It was there. What, what's the No, I know, I mean, the money dropped on the day was a bomb. Everything was just, you know, as easy as it could be that way, you know, and we still had to go off in the middle of COVID. And, you know, make the movie in 22 days, but, but you know, we did

Alex Ferrari 52:37
Everyone, everyone listening, this is not the way things happen.

Tom Schulman 52:40
It never, never the money never Is there ever, never comes.

Alex Ferrari 52:45
It's always out tomorrow, but you have to pay people, well, we'll just start shooting now. And we'll pay you and we'll get it to you. And this just lets your studio based. It's that's just the way it goes.

Tom Schulman 52:57
Yeah, yeah. It's a shot. And you know, I just hope they get their money back. So,

Alex Ferrari 53:03
But it looks, it looks great. I can't really looking forward to it. And it comes out in May you said,

Tom Schulman 53:08
Yes, it's gonna be released in a minimum of 10 cities, in theaters in May. And then right after that, it'll be on all the digital platforms. And then after that, streaming somewhere, it'll find a home somewhere. Yeah. final final resting place.

Alex Ferrari 53:25
So let me ask you, you know, as directors, there's always that one day on set that is that you feel the entire world's coming crashing down around you. And it's generally every day. But there's there's that one day unless you're Peter Weir, and then you're just a cool cucumber. But, but for the rest of us mortals. Yeah. What was that day for you either on this project, or any of the other projects you've worked on? And how did you overcome it?

Tom Schulman 53:53
Well, that that day for me was probably about 15 days into the shoot maybe a little less, maybe 12 to halfway through when I was shooting a scene that's about two it's basically the end of that too. And you know, it had been there and seem good for you know, the however many months it had been eight months since I've written it and hundreds of eyes it seen it, shot the scene, it felt good. I woke up at two o'clock in the morning and went, Oh my God, that scene, the movie does not work from that point on. It's this I've made a huge mistake. And the character that's talking about this would not be concerned about what he's talking about. The whole movie falls apart at this point. And I just, it's like, oh my God, and I, you know, I just thought, I can't save this. It's done. I'm gonna have to go in and want to call the invest. I mean, we're screwed. So and then I thought, Okay, you're right. I just put on the T and see what that you know, think this through to end by five in the morning because I had to be on the set, I believe it's 530 for the set. I had figured out the whole how to rewrite the scene and the movie. Not only was it was going to work better, because of the new way the way the scene was going to be, and I went to the set. And I said, we got to reshoot that scene from yesterday. No, we don't have time. Why would you do it? It was a great scene. We all love it. I said, Listen to me. And I told him what was wrong with the scene? They're like, Oh, my God, you're right. And here's how we fix it. Oh, my God. Okay, great. Great. Well, we'll figure out how to reschedule it. And we did. So it was, but that was a terrifying. Oh, my God, you know, it was.

Alex Ferrari 55:42
It is there's always that day. I mean, it's, you know, for me, it was insane. This is an insane proposition. It's art at at a level. Because you can be an artist view writer and just write and that's fine. There's their stakes, but they're not that big in the sense that they could do in your time. You could be a painter, you could be a musician. They're very solitary. But when you're working as a director, yeah. And you've got millions of dollars and people's careers, and every second that is going by all you hear is teaching to achieve X.

Tom Schulman 56:18
Yeah, it's it's just it is so crazy. To be spending money at the rate we spend it normally at the in the way we do you know, it's just, it's always baffling to me. I mean, I rehearsed we rehearse before this movie, we had a couple of readings before dead poses, like most people never rehearse. And then it's like, what? You don't ever even have a read through the script. I mean, come on, you got to you got to at least I mean, every one of those, those exercises gives you a big clearer picture or a clearer picture of what's working and what's not. And yet people just end by the way, most stuff works. It's not like it's saying, yeah, so but but, you know, to me, the process is, it's baffling, you know, but that's the way we do it. So that's what we did.

Alex Ferrari 57:08
Now, I'm gonna ask you a few questions asked all my guests. What advice would you give a screenwriter or filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Tom Schulman 57:16
Well, today, it's easier in a way, because you can go out with your cell phone and your friends and you can make something you know, you can write it, you can direct it, and then shoot it. And, you know, you can more cost much. So that's what I would do. That's what I would advise anybody to do. If you don't want to direct you know, find somebody who likes your script. And you know, somebody your age, preferably with, they will listen and, you know, and make your stuff because there's huge opportunity out there. Now, you know, you can get your stuff. I mean, agents won't read anything anymore. It's hard to get them to watch you if you're going to make something even if you make a short you need to make the trailer for the show. They'll watch a 32nd trailer, they will not watch your eight minute short, you know,

Alex Ferrari 58:03
Basic, isn't it?

Tom Schulman 58:05
I know. I know. So, you know, we made the trailer the part of the deal was you got to make a trailer for the movie just to sell it. You know, because the sales agents do not want to watch your movie they they'll watch the if you tease them with the trailer and they liked the trailer, then they'll watch the movie, call them up and say you've got a movie, they'll go okay, we'll see it and you know, two months later, it's like Yeah, yeah, we'll get to it. Show them the good trailer, they'll watch it that night in the movie that night. I mean, he just you know, the short attention spans are something we just all have to deal with now, so you know, make sure you cater to that.

Alex Ferrari 58:40
Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Tom Schulman 58:49
You know, trust trust my instincts I did it when writing you know, when I'm sitting down, I'm alone and I just, you know, I just try whatever I don't spend a lot of time you know, questioning my own instincts I just if I think there's a bad scene it is and I just redo it or they feel like something's wrong. I fix it. You know, I don't I don't ask myself should I fix this though? I just do it. But when I get with people as a director and you know and in meetings I'm less likely to sort of just lay out who I am and that's a mistake you know, you got to get comfortable just sometimes being the dumbest person in the room or the you know the mic or like Tom Hanks in big going I don't get it you know and even if everybody's gone What do you mean you don't get it come on you did it you know, you're going you know, you just got to you got to be completely honest with with people and and if you are it it you know, I got after two or three movies getting made and I just somehow I got more or let's say less likely to be a to rock the boat a little bit, you know, just in some ways less less confrontational than I had been before. You know, Disney and when I started there had a reputation being a writer kill any studio, you know, the writers would just complain. Oh, my God, I, you know, I was I wrote for a month and you know, summarily fired the other one, I didn't really know that. So I just spoke up on it right? Thought some, I mean, I just was just like, I don't think that works. And then people would look and you talk and then okay, all right. Well, what do you got? What would work though, that we had a real dialogue all the time. I was less likely to do that at other places. And I frankly, don't know why. But it was a mistake, because you just you have to bite the bite, maybe maybe I was aware that the other places had had shorter fuses, you know, and, and I had come to trust that Katzenberg wasn't going to fire me no matter how obnoxious we had some shouting matches big ones. And in front of other people, you know, but and I, you know, just we just trigger each other like that. And he never, you know, most of the time he would cave if you fight hard enough, he will. Okay, you know, and that's obviously we would back then, but I don't know, I got I pulled back from that. And I don't think it helped the movies that I hadn't made later.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:18
Fair enough. Fair enough.

Tom Schulman 1:01:20
Yeah. And that's the opposite of most people will tell you, you know, try to try to please but I don't think that's the answer.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:27
What are three screenplays that every screenwriter should read?

Tom Schulman 1:01:32
Well, for sure, Casa Blanca, who shared Chinatown? I think Groundhog Day? You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:41
It's one of the it's one of the most brilliant scripts ever written. Yeah, yeah. And I and I've said it so many times. It's the most spiritual film I've ever seen. It's amazing. It is it's literally the most it's the journey of a soul reincarnating again and again until he gets it right. And he learns his lessons along the way. And at the end, he is liberated. I mean, it's literally that.

Tom Schulman 1:02:03
Yeah, it's one of my favorite movies of all time, you know. Incredible. So

Alex Ferrari 1:02:09
And then what are three films? three of your favorite films of all time?

Tom Schulman 1:02:13
Three of my favorite films. Well, that's so hard. Today, today, today, if I had you know, I guess the two godfathers

Alex Ferrari 1:02:23
That counts as one. Okay,

Tom Schulman 1:02:24
That counts as one probably Ekaru. You ever seen that? Oh, acre? Of course. Of course. Yeah, yeah. I guess Casa Blanca, I would have to say it's beautiful. The message of that movie is just one of the most you know it's it's humanity's best moment. You know? I think that that what happens in that moment? So

Alex Ferrari 1:03:00
Tom it has been a pleasure talking to you my friend. Thank you so much. Again. Thank you so much again, for all those amazing filmmaking moments you gave me coming up and and I'm dying to see your latest movie when it comes out. But I appreciate you my friend. Thank you again for all the the knowledge and the and wonderful stories. I appreciate you.

Tom Schulman 1:03:19
It's a real pleasure.

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BPS 275: RAW Confessions of a Hollywood Blockbuster Screenwriter with Ted Griffin

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Alex Ferrari 1:40
I like to welcome Tisha

Ted Griffin 3:33
Oh, Fuck you! NO! All right, start over.

Alex Ferrari 3:36
No, sir. We were gonna get what keep rolling. We're gonna keep rolling. I expect nothing less from you, sir. Mr. Ted Griffin. How are you my friend?

Ted Griffin 3:47
I'm terrific. Very, very nice. Happy to be here. Happy to be alive. Thank you, man. I was in New York stories. Any any day above ground is a good day.

Alex Ferrari 3:57
Amen to that brother.

Ted Griffin 3:59
Tom Waits impression. I don't know.

Alex Ferrari 4:01
But I appreciate you coming up. Joe. Man. I've been a fan of yours for a while. And I saw your interview years ago on the dialogue which is one of the rare interviews I looked you don't do these very often. I noticed or if they don't,

Ted Griffin 4:13
Can't find ask really. Maybe because of that one. Maybe because I wore shorts. on a on a gone camera. Somebody said Jesus. Well, you can deal with the drooling, but shorter

Alex Ferrari 4:26
And the cursing and the drugs and alcohol Excuse me. Yeah. But anyway, so my friend, thank you so much for coming on the show. My first question to you is why in God's green earth did you want to get into this insane business called Holly doll?

Ted Griffin 4:43
It was it almost feels like it was never a choice. I interrupt me if I get too long winded with family history because any biography you ever read is like, oh god, he's talking about his grandfather. My grandfather and my grandmother came up to Hollywood in the 20s. And were a very prolific director on my grandfather's side and a fairly successful actress on my grandmother's side for a number of years. They show up on TCM a few times a year, sometimes in a sort of the graveyard shift. And they both have stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which started around 1950. So there was a lot of sidewalk back then. So it's, they are those names you kind of pass by and go. Alright, that's a they were they were pioneers on the sidewalk, I'd say. Anyway, he directed a lot of movies with almost everybody famous from back then John Wayne, Shirley Temple, the Marx Brothers, Astaire and Rogers, his maybe not their best films, but you worked with them all. He did make a very celebrated Laurel and Hardy movie called sons of the desert, which is in the Library of Congress. So that's his sort of claim to fame. He was named his name was William a cider. And the only person I've ever met who actually knew who he was, was Martin Scorsese, because that's just smarting. And my grandmother's name was Marion Nixon and she was sort of a clinical bear type type worked with a young Spencer Tracy and a young Joel McCrea and Jimmy Cagney was in a couple of John Ford movies. And but retired when she married my grandfather and started a family. So I grew up with the lore of Hollywood, around me, my parents were not in the industry, but my father was, who was not involved, had no relation to the industry was a cinephile and took me to a revival theater at the Rialto Theatre in South Pass, which is where Griffin mill in the player goes and kills the screenwriter. Yes, yeah, is a harbinger of things to come for me. Anyway, so I was seeing movies very young. And then, luckily, two things I think happened at a special age. I think there's something about 1011 12, especially maybe for boys where they kind of get into story and movies. And when I was that age, Steven Spielberg got sort of coronated, meaning he was on the scene with jaws and close encounters. But that was like, that's the Raiders Lost Ark et poltergeist sort of hattrick that along with the proliferation of the VCR, so all of a sudden, I had access to movies besides revival theaters. And so from that point on, it was I was just moving nuts. And there was sometimes unfortunately, no looking back

Alex Ferrari 7:58
In other fields,

Ted Griffin 7:59
Hopefully the not too long winded answer to your question.

Alex Ferrari 8:04
So then, so I've so I think you and I come from the same similar vintage as far as age is concerned. And I grew up in a video store as well actually worked in a video store for so many years. So I mean, that opened my eyes was set to cinema, watch video source. So at what point did you say you know what, I think I want as much power as I can in Hollywood, I'm gonna become a screenwriter. And you start bumping around as a screenwriter, because I'm assuming you said you'd have no connections in the business at this point.

Ted Griffin 8:35
No, my last living connection was probably Ernst Lubitsch. It was that who was apparently a good friend of my grandfather's he had died by dance distance for I was born in 70. So everybody, I had nobody to call and and because at 1112 Let me turn off so that doesn't make that noise. I started emulating Spielberg and making backyard movies with on Super Eight and then and then beta, and then have VHS so so my so he was my role model. And then probably like a few years later, when I got snarky or Billy Wilder, and but there were always sort of writer directors, who were my heroes or who I aim to be. So I had absolutely no interest in being a screenwriter in the business and but I wanted to write my way into the chair so to speak, which I I kind of made the mistake of going to a liberal arts college college back east because it was it was off track, but I you know, I did it. It happened. It's my claim to fame from that is that I was a in the first incarnation of the comedy group broken lizard which has gone on Yes. So I was like a freshman when they were juniors and seniors.

Alex Ferrari 10:13
So Jay was on the show was on the show. I love Jay .

Ted Griffin 10:15
Yeah. So that so for like a year I was there Terry Gilliam I was like making the movies and, and then they went to New York and I ultimately went to LA and anyway, so what's my story? Oh, yeah, so I was gonna write myself my way into the chair. But I was also very poor and living in LA in a hand me down Mazda with pretty much all my clothes and possessions in the back of it going from couch to spare bedroom to sometimes sleeping in the car. And not really kind of refusing to take a job because I was just intent on writing my way in I mean, a permanent job I was a dry cleaner for a while and worked on a construction site for a little bit. And, and then three years of that, and I got lucky, somebody got a writer named Neil Tolkien read one of my scripts and gave it to his agent lawyer who became my agent lawyer. And there's one script called best laid plans that I thought this is my thing to direct like, this is the right size movie. And no it it's like a good first film. And then somebody. Then Mike Newell, sorry, I was like debating Okay, do I name names? Yeah. Mike Newell company read it. And Mike Newell, who was coming off move. Who had just made Al Pacino Johnny Depp gangster.

Alex Ferrari 11:46
Oh, Danny Braska

Ted Griffin 11:48
Thank you, God. Just making that said, oh, I want to direct this next and on this level with these people. And I said, well, she's, I guess I gotta say yes to that. So I sort of sold the script, and literally turned around Donnie Brasco, open big and he said, I can't do this movie. I need to do a bigger movie. But we'll we'll find a director and I was like, Whoa, he would river I want to, but I couldn't. I'd sort of taking the check. His next movie was pushing 10 So serves him fucking right. And, but I got I got bait and switch on the movie I should have directed first. The other movie that I'd written that sold was ravenous, which was not a good first movie because it's up in the mountains with snow and turned out to be a completely calamitous production.

Alex Ferrari 12:37
Is that Is that the one with Guy Pearce? Yes. Yeah. Guy was on the show. I think he I remember him saying, Yeah, ravenous. That was a rough situation.

Ted Griffin 12:44
Yeah, it was a rough situation. But strangely enough, a movie that has a lot of fans and like, oh, yeah, fun criterion channel and like, survives, in a way basically plans very, like, terrible movie. Lots of nice people involved very easy production. Lots of very good actors, all in the wrong roles. And after that, I was like, I took six months off, I was so bummed out about the industry.

Alex Ferrari 13:15
Well, let me ask, let me ask you this. So how many scripts did you write before you got the first one sold?

Ted Griffin 13:24
I'd written four or five.

Alex Ferrari 13:28
How did you? Did you take any courses? Or did you take any anything to like learn it? Or did you just pick up a book format

Ted Griffin 13:35
As a kid I was I was already so nuts about movies that I was reading Adventures in the screen trade. By the time I was 12, or 13. I was I think, at 14 Taking a Syd field class where he distributed the first 10 pages of body heat by Larry caston, which is how I learned not only about screenwriting, but about heterosexual sodomy. That's a joke I have with Larry. Oh, we can laugh about it now. Anyway. So I was I was already sort of reading scripts, which was a lot harder in the pre internet days. Like he really had to go find him. So I was sort of like, to some degree, self taught and college I talked to a professor into letting me take write a screenplay for credit one semester. So that was the first one I like, feature length one I had done and then and then those three years of sort of like living hand to mouth. I churned out three, three more, and I also tried my hand at a couple of t like half hour TV scripts, and which taught me that I should not write for friends or the Simpsons or Seinfeld, because I gave them to my friends. I had friends who are basically running Seinfeld. I thought, oh, they'll give me a job and they read them and said, You're feature guy, which was a nice way to say this. Good.

Alex Ferrari 15:07
But this is a your you were in a car basically, living basically, day to day. I just want people listening to understand like the kind of tenacity that takes for three years running around LA, did you just have a laptop and you were just trying to use squeezing in stuff at coffee shops or doing it in your car? Like how do you mentally deal with not knowing where your next meal is coming at? And then that and that maybe that that extreme, but still, like, really not having a place to live or jumping here and they're really struggling, and yet still be creative enough to write.

Ted Griffin 15:43
I'm trying to remember actually, like when laptops came on the scene because it may have been like lugging around a modern

Alex Ferrari 15:49
The typewriter.

Ted Griffin 15:50
Yeah. I mean, there were, there's a great injustice in Hollywood, which is I would say, from my experience, not systematically, systemically racist, but systemically favors those who have a trust fund or who can be in a mailroom, unpaid, or who can survive for a while. And while yes, I was working hand to mouth, like I had a, my mom was in Denver, and I could like escape and go and live in our basement and churn out a script. And so I had, I didn't have any money, but I did have a diploma from an overpriced University and sort of like, more of a safety net. Even in that existence, then, like, I knew I wasn't gonna be, like, aimless the homeless. So it's a good story, but it's also sort of like, and I'm glad I went through it, because there is something to pay, you're paying your dues, besides being able to go on a podcast 25 years later and say so. But that said, there is something that is there's there's a reason why kids from liberal arts colleges or reasonably well to do backgrounds, do well in Hollywood, because they can kind of survive those questionable years. Oh, what's my point? So yes, it was. Also, I mean, there's something about the you don't realize you're gonna miss about youth that is very, very known about music, meaning if you're in rock into rock and roll, and you're not kind of making traction by 25, like, you got to like your that energy is musically like you need that for rock and roll. It's not as true for movies, but it's kind of is meaning. They're novelists who probably start at 50. You cinema is like a little younger than that. And so and there's a certain energy that in which you, you're coming up a lot of stuff younger than you are older. Agreed. And so. So while I really wish, I'm really glad I'm not living in my car anymore, I really would love to sort of get back to that

Alex Ferrari 18:32
That guy, that guy, that guy,

Ted Griffin 18:34
And also the, the, you know, doing anything artistic is a leap of faith, you've got to have to have a dream and believe that dream could possibly come true. Well enough to pursue it, and you have enough experiences where things get completely rad Focht and you've sort of ate and it becomes a greater fight to have that, to keep that dream alive. And so it's like, oh, God, I gotta do this. I gotta, I gotta suffer the slings and arrows again. Geez,

Alex Ferrari 19:03
but yeah, but as you get older you eat I mean, I don't know about you. But you know, your level of what you put up with just goes down like things I put up with in my 20s I would never put up with in my 40s Yeah, just it's just you just, you will do so much more when you're younger, to get to where you want to be. But after two or three decades, you're tired and you're like numb. I just don't, I don't want to do that anymore. I won't. I just won't do it anymore. So I agree with you. Like there's things that I remember myself and the torrent might take my early, late teens, teens and 20s that I was just the things that would just be flying, the energy was different. You're not as beat down as much at that point by the business.

Ted Griffin 19:41
I guess I'm proud that at that time, I took all that energy and suffered and put it towards writing and trying to get things going as opposed like I I really had no very little social life. So And I'm sure there are people who can like juggle both and and maybe not happen but people who I know people who had more fun in their 20s than I did. But it's, it's sort of what you have to do you can either choose life or career at that point.

Alex Ferrari 20:28
So alright, so after ravenous, you know, and and that other script that you wrote, how did you get this job to writing Ocean's 11? Like it doesn't there doesn't seem a direct line to that.

Ted Griffin 20:44
Moving from a cannibal Western black comedy doesn't

Alex Ferrari 20:53
With with with the biggest movie stars in the world, and Steven Soderbergh, right.

Ted Griffin 20:57
Well, so as I said, after, after those first two experiences were bad, because I kind of broken in the fall of 96. And for about a year there, I was, like, the shiny new screenwriting boy in town, and, and I had two movies going, and it was like, very heady days, and then ran into the brick wall of those productions of the reality of the business, took six months, six months off, and had sold another idea and was so either bummed out. Or, also, I'd learned the lesson of like, I sold something because of the excitement of agents in the business to sell this thing. And I just didn't have any idea of how to tell the story or what the story was. And I learned a valuable lesson there, which, I guess I could maybe help out anybody out there, which is, there are a bunch of reasons to write scripts, the money, the who you can get to work with the cocktail value of saying, Oh, I'm working with this or on this. And those are all great. And if you don't know what you're writing, or you have no enthusiasm for that all those those three reasons will not help you out when the rubber hits the road, like you need to care, like, have some kind of excitement about what you're writing, or else you're in trouble, hopefully. Or you're just a sociopath, mercenary, and you can pump it out good for you. I've met I've met them as always, so I so I had given back like, a lot of money. And also realize these two movies were going to come out in the next year. And that wasn't going to do me any favors, presumably. And a friend of mine worked for Jerry Weintraub who had a deal at Warner's, his name was Chris Buchanan. And he sent me oceans that it had been one of those movies that they had been talking about, Oh, is there a way of bringing out the word reboot? Bring it back somehow. I think back then it was even still just remake and worry, having grown up cinephile and, and also a guy who really kind of knew old movies and classic Hollywood better than my contemporaries, and who was heavily influenced the Great Escape was a major movie for me growing up Magnum and seven this sort of John Sturgis number movies, slightly less so Dirty Dozen, the professionals I thought was terrific. I had somehow missed oceans just never seen it. Probably because it was never recommended to me. It's the Scorsese loves it I think, um, for personal reasons. And I actually we we never talked about it he's never seen the remake and and Marty's never seen it has never watched it. He I that's a story for either later in the podcast or another day, but I fell into Scorsese's life because he saw ravenous. Which kind of makes me wonder. But I've always thought it was more of an infamous movie. Like, watch these guys phone it in and snot for wearing sweaters. And so and when I finally watched it, I sort of thought Yeah, boy, that's a disappointment. Like it has the kind of the concept, generally for fun movie and that and it's the in the genre, but I really don't care about this movie. And I think I passed on it a couple of times. Basically, they developed a script by a guy named Steve Carpenter, who had written a directed movie called Soul Survivor with Casey Affleck, I think, and that script was pretty faithful to the original and that the it was it was a bunch of army buddies who thought hey, we should apply our military skills to this and they reassembled and There was a guy who is very close to Sinatra's character a dino a Sammy like that. And and I kind of read that and I said this is sort of feels like what I just saw updated and I can remember. Sorry, Tang long winded version. But so I passed it on a couple times. And I think I was I was driving around and I was either listening to the Touch of Evil soundtrack because I was a nerd by Henry man Seanie which is kind of a cool like, or David shires music from taking a Pelham, which is awesome also saw and I just sort of thought, oh, like, I get the vibe of what this movie could be like, it has that. Because there's something about music. That especially for me, but I think a lot of people like music can be an inspiration for movies, just because it's a feeling like you're gonna get this movie is going to give you this feeling this music is going to give you this feeling and that's, I think, sort of what compels us to go see things and to listen to things of like, I want to be scared right now. Or I want to be titillated, or what are its I'm all over the place. I'm gonna come back to Ocean's but there's a my one of my favorite things I've read about movies is Martin Amos wrote in appreciation of Spielberg in the early 80s. And he says that he kind of boiled it down to that Spielberg had a talent for streamlining and emotion to an audience, whether it's Jaws fear and adventure, Close Encounters our Raiders adventure again, and then et love and that and there's a brilliance in that. And I think that's still, to some degree, the secret of his of his success for whatever, along with craft and genius and some other stuff. So So I had the sense of like, oh, there's this feeling of cool that I think could be in this movie. And also secondarily, it struck me of like, the one of my comfort movies growing up on was my I have an older brother who's who's also movie crazy and also writer, and we would just watch the sting at nauseam vidro Hills film of David S Ward script. I try to include those names when I can because

Alex Ferrari 27:36
It doesn't get it doesn't happen very often.

Ted Griffin 27:38
Because the tour theory is such garbage and that all movies being identified by the director is calamitous, or even I'm sorry, I just like the sight and sound list that just came out where everybody like, obviously they've chosen things because to diversify the directors, but that doesn't mean that the movies they're choosing the like, the whole crews were different genders and stuff. Anyway, sorry, soapbox. Ocean's 11. So I hear that music. I love this thing. So I tell Buchanan, okay, I'll meet but I don't know about this. I don't know if I'm the right guy.

Alex Ferrari 28:16
Are you like working at this point? Did you have another job? Do you have another job? Or it's like, because it says,

Ted Griffin 28:20
No, I quit the other gig that I had given. You're looking for work, but you're still saying I don't know. And I'm also trying to get like, I feel like I got off track because I gave up my directorial debut. And so I'm trying to figure out okay, how do I get back to disillusions? But it's like, okay, I need to make some cash. Or, like, I have this potential do this. And I, and I don't want to, like, there's opportunity. And I know, I can't just piss it away. So I go in with Chris I meet weintrob, who's a character who is you know, I won't go through his whole history, but he's, he can be could be extraordinarily charming. And he came in, he said, you can go, I gotta play 7k bunk boy right next to President Bush. You're gonna live next to him. Again. Again, cook and UMaine you can work out in Maine. It'll be great. Which, by the way, an offer that never came through. I never heard another word about like, oh, yeah, you can have to Kennebunkport estate. So I sort of tap dance around like, like some ideas, but for some reason, like they think I'm right for this. And at the time, also, Brett Ratner was attached to direct this is our I'm certainly what else he had. sort of been, you know, he was a extraordinarily successful young director at the moment, and I met Brett and he was a full of enthusiasm. but nobody was saying this is this is what we want. which was actually great to hear, because I just, I, and I've since learned, it's very hard for me to say, to take somebody else's idea and say, Oh, let me execute that for you. And there are people who I've met who are really talented as a talent. But, but it's difficult for me. Anyway. So I went off, I got the job, I went off, and I sort of, I actually worked with my brother Nick a little bit on this and sort of thought, this whole army idea gives me no motivation for a highest like, it's just like, it's a reason for them to make money. Whereas I love the sting. And in the sting, or in the Magnum seven, or the professionals, they're sort of that code of this is what we do. Like it's it's a sort of professionalism. And I thought I'd rather make a movie about guys who do this, and this is the Mount Everest of that and be pretty unfaithful to the original. So wrote about 40 pages of that. I think I've told this somewhere else, but I'm just now I'm just, you can edit all this, right? I give the pages to Chris Buchanan, who's the VP at wind drops, one of two. Just to say, look, I'm working, like as proof of life, progress, and while he's enthusiastic, someone else at the weintrob company who's a little competitive with Chris steals the pages, reads them, takes them to Jerry and says, Griffin's completely off. roading. He's written this thing that hasn't that is not Ocean's 11. And you need to call him in so I get summoned to the woodshed by Jerry Weintraub, who says, This isn't this is all wrong. These guys. They got to be friends in making them thieves. Danny Ocean's coming out of prison. He's a loser. You got to start over. And I say, I understand now. At this point, Chris, God bless him has given the script to basil iguana, who's the warners executive on the project who's read it? And basil calls me and says, don't listen to Jerry. Just keep going. So I do. I'm I, I turned it in. And at that point, because of like this, all this nonsense, I'm sort of like, again, sort of sick of Hollywood and I moved to New York. I think this is like fall of 99. In the interim, oh, and what's happened in the interim is that Brett Ratner has got the movie family man going with Nick Cage and to Leone and is now is no longer available. So Jerry's pissed because he's lost his director because I didn't write the script overnight. And but What has also happened in the interim is that Warner's has made this deal with Soderbergh and Clooney, they've started a new production company there. And so when I do turn the script in, I think the first move is they offered it to Damon and Aflac to star which I think is a rotten idea because they're too young, like they're too green. It's the it's the young guns version of, of oceans. And, and very thankfully, Matt agrees with me. And they pass. So then they go to Soderbergh and Clooney, who sign on, which is like, January of 2000s,

Alex Ferrari 34:01
By the way, but George Clooney at that point, he had done, he had done out of sight

Ted Griffin 34:07
They'd make out of sight and 98 I think his Clooney movie movie was Peacemaker with

Alex Ferrari 34:14
No no movie movie was from dusk till dawn that was his first movie. That was the first time he made a feature of that as an action star. Then he did then he brought him in, but he's still not a megastar. He's He's a star, but he's not a megastar. At this point, Ocean's 11 cents into

Ted Griffin 34:32
In 2000 the perfect storm but all that's right. Yeah, he's that which is debatable because it's like, is he the star or is the wave?

Alex Ferrari 34:41
I would agree with you and mark that as well. Mark Wahlberg is in that and yeah,

Ted Griffin 34:46
But there's the perception of and three kings did well, but not mega well. So it's certainly the perception of like that he can lead a movie star in a movie but whether he's like a And I would say there are very few people who are movie stars. And just because they're in the movie, it's ahead and I'm not even sure if you could say George was ever got to that in the way that Julia Roberts was like, who came? I don't know what the title is. It's the movies called Julia Roberts. That way Nicholson was that way cruises that way. It's it's rarefied air. Anyway, so. So in the January 2000 days, sign on, I'm in New York, but Soderbergh just has Erin Brockovich coming out, which actually proves to be is like, the movie that really kind of restarts things outside got cred but flopped. Erin Brockovich, any wants to make traffic first. So in this irony of like, the Warner Brothers is in too much of a hurry to wait for Brett to do family man. But then when they give it to Steven, and he says, I need to wait a year they say okay. And so we're not going to start until 2001. And, but then, like, the I had, like some of those notions of casting. And for the rest of you, Ryan role I'd always had like, what I would say is like, the really terrific actor who isn't quite a movie star, whether it's the equivalent would be God. I don't know like, went to a movie star. At the time, like Jeff Goldblum, Kevin Spacey, there are certain people who are like that who are like, Oh, I would almost say that I've not seen Ocean's eight. But Ocean's eight sort of does this in that it's Sandra Bullock, and Cate Blanchett. Like Cate Blanchett is like a really interesting person to put in that, but she's not a movie you put in. She's not the star. She's on a movie star of that kind of movie. Anyway, so Brad Pitt comes aboard. That's a surprise to me. Like that's an elevation. The rest of the cast. I always knew it was going to be like, had it. And the one rule I did write for a specific actor was I wrote Saul for Ellen Ark and, and we do cast him. And he does a table read, which is one of the funniest two hours I've been in a room like he's so spectacularly funny. And then had to drop out two days later for because of a medical crisis, which happily 23 years later, was no big deal. So Karina replaced Why am I still here? Anyway? So I guess your original question was, how did a guy with two flop movies coming out? That's, that's an answer. Turned into that, which was like, step by step, meaning it was like, it was a, it was sort of a broken development thing. I barely squeezed by what? Like, I'm not sure maybe I didn't know enough just to say, Oh, I'm gonna throw out your concept and start over. And then also look, because lots of I mean, not just like family men could have not come together. It could have been Breton movie and he could have cast Charlie Sheen. Sucker, Christopher, and Christopher, which would have been a different thing. And who knows, Matt and Ben could have said, Yes. There's at some point. I asked if somebody at Warner's, who do you think is going to direct this movie as I turned it in? And they said, Brian Robins, and that's Brian Robins are running paramount. And this is where like, oh, you see, this is really broadly comic like, and, you know, to some degree, I'm jumping ahead of myself, but same thing happened. This is what on tower highest, which in some ways, there's a version of that which I like more than oceans. So all all the you know, it's the reverse decision meaning. Again, I like I don't think they cast it the way I would have cast it. Like I think it was the ultimately pursued who to comedically, got it. And if they had if they'd kept it real, I think and and not cast comedians. It would have been an hour or at least that's more of what I had my head.

Alex Ferrari 39:30
Alright, so now so Ocean's 11 gets made, you know, basically sets up George for the rest of his life as a not only a megastar, but a tequila magnate.

Ted Griffin 39:43
Without OSHA's original dream.

Alex Ferrari 39:45
Obviously, at the beginning, he's like, I'm gonna make this movie and then eventually sell that tequila company for obscene amounts of money.

Ted Griffin 39:52
But the whole representative,

Alex Ferrari 39:54
Exactly, exactly but to be fair, though, without the coolness of Ocean's 11 That pretty much sets up George for that cool vibe that he had. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. I mean, the Vegas vibe and the other movies that he made and everything is all set up off of ocean. So he owes you a check. I'm just throwing that out there. It's called Giorgio.

Ted Griffin 40:24
I saw him that he gave a million dollars to all his best friends. When I looked at my phone, waiting for it to ring

Alex Ferrari 40:32
Didn't happen. Alright, so after Ocean's 11 comes out, I mean, it's a mega hit. It's a massive, massive, massive hit worldwide. How does the town treat the guy who wrote ravenous and that other movie? After after the fact like, could you're in the middle of this hurricane, I always love asking screenwriters and filmmakers to get caught up in kind of this cyclone of a movie, how does the town cheat you? What lessons did you learn during your waterbottle? Tours? Because at this point, you have a golden ticket if I'm not mistaken, or is Am I wrong on that? Like, I mean, there's

Ted Griffin 41:07
A change not only in like, you know, certainly people are a little nicer to you. And then when you're in rooms, talking about something, you have a credibility that from success that you didn't have before as opposed to have credibility from doing a good piece of work, to different things. And jumping ahead again, I made 12 years ago, I made a TV series called terriers, which only lasted a season because it was commercially disastrous. Like it just didn't get washed by anybody. However, it was like got a lot of political love. And like there now a podcast or two about it. And for a one season show. Like it's, like ravenous, it's still like, it's a thing that won't die. And I talked to a lot of people say, who always volunteer, not always sorry, but who often volunteer how much they love it. I've never however, it didn't. Because it was good. In a lot of people's minds didn't make my phone ring. Like it would have been successful. I'd have a TV career now.

Alex Ferrari 42:21
Right, you can get a bad script that made $500 million, and the phone's gonna rank but if you write the best script ever, and it doesn't make any money, okay,

Ted Griffin 42:28
So it is better, in ways to be lucky than good. But but so Ocean's is is, is quite successful. And I sense it, and even before it's come out, I've been able to set up this project Matchstick Men at Warner's that is making oceans with my brother to write with me, sort of to get him because he had helped out considerably on oceans on sort of figuring out because they were the one of the challenges of oceans stepped backwards. The second is, is that there's just a lot of plumbing, there's a lot of structural work of you have 11 guys you have to take care of, and there's a balance, and you have to keep them all active. And

Alex Ferrari 43:17
It's a juggling act. It's a juggling major

Ted Griffin 43:19
So, so it's just sort of like, there's a lot of work that should be unseen, or reasonably seamless, if this movie is going to work. And that was just a little, like, little daunting. So So I write Matchstick Men with my brother, and which as its own, sort of, and I'm, I'm attaches producer as well, because coming off the experience of the first two movies, I didn't want to where I was left out of rooms about who's going to direct this, who's going to be in it. How do we promote this? And I was furious at times of like, the producers who had really never produced anything. Were were in rooms that I was not allowed into because of I was the writer, just the writer. I made that point and and haven't yet. And yet, the same thing happened in that Robert doesn't make us reads the script. And for those who haven't seen magic, man, I'm gonna spoil it because it's been. It's been 20 years, you've had

Alex Ferrari 44:30
Spoiler, spoiler alert, fast forward.

Ted Griffin 44:33
It's based on a book and in the book, there's a con man who finds out he has a daughter and he tries to start a relationship. And it all goes everything goes sideways. And at the end, he realizes that he's been conned that it's not his daughter and and the book ends with him being like, Oh, I got taken. And when I read that, I thought, Ah, there's a lot I liked this story. I just I actually kind of hate the twist for a guy who likes twist movies. I like it's unfulfilling, maybe I saw it coming. I don't know. So when I pitched to Warner's I say, I want to do this book but I want to actually take the twist out and just make it like an authentic emotional drama but it was with crime and the stuff in it, but it should be. Not a tear jerker, because that feels but going back to this billboard thing, it should deliver a motion machine. It's about a relationship. And we write that script, and we actually get Alfonso Koran is interested. Fortunately, this is Alfonso Kron coming off of great expectations for Warner's, which was not a success. So it's pretty easy to mama, Alfonso Crone. And so even though that's really enticing to me. We also get a call from Robert Zemeckis, saying, I love this, but I read the I heard about this twist, and I'd like to put that back in and Warner's is. Lorenz's bond matures, the head of Warner is the saying you should do is go as Americans and make the change. And so while I may be a hot, dry, hot writer, I'm a baby producer. And so I go to a meeting with Zemeckis, who by the way is about as smart and director was story as any I've met, like he does come from a writing background and he is like, all of the directors I've worked with in talk in script meetings, he's probably the sharpest because he

Alex Ferrari 46:39
That's saying a lot. You've worked with some amazing people.

Ted Griffin 46:42
Yeah, but he's really the, like the writer of the I mean, when you look at Back to the Future, that's a it's a perfect script. is incredible script. So So basically, he says, like, I'd like to make this twist work and I say okay, but if we put the twist in, I need an epilogue of with this, these two characters come together again, like something like briefing cat or something where you see like, oh, he may have been bullsh. He may have been taken. But there was, it wasn't all alive, meaning there was the religion. There was something there. So we write that script. Does it make us his great, I'm gonna send it to Tom Hanks right now he does Tom entry just goes. Let's do Polar Express instead. So the MC MC is off the movie. You want to make Polar Express? And just like Mike Newell, it's sort of like, okay, now he's gonna drag this thing.

Alex Ferrari 47:35
But you find you find that you find that young and up and coming, Director Director? Was his name Ridley something or other?

Ted Griffin 47:40
Right! Yes. He was a very exciting young guy I went to. And here's a lesson I learned. And I feel like I may have told this story again, too. But now I'm just playing this. I'm just like that old guy. Like, I stopped but Baedeker interviewed once and he's just told the same or twice and he told the same stories and both interviews, because he was old. And anyway, so I get invited to some cocktail party during award season in honor of David Lynch, because I think it's the year of Mulholland Drive. But that also means that Ridley has been nominated for Black Hawk Down, and he's there and I've met his girlfriend now wife, Jen, Nina, Basilio, one of the great, whirling dervish phenomenal women of all time, and I'm petrified of meeting readily and but she drags me across and says me down with them. And I'm just like, not quite sure what to say, except what are you doing next? And he says, I'm got this movie Tripoli, but it's gonna take nine months to prep. All this tells me the story. And I say, Well, I got this little movie, you could shoot, like right here while you're doing all that. And then he says, we'll send it in the next day. I send it to Janina. She reads it gives it to him. The next week, we got Ridley Scott, which teaches you always go to that cocktail party.

Alex Ferrari 49:14
If lessons learned,

Ted Griffin 49:15
If there's a if there's an opportunity to celebrate David Lynch, go do that. And then meet Ridley Scott.

Alex Ferrari 49:22
I kind of I gotta say the so for people listening in this is something that's so underestimated. The universe works the way the universe works. And you just happen to fall into a lot of it seems like from the stories you've told so far, you fall into these things like opportunities kind of present themselves, you're doing the work, and you've got the script and you're doing things but like what, like how do you plan that you can't plan that cocktail party for David Lynch that you happen to sit at a table with Ridley Scott and he happens to has a window of opportunity. There's a lot of luck involved, but the point is that you have to kind of keep working and keep moving forward to be rare. Ready for that luck when that luck shows up. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. Right? Because if you wouldn't do that, if you would have gone there without a script, you would have been like, I've met really Scott that night. That's kind of cool. But if you had another

Ted Griffin 50:20
And there's good luck and bad luck, and then it was great luck that I really did it and that Matt and Ben said no, and that, whatever and then there's bad luck that what have I already said that yesterday plans just went to the wrong people or did like, like, every movie you can kind of look at and say it is it is a consequence of these planets aligning, or not aligning. And they're all the stories of that, like how Casa Blanca almost was Ronald Reagan, which it really wasn't, but

Alex Ferrari 50:56
They were writing that as they were,

Ted Griffin 50:58
That year was that person was hot. And so that's why that movie was with that like. So there's yes, there's a lot of luck involved, I would say this as a, my usual piece of advice is that. And this is probably true, a lot of things. But in Hollywood, if it's like, if Hollywood was a roulette wheel, it actually allows you to make as many bets as you want to meaning you can kind of cover or that you can generate, meaning it's. So try to get as many bets on the table as possible, which means try to write as many very good scripts as you can, or something just go to that cocktail party or take that meeting because you like because you don't know. And so this the this is an example of that of like, it's like, alright, I'll go to I'll go to that. And that's what happened. Now. I've also been to probably 25 Other unmemorable cocktail parties. Sure. Oh, yeah. So anyway, so So then that leads me into a year of making magic man, which is probably my maybe one of my favorite years of making a movie because really was so much fun. And it was like a delightful time, and we're on town. And like, if I could like relive a year just for the fun of it, it was great. The movie doesn't do great. So and I begin to sense of like, oh, I don't have this. Like, it's not I'm not quite oceans. Like, you're only as good as your next one. So it's not like,

Alex Ferrari 52:48
You're not as shiny anymore. You're not shiny anymore.

Ted Griffin 52:50
Yeah. And, but during the process of making that one, I've also are actually going back to even to Ocean's 11. I'm, you know, it's on my mind, always of like, okay, can I direct this thing that I am writing whatever I'm writing and on oceans, it's obviously not a chat, like it's just too big. It's not a first film. Matchstick Men, it sort of strikes me like well, it's contained, but it really needs a movie star like it's it's not a if you look at the great first films, which I would go with, let's say Blood Simple. Reservoir Dogs body heat, you look back and say well, it was William Hurt and Kathleen Turner but really blue Kelly in general, but it was her first movie and William Hurt was like not a star yet. I said Blood Simple, which is pretty much unknown. I feel like there's another good example of like, this very smart, usually crime based. Right. The irony is that like that Spielberg's first movie, if you consider it Sugarland Express. Not exactly duels his first movie. Yeah, but Chiclana sure, at its best is actually like, kind of a good idea for his first movie, but because like only Han was a big star, so it's like, and it actually that's the one that doesn't do it for him.

Alex Ferrari 54:20
But the shark that with the broken shark movie is the one that

Ted Griffin 54:25
Anyway, so I finally I have an idea for a first movie, even though like I'm still living in the past of wishing I had best laid plans back as a first movie, but I think of this one and I, when I'm working with Soderbergh on oceans, I mentioned it to him and he says he has this company with George and that they're, they'll produce other people's work and they have final cuts. So basically, that means I'll have final cut, and that sounds phenomenal. And and we're like getting along great. So we set this movie up with She's a comedy, female lead comedy. And then I take too long to write it because it's sort of like I'm like, I'm being too careful about it overthinking it. Yeah, overthinking it, but ultimately, in 2003, I'm done. I turned the studio and, and we've sort of, they seem to support it. And I go, but they're only a few people. Because it's a Warner Brothers movie, which, and it's the Warner Brothers movie because I, because it's a Steven George's company, it's there. It really shouldn't be it should be an independent movie, or it should be like, Fox, Searchlight, Fox Searchlight, something like that, which Warner didn't really have that briefly was independent, but it never really took. It just was not the culture that place. And so really, like we have, there's kind of one name that they think they'll want to make it with. And that's Jennifer Aniston, who's not had a very successful film career to date, but is has made them so much money on friends because it's same company. So we sent it to her. She says yes, but let's wait until we're done. I'm done with friends and like, six, seven months. And I say great. So we're waiting on that. I'm continuing to push things forward and we get some ultimately we get a sort of a dream or my dream cast of Kevin Costner and Shirley MacLaine and Mark Ruffalo for this movie. And Richard Jenkins, and not leave anybody else. While I'm waiting for that to go, I forget how much to tell about this, because this is sort of one of those. I'll tell you later. While I'm waiting for that to go. Akiva Goldsman who i is, has an office down the hallway from me, calls me up one day and says, I got this script. Brad's going to do. We had Halle Berry, but she just walked off. And he's getting cold feet. We read it and come to a meeting tomorrow, because you just did oceans and he's gonna listen to you on blah, blah, honestly, a great seminar script was called Mr. And Mrs. Smith, oh, and who's so who's taking Halle Berry as part Angelyn is really great. So I go on to the next day in a meeting with Doug Liman and Akiva, and Brad meets Angelina, at this meeting. And oh, geez, Foster is also the producer. We spent two days going through the script, page by page, this assignment script, right? Simon script. It's got some names on it already. Like Carrie Fisher, I can't remember who else. So you never know, what's been done. And you don't know if what's been done has been for the better. Like, it's always,

Alex Ferrari 57:59
But it was on But Simon's the first one who wrote the script.

Ted Griffin 58:01
He was yes, it was. Anyway, so as a favorite of the pit family, I do a couple of weeks on this. And, and also just dry. I think it's, I see what this one generally to talk about scripts you've written on that you don't have credit on some because there's a reason why they have the credit things. And, and it's, there's some people who say, Oh, yeah, I did a couple of weeks on that. And now it's sort of like it because you're really kind of taking away credit. So I don't like talking about I'm telling you about this, because it's part of my story. But there are other there's other Script doctoring, I've done, that I don't talk about because it's bad form. It's bad form, that form of you know, if you go in the change one line, suddenly people are saying, Oh, well, wasn't really his script, it was because somebody did something. And anyway, so I, I do some time on this. And which is one of those sorts of things where doing the really right thing turns out to be kind of doing the wrong thing for yourself in that way. And without getting into a lot of details, because this is also sort of the omerta part of show businesses. You can't talk too much about what actually goes down, because you won, even if you've never worked with these people again, and there are a few people here I will never work with again. Like you don't want to have the reputation of like the guy who taught who kisses and tells

Alex Ferrari 59:40
You not to be a rat, rats or you don't want to be a rat,

Ted Griffin 59:43
Right! But just just short stories. I started writing my first movie, and at the same time, Mr. Mrs. Smith is doing reshoots, and it's really complicated. Everybody's relationships

Alex Ferrari 1:00:09
I'll just do the second you brought those names in. I was like, I know where this is going. Rohloff got it. And

Ted Griffin 1:00:16
So so I've got a lot to deal with.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:20
Oh, God,

Ted Griffin 1:00:22
I also have like, I'm an, even though I've written some movies and produced Ridley Scott movie, there are some, like I'm in a different chair and figuring out a relationship with a DP for the rest of my life, which is also not going well, I have a very bad relationship with the DP that I've been hired at Soderbergh suggestion, which is basically the one thing he sort of suggested was, Oh, this guy's good. And however, I'm really every day, I'm waking up and saying, Oh, God, this is Christmas morning. Like I'm finally directing a movie. And while there's a moment every day where I'm absolutely terrified, like, I'm finally living the life that I have been aspiring to, since I was 10. And these are running long, but we're making them. And I'm not hearing from the studio, because from having now made two movies from them. I know like when they're, when they show up on set, that's a sign and they haven't shown on set. And then two weeks in, Soderbergh and Clooney show up on set, and they say we've just come from the studio, and they're really unhappy. I say, well, they haven't told me this.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:38
And well, you shot too, which you've got two weeks on this movie. I've shot two weeks on this. Do you want to? Do you want to name do you want to say the name of the movie?

Ted Griffin 1:01:47
At the time? It was called Untitled Ted Griffin project. Okay. And it was set in my hometown, Pasadena, and based on a real rumor that I grew up knowing that involve the movie The graduate. And oh, yeah. Yeah. So so they say this, I'm a little confused by it. But they say we're gonna, we're gonna shut down per day, you're gonna change DPS. And I say, Great. I'm fine with that. They'll give us both take Friday off, so forth. And so I shoot one more day, still haven't heard from the studio. And, and then somebody comes to me and says, When I add wrap, they say, you have to defend your job tomorrow. Now you're on the chopping block. And I say, all right, but why? Like, what's the problem here? And they say, they say Stephen went to the studio and said, None of your footage is usable. I say, well, he told me that they didn't like it. And part of that there's a long Soderbergh story leading up to this, which I'm not going to tell here. But basically, I go in to meet Steven the next day, with 20 minutes of cut footage, and he won't look at it. He says you're out. I don't need to see this. And that's. And so a project I had started, which was about my hometown, which I had sort of worked on years to get going, is suddenly taken away without a note, literally, without never heard from the studio. And nobody, Besides, my editor had seen any of the cut footage. So there's, it's not really sort of about that. If you want to fill in the blanks, we can, yes, thanks. And, but and so at that point, it's sort of like, it's like 2.0 of like, oh, this town. Yeah, I'll do and, and also, again, like this is for the studio that I started this franchise, four, I'd said no to 12, which is a whole story we'll get into if you want. But I'm now running into Albert Hughes land of blank, this is gonna be the longest podcast talking, our

Alex Ferrari 1:04:26
Will hang for a little bit longer, because we still gotta get to Marty. And that's a whole other conversation.

Ted Griffin 1:04:32
And so, so from that point on what happens next and yeah, and then then I'm just like, for a while I'm just like a boxer who's been like, punched, punched in the back of the head, who doesn't know what corner to go to, like, I spend like, the months or, you know, arguably a year just sort of like what just fuck just happened?

Alex Ferrari 1:04:57
You were blindsided. You were blindsided.

Ted Griffin 1:05:00
I'm able to do some fun work on some other movies. And at some point I get hooked up, we'll get right to it. I get hooked up with Scorsese. Because

Alex Ferrari 1:05:14
Real quick before you get to Marty, you did work on up in the air a bit

Ted Griffin 1:05:21
Before this happened, I had been sent the script by Sheldon Turner. Yeah, up here based on based on the book by Walter Kern and, and come on as producer and potentially director had sold to Ivan Reitman, his company at Paramount, I think, Andre marks I forgot, I forgot. And I had developed that my brother had written a draft of it. I had done a bit. And then in the aftermath of my getting fired, there was like, it was not a good one. It was not a good first movie. And it was not, not a good. It was like a better second movie because it really didn't need a star. And it was like now with the asterisk next to my name have fired. It was like, Oh, this is not like Georgia, Brad. And so I sort of say Go with God, and I step away from it. And I think it was then four or five years passed before I get a call from Ivan Reitman saying Jason has rewritten and is going to direct and I say with Clooney, I say great. There's a JSON made it very much his own. There are a lot of bones from Sheldon scripts, and a couple of remnants from my brother's rewrite, which are still in there. But But I was a 100% a see at the premiere producer or executive producer on it. Okay. So I've, in fact, I've never met Jason.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:00
That removed that removed from the project. Got it? Yeah. All right. So

Ted Griffin 1:07:06
We'll say that it was all a success was because of me, and no one else. Obviously, sir. magnanimously. I will take full credit for it. Oscar nominations.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:17
So I mean, that I mean, you've gone through so much crap. And I mean, we're just scratching the surface. By the way, I know that you've got days and days of stories about what you've gone through. And I really hope people listening understand that this is stuff they don't teach in school. This is stuff that generally doesn't be it's not talked about out loud. You know, these are the things this is the thing is you and I were at a cocktail party. These are the you we have a drink, and we tell these stories, and I just that's why I love doing the show, because I hope these stories get out there. So people understand what the reality of this business is. And it's not. They don't play by rules.

Ted Griffin 1:07:55
It's rough. Right? It's it's, and by the way, a lot of this stuff can't be taught meaning i There's a great story and William Goldman's book about Lisa icorn getting fired as the star of this movie all night long made in 1980. She was starring in this movie with opposite Gene Hackman. And overnight Oh, no. And over a weekend, somebody gave us rice and the script, the movies two weeks into production, somebody gives Streisand the script and Streisand said, Oh, I would have done that or would do that. And the studio goes, Oh, we could have a Hackman Streisand movie. The next day, they fired Lisa icorn, who's doing a great job. They rewrite the script, they resume production with Streisand, and it's a fucking massive bomb, which you can't, like barely can find anywhere. And Lisa Acorn's, I've actually met in the aftermath of my experience, she very sweetly called me up and gave me her perspective on some of the people who were involved. And some of her wisdom, her hard earned wisdom from this, you know, had a really terrific career going and that was like it, it throws you of course, it's even knowing that story going, like having read that story. It's like there's no way you can there's no there's no teaching, there's no way to learn that other than to have a lot of experience and sort of have a sense of people.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:28
Well, the thing I was telling you before we jumped on is you know, my whole story with the mafia and almost made that big movie and met all these big movie stars. I never got to the level of your production of like working with these movie stars and you were already done a bunch of stuff and it'd be yanked away from you like that is so for me heartbreak and I wanted to I was in depression for three years and it completely destroyed my my subconscious mind about the business till recently, like within the last five years, I figured out out. Oh, that's why I've been doing sabotaging myself for the last 25 years because I didn't want to go through that pain again. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. And these are the kinds of talks that I want people to listen to because it's not all you know, like I always tell people I always tell people this. I know you want to know what Hollywood is like, watch the Oscars on Oscar night right? And that's on Hollywood Boulevard. And on the on the camera, it looks great. But the second The Oscars are over. You don't want to walk down that street. Right there.

Ted Griffin 1:10:38
You really night when I'm gonna say briefings, and again, I trust that if anything's boring, you can cut this out. Sir. Just one. The movie is called rumor has it which I call Reiner has it because Rob Reiner took over the movie, too. In the aftermath, somebody started internet rumor about how terrible Kevin Costner was to me and berating me and how he insisted on me getting fired. I had not started working with Kevin Costner on the movie yet he was actually an enormous champion in the in prep, giving me all sorts of advice about directing, which I was not getting from anybody else on my team because he's an Oscar winning director Oscar winning director but was like it was extraordinarily helpful and was a great guy and in the aftermath Am I getting fired? Like lonely is beachhouse to like recuperate in invited me to his wedding was just an all star. Just to put that to bed. Not Costner. Other people lovely people involved rough. Hello, McLean. Just blast still friends, Jenkins, one of the I think one of the great actors, so and then and also in the aftermath. My, my trapezium was my first assistant director on the movie, terrific guy had also worked with Phil Kaufman and set me up with Phil for a cup of coffee up in San Francisco. This is 2005. So I've been fired the year before. And Phil, famously, was fired off the Outlaw Josey, Wales in 1975. Jesus, okay, movie came out somebody sick. So I'm not sure when exactly but and he was directing for two weeks when he got tapped on the shoulder. And that night was like, on a plane back from Montana or whatever. And is Eastwood, Clint Eastwood, the star took over directing, which begat the GGA rule, these would rule which basically says nobody on a crew or in a cast can take over directing, basically to prevent the director from getting sabotaged from with them. And so, Phil, and I had this cup of coffee. I think he asked me not to repeat the story. So sorry, Phil. But basically, you know, went through the how similar our experiences were. Not that I think it's like it happens all the time. It this is sort of rare, they're replaced directors, but but people because Phil had written that script to to have this happen. And I asked Phil, one had he spoken that used word in the intervening 30 years. And he said, No. I asked him if he'd ever bothered watching Outlaw Josey, Wales. And he said, No, that he went into a video store once in the 80s. And it was on the TV there. So he just left. And then I sort of I said something else that was like, now what? And he said, Ted, I don't want to go like I was obviously irritating him or he was still 30 years later, rah, rah rah about it. And for me, it's now coming up on 19 years, and it's sort of like, oh, go fuck yourself. Like, I

Alex Ferrari 1:14:02
Ohh no, you're gonna go to your grave with it. I understand. I get it. Trust me. I get it. i If anybody gets it, I get it. But my experience with that was the I get it. No, I can't believe that it's there.

Ted Griffin 1:14:13
So I've never seen rumor has it? And I and they're, they're three people I have not spoken to since.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:25
Fair enough. So then, so let's let's turn to page. There is this other guy that you worked with? By the name of Martin Scorsese? Yes. With all of the stuff that you've gone through. How did you get hooked up with Wolf Wolf of Wall Street with Martin?

Ted Griffin 1:14:45
I went another it's a it was a dinner party this time and I knew I said, Yes, right away. I had an agent in common a guy named Chris Donnelly continues to represent both of us. And he invited me to a dinner a week For the Oscars for the department, and it was a big table like 10 or 12 people. And Mario is going to be there and I just, I decided I'm going to impress, I'm going to try to impress this guy, because I know all I know, movies, and of everyone I know. I'm the Martin Scorsese of everyone I know. And then I started talking to him, and I said, Wow, do I have a long way to go? Like, instantly, like wildly impressive of like, oh, there's a mind at work on unlike any I've experienced thus far. And it and when people you know, misuse the word genius. It's because like it's a it's a different level of intelligence, but also extraordinarily extraordinary passion. And that is unrelenting, both in preserving movies, obviously, making movies and teaching about movies. So we had a very nice dinner, I tried to not go to too much smoke or tap dance too much, but and then he won the Oscar the next week, because you know, he could never

Alex Ferrari 1:16:21

Ted Griffin 1:16:22
And God, just a few months pass and I got a call from Chris Donnelly saying that this Spanish sparkling wine called kava fresh in a does a an annual Christmas ad. And they back the money truck up to Marty just saying make us a short film, which was sort of in vogue, then BMW was making those Yeah, the dividends. Yeah. And so so. So this was like, and so they're saying, Do you have any ideas, and I wrote one up, which I thought was a blast, which was that the conceit being that Marty has been approached about redoing the Copa shot, the Copacabana shot from Goodfellas, the long one, or which ends with a bottle of champagne being brought out. And so I thought, okay, he's got to redo that shot. For this ad. Only, we see all the things that can go wrong in a winner. And then we see him respond to this in a film that begins to replicate, like the part of Goodfellas, where Ray Liotta is losing his ship. And the last third was brilliant, some voiceover and stopping and things like that. And I thought, the first like, eight to 10 minute movie that can be lost. And I write that up. I think I pitched it to him over the phone, write that up, send it to him, Marty says, This is terrific, like, come out next week, and we'll start to get to work on it. And I by the time I land, or I get there, and I get word of like Marty doesn't want to do that. It's too self referential. I say I totally get that. But oh, God, I'd love to see it. But I totally get that he says, But he must see if you have any, like, come and talk and have if you have any other ideas, so we then spend like three full days in his office in New York. I'm now 36 about to be 37 and like three years, kind of, I would say off trying to get it back together again after my beheading or Deepan saying depending on and but but but three days of like being able to play tennis against whoever, your Bjorn Borg, or whatever the absolutely top person you've ever done anything with and being able to sort of like, Hey, I'm in the room with this person, and we're hitting the ball back together. And not only is it a dream come true, but it's also a sort of restoring confidence restoring of like, oh, yeah, I can I can I can play in this league. And we're more or less we hit on an idea of like, kind of a because Hitchcock used champagne as a MacGuffin, and notorious, we think, Okay, is there something to do with Hitchcock here? With who's obviously a big influence on Scorsese, and we ultimately come up with this idea, and then a few weeks later, shoot it over the course of three days, called the key to Reserva which we make it premieres in Spain and Madrid that Christmas we go out we both get food poisoning at the premiere and, and fly home, like dire like vomiting and pooping out of all ends with but with Martin Scorsese, so it's obviously it's a trip. But I would say it's my favorite thing I've ever done. Short Form.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:52
Vomiting and diarrhea.

Ted Griffin 1:19:54
Yeah, that too because that was reducing. So I knew that it is available on The Internet, if you Google, go to YouTube. Good reserve a, it should pop up, keep reserve Scorsese. It really works better if you know the works of Alfred Hitchcock but and I'm in it with him for a little bit. And it's sort of like the if I just if I can if I gave her go to heaven and St. Peter says, I got 10 minutes. What do you got kid, I will play this form. And it's also the one thing I would say I've written where it's sort of like, across the board, everything was a little better than I imagined, which is, as opposed to everything else was like, wow, that worked out great. I wanted something different from that, blah, blah. This was just sort of like so. So it's sort of this, this great experience, and also kicks off a beautiful relationship in which weirdly, like, because I can kind of hang with them and talk movies, I get pulled back into things. He's done two projects with friendly Boyd's documentary called public speaking, which was HBO in 2010. And then Netflix series called partenza city, which was a couple years ago. And if you watch those, it's sort of he's interviewing friendly bullets. And there's a guy sitting next to him that you occasionally it's sort of here that's me. And what unlike I've supplied my voice or delay in some other Doc's and weird stuff, and then Wolf of Wall Street, about a week before production, Terry Weiner, who written the script, like it had to get back to Boardwalk. And so but there were like things they, they, they just had this massive production was so many days, and they just needed somebody around to make sure like, they could make their days. And so I was again, this is not, I'm talking about something out of school because I was not a writer on it. I was a co producer. But part of that was saying, we can combine these two scenes or do this they're at just to keep the machine learning. Unreal. So and because I was there for all of that they threw me in as Kyle Chandler's FBI partner, where you never hear me speak. But I stand around a lot on a boat with him, Leo. And then in another scene, where Leo's selling stocks to some poor sap on the phone. I'm the poor sap on the phone. Who is pretending to pluck up the ass. You may remember that. Leo's thinking about me while he's talking that guy up the ass. So

Alex Ferrari 1:22:57
So So you weren't you're on? You're on set most of the time on that on that project?

Ted Griffin 1:23:01
Pretty much. Yeah, for the first definitely. For that first half. I was there. And then a hurricane was the sandy like, Yeah, shut everything down for a week. I went back to LA and then was sort of like coming back.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:16
In and out. Yeah, that Yeah. So so on that show. I mean, what was because you were on that show? What was the craziest day that you witnessed that you were like, how the hell is Marty gonna get out of this? Is there a day like that, that you're like, This is insane.

Ted Griffin 1:23:31
I mean, there's some. And it was actually a lot of answers that there are days that I just didn't want to be there. Like, the origin on the plane is just sort of like it's a lot of extras. We're about to get naked. And it's just, it's awkward. It's awkward. It's awkward. It's not like there's there's still a craft service table. Like it's not fun. Like it's just filming. Filming an orgy is not true. But I can imagine having read Barry Sonnenfeld 's book that you can end up with a face full of feces.

Alex Ferrari 1:24:07
What am I, by the way, one of my favorite conversations I've ever had on the show with Barry. That was that was the first five minutes by the way. He told that story. Yeah.

Ted Griffin 1:24:16
So but there are a couple of moments. I mean, I was very impressed. And this by the way, I'm one of my favorite stories about Mari is on key reserver because it was a two day shoot. And at the by the end of two days like we were we needed, like a lot more and so we were able to get a third day paid for. And Marty put in a 23 hour day. Now this is a guy who's won every possible award who's at that time. 65 years old, has nothing to prove to anybody. This is a commercial that won't be seen in the States. But he works his ass off for 23 hours. They didn't make it right. Like to make it the best possible thing it is. and not and not in a profligate way. But but because we had gotten out 50% over schedule that in a third day to a two day shoot. And there was something so inspiring about a guy who's just can't allow himself to do anything. Any less any less than his best. And, and there, you know, without going naming names. There's some bad mentors. In my career, people, I thought, oh, yeah, I don't want to be that person or that filmmaker. And Marty is like the Pope. He's both the guy who says, Who is what he says, who isn't? Cardinal McCarrick, who's the priest who raised a bunch? I gotta be terrible if there's libel issues here. So but on on so on, Wolf of Wall Street. That scene on the boat with Kyle Chandler talking to Leo and Maeve standing looming around in the background, that's a six page scene to lots of that's a lot of stuff. He did that on one day. Daylight dependent and something even a three persons, you know, two and a half person seeing like that, to get that much done is very impressive. I was also there's a lot of one of the very complex Steadicam shots when they the FBI raids, the Stratton Oakmont and I'm part of bizbash with the most fun I had, because I got to run and yell at people as an FBI agent. But it was fun watching them put that together, because it's one of those things where the first take was so terrible. And, um, um, I do it. And then I go back to the monitor sitting with them. And I go, Oh, I know this, because if I'm here in the director's chair, I feel all the pressure on me right now, because that's terrible. And I've got to fix it. And I sort of learned I watched him was like, Alright, let's do it again, and make this one change. And then we did it again and get a little better. And then maybe five or six more takes, and then it was and it was done. But it there's a lesson of, especially in directing of your, at some point, things are going to be unsolvable and terrible, and you won't know what to do. But you will have to one, not freak out to make some suggestion to like, try it again. And then because you're surrounded by professionals, it'll actually suddenly kind of click and Oh, you'll be fine. But it's just sort of like you have to, like breathe through that. That's, and again, it's one of those things that you would think you would be somebody would stop and tell you before directing your first movie, or going into the industry. Or when you get signed by an agent, I always thought that there would be some day where somebody would say, sit down, say, Okay, you're about to go into a meeting with this producer. Keep this in mind. Think about this, blah, blah, blah. You just get thrown into the deep end of the pool. Yes. In Hollywood, like it's purely learning by experience, you can. You can talk to a lot of people, but nobody's going to ever sit you down and say, or at least nobody ever sat me down. And I don't think anybody else. Nobody's ever volunteered the great life lesson speech they got from somebody else. So

Alex Ferrari 1:28:39
Well, so. So I mean, it's fascinating that after this, this whole, this whole gambit of stories you've told us and your adventures in, in the in the screen in the script, screen game as a script game, as you say. You even when you went to the lowest point, you still kind of come up from the ashes in many ways and get to work with your hero, one of your heroes, Marty, and not only once, multiple times on different things. And it's just I feel like that was the universe just going you know, he's been through some stuff. Let them let's let's give him an Attaboy.

Ted Griffin 1:29:22
I don't know, man. Pretty good. Boy.

Alex Ferrari 1:29:25
I mean, because at the end of the day, this isn't magical. It's I mean, yes, the throwing up in the diarrhea. That's one thing which was magical in its own right. But that you're able to work with, you know, it'd be the equivalent of you know, somebody working with Steven Spielberg. Or or Cameron or school brick or Hitchcock. I mean, you're hanging out on the set watching the master work, people someone who you idolized growing up, and and I've heard from people who've worked with Marty he's absolutely a genius. There's just his mind works at a completely different I'm like you I'm Martin Scorsese of my group of friends, we'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. And so you either meet Quentin, or you meet Marty. And when those two get together, that's fascinating to watch there, because they just have such an encyclopedic knowledge of film. Like, I'm like, Oh, I'm pretty good. Like, you're like, Yeah, I've seen a lot of movies, but you'd like No, that's

Ted Griffin 1:30:32
Right. And there's also something about either making Marty laugh, or a good idea that impresses him. And you kind of feel like, you're just on top of the world, for the rest of the day is sort of like I like it's like I Please dad, and because he's getting older in this business, there are fewer and fewer dads, and not about a it's not even about age, this is more about like, oh, that person didn't turn out to be what I hoped or you realize, you walk into some rooms, and they're, the people aren't as smart as you'd hoped they'd be or aren't as passionate about movies, they're there for the wrong reasons. And they're in Hollywood attracts people for a lot of the wrong reasons. So when you find like that person who can be who really impresses you, it's sort of like, there. It feels great to sort of impress them.

Alex Ferrari 1:31:31
What if you had a chance to go back to your, to your, to yourself, when you were just about to come into this business? What would be the one thing you wish you would tell yourself? Like, watch out for this? Besides, rumor has it

Ted Griffin 1:31:44
Again, it's sort of like, every step of the way. I made a, I think a really smart choice. I went with a company that would was announcing that they would give me Final Cut. I'm not absolutely the actress who I thought it was gonna give me the the student that was going to please the studio. And, and so and they're like, yes, there's some rotten luck. And there's kind of some things I didn't see about people soon enough, which is tough to see meaning it's out there. I've been fooled since it's not like and I know other people who've not seen it common. Despite a lot of experience. My regret, I think is going to college or going to college for four years. Like there's something about I can't remember what Orson Welles his education was, but it was I'm not sure if he graduated high school, Spielberg dropped out of his freshman year. I'm here I'm hearing to an actress, which is probably a mistake, but it was in the Broadway theater. And and she dropped out of Carnegie Mellon after a year and it's sort of like, you know what, nobody in this town checks your diploma. And it's not necessarily that I should have gone to film school but it's sort of like the ages from 19 to 22. We're sure by I didn't need to be on a bucolic college campus I could have taken that that tuition and done something else with it. But I guess the you know, the lessons the besides the don't take a job for any reason. Other than you see a movie there that you would want to see. I would up and add to that, like, don't write a movie for you, which you're not the audience for I produced a movie called for Disney because I had an idea that I thought would be that they would probably love but I would never go see and I then so I should never have been the producer on it or what other and it's weird. Yeah, there's no, no, there's no Hollywood judge. There's no court system or laws. Like there's no one to appeal to. It's it's

Alex Ferrari 1:34:22
It's brutal, man. There's no referee man. There's no referee. There's no referee in Hollywood. There's no referee. There's no one like, you know what? You did this guy wrong. This is not right. We're gonna we're gonna rule on this. It's not the way the game is played. And you know what, that's a surprise for a lot of people as it was to you and you and arguably you'd have been in the business for a few minutes. When when those things are starting to happen to you.

Ted Griffin 1:34:44
Yeah. So, one day I'll publish the book about all this but I need to either be bulletproof or dead. I do feel like everybody should You'd write them their Hollywood memoirs not to publish necessarily, but to go into the academy when they're gone. So that if you want to know, okay, let's find out what really happened on this movie, then you can you can start reading these people's memoirs and go, Oh, my God, these people were screwing, and that guy was talking the whole time. I have no idea.

Alex Ferrari 1:35:25
What you need to do is this, you write it. And then you, you, you were on your debt, the day of your death, it gets released and published.

Ted Griffin 1:35:33
Yeah, it's like the way that Jerry Lewis put in his will that the day the Clown Cried, can't be seen until 10 years after he's dead. Like it is just sort of like, it's there. It's it's an evolved and it will come. I can't remember how many more years, we have to wait for that one. It's been a few.

Alex Ferrari 1:35:55
Alright, so let's I'm going to ask you, I mean, we keep talking for another two, three hours easily. But I'm going to ask you a few questions. I asked all of my guests. What advice would you give a screenwriter trying to break into the business today?

Ted Griffin 1:36:08
Well, today is cookie, because not only movies are at a low tide. And I think that could come back. It's a form and it's and I think watching a movie in a theater is different than streaming it and I it worries me a little bit that there is a there's a generation of the of an audience that is going to be watching movies like TV, and that movies will become more like TV. And it's in their pacing in their spare they have they have already. Yeah, but like die hard. It takes 20 minutes for anything bad to happen. Like that's a that's a tough movie to make for streaming or for TV, because it's sort of like, we got to get to it, we got to get to it. And that's a, you know, I'm representing a very commercial piece of wonderful filmmaking. So So anyway, so it's such a confusing time. And it's hard to say definitely what's, you know, where the industry is going? And so what I would normally say is, what I would have said, is read a lot of scripts. I think it's really good to see a lot of movies, but I think if you want to be a screenwriter read a lot. Anyway, I think the reason why I suggest sometimes reading scripts, instead of just watching the movies, is because the act of reading, lets you stop and examine and realize how something is being done. Whereas movies being a temporal experience, it flows right by and you're not. It's harder, just studying away. I mean, you can press pause and say, Oh, we're 20 minutes in to Die Hard and the first got it. The first gunshot is shot. But I would say reading scripts is a better way of studying them. And also just figuring out what's working in scripts was not working. And wonder being one is the writer being too verbose or the characters and and because they are so accessible now. Online especially. It's there's no excuse for not reading all of William Goldman all of Walter Hill, the Coen Brothers, Kazdin. I'm trying to people who were there. I remember their individual scripts that were big and black,

Alex Ferrari 1:36:09
Shane black, Shane black.

Ted Griffin 1:36:47
Yeah, and just as far as finding your voice, like Shane Black has such a distinctive voice, Walter Hill is such a, like, who writes the haikus play for him? And so So ultimately, you know, your, as a spinner, your strength your superpower is being very good at what you do. And probably being the smartest person in the room and hopefully not letting them think you know that.

Alex Ferrari 1:40:48
Alright, fair enough. Fair enough.

Ted Griffin 1:40:50
What are the I would also like, I think the UCB is gone the Upright Citizens Brigade. But there was, I was trying to just send as many writers as I could to that to their improv classes, because it does teach you better than anything, I've experienced the craft of collaboration, of listening to somebody, and having to agree with them and building on that, which is extraordinarily good for television, writing, or writing in any group, which is becoming more and more of a thing. And it also, I think there's it, there's things that would advise us like, Okay, here's how to develop your craft and your ability to do it. And then there are things I would advise with like, Okay, now, if you're doing it with other people, things I advise, which is, take a moment if you hear a bad idea, to think about where it's coming from, because it's not just a political advice of shining somebody on but usually, there are a lot of people who have good instincts who cannot articulate them. And it's your job, especially. Just sort of hear that instinct, and see if there's anything there. And I don't think I can publicly give a an example.

Alex Ferrari 1:42:22
Fair enough. No worries. No worries, I won't. I won't make you liable, sir. What is the lesson? What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Ted Griffin 1:42:31
I'm still learning God, I'm still beating the shit out of me. I'm gonna give his answer I don't think it's necessarily the right one. But it just came to mind. So there's the Goldman has the line about nobody knows anything. And you can, depending on how you deliver that line, they have different groups. Nobody knows anything, means we're all a packet of idiots. And I don't think that's true. He knew a lot. Or nobody knows anything. It also supplies like it's a complete crapshoot. Nobody knows anything, is what I finally realized is, I think what he's saying, which is there really isn't 100% certitude that anything will actually work or is, you know, completely right in the sense of and the more you do it, the more you kind of go into that gray zone of uncertainty when I think when you're younger, you go like Oh, yeah, this is like, and you can really stick to your guns in a great and a terrible way at the same time. And so somebody else gave me a piece of advice, which is I think along the lines of if you want to persuade somebody of your opinion, keep tenant 10% of your mind open to the possibility that you're wrong

It and you have to do it authentically. But but if you if you come in with a this is absolutely absolutely it. You're setting yourself up for getting your head handed to you which I by the way don't really think I was that guilty of but when I got my head handed to me, but it is certainly something I've had to be better at. And And what's my ultimate wrap up this? Because there you're gonna run into a lot of people who you realize don't know much, but um, You're gonna have to, you're gonna have to appease them somehow. So what in Hollywood stop, we'll get into the practice of taking somebody's bad idea and turning it into a good one. As opposed to simply opposing that logic or argument will win the day because it won't.

Alex Ferrari 1:45:21
It will not it will not. And final question and arguably the toughest question, I've asked you this entire time, three of your favorite films of all time?

Ted Griffin 1:45:33
My I'll give you a fast answer, because I have one with the caveat that you asked me again next year, but I my my quick answer is always rear window jaws and singing in the rain thru window I find to be the perfect Hollywood entertainment because it actually does everything movies are supposed to. There, it's it's sexy, it's funny, it's scary. It's emotional. It actually has scope because that's such a great set is also looking through that window is the same as looking at a screen. I think it's extremely extraordinarily well written and plotted. There's it's a perfect movie except for one terrible shot 10 minutes in of a helicopter over some bathing beauties, which is like a dirty old man joke that just sort of there there's a difference between great movies and perfect movies, ruin no is not a perfect movie. But it's a great movie. It's not a perfect movie because of that one shitty shot. Singing in the Rain, also a great movie because there's nothing more joyful or rewatchable. It's not a perfect movie, because the Broadway Melody dance dream of the last 10 minutes is just sort of like a third act. I don't know what a great act structure that is that then he just pitches a dance sequence in our third act and there's the movie, but and jaws and JAWS is a, I think is a perfect movie. I don't think there's anything I would change about that. And and that's all I gotta say about that.

Alex Ferrari 1:47:12
So that's all I got to say about it. So the one other thing that because you've mentioned it a little bit, and it's something that I think is really important for people to hear. The the landscape has changed so dramatically from for the last five years even. And you said it's the generation coming up behind us. I mean, when these great masters are gone, Spielberg Scorsese, you know, these these these legends, they're the ones holding the torch right now. And yeah, there's, you know, there's the Nolan's and the finishers and other masters out there who are doing good work. But the generation coming up, like you said, diehard won't go today, that hurts arguably one of the greatest action films ever put to Sally Lloyd. And yet this generation coming up, they're much more involved in YouTube and in and out, and I hear myself saying it, and it's the same thing they were saying in the 80s and 90s, with MTV showed up, you know, but I think this is different though. This is really generational. Because they're not even they don't even care about cinema the way you and I do. What do you what's your thoughts on that and for for future generations listening to this like screenwriters? Is it TV? Is it other other forms of storytelling? What do you think?

Ted Griffin 1:48:34
Well, it's been happening for a while, if you look at the generation of directors, let's say of the 70s, that terrific generation, that's Scorsese and Coppola, and Spielberg and two. But they all grew up in movie cultures. They were all born in mostly in the 40s. And the film was the primary medium. And, you know, the I think there's, there's like a next generation of directors who all came up through TV and everything gets a little bit a little softer. Ron Howard, Rob Reiner, Gary Marshall. But what I guess, concerning me is sort of like I guess, and my generation there are some guys who broke young and who are sort of wonder kins PT Anderson and Wes Anderson, notably, some other people who maybe didn't fulfill their early promises much. But, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:49:52
But that's, that's the 90s indie vibe. That was that was the 90s indie names. We'll be right back after word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. You know, the Tarantino knows the Robert Rodriguez

Ted Griffin 1:50:11
Tarantino was sort of like if you think about it, post Tarantino, how many? How much do youth is there been? This sort of shown up and like wow, in the way that Scorsese and Spielberg

Alex Ferrari 1:50:28
But there's more competition though, when such games were coming out there wasn't as much competition meaning that for our eyes, like it was cinema and like three channels of television, and they were the television wasn't that great back then? Give or take. So it's a little harder to make noise nowadays, you know, I don't think there's a possibility for a Spielberg to show up. Now. Even if he did show up, he would be drowned out. Does genius would show up, I think, but it's not as easy to make that Oh, my God, this is undeniable.

Ted Griffin 1:51:00
That coupled with I think the talent, there is something the talents gone somewhere else? Or is or because now because of all the other things, meaning there may be video game designers who are brilliant, who? Yep, 30 years ago would have gone into movies or YouTubers. I haven't seen anybody come in and say and be like, a television wunderkind the way that some of you guys. Like, obviously, there's a lot of excellent television. There's also still a lot of crap. But it's a slowly evolving medium because it's it is ultimately a dumbed down medium, and, and there aren't citizen canes of TV. There are good, but but there's nobody kind of reinvent the wheel the way in a show.

Alex Ferrari 1:51:59
How about Chase? I mean, David Chase, what Sopranos?

Ted Griffin 1:52:02
Julian's a great show, but I wouldn't say

Alex Ferrari 1:52:06
And, or events, or even Vince Gilligan.

Ted Griffin 1:52:09
Again, I think it's a terrific show. But it's it's there's something about the medium that I don't think that he changed the way we watch TV. Okay, is there any in the way that Tarantino really influenced or Spielberg did? And so it's, I'm excited about television, because I think it can continue to get better. It's like, there's so much volume that I think that actually sometimes make us makes it hard. causes so much. Because it's, you have to make something great at 13 hours a year as opposed to two hours. That's just just the dynamic that tends to lower the water level. But I guess my concern is that my concern is the audience. And that is that there won't be an audience for certain storytelling after a while. And then also my sort of generationally. It's like, who can you name under? 40? Who's. And I'm not going to name like some people come to mind. But there's, there's nobody under 40. Right? They're very sorry. They're very few people under 40. That are feel like are doing things the way previous generations have broken younger, if that makes sense. Yeah, absolutely. And I can't tell you exactly why other than either. The with the advent of tech, like, wouldn't be cooler to be. And wouldn't you be richer, doing a startup or a video game?

Alex Ferrari 1:53:55
Being a YouTuber is yes, there's less barrier to entry, you can make start making money, you can start telling your stories. You could it's a whole other thing, like I was talking to this, I was talking to somebody the other day about this. It's like, in the fifth in the 50s and 60s, everybody wanted to be a rock star. Like that was the thing is that the rock star was a thing in the 70s 80s, especially the 90s. With Robert, when quitting showed up. Everybody wanted to be a movie director, because he made it was he was the first rock and roll kind of director. And now it's really everybody wants to the new generation. They want to be content creators. They want to be influencers. They want to be social media, they want to tell stories in those mediums. And I've been watching some of these like big, big YouTubers and big social media, and I'm like, I see what they're doing. And I see how they're doing it. And boy, are they getting rich? Like obscenely rich, it's insane. So it's generationally. I see my kids to growing up like I tried to get them to sit down and watch a movie. Like we were going to we actually my wife and I over Christmas, because diehard is the greatest Christmas movie of all time. sat down, started watching Die Hard and they couldn't they couldn't didn't make it past those first 20 minutes. Were like, Jesus. I don't know. I don't want to. I don't want to end on a depressing note.

Ted Griffin 1:55:09
Yeah. Because it gives me run me of those documentaries about the Golden Age of Hollywood that I grew up watching like in the 70s 80s, where there's like, oh, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. is saying the film makers today are just about smut. And there's no romance and it's not like I don't want to turn into like, that guy. That guy though. Oh, you kids get off my lawn. But to some degree, it's it's it's sad because like I different, because I guess I don't I don't watch YouTube influencers. So I don't know, even what the form is, and and if it's two different worlds, and whether I'm just it's impossible for me to appreciate because I'm too old, or because it just sucks. And there's that.

Alex Ferrari 1:56:05
There's, there's that there's, there's both in everything and not that I'm saying I'm gonna even please everyone listening, I'm not comparing you to, you know, YouTubers to Scorsese. That's not a thing. They're two different mediums. But on a financial standpoint, being a YouTuber that has much more financial success, in many ways easier for more people to get into then, being a screenwriter is tougher. But you got to love what you're doing. And I just hope that there's an like you were saying, I hope there's an audience. For the kind of films that we grew up with. I hope some

Ted Griffin 1:56:36
Movies started as one reelers, or as penny art, you know, and yeah, and they were terrible. You know, as for all we can say, like, yes, there was there was a very slow learning curve on how to make movies. And it took a while. And there have been, and maybe YouTube is the beginning of a great great new medium. But it's still in

Alex Ferrari 1:57:04
Yeah, absolutely Ted brother. I listen, man, I appreciate you coming on the show so much, man. I knew this was going to be a hell of a conversation. And you did not disappoint my friend.

Ted Griffin 1:57:13
I appreciate that. Uh, hopefully, I didn't ruin my career by too many names. But I'm just leaving it to your imagination. Trying to if there's any last thing I would. Yeah, what is listening and you want to be a screenwriter, please. Like I'm, we we need you. Like, I want to be as surging possible, like, the culture needs it. And I have an audience, the audience needs it. And I'm, we're all begging for better film and television. And please, we want you to work your ass off to bring great stuff it would it would be terrible. If the medium died.

Alex Ferrari 1:57:59
Yeah, and I don't think I don't think it will. I think we'll have a form of it in one way, shape or form moving forward, but it will be different than what we grew up with. There's no it like it was Douglas Fairbanks. You know, he would have looked at a music video and said, What what's much, you know, but look at look at the amazing crop of filmmakers that came out of the 90s music video. And you know, Ridley forgot to and Tony came out of commercials and music videos. It's insane. But Ted brother, I appreciate you coming on man. And thank you again for all

Ted Griffin 1:58:28
Thank you for having me. It was a joy and a pleasure.

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BPS 274: $300,000+ in Debt for Film School with Zack Morrison

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Alex Ferrari 0:11
I'd like to welcome to the show Zack Morrison, man. How you doing Zack?

Zack Morrison 0:15
Good. Good. Thanks so much for having me.

Alex Ferrari 0:16
Man, thank you so much for, for coming on. I was introduced to your plight, when I read the when I read this amazing article in the Wall Street Journal about what you are going through what you've gone through. And it is a topic that is dear to my heart, which is student debt. But I had not quite heard about it from the Ivy League side of things. Because when I think film school, I don't think Ivy League generally speaking, but before we jump into the deep end of the pool on that, let's first have to ask you a question. What made you want to become a filmmaker? Like what was the catalyst? Oh, man,

Zack Morrison 0:56
um, I think the what, what really did it I mean, I grew up watching movies, and you know, so like, I just a big movie fan my whole life even as a kid. But the thing that really did it was I was really into Legos as as a kid. Like That was my whole thing was like playing with Legos. And you know, building like, not following the directions of the thing and like building my own stuff. And, you know, forming these little stories with these Lego people in my head. And every year on Christmas, that was like the big family activity was, you know, after all the presents and stuff were over and family's over, we would all sit down and like build a Lego set together, especially my grandfather and I and one year, I must have been eight or nine years old. It the Lego set that year was a Steven Spielberg Lego set. Nice. It was it was the it was the coolest thing. It was like you build, you know, a little cityscape and a dinosaur to come in and knock it down. But you also built like the camera crew and the lights and like all the grip and everything. Stop it.

Alex Ferrari 2:00
Stop it. Why isn't this in my life?

Zack Morrison 2:04
it's it's the coolest thing ever. But it came with, you know how like, it has the instruction book on how to build the set. In the back of it was a storyboard for frames of how to shoot the movie, the you know, the the movie that the set teaches you how to do and it came with this little camera and this very, very basic editing software. And it blew my mind it was it was without a doubt the coolest thing. So I started making this little Lego Movie. And then from that point on, I like played with the Lego set for a day got rid of it. And then now I just had this camera and this editing software at eight years old. And I was off to the races I started, you know, stealing my dad's camcorder on every family vacation. You know, I would go out in the backyard and like Middle School, and that's when that's when like jackass was big. So he was like, Hey, we're hanging out in the backyard and like doing stuff, you know, like our friends, we would all get together and just film stuff. And when High School came around, I played sports, but I rode the bench because I was terrible athletes. But I would do that all the sports highlight tapes for all my athlete friends. And just from that point on, I just knew. So you know, by the time I got to college, I was just that's all I wanted to do with my life was make short films and specifically comedy. And and it's quite literally the thing I've been doing for my whole life.

Alex Ferrari 3:24
It sounds like is from eight years old. I didn't find my passion till I was in my teens but and I was again it was I was given a camcorder and I'm a bit older than you. So you had technologies that I did not have access to. I was editing between two VCRs back in the day, but yeah, that's Yeah, that sounds like it sounds like you know, once you get bitten by that damn bug, you can't get right. It's done. It's a done disease that we're stuck with. So we just the curse that doesn't go. So okay, so you've been making movies all you know, from from eight years old until 1819, I guess at that point, and you decide, hey, you know what, I think I want to go to film school. What? So can I ask you what made and what year was that, by the way that you went to?

Zack Morrison 4:10
My senior year in high school was 2010. So okay, like college, like the college discussion was happening around like 2009 2010.

Alex Ferrari 4:19
Okay, so there was a lot of stuff out there for education, as far as filmmaking at that point, still wasn't a tremendous amount, but it was not like today, but still, there were some YouTube channels, there were some education, things like that. You would have been directing and shooting and editing your own stuff for such a long time. Why did you decide that you wanted to go to film school, and then we'll decide then we'll talk about which film school you chose?

Zack Morrison 4:45
Yeah. I think the you know, the big thing for me was especially as a high school student, you know, I was taking I was, in hindsight extremely fortunate. My high school had, like the arts programs at my in my town. So my high school were very, like they prided themselves in in establishing those. So we had video production courses in high school, you know, I was in the band, so I was playing music and stuff as well. And so I just I knew art, in some form in some medium was the thing. And I had so like, I just, I loved it so much in the fact that I could do it in school was was like the life changing sort of revelation that I had up to that moment school like, that was the hobby I did. After school. That was the thing I did on weekends. And school was like math and science in history. And I was like an okay student, but I was not inspired by any of it. And you know, as as you grow up, and you get through high school, you start thinking like that, what am I going to do with the rest of my life. And I realized I want I wanted to make films, I want to tell stories, like, that's the thing I want to do. And I knew that just knowing how the kind of student I was in the kind of, you know, environment that is conducive for me, I knew I wanted to go to a film program. You know, in some of my favorite, like, all time favorite filmmakers went to film school, and that was, you know, in doing research, that was the path that, you know, I just that made sense in my 17 year old brain, you know, because this was, this was before, like, Ryan Connelly, and Film Riot really blew up, you know, this was before, like, the sort of DIY film education on YouTube became a thing, there was a lot of like, sketch comedy, like Smosh was huge. And, you know, that was when after john was on, yeah, rocketjump Andy Samberg was on SNL at the time. So like, the idea of like, where you can make funny videos was very much a thing, but the How do I go about pursuing, like the craft in a broader sense? You know, the, the option that made sense to me was was film school. So, you know, junior year of high school, I was, you know, looking at looking at programs and obviously, I checked it, you know, you look at NYU, you check out all the, you know, the big undergrad programs, but I'm from New Jersey, and so I you know, I always had Rutgers as like the state school in my back pocket. I live now, even five minutes down the road from campus, you know, all my family went there, I baby pictures in in rector's gear. And so, you know, I always knew that was a thing. But at the time, there was no film program. There was not a thing. They had journalism, they had broadcast. And they had Film Studies, but there was no filmmaking. And it became a thing after like, I applied to schools, and NYU rejected me, you know, that like the traditional sort of undergrad film programs all rejected me because whatever. Don't say that came down to I had, oh, no, no, I don't lose sleep over it. But it came down to Emerson College in Boston, and Rutgers, where it came where my, you know, to kind of top two choices. And, you know, I was also playing I played volleyball in high school and the coach at Emerson, it was a d3 program. And so he brought me up for a recruiting visit, and I visited the film classes, and it was awesome. And you know, as this was, like, everything I wanted, I could play the, you know, the game that I love, and I could do the stuff that I love for school, and it made sense. And then I saw the, you know, the bill, or what it what it would have been. And at that time, it was just wait, it was outside of what the budget for college would have been compared to in state tuition at my state school. And so records just ended up making sense. And so I decided to go there for undergrad.

Alex Ferrari 8:37
Right. Okay, so you went to Rutgers? And then you decided to go to Columbia University for film now. I've been in the business a long time. And I know all the film programs pretty well. Columbia is not one of the ones that gets spoken about often. So wasn't it's not ASI. It's not UCLA, USC, NYU, it's not even la film school or full sail. It's an Ivy League school. So when you think Ivy League, you don't generally think film program.

Zack Morrison 9:08
True, but I will say that, I think specifically if you're looking at graduate, like the graduate film programs, and like every year with like The Hollywood Reporter, and whatever that article is that like, lists them all, you know, comes it's on there somewhere. Yeah, your top five or Columbia and NYU on the east coast and asi UCLA and USC in LA, you know, those are, at least domestically in the US I would consider, you know, the five top programs and anyone you ask that you can, you know, plus minus whatever the rankings are, I know Chapman's a good one also. But But you know, specifically for graduate film programs. You know, it was always on my list. It was always you know, I had a undergrad professor that went there and taught there and so he you know, kind of gave us the the Kool Aid a little bit The thing that made me really want to go to film school in general was, I did four years of undergrad, loved it had the time of my life. And Rutgers was developing a film program. As I was there, I was kind of like the guinea pig student for what a film major could be like, every semester, they kept adding classes, and I kept taking them. And I did like an individualized major. And it was cool when I was like, in the room my senior year when they like, you know, the governor's office was like, okay, there will now be a BFA in film, after you're gone, you know, which was, which was, I was super proud of it. But you know, after four years of like, advocating and stuff, I'm glad now students that at the Art School at records have a program on the

Alex Ferrari 10:42
introduction of the measure question, what made you think, what, who gave you the information that said that you needed a master's degree or, or, you know, even even a bachelor's degree in film to make it in the film industry, so that just something that you came up with? Or someone was telling you this? Oh, no, no

Zack Morrison 10:59
one, no one told me that I knew that. I this was a path that I was choosing for myself. And because you know, everyone, like, I have a bunch of friends who never went to film school. I know, there are a bunch of filmmakers that never went and it was, I never felt like that was the only answer. I just felt like, that was the path that made sense for me. You know, like, fair enough, undergrad, opened up so many opportunities for me. You know, like, everything I've done up, like, up to that point was as a result of school. And every, like, every film that I had, in every festival, every, you know, every, all the trips, and like the people I met and the jobs that I had, everything came through school, through the transfer property all a product of, you know, my connections that I made it records and so, you know, when it came down to, you know, senior year in college now, this is like, 2014, and I was working a lot. You know, I had a huge portfolio of narrative films and music videos, and I'm directing stuff all the time. And, you know, I'm working at MTV. At the time. It's like a, you know, in there on air promos department, like, Here's what's coming up next on Teen Wolf and like, a bunch of stuff. And, and so, you know, I was starting to think like, Okay, what, what's next, you know, and the two options that were presented, you know, that just sort of made sense to me was one, I could, you know, spend 1015 grand by like a read, go in New York and hustle as like a freelance production guy. totally valid option. Option B was, right, my feature film and just like, like, fucking do it live was the thing we said all the time in college. So it's like, yeah, maybe I can just like do my feature now. But I knew I wasn't ready. I knew I didn't have just the, the sense of self as both a person and then a business manager, and then an artist, like, it wasn't, I wasn't ready to do that yet. And option C was looking into graduate film schools, you know, because, you know, again, like I had professors who I went to undergrad, who I had for undergrad, went to grad school. And so they kind of told me about that. But then also looking at like, you know, that at Tisch at NYU, Spike Lee doesn't work with the undergrads, he works with the grad students. And you know, that at ASI, the Peter start producing program, that's a graduate program. And, and so I just started thinking, Okay, there's still there's a potential Avenue here, you know. And, you know, being from the east coast, I looked in New York City schools, and, you know, NYU, obviously, is the is the big kind of name one, but you look at a school like Columbia, who has, you know, Jennifer Lee, Kathryn Bigelow, just a ton of a ton of people who've come out of there. And so the program was got on my radar. And then I applied to, you know, I applied to NYU, Columbia and USC, because I figured if I'm gonna, if I'm gonna do this unnecessary thing, right, if I'm gonna go to school, I might as well go to a program that that means something to some people potentially, and that to go to a you know, and so, I got rejected from NYU and USC at the same day. So I was like, Alright, I guess schedule is not going to be It's fine. It's not, you know, I'll just go in the city and hustle and then and then I got a call for an interview at Columbia. And so it just the the choice kind of was just fell into my lap like it was almost made for you. Yeah. And like, at that point, you get you get an offer like that. You don't you say yes. And you figure it out later, you

Alex Ferrari 14:26
know. So the point before your undergraduate What did that what was the cost? tuition was

Zack Morrison 14:32
tuition wise, it was, I don't know. Off the top of it was like in state tuition. 20 it was like 20 something a year, something like that. A year a year. Yeah, yeah. And, you know, my, my mom, my mom worked at the school. So all all say for one, like my first year tuition was it wasn't tuition remission is like tuition reimbursement. So we kept like, recycling the same tuition check each year. And then the only costs were room and board and the random fees that go into into school. So it wasn't I wasn't finishing college like undergrad with a lot of debt

Alex Ferrari 15:12
at all. Okay, good. So you, you it was a very manageable amount of debt coming into undergraduate. Which is the same for me when I went to full sail in Orlando, which is a tech college and I paid I think total when I came out my student debt was, I think, anywhere between 18 and 25. If you include like, living costs and stuff like that off campus and stuff, and it was 9596. So it's a little bit different time, obviously. Yeah, yeah. And there wasn't. And at that point, there was really no other option, like there was, there was no information anywhere other than books and behind the scenes, videos and stuff. Like there was nothing. So I didn't have an option at the time. I'm like, Okay, this is what the film school I want to. But okay, so then you go into Columbia, and then what is the how many years? Were you in the program for graduate?

Zack Morrison 16:01
Yes, so Columbia's MFA program, it's very unique in the sense that it's a three to five year program. And and, you know, most most MFA is or two years, you're in a room. And, and so thankfully, it was, it was still only two years of class and two years of full time tuition. But the sort of the interesting part was year three and onwards, you become an artist in residency at the school. And so you know, if you think about how that will compare to a more standard to your MFA, where you do your two years of class, you kind of, in your second year, you just focus on your thesis film, and then you're out. And then you have a year to a couple years after grad school to sort of do that next, you know, to like, either write the script or do the movie, kind of on your own, you know, or like, whatever your calling card piece is going to be. and Columbia, you know, I kind of fell in love with their philosophy of Look, you're going to do that work anyway. Why not do it here, under our supervision under our, with our resources with the, with all your classmates here on campus? And it was it was, it was an interesting concept, you know, and so it was I ended up staying for four years. It was two years of like, full time class 21 credit semesters, no time for working an outside job. And then your three in your for the total opposite. I had no class no assigned, no, like project work or anything. It was just cool. You know, I was a screenwriting students. So like, write your pages and and do your movie, do your short and call us when you have it? You know?

Alex Ferrari 17:39
So what were the costs for each year?

Zack Morrison 17:42
So that I mean that you the full the kind of full time part year one in year two, that was like your, you know, your 5060 grand? Yeah. I think was like 60 something a year, and then plus the cost of living in New York City? No, because, yeah, so I ended up taking out loans that ended up being something in like, the 80 ish, but I don't have that 30 year numbers in front of me, but like the 80 ish, yeah, per year, because I also had to take out loans to afford to live in New York, and not work. And then your, your three and your four, like those thesis years, it was significantly less, but it was still like, it was still a good amount. So you know, grand total, it came out to like, including, like the all the interest that might have been generated, I'm up to like 202 190 something from just grad school. And then you add on like the little bit of debt I'm in left for for undergrad and it kind of kicks me over the that 300 level. And that's

Alex Ferrari 18:44
just my stomach is turning brother. I'm so sorry. As you're saying these numbers, I'm like, Oh, it's like you are living it. And I'm just like, and it's so painful to hear. Did you understand the financial obligations you were getting into? When you sign up for it? I mean, I know you're not you obviously just graduated with a BA. So you're not dumb. Right? But But did you really grasp what was going on? Did you like did you think in your mind, oh, well, I'll just sign up for this. This is a great opportunity. I'm gonna make a million first few years anyway, like, what was the mindset of this? Because that's what I did. I said, I'm like, yeah, hollywood should just bring their truck of money just dump the money truck. They should they should be realizing my genius any day now.

Zack Morrison 19:37
Right? No, thankfully, um, you know, as a as a college senior because I went straight in from undergrad to grad because I knew if I didn't go then I was never gonna go back to school. And I was very much aware of what I was signing up for you I almost didn't go like I the the big, you know, debate I had was, again because the the decision Like which school was not a factor? It was like one or nothing. That was the big debate I had for months, you know, even even before even her Yes, like the application was, was Thanksgiving of 2013. And I heard like March or April of 2014. And I had about a month or month and a half period to make a decision. And so I, I, you know, obviously, the number is massive, and it's terrifying, but I knew going into it, what I was doing. You know, I that was like the running joke with with all my friends like, Oh, yeah, like, I'm screwed. I'm never gonna pay this off. Which, you know, that kind of humor doesn't translate into a print article. But, um, yeah, I knew what I was signing up for. And the way I justified it in my head at the time and even now was like, a, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. You know, there was no chance to defer there is like, I'd have to apply again. And I knew again, once I left the school system, I was never in started working full time, I was never going back. And so just in that moment, at that time, I was like, here's an opportunity. Here's life saying, Here's your shot, you know, you did the, you did the DIY thing for four years in undergrad, you know, you you helped build a program for future students. And here's the universe saying, here's, here's a chance to actually invest in yourself and dive in and, and do something, you know, that you wouldn't have had the chance to do if it wasn't for the last four years of work that you put in. But yeah, I, you know, I, I think like I've obviously I've never seen $300,000 like in my life before that like that. The what that physically looks like it's like that scene from dodgeball where he opens up the briefcase, and it's like, people normally don't see this unless it's in the movie, you know,

Alex Ferrari 21:52
by the way, very good. Ben Stiller. Very, very good Ben Stiller impression my friend very, very good. No, I yeah, no, it's almost it's almost, I don't mean to make this light of it. But it's almost a comical number, like it does. It doesn't seem real. Like it really is. I can't I can't even comprehend being 300,000 plus dollars in debt. And for everyone listening, you have to understand like, Zack can't file bankruptcy. Like he can't keep this is debt that will be with him. And again, dude, I don't mean like, rub salt in your room. I'm just trying to educate people listening. They'll know, but like, this is debt that he will carry with him for the rest of his physical life. Maybe they'll figure out a way to take it to the next life. I don't know. Trust me, banks will figure a way to do it if they can. But that's something that a lot of people who do sign these on the like, I'll just file for bankruptcy. I'm like, no. Thanks to a certain president in the early 2000s. They signed a deal. A law stating that you cannot bank rip yourself out of student loan, which, okay, so Alright, so let's go back to a lot of things I want to kind of open up here. Okay. So I'm not questioning the education that you got to Columbia. I'm sure it was top notch. I've spoken at USC, I've spoken at New York Film Academy. I've spoken a lot of these schools. And I've talked to the instructors. And I've seen that the syllabus, I'm like, dude, I would have killed to go to USC would have killed you go to NYU, coming up with their amazing, amazing programs. But the ROI doesn't seem to make sense. And it's not just in filmmaking, but like, I have a friend of mine, who's a social worker, who went and got a Master's at USC for social work. I don't know about you, but I don't know a lot of rich social workers. That's generally not the way social work works. So she was in debt for 184. So social work, right. And then I had another friend who has a master's degree from Florida a&m, or for Florida in Florida International University. Same same degree different school, she was $20,000 in debt. Right for social work. Do you see that? She's paid it off already? Yeah, the other one will never. So that's when I when I talk about ROI. I'm like, if you can afford the school, go for it. Film schools have a lot of benefits and potentially a lot of things, resources and context. Like you were saying, but $80,000 a year for those two years plus, the next two years. The ROI doesn't make sense. Do you? Do you agree with what I'm saying?

Zack Morrison 24:45
I agree that the numbers sound crazy. Like I totally I totally hear you on like the math and, and the you know, the article, The Wall Street Journal article, they had this fun little graphic where you can like see you Know, the school and the cost and then like, what the average person in that field is makes two to three years out of school like that in in a bubble makes perfect sense.

Alex Ferrari 25:10

Zack Morrison 25:11
The the part that, that I always like because I you know, I've been having this conversation going on for years now, since I went to school in the first place, and the part that I always bring up to people is that a lot of the benefits of that ROI, like a lot of the things that you're investing into, and like the dividends that investment pays, are, are non quantifiable, you know, especially in relation to the like, how much money you're making out of school. You know, I spent the last two years in Los Angeles hustling and trying to do the Los Angeles thing. And so, you know, I was entering a workforce where your entry level job is like 30 grand a year, or, you know, if you're lucky, if you're lucky, if you're lucky, and like 15 bucks an hour and no health insurance and all that jazz. But the, you know, even just on like a superficial level, what I had that a lot of these other, you know, my peers in the workforce didn't have potentially was for feature screenplays that have been workshopped over the course of four years work that got me a manager, which helped me bring bring myself out there, you know, a short film that that was nominated for, and then won an Emmy. And that started conversations. And so there's, I mean, again, those are just sort of the superficial egotistical benefits. But the even on that surface level alone, you know, I don't know if, like, the kind of basic equation of like, what's the ROI from the cost of your degree? I don't know if that equation works. You know, there's, it's like, we're trying to do like a divide by zero thing we're, we're ignoring, you know, I can ramble about metaphors all the time. But you know, you don't I mean, there's like, there's it, I'm able to justify it in for me, based off of the the work that I know. And the experience that I had that like does, that doesn't factor into that equation is that

Alex Ferrari 27:11
it does, it does make sense to certain extent, but like, you know, as my wife always says that the numbers never lie. And all of those things are great. And look, I you know, when I when I got out, and I was stuck with that debt, and I deferred it for a year, and my interest went up, because I was working as an intern, you know, working no making no money for the flight for the first six months or something like that, or something like or working as a PA making, at the time, 75 bucks a day. Because I was back in the day, until I finally got my legs under me. And then once I got my legs under me, and I started like, Oh, I guess I could I have a job now. My first job in the business was making 23 grand as a tape vault guy in a commercial production house. Then I became an editor. And then I was making stupid money as an editor in Miami in the 90s, when money was just flying everywhere. It's just everywhere. So and I was able to pay off my debt Little by little, until I finally got it off. But But you know, the things that I learned in my personal experience, the things that I loved my film school, I loved it, it was fun. I got to play I got to learn. But a lot of the information that I learned there was very antiquated because we were I got caught right between the digital analog switch. So okay, so there was no lighting, no, there was very little non lean, linear editing, right? Like avid wasn't a thing just yet. And there is no final cut yet and any of that kind of stuff. So I was caught in that little weird place. So a lot of the stuff I learned, I could just talk to the old guys at the studio, so proud, but really didn't help me get a job.

Right. But so I'm not sure what the ROI was for my experience. But with all of that said, if you had I mean, obviously, if you had a chance to go back and go, is this worth $300,000? Or could I have gone? Could I have been my short film without the again and still get an Emmy nomination without going to that school?

Zack Morrison 29:11
that the answer is physically, it's possible to do all those things. And maybe, maybe someone could have, and I'm not. And that's not to say that any, like, indie filmmaker listening like that, I'm not trying to say that film school is the way like not the Mandalorian like this. It's not. But for me, it was and like, I don't you know, because I don't have you know, an uncle in the industry like New Jersey is as far away from the film industry as as one can physically get geographically and still be in the United States. And so, it That was my way. And that's fair enough that that was my way into into jobs. Like I wouldn't have worked at MTV, if it wasn't for undergrad. I wouldn't have gotten in like the tonight show or Saturday Night Live if it wasn't for connections I made while in film school in New York City. So like, even just from like a door opening, I know that's one of like, the cliches that people say, Oh, you go to film school, so it opens doors, you know? And but it did, it really did. And so I don't know if I don't know if I'd be writing at the level I would be at now. If it wasn't for film school, I don't know if I'd be as confident a director as I would be now if it wasn't for school. And so I don't, I wouldn't change anything. So slight debt.

Alex Ferrari 30:35
So what So what was the purpose of you coming out publicly is, you know, saying, like, I've been financially burden, you know, in that article, like, I've got 300,000 plus dollars in debt, like, what was the purpose of you coming out? Because I understood, I get your point of view, I get you, there's no question, do you learn something, and you've got some bang for your buck? I just my personal opinion, don't think that, that education is worth that amount of money, where there are other programs that are more affordable, that could teach you a lot of those things. And, and even then, in 2020, we talk about 2014, there's a tremendous amount of online education, and, you know, even going to other schools and things like that there. There are other options at that point. It's not like it was 85 Oh, yeah,

Zack Morrison 31:27
for sure. And again, like I wholeheartedly understand that was not the only option, you know, and I didn't feel pressured in any way, you know, like, in reading since the article came out, like reading the comments section, you know, like, I think the thing a lot of people are, are missing is like, I know that it's crazy. You know, like, like, I'm, well, you're for that.

Alex Ferrari 31:51
But you're a filmmaker. So filmmakers are not we're not, we're not genic

Zack Morrison 31:54
that's a starting point. You have to be insane to, to grow up wanting to be an artist and to continue doing it, you know,

Alex Ferrari 32:01
oh, and then to pay obscene amounts of money. Because I paid obscene amounts of money as well. I only went to school for I went to a special program was a year and a half. And it was $25,000 in 1995, or 94. Whenever I went, so it's insane. That's insanity with no, no job prospects. No. It's not like it is now like now there's just jobs everywhere. There's also a lot of people looking for those jobs. But in the 90s. You kidding?

Zack Morrison 32:31
Yeah. No, but the reason why I wanted to speak up. There's a couple reasons. One, I mean, like, objectively correct, like, no school, like school should not cost anything near what it costs in this country. You know, I don't, you know, I don't think the federal government should be making money off of off of the debt that they're, you know, giving us like, when we take out student loans, the interest rates are insane, you know, and so what's

Alex Ferrari 32:58
the interest rate? What's interesting? I don't even remember what mines was.

Zack Morrison 33:03
It's like, it's like this. I don't I don't want to throw a number out and they'd be wrong.

Alex Ferrari 33:08
Ruff, ruff. Yeah, I think it's like six, I think in like this, this kind of stuff. It's for education, man, you shouldn't be like, it should be one, it should be like

Zack Morrison 33:18
a it should be nothing. Or at the bare minimum, whatever, like the prime, like, whatever prime is whatever prime is like it should like at a bare minimum, it should be that we shouldn't. Tuition shouldn't be that high. But anyway, that's a whole different conversation. But a you know, I just wanted to say like, Hey, this is the thing that I experienced. And you know, and I did everything I could, in my conversations in that to really stress that like, I'm not trying to, like I don't second guess anything. I'm not criticizing any aspect of the school itself. It's more like that's just the nature of how much school costs and that's the problem. But also, I knew that like having come from a journalism background, I wrote I've written for news before I was a journalism major, technically in undergrad and and so I know how I knew how to talk to a reporter and I felt comfortable talking to a reporter and I knew a lot of my classmates did not feel comfortable doing so. And I also knew that there was the chance that if someone who you know a classmate of mine who didn't feel comfortable talking to a reporter ended up feeling pressured to do so and then said something they regret on the record and that's like a whole thing. So I was like, yeah, I'll do it. Sure. I have no problem.

Alex Ferrari 34:31
So somewhat to the reporter came out came looking for you guys or was you did you go looking for them?

Zack Morrison 34:36
I got I woke up to an email in my inbox saying, Hey, we're doing a story on student debt you want to talk and at that point, like I wasn't even on like Facebook and Twitter and whenever I was not very private about it, I have no shame and because it's a joke, right? Like it's hilarious. I have I mortgaging a house I'll never live in you know. And so I even like I wasn't contest it during the game show pay it off. Like it was on that show on Game Show on TBS, and like the bit was instead of giving you money, we give it off. And so I was when they were workshopping it, like in Brooklyn. I was one of their test contestants. And, you know, I went in and this was in like a, you know, like, kind of warehouse in Brooklyn. And they were where they were workshopping the game. And they had, I was one of three contestants. And like, two of them had, they were both undergrads and I don't know, had like, 2121 50,000 in debt. And I was like, Hi, I'm Zack Morrison. I'm 300k in debt. And there's just like, a silence that like, and we can't have this. We can't

Alex Ferrari 35:41
if this guy wins, he's gonna bankrupt us.

Zack Morrison 35:43
Yeah. And like the game show, like, clearly the game was not prepared for me that you know, and, and the funniest part was, I won, like, I won the test episode. That's horrible. Oh, my gosh, that's like, and they were, they were really great about it like that. You know, like, the whole crew is they were fantastically supportive of it. It was just, it was really funny. And that was, you know, that was just a from that moment on. I was like, I should just be talking about this because it's, it's hilarious. You know?

Alex Ferrari 36:13
I mean, it I mean, it is looking out. I mean, I'm glad you have a good attitude about if not, I mean, you have to have a good attitude about it. If not, you just you know, just at the at the end of it just like gets over. But so Okay, so mo is your most your student debt federal?

Zack Morrison 36:29
It's it's 100% federal, yeah, it's

Alex Ferrari 36:31
100% federal. So this is absolutely in the control of the US government to help students and citizens get going in life without screwing them over with interest payments. Even if it looked at it, look, if you went into like, Hey, I got $300,000 in debt. But every day, I'm assuming you're not making the full payment. Oh, like I'm not making any payments. Also, so so now it's just become a joke, essentially.

Zack Morrison 37:04
Right? Because it's in cut like I'm on the income based repayment plan. I've been unemployed since like unemployed. Since the pandemic hit. I've been you know, freelancing and gigging. And

Alex Ferrari 37:13
sure, your career, but you're accruing interest. Yeah.

Zack Morrison 37:16
And, and, like, I'm on the income based repayment plan. And, and, according to that, and like the tax bracket that I'm in, I don't, I don't have to make any payments I'm making, I'm paying what I can, but my payment plan is do zero a month, because they know I'm not making any money.

Alex Ferrari 37:35
So that's, that's they're a little bit better than a bank, but not by much.

Zack Morrison 37:39
Not Not by much. And this is this is the federal government and like they're, you know, why? Why are we knowing how, like the relationship between schools raising tuition, and the government allowing loans to be larger and larger and larger. I'm not like an economic economist, I'm not a writer, either. But like, whatever that relationship is of like tuition rising, and the government raising the ceiling of the loan limit, like if the government stops writing loans, maybe are we gonna keep raising tuition if people can't, you know, so like, that's that macro issue, I think, is what I hope is the conversation that comes out of all this, you know, why just why does education cost so much?

Alex Ferrari 38:24
Well, that's the thing, too, I'm like, there's at a certain point, like I was saying, with the social worker, like, if the job you're trying to educate yourself to get, or the career that you're trying to get doesn't even come close to the tuition you're paying to get, it doesn't make any sense to go to that school, can you find that same education or an equivalent education at a cheaper school, a state school, you know, something else like that. So like, USC versus f IU, you both get a quality education. They're both very good schools. Obviously, USC is more prestigious, but it's a private school, if IU is a state school. So if you know, for $20,000, or $160,000, for the education of a social worker who's going to make probably less than a filmmaker, which is scary. Coming out, does that is that is that? Should they even be legal? Like I'm being I'm being honest here? Like, is it legal to charge someone $80,000 a year? And let's say it's a two year master's program? Yeah. So 160 plus whatever it costs to live in that in the state that you're going to go live in? Is it even legal to charge somebody that much when they know, they know the school, I'm sorry, knows that the chances of the chances of the students in a in a 5050 students in a film course, going going for a Master's Course, spending $160,000 for those two years, let's say they don't do the three, four or five here at Columbia. The chances of that what is the percentage of those 50 people actually getting and making a living in In our industry, it is for it's fractional, and you know, it is. So is that even legal thing? And then of course, and then of course, you've got the government coming up with their numbers going. Oh, yeah, sure, just keep raising the limits, you've raised a little. So it's allowing this thing to keep going. Right. Right. I mean, you know, on the one hand, like, yes, it's legal. I know, it is legal. Right.

Zack Morrison 40:24
But also, you know, I, I like putting aside the specific school of costing specific amounts thing because, like, I don't know why, you know, different schools costs, charge, what they what they do, and like, it's not, it's not just like school costs, you know, like, you can buy a sandwich for five bucks, like sandwiches or $5. You know, education should just be what ever education costs,

Alex Ferrari 40:48
but you could also be could also spend $35, for a sandwich. And it's, and it's still bread, cheese, meats, and maybe a special sauce.

Zack Morrison 40:58
But I'd like again, just putting it in from like, my specific situation, you know, I, those were, those were the options available to me, you know, and I, I was like, because undergrad, the students who are at Rutgers today are getting a significantly better filmmaking education than I got when I was a student there. And so, you know, I went to the most like, affordable DIY, like I taught myself, most of what I know about shooting and editing, and then class was just like, a place to put it to work, you know. But then, you know, when the grad school question came around, I had all the, like, everything that I was going to learn from, from YouTube filmmaking tutorials, like, all the technical I had down, I was, I should shoot, I can edit I can, I can do all the things. Now I need a place where I can actually apply the craft and like, and workshop that, like the artistic decision making, you know, and, and that was that, like, I want to be a writer, director, I don't want to be a working cinematographer. I had the knowledge base to be working cinematographer, what I wanted was an environment where I can write stuff, put it up on its feet, and workshop it in that artistic, you know, critique environment, among my peers. And, you know, I have friends who are in the industry, but like, you know, I don't know if I don't know if I could have gotten 50 people in a room on a weekly basis to like, discuss, no, I graphed it back to you. No,

Alex Ferrari 42:30
no, I got it. It's just again, the cost the it's the ROI. It's like, could you have done that exact same thing in another program somewhere else at a fraction of the cost? Even if it was? look even at $20,000? a year? Yeah. Which is still obscene. You could probably have found that somewhere. Who knows? You know, if

Zack Morrison 42:49
if, if another school that was cheaper, said yes, I would have considered you know, and, and without a doubt, you can find like, you can find anything you want at almost any school, like, you know, I don't I don't believe that. Any one school like that, specifically, that place is going to make or break your ability to make it in the Caribbean. Right?

Alex Ferrari 43:13
If history's I mean Spielberg, Tarantino, I mean, there's the list goes on a lot that they did not go to film school.

Zack Morrison 43:18
They didn't I will say that there. For every person who's successful that didn't go to film school, there are a billion who did George Lucas Marty Scorsese, you know, like, like, that was a different generation, though.

Alex Ferrari 43:29
Yeah, there's a different gender that is called the film school generation, like that is the generation of film students, that there was no other option and that that's they took over Hollywood and that whole thing. But more recently, I've seen a lot more image there are UFC men pumps out, pumps up, people left them, right. And I know that program well. And the connections you make in USC is worth the tuition, to be honest with you, a USC that the money you're spending is to make contact with your, your your fellow students who all end up going somewhere because they wanted to that that program. And while you have a similar not as not as much to my understanding, but asi is the same way. Things like that. But But yeah, go ahead, continue.

Zack Morrison 44:17
I mean, I would argue, I would argue Columbia was the same way. You know, I, like all, all of my friends who I graduated school with are all in the industry, they're all working, they're all going to be exactly, you know, five of them are already creative executives, like two of them are heads of development at studios. Like it's, like, forever, you know, there's so much of that, like, that's why I went because I want to, you know, make friends with actual true creative collaborative friendships with people who are going to hustle hard as hard as me if not harder. 10 times harder, you know, right. And and so, I the because I've done like these like, you know, I've sat on a debate panel with like, the no Film School guy. And and we went back and forth that like a film festivals like do you go to school? Do you not go to school? And it just came down to like,

Alex Ferrari 45:07
it's individual? It's an individual choice. Yeah,

Zack Morrison 45:09
it just came down to like, do what you can, you know, and and do what's available to you?

Alex Ferrari 45:14
Yeah, listen, this, this is a thing for certain people, and certain filmmakers that need that structure and want that structure and want those resources. And that's perfectly fine. I went to film school, I get it. But there's others who are like, you know what, I'm going to do it all myself. And I'm 19. And I'm going to go make my first feature, I'm going to fail a whole bunch, but I'll make my first feature for 1520 grand, learn a whole lot there. And keep going. And I'll just hustle and hustle, hustle, but I want to have any debt. So those are the two, two roads, you can go down? Yeah, I don't think that I don't think that film, school is a waste of time at all. I think it's, if you can afford it, go for it. But I have a problem with the cost. And I think you have a problem with the cost. I do. There's no problem with the actual program itself and Columbia, or NYU or USC, their costs are astronomical and only growing every year. So five years from now, someone who went down your program could be half a million, or half with a half a million dollars in debt. Yeah, that when you start getting it to over a couple I mean, you're talking doctor lawyer numbers. You know, as far as doctors and lawyers, I have, I have an output to make a lot of money.

Zack Morrison 46:27
And I like I was I was I was in school long enough to be a doctor, if I went to any other school that any other program, I'd have my PhD by now. But but at the same time, you know, like just like you said, you know, doctors and lawyers, they take out a lot of money because there's potential to make a lot of money. The film industry is the like 11th largest industry in the country. And so that same potential, despite it being like the arts, and we kind of we kind of a big

Alex Ferrari 46:56
I know it's the 11th biggest fan, but do you know as well as I do that the chances are astronomical.

Zack Morrison 47:01
Yeah, they're not but like, I'm gonna I want to be the guy on the the missile at the end of Dr. Strangelove, like writing this thing into the ground. You know,

Alex Ferrari 47:09
you're an anime sir, you're an anarchist, I can tell you're an anarchist.

Zack Morrison 47:14
It's just like you have like, if you're gonna if you're gonna pursue the industry, you can't let things like the the the percentage of people who make it Oh, no, you know, like the how hard it is to break in. You

Alex Ferrari 47:26
can't let that stuff you know I did. My entire business is wrapped around that. I agree with you, 100%. I'm here to teach filmmakers. These are the realities of what the hell is gonna happen to you guys. I'm not saying don't stop. But Don't be an idiot about it. Like I always say, follow your dream, but Don't be an idiot. But there, but the cost is still the thing. Like if you can go down this road at a much more affordable rate, or another school or another program. Great. And you have a BA and you just wanted to go into get to get a masters and I was your choice. And you were like, What 20,020 30,000? The whole prior to that? Yeah, I

Zack Morrison 48:04
completely undid like the the smart thinking that I did going to my state school.

Alex Ferrari 48:10
Right? I wasn't there was a remember. Like it was like, Yeah, I can't go at Emerson that's well, that's crazy.

Zack Morrison 48:16
That went to Rutgers you New Jersey State. Right? It was great. Yeah, I completely undid that. And I went to undergrad at Rutgers for financial reasons, you know, so I like knowingly flip that switch. When when Columbia calls? It's It's

Alex Ferrari 48:34
It's an it's insane. Yeah, no, I look, I don't know, if at your age, I would have made much of a different conversation, I would have made a different decision. I'll be honest with you, because I came from Florida, as far south as you could get from from Hollywood. Yeah, you know, so I, if I would have applied, I couldn't apply to it. Because I didn't go to a four year school. So I couldn't apply to NYU. And my high school was ridiculous. My number I, I barely made it through high school. So if I would have got a call from NYU, or USC, or UCLA or asi at 1718. I want to say whatever it takes. Yeah. And I was just lucky that I came out at a time one when Full Sail said yes. Which they said yes to anybody with a checkbook. They did they did anybody with a checkbook, though, except it only hurt me about 25 grand. And I was that was something I can climb out of. But I don't think I would have made much of a different decision than you did. Man. I'll be honest with you at that time in my life. I'd be like, Oh, my God film program. Look who's come out of there, especially at Columbia is a good film program. I didn't mean to disparage it at the beginning, but that's generally you don't hear that name is that the one that comes up? It's USC, UCLA and NYU and these are the Yeah,

Zack Morrison 49:56
those are the only it's only reached its you know, like it's made like the the night 80s and onward, even like early 2000s an honor is really when it like saw an exponential curve from like, the nothingness into, you know, the that, like, again that Hollywood Reporter article that comes out every year. But, uh, but yeah, you know, I, cuz you're right even at 17 or even at I was 22 when I was I was like it's like, like screw Like what? What else am I going to be doing with my life?

Alex Ferrari 50:25
And you don't knew at that age and I hope everyone listening understands when you're that young you don't really understand what you're doing you understand what you're doing but the numbers don't seem real because I just let it out I'm not paying I'm not paying and I was were federal mines were like, loan loans from like, banks.

Zack Morrison 50:43
I will I will say though I I don't know if it's fair to on like a blanket way to say that a 22 year old doesn't feel right doing. I and I and that's again, I think that's like When, when, when we're talking about this, like the kind of broader marbles in the myth, the whatever, like guys that that happened since that article dropped, like, there's been a lot of conversation like, oh, a 21 year old or a 19 year old, doesn't know what they're doing. And I think for the most part, a lot of them do. And, and despite the, again, the insane the insanity of like going to school for that amount of money. You know, it was it was a very, like, Cognizant choice that I made. And I know a lot of my classmates, it was a very active and researched and nuanced decision.

Alex Ferrari 51:36
No, I'm not. You're I'm not saying that all 22 year olds are not educated and they can't make their dumb you're young. No, I'm not saying that. Because I was at 22. I wasn't I wasn't the seasons that I am today. Let's just put it that way. I would make different choices. Now. If I had my my brain back in my 22 year old body, many different things. But generally speaking that like even with me, and I'll just use my point of view, when I sign on, like, oh, here's another five grand here, I just I'm going to do this or I'm going to take another six grand there. The numbers don't seem real. At least they didn't for me. They don't they just look they just a couple numbers on a piece of paper. Like they don't they don't see you don't see that you don't feel the gravitas just like that Ben Stiller thing and dodge were like, right? If you saw six grand cash or 20 grand cash, you'd be like, holy, that's a lot of money.

Zack Morrison 52:26
Right? And if I, you know, if I at any point, like had to do something where I handled that amount of money before, like, you're right, like, that's that it? It didn't feel real in that sense. Right? Right. Because like, I never saw it, it was like, in and out of like, it never even hit. The only thing that did hit was like every like the the read the refund that I would get where it was like it was like that extra like 20 grand for the year to like, print, you know, for living in New York City, that extra part of the loan, that part I saw. And then you know, so that was my, my living budget for the year was that like 20 grand every year because, you know, I didn't have time to work. So like that was like that part of it felt real,

Alex Ferrari 53:09
you know, cuz you lived off of it.

Zack Morrison 53:11
Right? Because I was like, This is what I have to live off of. And I also had to shoot my movies within that budget as well. And

Alex Ferrari 53:19
did you eat ramen? You ate ramen all the time?

Zack Morrison 53:22
A lot. A lot of ramen. A lot of. I mean, it was it was New York. So there's always like cheap food joints around the corner. You know, I lived in Harlem for four years and loved it. So like, there there was, you know, and then thankfully, New Jersey is a 30 minute train ride out of Penn Station. So, you know, like my family. My support system were also on the east coast and that definitely made it a lot easier. But But yeah, they're like metaphorically, there was a lot of ramen. I

Alex Ferrari 53:48
was like 20,000 in New York City or even 2000s is not it's

Zack Morrison 53:54
like I lived I lived in what should have been a one bedroom apartment with three dudes. And you know? Yeah, I mean, like, thankfully, they were my college roommates who I do all my movies and like comedy with so like, we were already used to living on top of each other. But it was it was close quarters for a while. God and I assume dating was a little rough back then. It was interesting in the sense that there was no real time for it.

Alex Ferrari 54:22
No socks, no socks on the on the doorknob. Oh, what what door? You had a door front door, didn't you? Yeah, we had a front door but there was no Oh, no, no. No bedroom to the kitchen. I understand that because I lived in I lived in a similar situation in college as well. No in the front door.

Zack Morrison 54:40
There's no Oh, yeah, there was Yeah. Thai restaurant. Yeah, that system figured out but like I again, it was like those four to five years. That was an experience. You know that. Again, in hindsight thinking of like, what did I get out of going into that debt for like, that was an experience in my early to mid 20s that It changed my life, you know, of course, and that was, that was one of those one of those life things that like, I'm gonna, I'm gonna write about in wherever the hell I write it, you know, like, so it's little even like those little like the hell of living as a young person in New York City and that, you know, taking the subway to 30 rocket two in the morning, on a Saturday night, like, all those things are, you know, that's that's all part it was all part of the experience of doing it that again, if I, you know, you asked me like, would you do it again? Or would you? would you change your decision? All of those things contribute into? Like, no way in hell would I change any of it?

Alex Ferrari 55:36
And that is the insanity of being a filmmaker. It is the insanity of what we do. I mean, it's, it's, it's insane. I have to ask you, though, what do you think that student debt will be the next financial bubble? Because

Zack Morrison 55:51
100%? You know, I think that's the end. And it's not just the arts, it's everything. I think that like, the arts is like the easy target for a lot. But student

Alex Ferrari 56:01
debt nation,

Zack Morrison 56:02
student debt, student debt in the very macro sense, like, it's, it's such a problem, because you're, we're gonna have an entire generation, you know, that is start, like entering the prime of their working lives with too much debt. Because like, and jobs across the board today don't pay what they should be paying like these, specifically, just in the industry, because that's what the jobs that I've worked, that were working $15 an hour because those jobs were $15 an hour in 1994. You know, and or it's just like, Listen,

Alex Ferrari 56:37
I was getting paid 50 bucks an hour to edit commercials in the 90s. Yeah. And now that's dropped down to 20. Because there's so many more editors out there. So it's dropped down. So now there's more job opportunities, but you're not getting paid nearly. I mean, I used to get paid 50 to 75 an hour depending on Yeah, if I'm working promos or I'm working for a network or something like that. I was it was it was in this and I lived at home was insane. I was in my 20s living in a home. That was great. But yeah, but I think that you're absolutely right. I think that student debt will be the next thing that I think it has that has more there's more student debt than there is credit card debt. Now. That's, that's insane. That's in the United States like that. Yeah. There's more student debt, and only going up and the cost of education is only going up. So but but the edge, you're not getting more educated, you're not like, You're not coming out, like, well, you're caught you it cost you 300 grand, but you're making 4/51 year out, like, no, that's not.

Zack Morrison 57:42
And then, you know, then there's, there's also that part like, yes, like, now, in this present moment, I'm making 30 grand a year, you know, but and specifically with the entertainment industry, you know, there's no middle class, it's, you're making nothing until you're making guild minimum. And then that's, that's a life changing, you know, amount of amount of money and there, it's, it's like, you flip a switch, you know, and so, at least in the, in the back of my mind, when those like 2am panic attacks are happening. You know, about like, How the hell am I ever that was like, the thing they quoted me on to the thing was, like, How the hell am I ever gonna pay this off? You know, at least I know, like, the economics of the industry as backwards as they can be sometimes, you know, all it takes one thing to go from the bottom, like, from nothing into making guild minimums and, and selling scripts and like that land. Still very, very hard. It's a very small target. But like it, there's no middle ground. So we're just kind of Once that happens, yeah, then I'll pay my student debt off. But, you know, that's at least that's in the back of my head is like, you know, there is a way out of this.

Alex Ferrari 58:53
Yeah, there there is. I understand what you're saying. And there's always that opportunity. And that's the that's the magic that Hollywood right sells that we're really Hollywood really good at the sizzle really sucks at the steak. You know, and I've said this before on the show, I'll say it again. If you've lived in LA, so you'll know what I'm talking about. If you go down to Hollywood Boulevard. It is not what it looks like on the Oscars. No, it's not great. It's not really great. And but around the world Hollywood Boulevard is this place that everybody thinks like oh my god, it's you know, the Chinese Theater and, and everything and for like a block and a half looks cool. But if you cross the street, grab to grab your purse, and it's

Zack Morrison 59:35
Time Square. It's the same thing. It's like when I when I first started working at MTV, and like 1515 Broadway's at like that time squares, the Phillies, the Viacom building, and I was like, This

Alex Ferrari 59:45
is so cool, you

Zack Morrison 59:46
know? And like, like growing up watching Nickelodeon, they were always like, do you want to write to us right, and like 1515 Broadway, you know, and I for the my first day at MTV, I was like, This is the coolest thing. I got off the subway at Times Square. I was like a jersey. I wasn't like city. Sad. Yet, and then after that first day, I was like, This is hell. This is the worst.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:04
Is that an Elmo? Is that an Elmo with?

Zack Morrison 1:00:07
Elmo? I would say that I prefer Time Square Elmo over Hollywood Boulevard.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:13
Oh, yeah. He's, he's rough. Yeah, he's the one that gets into fights every once in a while. Right? Right. I'd like to I'd like Hollywood Boulevard Superman before he passed the documentary on him. And he was right. He literally looked like Christopher Reeve. But a lot thinner. He was anyway now we're going on it on a deep. But but but it's it's just to use an example of what Hollywood sells. And Hollywood is that it especially here in Hollywood, it is the land of broken dreams. Because you live everybody comes out with like, I could be found I could be discovered that I can sell that script, I can make that movie. All these kinds of things that can blow me up. And is there a potential for that? Absolutely. But those are lottery ticket conversations. But what you're talking about is not even lottery tickets. Just like Dude, guild minimum will change my life. Right? Like, this is not like we're not you're not going after a million a year you're like going for 6070.

Zack Morrison 1:01:18
Get like, like, like Writers Guild minimum would be fantastic.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:23
Like I would be right now. Rolling. I would be like, I'd be like, just all day. No, no, but it's true. And I remember coming up, I was like, Oh, my God, if I could get like DGA minimum, to be a first ad or second ad, just coming up, I would be like, Oh, my God, that would be amazing, you know, and all that stuff. But then I jumped into post and went down that road. But yeah, it's it. This is a this is a long conversation, it can keep going for hours and hours. I think that I'm very grateful that you came out to talk about this, because I personally hadn't heard of debt that much for films for film school. When I heard about it, I like I was disgusted by the cost. I was like, What the f is going like there's I personally think there should be no school that charges that much for a film degree. I think the degree should relate to how much money it that it's expected for someone to make in the business. And they have to be relatable, they just have to be because if not, you could you can go to $100,000 a year, pottery class, and get an MFA and a master's in pottery, and you could be like the best Potter in the world, the chances of you making that money back is it's not. It's just just no real chance. So like social work and your social work in the film industry. Because Social Work is an actual, like, you can get a job as social workers. There's a lot of social, we need social workers, you can get a job in the film industry, too. But you can you can. I'm not saying you can't. But the amount of people going after those jobs in the film industry is a lot more than they're going after the Social Work industry. Does that make? Is that fair to say? Because social works. Not that sexy, Hollywood, super sexy, super, like everybody wants to be in it. Everybody wants to make movies. Everybody really just wants to direct honestly. The old joke, right? But yeah, and I agree with you, I think I think we're both on the same page. For the most part. I still don't think that the education you got is worth the money that you paid. But I don't devalue the education. And I don't value I don't devalue the opportunities that that that program got you by connections. And job offers something. Because I know how like, corporate like via comms and those guys on like, they'll look like, Oh, hey, yeah, we'll take interns from Columbia and NYU only because they're like, that's that's their way to weed out. All the crazies like me trying to get in when I was younger, like, but I didn't go to those schools. Well, we only take interns from this or that. So. But I think we're pretty much on the same page. Do you agree? Yeah, I

Zack Morrison 1:04:03
totally hear you. You know, I think that I absolutely wish that school did not cost with it. You know, I think like any rational person would agree on that. I'm not. I'm not ready to say that. I don't think it was worth it.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:20
yet. Yeah. How old are you now? I'm 29. Talk to me. 10 years, probably about 10 years. I'm at least making guild minimum. So that would be that dude, that's doable. Man. You should absolutely be vaguely guild minimum like that. No, I listen, man, I understand bro. And I understand completely This is I'm talking to guy who's you know 47 so I've been around I've been around the block a little bit longer than you have. But you but you definitely have experiences that I do not have. Without question. You know, I I just think that anyone listening really needs to think very carefully before they go down. on a road like this, and it depends on what school you're going to go to what program it is, is that program worth it? I'm a I'm a sell. I'm a hustler, as my T shirt and hat and company say, I'm a self guy. I'm like, I'm a self generating kind of guy. Like, I'll educate myself, I'll read out the things. Absolutely. That's the kind of personality I have. There's a lot of people who don't have that personality and need. Not that that's wrong. But yeah, would benefit from a school program that's structured and stuff. I can't that 110% but they really need to think very carefully about if they're going to jump into this even if they're jumping into $100,000 of debt. That's a lot of money, man. Yeah.

Zack Morrison 1:05:44
No, I absolutely. And you know, like growing up in New Jersey, like the the hustle the grind, like that's, you know, I appreciate having had like, having had that like, gotta hustle DIY do it live environment before I went to to structure because all of all of undergrad for me was was that it was we were shooting our own films on weekends. We were hustling it was, you know, it was that mentality, watching a lot of like, Philip bloom videos, oh, yeah. Film Riot and all those guys, you know, because we wanted to figure out how to do that camera thing. And, and so I, I took, I totally, I totally hear you on on the hustle. And I think there is a balance that any filmmaker who wants to make it needs to have have like the tenacity to keep going. Mm hmm. Combined with like, whatever Avenue is going to help you learn how to do the thing that you need to learn how to do do it. And you know, and so I'm with you on that it's it 90% of this is just you have to have enough energy and passion and drive to keep just to after every rejection to keep going. It's quite literally you just have to outlast everybody.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:59
And, and it's not generally the most talented that Outlast everybody. It's, it's it's and that's something that people need to listening need to understand. It's not about how talented you are. Because I've met an obscene amount of people in the industry during my days. Who are they should not be where they are. They shouldn't be doing what they are. But they just are tenacious and they did not give up where other people who I've talked to him like oh my God, you're so effing talented. Like your script, I've read this script, this should be you should be making this into a feature that should be you should be blowing up. And they don't. They just gave up because it's it this is a brutal, one of the most brutal industries. There is Oh,

Zack Morrison 1:07:38
absolutely. Like 90 90% of my day to day is rejection emails, or, or getting ghosted by jobs or people who are like, Oh, yeah, we're looking for a person for this person for that. It's just, that's, that's my status quo is rejection. But you know, I always joke that it's like, oh, like, we're at a deli, and we're just waiting, you know, we're waiting in line for our number to be called. And it's like, what are you going to be doing? During the time? You know, that you're that you've pulled your ticket? And that they call your number? Are you going to have the rest of your shopping done? Are you going to like know, what you're making for dinner that night? Like, again, I speak almost exclusively in metaphors. But you know, it's like, you just you just have to keep going. And then when you get your shot, take it, but be ready to take it when your number's called.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:28
Now, I was gonna ask you, what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today? But I think you've answered that question, right, there is like, just don't give up. And also, you know, there is a thing about not giving up because I can run into a wall headfirst and not give up. But at a certain point, you know, my head hurts. Maybe I should figure a way around the wall, under the wall. Maybe I should buy a tool, something along those lines. So yes, be tenacious. But if things aren't working, reevaluate, absolutely. And keep and keep trying different angles to get in and I listen to, you know, I've been trying to I've been trying to get into the business for 20 odd years, I tried to hack my way in, I tried to, like sneak my way. And I always was trying to, like, get invited or sneak into the back door. And the moment I stopped doing that, and then just started to honestly, when I started the show is when the doors all opened up. For me. That's great. And because I was giving back to the community, and I was and then I was making contacts with people and things like that, and it's insane. But I didn't I wasn't trying anymore. In that sense. I was trying in another way. Again, beating your head against the door or a wall. And then Nope, that didn't work. It took me 20 years to fix it. So again, not the brightest, but now it's it's a different place. So I think you did answer that question. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or In life,

Zack Morrison 1:10:02
the lesson that took me the longest, I'm probably I mean, I think I'm still working on it. But to value my own worth, I know that sounds insane after a conversation about all the debt that I'm in.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:22
That's great.

Zack Morrison 1:10:23
What I mean by that is to trust my myself as a person who is allowed to be where I am right now. You know, I like especially just from like, all the, you know, the early jobs in the film industry I worked, where it's like, Don't talk to me, don't do this. Like, you can't be here. Why are you here? Like that meant, like, I even I quit a job that will go nameless, in 2020, right before the pandemic, which was a dumb decision, because I missed out on unemployment. But it was because the, my boss had this attitude of Why are you talking to me right now. And it was my job to be constantly talking to them. And so, like, I realized, like I am, I'm allowed to be here, like, it's my job to be here. And so, you know, in the context of like, pursuing the dream in the film industry, it's like, it's my job to be a filmmaker, I'm allowed to be a filmmaker, it's that like, fight. How do you fight that imposter syndrome? You know, so like, I'm, I'm writing I'm writing what I think is going to be my first feature film right now after having written like five or six feature screenplays. And, you know, I'm still working on finding the confidence to say like, yes, this is my, I'm going to do this. And I have this, the skills and the self where with all to be able to write this. And so I don't know if I've fully learned how to do that yet. But that's like, that's the work in progress is just like, learning how to, you know, know what my self worth is, and like, just do the thing that I have spent 1015 years practicing doing?

Alex Ferrari 1:12:05
And I think I think what you said with self worth, I think we as especially when you're coming into the business man, you think you're that people think make you make you feel worthless. And that like that guy that you were just saying, like, why are you talking to me, I had those bosses, I had those those people and I completely understand it. And if you do need to understand your worth, even if you're just an intern on a movie set, there should be no abuse. There should be there should be a level of respect. You're a human being offering a service. And you should feel that way. And I love that comments. Like I deserve to be here like I'm yeah, I'm a human being. I'm here. Respect, respect me and respect what I'm trying to do here. And I'd like that idea. I'd like that concept very much. I think it's something that definitely needs to be put out there. And three of your favorite films of all time,

Zack Morrison 1:12:59
sir. Oh, man, three of my favorite films. Number one is the Blues Brothers. Without a doubt I would always one of the one of the best films ever made. I I grew up playing the saxophone, you know, between between the blues, like the Blues Brothers soundtrack and like every Clarence Clemons solo and a Springsteen song like that was my way into art was music. So the Blues Brothers was a huge influence on me my film that won the The award was a musical. And so that just like style and genre like that is will always be near and dear to my heart. Number two is my cousin Vinnie. Genius. It's, I think it's a as a screenplay. It's perfect. Like anyone who wants to learn, like screenplay structure and rules of comedy writing. We're like every joke has a payoff in the third act like that is a perfect screenplay. And then the third one just because it's it's a film that I love that I think no one else really truly loves the way I do but a Knight's Tale with with Heath Ledger.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:05
It's a genius film I

Zack Morrison 1:14:06
love I just watched it the other day. It's great love it. It's like it's a two hour cheese fest. But like the soundtracks great and I cry at the end every time I don't care. It's it's an amazing movie.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:17
I love I absolutely love and I said, Oh, all good choices. They're all good choices. And last question, man, what do you say to a potential film student thinking about going to film school today? Okay. After this entire conversation, I would like if I'm 17 I'm 17 I'm like, Zack, man. I'm thinking about you went to film school I hear is cool. What do you What advice do you have should I do that? Or should I just watch like Film Riot and listen to indie film hustle and, and and just go my own way? What would you say to me?

Zack Morrison 1:14:53
I would, I would say to a young person who is trying to who wants to be a filmmaker. And I didn't know the answer to this question when I was 17. So whenever you figure this out, in my, in my opinion after having gone through it, if you want to be a cinematographer and editor, a first ad, if you want to work in production if if you want to, if the some part of the technical is what you want to do, and you know that that's the life path you want to have, I don't think you need to go, I think you can, you can learn you can go get a camera, you can go shoot, you can edit, you can make a bunch of stuff, you can learn the technical, like, without a doubt, you don't need like a degree in sound editing, or cinematography, right, become a sound person or cinematographer, because that you just learned by by doing and playing, if you want to be a writer, director, or a screenwriter, or because I think writing and directing are like, two halves of the same skill set. If you want like to, you want to be that person, then you have to figure out are you in a position to make work now? Like, like, if if you want to be a screenwriter Are you in a position where you can write material and also get quality feedback from not your mom? Right? Or from not the friend that's gonna say like, it's great, it's perfect. I love it. If you can, or if you have like that, if you can be Quentin Tarantino who can lock himself in a cabin or wood cabin in the woods and right Reservoir Dogs like awesome. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:16:28
but you but you could go to writers groups you can is there's a lot of

Zack Morrison 1:16:32
whatever, whatever the access to that is, if you have that I don't like I don't know, if you need to go to film school. If you are like me, who does not have that? If, if you're if none of your friends are art people, if none of your friends are writers, if you don't have at 17 years old, you know, like a writing mentor or access to the artistic resources, not like not even the technical resources, but like access to those artistic environments where you can workshop stuff and shoot stuff and like, play it for people and get honest feedback. If you don't have that, maybe you consider it because that, to me is the biggest value that I got out of film school is that artistic environment. That and so I know like, it's not that easy of like a yes or no, I just think further if you have, if you're the kind of writer that loves to write in a cabin in the woods, or you have that writers group already, and you're getting good, constructive, positive, and like forward momentum on on your work. They're like, that's what we that's what I got in film school. So I don't know if that answers the question.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:45
It doesn't answer the question. And I think your main point is like if you can have colleagues that will look at your work, give you constructive criticism, work with you on things. Maybe you take a take a handful of online courses, maybe you take some local courses or fly out to take some workshops with some high level people and get in the community. I think your big thing was community and having access to other people. And trust me, I know what you're talking because I came from Florida, we did Miami, which was no films like it was like I was starving. I watched entourage as my way to connect with the film industry as sad as that might be. Or behind the scenes videos of Raiders of the Lost duck. But, but if you can find that it's not necessary. But again, if it's affordable, there's a lot of local programs around the country, Community College, a lot of great community colleges have access to gear teachers who will help you learn that gear. And I love what you said about if you want to be a technician, you don't need to you don't generally speak you don't need a four year degree, let alone a Master's to make it in this business that's been very well established. But if you want to be a technician, you might go and take some classes, take some workshops in that man you can go to LA or New York and take you know ASE workshops by ASC cinematographers

Zack Morrison 1:19:07
or online you can pick up a lot of stuff too. Or you can just go shoot stuff like my, my, my good buddy, his name's Adam zahlreiche. He's, he's the best dp I've ever met. He's my first phone call whenever I have a project. He like we both went to Rutgers together. And he has been like hustling his ass off for years in the New York City scene as a working dp and he's spent like the same time that I put into film school learning to be a writer he was out there shooting learning to be the best dp he can possibly be. And, you know, I like whenever I talk to like, even prospective record students are just like I was teaching a high school class in New Jersey the last two weeks for like a film Summer Academy. And I was talking to the students and they were like, Do I go to film school or not? And I was like, here's a here's me and my buddy and we both had two different paths, and neither path is mutually exclusive and terms of benefits from the other, you know, it's just wherever you, whatever your path takes you do that, like, if you have access to stuff, follow that access. And if you you know, if you need access, just like you're running through the wall, if you need to get to the other room, find a way into the other room.

Alex Ferrari 1:20:18
You know, but you would generally say, don't go through her $1,000 in debt on the hole if you can avoid it. Try to not go $300,000 just as a as a general rule, general rule, not a great not a great thing. Zack Rob, I can't thank you enough for being so transparent and honest and raw about us. And actually just good humoured about what you've gone through and and sharing this sharing your story with with my tribe and with filmmakers around the world. I think it's a conversation that needs to continue to be had. And I think we've we've I think this is this has been a good conversation. I hope anyone on the fence can figure out what's right for them going down the road, but I wish you much success on your journey, my friend and thank you so much for for for being on the show, man. Thanks.

Zack Morrison 1:21:12
Thank you very much, Alex. I really appreciate it.

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BPS 273: How to Deal with Filmmaking Depression with Lucas McNelly

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Alex Ferrari 0:08
I like to welcome the show Lucas McNelly. How you doing Lucas?

Lucas McNelly 0:14
Pretty good how are you?

Alex Ferrari 0:15
I'm good man. I'm good. Thank you so much for coming on the show I read an article in in Movie Maker about how you spent better part of a decade trying to get a movie finished and I we're going to definitely get into the weeds about the insanity of that because we're all insane because we're filmmakers because that comes along with the with the package. But before we even get to that part, how did you get started in the business? What made you get into this insanity?

Lucas McNelly 0:45
Yeah, well, because I didn't know any better. So I was not into film like at all when I was a kid, I was into sports, those big basketball baseball person. And I was gonna do sports broadcasting. And you know, be the next bob costas. So and then in college, my senior year of college, the student activities or whoever said, Hey, we're going to try to do a film festival this year. And I thought, well, that'll be fun. Let's try that. And so me and a buddy of mine just decided to make a film. And I'm like, How hard could it be? It turns out it's very hard. I didn't know how to use the camera. Like I shot most of it and like the very first day we're just I'm like, how do you even turn this thing on? Like couldn't get it on the tripod and then we ended up winning the thing. Nice so from that point, I was like, well, this is a lot of fun. I kind of got hooked on it.

Alex Ferrari 1:43
And then that's the and then of course a downward spiral ever since.

Lucas McNelly 1:47
Yeah, and that is where all the blame lies.

Alex Ferrari 1:51
That was that was the peak the one award Yeah, you know it's it's amazing. I got my award. Yeah, exactly right that you get that one award at this film festival. You're like, I think I can go with this. And then you're just like, wait a minute, it's not that easy.

Lucas McNelly 2:08
At the bottom, Beginner's luck, I think.

Alex Ferrari 2:11
Yeah, good timing. Good timing. So then tell me man What? Tell me about upcountry man your film upcountry? Your? The journey of it? Why took 10 years to make? How did you keep? There's so many questions. So tell me how it gets started in the first place?

Lucas McNelly 2:26
Well, depression is a hell of a drug. So that's the short version of it. The long version is so I was I was living in Pennsylvania for a while. And then I ended up after a breakup, I was back in Maine. And I kind of needed to do something. So I was like, well, we have this hunting camp in the woods. And crowdfunding just started. And I was like, well I'll crowdfund a movie. And we'll just make we'll just shoot a movie. And so that was the easy part. We crowdfunded four grand and I got people from around the country to come up with basically the four grand was the plane tickets and food. And we shot it in a week we shot seven days in the woods sunup to sundown, track out into the, into the woods, and you know, just shoot all day. And then we, I caught it. And everything was sort of going to plan I did a year without rent. After that, and I edited I finished editing it to picture to picture lock on a year without rent. And then we were sort of chipping away at the sound mix in and it's you know, it's a $4,000 film, so it's when people have time to do it. And then we were in a festival in I want to say 2012 or 2013. And we got bumped. And I was getting playing, I was literally getting plane tickets, to go to Philly to sound mix it and to like, you know, do like four hard days of sound mixing, and it got bumped and I was like, Well, I guess we don't necessarily need to do this right now. And the sound editors like, well, I can get this paid gig. So do you want to just push a couple weeks in a couple weeks, Pam a couple more weeks. And then it was sort of we chip away at it over email. And then and it just sort of got away from me you know, it's like that thing that just sort of becomes you know, the the gaps become longer in trying to get the thing done and without that fire of the thing and it just sort of like snowballed on me. And before I knew it, it was like two years have passed. And

Alex Ferrari 4:39
so you had a chat said this is not a film you shot over 10 years you had shot though, are you in the can.

Lucas McNelly 4:46
It was it can it was fine cut. We've had a score, we just needed the sound mix and I just couldn't get and then you know it's just sort of you look up and like two years have passed and then You know, your life sort of takes over on you. And it just became this thing, I just sort of fell in this depression about it. And I couldn't get it fixed. And then, like, my computer died, and I went, and I lost Final Cut seven. And I wasn't sure I was gonna be able to even like revive it, and then it just like, it just, it just became the thing in my head, you know,

Alex Ferrari 5:20
so so. So it's kind of like the shining, but you weren't in the lodge. So, but so you mean to tell me that and then your computer failed. So you had no backups of the thing? And you couldn't get final?

Lucas McNelly 5:34
Yeah, I had, I couldn't get Final Cut seven back. And then it just became a thing where, like, I was afraid I had lost the film. Yeah, you know, so But I, but I couldn't. It was a little bit of that, like strangers cat, you know, like, as long as I didn't know for sure that I had lost the film, The film was not dead. You know, but the minute I was like, if I look that, then I might be dead. And then I don't know what to do about that. And so it just like, it just threw me into like this really deep funk, creatively, and I just couldn't do anything. Like I was just trapped by it. And it sounds really dumb in retrospect, but a lot of depression sounds really dumb in retrospect. No, you know, you're just like, just like, I just couldn't get out of bed. And you're like, How the fuck? Could you just not get out of bed? Like, just get out of bed?

Alex Ferrari 6:26
Yeah, I mean, I'm the outside looking in. I mean, when you're depressed, it's hard from somebody out looking outside to understand what the depressed person is going through, and what's triggering them inside. Because I've been there. We've all been there and at certain different levels, as well. But

Lucas McNelly 6:40
I just couldn't like face the idea of like having to tell everybody that the film was gone. Wait,

Alex Ferrari 6:44
that's the thing I was going to tell you. Like, what did your actors think like me? I'm because actors are like, I'm waiting for this. Yeah, they had.

Lucas McNelly 6:52
They had gotten already gotten clips for the reels. And that's about probably all they did. Yeah, they were like, I think they just sort of stopped asking. And people would ask, and I would just I just didn't know what to say. So I would just sort of change the subject.

Alex Ferrari 7:07
So you would literally you literally spiraled? Yeah, I totally titled you spiral, getting deeper and deeper and deeper into this depression. And which kind of paralyzed you from moving forward audibly.

Lucas McNelly 7:20
Yeah, creatively, yeah, yeah. And then like, in that time, I bought a house, I got married, I had a kid. So I was really busy. Gray. So that was sort of the excuse, I guess, you know,

Alex Ferrari 7:31
but let me ask you a question. So because I couldn't write? I did I've been there. Trust me. I mean, I haven't I haven't had a feature. I haven't gone through your steps. But I've done through my own steps. Where your sisters this depression? How did this? How did your depression creatively affect the rest of your life? Because I know for me, I was I was an angry and bitter dude walking around when I couldn't get certain things done, or I was a year or two. You know, I wrote a whole book about my first experience, you know, making movies making a movie for the mob that destroyed me for three years. Like I just, I literally hit in a garage sorting comic books. Because I just was was terror. I didn't I didn't pick up a camera for three years after that. So I get it. So how did that affect the other?

Lucas McNelly 8:14
So like, it's, it becomes three years, like just like,

Alex Ferrari 8:17
oh, instantly, you're like, you'll be like, wait a minute, did a year just pass me the two years just pass? And you get busy doing other things? But, you know, how did how did that affect the rest of your life? Because I mean, as a filmmaker, and as an artist, it's a very big part of our existence, right? So how did that affect the other parts of your life?

Lucas McNelly 8:37
Well, I'm from New England. So I'm an angry and bitter dude. Anyway. So the starting point, you know, that's your baseline baseline, good baseline. So people didn't really notice. They're like, Oh, he's just in a bad mood today. Everything felt like, for a long stretch there for probably three or four years, I was like, Well, I guess I'm just done, I guess my thumb Cooper done. You know, it just felt like that to me. And I sort of resigned myself to that fact, in a lot of ways. And I like really missed it. But I was just like, well, I guess I'll just pour this energy into other stuff. And so I got into running a lot. And I started organizing road races, which sort of felt like directing a movie. It's like the easiest directing of a movie you can possibly do. It's like, if Imagine if you had if you're directing a movie, but like, you stopped at lunch on the first day, that's directing a road race, like, well, we're done. All right, great. There's no post production. So I mean, I was able to sort of channel the creative stuff into other places. I couldn't write like, it's sort of blocked that part of my creative process, like I would try to write like, I tried to work on another script. And like, my brain wouldn't let me do it. If that makes sense.

Alex Ferrari 9:48
It makes it makes all the sense in the world. And what I find fascinating the concept of what you said, or what you just said was the funneling that energy into other things where you imagine Anyways, in the end, I'm talking about this from my point of view, you trick yourself into you like, well, I'm being creative. I'm doing other things, but they're not filmmaking and maybe I'm making something. I'm building websites or I'm running or I'm working out or, you know, sorting comic

Lucas McNelly 10:15
books. Yeah, sorting,

Alex Ferrari 10:16
sorting comic books. There's art here somewhere. I, you know, it's like,

Lucas McNelly 10:22
I've created the new Dewey Decimal System. Exactly.

Alex Ferrari 10:24
It's amazing. So you start funneling in, it's kind of like a hack just to survive in so many ways. Is that fair to say?

Lucas McNelly 10:32
Yeah, cuz otherwise, you're just gonna like spiral deeper into depression or alcoholism or both. And I already have alcoholism and depression. So I couldn't go any further into that. And I don't want to start doing drugs. So you know, that's what you have to do is you sort of have to figure out a hack. Or you'll go insane and make the people around you miserable.

Alex Ferrari 10:51
Yeah. And I'm, I'm so blessed that I didn't I've never drank I've tried, and I couldn't because I know I would have an alcohol I would be an alcoholic during the time to do Oh my God, I would have just I know I would have but I, I literally tried and I couldn't. So I'm very glad that because if not, I'm lucky. I'm very lucky in that sense, because I mean, heroine but who doesn't? But But no, but joking aside, it's it's really interesting how you cope as a creative especially as a filmmaker when, I mean, I can't, I can't even comprehend shooting a movie, editing the movie. And it being lost to you. Like, yeah,

Lucas McNelly 11:31
it was a terrifying idea. It's, it's, it's

Alex Ferrari 11:34
the worst nightmare of any filmmaker, I

Lucas McNelly 11:35
think. Yeah. And it was, and it was hard to even think like, like, how do you even come to grips with that? Like, even putting it wrapping your head around? What do you even do after that? You know, like, like, do you and then you start thinking like, well, maybe I can, like, if it's gone, maybe the files I knew the files weren't all gone. Like I knew worst case scenario, that the DP Dustin Perlman, he had the original files in LA.

Alex Ferrari 12:05
And you could, you could rebuild the whole thing. If you had

Lucas McNelly 12:07
I could have if I had if I had to, I could rebuild the whole thing. But oh, my god.

Alex Ferrari 12:15
Oh, no, no, no. Oh, my God. Oh, my God, I'm having to do that. My, my, my, my anus is buffering is not my film. But I've had

Lucas McNelly 12:26
I got a I got a kid, I told him that I don't have time to re edit.

Alex Ferrari 12:31
And that's the thing too, like, as you get older, and things that you put up with in your 20s, you're not putting up with your 30s and 40s.

Lucas McNelly 12:36
Yeah, if you're 22. And you say to somebody, you just got to redo edit the whole film, they'd be like, Okay,

Alex Ferrari 12:40
I got nothing else going on. Yeah. I got nothing else to do. Why not? No, it's absolutely true. But I think there's so many times that we as filmmakers have to go through these these rough patches. Mind you, your rough patch was it's an extreme. My rough patch was an extreme. You know, but I mean, I think the one of the things that you said that like finding a hack, finding a way to funnel your energy out, because that energy keeps coming. Yeah, it's there. Your need your want this, I call it the sickness, the sickness. Because once you get bitten by that bug, it's over. Like, you can't ever

Lucas McNelly 13:20
be a drone in a in a cubicle. Like No,

Alex Ferrari 13:24
you can't go You can't go work in Amazon spec warehouse like you. Yeah, it's something inside you that can't stop unless the artist thing. And and I've told people it can go dormant for decades. But it will always it will always raise its head in one way, shape, or form. So I love the idea that finding that hack finding something else that you can funnel that energy. And if this road is locked or closed to you right now, for whatever reason, you're focusing it on other things. And hopefully you can get that engine running enough that you can break through the barrier. How did you finally Why did you finally get through this dude, because it means so.

Lucas McNelly 14:02
Yep. So, oddly enough, it was the pandemic. So I didn't really get a pandemic break, everybody else got a pandemic break, but I didn't really get one. Because I have a day job and my wife and I have a soap business. And so soap was very helpful and important during especially the early days of the pandemic. So we were very busy. But I wasn't, you know, I couldn't go anywhere. There were no races to run. There was nothing else to do. And so I finally was just like, you know what? And I was like, Well, at minimum, probably everybody's home. So if we have to, if I email everybody, they got nothing else going on right now. So right? No one else. No one else is busy. I'm busy, but nobody else is busy. And so, you know, I like I think the first thing I did was I emailed Dustin. And he's like, Did this email get lost? When did you send this?

Alex Ferrari 14:55
like seven years ago?

Lucas McNelly 14:57
He's like, did you how slow is your email now? And so there were some jokes like that. And then, you know, I, I got something, I got the full file from him for the picture. And then I talked to the sound editor and I know this I've known the sound editor since college. So that was helpful in a way and that I wasn't like, you know, it's an old friend of mine. And everyone was like, Yeah, like Dustin found a copy of Final Cut seven in LA, his girlfriend happened to have one on an old computer. And Dave, the sound editor, he was able to bring everything up on an old system, and got everything transferred to the new system. And then just for like, eight or nine months, we just sort of chipped away at it, because we had more time to work everything else to do. Yeah. And I'm like, well, we got to get this done, man. He's like, Yeah, he's like, I agree. It's like, it had been looming in his head. I think too. And everybody said, Yeah, it was. Yeah. And so we finally got it. And I just want to say to any filmmakers, Listen, do not sound mix your film over email. Just do not do it. It's a terrible idea. That's all it takes for ever, cuz you're just making a list. You know, you're like, Okay, so four minutes and 13 seconds. Can we bring this up a little? And then you're like, No, not that much.

Alex Ferrari 16:22
Okay, find a happy medium, like, Oh, yeah. Oh, God.

Lucas McNelly 16:26
It was such a such a pain in the ass. So, um, yes, then we just sort of ended up getting it done over the course of like, 2020 and finished it right before Christmas. And then I released it, I sent all of the backers on Christmas, a Christmas present of the movie. The backer, there was a lot of like, Whoa, where did this come from? Like, cuz I kept it really quiet the whole time. Because I was like, first of all, I can't if I go on Twitter and say, Hey, guys, guess what? It is doesn't get finished. You're done. You're done. Yeah, I'm just done. Like, I just shut it all down. I'm just gonna log off the internet forever. So I waited until it was like, completed, completed, completed. And then just Surprise, surprise, Christmas present to all the Kickstarter backers, which was kind of fun. That's like, Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 17:17
can you imagine after 10 years, you get it? You get your, your reward?

Lucas McNelly 17:21
Yeah. It was a lot of like, I just kept getting these emails like, whoa, whoa, like, Wow, good for you, man. Like you. You think like in your head during this whole depression thing. You're like, Oh, these people like, the Kickstarter backers are mad at you. And like, you know, 99% of them. They're like, I gave you 10 bucks. So you should like just the fact that you shot the film, and show something. Yeah. is enough. Like that's, you know, I'm not really doing it for, you know, the film itself. I'm doing it for you. Or because I liked the idea or whatever. Yeah. So no one was mad. Like, they were all just, I think really happy that it was done. I

Alex Ferrari 18:07
gotta ask you, what are the actors say?

Lucas McNelly 18:10
The actors, they were pretty excited. They were. Yeah, they were pretty. They were pretty sight.

Alex Ferrari 18:16
They're finally releasing a movie 10 years ago, so they look a little bit different.

Lucas McNelly 18:20
They do a little bit different. There. Yeah. So God, there was a lot of performances in it. You

Alex Ferrari 18:26
want to hear? I'll do you one better as far as a movie that took so long to just do to just date to actually get out. There is a movie that exists about a killer grizzly bear. That stars George Clooney, Charlie Sheen. And Laura Dern. Okay, the 80s. Wow. And it also had another actor. Oh, the guy from Indiana Jones, the end from Lord of the Rings, the guy who played the big Hobbit. But he was the guy. You know, I'm talking about right? I forgot his name. He's the he's the Middle Eastern guy from Indiana Jones. He's like the good guy. He's like, you're always helping Indian, all his films. And he's the he's like the star of it. At the time. It had never gotten to the big name, and then never ever got released. And some like I was talking to somebody on the show, and they're like, yeah, we I was talking to Charlie. Yeah, I remember that. I had I had somebody who ran Charlie Sheen's a production company for three years. And he goes yeah, Charlie used to always tell me that, that he did that he did a movie with George Clooney Lord during that never got released and we're like what? And 20 years later it's released it's out there now. I think it's killer Grizzly or something like anyone listening. I'm sure it's fantastic. And they actually saw that trailer for it. The The, the the bear is it's like a 15 foot bear. 1520 1520 foot 30 foot bear. It's like an insane thing, but it so bad. It's

Lucas McNelly 20:00
a beaut, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 20:02
Oh my god, Satan, like the bear. NASA epi, not so much, but they did put the names of George Clooney, Charlie Sheen and Laura Dern front and center poster

Lucas McNelly 20:16
is a little different.

Alex Ferrari 20:19
I just yeah, so so don't feel too bad. There's other movies that are taking longer to finish right? Now that when you actually decided, because look, the pandemic help helped all of us reevaluate our lives for better. Yes.

Lucas McNelly 20:35
It was any I was kind of a perfect opportunity for that. Yeah. Because

Alex Ferrari 20:39
everybody I mean, I did everybody did just like what, what am I doing with my life? Like, there's so much of that. So when you finally just said, Did you tell your wife did you just like I'm gonna I'm gonna finish the movie.

Lucas McNelly 20:52
Yeah, well, she didn't know me when the movie was like, remade it.

Alex Ferrari 20:55
It was Miss. Oh, it was a mythical thing. Like Yeah, yeah, sure.

Lucas McNelly 20:58
Okay, I but yeah, okay. You're a filmmaker? Sure. Whatever, man. Yeah, I was like, I sort of told her and she's like, Okay, and then I don't think she didn't watch it until it was done. Right? So and then she's like, Oh, that was better than I thought was gonna be

Alex Ferrari 21:15
it's kind of like what my wife says to when she watches my movies. Yeah, I bet I bet she's not in the business so that's why Yeah, that's that's like that's not bad about pretty good. So um, so when you finally broke through, and you said hell with it, I'm gonna finish this and you go through this laborious task of rebuild did you have to rebuild it? Or you were able to

Lucas McNelly 21:38
No, I didn't have to rebuild it. You brought it back up you brought it back up through Finally we were able to revive it. Now Okay, brought it back up adults and we're clear.

Alex Ferrari 21:48
Man, but you know, the thing is, it

Lucas McNelly 21:52
took some doing to revive it. But no, it wasn't just as simple as opening the file.

Alex Ferrari 21:57
No, because I mean, I have I you know, I I was a Final Cut seven hold out for a long time. And some of my first I think my first feature was done. Nope. My first my other features were done in resolve. But all my shorts and all the big stuff I did before were all Final Cut seven. So I have Final Cut seven projects that I couldn't rebuild if I tried. Yeah, like I'd have to like literally, oh my god, it'd be immense. But it just said I can't it scares me to even think about that. I would I honestly would just I would honestly just do a cut by cut redo. Like I would take the rock the rough cut, or the con and then just match cut it.

Lucas McNelly 22:35
Oh, yeah, I could have probably done that, too. I would have just done that. But I wouldn't be changing everything. I didn't know I would have. But yeah, I mean like other year.

Alex Ferrari 22:45
Oh, Jesus Christ. But so alright, so it took you 10 years to get to this point. Were there ever any almost anyone like you went down the road and you're like, screw it. I'm out. I can't do this.

Lucas McNelly 23:01
Not really, I don't. There were a couple there were some days where I sort of looked at the drive. And you know, sort of stared down like a Clint Eastwood movie.

Alex Ferrari 23:10
But I got to ask. Okay, so did it just become a Boogeyman for you at this point?

Lucas McNelly 23:14
Yeah, yeah, it was definitely that it was just this thing that was like looming. It was like this massive thing on my to do list that I couldn't

Alex Ferrari 23:23
get you in. I'm digging into this because I want people to hear and understand how paralyzing that is. Yeah. For me, it was writing the book about that horrible time, almost making a movie for the mob. Like it took me forever, because I didn't want to go back there. Yeah, it's like this whole, like, and I would just stare at the, at the notes and the piles of research that laid out just like, I don't want to go back there. And it's, it's paralyzing. And it took me 17 years to write that book. Wow. Because I just, I didn't want to go back there. I just yeah, I literally didn't want to go back to

Lucas McNelly 23:59
it. And it takes like so much energy till any part of this process. And so to think that any of it was lost is just like, what you know, it's just hard to like process.

Alex Ferrari 24:12
You can't process it at all. So that so so you got it done. What did what did you when you put it out? Did you get distributed

Lucas McNelly 24:22
and how it's right now we're waiting to? We're trying to Okay, I like oh, everybody got a festival natural festival run. So, you know, the least I can do? At least at least a festival run and then I mean, it's a $4,000 Kickstarter movie, so it's not exactly going to get picked up by a 24. I don't have any delusions of grandeur about that. But I mean, if they want to email me, then

Alex Ferrari 24:51
that's great. If a 24 is listening, I'm hoping

Lucas McNelly 24:54
I'm easy to find. Um, yeah, so we'll do the festival run and then I'm playing I assume I'll end up self distributing it and you know VOD it and probably it'll end up on prime and all the other places.

Alex Ferrari 25:07
Yeah, I mean, for me, it's a $4,000. feature.

Lucas McNelly 25:10
Kickstarter movie. Yeah, it's and it's in the black still so well, I mean, I think it is like $4 left in the budget, something like that. And so every time I submit to a festival, I go, Hey, I do the waiver thing. You know, I try to get the waiver and like, Oh, we don't do waivers. I'm like, I have four bucks left in the budget that is moving man. I'm not I'm not going

Alex Ferrari 25:28
to 10 years to make it can ya? Can

Lucas McNelly 25:31
there's no, I'm not going into the red for this. Not for your film festival. Just because you have haven't figured out a good model to stay in business. And you need my submission fees to stay, you know, pay for your Stella tois. Yeah, yeah, that's your problem.

Alex Ferrari 25:45
That's not my problem. Problem. So I said, By the way, did once this once you broke through this damn, did you finally the creative juices start flowing again?

Lucas McNelly 25:55
Yeah, I wrote a script pretty quickly. I wrote a script about the pandemic, actually, but it's not like a zoom movie. It's not. It's actually

Alex Ferrari 26:03
please don't please don't do that. Yeah, no, God.

Lucas McNelly 26:07
No, it's actually an idea. I came up with yours. Like, probably nine years ago, it was this idea I came up with, and I couldn't, I couldn't ever figure out how to crack it. And the pandemic actually solved like three plot problems. And I was like, oh, it works now. And it's sort of like so it's we've moved one of those movies were like, the pandemics in the background. And it just sort of cleans up some stuff. But like stuff that like would prevent the movie from making sense where you'd be like two minutes and you go, Wait a minute, this doesn't work. So I wrote that. And then I was trying to get that made. And then I sort of, it's like a roadtrip movie. And I was like, I don't know that I really want to be driving across the country right now with a production crew. Seems like a bad idea. So then I wrote main Noir. I wrote in like, 19 days. And we're Yeah, and we just crowdfunded that Yeah, like it came back really quickly. It was like it was like the dam broke you know,

Alex Ferrari 27:09
and all that and you were stagnant for almost a decade. Isn't that insane? Yeah. is weird it's a weird it's

Lucas McNelly 27:15
like hard to even like like looking back on it. It just seems insane. Yeah. Is that kind of the best way to you it doesn't diminish mental health or anything, but it just is crazy.

Alex Ferrari 27:28
It doesn't it doesn't even mean it doesn't even seem that it was 10 years doesn't even seem that that was a real it seems like a dream almost.

Lucas McNelly 27:35
Yeah. Yeah. The only real like change is that I have a lot more gray hair than I did.

Alex Ferrari 27:41
A few things hurt more than they used to. Yeah, yeah. A lot more sore. More pains more eight. Yeah. Does anything does anything hurt when it rains? A lot

Lucas McNelly 27:53
of things actually.

Alex Ferrari 27:56
Oh, isn't getting older fun

Lucas McNelly 28:00
to hassle don't do it. If you're out there. 25 year old filmmakers

Alex Ferrari 28:04
just don't do it. Don't get older. It's not worth it don't get older. It's It's great. As a as someone

Lucas McNelly 28:11
writing it's better, but other than that, it's not worth it.

Alex Ferrari 28:13
I mean, the there's a few other things about good or about getting older, but generally speaking, the physical part it can, it can take the hole as they as they say,

Lucas McNelly 28:22
running helps, I can recommend that youth

Alex Ferrari 28:25
youth is wasted on the young.

Lucas McNelly 28:29
Yeah, I just watched my four year old he just falls asleep at like weird angles. And I'm like, how, how can you move the next day?

Alex Ferrari 28:36
Jesus, they bounce my mind just drop and fall and and like they watch TV on their neck, like upside down on his chair. And I'm like, What? What's wrong with you? How is that possible? It's insanity. Now you and you new film me nor you you crowdfunded that. From what I saw. It was pretty successful.

Lucas McNelly 28:59
Yeah, we raised 46,000 on seed and spark. So yeah, that was I sort of, I was listening to this came from part of where this came from was I was listening to Dan Mirvish on a podcast and because I have my podcast rule is like I subscribe to like 10 podcasts like a subscriber of yours and like couple other ones. So I was listening to him and he's like talking about how just like this idea of like picking the start date and just sort of pushing towards that date and sort of building the parachute as you jump out of the plane. And so that's kind of what we did and so I started writing the script and that was just like, okay, we're we'll shoot this in this window. We're actually not going to shoot it in that window because what happened was the crowdfunding campaign was success so successful that everyone sort of like at the end of it, we went, wait, okay, so we can rush. And we can shoot this in this very, very tight window here that we haven't fall. Yeah. Or we can do another session. After the script and do a real pre production, and she didn't spring because no one wants to shoot in Maine in the winter for some reason, I don't know why la people wasn't very pleased, please, la people are like, we don't really want to come to Maine in the winter necessarily. And I'm like, Why? I don't understand why

Alex Ferrari 30:16
it's, I always I always say that on the show. Like if you want to pitch to an actor go, okay, we need you in the winter in Buffalo. Like, yeah, that's or Hawaii. Which one would you rather go to?

Lucas McNelly 30:27
Yeah, part of our pitch was, well, you get to come to me and when it's nice, and they're like, Oh, that sounds fun. Um, yes, we're gonna shoot in the spring now. And

Alex Ferrari 30:36
that's beautiful in the spring mean is to Rockport a lot. Oh, yeah. That's right.

Lucas McNelly 30:41
That's right down the road.

Alex Ferrari 30:42
Yeah, it's during spring and summer is stunning there. People, people will go into spring and summer like, this is fantastic. This is heaven, we should move here. And then the winter.

Lucas McNelly 30:53
You would not believe how many people abandoned in New York City and Boston for houses they bought in Maine during the pandemic. And the rest of us. Were all just sitting there going, man, just wait for the winter, man. Oh, wait, is winter.

Alex Ferrari 31:08
Just like going to Toronto? Or Vancouver? You're like, Oh, this is beautiful. Oh my god, and then 10 nature hits. So Archer was a very successful campaign. Can you you actually do a little bit of campaign crowdfunding campaign? counseling, consulting?

Lucas McNelly 31:26
Yeah, I used to do it a lot. I don't really do anymore.

Alex Ferrari 31:29
But so when you did, how I mean, you take going back 10 years, the game has changed a bit since a little

Lucas McNelly 31:37
bit a little bit. Because it's still the same idea. It's the same general principle of you're trying to convince somebody to give you money for an idea you have right so all of those concepts are the same. I think the biggest change is that people you don't have to explain it to them really as much because when I first started you're like okay, so there's there's a website called kickstarter.com. Alright, you're not going to get your money back. You're not investing in this movie, you're just giving me You're giving me you're giving them money, they are giving you the promise of something like a T shirt or a DVD or a high five or something you know, and so you don't have to do that anymore. But so that helps grease the wheels but the downside is that the algorithms on all the social media networks are terrible now especially for something like that. So it's a lot harder to make a noise

Alex Ferrari 32:38
how do how did you make noise because 46,000 is a substantial amount for an independent film with no stars attached and in arguably you haven't been outputting a lot in the last decade so

Lucas McNelly 32:51
got the money saved up

Alex Ferrari 32:53
exactly they're all waiting waiting for Luca go there was a

Lucas McNelly 32:56
little bit of that, you know, there was a little bit of the Oh yeah, new Lucas McNally film. Hell yeah, I'm in. Um, it's kind of it's like the the really terrible version of like, when there was that big gap in Terrence Malik's career, and everyone was very excited for the for that first Malick film and like 30 years or whatever, it was, like the really terrible version of that. Right, then the next one I really like. Yeah, so it's just made a noise by kind of doing? Well, the reason I didn't, I stopped consulting, so I got tired of people not doing what I told them to do. And then the campaign failing, you know, and then like, why isn't it working? Like, why? Because you didn't do any of the things that I told you to do. So it's not working. So if you do them at work, so I just did all those things. And so that worked out pretty well.

Alex Ferrari 33:51
So all the things I tell people to do, I did, and it worked.

Lucas McNelly 33:54
And that who knew, um, you know, it's just basic, guerilla marketing stuff, it was thanking people and we made I made a surprise perk, where, because of movies about a woman who finds money hidden in her house, and so the surprise perk was that I would if I could find a picture of you quickly, this is why I didn't make an actual picture to people. I make $100 bill that had the website that you go to, to back the campaign, it would had mean noir calm on instead of the Federal Reserve thing. And then I would just email you this picture of your face on a bloody $100 bill. And people were like, Oh my gosh, that's great. And so then when you send them that they're like, I'm gonna post this on Facebook, on Facebook now. So you're able to break through the algorithm that way. thanking people is a good way to do it, you know, you're like, so one of my favorite crowdfunding moves is I had this long thread on Twitter and it would be like, backer number 55. is so and so. Then I would tag them. And it would be like so and so directed this film, or they run a bakery, or they do things and you just take like 30 seconds to like research this person, which is this, the polite thing to do if they're going to give you money is to like, figure out who they are. And sometimes you learn cool things like, Oh my gosh, this person won three games of jeopardy. That's so cool. And then you just say something about them to say, you know, this is how cool they are, thank you. And then you have a link to the campaign and so that people retweet that because you're thanking them, and you're took 10 seconds to learn something about them instead of just taking the money and, and moving on to the next person. And those are kind of the two easiest ways to do it.

Alex Ferrari 35:42
That's breaks through the algorithm because the algorithm is so big that break the

Lucas McNelly 35:45
algorithm. Yeah. And then I made like a little 32nd video that had the premise of the movie, and I had that on Twitter. And I would just kept encouraging people do retweet that because the more retweets something gets the like, more Twitter's algorithm is going to amplify it anyway. And so that got retweeted like 80 something times, and that helped a lot. And then, in order to keep it, I wanted to avoid the campaign being all like, give me money, give me money, give me money. So I recruited a bunch of like film writers to make videos about what their favorite thing about film noir is. And because I wanted to sort of celebrate those old 40s Noir, so it was really cool, like, dingy dirty ones, you know, and so I got like Matt Zoller, Seitz, and Odie, Henderson, and people like that. And they would make these cool videos about like, I love the dialogue and the classy dames, and all that, and they would shoot it in black and white. And then we would post those, and that would help get the word out. So just it's sort of a multi prong attack. Yeah. And then eventually, if you're persistent enough, the idea I think, isn't to necessarily get people to, on the first try, like you have, it has to become sort of an inevitability where they're just like, okay, okay, I've been watching this campaign for 15 days. Okay, I'm finally you got me, you want me over? And that's sometimes that's what it takes. Yeah, I always was gonna think your people are tired of listening to you, but they usually

Alex Ferrari 37:13
aren't. Yeah, and the thing is, with the, with the algorithms, man, Facebook is just horrible, terrible day, or you put a link to anything now like, you know, I have to get almost a quarter of a million followers and I get like, 150 people CFOs it's insanity.

Lucas McNelly 37:33
So one, one thing I did to work around that is I would have, so I had main noir calm, and that would redirect redirect directly to that will go directly to the campaign. So I would put that in imagery images. So you would see the webs, you would see the URL, but the algorithm wouldn't recognize it as a URL. And it was, you know, because it would just

Alex Ferrari 37:55
be like, It's me, it wasn't a link, it wasn't a link.

Lucas McNelly 37:59
Right. And it was enough, it was a short enough URL that you would remember it. So like, if I said you then like, oh, what was the URL? You go? Oh, I think it's, oh, it's main main noir? Yeah, yeah. It's not something weird like Bitly dot whatever. Right? You know, so and that that sort of helped

Alex Ferrari 38:17
as a as a redirecting, you just redirected it and using that URL,

Lucas McNelly 38:22
smart and then I get that again, just turn that into the cat to the website for the film when the films in front of

Alex Ferrari 38:27
it later it's finished. Now what is well, if I were to ask you, how do you correctly budget a crowdfunding campaign because that's a whole nother beast,

Lucas McNelly 38:36
it's all that I had only one perk that cost money to deliver interesting, and that was the DVD park at 100 bucks. And the rest of them were all digital. So those don't have cost. And so I just knew my $100 one I all I had to do is deliver a DVD. And I'm like, why would DVDs not going to cost that much to make? We're talking like three or four bucks, you know, if I'm buying them in bulk, so I'm like, well, that's plenty of a margin there. Right? And then just budget and then it's just budgeting the film. And even then I ended up my cast or anything, so I just sort of was kind of guessing. And doing playing that game of how much do I think I can raise? Can I get the film in the can for this amount? And they were just sort of moving? During? And I guess we'll try 45.

Alex Ferrari 39:24
So it was 45 years ago? was the goal. Yeah. For the end? Did you hit it on the last day? Did you like you've worked with Kickstarter and seed and spark Which one do you work with?

Lucas McNelly 39:37
I think they both have their, they all have good qualities. So it really depends on what you need. I think as to what you which one you want. I had done both of them. And I wanted to use seed and spark for this one because they have the follower system where you can follow a campaign not necessarily bad And then if you get enough followers, there's some like swag you can unlock, like, discounts on dcps and like Film Festival submissions, and I was like, Okay, I really want to get to that 500 follower level to unlock all that stuff. So that's why I went with Steven spark on this one, since

Alex Ferrari 40:15
that makes sense. And and what is, in your opinion, what's the biggest mistake that filmmakers make when they go after a crowdfunding? Because I crowdfunded my first feature, and I promised I would never do it again. Because it's such a brutal process. I, it was great. And we we financed it, and it was awesome. And we were in the black, and it gave me a ton of freedom to do whatever the hell I wanted. But it was 30. Lovely. Yes, yeah. But that 30 days was just brutal. It's

Lucas McNelly 40:43
I think the biggest mistake is people don't plan enough. You know, like, you've got to have I was talking, Sean Hackett helped me out a lot with this one. And he was telling, you know, he's got like, this massive spreadsheet with a plan and I'm like, I got all that in my head. He's like, you're a little insane. I'm like, well, I've done enough of these that I know, I know how the rhythm of the campaign is going to go. Um, so for someone like me, you, I can sort of fly by the seat of my parents, just that from experience, but you really want to have a plan, you got to have a plan for the middle two weeks, you know, the first week, you're going to start with a bang. And then if you're going to get you know, if you can get there at the end, the rally will be good, but it's really those middle two weeks and having something for there. And so that's where I had the newer videos. And then also, since we are filming it in my hometown, I shot a bunch of videos of myself around town, like telling sort of telling people from LA mostly, I guess, like, this is this cool thing in in this town that you've never heard of that. And then that got did really well to actually activate the locals and get the local audience involved. And so it was just a question of building the base. But yeah, I think the biggest mistake is you just people don't plan enough. And then there, they go in. They go in scared. You know, it's like, if you're playing poker and you're afraid to lose, you're gonna lose. No, you got to go in like you have not a care in the world. You got to play like, you know, you got to play bold. And you have to, you can't go in thinking people are tired of listening to you. Or they don't care, or that you're bothering them. So the story I always tell people is my first film. My first feature, we played it, we got to booked in the theater here. This is when I was living in Pennsylvania, and we got a book to the theater here for a week. And I was like, so psyched. So I came home for like a month ahead of time, and I just promoted the hell out of it. Like more than you would promote a crowdfunding campaign. Like I was on, excuse me, I was on the radio. I was putting up fliers I was pestering the hell out of everybody, because I was like, I wanted to sell out the theater, at least the opening night of the week. And so the second night, we and we got a really good crowd. And we were like the second highest grossing movie there that week or something at the multiplex. So the second day, is friend of mine shows up for like the matinee. And this is a guy who, like I've known since I was like, seven. Like, when I would come home for Christmas, we would hang out or watch football games at his house. You know, this is the guy I didn't think I would, I'd really needed to tell about it, because I just figured he knew. And I'm like, Hey, you came there. You came to see my movie. He's like, What movie? I'm, I can't see my movie. He's like, you made a movie? What do you mean, he hasn't made a movie? Where have you been? He's like, I'm here to see the Ridley Scott movie. I like, you son of a bitch. And that's sort of the lesson to me of like you, you're never you're never promoting it as much as you think you are. Because people have their own, they have their own lives, you know, they've got their own stuff going on. He had his own things. He completely missed it. Like one of my inner circle people it completely missed it I was in even in town, even though I was home.

Alex Ferrari 44:02
That's funny,

Lucas McNelly 44:04
though, you know, you just keep just keep talking about it. And people are, you know, sometimes they're just watching and they're usually going alright, as long as you're not annoying. You're not being a past, you know, figure on

Alex Ferrari 44:18
now. Want to ask the gay. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Now I wanted to ask you, you know, give me money. Give me money. Yeah, yelling and screaming and broadcasting like, give me money. Give me Give me money. It's it's the wrong approach to to anything in general.

Lucas McNelly 44:35
Yes. Nobody likes it.

Alex Ferrari 44:36
Nobody likes it. Now, over these last 10 years, man, what is the biggest lesson you took from that time?

Lucas McNelly 44:44
Um, I mean, the obvious one is like, Don't give up, I guess. Yeah, sure. Um, keep a computer, an old computer running Final Cut seven, if

Alex Ferrari 44:54
possible. At all times. That's just good, valuable. Good, valuable advice for everybody.

Lucas McNelly 45:01
Good advice. I, yeah, it's you got to have Final Cut seven, you take it to your grave man, it's so valuable. It's such a good editing system. Why they went to x? I don't know, terrible idea. Um, yeah, I think like, the lesson is that I think the lesson is that nobody's paying as much attention to your shit as you are. Like, you know, you think that you're bothering everybody or that you're, you know, everybody's mad at you, or whatever, or they're tired of you. And they're usually not I mean, they might be. There's some people that we're all tired of, but they're usually not because they've got their own lives, and they're doing their own stuff, and you are just a supporting player in their movie. You know, they don't see your movie over here, where you're the star, one man show, doing all your stuff, you know, like, like, for example, you I know that your web, I know that you have a website, you have your indie film, hustle stuff, and all that stuff. And I don't watch all of it. I watched some of it. Like, like I said, if there's a if you have a guest on and so when I know, I'm like, Oh, I you know, and I'll dip into your world for an hour. And then I will think about you again for like two weeks, till I see your name pop up somewhere. Oh, it's Alex. And then I won't think about you again for another two or three weeks. It's just how it works. I'm not sitting, I'm not sitting here going, man. I wonder what Alex is doing right now? Because that would be weird. That would be

Alex Ferrari 46:41
that would be awkward, sir. But no, it was so true. And by the way, that's also very true. Because even people that I follow, and listen to their podcasts and things like that, I'm not there every week, I just got too much stuff going on. So yeah, either they'll come up on my screen, or the end, I'll be like, oh, they're doing that. And then maybe when I dip back into that world, I'm like, Well, you know, what else have they been doing for the last three weeks, four weeks, a month or two? And then I'm like, Oh, that's another episode I gotta listen to and then you kind of dive into it. And then you get what you need. And then you kind of go away and go on with your day. Right? And there's other people who are just, uh, you know, that just like, oh my god, there's so much information, I have to just absorb all of it all the time. And that's fine, too, because I've done that as well. I've gone into, especially when I'm learning about something new, I

Lucas McNelly 47:29
go down that rabbit hole.

Alex Ferrari 47:30
I go down deep into that rabbit hole. So it's all it's all fair. But you're it's a good analogy, right? is everyone's not thinking about your movie that didn't get made 10 years ago.

Lucas McNelly 47:39
Right? It's completely forgotten about it. That as you're

Alex Ferrari 47:43
sending them DVDs showed like whoa,

Lucas McNelly 47:45
yeah. Which is is a completely different form depressing idea, because they're just like, Oh, right, that movie. And it's like such an albatross in your whole life. And then people are like, I totally forgot you did that. Well, I don't know that I gave you money for it.

Alex Ferrari 48:00
I don't know if you're aware of this, but filmmakers tend to have egos. I'm just saying so little. Some think that the world revolves around them. I'm not saying everybody I'm saying

Lucas McNelly 48:11
I bet on those sets.

Alex Ferrari 48:15
There it's like you would you would hear some directors talk and you're like so you're curing cancer, are you Oh, I wasn't I wasn't aware that we were doing that here today. I thought we were shooting a commercial.

Lucas McNelly 48:26
You know what the differences between God and a cinematographer

Alex Ferrari 48:29
oh god What is it?

Lucas McNelly 48:31
God doesn't think he's a cinematographer.

Alex Ferrari 48:33
That's right That's right. Oh my god. And let me ask you that three of your favorite films of all time

Lucas McNelly 48:46
of all time Well, that's a hard Okay, so I'm a big basketball fan so Hoosiers have for me like yours. Yours was the movie that like when my brother and I were sick and stayed home from school they would go rent my parents go rent Hoosiers you had the video store when when those were thing so Hoosiers for sure. I'm probably it's like such a big difference between Favorite and like, ones I think are the best because like, you know, like I'm probably not going to watch Decalogue to any more times probably you know, but maybe like godfather

Alex Ferrari 49:28
Yeah, there's there's movies you can you can respect you like I've seen it once or twice and it's amazing, but I'm not going to just sit there and vege on it. Like dialogue. You can't just it's not an idiot like a passive thing. Like you know, yeah, you

Lucas McNelly 49:41
know, like you put in scenes for marriage. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 49:45
you can watch Armageddon and the rock 1000 times.

Lucas McNelly 49:48
Yeah, they're gonna be swingers and probably the third one that there you

Alex Ferrari 49:51
go swager Deck because I could watch swingers put it on you just like we watched that. That was like in college anything and the job favors them okay for himself. I think after He made a couple movies and he's doing Oh yeah,

Lucas McNelly 50:02
I mean he did okay. He's doing Oh no. And he said,

Alex Ferrari 50:05
I hear he's directing. I hear he's directing good for him. Good for him. I'm so glad he

Lucas McNelly 50:11
made a quick quick plug for made because made oh so good underrated masterpiece of john fabros career. Yeah, I love my favorite thing about made is that Vince Vaughn is playing a guy who thinks he's the guy in swingers but is not

Alex Ferrari 50:33
made up of I mean, Vince Vaughn plays the guy from swingers pretty much his entire career. I mean, yeah.

Lucas McNelly 50:39
He plays the guy who thinks he's that guy, but has none of those skills at all. It's amazing. Such a great performance.

Alex Ferrari 50:46
Um, and Vince has has has moved on, but he does play the Vince he plays Vince Vaughn very well.

Lucas McNelly 50:53
I mean, that's how you become a movie star is you play that type of work for Jimmy Stewart?

Alex Ferrari 50:58
I mean, look, Tom Cruise. I love that movie with Tom Cruise, a young cocky white guy.

Lucas McNelly 51:03
Yeah. That's my favorite one.

Alex Ferrari 51:05
I mean, I can't pick the there's just so many. But yeah, I love I love when he plays this character. And then let's give a shout out to chef because chef is the other unsung hero of john favors filmography because it's, I can watch chef again and again. That's Yeah, I can watch it again. And the at the beginning of his at the beginning of the movie, if anyone's watching it on Netflix right now. You watch just watch the first 10 minutes as he destroys of food critic, which is a Vallely. It's very thinly veiled as all the bullcrap that he's been dealing with from film critics all his career, and he goes

Lucas McNelly 51:45
off and it is wonderful to watch which is weird to me because don't create some always really liked him.

Alex Ferrari 51:51
Apparently, some didn't. Apparently, some didn't

Lucas McNelly 51:54
add the thing like you know, you get those like 100 good reviews, and you get that one bad review. And you're like the Larry David thing. We're like, Oh,

Alex Ferrari 52:02
it's it's but that's the case. But that's the case with filmmakers. I mean, I love Ridley because Ridley Scott, he's just like, I don't I haven't read a review since alien. Like he just does a way to do it. And he just just do you and just keep going and keep going. He just doesn't care doesn't care to read because it's useless. It really is useless to read.

Lucas McNelly 52:23
Yeah, I mean, I think I was submitting to a film festival and they're like, do you want feedback? I'm like, No, I don't want feedback. I don't from you. I know what's wrong with the movie. I know what's wrong in the movie more than you do? Just

Alex Ferrari 52:36
am I playing in your festival? Or am I not? That's the end of our conversation.

Lucas McNelly 52:40
I don't I don't care what your one reviewer who already reviewed the movie on letterboxed thinks about the movie. I don't care i'm not one of those filmmakers who thinks that like the movie I made is the greatest gift to cinema. Since the Lumiere brothers like I'm not one of those guys I'm like the biggest no one hates my movie more than me I promise you like I know every single thing that's wrong with

Alex Ferrari 53:06
it don't forget Scorsese said it right? Where he says like if you don't think your movies an absolute disaster after watching the first cut you've done something wrong yeah yeah,

Lucas McNelly 53:15
there's that valley where you're like this is they're never gonna let me make another movie that never let me and then I oh it kind of works it kind of oh it's always coming together. If you get to it kind of works. Then you got a hit and

Alex Ferrari 53:29
it kind of works exact Can you let me ask you

Lucas McNelly 53:31
this can you watch your movie with an audience? Yes. Because I can't

Alex Ferrari 53:36
I like my last my last movie. I The last time I saw it fully without just skipping through it and in the theater. I I just died laughing I just because I I look at it completely as a viewer looking at ridiculous filmmakers trying to sell their movie at Sundance so I just I just laugh because I laugh at the stories because I was there how they made it and what we came up with and what we had to so for me for that movie I can't for my first movie I can't I really just rather not this last movie is one of those weird things but even all my other movies I've done I've been able to watch them and I've enjoyed watching them with my with audiences but it's not particularly Sunday I don't sit there and watch my movies all the time I'm good like I don't Yeah, again

Lucas McNelly 54:27
Yeah, I'm good at I don't need to see it and then but just like I overreacted my head to all the everyone's reactions even if they're not actually reacting. You know I don't get up to go to the bathroom and I'm like, oh my god. It's so

Alex Ferrari 54:40
I'll tell you what I was. I was lucky enough here in Austin to go to the 30th anniversary of slacker with real cool with with Richard Linklater. So when I asked when I asked him I'm like when was the last time you saw this? He's like, since the 20th. Like I haven't sat and watched Since then, a really you really shouldn't I don't think copalis sitting around watching godfather like, unless, unless he's re editing it. He's re editing it, he's remastering it. And then I will leave on this can we all just give a big shout out to Mr. Francis Ford Coppola for dumping $100 million of his wine money into making this epic movie that he wants to make, and he doesn't give up. About whatever's happening. It's amazing.

Lucas McNelly 55:26
I wish I could have like, pulled him aside before did that and be like, dude, crowdfunded.

Alex Ferrari 55:35
He's gonna be okay, he's gonna be fine.

Lucas McNelly 55:36
It'll be alright. It'll be alright. But how that would been the easiest sell of a Kickstarter campaign ever.

Alex Ferrari 55:43
But you have to do it. Well, of course now, and everybody would want to know, no, it's easy. He's out throw money. And of course, everybody.

Lucas McNelly 55:50
Everybody would throw money in he be funded and like, you'd have like $80 million dollars in like, four days.

Alex Ferrari 55:55
But the problem but the problem is that, you know, everybody knows that he's richer than whatever. Not because of his Yeah, I'm Andrew. It's so funny that at 82 is how well he's 82 years old. He's working. He's taking that he's not just thinking about it. He's doing something so unprecedented, that no one else has done in the history of cinema. No one has gone into their pocket. Spielberg hasn't gone to his pocket other than Schindler's List. Yeah, when he jumped out 30 million.

Lucas McNelly 56:25
Have you ever got 100 million like in the couch?

Alex Ferrari 56:28
Exactly. To go make a movie that he wants to make? At 82? Yeah, that's the insanity of filmmakers. That is how insane we all are.

Lucas McNelly 56:39
Imagine how sore he is in the morning.

Alex Ferrari 56:42
And he hasn't made a movie he hasn't made a movie on it at least a decade I think he hasn't made

Lucas McNelly 56:49
last one was the

Alex Ferrari 56:51
he did he was doing a lot of independence. Yeah, that he did some small things. He did some small independent things he was just kind of playing around but he hasn't like shot anything for a while. And now he's just when I saw that I saw that my heart filled with joy. And yeah, we need guys like that out there and directors out there taking huge swings. Huge, huge monster swings. And that's you I think the biggest thing you can take Yeah, and that's a big one because he's like, no studio is gonna finance this so I'm gonna finance it myself. Because I got mad wind money.

Lucas McNelly 57:28
I feel like someone would have by I'm just amazed that like Amazon didn't finance it, or somebody I just debated like

Alex Ferrari 57:36
you know my age it's like Mike it might there's Netflix or somebody might come in and fill in the gap. But yeah, he came out and said, Look, I'm looking for money, but if you guys don't give me money, somebody doesn't give me money. I'm just gonna I don't want to, but I'll do it because I got it. I got it. In the store Do you wants to tell about it's it's for the next generation and like you got I hope I can get a

Lucas McNelly 58:00
pill on it. Loan it outright. He'll have all I just tell him what to do.

Alex Ferrari 58:05
I hope I can get him on the show one day just to have this conversation with him like, Francis. Thank you.

Lucas McNelly 58:10
That would be the that was one I was

Alex Ferrari 58:13
that would be one you listen to right. Like you would pop back in.

Lucas McNelly 58:16
I don't know him. But I will make an exception.

Alex Ferrari 58:20
I occasionally have those kinds of people on the show that you would like to know. Okay. Oh, all right. Yeah, I'm gonna listen to that conference. Nice. Lucas man. It's been a pleasure for having you on the show man. And thank you so much for being so raw and honest and about your experience with depression as a filmmaker because I think it's something that we all go through but no one talks about it No one wants to talk about this and no

Lucas McNelly 58:46
one wants to admit it because then the minute you say, Oh, I have depression issues. Who's going to like let you direct a movie?

Alex Ferrari 58:53
Well, first of all, anybody out there who gives power to somebody else, or gives the ability to we're all depressed all all directors or every single one of them have some sort of depression even you know, squirt, did you watch the Scorsese the short film he shot during pandemic when he was loud? No, I

Lucas McNelly 59:10
haven't watched it yet.

Alex Ferrari 59:11
Oh my god, it's so it's like this trippy depressive. He was so depressed that he couldn't draft he couldn't do anything he was locked Yeah. And so

Lucas McNelly 59:21
he's one of those guys who has been going 100 miles an hour for 50 years or whatever. Yeah, since

Alex Ferrari 59:26
the 70s. He's just doesn't stop he just like boom boom boom, boom, boom, and then all of a sudden just I can't I can't Yeah, so you grab that gun inside shooting?

Lucas McNelly 59:36
Yeah, that would really throw you Yeah, no question

Alex Ferrari 59:39
but but Lucas man thanks again for being on the show and I wish you nothing but the best with your new film. Let's try to finish this one before before 2034 I can do my best. Thank you my friend. I appreciate it. Well, if they

Lucas McNelly 59:55
don't change the editing software on me, then I'll be fine.

Alex Ferrari 59:57
Oh Jesus. God, no software is that JJ often hit so you'll be fine. I think perfect.

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BPS 272: Down the First Feature Rabbit Hole with Carlson Young

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Alex Ferrari
I like to welcome to the show Carlson Young How you doing Carlson?

Carlson Young
I'm doing well. Thank you.

Alex Ferrari
Thank you so much like we were talking about earlier. Before we came on the first time I remember seeing you is in that amazing? Key and Peele short jacket jacket. I want to say your real name Jacqueline, but it's Jacqueline Quellen decided JAKE Well, Jake, Jake wallet which has been it was downloaded like 50 million times. And I mean as an actress you want to be seen 50 million times especially when you're a young actress.

Carlson Young
I suppose that's true.

Alex Ferrari
Yes. Did you get do you get did you get called out like a lot of people were like

Carlson Young
I really did I remember like being at a at a stop sign like in Franklin Hill, Franklin village in LA Beachwood Canyon and somebody likes screech the brakes and roll down the window. It was like Jay Quellin. And I thought myself nothing else in my life. I am Jay.

Alex Ferrari
Well, you've done other things as well. You've done definitely done other things as well. So how did you how did you get into the business?

Carlson Young
Um, I, I had really always wanted to pursue acting and be an actor and director and writer, my whole childhood but my parents didn't really know how to facilitate that for me, which is all well and good because I really am a firm believer that that should be your own accord not parents and I found myself in Asia and I was like 14 or 15 Did some commercial work. Did a Disney short show my junior and senior year of high school that actually shot in Austin and then to LA and ended up going to USC for him. Creative Writing and doing acting work throughout, you know, my early 20s. And then yeah, just look, the blazing world is my first. This is the thing that I want to do.

Alex Ferrari
Yeah. And it's, it was I had had the pleasure of seeing it and it is a definitely a trippy film without question. It's like, you definitely go down the rabbit hole, and then some in that film. But before we get to the feature, it started off with a short, right?

Carlson Young
That's right. Um, it was a short, I was inspired by recurring dreams. And I was having as I was working on another show, in Louisiana, and I yeah, I just the short is very much a vignette and a sketch of the character's life and just my visual sort of sensibilities as filmmaker, and I knew that I had to sort of make this seed in order to sell people on moving able to direct the future.

Alex Ferrari
Yeah, so that was my that was my next question. How did you get people to give you money? How did you get the financing for this? How did you bring this all together? I mean, cuz it's tough. It's just tough period. It's insane.

Carlson Young
It's, it's so hard. You know, I mean, we attached her first actor, the beginning of March 2020. And we were so excited, felt like it was really happening. And then, you know, the pandemic and the world shuts down. We're like, well, and so I, you know, my producer, and I just were like, well, I mean, I rewrote the script in a couple of carts, then maybe we could take this out of public places and have a really contained quarantine environment. Um, so that took a couple months of reworking and truly engineering the entire project around COVID. And the restrictions there, and we shot in August 2020. And I swear to God by the skin of our teeth. It was really hard. But yeah.

Alex Ferrari
So you've been so you finished August of 2020.

Carlson Young
And had her submitted to Sundance October 7. Oh,

Alex Ferrari
God. That's it. Are you so tired?

Carlson Young
I'm exhausted. And it wasn't even my film. I'm exhausted thinking about that process. Because well, first of all, shooting in August of 2020. I don't remember. I mean, you think was there a low in COVID at that point, and no, was it was it was it? There was a lull? Right. There was a low it was like, the worst was very much yet to come. And it was, it was still, you know, like, okay, there's like, 300 cases in Texas. You know, it wasn't anything like the winter, you know, winter was coming. Yeah. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari
So So you fit so you see, so But again, I wanted to just ask, like, how did you approach investors? How did you get how did you like, did you show the short and go? Here's the short. here's the here's the feature script. I want to direct. I've never directed, but here's my short and they said, Okay, obviously,

Carlson Young
I mean, it's always the like, catch 22 Like the first time directors nightmare of like, I'm a first time director, please. And then and, and, but, you know, the short was really good proof of concept. It had been embraced by a good festival. We had an amazing co writer, we had a great team around the project. And we were like, this is very much what something that could be a festival, you know, movie, if you want to get on board with sort of the bigger vision of music director and this whole team, then that's kind of how we did it. Private equity in Austin.

Alex Ferrari
That's, that's, that's pretty amazing. Now, how did you get your cast like you're you have a pretty remarkable cast.

Carlson Young
It's a great cast. I wrote, I wrote the lane Ed role for Udo Kier, who had always been like, he, he'd always been like a legend. I mean, he is a legend, but he'd always been like a personal like, I love this man. And I can't describe it, um, feels like my father on like, a spiritual level. Doesn't make a ton of sense, but I just love him and so I wrote the character for him. So when we got him the script and he wanted to do it, it was just like, Okay, wow, we're off to the races and then Dermott NASA so co John Carter. Now we have a great guest.

Alex Ferrari
Yeah, it was. It was a pretty remarkable cast to say the least now, so you're shooting during COVID which is doing shooting your first movie in July. As a rough scenario, let alone with the COVID pressures on top of you, which you could like, am I going to get shut down tomorrow? Am I not going to get shut down tomorrow,

Carlson Young
mortal concern of every person who has been generous enough to give us their time, and their best work in this incredibly crazy time, just was like, I felt that weight every day, um, on top of the normal stress of an 18 day shoe, like, it was hard. Um, so I tell I tell everyone I'm like, if the second one is just 3% Less mortal stress, then he really

Alex Ferrari
would be amazing. Now as directors, you know, there's always that one day on set where the world is coming down around you. You literally just say this is gonna, I'm crashing and burning. I'm drowning. The whole world is this is this is a disaster. I can't believe I'm here who gave me the coup gave me the keys to this car. What day was that for you? And how did you overcome it.

Carlson Young
Um, you know, as stressful as the outside environment was just because of the COVID of it all this set and the shoot was really Zen. Like it, like we had so much to do. And such an enormous scope of a story to tell that there just really wasn't any room for stress. Um, was like this weird compartmentalized, because I was also acting so I mean, there just like wasn't room to like, short circuit, like, there were just there was no, no capacity for it. Right. So, um, you know, I, it was really hard. I mean, like, for just personal things were happening for me, like, it was very much like art imitating life imitating art imitating life, there was things when my sister got married, I wasn't able to be there, there was all sorts of things going on, we were in a proper quarantine camp. So it was a surprisingly Zen shoot itself. But the whole world was trying to like, get in my head, and I had to keep it out.

Alex Ferrari
So okay, so then it's tough enough to direct it stuff enough, the director in a COVID pandemic, but then you also acted in it? How do you balance? Like, I've never I've acted once or twice in something I've shot and I was, Oh, God, it was horrible. Because I'm not an actor. But, uh, but how was it? But how did you balance that, especially in your first time out as a director?

Carlson Young
Well, I had had a little taste of it from the shorter, um, and just just from the short, I knew that I could do it, I knew that it was something that I have the bandwidth to do. And I, you know, I was fortunate enough to have an incredible assistant, who was really keeping me honest, as to the character and where we were, I sort of had like this big energy map that I was mapping everything off of, in terms of moments and story and tone. And I, I just again, I just didn't question it. I just didn't, I just didn't give myself any room to, to question it. I, I have experienced as an actor, and I just, I'm not, you know, I'm not camera shy at all. So it's just like, you know, it's a great thing, being a director and an actor, because I know exactly what I'm looking for. And then I can give that to myself, which is kind of a rewarding thing.

Alex Ferrari
Now, you mentioned energy mapping, can you kind of dig into that? I've never actually heard that term before. So what is an energy map in your world? And how did you use it?

Carlson Young
Um, I think, Well, whenever I watch a film, like the most, the thing that really pops out resonates with me the most is the tone. And that's in my, in my mind tone is kind of synonymous with energy. Because it's, it's like the air that the character breathing and that the scores on and it's like, you know, dropping a needle on a record, it's like a very particular vibration, which also sounds a bit like abstract, but, um, in this story, in particular, she goes under the water, she's in the bathtub, so when she goes under the water, I, I sort of totally did the rest of the story, like she's losing oxygen in her brain. And so, there's different modes. There's different like grace periods that her brain is going for. and then it drops. And then yeah, so like the tone becomes more frenetic and more sort of manic as it as it goes.

Alex Ferrari
And you were using that as a kind of guide guideposts in the in the sand, if you will, as you're going through this process because you're without, so you appreciate the lost at sea almost,

Carlson Young
you're lost lost at sea and then you know, I mean, you can give it you can get a an amazing performance out of an actor or right, I could give a good performance or something. But it might not be right in terms of where we are in the story and energies. So it's really easy to watch something and be really blown away by it. And but it might not be able to fit into this thing. So, yeah.

Alex Ferrari
And how do you how do you judge your own performance? I mean, that must be brutal. Like, did I get it? Did I not get what I wanted as a director?

Carlson Young
It's I mean, I don't know I'm, I'm excited to like for the next couple and not not act in it. And I think that that will be a really nice distance. But for this one, I, my my editor and like everyone on the team would would always kind of chuckle because I would never refer to myself as the character it would be, you know, it was her, Margaret Margaret, what is she doing? What is she doing? It was never me looking at myself, like I'm looking at the character. And I'm, like, our editor thought that was kind of jarring at first because you'd be like we're looking at like you on the screen. But you're like referring to this like other person. And so that's how I can gauge their performance. So I'm not looking at myself, I'm looking at some an actor performing a thing.

Alex Ferrari
It's a way for you to disconnect. Yeah, totally disassociate. Yeah. Yeah, it's a completely just disconnect from what's going on. And because as an editor, you're looking at things like even again, the small times that I've directed myself in a scene. I just just like, Who's that guy? Oh, God, Jesus. Oh, he's horrible. Oh, this is like, I become my director hat comes on on like, I start beating up myself as the actress must be tough. But but you not not so much with you?

Carlson Young
Yeah, yeah, I sort of like have a level of like, respect for myself as an actor. And so and all the other actors, which is bizarre, because usually, I'm like a total masochist, who has like, no respect for myself. So that's like an interesting grace that I have apparently, for myself, I don't know.

Alex Ferrari
So as an actress, you know, you've worked with a lot of directors in your career, how do you like to be directed, I always love to ask actors that, because every actor is a little bit different in regards to how they like to be directed,

Carlson Young
I love to know, I love to have, it's possible to have the opportunity to get inside the directors previous work, and to also get inside their head as to what their thinking for this particular project is not not always you have a you don't always have that luxury as an actor, sometimes you just show up and you're just saying the lines and going home, you know, which is so much of the case of TV, which is what I definitely have done the most of, um, but film is this thing where you, you get to have a language with the creative team and and get to hear everybody's perspective on the character and then give your interpretation of it. And that's what I really liked about that.

Alex Ferrari
No, what do you look for in a director? As far as someone who's going to direct you? What are the qualities? What are the techniques that you're looking for? Because I mean, we've all heard the stories of the crazy director on said who's abusive or yelling and you didn't get the there's, there's so many different, you know, images of directors over the years, from the monocle to the blow horn, back at that silent days. To to someone like Clint Eastwood, who just goes, that was good. Let's move on. And that was the success four words to you.

Carlson Young
Yeah. I mean, I haven't had, you know, I haven't had the luxury of working with. I worked with a lot of directors, but I've never worked with like a real lot tour before. Um, but the one that the thing that I've noticed about directors I really like working with is they're calm and decisive, and they have good taste, and they know what they're doing. And I think as a director, the most important thing is making choices and making choices and knowing the knowing how to steer the ship, and then everybody else trusting you and not so the worst thing is like if a director like doesn't know, you know, like,

Alex Ferrari
I don't know maybe what do you like there was the what do you think because it's a collaboration but when you feel Like, they don't know where the ship is going. Yeah, the whole thing's gonna crash.

Carlson Young
That's a little concerning.

Alex Ferrari
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. So yeah, so and I always tell this to to young directors, you know, when you're working with actors, actors want to feel secure, they want to feel safe, and they want to be able to have a safe space to perform. And to be I mean, what actors do what you guys do is remarkable because you're exposed, exposed emotionally, you're, we're asking you to go, you know, that really difficult, horrible thing, I'm never gonna experience I want you to do that, for me for my pleasure, please. And action. Like it's, it's tough. It's an insanity, really.

Carlson Young
It's a form of insanity, no doubt, no doubt about it. So you get it, you get every now and then you get an actor who. And with boys and girls, this is very much the case where they have a personal investment in the character and the project succeeding, everybody was so generous with their time and their energy for these characters, like everybody had an entry point into the material from a really beautiful, profound place. And so it was just a luxury to sit back the director and watch them work. And I just the on ramp was respect. They respected the story. And so I was able to create a safe space for them as

Alex Ferrari
actors, and is that how you approach pulling performances out of your actors or coaching, like my coaching, but guiding them to the performance that you're looking for? How do you approach it as a director?

Carlson Young
Well, you know, for this one, we didn't, we didn't have rehearsal time or, or anything like this. So firm was setting the stage of I, number one, thank you so much for being here. I deeply, I'm a big fan of your work, and I respect you so much as an actor. Here's what I'm thinking. And here's how, here's, here's all of the backstory, and the good, nitty gritty details that I can give you as a director as for what I'm thinking, and then those tools are yours to use at your leisure. You know, here's your tool belt, and feel free to put it on for the scene and like, let's see what happens. And, um, yeah, and so I was it was beautiful. I loved working with this with this team. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari
I mean, the team and the cast, I mean, the cast must have been wonderful. And you had, how did you deal with all the, you have a fairly good amount of visual effects in this film? And for someone who's never directed a feature film, let alone dealing with visual effects? Because I've been a VFX supervisor, I understand the complexity of that. How did you deal with that?

Carlson Young
Was it was a challenge. I mean, there was, you know, there was a time where I wanted to do like, all of that practically everything. All right, um, but, you know, we had a limited limited crew size, because of the pandemic and not very many days at all. So we couldn't do any of those things. So the best we could hope for was a locked shot and then a VFX supervisor on set.

Alex Ferrari
Not so much with the move. So not so much with the moving shots on the VFX shots is what

Carlson Young
I get in trouble if it was there was someone yelling at you. It's really expensive moving ones. Yes.

Alex Ferrari
Yeah, I was like, Oh, you want us to track that? That's gonna cost another 50 grand.

Carlson Young
I just, I have learned so much. I cannot even tell you.

Alex Ferrari
Yeah, no, I could have met look first when I when I first started directing lock off shots, best VFX shots, lock off shots, don't don't move the camera, lock that shot, lock it don't move the frame. And then then you as you get as you develop a little bit more than you feel like, oh, I can move the camera. And okay, I gotta get the tracking shots in and I gotta do this, this and this. And, and technology has come a long way and all this kind of stuff. But, uh oh, God, you could get into some deep trouble very quickly

Carlson Young
and talk about zero time to do it. I think I think our last VFX shot was delivered January 20. And Jr was born January 29. And Sundance just like screaming at us when you have to get this and then we're like and then the the cut that actually premiered like on digital platform at Sundance wasn't even the final VFX shots. Of course, I remember people being like, the worst or something and I'm like it's not fine. Oh, shut the fuck

Alex Ferrari
it's so easy. It's so easy to to criticize the gladiator in the arena. But they don't get in sometimes. Tell me aboutit's so easy to sit down sit in the in the in the audience and just go look at that gladiator look what they're doing. I could do it better. I know. So so so then you you submit to Sundance, which is obviously the dream of every independent filmmaker to get into Sundance, especially your first first feature. So you know, it's a shot in the dark, you know, you roll the dice, and you get and you throw it in there and see what happens. And you know, the odds are obscene to get into. I mean, whether the thing last year was like 30,000 submissions or something like that. And there's like 100 in and Yeah, six accepted or something. So what was it like when you got the call?

Carlson Young
Oh, it was so cathartic. It was so beautiful. Like dropping to my knees like, like, tired. So tired. I just want to go to sleep. I think I like fell asleep. Good night. Thank you. Um, but it was it was just so rewarding. Because I mean, that, like, this is truly what happened. We finished the final score. Like that literally is like the last note the thing was mixed. And my husband shut his laptop. Okay, like we're done. Oh, you want to like, go get some dinner or something to celebrate. And then literally, my cell phone rang. And I was just like, it was it was too good to be true. It's it's, it sounds fake. But that is 100% What happened?

Alex Ferrari
That's, that's insane. I have to ask you, because I love asking artists this. Why do This is insanity. It is the most difficult things we could do. It tortures us It beats us up. We get disappointed. But you know, it's so I mean, exhausting is the word I like to use. Exhausting, brutal, and yet, it's like we keep coming back. For me. What is it about what we do that? Is this kind of I call it a kind of a beautiful disease. Because once you get bitten by the bug, you're done for life. You can't, can't go back ever.

Carlson Young
It's true. I think it's I think that it's the storytelling component of what we do and the heart the heart of truly profound and moving stories, no matter like what your taste is, no matter if you like horror thriller, quiet indies like Marvel movies, whatever it is, whatever stories speak to you, it's incredible the amount of like, just darkness that you can sort of power through and put up with, if that's what you're in service of. Like, I think like people really suffer in this industry. Because you know what it's like to have that moment of like, oh, like, we just did something really cool in this like nanosecond of geological time that we live in. You know, there's something like everybody who, who is in love with film, or great television even knows what it's like to be truly moved into empathy and compassion by characters and an amazing story. And that's just, that's just something that that's a depth that requires a lot of sacrifice. And I don't know, I mean, I guess it's got to be why we fucking do it like

Alex Ferrari
it as a director, I mean, at least you're an actor. So you get to, to work all the time. As an actor, you can, you can do shows, you can do movies, you can do and you get to perform your art. But as a director, you're lucky once a year, if that's like best case scenario, it's best case that's like once maybe every two or three years, it takes you years to get a project off the ground, if you writing it, getting it off the ground, packaging it, and then you get to shoot for 18 days. That's, that's the only that's the only time you get to actually be what you want to be. And then this obviously, the pre production part of it and the post production part of it. But generally, we don't get to direct as much as we want it.

Carlson Young
Yeah. What's something interesting that I think I found throughout the blazing road process because it was a long one, it was a long process. 2017 was the short She's 2020 was the feature. But what was so interesting was that the, you know, challenges and the slow sort of growth process of every, you know, making a film like checking all the boxes, and each time you check a box, it's it's extremely slow, it's painfully slow. And you have to climb the stairs extremely meticulously, and so patiently. And one thing goes right to things goes to things go wrong every time and, and so, interestingly enough, in that incredibly challenging process that required a lot of resilience. I learned something about myself, and the character and all of these characters and the whole story that I was trying to tell. And that and that just feels like, I'm like, I look back, and I'm like, I don't even think I don't think I would do a single thing differently. Because of that, because that was just so beautiful. And I think that's something probably a lot of people could, you know, I certainly could have benefited from hearing that. I know that people do say that. And it's easier, easier to hear than to put it into practice. But it's pretty cool. Like looking back on all of the just gut wrenching nose and the things that didn't go right and being able to see how they were. So very in service to a lesson that was being learned or something.

Alex Ferrari
How did you deal with the nose? Because you must have gotten a ton of them prior to actually getting on the set.

Carlson Young
So many, so many, but I was used to it as an actor. I like literally all day every day. No, no, no, no, no. There's like 500 knows and one yes, like, that's my life. So I was like, pretty. I was pretty used to it. Although this was a different thing. Like this was like, my heart and soul. I'm not I'm not just playing somebody else's character. Like this is a totally different thing. So admittedly, the knows her a lot worse than an acting No. But I do think that that like just habitual rejection as an actor. Was it a nice little? Wasn't was a nice prep for the whole process. Yeah, I

Alex Ferrari
can't even understand how you guys do what you do. I mean, every time I do a casting, I'm always very gentle with the actors and was like, I try to be as nice and pleasant as possible. But it's right. You just said you get 40 nose a day. Yes, it's it's insane. What what made this story like, obviously, this is a personal story to you is coming off your your dreams, you were saying? What made you say because we all have dreams. And we many of us have recurring dreams, what made you say, I got to get this out into the world, I need to let this this this thing loose.

Carlson Young
Group therapy. I mean, I knew that, you know, I, the blazing world title comes from 17th century writer Margaret Cavendish. And she was so bold in 1666, to write a complete like fantastical component to her husband scientific journal, where she's dreaming up this, some world and all of these magical creatures. And I love fantasy, and just fantasy mythology so much, it's how I make sense of the world. And it's the stories that I personally really love. And so I always knew that I wanted to make films that were magical and had a fantasy component to them. And I love horror. So some of that sprinkled in there too. And but but this story was the more that I chipped away at how to claim power as a female in the way that Margaret Cavendish did in 1666. With her blazing world. I realized that in order to step into this like Empress this queen, this female empowerment that you have to clear out so much trauma, and the black hole started becoming for me this like dissociative gap in my psyche of things from my childhood that I hadn't processed yet that were that was just literal grief, just like sitting in my soul. And through group therapy and really amazing friendships and connection with people who were also being honest about their vulnerability. I realized that this was actually an incredibly universal story and that when people put it all out there and Like that is an opportunity for for healing for other people too. So it was connecting my story to the story, the big story, and then realizing, Oh, like this could be a fantastical fucking ride, where we could actually get somewhere. And you know, at the end, you know, it's a story about reframing trauma, she makes a tiny little decision differently. She's kinder to her parents, she includes them and reframes this memory of trauma. And I think that's it. And that's a beautiful thing to witness. And I've witnessed it with other people. And I just was like, that was when I found the confidence to tell the story.

Alex Ferrari
That's awesome. That's very awesome. Now, when you were you get the call for Sundance, though, have you been to Sundance before they've even been to mark city before that

Carlson Young
I did. I went in 2018 for the short, and that was really, you know, rad, because you gotta be there in person. So it was so cool. Like to be at Sundance, like, as a filmmaker, even if it was a short, that was the coolest thing of my life. So I can't even imagine what it would have been like to be there in 2020 in person, maybe the next one.

Alex Ferrari
Right, exactly. Yeah, cuz it was 20 Yeah, of course, there's 2020. So that you can go to in person but but with the short at least you got to go and be a filmmaker and, and, and enjoy that process. Because it is. It's an interesting, I've been there. I've been there as a as just someone who's been there. And I've had films there as well, that have worked on and it's just a completely different experience. When you're seeing so when you're screening something that's that you've been or you worked on.

Carlson Young
I I like having a smile thinking about how great that would have been. But yeah, we were just on on the couch and thanking our lucky stars. Yes,

Alex Ferrari
exactly. Now, where can people see the film?

Carlson Young
It's a limited theatrical. So anywhere you can find the theater go check it out, because it's very, very much meant to be seen in a theater. I saw it for the first time in the theater last week. And I was just like, I wish I wish that people could see like this, but alas, it is VOD and streaming on Amazon and Apple. And yeah, go go rent it or buy it, that would be extremely helpful.

Alex Ferrari
Now, I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I ask all my guests. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Carlson Young
That no is not a statement about my worth as a human being?

Alex Ferrari
That's a great answer. And that definitely makes sense coming from an actor.

Carlson Young
Yes. The baby out with the bathwater.

Alex Ferrari
Now, three of your favorite films of all time.

Carlson Young
Possession. Um, so Larus, and scenes from a marriage?

Alex Ferrari
Very good. And what was the biggest fear you had to overcome? When putting this entire project together? Putting the script writing the script, attaching yourself as a director, all that what was the biggest fear you had to overcome? And how did you do it?

Carlson Young
Um, the biggest fear that I had to overcome was that I am invalid as an artist and that nobody will care what I have to say.

Alex Ferrari
Yeah. And you had to break through that. How to break through that. Yep. And last question. What was what? What did you learn from your biggest failure, either professionally or in life somewhere? That was a big failure? What was the biggest lesson you learn from that failure?

Carlson Young
Hmm. That failure is an opportunity for growth. In fact, we pretty much only grow in in discomfort and uncertainty. So as challenging as those times are, they're sacred. They're sacred times.

Alex Ferrari
And I want to thank you so much for being on the show. It was it was a pleasure talking to you. I tell everybody to go see blazing, blazing. We're all there was a lot of fun. It's definitely a a trip down the rabbit hole to say the least across and thank you so much. And continued success, my dear.

Carlson Young
Thank you.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bruce Joel Rubin 13:16
Go ahead.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 18:27
Sunday best, sunday best.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 28:18
Right. Yeah.

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

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

Bruce Joel Rubin 30:12
We remember Schumann's

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 40:53

Bruce Joel Rubin 40:56
People hate well,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bruce Joel Rubin 43:47
He was totally brilliant.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 7:16
You are old school man.

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 7:56
Or something like that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 10:00
One off a one off,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 17:21

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 33:04

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

Alex Ferrari 33:22
Why am I here?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 46:32
It does

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 1:39:45
of course,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Darious Britt 1:55:51
d4darious YouTube /d4darious

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 1:57:58
Same here.

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

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

Darious Britt 1:58:16
Alright brother man.

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BPS 265: Writing Your First Blockbuster with Paul Dudbridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 17:54
on an iPhone.

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

Alex Ferrari 19:10
blood everywhere, right?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 42:00
Because he's Spielberg.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 1:19:11
So good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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