BPS 203: I Made A Short Film Now WTF Do I Do With It (Audio Book Preview)

In this episode you get a FREE PREVIEW of the IFH Books release of I Made A Short Film Now WTF Do I Do With It audio book on Audible.

Written by award-winning filmmaker Clarissa Jacobson, I Made A Short Film Now WTF Do I Do With It is jam-packed with hard-earned knowledge, tips, and secrets on how to enter film festivals, promote your movie… and SUCCEED!

I Made A Short Film Now WTF Do I Do With It covers everything from what festivals to submit to, how to maximize your money, secure an international presence, deal with rejection, gain publicity, harness the power of social media, what a sales rep does and much more.

Included are exclusive filmmaker discounts on services/products from the subtitling company, Captionmax, and promo merchandisers, Medias Frankenstein and The Ink Spot.

What Others Are Saying:

“I Made a Short Film Now WTF Do I Do With It is jam-packed with first-hand knowledge, tips, and secrets on how to enter film festivals, promote your movie, and achieve your wildest filmmaking dreams. It’s required reading for every indie filmmaker who wants to gain an audience, stand out on the festival circuit, and work towards a career as a filmmaker.” — Film Daily

“Ultimately, Clarissa’s book is a very thoughtful reflection on her experiences making and marketing her successful and hilarious horror comedy “Lunch Ladies.” This reflection is a wonderful knew resource for filmmakers who are making or have already completed a new short film, but are looking for some help maximizing its audience-seeking potential.” — Horrible Imaginings Film Festival blog

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Alex Ferrari 2:51
Now today guys, we have a special episode, we are going to be giving you a free preview to the new IFH books. Audible release of the best selling book I made a short film now WTF do I do with it? A Guide to film festivals, promotions and surviving the ride by the award winning filmmaker Clarissa Jacobson. Now you might remember Clarissa from Episode 538 When she came on the show to discuss her new book at the time. And I was so impressed with her that I decided to publish her audio book through IFH books. Now in this episode, you're going to get a sneak peek to the audio book and hear the first three chapters for free. Now at the end of the episode, I'm going to tell you how to get a free copy of the new audio book. So without any further ado, enjoy your free preview of I made a short film now what the f*** do I do?

Clarissa Jacobson 3:54
Prologue You are amazing. Pep Talk to get you stoked to wade through this book. Congratulations. You are amazing. You dare to dream dare to make a film. raise that money. Save that money. Pinched squeezed and blood that money. slaved over scripts, locations, long nights, early mornings fears, hopes worries argued with the negative voice inside your head and came out alive. Not only alive, but you finished your masterpiece. And it's awesome. NowWTF do you do with it? Well, amazing person. I was you once. I too didn't know the first thing about promoting a film or getting it onto the circuit. I'd heard the tales that politics matter how the odds are stacked against you. What types of films are successful, what types aren't? And short. I knew the word on the street. Why couldn't succeed versus why you could However, I don't listen to that stuff, and neither should you. It does not serve you. First lesson, whenever anything negative comes your way. And there will be a lot. Ask if it serves your film. If it doesn't ignore that will serve you. But I digress. Anyhow, I knew the word on the street, why you couldn't succeed versus why you could. But I also knew my film was terrific. And you must know this too about your film or you've lost already. And I had a goal. I therefore learned everything I could, battled the haters, battle, my insecurities, didn't give up on my short, believed in it, kept my eyes on the prize, worked like crazy, and had an amazing run over 120 film festivals all over the world 45 awards, gold standard distribution, over 100 reviews and interviews and a wide fan base. To be clear, for all you folks who think I had a leg up and anyway, I didn't. This was my first film. I had very few connections. No one on the circuit knew me or my work. Clarissa who and I had a film that didn't fit the mold, a comedy horror genre piece coming in at the appalling length of 19 minutes. Still, it succeeded. And want you to succeed too. And I'm going to pass on all the things I learned how to promote, how to submit to festivals, how to maximize your fest budget, how to think big, how to overcome negativity, how to laugh at rejections, how to love social media, how to get filmmaker, discounts, and more. Let's get started. Chapter One, get a goal, or be a goner. Preliminary first step to keep you focused. I know this probably makes you feel like you're back in junior high, and um, that really annoying teacher who's on your case. But seriously, what is your goal? And what are you going to do with your film, focus your delinquent. Trust me, kids, having a goal is going to make everything so much easier. You put so much time into making your short, but the true marathon is the next 18 months after you finished it. There will be a massive amount of work to do to give it a life. If you look around at the films that succeed, it's not just about quality. There are 1000s of good flicks that never see the light of day, and plenty of bad ones that do. It is also about the filmmakers goal, knowing what they want to achieve. Some people make short films just to create is that you? Some people make short films to practice their craft. Is that you? Some people make short films to get interest in their career. Maybe that's you. Some people make short films as a proof of concept for their feature is that you? Some people make short films because they can't afford to make long ones is that you? Some people make short films because you get my drift.

Figure out why you made your film. When you figure out why you made it. You can figure out what you want from it. Your goal and that will drive you and your strategy. Why do you need a goal and a strategy? Promoting a film is a ton of work. And the only thing that will keep you doing that work, which is absolutely exhausting, is a clear reason to do so. A goal. The only way you are going to achieve that goal or have a chance at it is with strategy. If you have no goal, you are not going to do all the heavy lifting that's required to make it a success. You are going to skip doing social media. You are going to skip entering festivals that require too much work. And you are going to give up with a few rejections. Further if you don't know what your goal is, you will not know what strategy to use to achieve what you want. And that will frustrate you. Figure out first and foremost why you made your film. For example, I'm a screenwriter who made the film versus the director who usually makes the film. More on that in chapter 10. I wanted to get interested in my feature screenplay. Lunch lady's, a surreal, quirky comedy horror with two middle aged female leads. But the industry would often tell me there was no market. I got sick of hearing that nonsense. So I decided I would save my money and make a proof of concept short based on the feature to show the power Here's the be that there were plenty of people who would pay to see lunch ladies and they should fund it. Every step of the process after the short was in the can was with this goal in mind. Number one email every blogger and magazine I could find that wrote about horror and cult film to get them to review it. Why? Maybe some producer out there would read about lunch ladies and want to make it number to prove lunch ladies has a market all over the world and money can be made. This is more drivel, the industry loves to spout that comedy doesn't play overseas. So I wanted to enter as many facts as I could all over the world. Number three, have a great IMDB page. IMDB stands for Internet Movie Database, and I'll explain more about that in depth in chapter two. So have a great IMDB page, put up photos, Film Fest release dates, reviews, awards, keywords, special thanks, etc. A figured anyone wanting to finance my feature, but first go to my IMDB page to check out the short. Number four. Make a Website show industry folks how I would market the film because unless they see the potential, they won't get it. In my site, I have a school store a hairnet club, fan art page, geography lesson announcements and more. Number five, build a fan base. Get busy on social media so I can find my target audience and fans, it becomes crystal clear who that is when you see who follows you. I felt if I knew my target audience, I know who to market it to. And if a producer knows there's a fan base and who they are, that helps to get it made. Number six, be seen. It had to be seen not sit on my hard drive. It must play everywhere it could no matter how small or how big because someone may see it and help. The goal of getting a feature made influenced all my choices in the festival run and gave me a strategy. I wanted to make the feature so bad that it kept me focused and excited. Even when I was exhausted and didn't want to work. I would come home from my day job. write blogs for my website. Each took about two hours. And I wrote over 200 over the course of the film. I post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, populate my Pinterest page, right reviewers, talk to fans, talk to other filmmakers, see other filmmakers films, do interviews. And generally Bob till I dropped. I am certain a huge part of lunch lady success on the circuit was because of all those things that I just talked about that I actually did. The film is great. Remember, you got to love your film. And there are a lot of films. It's the work I did that took it to the next level. Have I achieved my goal of getting the feature made? Not yet. But I'm still trying and having a great ride. Who knows what the future brings and when it will happen? Or if it opens the door to something else. So remember, why did you make your film and what is your goal? Get a flipping goal.

Chapter Two, be prepared press kits, websites, social media and being a goody two shoes. I admit it. I was the goody two shoes who always had her book report done a week before, sometimes two weeks before. Okay, fine. Three weeks. I'm not a procrastinator. So it has always been easy for me to do things ahead of time. You have it harder if you aren't a goody two shoes, but it's a must for your sanity on the circuit. press kits, your website, IMDB page, social media handles, promotional pieces. You want to have that stuff done before you start your festival right now while you're making your film. Don't get all crazy. But when you finish the film, why? Stop arguing with me? I'm trying to help you. The reason why Hardhead is because you are going to be so busy promoting getting into festivals and being a world traveler that you won't have time to do anything else. If you don't have time. Then all the stuff you've procrastinated on that you could have done before the run is going to be sloppy, which is why most press kits I see look like a four year old kid and their dog did them. Those filmmakers waited into the festival or publication asked them for a press kit and they either did one of two things. One, they had a nervous breakdown at the thought of adding more work on top of their crazy festival schedule. And they never handed one in therefore missing a huge promotional opportunity. Or two. They took a shot of tequila and made their press kit in a three hour panic. That's not for you. press kits with typos out of focus photos, bad layout, not for you missing a chance to promote your film because you haven't completed work you could have done earlier.

Nope! Not for you. Having a nervous breakdown because you're overloaded with work when you're supposed to be charming and witty on the festival run. Nope, not for you. You aren't going to do anything amateur. Because if you do, no matter how good your film is, you are promoting that you are an amateur. And you aren't. And always remember, keep your goal in mind. If your goal is to get drunk at film festivals, take your clothes off and flip off the establishment, then hey, you don't need to have an IMDB page, you may need a sexy outfit. So choose what you have to tackle. I had to tackle them all based on how it furthers your goal.

Branding, what is branding, it's how you market your product, your film and make it distinctive. You don't have to have your brand fully developed. But it's super smart to have an idea of what it is. So you get off to the right start and don't have to backtrack. There's a ton of stuff that can go into branding. But I just take it to the simplest level. What is the essence of your film. Now bottle it lunch ladies is a rebellious bloody yet full of heart playful, loud and takes place in a jacked High School. Therefore, those specifics became my brand. For example, I designed the lunch ladies website with a high school motif. The cast and crew are listed under rollcall reviews are listed under grades. There's a school store and a study hall with teasers to watch. The writing is in your face liberal fun and can be offensive like the film. Once you have a concept. Stick with it. And your ideas will evolve into a specific identifiable look which captures the heart of the film. Be consistent. Use the same fonts, colors, logos, and writing style. And you'll be golden IMDb IMDb, for those of you who aren't addicted to reading banal information about movies and movie stars is the Internet Movie Database. You want your short listed on IMDb because it's the go to place that people look for information about film, it's going to move your short up in the search on the internet, and it's going to give it legitimacy. I started my IMDB page immediately after the film wrapped well before it was edited. Because my cast and crew worked so hard for so little. The least I could do is get their credit up. Who knows what jobs it could help them land. Get people's credits up as soon as possible. After that's accomplished, add to your page as much as you can. As often as you can get a poster up, get a trailer up, get your special thanks up, get photos up, get your synopsis up, put them up now. Later on you will spend so much time adding reviews wins festivals etc. You won't have time. Your IMDB page will be the place you visit constantly throughout your films life by keeping it up to date. The initial process of getting all the names and credits correct takes work. So do it now. You won't have time later. And your cast and crew are going to be irked if they've waited a year and you don't have their credits up. Not cool. Here's a sidenote, email every single person on your cast and crew and ask them to send you their direct IMDb link. Unless this is their first credit. If you've got a John Smith on your crew, and you link it to the wrong profile, because there's 30 John Smith profiles, it's a nightmare to change. Trust me, I hooked up profiles to the wrong people at first, learn from My Excruciating time wasting experience. I'm not gonna lie. IMDB is a beast, you will be so frustrated from the learning curve. Wait until you have to tackle posting your wins. But you'll be so frustrated you'll swear your head off scream, wallow in self pity, cry and send nasty emails to some employee at IMDb who will ignore you. It's super confusing. In fact, you may need a PhD to figure it out. But just keep at it like I did. And you will learn to tame the beast that is IMDB. Once you get the hang of it, you'll love it. Nothing is more gratifying than adding new information about your film and seeing it show up for the world to see. In addition, once you really get going the IMDB people begin to know you're short. They probably hate you because you're constantly updating and making work for them. But who cares? You're a self centered filmmaker. The point is Eventually, instead of it taking two weeks for information to be approved and go up, it will take two days. Because the powers that be know you are filling the page with real information, not lying and padding it and they will get your updates up ASAP. press kits, I'm not going to sugarcoat it, press kits, or APKs electronic press kits for those in the know, are no fun to make. And it takes a while to get them right. You have to have patience. But that's why you're doing your press kit now, right? Don't be overwhelmed. I know there's a ton of ideas on how to make a press kit and that can freak you out. It did me to listen, just pick a template that speaks to you. Or make up your own style. No one cares. Her no Prescott police. All that people care about is how its organized, how it looks and what it says. There's no right or wrong way. Be creative. Be smart. Make it look good. represent your film. My Prescott took about a month to complete. Choose people you trust to edit it. They'll find the mistakes you miss. put your ego aside, get feedback and listen. Think of it as a job resume, make it as perfect as you can. And if you have 120 people in the cast and crew like I did, you're gonna misspell a ton of names. And that's disrespectful to those that helped make your dream come to life. So get everyone's name right check them over and over before you send it out. For my press kit, I decided not to list my reviews. Although you may want to. I had so many I didn't want to be constantly updating it. But often I will attach the best ones when I send the kid out, depending on who's looking at it. Also, the length of your kit is dependent on you. Mine was long because I had so many cast and crew also like to talk a lot. If you haven't noticed. If you want to check out my press kit, go to lunch ladies movie.com backslash contact and click the download link. I think it's pretty good. If you don't like it. Geez, what are you the Prescott police, social media handles. If you don't despise social media than Wow, you are ahead of the game. Most everyone hates some type of social media and you have to have them all. Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, Vimeo, et cetera, et cetera. So stop whining like a baby. Nothing is going to get in the way of your goal. Especially not something as banal as social media. The key to social media is and I'll talk about this more in depth later, you must find a way to love it. Social media is the king pen of all your promotion. Love it like unicorns, puppies, and rainbows. Take it a little at a time. You don't have to have a huge following right away. You don't even need to start posting until the film is on its run. You don't need to do all the social media channels at once. You can build them a little at a time, but get started. Open the accounts, create your handles populate your photos. Because once you're on the circuit, you will need to promote and you won't have time to set it up. For your handles try to remain consistent so people can easily find your film. If your Facebook is the same as your Instagram, you only have to tell people one handle. And that's easy to remember. Some people on the Facebook, some only Instagram, some both. You need all types of social media to really promote or you will miss opportunities. So make the handles as uniform as possible. purchase your domain for your website first, if you decide to make a website, then base all your handles on the site's name. If you do it the other way around, you may find that the handles you've set up are not available for your site. important make sure your website name is 15 characters or less. For my domain, I chose lunch ladies movie.com Because my first choice of lunch ladies.com was taken. In retrospect, I should have chosen lunch ladies film.com because Twitter only allows 15 characters. Therefore, at lunch ladies movie is the handle for all my social media except for Twitter, which is at lunch ladies film. So learn from my screw ups website. My website is my favorite promotional tool, and I highly suggest making one and starting it now as it takes a while to get it up and running. It took about a month learning curve to figure out how to build it, but it has been invaluable. A website will be your go to spot to send people. It has your social media, your blocks if you blog, your announcements, your trailer, your cast crew and synopsis. Everything is there in one beautiful place. Start with picking a great domain 15 characters or less remember, there are many companies you can put purchase that from, but I recommend wix.com. Because it's a one stop shop, you can use their templates to build a website for free, and then purchase the domain and hosting from them at the same time, easy. If possible, make the website yourself, it will save you tons of money because you will constantly need to make updates to your site. If you don't learn how to do it, you will always be paying someone to make the simple changes for you and then waiting around for them to do it. For those of you who have never made a website like I haven't, and don't understand the difference between hosting and domain, like I didn't think of it like real estate. The website is your house. The domain is its address. The hosting is the land it sits on how to pick a domain, you will want your first choice, but often that's already been bought by someone else. So you may have to settle like I did. Remember, I wanted lunch ladies.com and ended up with lunch ladies movie.com. Once you've got a domain you're happy with, it's time to build your website. There are many out there that allow you to use their pre made templates. But Wix had great reviews and was cheap. So I took a chance. Good call. I pretty much love it. The support is super helpful, and the site I created from their template looks legit. Pay for your hosting and off you go. If you're really strapped for cash, you can opt for Wix is free hosting. However, with the free service, they print Wix on the headers and flutters it looks super amateur. So I say cough up the cash and pay for the hosting. Of course, if you're already choking from the aftermath of your overinflated film budget, then okay, go for the freebie some site is better than no site. promotional items. The two things you want to have before your festival run are your postcards and business cards. If you're strapped for cash up for the postcards, eventually you will want both because they are useful for different reasons. postcards are super important because that's what you will use to promote your short at festivals. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but most audiences aren't going to seek your film out. I know it's awesome, but there's a lot of awesome films. Folks attend fests to support friends see certain genres or something specific, and your baby probably isn't even on their radar. You will get on the radar by having postcards displayed and handing them out. Most fests will have a table where filmmakers can put their cards and people do pick up cards from the table and see films that interest them. Many will see your movie just from you handing them a card and introducing yourself. I highly suggest printing postcards no bigger than three by five or four by six. I had a larger size. And though they were really cool looking. They were a huge pain. They didn't fit in my purse, they didn't fit in my pocket. And I'm sure people would pick them up and be annoyed at how flipping large they were and leave them in the bathroom after printing. Print your image on one side of the postcard and the back will have two columns. One column will be blank. This is where you will put your labels and or addresses if you end up mailing them to specific people. And I'm going to discuss this more in chapter seven. The other column will have your concise logline your website if you have one and your information on how to reach you. I know this is a major duh. But I have seen postcards with nothing but the name of the film and the logline. I envisioned some three piece suit picking it up and saying this film is genius. I must invest 5 million in the sequel. Who do I call? Forget it. I'll invest in that condo instead. Business cards are needed primarily for when you meet industry people. Sure, you can give them a postcard, but it shouldn't have your personal info on it. They send on festival tables for the world to see. And you don't want some stalker calling you on your cell phone. You do however want Guillermo del Toro calling you on your cell phone. So you will want a business card with personal information on it for Guillermo. Business cards are also great for night on the town when you don't want to carry bulky postcards are broadly promote your film. You will meet someone new, possibly someone hot trade cards and they will say oh wow, you made a movie. What's it about? Can I buy you another cocktail? Everyone you meet is a chance for promotion. And of course, a hot date. Have your cards professionally done. I know it's tempting to save money, but don't put them yourself on that dot matrix printer hooked up to your ancient Commodore VIC 20. Cheap cards just make you and your film look cheap. Plus, there's a certain pride in having a nice looking business card feels good passing them out and gives you a boost of confidence. It's perfectly fine to wait until you are in your first festival before printing anything.

But it's best to have the artwork ready to go because it will take time to get it right. This goes for posters as well, which you will want once you start the run. Printing is the least of it, you can do a rush if needed. But rushing artwork is always a bad idea. More promotional items that you can start thinking about include pins, pencils, stickers, and other types of swag. It's not necessary to have swag, but I do think it gives the film a push and pays for itself. In the end. I had some fun things when I started and added more during the run. Chapter Three spreadsheets for success. Get organized. Prevent screw ups.

I'm going to teach you to set up some super organized spreadsheets, which will maximize your money and chances that success on the circuit. It's not glamorous, but it will prevent screw ups. Disclaimer. If you are as Angel as me, then you have permission to skip ahead whenever it gets boring. But for the rest of you delinquents pay attention. The film festival grid First, open an Excel spreadsheet or scribble in a three ring spiral notebook. If you're a Luddite Excel will be easiest as you will want to sort columns. But if you don't have the program, that's okay too. Having any list will be a huge help. Title it film festival dates. Why do you need the spreadsheet? You need it so you can keep track of all the rules and dates to enter. Every film fest has a ton of rules and entry dates and they are all different. You will have to read all those boring rules and keep them straight. Because you don't want to waste money entering your film in a festival where it can't be accepted. They'll still take your money, they'll just disqualify you. With the film festival grid. You can easily track everything so no mistakes are made. Your early bird submission dates, that is the cheapest time to enter which festivals coincide, what length of film is accepted and more. You will also need to track which festivals need premieres. Some festivals not all require premieres and there are several types of premieres world premiere, national premiere, international premiere regional premiere and who knows what else. The first time your film plays, that's its world premiere that will also be either your national or international premiere, depending on where it plays. Then there are regional premieres, festivals that will only demand that you haven't screened in their city before premieres are a pain. Your first run will probably last a year and a half. If you are doing great, it can last longer, but my feeling is get out. Don't overstay your welcome. Go into distribution when your time is up and don't hang around like a 22 year old dude hanging around high school stocking hot freshmen. Of course, if some hot freshman wants to date you, for you to say no, so sure, the infests if they pursue you versus you pursuing them. That's not overstaying Your welcome. You're hot. What can you say? If you ascribe to this way of thinking, and if you don't, that's okay. You can be a creepy old dude stalking hot freshmen. Seriously, no judgments, insert sheets on your spreadsheet for two years, one for this year, one for next, because this year, you won't make the due dates to enter some festivals and will have to enter next year. To recap your pages on your spreadsheet are number one, this year number two, next year. If you're into overkill like me, add one more page called add a glance. This will be where you can easily see which festivals you got in and what you didn't hear you will add all festivals you enter in one column. And in the other two columns, you will pull from that list which festivals you got in and which you didn't only do this if you are nerdy like me, and like to know your percentage of success and failure or which festivals you have entered at a glance. Here's what your spreadsheet tab should look like. This year will be the festivals you will enter this year. Next year will be the festivals you will enter next year. Duh. Now it's time to organize both sheets exactly the same. Number one, title the first column film fests. Here you will list the name of the festival. what platform you submitted it on platforms will be discussed in chapter five. And when the festival notifies filmmakers of acceptance, this will help you in festivals are rude and don't have the courtesy to tell you your film wasn't accepted. If the due date has passed, and you never heard from them, you can be certain they want you to get lost. It's good to know and to get lost and stop dreaming you gotten there festival number two, title the second column International. This is where you make sure The festival takes international entries if it's outside your country, sometimes you will be so excited to enter your film and you forget to read the rules and you pay and then realize they don't take international films. They will never refund your money. Trust me. Basically, this is an idiot reminder to make sure you check. Number three, title the third column Oscar. Only a handful of festivals are Oscar qualify. If you win one, you can be in the running to get nominated. There are other ways to qualify but this is the simplest. This helps with decision making when or if you are low on cash. If you really want an Oscar, you can check that column to see which ones are Oscar qualifiers and can weigh their cost against the others that aren't. Number four, title the fourth column location. This is important because some film festivals require premieres as I mentioned earlier, and premieres are always based on location, so you need to keep track of what area of the world you submit to. For example, most festivals in Austin, Texas are notorious for requiring a premiere. If you decide you want to be an Austin Film Fest, wait to enter South by Southwest because if you get an Austin, you can't be in South by Southwest anyhow. And you'll know South by Southwest is an Austin because you put the location in your spreadsheet. Nothing is more aggravating than paying $50 to enter South by Southwest, getting an Austin then getting in South by Southwest and realizing you flushed $50 down the toilet because they won't let you screen because you already screened in Austin. We'll talk about premieres more in chapter four. Number five, titled The fifth column website. You want the festivals website here so you can click it up easily. It will save you time in the long run as you will want to check their website many times if you get in or see who was accepted if you don't get in number six. The next six columns six through 11 will be the entry dates and fees of the festivals. Titled The columns respectably Early Bird, Early Bird fee, regular regular fee. Final, final fee. This will help you strategize your money. You can obviously sort your spreadsheet many different ways depending on what you need. One way you will sort it is by early bird entry dates. These are the dates you want to enter by and will keep you on your toes to never miss a deadline. The reason you list the fees, even though admittedly it's time consuming to do this is so you can easily keep track of the money you are spending. And you can weigh whether you want to wait to enter at a later date if you don't have the cash at the moment. Sometimes early bird entry fees are not that much cheaper than regular fees. Sometimes they are similar. Sometimes they are drastically different. If you know the consequences of not entering a festival by a certain time, you will be much more likely to make better decisions with your money. Then, once a week like clockwork, sort your spreadsheet by early bird entry date and submit to the ones that are due, you will never miss an early bird entry that way. Number seven, title the 12 column festival begin. This is important so you know which festivals coincide in case you get into that run at the same time. This happens a lot. You can check the dates so you can wisely choose which festival you will attend. That way, you won't annoy the programmer by gushing that you are going then backing out when you realize there's another fest you'd prefer. Number eight, titled The 13 column festival and it's good to know the length of the festival. As mentioned, sometimes you get in festivals that coincide. But sometimes one lasts three days while the other is 12. So you can actually go to both. Why don't you put the festival beginning and ending all in one column such as April 15 through 19th, like I did the first time because then you can't sort the column separately, which you may need to learn from my screw ups. Number nine title the 14 column length. This is how long the film can be for acceptance into the festival. If your short is 15 minutes, and the festival only takes films up to 10 You cannot enter but they still will take your money and disqualify you see a pattern once again. If they get your money, it's theirs forever. If you find out the festival is not a fit. I suggest still keeping it on your spreadsheet and graying it out. You will enter so many festivals you will forget which ones you researched and you will waste time unless it's on your spreadsheet. Hmm, I almost forgot blah blah fast. Why didn't I enter blah blah fest? Blah blah fest is awesome. Let me look up the rules. Oh, that's right. I tried to enter bla bla fest two months ago, but it only takes films that are bla bla. And I wish I had remembered now I just wasted 10 minutes researching bla bla fest a second time. So everything you research, keep it in your spreadsheet. Number 10 title, the 15th column premiere status, do they require a premier, you may even want to consider having a separate spreadsheet for premiers to keep things in line. Because this can get confusing fast. Number 11 titled The 16 column notes, this is for anything else like hey, this festival pays for hotel if I'm accepted, or hey, this festival doesn't give awards, forget it, I need awards. Or this one needs English subtitles to submit or they only take films made in the last 18 months. Have you are a good little rule follower. Your spreadsheet will look fantastic. Excellent job, you'll have your film festival Grid Setup. But wait, you aren't done. You also need to make one more spreadsheet, the viewing grid. This is where you will list every single person outside festivals that you send the film, it will come in handy time and again. Put anyone you sent your short to here. industry people social media folks you've met reviewers press their handles their emails, the dates, you've sent them your film, where they're from notes on who they are created. Now, you will need it when you want to ask people to vote for the film if it's up for an award, or to spread the word when you get distribution. You now have a cultivated list of people to ask for help complete with emails. You will also need it if you can't remember who someone is down the line and they are gushing to you. You can look on your viewing grid and know who they are. Lastly, you will need it when you make the feature as there will be so many who will tell you during the run that they want to be part of it when it happens, you may not be able to hire them. Oftentimes we don't have a say when a film gets produced, but you will have their names and how to reach them. If you do have a say the viewing grid is incredibly useful. Now that you've made these really boring spreadsheets that are super useful. Let's enter some festivals. Wait, what's that you say? You don't have a clue which festivals to enter. Except for? Please no. Please don't say it. I said don't say it. Don't say Sundance, Sundance. I mean, okay, whatever, Sundance fine, enter Sundance Sundance, but listen, Sundance, quit saying Sundance. There's a whole world of incredible terrific festivals out there that aren't Sundance that are just waiting for your film. So let's talk about some of those in the next chapter.

Alex Ferrari 42:59
I really hope you guys liked that free preview. Now if you want to pick up the book, all you got to do is head over to indiefilmhustle.com/shortfilmbook and they'll take you straight to Audible that's indiefilmhustle.com/shortfilmbook. But if you don't have an Audible account, and you want to sign up for one, you can get this book for free. All you got to do is go to freefilmbook.com Sign up for a free account on Audible and you get one free audiobook which of course you can make it this book and download it for free there, listen to it, and enjoy the book. So that's your little free hack. Go to freefilmbook.com If you want to sign up for a free account on Audible and get this book for free. Or you could just buy it if you already have an account and just want to buy this book head over to indiefilmhustle.com/shortfilmbook. I hope you enjoyed this guy's as always keep that hustle going. keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there, and I'll talk to you soon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 4:49
Okay, fair enough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 14:16
Right, exactly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 24:37
Wants a book

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 30:23
I love that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 36:10
Im still fighting baby.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 41:49
Absolutely. Absolutely.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 50:18
Thank God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miranda Bailey 54:28
Um, don't

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

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

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

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

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

Miranda Bailey 55:40
This more than once

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Why Every Screenplay Submission Is a Business Proposition

Okay so, I like to use cheeseburgers as metaphors a lot so stick with me on this and try not to get peckish. Let’s say you own a portfolio of fast-food restaurants in a major city. You’re doing well for yourself have managed to open a new one every couple of years and you’ve got a few bases covered. You’ve got a taco place, a burger joint, a pizza parlor, and even a sushi bar.

What ties all these places together is each was started with less than a million dollars in investment and they all turned a profit within eighteen months of opening. You may not exactly be Ray Croc, Colonel Sanders, or even Guy Fieri but you’ve got a reputation for delivering and a little empire to call your own.

You get an email one day from an excited individual who has a new restaurant idea they want you to look at. The subject line reads “Johnny Rockets meets Madam Tussauds” and promises a concept that will blow your socks off. You set up a meeting and in walks a bright-eyed individual almost tripping over themselves to tell you why you should build this restaurant and pay them a hefty consultancy fee for their time conceptualizing it.

They ask you to picture a classic 50’s diner serving classic American food but, as the king of flavor town would say “here’s the “kicker”, it fills half the ground floor of the biggest hotel in town and is packed with period nostalgia from waxworks of James Dean and similar era rebels to a full collection of mint condition hot rods and collectible items from the legends of rock and roll. It’s grand, really grand, and they’ve even carefully put together a playlist of hits to listen to while they paint this picture.

It’s a hell of an idea and it’s hard not to get pulled in, after all, you spent your formative years dragging your Plymouth Duster down Main Street pretending you were in American Graffiti and would love to turn the clock back. You ask about food since you know that’s the real reason people will be there.

They boast that this joint will serve the biggest portions people have ever seen yet make McDonald’s look expensive. Looking at the menu, you see how they plan to make that happen by cutting the number of items down to just cheeseburgers, fries, and vanilla milkshakes. “In-n-Out Burger can get away with it!” they joke as if that’s a satisfying explanation.

You raise the point that the majority of fast-food consumers in the city are students in the 15–25 year old demographic and many of those are vegan, so what about meat-free burgers, dairy-free milkshakes, and fries not doused in beef dripping? They scoff at the thought and grumble about the younger people’s “attitude”.

On that topic, you question the appeal of a mid-century themed restaurant to the iPhone generation as a whole, especially when the proposed location would be a twenty-minute trek across town from the local university. Maybe something more contemporary would be a better pull such as a selfie area with waxworks of the Kardasians, some Japanese style tuner cars, and collectibles related to gaming culture.

“Sure” they reply now somewhat despondent “but I wouldn’t eat there”.

You shake hands, wrap the meeting up, and run the numbers. It’s way out of your usual investment range. You’re not even sure if your regular investors have that kind of money. You look at the recipes for the proposed menu and see that the burgers are made cost-effective by being bulked out with rusk to the point they taste like cardboard.

The car collection, which you’ve been told is a dealbreaker, demands a genuine Shelby GT500, and the rock and roll nostalgia is heavily focused on Elvis, going into excruciating detail as to what would be on show while brushing over the topics such as the kitchen facilities and seating layout.

As for a marketing plan, there is no marketing plan, unless you count the line of text claiming word of mouth will make it go viral until the food critics fall in love with the place. It becomes increasingly obvious that they have no experience in the restaurant business and little to no education in it either. Their knowledge seems entirely gained by occasionally going out to eat. To conclude, their proposal is for nasty food in an expensive setting which is out of touch with today’s consumer and disregards the day-to-day realities of keeping a restaurant running.

You email them with an explanation as to why you’re passing and won’t be giving them a six-figure cheque.

“Maybe if it was smaller and more of a gourmet experience”,

you suggest not wanting to close the door forever but you never get a reply. The only time you hear of the concept again is at the next chamber of commerce meeting, where three other restaurant owners and a car dealer reveal they’ve been presented with the same pitch. It turns out the eager amateur emailed everyone in the chamber’s directory and are still out there trying to make their dream come true with the added bitterness they now believe Planet Hollywood stole their idea.


It sounds ridiculous but that’s how to script submissions can feel when they’re read through by a producer. Not only are they completely outside the industry member’s scope in terms of budget, but they are also a poor execution of a tired concept that ignores the current climate of the marketplace. They are not a viable proposition when it comes to doing business and, like it or not, businesses generally want to make a profit.

That’s a hard truth I had to accept in the build-up to Christmas this past winter. It was one of the darkest nights of my screenwriting life. My screenplay “For Your Dreams”, a Thelma & Louise meets True Romance type affair, was on the verge of selling. I couldn’t have been more excited. Then, at the eleventh hour, I got the call.

The producer had consulted their brain trust and the drug mule element of the screenplay was a big problem on top of the issue of it being a dirt movie, to begin with. The investor rightfully needed a home run, not something too edgy. Knowing that softening the script would be like taking the eggs out of the omelet, I pulled the sale and lay awake all night in a fit of despair. Don’t feel too bad for me though. I got an assignment out of it and turned in something a little similar with far more mainstream appeal. Silver linings and all that jazz.

However, as a fan of writing low-budget pulpy material, I did have to come to terms with the fact my entire spec portfolio, which I’ve been putting together over the past eight years, may have little commercial value because of its nature. That stings. I’ve got directors who tell me they would cut off vital parts of their anatomy to shoot scenes I’ve written but feel their sales agent would spit in their eye if they handed over a film that feels like a cult video classic from the early nineties.

“Write what you want to see,”

they tell you but my trusty Grindhouse messenger bag and binge sessions on Tubi give away just what kind of movies I like to watch, ones that rarely make any money in this day and age and appeal to forty-year-old men who rarely leave their home.

But it does highlight something important and, that experience combined with helping co-produce feature films has radically changed my view and my approach to marketing screenplays. We need to respect the demands of the marketplace and the needs of the industry members we approach. As someone who spent twenty years of his life in marketing, it’s almost funny it took me so long to realize this, but then plumber’s taps always leak, right?

Talking of marketing, there’s this model developed by PR Smith in the nineties known as SOSTAC, an acronym to help remember six essential parts of the marketing process; Situation, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Actions, and Control.

What makes it powerful is it’s something that’s constantly looping and thus organic in nature. The world is always changing and not only to do with a need to be constantly reassessing our situation, but we also need to be adjusting our course as we move forward. This is how we need to think as screenwriters dreaming of selling specs.

So, why do so many of us present the people who can potentially change our lives with a proposition which is so unsuitable and unworkable and, given that all the craft skills in the world aren’t going to fix the problem, what can we do about it?

Well, business is a topic that rarely comes up in any detail within screenwriting communities. Hell even networking, which is pretty much essential to success, barely gets discussed in any depth. We keep ourselves in the dark because these conversations are scary and, compounding the issue further, very few people can talk about them with experience.

As a result, we resort to a scattergun approach of simply hoping to get read by anyone and homogenize producers and executives in the process. It’s a methodology only once removed from spamming and part of the reason why so many products keep their doors closed to those without representation.

What we can do is to try and think like producers, as ugly as that may sound. Don’t worry though, you don’t need to snort back mountains of cocaine, scream into a mobile phone, or buy a Porsche (sorry, still thinking about True Romance) to get into that mindset. Here are some questions a producer is going to be asking themselves when they read your submission;

Can I actually make this?

Is it even logistically feasible for me to try and turn these words into reality? Sure, we can make changes if we buy the screenplay but has this writer penned something so far away from what I usually make that it would be a leap too far.

Does the screenplay rely heavily on huge action scenes, elaborate effects, or props and locations I’d be terrified of damaging?

Would I need to build sets because they get destroyed in scenes? Does the screenplay expect actors to do things I could never afford insurance for?

How big is the market for this?

Does this target everyone within a niche or try to appeal to the mainstream?

Is it within a genre I know does poorly (looking at you, drama) or a crossover genre that does even more poorly (rolling my eyes at you, western-horror)?

What’s the global appeal like?

Does this screenplay contain content that kills off valuable regions in terms of potential sales?

Is there too much swearing and violence for TV broadcast?

Is the age group it would appeal to a demographic I know how to get in front of?

Will the script attract talent?

Is the prose so compelling people can’t put the screenplay down?

Is there a main character so well developed that known talent is going to want to play them?

What about the antagonist?

What about the supporting roles?

Are there minor characters with a big presence that would suit valuable day players?

Do the scenes give actors something to challenge themselves with and dialogue they will want to be known for saying?

Is that director or cinematographer I always wanted to work with going to jump at the chance to join the project?

How will it gain an audience?

Is the concept something that’s easy to communicate and highly appealing?

Is this something I’d have to run through the festivals in the hope of soliciting critical acclaim?

Is the story so good and the journey so entertaining that people will tell their friends after they’ve seen it?

Is it so radical it will generate cult appeal over time?

Is it an adaption or remake of a property where a pre-existing audience can be leveraged? Does the screenplay contain content that is profound because it’s particularly timely?

Will it make any money?

Given all of the above, what’s the budget and the total potential market value?

Is this a $10m minimum budget production for something likely to only sell for $10k on a streaming platform?

Can it be easily rewritten to change those numbers? Even if the market value outweighs the investment, is it within the remit of my usual financing sources?

Would a PR firm need to be employed to help validate the film on the artistic side of the market? Is there potential there to build a franchise in the future?

What would be the competition?


The break-in screenwriting scene often makes everything about formatting and rules but this pales into insignificance against craft and business acumen. Far more scripts are being rejected by people who can get movies made because they simply don’t see a route to profit than being rejected for adverbs and bold slug-lines. Do we need the experience of Kevin Feige or Kathleen Kennedy to move forward? Absolutely not.

We just need to step outside of our bubble, understand the world of commercial filmmaking a little more, and apply more consideration to who we are approaching with our blueprints.

Hopefully, I’ve made a convincing enough argument that we should keep this all in mind as spec writers and adjust our strategies as best as we see fit. It might be that we actually want to double-down on our niche but with a reduced potential budget while making sure we approach the right producers with something we know they can make.

It might be that we want to take our smaller feeling concepts and make them feel much bigger and more mainstream to maximize the global appeal and put them within the realm of the big studios and top-level producers.

It may be that we want to focus on excellent craft and artistic values knowing that for-profit products outside of the art funding world will most likely be a dead end. Or, it might be a combination of the above with different screenplays tackling different potential opportunities.

Long story short, think about every cheeseburger you ever ate, how much they differed in terms of flavor intensity, nutrition, cost, speed of production, quality of ingredients, and creativeness and how those differences, good or bad, aligned them to your needs as a customer at the time.

That’s what really matters. Not creating in a vacuum, hitting everyone with a scattergun, and hoping for the best but instead identifying what people need and delivering a solution they should find irresistible.

Written by CJ Walley – Screenwriter & Founder of Script Revolution

BPS 183: How to Get Your Project on Netflix with RB Botto

Today on the show we have returning champion RB Botto.

For many, the holy grail of television has become Netflix. It’s a titan in the industry, and with over 200 million subscribers worldwide, no one can put out content quite like them. Just look at the recent hit show BRIDGERTON, which has already been seen by a massive 80 million households (!!) since its release. If you’re a writer or creator, getting your series onto Netflix’s platform can spell success in a big way. But first there’s the matter of getting your series in front of them and pitching it effectively.

It should be a comfort to know that you’re not the only one who wants your series on Netflix. Netflix wants that too! Netflix execs are constantly on the lookout for exciting new voices and new series to fill their slate. Yet it takes more than just a good series or a good pilot script to get on Netflix’s radar; you need to be able to communicate it well and pitch it in a way that will get their team excited. This certainly takes some work, but it’s absolutely achievable. If you’re interested in getting your show on Netflix, it’s time to learn directly from the source what it will take to make that happen.

In an effort to reach more writers and find more content, Netflix has joined forces with Stage 32 to present a FREE and invaluable workshop on what it is that they’re looking for in new shows and how you can best pitch your series to their executives. In Stage 32’s continued effort to help level the playing field for content creators worldwide, we felt it’s important that we help you get tools you need to be able to make sure that you can pitch effectively.

Kicking off the workshop will be Stage 32 CEO, Richard “RB” Botto (@rbwalksintoabar), and hosting this presentation will be Stage 32’s Managing Director Amanda Toney with Netflix’s Director of Creative Talent Investment and Development for International Originals Christopher Mack. Christopher was previously Senior Vice President of Scripted Content for Stage 13, overseeing all of the brand’s original scripted series and development slates across multiple genres, including Emmy nominated Netflix series’ SPECIAL and IT’S BRUNO. Before Stage 13, Chris headed the Warner Bros. Workshop, the writing and directing program for professionals looking to start and/or further their careers in television. Over a period of 10 years in this role, Chris curated a roster of close to 100 writers and 50 directors representing the breakthrough emerging voices working on high-profile television shows today. In addition to these responsibilities, Chris has covered hit shows such as TWO AND A HALF MEN and SMALLVILLE for the Current Programs department.

Prior to joining Warner Bros., Chris spent seven years writing on various one-hour dramas including ER, THE PRACTICE and THE NEW TWILIGHT ZONE. After graduating from Loyola Law School, Chris got his start in television at NBC Studios as an associate and he quickly rose to becoming an executive. During his time at the newly created NBC Studios, he oversaw a varied list of shows including: THE FRESH PRINCE OF BEL AIR and IN THE HOUSE, among others.

In this exclusive Stage 32 workshop, Christopher will delve into what exactly makes a television pitch work at Netflix.He’ll discuss the essentials you’ll need to catch Netflix’s eye and will zero in on how to write an effective pitch document.He’ll pose questions you be able to answer and communicate for your series and give you ideas on how best to communicate your show’s overview, world, tone, and characters. Christopher will then discuss how season summaries should be built and give you ideas on how to think about and present potential episodes. Finally, you will have the invaluable opportunity to ask Christopher your own questions. You will leave this presentation with the understanding of how to structure and present your series, not in theory, but directly from the source.

Enjoy my epic conversation with RB Botto.

Right-click here to download the MP3



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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome back to the show, I can't get rid of him. He's it'll be share roaches, and dirty penny back on the show, RB Botto from state 32. My friend how are you?

RB Botto 0:24
I am doing well. Sir. How are you doing? Well, you know, it's a good place to start. How are you doing? Because the last time you know, regular listeners know that I've been on this show many many times. And I'm very thrilled to be here. I feel like you know, like Cato on the couch sometimes. But it's, you know, always great to be here. But the last time I was on the show, you were in a room that I could only describe as minimalist modern meets witness protection program, and you will going on and on about how all art is meaningless and that everybody is exposable and that and disposable.

Alex Ferrari 0:47
We're all gonna die. We're all gonna die. It doesn't matter.

RB Botto 1:07
And that yeah, we're all gonna die and it's going to be all meaningless anyway, so I'm hoping you know, my hope today is that you're in a better place. It seems like a brighter room. Seems like you've decorated a few things. So how are you doing? I think we should start with that.

Alex Ferrari 1:20
I am. I am doing I thank you for your concern, sir. I do appreciate it. I I am doing better. Because you know, it was it was a darker place when I spoke to you last, no doubt because we were in transition. So that dark witness relocation room. Minimalist relocation with a one chair in the back was the rental that I was in while we were looking for a home here in Austin where I just moved to so um, it was a tough year, let's just say was a tough year 2021 was a tough year. A lot of transition a lot of moving I don't know if you've moved recently, cross country with two children and a cat. Not not easy selling one house.

RB Botto 2:03
It is one of my 2022 goals.

Alex Ferrari 2:06
I'm sure it is. But anyway, it was very it was it was it was I wasn't, I was I was not in the best place, let's say but it wasn't in a bad place. It just wasn't in the best place was a rough time. But I'm doing much better. Now. As you can see, I have a you know, my set that I put together and we you know, we're settled in now and loving, loving life here in Austin man. It's, it's, it's great. And I'm happy I made the move to Austin. It's it is obviously where all the cool kids are moving to. So it's it's a nice place to be. And you know, and no state tax helps.

RB Botto 2:42
I know you're trying to get me to get down there and everything like that. And, you know, like I said, it's one of my 2022 goals. I have to have two kids and get a cat. That's the first part of the goal. So maybe we'll be shooting I mean, a few more years. But you know, maybe there's a time where I'll be a neighbor or something.

Alex Ferrari 2:57
There would be nothing better in in my life if I could see you have a child. Ohh My God, have you change a diaper?

RB Botto 3:08

Alex Ferrari 3:08
Oh my god,

RB Botto 3:10
I have nephews, I mean, don't say it like that.

Alex Ferrari 3:13
No, no. Don't be throw that niece. That's only one step above. Like, I've got a dog. It's the same thing. But um, you know, everybody's listening, you know, RB comes on the show, periodically about, you know, to talk about the business and talk about what's going on and, and he's definitely got his ear to the grindstone about what is happening right now in the business. And, you know, he reached out to like, Hey, I think I think we got some cool stuff to talk about. I'd love to come back on the show and kind of like give, you know, give, give the listeners a little bit of insight of what I'm hearing. Because our business is changing man like God every 15 minutes, it seems like what we talked about an episode 500 Besides the all artists meaningless, everything that's ever it's evergreen. But the business from that point on, which was only like probably four, four or five months ago, is changed dramatically. And it's changing so dramatically that it's hard for people like us to keep up with it. And we're like in we're in as they say in the shit. You know, we're in We're back. We're in the we're in the trenches every day seeing what's going on. And it's hard for us to keep up, let alone someone who's outside of the business trying to break in and it's kind of like you're aiming like, Okay, I'm going to aim for this, this little hole that I see. I'm like, Oh, the hole moved that way. It's like you're playing golf and every time you hit the damn golf ball, the pole moves and it's exactly does exactly what's happening as opposed to as Wayne Gretzky says, You have to think where the pucks going, not where it has been.

RB Botto 4:55
Yeah, well, you know, there's nothing I enjoy more with them when you wade into the waters sports metaphors just you know, it pumps me up it really

Alex Ferrari 5:07
I was I was a triple threat as a kid so I don't know what you're talking about I was a triple threat I almost I almost played baseball, almost play basketball almost play football. So that's

RB Botto 5:18
2022 goes to maybe you could actually go do it.

Alex Ferrari 5:21
Not with this body. Not now things things creek a little bit more than they use too

RB Botto 5:29
But yeah, I'm picking up on your vibe about everything. I mean, you you know, obviously you running everything that you run, not just the show, but your entire empire. You know, you're talking to people in the business all day long, and you're hearing what's going on? And you know, it's it's been, I think it's a fascinating time right now. And, you know, one of the reasons why I reached out to you is, you know, first of all, if people aren't familiar with me, you know, if they haven't met me before, heard me before, I am the CEO stage 32. Real quick, I'll give you the tagline that our world's largest platform for connecting and educating film, television and digital content creators and professionals. We act as a marketplace between content, producer and content, you know, the content creator and content maker. And we have the world's largest library of education anywhere with over 2000 hours of education for anything that you're doing craft to professionalize and the business. The big thing that we announced recently, was a partnership with Netflix, where Netflix is paying us to educate the world on how to produce content, create, develop produce content, for Netflix. And the reason why Netflix is doing this is you know, they have a 17 billion by order basically for 2022. And it's probably going to go higher, Disney plus is committing 33 billion, and that's probably going to go higher. And the question becomes, how can you create all this content at scale? First of all, I'd like to say to that anyone who's listening to this, I coined the phrase and 2020 2020 21, even during the pandemic, and I've extended it to 2022. And beyond, this is the great content gold rush right now, if you believe that you're not paying attention, Netflix certainly believes that Disney plus believes that Peacock, they all believe it. Right? HBO believes it. So Netflix is basically, you know, for Netflix to be able to produce $17 billion in original content for 2022. And they're expected to extend that by in 2023 and 2024. Year over year, how can they go and train the world? On how to do it? And how can they shorten their path to finding quality content. And that's why they apply it us to serve as that education arm and to partner with us to be that education on because if they had to do this on their own, they'd have to hire you know, hundreds of new people, train them, get them on planes to go around the world to find people that they can train to produce all this stuff, then you go through development, making sure the content is right. So basically, what they're doing is they're hiring us to act as their training arm to help find creative voices all over the world, producers all over the world, to create content for Netflix and their main goal in a lot of ways, you know, Netflix right now, keep in mind that they're a publicly traded company, and they have shareholders to, you know, to answer to, they have basically saturated the American market, the only way they're going to get another subscription out of the American market is to get some get one, you'll get people that have cut the cord, the new cord cutters, or to get people who had Netflix before cancelled and coming back again. So what they want to do is, and you're seeing it already is they they can add members all over the world, in foreign countries, right? And in foreign areas where they're not saturated. So what they want to do is create local language content that plays well in America. So you think about squid game, the pin, Narcos, sidebar, things like that. And what basically said, where do you find that content? How do you go to South America and find that content? How do you go to South Africa and find that content? How do you do that? And that's what they've kind of hired. That's what they've hired us to do. And by virtue of that, since this was announced in the trades, and the business trades over the last few weeks, we've just been getting hit up with every studio, every production company, every management firm, every agency coming to us saying we want in how do we get to your best content, you know, they wanted to first looks at it.

Alex Ferrari 9:29
So it's interesting because you know, it filmmakers and screenwriters listening, they're all like, well, you know, I'm, I can provide, I can provide content, I can provide value I can provide like, why can't I get in? And a lot of times, they don't understand that there's right now. There's so much need for content and there's so much money. There's no other time in the history of our industry. Has there been so much money thrown around, not even in the 90s and the early 2000s when everybody was making a lot of money There's so much money being thrown around right now. I don't know if it's a bubble, I don't know if it's gonna pop eventually, who who knows there's only so much of this, you could only spend $33 billion a year and not make $33 million a years for so many years before you eventually crash, so something might happen. But there's also we're running into the place of like, we're running out of people to create this content like, like skilled, labored people from from writers to grips to electric, like there's never been more of a need for support, and for positions in our business, not only in America, but definitely overseas and everywhere else around the world. But the problem is where a lot of you know, filmmakers listening right now they're like, Well, why don't they give me a shot? I'm like, because you haven't been vetted. And they're not gonna throw a billion to a million dollars on you just because you have an idea. That is a funny SNL skit that they did, where like, do you see that skit where they just walk? Guys just walking down? Like you, you what do you what I have the show, think about bread, good million dollars, go, you know, and they just start handing out shows left and right, because it seemed like that's what they were doing. But there needs to be some sort of way to vet people to come in. And that's where you guys come in. And that's where Netflix is trying to do is trying to build an infrastructure where they can educate people around the world to build this content, and then also vet creatives who come in, because if not, it's it's you can't you can't run a business like that.

RB Botto 11:31
Yeah, well, you're 1,000% Right. And this is exact, everything you said is spot on. And that's exactly why Netflix has come to us to train but they have but the conversations have gone beyond that to say how do we create that pipeline because it's not enough to train people. You got to get this content in you got to get it in fast, right? But you don't have the time to vet through and to sift through the shit that you know, inevitably in an invariant and variably production companies streamers managers agents get on their desk every day. So basically what they're coming to us and saying okay, you guys go to the marketplace anyway, you content that comes through you on the premium side gets vetted by executives in the business if it gets spit out the other side. With recommendations on it. We want to see that content if it falls into this genre at this budget, so they're able to come to us and that's why I was saying about the stage 32 writers room. By the way, this is just a giveaway for your for your for your listeners if you want a free month the state's 32 writers if you're a screenwriter, producer, filmmaker, whatever just write Jason merch is His email is Jay dot merch M IRC H at stage 30 two.com Tell him that you heard this on indie film hustle. And that will give you you know that I said free month for you guys, anyone who's listening. But what what we've been able to do in the writers room. And if you're not familiar with the writers room, it's basically a REIT, an Online Writing Community is 1000s of writers. We do education every week, we bring an executive from all over the world every week. But one of the biggest things we've been able to add since we announced the Netflix thing is open writing assignments. So what's happening is all these studios production companies are coming to us streamers are coming to us saying this is the content we need. We need female driven romantic Baba by half hour show half hour comedies, who do you have, and we're able to connect that content creator that's been vetted to that to that production company or studio, whatever. But with the ows, what they're coming is they're saying we need somebody to write this project. And then people that are in the writers room can submit their material to that production company into that studio. And that that has already been vetted through us. And they're able to be put up for these writing assignments. So we've been doing this for a couple of months. Right now, we've already had 20 writers that have moved on to the next level as far as within that particular company to write these projects. So that's exciting, because you know that during the 90s, and you know, maybe 80s 90s, open writing assignments were very common, then they kind of went away. Now they're coming back in a big way. Because again, how can you fill this content by this content spend? If you don't go out there and say, Look, you know, we have Emily in Paris, we need three more of these. Okay, where are the writers to do it? Right? Okay. So they come to us and they say, Okay, we're looking for it in the vein of Emily in Paris. We give them the scripts, they hire the writers. So again, if you want a free month, at that

Alex Ferrari 14:28
So you're basically tell me that Taylor Sheridan is not able to read everything, is what you're saying.

RB Botto 14:33
By the way, you want a great article on this. I don't know if you've seen it yet. Oh, yeah. Have you read it?

Alex Ferrari 14:40
No. Go ahead.

RB Botto 14:42
Let me just tell you this. There is a site called you should write this down because I know you'll love it. It's called puck.news. Okay. It's an article called The Triumph and the tragedy of Yellowstone and it speaks all about how this whole tale of Sheridan and thing went down. And I think writers and everybody, any creative that's listening to the show will be fascinated by the fact of the hoops that everybody had to jump through just to make this show happen, even with all the attachments. So here's what I would say to this audience, because I know the first thing that everybody is thinking right now, and there's no question and you're going to get 6000 emails, I'm going to get 6000 emails. So let's nip this in the bud right away, is I have a great project for Netflix, how do I get in there? How do I pitch them? How do I do this? Alright, so let's get this out of the way. First, the first webcast that we did in our partnership with Netflix was taught by Chris Mack Chris Mack is a 20 year development executive in the business. He was a writer, he started in writers rooms, he moved on to become an executive, he heads up, he's one of the main development executives at Netflix, he came in and taught a three hour workshop on what you need to do basically get to Netflix, okay? He said on that show on that workshop, quite clearly and upfront. Look, you can't call up Netflix and go, I got a great script, it's not going to happen. Doesn't work. That way, it doesn't work that way. We only have so many bodies, we can only listen to so many pitches a day. And oh, by the way, those pitches are being listened to those of Fincher and Spielberg. And those are the people you know, and the top agents of CAA and web and yada, yada, okay. But here's how you can do it. Get a manager or an agent that could walk in, attach an actor that has a first look, deal with Netflix, attach a director as a first deal, Netflix, go to producers who have deals with Netflix, attach a show or honor, that means something to Netflix, okay, these are all ways that you can control what you can control to get there. Now, let me put this in perspective, I don't want to, I don't want monopolize, I'm just saying one put this in perspective to put a button on this. That Chris Mack workshop has been viewed by 140,000 people. Now I want you to think about that. That means there are 140,000 people that have logged into state state two.com registered for that it's free. By the way, it's a free web, you could still watch it. If you go on to education stay stay to type in Chris Mack, when Netflix you can watch it. Or you can see all that if you type Netflix, and you can see all of them right there all 340,000 people now think about this, that's 140,000 people that we reached, there's a whole world out there you could x multiply that by people that we haven't reached yet that haven't seen this, but that means there's at least 140,000 people that you're in competition with, to get your show a movie on Netflix. So my question back to you is how do you get to Netflix? My question, the answer that question is a question to you. What are you prepared to do to get it to Netflix? How much are you willing to control because if you don't go out there and connect to you know, get a manager or an agent that has a deal that can get in and walk it in, or get a producer or get an actor or get a director that has a deal or a pipeline in to any of these streamers by the way, you're not going to walk it right in. So that's what you need to be looking for. So I know all of you just banged out emails, and we're seeing, you know, copying Alex and me and everything yet, click, delete that draft and go, go watch the workshop. It is master class. Chris did an amazing, amazing job.

Alex Ferrari 18:14
It is it is fascinating because God, there's so much there's so much need for content. And there's so many people wanting to jump in. But you're right, what are you willing to do to get there? And you know, I've been I've had the pleasure now of being another what episode Am I on 540 30 20 something. And I've talked to so many people in the business. And within the last year, I've been had the pleasure of talking to Oscar winners and Emmy winners and all the you know, this insane, insane people that I've had on the show and been humbled to have on the show. And one thing I've always I always find out, which is really interesting is it's not always about talent, though talent is important. It's not always about experience, but experience is important. What the main criteria of making it in our business is is resilience. That's it, that's the number one thing, because there's people and you know this for a fact there's people who shouldn't be writing in Hollywood today that shouldn't be directing in Hollywood today. But they were more resilient than anybody else and they were willing to take the hits and kept moving forward. As Mr. Rocky Balboa always said,

RB Botto 19:22
Say that was very that was really that was bullish. Yeah, that was yes. I couldn't agree with you more 1,000%. I will say there's a one a two that that is more important, or it was always important. But it literally is more important at this moment in time than any other is you have to understand how the business operates. Absolutely. I'll give you an example. We just talked about the idea of attaching one or attaching this whatever. People have heard me say it probably on your show that we are out with a pilot that I wrote, okay, we attached David Weddell, who is the showrunner for for mankind on Apple TV. He was number two on Battlestar Galactica. Then number two on the strain. He has been around for 30 years, he just be loved in the industry. Okay, we've pitched it, and we've had some success. But a lot of people, even with David on board have said, Okay, well, what else? Like what do you have? Do you have any actors interested? Do you have any, you know, that, again, it's sort of an we don't take that we don't. We're not, you know, beaten down by that or offended by that we're sitting there going, okay, the competition has gotten so great. And you have all these actors that have deals now. And these directors that have deals now, and these actors, and these directors have relationships with other actors and other directors and other showrunners. So they are coming in with even bigger and bigger packages, right? More more elite, right? So it's like, okay, how do we make ourselves better? So literally, last night, the brain trust of this show the producers, David, myself, a manager, friend of mine, who's helping push this thing around, we sat down and we discussed strategy of do we go directly to the dealmakers do we hire another producer? That means something to these particular pods, these people who have pods? Do we go to actors who have pods at the at the you know, and this was, so this was a business conversation amongst the creatives, but we understand what we need to do, and how the business works, that we're not just saying, like, well, let's just bomb everybody, or let's just hit up, like, who makes this type of show, at this price, who has a production deal, who's an actor that we think we could attach, that means something, and that becomes a business strategy. So totally agree with you on resilience, but you really, really need to understand how the business operates. And that's why if you're blind emailing people going I got a show from Netflix, you're, I'm saying you're basically proving to people that you don't understand how the business suffers. If you're spending 17 hours on screenwriting, Twitter arguing about whether names should be capitalized in a screenplay, and executives go who book and see that that's what you're arguing about, they're going to go one year difficult to you're going to be difficult to work with three, you don't understand how the business operates. So you got to be aware of your brand. And you got to be aware of how everything works.

Alex Ferrari 22:08
But so it's it's so funny now because and I want people listening to understand this. It's gone from the 90s. From you know, if you watch the movie, the player, which is, which is a classic, Robert Altman film about the business, that first 10 minutes shot in them film, it went from what those guys would those screenwriters were doing, which is pitches, and people and in studios buying pitches to then produce and attach and package and get a movie made to the point where we are today where you need to have a full package ready to go. And that gives you a fighting chance, it doesn't guarantee it gives you a fighting chance to get through the door. Because like you just said in your example, you've got this very well known a beloved show runner. And that's not enough. That's like, that's great. You've got a good foundation, but we need dressing. We need actors, we need directors, we know who else because there's so much competition now for these places that if you don't package something together, you don't get involved in this kind of pod like you were talking about. The chances of you getting it. I mean, when Spielberg and Fincher are having problems, getting stuff done, what chances do you think the newcomer has? So that's the world we live in? Whether you like to hear it or not. It's the it's unfortunately, the where we're at.

RB Botto 23:31
Yeah, but I would say at the same time, a lot of and it's a good, it's actually a good kind of convergence of the conversation. Like, you know, I said that, they asked us what else, but sometimes it's not what else we also get, this isn't a fit for what we do, of course, or we know we're where we usually don't get that because we target people that are doing this kind of thing. But we'll get some clients as we shifting gears, or sometimes we'll get we love the concept, but it's a little every tickets gonna be a little expensive. That's all fine and good, too. But again, how do you react off of that? And what do you do about it? And sometimes, you know, the finches in the Spielberg's aren't getting a deal, simply because it's too expensive, expensive. It doesn't make sense. It's not mainstream enough, or whatever. And then sometimes you get first time show first time writers. And it happens all the time that you get deals, but they get the deals because they bought some something more than the script, right? So I think that's something that we can impress upon the audience, too, is when it comes to TV. Sometimes the script is not enough. But also this is another mistake I see TV writers make all the time. And this is one of the things that we teach in the writers room all the time is you see writers come in with a pilot, and they don't have a pitch deck. And basically anyone can write a pilot that can knock your socks off. But every executive is going to want to know not only how to season one end, how does Season Three end, how does the show end? What happens with these characters? Where are the arcs? and you need to be able to hand them a pitch deck and say, Here you go. In fact, the trend today is and this has shifted dramatically over the last few years, a lot of times, they only want to see the pilot, they want to see the pitch deck, because they want to understand the world. They want to understand the entire thing. And if they liked the world, and they see the value in it, then they might say, Okay, let me read the pilot.

Alex Ferrari 25:20
But isn't it isn't it nowadays, like before. Again, it's just it's a shift in mentality. Because again, in the 90s and early 2000s, you know, it was all about based on the pilot, and how good they weren't thinking about season two or season three, because there was a 24 episode, pick up and it was network, and it was a whole thing. But in today's world, they're thinking about just buying out two or three seasons. And like, oh, yeah, like, if you give us three seasons, we'll probably you know, we'll do the first season, see how it's done. But we're prepared to rock on the next two or three, instantly, and we don't need it next year. We need it now. My friend, I had a friend of mine who works Cobra Kai. He, when I was talking to him, he's like, oh, yeah, Cobra Kai is just coming out. It's like, yeah, we already shot. We're editing Season Five already. Because Netflix bought this like no, go right into next season. They did not want to wait, they're like, You know what, just in case COVID. And that's the other thing COVID might happen. There's a window, let's shoot in this window before God knows what else happens and shuts everything down again. So they were just preparing for it. And I was like, amazed at that. Like, they already knew that coke Cobra was gonna be a big hit for season four was going to be a big hit. And by the way, anyone who's not watching Cobra Kai, what do you do with your life? You need to watch Cobra Kai. And, like, I don't even I could do a whole episode on Cobra Kai, I'm such a fanatic about go and Yellowstone, both those both those that could do a completely separate song. But it's the truth that that is the that's where the world is going. And that's where these streaming platforms are going. And yeah, you know, you're talking about someone like Netflix, which is really creating a lot of IP. They are they they're buying a little bit of IP, but they're really creating new IP, or leveraging.

RB Botto 27:11
I mean, they are buying but they're buying in small pockets. Now their goal, Look, you know, at the end of the day, this is why everybody is going where they're going. There's only so many libraries that are left to buy. You got Lionsgate out there you got Viacom that, are they going to be a buyer or they're going to be acquired, you know that every day is

Alex Ferrari 27:26
Sony, Sony. Well, not now.

RB Botto 27:29
But certainly, you know, if you woke up one morning, and you found that there was some sort of deal with Sony, or some sort of m&a with Sony, you wouldn't be strong. And it won't be strong with anything right now Apple buys a studio, you just you wouldn't be surprised by anything at this moment. But the point of the matter remains, there's only so much content left to buy. So they have to go out and create it. And that's where the creative you know, the putting this committing the $17 billion spent and Disney 33 they need to do it. So the Cobra Kai example is really interesting, because Netflix has, again, if you watch Chris's workshop, this is in there, but Netflix, their way of viewing TV is tell us three seasons, okay? And what they are hopeful for is that maybe we can add a fourth and a fifth. But at a minimum, we have three. And now if you're thinking about the fact that again, it's been 17,000,000,030 3 billion the next year, and I think they're talking about maybe 50,000,000,020 24. What they can do now is they say, Okay, if we have show a if you just produce show a and we know this is going to be at least three seasons. In our forecast, we could plug in season two and 2020 for season three and 2025. So good. That's one line done. That's what they were spending there was spending there. So that's why they want to know three. And if they can get beyond three fantastic that's like, you know, playing with house money in their opinion. There are other platforms that think much longer and you know, like a platform like Showtime. They're like, free man, if we could, you know, 10 years out of this, we'll move 10 years out and you saw it with like the affair and Homeland and you're seeing right now what billions, though goes 789 10 years, HBO is the same way. Although HBO has shifted a little bit into let's do a limited series. But let's do multiple series, multiple seasons of the limited series, right? And what why did they do that?

Alex Ferrari 29:10
A true detective and yeah!

RB Botto 29:12
We'll look into like, like white lotus, whatever the hell? Where's why low. But the point of matter is to bring in a whole new cast this season two. So why is why would they do that? Well, they don't have to give raises to everybody from season one. So again, if you don't understand you got to understand the business. And you got to ask yourself like these are questions you really honestly, you need to ask yourself, is my show a series? Is my show a limited series? Is Is there enough for it to be three seasons? Or is there you know, is it there's a finite end? It's based on something real, like the show we're pitching is based on a true story. And we've been asked in pitches, they're like, Well, you know, I see you see three seasons, but is there any way you could do this in six episodes? And I'm like, what the story takes place over six years, so be really difficult to do. I'm not saying we can but I'm saying that and then they're like, yeah, yeah, yeah, but they think that way. You got to be able to have an answer to that. But to be able to have an answer to that you have to understand how the business operates.

Alex Ferrari 30:06
Right and like, I'm sure everyone's trying to figure out how to make a sequel to Queens Gambit. Like everybody's trying to figure out how can we leverage Queens Gambit, even though that was a one off? Obviously, it's a one off like, you know, and if you try to do something, you know, contrived just to squeeze out another seat like they did with Tiger King, by the way like I I couldn't watch without your game was an anomaly. But then, like, I watched like the first 1015 minutes of Tiger King second season. I'm like, why am I watching this? This is garbage. This is garbage.

RB Botto 30:34
About like the fifth episode of the first one.

Alex Ferrari 30:36
No, no, no, I was it was a pandemic. Don't judge me. We were we were locked up.

RB Botto 30:43
We want to do this Cobra Kai episode in the Yellowstone episode, I will just come down there and sit next to you in full garb.

Alex Ferrari 30:49
Yes. Because I swear to God. But But So look, let's actually look at Cobra Kai for a second because Cobra Kai, I saw it on YouTube. When it first arrived. It was I was an original Cobra Kai fan when it came out on YouTube bread or whatever the hell they call the premium. And then it kind of died on YouTube. It was very popular on YouTube, but it died because nobody had there was no eyeballs on it. So then they're like when YouTube read shut down. And they had this show. Netflix like oh, we'll take the Karate Kid show. On paper. This doesn't sound good. On paper. This is like this is not a good idea on paper. And but they bought it. It exploded. And then I mean, it became the number one show ever on on on Netflix. And then it's just grown and grown and grown. And I talked to the guys I know on on on COBRA. Kai and I go, how much? How much longer can we go with this? Like how? How many more seasons can you guys squeeze out because they're good. They're not they're not waiting. Season Four was excellent and ended amazingly setting up Season Five like in a way that you're like, like but there's only so many more characters they can go back to like there's only and I don't know if you know this or not, but the rules are. Any movie that has Mr. Miyagi in it is part of the lore. So that doesn't include the Will Smith reboot with that doesn't include anything as Mr. Miyagi in it is where they can pull characters from.

RB Botto 32:18
Interesting. So that sort of rights must be traded off when they did the Will Smith.

Alex Ferrari 32:21
No, it's not the rights now Will Smith's a producer on the show, that's all there. But creatively, creatively, they don't pull from anything else other than if Mr. Miyagi was in it. So that's why we went we exhausted a karate kid one exhausted Karate Kid to now they've pulled in all the care almost all the characters from Karate Kid three. And now the only other one is the next, The Next Karate Kid, which was with Hilary Swank. And, and that would be effing amazing if they brought it back. But it's interesting that they grabbed this IP and then took off with it. And it was really interesting and something like glow, before they cancelled it because of COVID. Right? That was a, that was a niche IP. Only guys love your you and my age, would even remember Glow grown up,

RB Botto 33:09
She got two different types of IP. Right? Right. So this is another thing that a lot of these these platforms are doing. So you know, when I say what I said earlier about the fact that there's only so many libraries you can pull from library by that is true, there's a finite amount of content that can be bought. Right. So as far as existing libraries that trail back, so what the what a lot of these and clearly Disney is the king of this, right? What they're doing is they're taking the IP that they own, or the IP that they get the hands on and playing into the the soldier aspect, right? So that's one thing is something like glow. What's really fascinating about that show is, you know, they pitch that around quite a bit. And you know, it's an interesting concept. But again, it's like, this is something that Chris talks about to on the workshop. Why didn't why why why that show. It's not that people knew that world, it's that the characters are these female characters. And the female empowerment aspect is what sold the show. So again, if you understand what we're talking about when you and I say, you know, understanding the industry and paying attention to what's happening. We're not talking in code here. We're talking. It's not always like, you know, like this, the show we're pitching Weddell is, you know, it's a crime to true story. 1950s, late 1950s, Crime corruption, you know, on the surface, you could sit there and say, it sounds like a billion other shows, you know, it's like Boardwalk Empire West, let's say whatever. Right? But so when we go in to do our pitch, we talk about what the cat what the show is about, but what are the characters about what are the themes that we're going to hit in this show? What are we trying to say? And how does it relate to the world today? Politics, global warming, like all this shit is involved and what happened in this environment back then it wasn't global warming that there are But the the the ignorance to what was happening with the environment leads to destruction of what happened in the space, right? When you bring that in, you could see when you're doing these zoom meetings and I've done some of them in person to when you start bringing in those themes and everything like that they go that's interesting to them, right? That's the that's the like, that's what I'm saying, like, you know, when I listened to people pitch, or when people approached me, you know, we were in Austin, for example, we were hanging out and, you know, invariably I'll get, you know, over the course of a weekend on screenwriters that will walk up to me and start pitching me that stuff or giving me the logline to tell me about the story. And it's fascinating to me, how many of them talk about the world, and not about the characters. And at the end of the day, the only reason why we watched the best piece of advice I ever got, not today know this, but it was good to hear from a Yoda type figure in the business. My original manager, David Greenblatt, like, you know, David founded endeavor with Ari Emanuel. He still manages shame black, he's managed to sleep the weapon, the guy is a genius. The guy is known the Business Insider now, you know, story inside out. And he basically said to me, he goes, your world, he goes, Star Wars. He goes, you could take in Star Wars, this character, he goes and put him in a bar in Boston, like cheers. He goes and played on the same themes. He goes, you know, without the mysticism without all the bullshit, he goes, and you would still have these amazing rich characters, right? And he goes, at the end of the day, he goes, you're taking relatable character traits and relatable things that people will experience in life that they could hold a mirror to with the with those characters, nigga hold the mirror to themselves. And you could put them anywhere. But you need to be able to explain what are the themes? What are these characters going to experience, and he said it and this is film or TV, by the way, it's film or TV. You know, at the end of the day, we see a lot of films that are very, very similar in theme or in world even like crime dramas and all this stuff. What sets them apart the characters, what makes us go back to watch them again, the characters we fall in love with the characters. Oh, we call the characters right? So what we have, you know, severe writer out there in any level, even a filmmaker or producer or financier pitching the project, the characters or everything like

Alex Ferrari 37:17
Right! Like you don't go back and watch Seinfeld and friends, because they they're in New York, New York is just happens to be the backdrop you don't watch Indiana Jones.

RB Botto 37:25
They're in certain in certain in certain,

Alex Ferrari 37:27
Absolutely. No, it's a character in it, but you could take friends and put them in Boston

RB Botto 37:33
100% a character Right, right. You know, like, cheers that Boston ish ship because talk about the Red Sox. And you know that that culture is embedded in that show. But you're a hunter, so right. That could have been a bar in Austin. It could have been a bar.

Alex Ferrari 37:48
Right! And then if you look at something like I'm going to go back to Yellowstone. I mean, yeah, Yellowstone is in Montana. But you could put that in Texas, you could put that any place where there's horses in the cowboys and a ranch and it would work perfectly fine.

RB Botto 38:05
We got Taylor Sheridan an article. I don't think he would he'd be having none of it.

Alex Ferrari 38:09
No, obviously Taylor has

RB Botto 38:10
Had a shot at the Taylor Sharidan and I wanted to Taylor Sharidan an article. He, they called him and he said, you know, they're interested in talking to you. And he's like, I'm not coming in for a meeting. So they sent the plane to Park City if I'm on a plane to come for 45 minutes. 45 minute meeting at Paramount. It's fucking classic.

Alex Ferrari 38:30
It's, it's no, it's it's amazing, because I love you know, a lot of people don't know about Yellowstone. Yellowstone is not very well known. It's known within the business. Well, now it's grown. It's grown. We're in season four.

RB Botto 38:44
Yeah, no, it took four years.

Alex Ferrari 38:46
It's and people aren't listening, and people are watching now. But I would say that if you just take Yellowstone as it exists right now and throw it on Netflix, it would explode in a way that we couldn't even understand. Because it's just because my Paramount doesn't have the Paramount plus definitely doesn't have the audience and Paramount network where it started. Didn't have the audience. It was this quiet little show that had Kevin Costner in it. That's all they knew is like a cowboy show with Kevin Costner wasn't a big deal. And I just started I think I think I came in on season two is when I came in on it. I was like, Oh, I hear it's really good. And you hear rumblings like, oh, it's really well written and you watch it. You're just like Jesus Christ. And then the cat. Its character man, a cat. Taylor writes such amazing dialogue, such amazing characters, the arcs of the season. It's remarkable. And then you start seeing him what he did with Mayor Kingstown. And now 1883. And then he's got the four sixes coming out afterwards, and now he's building and I've never seen this before. Ever in maybe Shonda was shaundalyn Shonda Rhimes. But in the corner of the episodes, it's like the Taylor it's Taylor Sheridan universe, or Taylor Sheridan. And it's right there.

RB Botto 40:03
Read this article, dude.

Alex Ferrari 40:04
It's like literally Oh, I like so what Taylor was able to do. Because look, Taylor is a very talented screenwriter. And he was I mean, he did Sicario. He did hell and high water. He's known as. And he was also an actor. He was also an son of anarchy and a couple other things. But what he was able to do, and I got to read this article, because I really want to read it because I was like, how he was able to leverage this. And I'm assuming it didn't happen overnight. But they figured out that like, oh, Yellowstone's a thing, maybe we should let this guy do some other stuff. And he is running with it. He's grabbing it and running with it. Now he's literally building out a universe in off of the Yellowstone brand, which is just fascinating to watch, just from a business standpoint and a creative standpoint, because he's got carte blanche, he does whatever the hell he wants. They just random attack. It's pretty fascinating to watch right now. But he's successful. He's really good.

RB Botto 40:58
Yeah, yeah. And I again, we'll maybe we'll put it in the show notes or whatever, we'll put a link to the article because it I think it's an edge. I think it's a you know, a masterclass in how these things happen and how they could fail. Because you know, this is a Viacom Paramount plus production, Viacom only owns piece that if you'd like there's, there's so many moving parts to how this happened. And then how they got into detail showered in business after it became a hit. And it's fascinating. But there's a lesson in here as well. There are a lot of writers out there. And you know, like, I don't want to wait for a network show. I don't want to I don't want my film on Netflix, because it's going to get buried and nobody's going to see it. And you know, I'm not saying that same valid, I'm not saying you won't get picked up from the algorithm, but you want to be working and you want to be able to see your produce screenwriter on any level any way that you can. Because the other thing that's happening right now, again, with this content by and what Paramount plus parent, what they realized is, again, if we're going to spend more money, let's go with the entity we know. So let's instead of going to find more shit, let's go to Taylor and say, Hey, what else you think? And oh, okay, yeah, we'll do that. Okay. Yeah, we'll do that. Okay. Yeah, we'll do that. And guess what the phone up there, Ross that this is happening over and over and over again, there is a commitment by this is why Netflix and some of these, these platforms are giving deals, to even, you know, even to actors to say, if you're attending a production company, we want to see what you're bringing in. Okay. It's the reason why Jamie Foxx right now is producing like 15 movies that he's not going to be in because he knows that this if he does it, right. They're going to be like What else you got, what else you got, what else you got? We want more, we're gonna buy more. So it's not only the great content Gold Rush, because there's so much content that there's so much money that needs to be spent, and so much content being produced. But it's a content gold rush because if you play your cards right and you embrace the long game, and you get a ahead for example, that if you're not a you know, if you've never run a show, if you've never been on a show before been in the writers room before that you're not going to be the showrunner somebody buys your show, but you'll be happy to be in the writers room and work your way up. And you already got a year of people because they're buying your shit, man, you can fast track right now. It's not a five year process to get the show on air. It could be season two, okay? Because they they're running out of show runners, they're running out of people to do right, right. So it's just I always it fascinates me when people shoot themselves in the foot and everybody's sort of like, oh, you know, I don't want to take the low money from Netflix. I want the residuals I want this I want that I'm not going to put my film on there and have nobody see it. I want the ads going theatrical doesn't even exist anymore. You want to be a working writer and if your first paycheck is not what you know, it's not going to allow you to go buy you know, a house on the beach. So big. Okay, weren't getting the fucking game. Like you know what I mean? Stop listening to everybody on freakin broadbased social media by the way. I mean, somebody sent me a Facebook thread screenwriting Facebook thread the other day, I looked at this thing, and I was like, this is carnage. Like the the shit that was being disseminated by people who had never done anything in this business have never sold anything that were preaching their gospel and other people were eating it up. Like it was like God came down, you know, Moses came down from the mountain. It's, it's debilitating, and it's going to set you back years, do whatever you can to get your ass in the game. And oh, by the way, curate your social media feeds and put yourself on platforms like the reason why I started stage two is that's all we talk about is film. Okay. And we have professionals in there talking about all of it. We have 3000 executives there in the platform, talking about the business. Nobody's ripping anybody down. Nobody's telling anybody, they're an asshole. What they're doing is to disseminating the proper information on how to navigate this business. And it's up to you. Totally up to you to treat your career like I always say, and Alex says it all the time as well. You're the CEO of your career. If you are not If you're running a business, okay, if you did a startup tomorrow, would you just go out and listen to all these people who have never done it all these people that are aspiring to do it in the same way you're doing it? Or would you surround yourself with people who have done it? Well, that's what a lot of people do on broad based social media stream writings with a film, Twitter, some of these Facebook groups that are just poison. And then they end up saying and so's back us because they're listening to advice that doesn't translate to reality. And

Alex Ferrari 45:28
I mean, look, if you want to, if you want to look at reality right now, I mean, I just read in the trades that read notice that the biggest Netflix film of all time, which you know, I watched, it's okay, it's fine. It's fine.

RB Botto 45:41
It's when you tie me to a chair in front, my eyes open.

Alex Ferrari 45:44
It was it was fine. It was okay. I love the rock. And I love Ryan Reynolds. And like, you got the basically the two most charismatic human beings on the planet one movie, you're like, I watch it, it was fine. They've now committed to read notice to and read notice three, back to back, that doesn't that never had happened before. Really, other than the Back to the Future two and three back in the 90s. Like it doesn't, it doesn't happen in the studio system in the normal world. But now, and those aren't like little movies, those are huge movies. And not based on IP. That's an original IP that was created on Netflix, and they just know that out that the data is so compelling that like, well, we slot it for 2022. We slot it now for 2023. We got to take those off, they got to take those off. And then then like you start seeing all of a sudden, all you see is Sandy Bullock coming out with movies on Netflix. And you're like, Okay, Sandra Bullock movie done. Check to another boom, check. Okay, when smart is Marty coming out with another movie soon? Okay, let's Okay, he's over an apple. Now next time, he'll come over here. And they'll just start. They're just going after these these people constantly. And just because they need to fill they need to fill man, every week. Every week, they've got a tentpole movie coming out every week, almost, it's insane.

RB Botto 47:01
Wow. And then they released what 42 movies in q4 of 2022 2021 42. Movies, you know, extrapolate that out that's 168 movies over the course of a year, that's literally one every other day. They're committing to more they're committing to I forget the number in 2022, the sheer number of movies was pretty much close to one a day. And it's going to extend it to 2023 and 24. It's going to go up. So the idea that now of course, are all those songs going to be quality? No, are all those films gonna be high budgets? No fucking white, right? There's always for every red notice, you're gonna have, you know, 1020, you know, five to 10,000,002 to 5 million, whatever, okay, that they're gonna get me with people that you've never heard of before, whatever. Okay? If you are one of those screenwriters that wrote one of those movies, and you're just thinking like, Oh, my God, that sounds so soul sucking, in comparison to maybe the way the industry ran, you know, 20 years ago? Yeah, I can understand why because you wanted the article and you wanted, you know, 2000 screens and all that crap and everything I get it. But if you're not fitting with the times, and you're not understanding that, that gets you in the game, and that that allows you to go to the next thing into the next thing. And the next thing, is it a natural thing that's going to happen is what else do you got? What else do you want to work on next? Then you're missing, you're missing the idea of how you build a career in this business in 2022. And it's the same thing for directors, you know, if if, you know they need to hire people to do fucking 42 movies in a quarter, you got to have directors, you know, 200 movies a year 300 movies a year. And that's just one platform for its sake. I mean, like, you know, you talk about Apple doing this span and Disney doing this, but Oh, so you got to be able to put yourself in the game and

Alex Ferrari 48:37
The scary, the scary, the scary, unknown quantity. The beast in the room that no one's looking at is Apple, because Apple come out Apple could outspend everybody tenfold in their starting and they're starting to they're slow and methodical. But they're starting to build up and they're starting to build up and start and you can you can start seeing it because now I I subscribed to them because I saw I'd love I'd love the morning show. I watched the morning show and I got in for title so because everybody was talking about that last I was like I gotta watch that last one. That's great. That sounds fantastic. And then Finch with Tom Hanks and but it but it's but they're the giant that that at any moment could come in and really do and look Disney Disney was it quiet until now they're outspending Netflix, which no one really saw coming at the beginning.

RB Botto 49:29
Them to they saw in the span, they want to go back. It's almost like the touchstone days. So they want to go into adult again, right? They want to go into adult oriented material, not have everything be you know, friendly, all the IP stuff that they have. So that's another opportunity for eyes but you're 100% right, I say this. This is gonna sound like an insult, but I'll say it as a comment. I always call apple and it's the biggest compliment I can pay as a business person as somebody in the tech world. Apple is the ultimate SNAKE IN THE GRASS company. They're always lying and wait and you You never know like, well everybody's looking up over here at the beautiful trees, they're moving along and, and it's with everything whether it's friggin Evi zone. I mean like, it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter moving DVDs now automated driving all this stuff. They but absolutely there is no way that Apple is not going to make a significant move. I mean, they already are in the content space. But I mean, like I am waiting for that day where they, you know, leap up and bite you in the calf. And all of a sudden everybody's

Alex Ferrari 50:30
Don't buy don't buy Sony.

RB Botto 50:32
They might

Alex Ferrari 50:33
Don't buy so they'll buy Sony though Dell, you know, I don't know if they'll by Lionsgate I don't think that's the content doesn't match, but because they're not just a library, they're very specific with the stuff they're doing. They're not

RB Botto 50:45
Interesting, right? Because do they go like you look at what HBO does? Right? Right? Well, they're extending their buys, but they're still staying in within their brand, which is the prestige brand, right? So HBO is very interesting right now, because they are extending, but they're not losing sight of who they are apple, if you you know, if you had to put everything into columns right now and you're forced to put them into columns, you would sit there and say, Apple almost seems like they're gunning for HBO, they'll go on to the prestigious type stuff with the big names, right. But I don't believe for a second with their reach. And with everything that they got going on, they still may go high level, but I think that they're gonna go high, like, you know, high level on steroids, I think they're gonna go, you know, for the big, maybe the big content bar, maybe maybe the big library buy, that's certainly in play. But you know, that historically, they don't really do that kind of thing. They're not usually an acquire, not too often, you know, like, even the beach thing, when they do not happen. Like that was like one of the most fun because they didn't do that kind of thing, you know, not to billions of dollars, they just create their own right. But in this particular case, you know, this is an arms race right now, right? This is an arms race for dollars. You know, Disney, which so interesting about Disney, to me, was Neff Disney was first sort of like, Yeah, we're gonna do this spend, you know, and we're gonna stick with our IP, and we're gonna do all this stuff, and whatever. And then as soon as Netflix said, we're going $17 billion. And we're going around the world that we have enough, not that we have enough us content, we have enough of a pipeline to get more. And you know, we know where to go to get more, we need to go around the world and get more of that stuff. All of a sudden, you know, chapek was on CNBC going, oh, yeah, by the way, we're going into adult content, and we're going all over the world for local language, and we're spending $34 billion. And it was like, wait, what? That was a massive, should you just want the first kid if like, what, what the hell just happen? Right? But everybody else has an answer. I'm sure that made everybody at Apple go, you know, get up on their on the heels a little bit and say, Wait, what, okay, you know, how do we compete with that, at the end of the day, you know, people are only going to have so many subscriptions, they're only going to be able to hold so many. So, you know, you're going to have consolidation in the space, not everybody's going to survive. You're definitely gonna have more m&a. You know, you do have those few libraries that are hanging out there. I think Viacom is so much a wildcard like, oh, there are there acquirer. What are they, you know, those with the Paramount deal make, you know, and Yellowstone, and that is that shifted thing. It's so interesting. But you can see whether themselves, I mean, they were actively pursuing a sale up until about September, and then they pulled themselves off the market, or at least they fronted that they announced that, and they fronted that. And you wonder why, you know, a lot of it could be like, you think you can get me but now you can't, and now you got to raise your price. And now you got to sweeten the deal, or quite a bit could be they, you know, it's almost like a team that hits the trade deadline. And that kind of, you know, right on the cusp of the playoffs, so like, you know, are they buyer's or seller's? And I think that's kind of the place that they're at right now.

Alex Ferrari 53:49
Well, we you and I, last year, I think when we were I think when it was last year, or the COVID, I think was the COVID episode when when COVID hit you and I talked about what was going on in the business. I mean, we call it out MGM or like MGM is going to be bought like that, that brand is going to be bought. So there's no question in my mind that Viacom will be purchased at one point. I don't know if they have, you know, Sony, look, Sony has been in trouble for a long time. And now because of spider man, and Marvel's connection with Spider Man and what they were able to do. That's an anomaly. And yeah, they'll be able to make a few more Spider Man movies, and they'll make a couple Bond movies, but generally speaking, you know, they're not, they're not Disney. They don't have the IP that Disney has, like they don't nobody has that Disney has Warner Brothers is the next closest one that has anything like that. But uh, but I think you're I think you're absolutely right. I think Sony will go somewhere. I've been saying paramount for a long time to and I don't think, I don't know, maybe this new shift the Paramount plus. We'll see how that plays out. I'm not sure how many people are signing up for Paramount plus, because again,

RB Botto 54:59
It's helped me This is the most stream show, I think, you know, which one is Yellowstone,

Alex Ferrari 55:03
Yellowstone. Without Taylor Sheridan, the entire company goes down.

RB Botto 55:09
Thinking, right, because the Viacom, it's a complicated thing, because there would have to be some unraveling, not for the audience at all this, but I'm saying that would have to be some unraveling, actually, it shouldn't bother the audience, because every single thing that we're talking about creates opportunity, every single thing here every day. But they would have to unravel some of this. Like, again, when you read this Yellowstone article that I was telling you about, you'll see that like, you know, part of the problem was that like Viacom really wasn't benefiting off of this as much as they wanted to because of what they had done with Paramount plus, so they've become sort of this complex thing that's going on right now. Which is why it fascinates me that Viacom kind of pulled themselves back, you know, Viacom, CBS was walking about, by the way, she talked about the whole CBS let you know, that whole library as well. You know, they're pulling themselves back. Right. So does this does a hit and getting into bed with a guy like Taylor showered in? Well, you know, you're going to have you know, Mayor Kingston is going to be ahead if it isn't already, and you know, the Yellowstone prequels gonna blow up, it does change, right? Does that change the entire? Or does that just raise the price or raise the attractiveness or whatever. But that's See, the thing is, is that all of this shit that we're talking about? Everybody positioning themselves in a way to either make themselves more attractive to be bought? Or, you know, escalating the war, so to speak? Benefits every single creator, every single professional, whether your producer or financier whatever, listening to this show, right? What What are regularly?

Alex Ferrari 56:38
What was the MGM library sold for? Do you remember? No, I don't I forget. It's like, it's like, we were talking about 5 billion, 8 billion American. But it's somewhere in that world. Right. So why would Netflix buy that? Because Amazon bottom?

RB Botto 56:55
Yes. Well, I'm sure that 8.45 Yeah, yeah. I mean, I'm sure they, I'm sure they, I'm sure they bid on it. I'm just sure that, you know, maybe they just thought you know, again, that their their money is better spent on original content. That's what they want to be. You don't I mean, parmesan. See, it's really interesting, cuz we haven't even touched on them, which is so fascinating that Amazon is I was on the phone, literally, with an executive yesterday, whose production company has a first look deal with Amazon and has done a bunch of phones with Amazon, I'm not going to name because I want people spamming them an email. But they've done some of the biggest ones, including one that might be nominated this year. So they were talking about, like, you know, Amazon has a very complex system right now. They're figuring out their way, like, you know, like, what do they really want do they want because they've done it both ways. For them, they've gotten like, they've gotten involved, this production company has gotten involved with existing projects that were on the way that needed some finishing, and they came in late, and then they brought it to Amazon, and it's sold. And they've also been involved with ground up, you know, from, from the script on, right. And the like, you know, she said to me, this executive, she's a top Senior VP SVP at this company said, there, every time you talk to them, they're kind of like, we're gonna go this direction we want we want to buy more stuff. And then it's like, we want to create more stuff, we want to buy more stuff, we want to develop more stuff. So I feel like they're kind of in this weird nebulous space, too. But I don't see how they don't go out and increase their spend as well on original content, I think they have to. So I think that ultimately, this is where they will go, will they buy one of these existing libraries that are out there? They certainly can. Okay, but does it increase the value and make more people want to buy prime to get more shipping? And, you know, they enter that flywheel that they talk about all the time? I don't know. I don't know. Okay, buying content as well and developing it. So no, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 58:55
And they're the only they're the only company that has a completely different business model than all the streamers. Because it's a it's an add on, it's a plus they did the same thing with the music, they you know, they just kind of like, Oh, here's a little bit of you get this for free, you get this for free. If you just sign up for 100, whatever, I have 120 bucks under 40 bucks a year for prime. And so for them, it's just like a little, little add on a value for prime, which makes all the sense in the world. But my main question to you is, can someone I mean, they are Amazon's a tech company, right? They're a tech company.

RB Botto 59:28
Company. Absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 59:30
Yeah, they're dead company. Right? Can someone please work on the frickin app? It looks horrible, though. Is a horrible it's the worst app of all the streamers out there it is ugly. It is nasty. It just it is so unappealing. And it has been for so long, please RB you know people can you call somebody and say Please, for God's sakes.

RB Botto 59:55
I will do that. I know that she of by MDB and the CEO of IMDb Pro, but I don't think they can do anything about

Alex Ferrari 1:00:01
It looks sharp in 1996 man looks like MySpace designed dude. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry.

RB Botto 1:00:07
The question I have is just that crypto LogMeIn haven't spoken, so we're gonna

Alex Ferrari 1:00:13
No, it's just it always fascinates me, I'm like, it's I barely go there, because it's so ugly, and it's so hard to kind of navigate and there's so much crap on there. So it's hard to navigate that thing. And if I was actually paying for it, like, if I was actually paying for it as a separate, I would have never in a million years bought it ever.

RB Botto 1:00:28
It's horrible interface. And the thing that's the guy, you know, is that a tell? That's something that, you know, I've talked about with people too, is that a tell that they're not really committed to it? I don't believe that that's the case. I think we wake up today, and it's really glossy and shiny, then you know, that the probably next thing you're gonna see is, you know, something in variety that they, you know, spending a gazillion dollars or, you know, in ink or something or Forbes or something that spending a billion dollars, and they listen to and then listen to this podcast, obviously, his podcast No, like, of course, you know, Alex and RBO, right? Of course, even right. Yeah, I listen, you know, at the end of the day, for everyone listening, it's this is just such a keep saying it's the great content, gold rush. It's such a an opportunity right now, but it's why it behooves you to start treating your life like a business. You know, your career, like I said, your, your, your entire being where you're the CEO of everything you're doing. And again, not wasting your time. I mean, right now is not a time to be, you know, everybody needs entertainment, everybody needs to have downtime, and I get that. But you really right now need to not be wasting your time on some of these threads and some of this stuff and put yourself in a position where again, you're surrounding yourself with the right people, where you can get to the right people where you're investing in yourself and in bed at a time. Because the competition is just because the doors are open wider than they've ever been doesn't mean that there aren't more people trying to jam through those doors. And the question becomes, can you scale the wall? You know what I mean? Can you scale the wall as opposed to standing behind 60 billion people trying to get through the doors, and they're always scaled the wall and and really, honestly begins with your relationships and your contacts and getting to people that can that want to be in the business with you. And that can help you get to the people that you want to get to the people that you can't get to yourself, which is really what this business is all about.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:28
I want to ask you, you know that there's something that Disney and Netflix and HBO are doing at a high level that a Sony and Paramount aren't yet and I'm fascinated why they aren't. I think the king of this is Disney, where they take one IP and they spin off shows. So obviously Mandalorian was their test subject and now there's literally I think this year they're releasing five shows from I think it's I just literally saw this as a book a Boba a Mandalorian they are Saska forgot I can't even say her name, you know, Rosario Dawson character. And then two other Obi Wan Obi one show and the the Rogue One prequel, all spin offs of the Star Wars world. And then obviously, you know, Cobra Kai, and all that kind of stuff. But you look at Paramount that has IP, not maybe as glossy as, as Disney. But let's let's just take it and we're just gonna spit ball here. Let's take an IP like The Godfather, or the IP of Top Gun that they own. Yeah, why wouldn't they spin off a show about fighter pilots and the drama that goes along with that, that you know that that the Top Gun school after they released the top, the Tom Cruise thing? And Tom Cruise would have to be a part of it, obviously, unless you produce it or something like that? And maybe he does. If you're lucky, you know, maybe you can come and have him come in Cameo once or twice. And then to the end of that. Why couldn't they do a spin off of the godfather? Take one of those characters and build a world around the Godfather universe? Why hasn't that happened? Because those like because it's all nostalgia, right? So the generation right now that's alive, that that's paying for all of these subscriptions are not the 18 year olds. They're it's our generations Generation X Generation Y. Those are the guys guys and gals who are buying into Cobra Kai. And yeah, other generations are jumping on board because it's good written stuff. But is that nostalgia that the tapping into select? Would I watch a Top Gun Show if it's well written has good characters? I would would I rather watch The Godfather universe unfold in the mafia that time and maybe fast forward and do like what they're doing with Taylor Sheridan, but why do you think they haven't done things like that? I'm sure and Sony has many other IP like that as well.

RB Botto 1:04:55
Alex, this is your lucky day. I have The answer to this question, okay, will I have the answer to this question. So, and it's a great question actually, I, we, I had the fortune of pitching this project to television project that I'm talking about, to Paramount plus, and to about one of the lead development executives there. They really, really liked the project. Okay. And what they said to me was, look, here's the deal. At this moment, we are setting our plans for 2022 and 2023. Now, again, that includes Are we a buyer? Are we, fender? Or are we going to get acquired or something else is going to happen? Or are we going to merge? Or what's going to happen? Right? So the answer to your question is, so the way it was explained to me is they I don't know if you're aware of this, but the big clay that Paramount is making this year outside of yellows, which is not really a play on this year, right? I mean, they all the spin offs, and all that is a, a limited series on the making of The Godfather. So the making of the car. So they using their IP of the Godfather, and they're basically telling the story about Robert Evans, and you know, the whole deal.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:17
Oh, well, narrative, not documentary narrative, narrative, oh perfect!

RB Botto 1:06:22
Miles Teller, I think is playing. Maybe playing Evans I forget who's but but milestone was one of the big guys in it. And but it's, you know, it's cast up it stunted up. And by all accounts, you know, at least by their accounts, but they were telling me it's amazing. And it looks I mean, it looks,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:38
I'm watching it, I'm watching it,

RB Botto 1:06:40
Definitely watching the night one. So the point of matter is, is that they're using their IP for that, what that IP is, right now, what this show is, is a line in the water to see how the public response and if the public response, so like this show that we're pitching kind of fits the sensibilities of this audience, because it's crime, corruption, all this stuff and everything. So that's why he said, love this show. Love this pitch, love this package. Got to give me a couple of months, right? So the answer to your question is, is that they're not going in for the big spin yet? Because they kind of want to see what they got? And why are they going to commit a ridiculous amount of money and go it alone? Or go it stay the course and do original content? Or are they going to drive up the price of what they have with Yellowstone to spin off Mayor Kingstown and now this Godfather thing, and maybe either become part of a bigger package or something bigger? Or what you know, I mean, what's that going to be? So that's the that's the big answer. Right now there's they're still feeling their way. They're kind of in the infancy of creating new content, even though they've had yellow sofa for years. It's not like they created iOS on and then 30 of the shows 50 of the shows. And you have a lot of which really interesting, we just got interest from it. But I honestly have to be honest, I didn't really know I knew this was a thing. But I didn't know. It was an expanding thing. Spectrum originals. So spectrum, the cable network, right? Spectrum has produced six shows a year for the last few years. No one's seen it. Yeah, basically, what spectrum? So think about it, what what is spectrum doing now spectrum knows that people are cutting the cord. And they saw how do they keep them, they're going to try to create their own content. It's gonna work. But they came to us, for they heard about the show that we're pitching. And they said, We want to read it, we want the Bible. So we just sent it over to him a few days ago. But this is another example of the fact that there this there are going to be more and more and more of these companies, but any streamers, and these platforms, everything that are going to keep the need to move into original content. And not all are going to survive and some get snatched up if they do it right. And, you know, benefits everybody.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:57
So how I mean, in all honesty, though, I mean, no offense. Okay, let's say DirecTV starts building out their own content. I'm not sure if they are they're not. But they can't compete. They can't compete on IP. They can't compete. Like you're not going to woo the best of the best.

RB Botto 1:09:14
Well go look at it.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:16
Unless it's cash

RB Botto 1:09:17
After this going IMDb Pro and look up the spectrum originals. And look at the cash of these shows. All A list.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:24
There's only one there's only one show. I know that have that it was the Jessica Alba show. That, that that one more than I knew. Right! That was the one show that one cop show was and it was a spin off of bad boys. It was a good Gabriela I forgot her last name. Yeah, yeah, get her and Jessica and it was the spin off of her character from bad boys. And there was two seasons of that and then it went on Netflix and that's the only time I even realize it was originally a spectrum because I was looking Oh, when's the next season coming out and like it's not

RB Botto 1:09:41
Can and Meryl Streep, I mean, they get names. I mean, it's just a And apparently I'm sure they're paying up for it, they got more money than that too right? But the question, I guess, at the end of the day, like I said, I think a lot of these platforms like that and even power mountain to go back to your question, I think a lot of them is still feeling like, you know, ultimately, the end of the day, you really have two choices, right? You either become a nice kind of, you know, you fit into some sort of nice, where people want to come for this content, you know, you're going to get a limited audience, but that's good enough, okay, maybe it's three lanes, there's that, okay, which is, you know, like stars and stuff like that, which, of course, is owned by, you know, it's all this stuff that goes on, and who's owned by WHO, and who's a division of what and everything like that, but you're either in that lane, your own lane, you're in the prestigious business, like HBO and possibly Apple, or you're in the mass, you know, so, you know, a spectrum is never going to be any of those. Right? Well, it's gonna be Netflix, it's gonna be they're gonna find a niche of some sort if they can find it. Like, for example, one of the reasons why they were interested in the show is they're not afraid of period and not afraid of expensive. So they're basically saying, okay, maybe we can do six big budget prestigious shows that maybe get us, you know, some sort of me awareness that we got profile. And I don't know,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:20
It's interesting, because I was talking to a showrunner of a very, very, very, one of the biggest shows of all time, comedy shows all time. And I was talking to them about how they got their start. And they got their start on HBO. And on that show, I was asking, like, how the hell did you guys were so young, when you guys were brought on to show run them, you were just starting out. And they're like, What HBO didn't have, they would just starting out, they it was the Wild Wild West, they didn't care. So they basically gave the keys to the to the inmates to run the asylum. And that's where that happened at Netflix at a certain point, though, the asylum the the inmate was David Fincher, so not a bad inmate to start rolling. Exactly the other perspective, but you know, the game with House of Cards was like that was that because people forget House of Cards was an on godly deal for its time. And it was such a huge risk that everybody in Hollywood was just like, What is going on? This is insane. I think that the only way the smaller ones are going to go is that they they pull out, they basically give the keys to the to the inmates on certain part on certain things. And if they can find that niche, and I think you're right, so like could spectrum become if the niche is big enough? I'm just throwing this out there, you know, could they become could have a could a tailor shared and open up a Yellowstone in spectrum with the same cast the same everything and could spectrum have built a whole network based off of that and then Okay, so we're gonna go Americana we are thing as Americana cowboys, you know, down that because that's a huge country music. That's a huge huge swath of of the US. Does that travel though? I don't know. So that's so these are all the things but that's the only thing I think that's gonna give these guys a shot, is they gotta let the the aside, Disney didn't have to do that. Disney owned all the IP. So they didn't give the key, though. They gave the keys a little bit the junk favourite, they fall for it with the Mandalorian. They're like, okay, you can kind of did you ever see that meme on Facebook is genius, where you see this giant train locomotive. And then you see this little, this little model train, and there's a string pulling the big one, you see conductors there and you're like, the Star Wars universe, the Mandalorian. You know,

RB Botto 1:13:52
I mean, I think this is where we're going though, right? I mean, Netflix isn't the show on the rise, but I think you got to people that you know, these these streamers have figured it out. That again, you know, to be able to fulfill this, this amount of content, we need to have some short things. You need to have people that can produce it mass, right. It's sort of why CBS got into the the guy who created Two and a Half Men and

Alex Ferrari 1:14:12
Oh yeah, Tricolore

RB Botto 1:14:15
Yeah, I mean, they did try they got into the business of that, right. If you could produce five or six shows, we only have another 10 slots to fill through primetime in the next year. Right. So why not go with proven thing? Why not make the show runner a star? You know, that people actually know the audience knows that a shaundalyn or on the live show? shaundalyn right. movie goers know this to Fincher movie. This is a Sorkin movie, Amazon, whatever. I think that that's where we're going. I mean, I think that you're right. I think this is why Paramount made the move they made with Sheridan is they basically said okay, if we are going to make this move really into original content go heavy, which it seems like that's where they Luening like, again, you're at the trade deadline and we buyer's or seller's seems like they're leaning to Buying. If they're leaning towards buying, why not go with a proven entity, see if we could build those up that audience see if we could build these subs up. And then let's go out and we'll test the waters with rip, like you said with the Godfather thing. And if that works, then it's the next thing. It's the next thing. It's the next thing, right? Like one of the things that they talked about this executive talked about to me was if the Godfather one of the things are talking about is because they own Chinatown, right so they were like you can you can make a modern day Chinatown or the book based on China great book called The the last goodbye of the great goodbye. I've read it's fantastic. A look it up. It's great. It's about China, when I within the last year that the rights that have book around by Ben Affleck like David talked Affleck about, you know, maybe that's the Chinatown thing that they do a paramount because you know, so there is going to be again, every big star right now knows, they see the writing on the wall, the day of the movie star as it relates to film stars, is not coming back in a meaningful way in any sort of meaningful way. You'll always have, you know, Orion metals, rock and Gilda doe in a read notice. But that's also not in theaters that's on, you know, just sitting on your couch watching it. They know that so all of them are very, very happy to go do TV right now they look at TV as the new film. This also gives creators out there an opportunity to be able to attach talent to your products, projects. And that's why it's important that you cultivate these relationships. Because these actors know that the idea of being able to film Three to be in three films a year doesn't really exist in the way it used to. But you can be in the latest you could be in too limited series and make a film in a year for sure. And, you know, you look at Nicole Kidman, you know the Ricado she's on big little lie she's on she did the other the other one that she did the other TV one that she

Alex Ferrari 1:16:55
The one with Hugh Grant Yeah.

RB Botto 1:16:57
Yeah. I mean, this was she's I mean, you know, she's working constantly. But you know, 10 years ago, if you told her come to a limited series, she'd be like, Are you kidding me? I got you know, 15 films lined up over the next six years. You know, so that, that's why it's, it's an exciting time to and that's why there's this paradigm shift. And and again, I know I keep harping on this. This is why you need to be listening to the right voices, and most importantly, be educating yourself every day on what's happening in the business.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:22
What do you think? I'd love to hear what you think about universal NBC Universal, you know, they don't have a streaming service yet. Or do they? I don't even know about it. They don't have a streaming service yet. They have. It's so funny right now, RB is going to his computer to check if universal has announced a streaming service yet.

RB Botto 1:17:40
Yeah, peacock. Yeah, of course.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:41
Well, peacock again peacock is

RB Botto 1:17:45
This is another this is another thing, right? Like his peacock. That is amazing. But as I was typing it, I might pick up but I mean, but it's

Alex Ferrari 1:17:52
Exactly. But look, you took your second

RB Botto 1:17:55
That's the thing, right? I'm in the trenches with this every day, which they tell you to literally every day on the phone executives everyday, you know, hear come up. Very rarely

Alex Ferrari 1:18:04
Never hear pick up, come up.

RB Botto 1:18:06
What do I hear come up all the time. Of course, it's the usual suspects, Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Disney. It's, you know, it is paramount now because everybody's getting curious, right? It's all of those over and over and over again. And then it's sort of like who the production companies that have deals. That's what I listen to all day long, where I talk about all day long. Who are the actors that have deals? Who are the directors that have deals, whether they have deals? What are the pods? And if people don't know what a pod is? Basically, the every manager agent in the business, gets these pods where they're able to see what act or what production company where do they have a deal with? Where do they you know, like, Where does Brad Pitt's company how to deal with the TV? Right? It's HBO you know, as HBO is it Showtime is whatever. And you get to see where these people have deals. And then basically, if you have some knowledge, and you're really planning things like for us again, period show, it's going to be expensive. We sit there and go okay, first thing we think about is who makes this type of show. Okay, HBO would make it Showtime we make it scars and probably make it okay, let's go see who has deals with them. And oh, let's go to them first. Because if we went to HBO first HBO could fall in love with it but HBO might say yeah, but who you have your show runner but like who packaging more packaging more and bring it back to us? Give us one you know, give us an idea that you like

Alex Ferrari 1:19:25
Right! Right!

RB Botto 1:19:25
Right. So but that also but again every you put the little fish on the line to catch the big fish right if HBO came back to us and said you know, you know the actors we like to work with go to their agents and whatever we could sit there and go okay for our main guy, Bobby Cannavale is always on HBO shows. If they know if we go to court Bobby Cannavale is agent and say to him Listen, we spoke to HBO and HBO so cast act as HBO likes they're gonna read but if we just went right to that act, we went right to directors agents and said, you know, they might read because We have Weddell attached, that might be enough, but it might not be, you know what I mean? But again, this is how you need to be able to position yourself and how you need to be able to see the business. Everything in this business is a puzzle piece, man. Everything is a puzzle piece, everything it's a chessboard, it really is. And you got to see three, four or five moves ahead. But you can't see three, four or five moves ahead. If you're caught in the mentality of I have a great project.

Alex Ferrari 1:20:23
It doesn't matter. It's everyone's got a great look, everyone's got a great first of all, it starts with the idea. So everybody on the planet has an idea. Okay, everyone's got an idea, then okay, then I've got a script. I got a great script. Okay, that's step next step. Okay. Now have a great project. When I say project, that means there's more than one person attached to it. So now you have a project.

RB Botto 1:20:44
Maybe there's money attached to it, maybe something, something, some sort of other value beyond the script, like I would say, if I'm using the chessboard metaphor, I would say that the script, you literally just set up your board. Okay, your pieces are all in place. All right. What's your next move? Right, what's your next move? Can I get money? Can I get a showrunner let's just say if it's TV money, show runner, attachment production company, producer. If it's film, you know, can I get a director? You know, which is gold and when it comes to film, you know, films a different thing TV, it's more of a show or honor? Just people are curious about this? You know, if you asked me like, what's the first thing I should go after? If I'm packaging something for TV, I would say show Rob Phil runner, and maybe a name producer and or maybe a name producer because maybe you don't have the context of the showrunner but that producer might okay,

Alex Ferrari 1:21:37
But a cast cast as well. Obvious always cast.

RB Botto 1:21:40
If you get a great producer on board, they may they may go after the cast, right? You know that. But again, you're bringing the piece that can bring more pieces. With film, I would say you know, it's either money or a well I'll say three things money, a name producer that can get to money or can get to talent, and Endor a director.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:01
So do you happen to know that the longest how the longest running Netflix show in history, which is what do you know that what the show is?

RB Botto 1:22:10
You got me I don't know.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:11
Grayson, Frankie

RB Botto 1:22:13
I would never have guessed that.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:14
Great. Exactly. No one ever have guessed that. And I and I found out the story of how Grace and Frankie came to be. And just like Martha Kaufman happened to find out that, Oh, I heard that Lily Tomlin and James Fonda. Were looking to do television. This is seven years, eight years ago. And she called the PR agents like, Hey, I heard that Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin are looking to do television. What what's going on? 15 they call up? And apparently it was that each of them individually, were thinking about doing television. And then the agent calls back and like, yeah, they were thinking individually, but now they want to do it together. And go really why? Because Because you called. And it was the power of the showrunner. The showrunner attracted the odd that the cast and honestly written one of the best sitcoms of recent in my opinion. One of the bestest comes in recent years.

RB Botto 1:23:07
I hope everybody's listening is taking this, you know, that's listening is taking it constructively. I have an agent friend that bought a show to showtime. This is a well known agent. And this is a you know, a person that's sold. You know, I mean, he's he's one of the top and packaged, it checks all the boxes, he has diverse hires in there, it's got some great characters, checks all the boxes for Showtime, what they are looking for which you need to know as well, like, what are they looking for? And they still basically said that they will like he called them in the morning, but he thought it was a slam dunk. He's like, when can we have when can they pitch? And he came back and they were like, we don't think we're interested in they were like, how can you not be interested? He said, You know what, let we'll get back to you. And they got back to him in the afternoon. They email them and basically said, you can send us the deck. But we don't want to hit a pitch yet. And this was with a major package. So the point of the matter is, is that wow, he adjusted on the fly every single place he's bought it to they'll like oh my god, yeah, like what listen to this pitch, like, Oh, my God, but it just goes to show you that, you know, you got it. You got to have multiple lines in the water. You have to keep perspective, you have to realize that there's only for like companies like Netflix where they're spending this kind of money. Yes, the opportunity is great. They do need to they need to fill a quota. But places like Showtime and HBO. Certainly they want to bring in more content, but they're doing it at a lower level. And they only have so many spots to fill. And they already are in the business of so many people that are bringing them stuff and have first book deals with a million other people that you have to be able to say to yourself, Okay, I think I think it's a great show for HBO, that you're positioning yourself in a way to get there. But then you prepare yourself with five, six other places to bring it you know, and you don't put all your eggs in one basket because you know they may have their quota filled for 2022 they may have the quota filled for 22 Through them, I only have like four or five spots open or eight spots open when it comes to like narrative shows, let's say, okay, so you got to you got to keep perspective with everything you got to keep you got a, like I said, stay on top of every single announcement that's being made and deadline and other places, who's doing what, who's moving where, who's looking for whatever. And you got to put yourself in a position to win. You know what I mean?

Alex Ferrari 1:25:23
So to close off the episode, sir, what chance and what should better question what should a screenwriter do a young screenwriter or someone who's just starting out, wants to get their stuff seen once they get into the business, best piece of advice for writers, and best piece of advice for a filmmaker director.

RB Botto 1:25:44
Clearly, if you're just starting out as a screenwriter or a filmmaker, you need to take action you need to do you need to learn the craft, you need to, you know, keep writing and obviously create stuff and get proper feedback on it. You need to go to you know, like I say, invest in yourself. Okay. One of the reasons why I mean, we've talked about this in the past, but the one of the reasons why the only way I would do development services on stage 32 was if there was full transparency, and you will getting reviewed by executives working in the business, and you get to do that. So my first suggestion would be, get your script, right, Jason, like I keep saying J dot merch, M IRC H at stage 30 two.com, let them know what you're working on. Let them know the log line, the genre, the the budget, and he can point you in the right direction. So that's the first thing. The second thing is for every creative that lives that's listening to this thing, community is more important than it's ever been. Relationships are more important than it's ever been. Trust me when I tell you when, when with everything that we've talked about today about the streamers and everything like that, they want to move fast. And the only way they can move fast is to work with known entities, right? They can't keep saying like, let me take a shot, let's develop this thing, it's gonna take two years to develop it. So you need to be connecting with people that are like minded, and that can help you and that can elevate you. And I'm sorry, but I think on broad based social, it's a reason I started stage 32 Because I wanted a platform that's just people like us talking about this stuff, and not about the salvage argument for 24 hours about slug lines, okay? You need to stop wasting your time with that shit and put yourself in a position to win and invest in yourself. Okay? And then the third thing I would say is man, you have to know the business. I know we keep repeating ourselves, but you have to know Chinnery of the business, alright. And you know, put yourself in a position where you could speak knowledgeably about what's going on. And that where and where, you know, your knowledge is your brand, man, you have to have a brand people. And the most important part of your branding can be that you know what the hell, you're talking about your professional. And that's what people when you're in a room, that's what they want to know, when we're pitching the show. They don't know me, I'm not known as a TV writer. I've sold a bunch of feature scripts, but never done TV. So when I'm in that room, I have to prove myself. And when they asked me questions about like, how do you see this fitting? Or how do you what do you think the budget is? Who do you think the actors are? I gotta have answers. If I just sit down go, Well, I haven't really thought about that. But here's my story. They're gonna be like, well, we don't want to work with you know, we need you to help us, everybody, you know, they need the showrunners and their people and their writers to know what the hell they're doing because they can't look over everybody. You know, I mean, they got to give you the money and let you go, go go do it. And you know, they got to have trust, right? So your brand is so wildly important right now. So put yourself in a position to win. I said at the beginning of the show. The writers room is free to everybody that comes on that everybody that listens to this show because Alex is my boy right Jason a che dot merch at age 30 two.com. Get in there. There's open writing assignments, everything like that. But most importantly, be active, be visible, be visible and active in the right places. value your time, value your money that you invest in yourself. Don't go with Fly By Night services and people that make bullshit promises demand transparency, and put yourself in a position to win and that's it. We could put all these links I could give you these links right

Alex Ferrari 1:29:10
Yeah, I'll put them in the show notes. Just send me stuff.

RB Botto 1:29:13
And yeah, man, if I could throw out I know we're gonna fly so I'm gonna switch out my my social handles as well,

Alex Ferrari 1:29:20
Which is arguably one of the best social handles on Twitter. And I,

RB Botto 1:29:25
I share a ton of free the reason I'm giving out my social animals not same reasons that Alex does what he does, we're not throwing it out because I want 60 billion new followers. To me follower account doesn't mean shit. It's about the quality. But Alex and I put out a ton of free information all the time. He does the show for free, obviously. And if you go on my Instagram and my Twitter you'll see that I'm putting out free content daily. And it's just RB my initials RB walks into a bar RB walks into a bar and also on stage 32. When you sign up and it is free to sign up. It's a free class. Warm, you will get my message on your wall that is automated. That's the only thing in my life that is automated, you respond to that you will get a response from me, every single social media post every single answer you see on social media, everything is me, just like Alex does, because we stand in front of everything that we say and integrity rules. And that's one of the reasons why I love this gentleman gentleman in front of you, and why I'm gonna, why I'm gonna, you know, to stop, stand him up. And

Alex Ferrari 1:30:27
I don't appreciate, I don't appreciate your tone, or your or your, you forget

RB Botto 1:30:32
I just want to say, that's the thing surround yourself. I'm, I'm hyping both of us up saying that we were men of integrity, I think we are. But my entire mantra of this business. I know Alex is the same way as I surround myself with people of integrity. And I surround myself with people that know more than I know, and help elevate me and want to take me with them. And that's been the key to my success this entire time in this business. And I it's the reason why we're partners with Netflix now. 10 years ago, five years ago, when we would talk to Netflix, they were like, Yeah, sure, guys. Yeah, yeah. And now they're coming to us paying us and we're working with them. And we're partners with them. That comes from proving yourself over and over again. Oh, businesses.

Alex Ferrari 1:31:15
Yeah. And and look, yeah, everyone listening to the show can see how the show has grown over the years. And it's because I've been here and just every day showing up

RB Botto 1:31:23
Stone overnight, you didn't get any of these people overnight, you work your ass off, to build this audience and build the show. And you did it. Like I said, with style and integrity. And anybody that you go out to can listen to one of your shows and go, I get it like, wow, this guy is really giving back like this guy does this from you could tell why he does it, and how he cares. And of course, why wouldn't an Oliver Stone want to do the show then? Right? Why wouldn't anybody in this business not want to have an audience with your audience? And I think that that's, you know, it's Yeah, but it's the truth, right? So that's what I'm saying to your audience right now. Be good to yourself, Okay, you're always going to be your own biggest champion. And you always have to find integrity in yourself. And you always have to inspire yourself, you should be your biggest inspiration, quite frankly. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 1:32:18
And just to put a button on this, man, you've been doing this 11 years, I've been doing it six and a half years. And, you know, that is a testament to resilience. But it's also a lesson for everyone learning and listening that this ain't gonna happen overnight. No, no, and neither you or I have made it but we've gotten to a certain level in our in what we do, that it's taken us a long time to get here, you're one you're not getting a call from Netflix, you know, you know, it takes time to get to these places in whatever you're trying to do. And if you think you have a one or two year plan, you're sadly mistaken, you have to have a one to two decade plan.

RB Botto 1:32:57
And that's what real goals, right this is. The other thing I would say to this audience is, you know, I see everybody going onto social media saying like, these are my 2022 goals, that's fine. I think you should have goals. I think, you know, some people have vision boards, I don't, that's fine. If you have one, it's all good. I don't care what your method is, but you need to be fair to yourself. And if your goal is, you know, by the end of this year, I want to have XY and Z. You got to recognize the fact that you get to X, Y and Z you need to have micro goals every day. You need when the day like I just had this conversation I did a sorry, awake a webcast the other day and they said, you know the guy that was hosting said You know, you're everywhere like you're always you know, you see here I see that how do you do it? Like how do you wake up every day? And you know, feel that fire? And the reality is it's routine. I wake up every day and my first hour is pretty much the same almost every single day. Because I know if I win that hour, I have a great chance to win the day

Alex Ferrari 1:34:01
And that's just it and that's just eating raw meat right you just eat little raw meat bourbon and smoke a cigar.

RB Botto 1:34:09
That's pretty much the entire plan.

Alex Ferrari 1:34:14
That's that's the voice that's how the voice has gotten to where it is. It's just raw meat bourbon cigar first thing in the morning breakfast.

RB Botto 1:34:20
Oh, definitely the bourbon contributed by

Alex Ferrari 1:34:25
Guys, RB man I appreciate you coming on the show. As always my friend you're always welcome back anytime. You you. You hold a record. I don't think anyone's gonna break your record of the most appearances on the show. I think were 13 14 15 I don't even I lost track. I have to go back and count them all. But but it's a pleasure as always your wealth of information. A gentleman and a scholar sir. So I appreciate your time my friend.

RB Botto 1:34:51
Well, I appreciate you having me on as always, you know I love you to death and appreciate everything that you do for the community of course and Yeah, man, I'm looking forward to 16 We'll get both I'm also looking forward to my gold watch 15 So I expect that in the mail and

Alex Ferrari 1:35:06
The jacket, the jacket will be coming soon his jacket,

RB Botto 1:35:10
Welcome jacket 20 I'll even get made.

Alex Ferrari 1:35:14
I'll get a smoking jacket and then I'll get a bid for the raw meat. So the blood doesn't get on the smoking jacket. So

RB Botto 1:35:21
Make sure now I feel like I have to come with a cigar and bourbon.

Alex Ferrari 1:35:24
Well, I don't know why you haven't you've yet to do that.

RB Botto 1:35:27
Yeah, I've well I used to book but actually when I used to do shows to do that was Bourbon and

Alex Ferrari 1:35:31
There was always there was oh, no, did you actually had bourbon straight up? Like you weren't trying to hide it? Like Yeah, no. depends on the time of day. This is early for you. So I understand. Six o'clock in the morning. I'm drinking. It's fantastic.

RB Botto 1:35:45
Well, listen. It's five o'clock somewhere. It's just it's just, I'm awake.

Alex Ferrari 1:35:52
It's a and I do I do hope to see you my friend at South by hopefully if it goes off. We'll hopefully have you here. It will be my first South by Southwest I've never been so it's going to be exciting. I expect you to be here to show me around. Tell me where to go where not to go. And and Sundance unfortunately. Not so much this year.

RB Botto 1:36:12
That full range into my scheduling. Holy shit.

Alex Ferrari 1:36:15
Well, maybe one day we'll come back to normal man I miss I miss Park City, but I think it's gonna it'll never be what it was. It will never be what it was. It'll never be what it was when we shot the movie. It'll Yeah, it'll never be that again. I think we're gonna be wearing masks for quite some time.

RB Botto 1:36:31
I mean well, we'll see what happens with South by if I can make it down there. If they have it. You know, I'd love to see we could probably do something.

Alex Ferrari 1:36:38
My friend a pleasure as always my friend. Thanks again.

RB Botto 1:36:42
I love you my brother. I really do. I love you to death. Alright my friend.

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BPS 181: Clerks, Sundance and Making $500 Million+ at the Box-Office with Scott Mosier

You guys are in for a major treat. I’m always talking about those “lottery ticket” filmmaker stories that we all dream of happening to us one day. Well, today’s guest’s story is one of the mythological stories that come to life.

We have a 90’s independent film icon, Scott Mosier. Scott is an indie film producer, editor, writer, director, actor, and podcaster of Smodcast, which he co-hosts with his long-term filmmaking partner, Kevin Smith.

From Vancouver Film School to Hollywood, Scott’s trajectory has been inspiring for many in the industry. He produced some of the best 90s classics like Clerks 1 & 2, Jersey Girl, the Oscar® Winning Good Will Hunting, Dogma, and many, many more.

Scott acted in, edited the movie, original sound, and contributed to Clerk’s budget. After the massive hit, they followed up with the embattled Mallrats. The film was not well received and did no money at the box office. Kevin and Scott were essentially discarded and called a one-hit-wonder. For most filmmakers that would be all she wrote but not for Kevin and Scott.

They decided to go back to their roots and make another low-budget indie and prove to Hollywood that they were here to stay. Their next film was the brilliant romantic comedy-drama, Chasing Amy. The tells the unfortunate twist of a male comic artist who falls in love with a lesbian woman, to the displeasure of his best friend.

After self-financing, the majority of their initial projects (Mosier & Smith), 2001, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back was Mosier’s first big-budget ($20 million) production.

Based on real-life stoners Jay and Silent Bob, so when they get no profit from a big-screen adaptation they set out to wreck the movie.

If that wasn’t enough Scott also co-executive produced the Oscar® Award-Winning Good Will Hunting in his spare time.

Wanting a change Scott decided to branch out and start directing himself. His 2018 directorial debut was a stand-out project! A box office hit, grossing about $512 million globally and the highest-grossing holiday film of all time. Dr. Seuss: The Grinch became the third screen adaptation of the 1957 Dr. Seuss book, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

I had a ball talking shop with Scott. We discussed the genesis of the independent film movement as we know it today, dealing with studios, what was it like being in the Clerks hurricane, and much more.

Enjoy my conversation with Scott Mosier.

Right-click here to download the MP3



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Alex Ferrari 2:41
I'd like to welcome to the show the legendary Scott Mosier how're you doing Scott?

Scott Mosier 4:14
The legendary Scott Mosier is not here.

Alex Ferrari 4:18
Well then we'll just deal with the Scott Mosier that's in front of us. Yes. I'm good. How are you? I'm good, man. I'm good. Thank you so much for coming on the show man. I've I've been a fan of of your, you're producing for a long time and you're directing my kids are now fans of your directing as well, which we'll get all into that in a bit. But, you know, many, many of my listeners know that you you know kind of get your start in clerks. Working with Kevin and getting that whole thing going. I have to first tell you when I first saw clerks, because you and I are similar vintage, as far as age is concerned. So

Scott Mosier 4:58
You're looking at I'm about to what's today? Friday on Friday, um, a week. So today's February 24. So March 5, I turned 50. I'm like, Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 5:10
You're a little bit, you're just slightly a bit older. I'm 46. So we're in similar we, we've crossed over the same bodies, in the bits in the business. So, um, when I first thought clerks, I was so upset because I was working in video stuff. Like, it was right in front of me. Why did I think of this? It was like, literally, I was I worked at a video store for five years. And I was just like, God, damn it, man. I was so upset at myself, like I had. And I thought about that. But you guys, you guys did it. So how did you get involved with Kevin? How did you get involved with clerks and that whole kind of crazy story?

Scott Mosier 5:49
So I mean, you know, I backing it up, like I was probably, I guess I was like, 14, or 15. Or even younger than that. It was like Raiders of the Lost Ark was the movie I saw. Where it wasn't just that I was like, Oh, I love this movie. It was more that I was like, Oh, what is how do people do this, like, you know that it's a constructive thing. You know, like, it became, I became aware that it's like, oh, people made it didn't just appear on an air. And so then I started getting released in film. And then, you know, ultimately went to the Vancouver Film School, because I was living just outside of Vancouver, BC. So. And so Kevin and I both just sort of independently end up getting in, we're in the same class. It was like the 25th 26th. Like they were they were numbered, so it's cool, just opened. And we both went because our grades weren't that good. And so it's like, this is a tech school, right? You just go it's eight bonds, you're in and out, Kevin. So we arrived there together, we kind of become friends. But Kevin is the one who came with a plan, like Kevin had already sort of, he was working in a convenience store. And the videos are back and forth. And so he kind of went there with the intention of like, I'm going to learn how to make a movie, and then go back and make the movie with my friends. And then we became friends. And so it became like, around halfway through the program, it's like the four month mark, it was like 10,000 all and then they take it the halfway mark, like you had to put in your next 5000. And Kevin was like, I'm not gonna do it. I'm gonna go home and get my job back. And you say, and finish the term out and learn how or whatever's left tiller. As far as like, all that was really left in the back half of the four months was we switched into doing these sort of narrative 16 millimeter shorts. So you worked on like, two, I think or one now you just worked on one. And and so Kevin left to save the money to put towards the movie. And then I stayed. And that's when Dave like Dave Klein is in our class, who was the cinematographer on clerks. And he we've kind of known each other. But as soon as Kevin laughs like that, Dave and I started hanging out a lot. And so by the time we graduated, so it was like March of 92. We start class, October we finish. And Dave and I are friends. And after that we started making like, there's all there's a bunch of, you know, there's like a community of like, people have gone to the school, and they were making short films outside of the program. And so I was, I was editing one was the editor on one and I was the dolly grip during the shoot, I was doing it, I was cut in at night. David shot and, and so we were all just kind of around with cevin. In the meantime, I remember working on that short when I was Dolly, Dolly grip for a reason. And that's when I read in convenience or the first draft of clerks. So that was like probably November of 92. So we meet in March of 92 by November of 92. I have the the draft for clerks and then and then from there, we were gonna shoot earlier, but then there was a big flood and Kevin's like house was flooded and his car was flooded and so he couldn't do it. And so we we postponed until March and then I was prepping in the morning to rent equipment like I was getting up like really early at like 5am to call houses in New York to rent camera equipment and we'd sort of talked to you know, I mean, there's a lot of stories that we have talked to, you know, we talked to one DP was in New York is an older guy who had his own path lighting and etc, etc. And I remember Kevin, I was talking to him like, this is totally. I mean, look, it all worked out. So, but I remember I remember being like, I remember distinctly feeling like, oh, man, like, if there's that one guy who knows everything, and we're just complete neophytes, it's like it kind of, we both were a little bit like, it feels wrong, like, you know, or it feels like it just felt like the wrong move to have this person who was always like, can't do that. And you have to do this. And you have friends that I think we're just selfish and scared.

Alex Ferrari 10:52
Ignorance, ignorance is bliss.

Scott Mosier 10:54
Yeah, it was it truly was like, kind of like, and then Dave, we knew Dave like, well, let's update. You know, let's, let's, let's bring a lot of people who know nothing.

Alex Ferrari 11:07
So I'd be on paper. This sounds fantastic as an investment. So we were talking about it's I mean, it really does black and white movie about clerks. No Star Power cost about 20 something 27,000 If I'm not mistaken. First time DP really, I mean, other than shorts, first time director first time producer. First time cast essentially had no actors for Summit. So again, on paper, solid, solid investments. Everyone lined up. Everyone's just like, How much money do you need?

Scott Mosier 11:36
Yeah, I'm like, why don't you give us a million? And we're like, no, no, no, no. We only want 1000

Alex Ferrari 11:44
Let's not get crazy. And then And also, I just recently found out that Dave, Dave was the DP on the Mandalorian. So he's done okay, for himself.

Scott Mosier 11:54
Yeah, I mean, dude, you know, shot from day one on the ship shoot, like, most the seasons of homeland, and now he's on Mandalorian. Like, you know, he, yeah, he's sort of, you know, his career. And last two has just taken off, you know, and he's doing, you know, he's been nominated for Emmys. Like, it's just amazing. But yeah, we were at that point, you know, that's my feminine paying for it, you know, essentially all those on his credit cards, but, you know, his, his, his mindset, which always made sense to me was, like, you know, you can go to NYU is if you've got mam IU, or another sort of more prestigious film school site, he could have spent 100,000, you know, 100 $200,000 So it's like, you know, by the time he came out of Vancouver Film School, having spent like, you know, eight to $10,000, and fees, and living, etc, etc. And then you add, you know, another 30 grand and credit card debt. It's like, it didn't seem you know, it was like on paper, once again, like, on paper, it was like, Is this the worst thing like, nuke? Yes, you're in debt. And if the movie is a total disaster, you'll have to dig yourself out of it. But like, I mean, but that's, and I will say this, like, that's, that's, you know, that's not me. That was Kevin, like Kevin had, Kevin's always had that drop, you know, and like to make that sort of like, leap, you know, he made the leap of like, I'm just, like, Fuck it, like, I'm just gonna do it, you know, and like, start rash, like getting credit cards.

Alex Ferrari 13:32
You know, it's, it's, I mean, look, you know, I grew up in the 90s. And that you you guys were part of that first wave of true independent like that what what we consider independent film today was created, starting in 89, with sex lies, and continue with clerics and El Mariachi and reservoir and that whole, you know, Linkletter and slacker and all these guys. And when you guys were making clerks, it hadn't really hit yet. Sundance was Sundance, but it wasn't Sundance like you guys helped create the mythos around Sundance with with clerks, and mariachi and then of course, all these other films that came around that time. So there was, there wasn't even kind of a blueprint for what you guys were doing. Like it wasn't like, oh, yeah, we're gonna submit to Sundance and then obviously, Harvey and Miramax is gonna pick this up and we're gonna get a fat check in our careers. Like, that wasn't even a thing. It's the risk that you guys were taking was not only crazy, looking. In hindsight, it's like on paper, it looked horrible, but it was like really? It was really brave and stupid.

Scott Mosier 14:39
100% but I will, I will sort of like, unfortunately punch a hole.

Alex Ferrari 14:45
Please, please punch away.

Scott Mosier 14:46
Because there was actually like a absolute blueprint with Slacker.

Alex Ferrari 14:52
You're right, I guess. Slacker. Did you write slacker?

Scott Mosier 14:54
Slacker slacker comes out. Kevin sees fluff like, here's the slacker boy. prep. Kevin goes to New York See, slacker goes, it loves it. And he's like, if that's a movie, I can make a movie, right? And then from there, there was like, you know, there was enough examples.

Alex Ferrari 15:14
I guess you're right. You'll be really early though.

Scott Mosier 15:17
Slacker. We were super early. And we definitely became like part of the sort of Sundance mythos of like, the ultra low budget, kind of like film from nowhere, you know, and then filmmaker plucked out and sort of, you know, given a career, like, we're definitely all part of that. But there was enough, you know, right down to the fact that Kevin was like, there was an article about slacker who had framed on his wall, which was, Rick had made the movie and then showed it as a in progress screen in the IFM, which was the international feature film market. And an Amy talbin did this sort of wrap up article every year called, picked a few movies, and she had picked slacker. And so that really was the blueprint, like Sundance was technically not the end zone, the end zone was to get to IFAM and screen it. So we had that blueprint. And then there was another article I remember written by Peter Broderick, which was a budget breakdown of laws of gravity, which is very, very, like by year, but it still was like, and so it kind of helped shape this idea of like, I think we can do this because the slacker was 22,000. And laws of gravity was around there, too. So it was like, it kind of became this sort of, like $25,000 idea. That was the budget, you know, and before you know, the other person who was like, very influential, who had proceeded everybody was Jarmusch. You know, like he stranger than paradise was a huge influence. I mean, like, a big influence as far as like, long takes, you know, like, there was definitely an influence, but it was also just an influence of like, you know, the young and like the those those are the first independent films, like Think stage in Paradise was like the first indie film.

Alex Ferrari 17:23
What was it? What year was that? What year was that? Is that 89 90?

Scott Mosier 17:26
I thought it was 89. I was about to look.

Alex Ferrari 17:29
Yeah, I think, because I know. I mean, obviously Soderbergh's, you know, sex lies was that was a million dollar. I was like, a million dollar movie. That wasn't a small indie. But it was the thing that kind of launched Sundance into being what Sundance essentially became. And prior to that Hollywood shuffle in 87, which was another big blueprint, which I think I think Robert Townsend doesn't get enough credit for, for being like one of the first guys I think he was one of the first guys to put everything on his credit card, and just say, Screw it, and yet, yeah,

Scott Mosier 17:58
And I like I like Kevin, the blueprint. I'm pretty, I think that was definitely Kevin put it on his credit card. It's like it was like the like the Blueprint was sort of like Hollywood shuffle slacker. laws of gravity was just the first budget I'd ever seen where they broken it down into camera equipment, and all that stuff. And I was just like, such a neophyte that I was like, it just gave me something where I was like, oh, like, so if somebody says the camera package cost three times as much I can cry bullshit, and go like No, no like this. You know what I mean? It just gave me something to, to base it off. But we did have this sort of, we had this blueprint and we ultimately go to the AFM. We have a terrible screening. And no one's in. Like there's, there's awesome the cast. And then there's like three or four other people, you know, but there's one guy, there's one guy, this guy, Robert Hawke, who was a consultant for Sundance, and was a big part of the indie film world. And he had watched it, and he becomes this sort of like, he leaves and he tells Peter Broderick, and then Amy Talman wrote the article calls Peter Broderick and says, like, is there anything I missed? And he's like, You got to watch this movie clerks. So then Kevin's in the store, we're all depressed because we're like, Well, that's it right? Like that's, that's 40 grand like, the Blueprint was over. Blueprint grant really ran out. We've turned the page and we're like, Fuck, it's blank. There's nothing left to do except lick our wounds. And then Amy Tabin calls Kevin at the store and basically we become we become the sort of, if the slacker article she wrote as the prototype, we basically become that film for that year we became the film you know, we became the slacker, over article. And then everything just sort of ballooned from there. You know, everything was just like it was all look, it's all so much of it was word of mouth.

Alex Ferrari 20:07
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Scott Mosier 20:18
Because it was like, from Peter Broderick, Amy Talbott, like, it just became like, Larry cartouche from MoMA, and then John Pierce, like it, just, you know, then the film just starts like, then people are moving, advancing things without us doing anything. And we're just sitting back, you know, like, like, watching, like, you know, roller coasters. Like this. Here's like, what to

Alex Ferrari 20:44
Use someone for the ride at that point?

Scott Mosier 20:46
Yeah, as soon as we look, you know, as soon as we get to Sundance, you know, the idea leaving left is like, will someone buy, you know, we still didn't know that. And, and there have been sort of screenings prior. So some of the studios have seen it. And it was really like, well, we got to have a, we have to have really great screens to see it. So that was the only thing kind of left. And then once it's bought, then then it's truly like the roller coaster of like, you know, but it was it was really, you know, it was, it's something that the experience from beginning to end is was so incredible. Like it was it was like it was written, you know, like you by the time you're like, by the time we're in Cannes in critics week. And Kevin and I are like, trying to avoid going to the awards dinner because we didn't want to dress up or some stupid shit. And then we go when, you know, and we're just sort of like, there's this amazing photo of us sort of like, I mean, I think it's more on my back. But Kevin Spacey is just that, like, what? Holy shit moment of like, you know, because you're constantly you in a way you your, your mind sort of adjust to what happened, you know, like, Okay, we got into can and now it's over, like, Okay, we got to Sundance now. They kind of go like, alright, like, just can't keep going. Yeah, like the amazing train has, okay, maybe the train stopped here. Okay, this is great. This is amazing. And then it's like, it just kept going with that movie. It just had such a life of its own. And it was such an amazing sort of, you know, we flew around the world, it was just everywhere. I was 22, I think. So it was such, it was incredible. It was it was like, you know, in four years, it was like it has been, it will always be it will always be the most this incredibly special experience that nothing can really touch. For reasons of like, for reasons that aren't the fault of any other film I've ever worked for Don, it's just, you know, you can't, you can't really experience something for the first time.

Alex Ferrari 23:11
It's like, it's like your first love, like you can't re experience your first love. You might not end up with that person, or whatever. But that moment and that time and your age and where you are in the world and your evolution, all that stuff. You'll never ever get your first kiss. Like that's, that's something you'll never get your first. So Clark's was essentially your first time.

Scott Mosier 23:34
The first time and it was amazing. It was like, we were in Cannes and I remember, there was a Miramax boat. And then next to it was this was a yacht and Simon Obama was on it. And basically, we were, you know, we were running around all the time. But basically, we end up meeting sila bond, and he's like, you know, it kind of says, like, Oh, I love to see a movie. And I was like, I was I was planning like eight in the morning or something crazy. And he's like, we'll come get me. So I basically got up at 730 walked all the way to the because we were staying at a hotel, I walk onto his boat and no one's awake. So I wink I rouse sign on the bar, who's like, and I take him to this and I walk him into a screening. You know, it was just like,

Alex Ferrari 24:20
That's like, that's just that's like bizarro world kind of stuff. Like, you can't even write that.

Scott Mosier 24:25
Yeah, exactly. It was just such an it was such an amazing experience. And there's been so many movies, you know, there's lots of great experiences, but it was, you know, it was being that young, right? You know, and watching these doors open into a world it's like you can't I mean, that's the thing. You know, you only walk through the door wants and that was like such an amazing experience of walking through the door into this sort of world that you know, we generally are our, you know, it's presented as you know, behind the velvet rope. wrote, so to speak. So it's like, you only kind of get to walk in there Watts and that was, you know, that was clerks.

Alex Ferrari 25:07
Now the one thing that I want everyone listening and I think this is this is a this is an issue that I dealt with most of my filmmaking career and I think a lot of filmmakers still do is they look at stories like clerks and slacker and mariachi and, and that kind of time period. And they will think they'll make films today thinking that that's an option. Meaning like, what will happen to you like I always consider you guys like a lottery ticket. Like you guys want a lottery ticket, it was the right place right time right product. And that goes along for like slacker and mariachi, like, if you guys show up today with clerks, do you think you can cut through the noise?

Scott Mosier 25:43
Um, I mean, it's hard to say what I what I will say is like, something always cuts through the noise. Right? Always something that cuts through the noise. And, and part of it is part of it is definitely luck. And timing. You know, it's like, part of it is luck and timing. Because, you know, as our career went on, like, releases of movies, it's also about luck and timing to you know, it's like, you can sort of make a great movie and it gets released that a bad time of the bad marketing campaign. It doesn't sort of like, I think, could, you know, it's like, it's a time right, right now, do I think that the film like clerks? Well, it's like reading our comedy and all that, like, so much of that has grown since we've sort of come on the scene. And there's so many actors in that, in that world, that I do think it would be harder to cut through because we, what we were what and what Kevin was, was like, whether people think he's the voice of a generation, or like, I'm not arguing that point, but he was a voice from that generation that was unique and specific. And that's the thing that that's the thing that, in addition to luck, you know,

Alex Ferrari 27:12
There's a combination, it's a formula, it's not just a one thing, it's a bunch of different things I hit to get

Scott Mosier 27:17
You know, people who are out there going like, you can't if people look at clips, or slack, or it's not like Kevin looked at Slack, or I was like, I'm gonna make slacker, he more was like, Oh, that's a movie that like, that's a that's a vision from Rick Linklater, like, you know, that Kevin was like, This is what I find funny. And this is what I enjoy doing any portal himself into that, and had a unique voice. And, you know, always say this, which is, you know, Kevin had been writing for years and years and years and years since he was really young. So by the time he's 22, and writes a script, it's like, it's just fucking better than you know. And when he's 18, he's like, I'm gonna, I'm gonna write scripts. And then, you know, it's just because I ran those I wrote those, like I wrote, you know, I've tried to write a script, but holy shit like this is, you know, because I, Kevin, who was just a much more developed narrative writer, he's just kind of new, and you can see it on the page. So I think there's a lot of, you know, luck. Luck is so many things. But, you know, the pursuit of a unique voice, right? The goal shouldn't be like, What do I have, you know, like, or it's like, let's just make a movie like, let's make clarbeston in a, you know, a like valets. Let's make ballets. And it's like, you can go ahead. But unless being a ballet is this very personal thing, where you can convey something to the audience that that is unique, then you just become like, a knockoff movie, you know? And I think like, I think when people sit there and go, like, hey, let's make something cheap. It's like, well, maybe something cheap and personal. And those bad combination. Will that that combination, at least has the chance to come through them. Right? Because you're doing something that's like you have to in some people's personal, what's personal to them, and what means something to them can be a $30,000 movie or some people it's like before it even like, you know, sometimes the scale of that can be some people like sci fi, like, it doesn't really matter, but like, I do think finding your voice is and I'll bring it back to me, which is like, that experience of finding your voice was a much longer process for me. And then like I you know, Kevin walked in the door and like 22 like he had been developing his voice for years though, like he But writing school plays and stuff like that. But finding your voice for me is the most important thing that you can do. Like that's the thing that like finding your voice finding that thing that's unique to you. If you can look at something in a way that no one else is necessarily expressing. There's other people who see it the same way. And if you can capture that, that's how you gain an audience, right? Like, we all look at things in different ways. But there's also just like, anyone clerks did it. This is like, not anything I thought about 21. But what I thought what I think it did was it created this sort of, you know, it was an expression of something that didn't exist. And there was this huge audience. So it was like, it does exist. This is how I talked about like, like, this is what we think is funny. This is when we fall short with our friends like, and that that's the part where it's like, there's all kinds of luck that has to come into it. There's all kinds of timing. And we as filmmakers, like I believe, what you have to focus on first and foremost is like, what's the unique? What do you what's, what's the unique sort of perspective that you're bringing? To what you're doing?

Alex Ferrari 31:21
That's a that's a great, great, great piece of advice. You're absolutely right, if you could connect with something that's authentic to you in your own voice. If you try to go make another clerks, you're gonna fail, because there's, there's already a clerks, and it was done authentically by Kevin and you. And, yeah, I agree with you. 100%. Now, after clerks, obviously, you guys are the toast of the town. You know, you're the belle of the ball. You're you're being wooed. It's the it's the early 90s. Money is flying everywhere. And they say, What do you want to do next? And I and Kevin, and you say, hey, let's do mall rats. And you're like, here's, here's that those million dollars you were talking about earlier, now we'll accept your money. So you make mall rats, which by the way, I'm I'm actually a very big fan of mall rats. I actually saw it in the theater test screening in the theater when I was in college. And I got I got that little book that the movie official movie book. They gave one to you as you walked out and stuff i Oh, yeah, I saw I was me and my friend, were pacing ourselves when we saw it, because it was speaking to us at that time in our lives. So Mallrats didn't live up to the financial expectations of the studio. I didn't want to say that loud, it.

Scott Mosier 32:33
Totally bought the bar out of an eel, you know, a long time ago, knowing that, like the audience ultimately found that movie. You know, it didn't didn't, it wasn't 99 You know, when it came out, it was like, it was pretty dark. We're both like, fuck, because you Paul, I work into it. But and you and you.

Alex Ferrari 32:53
And you guys were pretty much so you guys were put in because you you had one hit, which was clerics, which was kind of like, alright, this is an anomaly. Let's see if these guys have anything else. So they give you a little bit of money. And then Mallrats happens and it bombs. So that pretty much blacklist you in town for my understand, like it kind of just your director, jail and producer at this point.

Scott Mosier 33:11
It's this, you know, it's the sophomore slump, because the reviews are terrible, you know, a lot of it sort of like pointed right at Kevin, I think, which was just like, you know, we built you up, we, you know, we really send you and then you make this and, you know, I think in hindsight, I would be curious, if any, if any critics would have the, you know, to go back and relook at that movie and, and understand its connection to clerks, you know, like, understand that it's not this sort of, and I think for you as an audience member, like you understood it, right. Like, it felt like, like a proper extension of what that movie was. And but we were, you know, at that point Kevin has adopted before was over Kevin and started writing a version of Chasing Amy that was a little bit more commercial. And as soon as it happens, it's like, I guess you're in jail, but in a way we didn't even we lived in Jersey, so it was like, it wasn't like, it wasn't like, we were injured. It's like when you're not in Hollywood. It's like you're not it's like you don't really

Alex Ferrari 34:24
You didn't feel the heat. If you will

Scott Mosier 34:26
We didn't feel anything we're just kind of like more bummed out and like, oh shit, what do we do now? And Kevin was like, you know, like, let's just go make a movie. You know, and let's do it quickly. And so JC Nene became a, a reaction to all that money, you know, that we were given and the fact that it didn't do well we're like, well, let's create something that we know we can get enough money. Let's do it cheap and, and also do it our way. You know, we kind of went back to it. Let's do it for enough money that we can be left alone. And then really be specific about what we're doing and not worry about, you know, casting like we can cast to we want so let's do it for, you know, shot the whole thing.

Alex Ferrari 35:15
You know, like 100 grand or 100 grand or something like that, right?

Scott Mosier 35:18
It was like to shoot it and start cutting, you know, to deliver like a sort of a couple cuts of the movie and get it far along is a couple 100 grand. So there's a post cost and all the rest of it, but we did it, you know, we kind of went in and a price point that was like, we knew that it wasn't a huge investment for somebody, we can make our money back, you know, we're using like, a great crew, you know, young people, and because we were young, two of them were I think I was 26 at that point, young crew from New York, you know, it was coming down, you're shooting on Jersey, and then you know, we're back to sort of a version of, of making clerks again, just with, you know, we took the experiences from clerks, we took the experience from our ads and sort of JC Namie becomes the, the rebuilding here, you know, I've become like, let's, let's, let's sort of, like, we, we had other producers on Mara, too. We got along with but it was like, this was like, alright, let's just do this our way. Like, yes, we need a bigger crew. Yes, we need this. Yes, we need that. But like how do we do that through through our filter and through the way we want to do things and then from there, it's like, after GCD we that's where we carry on through document everything else but there was a really like it was a refocus. The whole movie was a sort of like a shift back to like, this is what we're doing

Alex Ferrari 36:45
And the smart thing that you guys did is that you move so quickly. Because Mallrats was you know, you guys, it was a lot of eyeballs on you in town, like oh, these guys obviously, they're there. They're one hit wonder, you know, that's it their bubble gum. Let's it's it's move on. But you guys like No, no, let's let's get in there. And arguably Chasing Amy is one of my favorite of the filmography of what you and Kevin have done. There's so much heart so much authenticity in that film. It's not nearly as silly as Mallrats in the crudeness of it, but there still is those elements. But there's so much more heart in chasing me like there's it's deeper, in a way am I am I wrong on that?

Scott Mosier 37:27
No, no, I mean, I think I think JC Namie becomes the sort of I think a lot of people react to it, because it becomes the sort of the movie that sort of represents kind of more the totality of food cabinets, right. So it's like, the crude humor, of course, is part of it. But it's like, you know, he's also a drama, you know, he's a dramatist. He's, you know, he's, he's also somebody who's like, has a big heart. And, you know, it's also a personal movie, you know, and so, it's a personal movie for him. And I think that that sort of shifts, you know, sort of Clarkson Maher as this becomes something where he's like, I'm gonna tell another personal story, which, you know, just happens to be more grounded in you know, there's a lot more drama and real drama. Right. So it's like, sort of drama coming from stemming from a specific situation, but I think it became like, and that was a year lace of marks comes out in 9596, like February or something, we start shooting juicy Navy in February, March. And then January 97. We're in Sundance, you know, we're we're back.

Alex Ferrari 38:45
And we're back baby. And we're a we're back. And that and that does gangbusters at the box office, especially for its budget and launches. This little known actor really Ben Affleck was just his first starring role and in that, that whole thing, so it was just an exciting time because I was I was following you guys. Like I was following you and Robert and Quinton and all that, you know, that crew and Richard and all that crew, I would watch every damn thing you guys put out. And it was that weird time. And I always tell people that's like the 90s It felt like, every month there was a new Cinderella story. It's either John Singleton, it's, it's at burns. It's it's Kevin Smith, it was like, it's just it was an amazing time to be an independent filmmaker. It was kind of like when, when Spielberg and Lucas and bilious and and Coppola and dipalma that film school brats generation when they were given the keys to Hollywood because Hollywood had no idea what the hell to do. So they'd like here go make taxi driver. And you guys kind of had that run in the 90s. It was that from like, 89 to like, 9899 there was that run that was just so many amazing filmmakers came out during that time.

Scott Mosier 39:55
I mean, I think there's you know, I'm sure someone's read a book about it, but you Like, you know, part of it is like the industry sort of needs to open.

Alex Ferrari 40:05
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Scott Mosier 40:16
You know, sort of like, especially then it's like, nowadays, it feels like there's a lot of venues and ways to get things made. And back then it was like, it was just harder to get things made, because there weren't as many outlets. But you also see the surge of, you know, Fox Searchlight. So there's more sort of like, there's more outlets for these movies, there's more opportunities, but also, it felt like the big you know, like in the 70s, the business kind of like, how do we fucking how to make money? Yeah, like, what do audiences want? Like, you know, there's also a generational thing to me, which is like, the industry has to open its doors every once in a while to let in the new generation of voices that they don't necessarily understand. Either, like, what was happening in the 70s. It's like, it's not like, those guys who were making movies in the 50s. And 60s, necessarily understood like that the audience wanted to see Easy Rider, right? Like, right,

Alex Ferrari 41:15
Easy Rider kind of opened the door for all those guys that like this, wait a minute, this 200 and something $1,000 movie went on and made like, you know, $10 million, or whatever it made, they were just like, we don't know what the hell's going on. Let's give it to these guys. This Scorsese the Spielberg kid, let's give him that shark movie.

Scott Mosier 41:31
Just became a, it's like audiences change. You know, I think it's always like, some combination of, you know, audiences are changing and the fan, you know, jogger, people come up, and it's happening now. Like, like, there's, you know, I'm almost 50. So it's not like I'm the young buck anymore. And there's a whole generation of people coming up that have been influenced by totally different people. And, you know, they've all had the internet, since they were born, like, all of these influences change where people people's tastes. So it's like, I you know, and I think in the 90s, there was a sense of like, coming out of the 80s it was like this need of like, fresh voices and, you know, something that was more reflective of, of that generation coming up.

Alex Ferrari 42:22
The Gen X the Gen X guys, you know, you were Gen X guys were the generation was like, I just yeah, there's the 90s were fun, man, the 90s were fun. I miss I miss them more now than ever before. When you could just go to a movie theater. That was nice.

Scott Mosier 42:39
Well it was like last year. Back to the 90s. But yeah, the 90s were weird a lot. You know, I have a lot of fun in the 90s. It's funny, no one ever talks about the 2000s.

Alex Ferrari 42:52
You know, like, you never hear like, Oh, the 2000s music like no, you know, I know those songs. And I know that and I know those films, but in the 80s and 90s. Get in the 70s 80s and 90s kind of get that they have their own thing. But the 2000s is tough. And like the 2010s was another

Scott Mosier 43:09
just too young.

Alex Ferrari 43:11
I don't know, oh, no, don't worry, it'll come back around. Like right now we're in our 90s nostalgia. And I think now people are starting to kick into the early 2000s. It's like a two decade run. Because eight remember when the 80s was like all the rage, like everything was 80s 80s 80s and 80s. It still 80s is still cool to a certain extent. But I remember when the 70s like in the 90s the 70s were kind of like a thing and it's like a two to three decade delay.

Scott Mosier 43:35
We're old enough for it's like a certain point, like we're not Estelle I like part of is because like we have we you and I will probably never have nostalgia for the 2000s. Right, because we're too bold, like, like, once you hit 30, or whatever it feels like you sort of cease being you know, it's like you stop like living in this, you stop reflecting back in the static terms. Like, as I was going, like, I graduated from high school in 89. So the 80s was like, when you know the movies and music. You're you're you're sort of what I think is like the 80s For me, 80s and 90s was an explosion of like, I'm ingesting massive amounts of art in the form of movies, music, photography, like everything, like the 80s and 90s. Like I would fucking watch like for me, like when I was in, I would watch four movies a day. Yep. Like, like, if this massive period where you're taking things in, partly because you know, you're not great, or you have an outlet to like, put things out. So you're sort of like, you're amassing all this stuff. And so I think that's why it has such a strong influence. Who we are like, I think back to the 80s and 90s. And yeah, like I like everything I do today. It's like it feels a little bit referential to that time, but part of it is because like that is when the synapses are really forming around like, and these sort of large touchstones like land in your head during that period of time like 1000. Like, I don't have all these sort of cultural test touchstones of like, you know, I was, of course, I was listening to music and watching movies, I'm doing all that stuff. There's great movies from that period of great music and all that stuff. But it's still like, it doesn't have the same sheen to it, because it wasn't during that sort of explosive period of like, you know, getting your driver's license and kissing like everything's new.

Alex Ferrari 45:44
You're absolutely you're absolutely right. You're absolutely right. Now, there's a couple of there's a few films that you produced that I had. I mean, I'd heard of a couple of them. But I didn't when I started doing research, I actually went into it, and there was a group of four features that you produce vulgar. Drawing flies a better place in the big helium dog. I I've seen some of big helium dog. It was shot on like, VHS, I'd like I don't beta like what was that?

Scott Mosier 46:12
I think they were all shot on 16 millimeter.

Alex Ferrari 46:15
Really, they were all shot because I guess the copy that I saw was so bad. That it was like you shot it on video. And like, why did they shoot this video? This makes no sense. But the other ones were shot on 16. So you know, some of the people in that like, yeah, the broken lizard guys, you had a cue from Impractical Jokers. And Baba Booey, Brian Lynch, all this these amazing people tell us Can you tell me a little bit about those four movies. And because they were kind of in a small, they were in a short period of time, they were all made.

Scott Mosier 46:45
It was after, I think it was after Chasing Amy. And we had sort of signed a deal with Miramax like an overall deal. And part of what we threw in was like, hey, we want to make these micro budget movies, it sort of in a way to sort of like our career was sort of the movies are getting bigger, you know, the budgets are getting bigger. And we're like, Well, hey, let's sort of with some of the people we know, that have scripts that that they're writing and stuff, like let's go make some of these micro budget things in the 2025 range, basically click to budget, I feel like we got 100 grand to make for movies, and we sort of and then the relationships was, you know, Brian Lynch had worked on tasty Namie. Vince Brera had been around since clerks who directed a better place, and then vulgar Brian Johnson was Kevin's friend for a long time. All these movies just became an extension of that moment, we were like, Oh, well, let's go sort of make some of these movies. You know, and, and it did it happened within like a two, or I think it was like two or three year period, you know, and, and Brian was the one who knew the broken lizard guys, and poor, you know, he kind of had connections to them, and Brian Quinn and just worked at the office. So like, he had worked. Even more, I just, I was talking to him the other day, like, we've known each other for like, 25 years, he had sort of come in to work at the office, like he was in charge of, like, back in 19. You know, 99 If you got a t shirt set in the mail, it was Brian Clinton did it. You know, like, that's where he was.

Alex Ferrari 48:38
He was working. He was working at USQ

Scott Mosier 48:40
Yeah, he was working at USQ at that time. And so all the people we kind of knew, and it was like, you know, we loved independent film. And so we're like, Let's go make some of these movies. And they're all very different, you know, and vulgar got into Toronto, and they all had various degrees of success and, and then and then I think it was like, my memory of like, why didn't we keep doing it? It was it was a lot. It was a lot of like, there's almost too much work.

Alex Ferrari 49:10
Like making making a movie. It's not that easy.

Scott Mosier 49:13
We weren't it's not like we were on set all the time. And I think it was just a matter of like we need dogma so we're heading into dogma and and the club's cartoons happening and it's like the the amount of more coordinating is expanding and then suddenly like to maintain those were to keep them going just saw too much work. But it was really fun.

Alex Ferrari 49:33
And now it's true that there is just no copies of big helium dog anywhere.

Scott Mosier 49:38
I mean, Brian Lynch has one.

Alex Ferrari 49:41
I just saw an interview he said, but he doesn't have one. He said

Scott Mosier 49:47
As far as I know,

Alex Ferrari 49:48
He has a copy of it, but it's not been released, but it's not available and released.

Scott Mosier 49:52
And I can't remember why there was some clearance issue. But it was never released. Now the rest of the hammer

Alex Ferrari 49:59
That's a hell of a cast now.

Scott Mosier 50:02
I don't know what happened to it, it was like it was off and on through the years, it was like music clearances, or there was something that was sort of pain over its head. And it just, it just never sort of my thought of he must have a copy

Alex Ferrari 50:15
I have to believe and he's the director, he's got to have at least just copy of it or

Scott Mosier 50:21
The lost arc define. Exactly. Yeah, I don't know, might be uncertain, like we're USQ or somewhere, there's got to be a copy, I do not have a copy. So

Alex Ferrari 50:31
One day, we'll get one day we'll get leaked on on on online, just like Deadpool did accidentally. Now, you you, you also got involved with another little known film as a producer called Goodwill Hunting. And that was, you know, one of my favorite films of that of that time period. And how did you get involved with that? And how did you like kind of was the band that brought you in on that.

Scott Mosier 50:58
So we were on Mallrats, we met that. And at that time, we were aware of who he was because like the whole saga of Goodwill Hunting was at a trade where they had sold like Ben and Matt install the script to Castle Rock for a bunch of money. So it's like, you know, other young guys, like sell script for a lot of money. And so it was on our radar. And then through Maher ads, we became friends. And my memory is that like during that period, we met Matt during like, a sort of internal screening Mr. outs. But basically, what we found out is that that Castle Rock was going to put into turnaround, because the guys are attached, but they wanted to attach a director that the guys aren't excited about. So basically, there was like a, and so there was like a big turnaround cost. And they sent us the script, and we really loved it. And we had just signed our overall deal Miramax. And so we sent it to our executive job board, and we're like, this is fucking great. You guys should make this like we, you know, like, you should meet with the guys. There's a turnaround cost, you guys should act fast and dive all over it. And so it happened really quickly. And that's, you know, our job. We really were just like, we just signed the deal. So we became a sort of conduit to get up there, hype it up and get everybody excited. And then it happened really quickly. So that time by the time Chasing Amy happens. All that was done. Like basically the movie was at the movie was it was a Miramax and they were writing doing rewrites, and they were also like, like, I remember like meeting with directors, you know, there was like before, like they want to guess to do it because they had met Gus and Gus wanted to do but then it was like Michael Mann and a couple other drugs.

That would have been an inch Michael Mann's Good Will Hunting would have been a very interesting might have been a couple more guns, just a couple,

Like an all guns, but

Alex Ferrari 53:15
It would have been a shootout with Will Hunting, which is that bluff, that great sequel, Good Will Hunting to hunting season for Strikes Back.

Scott Mosier 53:24
The version in a totally different way. But yeah, it was and then we you know, sort of, and then once it's in the hands of governments, and it's sort of just you know, then you just get to be a fly on the wall. So we were up there a couple times are shooting in Toronto, and it was just, you know, it was really interesting. I mean, for me, it was really interesting to watch, because you're working so much you're not on us, you know, you don't go on the sets of other filmmakers. And it's sort of interesting to watch how people act in different ways. Like he's very quiet and sort of, you know, he's not sort of sitting at the monitor shouting like, he sort of directs in this more sort of quiet way. Yeah, I mean, I felt was like, I remember seeing the, we went into New York to see like, the, the director's cut or whatever. And it was like, an ad. Like, it was basically 90% 95% of what the movie ended up being like, it was just so like, he just knew what he wanted it to be. And it was so specific. And like, it was just incredible. Like I remember just being chills was like, wow,

Alex Ferrari 54:28
So, so good. It's just so, so, so, so good. Now, during this time, I think you were heading into dogma. Did you? Did you guys know that this was going to be as controversial, essentially became

Scott Mosier 54:43
We knew, in the sense that, you know, at that point, Miramax was owned by Disney, and Disney was like, you know, we're not going to let you make this movie. So it's like it wasn't like we kind of entered into it. The writing was on the was a little bit from the very beginning that like, there was a real like, problem, that there was a problem and then it sort of it, you know, kind of grew from there and then kind of like, you know, peaked at a certain point and didn't kind of get worse or, or didn't get better or worse. It just sort of, you know, there's pickets in the New York Film Festival and tickets to the movie, you know, ticketing are when the when the movie came out, but

I actually remember seeing Kevin going out to pick it with them, like, Who's this bastard who made this movie? It was

Yeah, he went out. And he protested.

Alex Ferrari 55:41
He protested on his own film

Scott Mosier 55:42
Yeah, it was great. But, but yeah, it was a it was we we kind of knew enough to you know, we had a fake name for the movie while we're making it. You know, nothing really came of it. But there was there was definitely like, a tension about it before. Early on, and it was, I mean, was it a surprise to us? Like, we're like, what's the big deal? Yeah, but enough people at that point, we're like, You got to take it more seriously. And so

Alex Ferrari 56:13
You're playing with fire, you're playing with fire guys. Just be just be aware of what's going on. Don't be completely ignorant of what's happening.

Scott Mosier 56:20
I mean, part of me is just like, it never really got that bad. And I couldn't imagine if you know, today,

Alex Ferrari 56:28
Oh, my god, can you imagine daughter showed up today?

Scott Mosier 56:32
Like I just, you know, partly was social media and all the rest of it. It was just, I mean, that's part of the thing, too. It's like even a protest has to like be ignited. Right, it needs fuel. And I think it was still 1998. And it's like, there just wasn't the, you know, it was still just like people in like, 10 people in front of a movie theater, and I was just driving home, oh, my God,

Alex Ferrari 56:54
Whatever, whatever. Yeah. Okay, yeah. Imagine Facebook around that time, or Twitter or some like that would have exploded?

Scott Mosier 57:01
It would, it would certainly do fewer people. I mean, the key is like, a few people can make a lot of noise now. And you know, and I think back then it was way harder to do. So just sort of the momentum of what happened around the release, it just kind of was like, it just it was kind of gone very quickly.

Alex Ferrari 57:20
Now, another film that you produced, Jersey curl was unlike anything I'd ever seen in the sense of the attention that you guys were getting, like, while the movie was being made, because of Ben and Ben and Jennifer's relationship, or Bennifer, as they like to call it. I mean, the pressure of you guys, as the filmmakers must have been like, do I just want to make a movie and it all of a sudden turns into this thing that it's not even about? Like it's about Jennifer, we got to cut Jennifer out of it now, because she had this thing with Jill with Julie or the other thing that they said, like you got you got caught up in this kind of tsunami, that was not even your fault, or even initiated by you guys got just caught up in the, the banner for tsunami? How do you deal with that being like, in the center of a hurricane like that? When you Kevin, we're dealing with that?

Scott Mosier 58:11
You know, you I mean ultimately, like with everything in life, it's like, you get to a point where you're just like, well, there's nothing we can do about like, there's nothing you can do about it, it but like the you know, the time when we started the movie, it's like, their relationship just started. So on one level, there's, you're like, well, this could be great for the movie, right? Like, there's no you don't know, either way. And then when, and then by the time we get to the test screen, it's just obviously not going to be beneficial to the movie, because people had such a strong opinion of the two of them that it, you know, transferred onto the movie itself. And then it was kind of after the first test or anywhere like, well, there's nothing we can do. You know, it's like, there's really nothing we could do. It's like, the audience is not going to be enamored with this. And so like, it did become about trying to look, you don't want to be in that situation. You know, you don't want to be sort of fueled by or be making creative decisions based on just sort of like a negative response that your audiences has to the actual individuals and not the characters. But you also, you know, there's nothing to do it's like, once you're sitting, and it was it was enough. It wasn't like there's two people it was like there was like, a couple that like we're like we fucking hate those guys. It was like, like it was palpable. You're like, alright, if we keep testing this thing, and it wasn't now there's gonna be a whole other audiences like we love them. We hate them. It wasn't even like it was just like, generally people were like, We don't want to necessarily watch this.

Alex Ferrari 59:59
Well right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Scott Mosier 1:00:10
And so, you know, you try to pivot off of that and try to maintain, you know, the story you want to tell as best as possible, but But you know, ultimately is going on with theater, ultimately, an audience is going to end if it's, if it's keeping the audience. Unfortunately, it's like, you know, it's not what the movie is about. So you're like, right, if it's keeping the audience from sort of interacting with, or sort of being receptive to, you know, what the heart of the movie is, then, you know, you have to make that decision of like, start to trim that part of the movie down and get into the sort of the rest of it. So it was, it was definitely frustrating. But, you know, I tend to believe, like, the interviewer spend battling things you just have no control over is just, you know, a lot of wasted energy. And

Alex Ferrari 1:01:06
Well, that that is, that is that is a words of an almost 50 year old man saying that, and I completely understand what you're saying, because things i There's just stuff you just can't get until you hit a certain age, or experiences in your life.

Scott Mosier 1:01:21
Like, there's a great saying, like worrying is paying debt on money. You don't own.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:25
That's great line. Great line. Yeah.

Scott Mosier 1:01:29
And that's, you know, it's like, and you can apply that to like worrying about things that you have absolutely no control over, is paying debt on money, you don't know, like, you're sort of, you're just grinding in this sort of thing. And, look, we're younger back that. So I can probably impart these ideas, because, like, you go through enough experiences where you're like, oh, wow, there really was nothing we could do like that. That component of the movie was this exterior issue that existed outside of us, we couldn't reach into it, then like, we couldn't read cut their public persona, right?

Alex Ferrari 1:02:07
That that was, that was the thing about it is it was a lot of times when there's controversy and filmic dogma was generated by you guys. Like that's just the nature of the story. And there was a there was a, you know, controversy and all of that stuff. And even Zack and Miri Make a Porno. That had some controversy too, because had to work porn that way. Like it freaked people out. And but again, generated by you guys, but this was out of your control, like it was completely exterior. And I think also people were just so exhausted of seeing those two, together, which we don't want to see a movie with these two now. Like, it was just so much and you guys just got caught up in that week.

Scott Mosier 1:02:42
Yeah, I mean, look, there's, there's, for every look, Hollywood, you know, couples in Hollywood getting together making movies has got has been an incredible publicity benefit. And it's been a bad one. And it's like, it's not like, it's not like we came to that moment. If we all come to that moment, and they're like, every time two stars are moving together like this, it's a disaster, then, obviously, there would have been enough people in the room go like, don't do it. But it wasn't that it was like there's cases in both sides. It's like, it could either be a boon, or it can be bad.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:22
It could be midterm, it could be Mr. And Mrs. Smith, you know, which was exactly the same kind of Brangelina and that whole thing, and it was, but it fed it, it fed that movie, and this one, it just sucked and hurt the movie.

Scott Mosier 1:03:38
And by the time the movie comes out, it's like, there hasn't been a sort of turn. But basically, from the time we started moving on, it's like, you know, you know, the public is is fickle. In their mind and like, and you sort of sit in the tester and go like, alright, you know, like, what are we gonna? Like, there's nothing we could do, we could be bad, like, it was hard. You couldn't really focus your ire on anybody either. I mean, you could try but once again, it was like, it was just that situation

Alex Ferrari 1:04:09
As Don Quixote essentially hitting the windmill at that point, you're like, there's nothing you can do.

Scott Mosier 1:04:14
You, like I said, we couldn't, if we have the ability to get to go in and reshape the public persona, to make it awkward again, we could have done that and get the movie the way it is. But that's we have no we can do that. The only thing we can control is, is the content and the movie sort of, you know, trimming back their sort of relationship with the beginning of the movie.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:42
But it ages Well, like you watch that movie now. It's aged very, very well, because you're so far removed from that ridiculousness that now the movie can live on its own. So it's, I was just I was curious about that.

Scott Mosier 1:04:54
And the movies hopefully about him and his daughter, and so the movies about and and And so you know, it ultimately, like you said, sort of. I don't necessarily I think there's probably a I don't think even trimming back some of the beginning stuff was the end of the world, I think there's probably like a another version of the movie that's more of like a, you know, maybe a slightly extended up to being maybe putting some of this stuff back in there. But I think overall, it's like, you know, it didn't it didn't it didn't sort of break the movie. Let's put it that way.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:29
Exactly, exactly. Now, you know, we've been talking all about you producing and making, you know, VSU kind of films and all that kind of stuff. But then out of left field, almost, I start seeing that you're writing Freebirds and getting involved with that, and then directing the Grinch co directing the Grinch, and how the hell did you get into animation? And like, how did that work around town when you walked in? Like, I think you were saying, like, aren't you the clerk's guy? Like, why are you in animation?

Scott Mosier 1:06:04
I am, you know, I'd always want to remember, I was gonna go to art school or film school. So so the sort of, I was I was I was doodling and drawing. And I was really like, before, I was really debating whether to go to art school or Trump school. Right at the moment that I ended up making a decision, go to Vancouver Film, school and makeup, and like, It's that fast. And I didn't know what to do. And I was living near UCLA. I could, my grades weren't good enough to go there. But I was living in these sort of like shitty apartments there. And I used to run around the campus, like I would do two or three runs around the entire campus. And then sometimes I cut through the middle, and there were these big stairs, where they shot gotcha, like, are these big stairs right in the middle of the thing, and I would run up the stairs. I was running and I was like, What am I gonna do? And I run up the stairs, and it was nighttime, I'd run at night after I was working. And against the top of stairs, it was really bright light in my face, and so I kind of like slow down and adjust. And they were shooting a movie. And I was like, I was I was it like I was like, you know, I was my decision was sort of made in that moment. And then basically, I very quickly applied the main console school, and 455 months later, from that moment in time up in Vancouver, and I mean, Kevin, like after that sort of moment, but was the hard part, you know, the art thing was always in my head.

So in other words, if a if an animation cell would have fell out of a window and hit you in the head, we you might have never gone on that

Life drawing class up there. I'd have been like, oh my god, like I just assign.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:55
This is the sign!

Scott Mosier 1:07:56
And so I go to, but I'd always been interested in it. And then, you know, I've always loved animation. But the big moment was I remember Kevin and I, because Jason league up to see the Incredibles four came out. And it was like, and it was a special screening. And, you know, I loved animation. And, you know, I've thought that Toy Story and I'd already sort of, like, I was really interested in this sort of new technology applied to this sort of classical to these. And so I saw that screening, though. And that was the thing where I was like, oh, no, dude, like, I really love to do this, because it felt like it was a movie. Like it really felt like a movie. It was like, it's an animated movie, but the can't, you know, the camera work the performances, like it just felt like, oh, you can you can just make a movie. Like you could do what crane shot like, you can do whatever you want it like you have all the filmmaking tools inside of this box, you know, and, and from there, and I remember telling Kevin, like, I think I left there and I was like, I want to do that, like I want to I want to get under the hood of that and sort of do it and and so coming off of Zack and Miri it was kind of the moment where I was like, I was like, I'm gonna do it. Like, I gotta, you know, I just got to do it. Like, I gotta sort of stop. I could do this forever. This is comfortable. And, you know, for me, I was like, this is the stop and sort of, you know, rebuild myself like we refocus myself specifically on animation and and writing to and like I sort of stopped up Zach and Miriam was just kind of like focusing on writing and trying to get into animation and that's when this guy Aaron Warner, I knew and then it just and then it becomes like you're in the business long enough and you know enough people and it's sort of if you If you're fun to work with, you're good to work with your work hard, like, you know, all that stuff can pay off, I call the say that which is Freebirds becomes this guy here, and Warner would produce all the tracks was like, have this movie Freebirds was called turkeys at the time. And he was like, you know, cuz you want to if you want to learn animation like this thing's like a fast moving train. And if you're willing to sort of like jump onto it, you'll learn very quickly that and so I was like, as the producer and I was like, Yeah, I was like, This is my shot, you know, because at that point, it's like now, now it's like animated animation, making animated films is a much broader sort of, there's more opportunities, but at that point, it was like, you know, this is the, this is the beginning of everything opening up that, you know, that was more like Pixar and blues, like there's these established studios, if you had an idea, you had to go to those specific places, and that was it. So then I jumped on Freebirds. And just through the process of making it, you know, it's it's a very open, collaborative, sort of medium, it's a little, you know, a little bit different from making live action, because it's just the pace of it's different. It's just a much more open forum, you know, you're sort of making it a you ever, you're getting together with a bunch of artists coming up with ideas. And so I started writing pages, and those are getting, you know, brought in and then I come off of that. I come on Freebirds. And I don't want to do I don't want to do animation. And so because I was tired. It was a it was a tough, it was just tough,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:45
Yeah because you produced and wrote as well.

Scott Mosier 1:11:47
Yeah, it was a tough schedule. And so I came off, I was like, I'm not sure. I was like, I loved a lot of it and the people I worked with, but I was like, I'm not sure if I want to do it. And then then I was just working as an editor, you know, and stepped up to the years. And I cut a documentary on Marvel that was on ABC called from pulp to pop was like, so I did that. And then I was cutting. I've taken over ours finished, I was just doing a Polish, a little polish. I wasn't the main editor, I was just there for the end of a movie called it ultimately became called no escape. But it's called The coup was going Wilson and Pierce Brosnan. It's by the doubt and bro the down the breath down the brothers. We just did the Waco series and like I've known them. And my friend was the editor. And I was like, Oh, get on that. And we're were and then that's when I got emailed by from Chris Mellon Donner email me. And I didn't know. And I was like, Well, I don't understand why I'm getting an email from him. But once again, so Brian Lynch, who was the craft service guy on JC Namie. I've done all these other things. You know, he wrote minions and but he wrote top, so he'd been working in illumination for a while. And he had given me ever he had given Chris my information. And Chris was like, hey, cuz elimination at that point was like, they were making more movies. And so it was like, as opposed to one every two or three years, they're trying to do, you know, to a year like they were just, and he was feeling like, maybe I'll bring in for the first time like a producer, like an independent producer to help me sort of manage projects. And once again, I was like, No, I'm not sure if I want to do animation. And the doubt and brothers are just like, the edit room I were in was like a block and a half from Chris's office. And they're like, they're like, dude, like the fuck, like a walk down the block. And I was like, alright, so I went, and then Chris, and I hit it off really well. And we met three or four times. And then before we met a couple times before the Grinch came up, and then he showed me some artwork had been going on at that point for six, seven months or whatever. And, and so we went back and forth. And then finally, I was like, yeah, like I was kind of, I really got along with him. Well, and I was like, I was like, Yeah, I'm gonna do it so

Alex Ferrari 1:14:30
That it's so funny because when you talk about as you're talking a lot of a lot of filmmakers listening a lot of times they think, oh, it's about it's about the agent or it's about the manager, it's or about, you know, this or that and it's just, it's about relationships. I mean, seriously, the craft service guy, who if you would have been addict to? Yes, I would have never recommended you for that job. Because you never know where anyone's gonna be. And I've had that happen to me in my career where they were my interest And then they all go off and are directing movies and have, you know, all these amazing career? It's so remarkable that just the craft service guy, what is it? 15 years later? 20 years later?

Scott Mosier 1:15:13
24, five years later, and I've kept in touch with Brian like, sure. You know, we've read, he'd send me scripts, and I'd read them and we've kept in touch and but yeah, that was, you know, relationships. Yeah, that was a seed of it of like, then someone like Chris was, like, knew Brian was like, trust his opinion. And then he's like, who do you know, that might be good about and I come off a free bird. So I ultimately had some experience at that size. Like, I had some experience. And so, and I was even honest with Chris was like, like, I honestly don't know if I want to do any

Alex Ferrari 1:15:53
Worst job interview ever.

Scott Mosier 1:15:56
I was really like, I want to get into this. But like I said, I really got on with him. And then, you know, when he finally brought up the grand shots, and look, we brought up the Grinch, I was torn to because, you know, I love the Chuck Jones version. I grew up with that. And so I was like, oh, man, like, I don't know if I want to be the guy that Fuck this. I don't want to be the guy that screws up the grids. Yeah, guys, like, it was just the book. It's like, these are like, oh, you know, like, he didn't do a good adaptation. But it was like, there's there was a lot of things for it. There's, there's the beloved Chuck downs, classic, which was was in me too. But you know, then I was like, but it's a really cool opportunity to sort of build out a different version of it. And also, you know, build a bigger world, you know, that was like, part of what we were doing is like, Oh, we get to really explore Whoville and really expand on it and make this sort of a more expansive, experiential movie of it.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:04
So and it did and it did okay. at the box office did okay.

Scott Mosier 1:17:07
It did ultimately did well, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:17:09
Half a half a billion according to IMDb Pro. So, not not bad for a job you didn't want.

Scott Mosier 1:17:17
The credit goes to so many people. Sure. What's so much fun with animation is it's like, there's so many incredible artists from, you know, lay out to, you know, animators to, you know, that sort of concept artists and art directors and the vocal talent of so many people. That's the greatest thing of animation. It's like, you know, it's like, you spend years and years and years, and just when you're like, about to shoot yourself going, like, it's fun to fucking look at a storyboard, you know? It's like, then you start to see, like, then it's like, right, when you're there, it's like, you start animating? And then right when you're sort of like going, like, they start lighting and rendering and like, it's like, right, when you're sort of getting tired and cut going, like, what do we get to see the final, you know, revenues, sort of desperate to see final images, they always seem to pop up. And you go, like, Okay, this is why we're doing it. Cuz it's like, it does just look in crowd. It's like, when you get to send in dailies and see the finished stuff, there's like, it's just so amazing. That's what it is, like, it's a paint, you have to be patient.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:31
No, it's now it's a system. I mean, when they were coming up, you know, when when Disney animation was kind of setting it all up. And they didn't even know what they were doing. But like now, it's there's a system and I have a good buddy of mine that worked that Disney for 12 years as an animator. He did, he did environments. He was in the elite and environments, and I would go into Disney animation. And I'd walk around and I'd see the different apartments and it just like, in awe, it's just in awe of what you could do. And as a director, I cuz I know that they did this a Disney Animation is they would have a board up. And they would give the directors a stack of cash of like paper cash, and they would have all the sequences of the movie Up. And they go, you can put money on what sequences you want to spend a little extra money on. But this is all the money you get. So they would get to choose, like this action sequence. I want a lot more more attention to as opposed to just less Can I kind of get through. And if there's anything like that happened with I was just a Disney thing.

Scott Mosier 1:19:31
That definitely did not happen because I would have just walked out

Alex Ferrari 1:19:37
I'm done. I'm out. My pocket. And it was fake Scott. It was fake money.

Scott Mosier 1:19:43
It was Yeah, we could talk about this later, but I'm gonna take my wife. No, we didn't do that. I mean, you know, it's something that but that, that those conversations are sort of collective. You know, you're you're sort of

Alex Ferrari 1:19:59
We'll be right back. back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Scott Mosier 1:20:10
And, you know, I mean, to me, it's just something you inherently know, whether it's a live action movie or, or right before animated movie, you're you, you're sitting there going, like, hey, we have limited resources, we have limited money, we have limited time. So it's like, you know, you know, in an animation too, there's that sense of like, well, if you want this sequence to be freakin huge, then you better get going now, right? Because there's a pipeline, there's a moment where it's like a movie, it's just like, it's cut off, it's like, you can't add new shots, you can't, they won't make it through in time. So it was a lot of thought constantly put into going like, Oh, this is, you know, we want to do a big shot here. Like we're doing some, there's a big huge, like, kind of drum crane shot and grants where we're like, going through this pod of people skating and all the way up to like, so you have to sort of like get all that stuff arranged. Because all the, you know, it's it's basically live action, you know, you have to sort of make sure that you've made those decisions to be like, Oh, we want to set the time here and want to do that here. And part of that is has more to do. It's just like, making movies with financial limitations, you know, right, which is most people I mean, there are people who don't, you know, there's they're filming, or are given a sort of, do whatever they want. And I don't necessarily like, I mean, he's offered.

Alex Ferrari 1:21:41
These are not problems. You are I have,

Scott Mosier 1:21:44
Yeah, this is not a problem that I have. And I don't think that's a problem that I'll face. But I do think the limitation is those limitations can be really, really helps you, for me, it just helps you focus on the story, right? And go like, hey, like, you better know what's important, you know, or you better figure it the fuck out really quickly, because you are in charge of like, trying to argue why people should, you know, we need more assets, we need this, we need that you're the person who's going to be driving and pushing for things. Like, you know, the limitations will help you figure it out, you go like, alright, like, we, we, you know, like we can we can reduce the amount of shots here, we can do this here. We don't need that many extra was there, like, make that choice? Because like, you know, I really want this to look like this, or I want this to sort of exist there. So, you know, but no, nobody came around with cash.

Alex Ferrari 1:22:43
Very enough. Fair enough. Now, I just have a few questions. I asked all my guests, something like rapid fire. If you could go back to your younger self, what would you tell him?

Scott Mosier 1:22:58
Somebody else asked me this recently, not to, you know, like, call you on originally.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:05
You know, it's got I'm quite offended. That's okay.

Scott Mosier 1:23:09
Like, for like, somebody asked me this. And, you know, um, it's probably more insight in the way my brain work because, like, I take it so literally, I don't, but it's like that I'm like, I don't think I would say anything. I don't know what I would say I don't know what could. Because everything I know is is or every, every, every like, conclusion I've reached, that has any value in my life, is because of the experiences I went to, you know, and I don't think you can go back to your younger self and be like, you know, buy Apple

Alex Ferrari 1:23:47
Buy Apple at $7 buy Apple at $7. Buy face buy Facebook at 30.

Scott Mosier 1:23:52
You have $3,000 from your car sale. I know this won't make any sense. But buy apple

No buy in 2021 there's going to be a Gamestop buy GameStop.

That like that's a good advice and like how your career cuz here's the thing, like my career, in a way makes no sense, even to me. Like it's not like there's no linear line. Like, I can't point to it and tell somebody like, this is what I did. You should do this. Yeah, it's just like I I followed my curiosity, which is what I do now, you know, I still just sort of go I'm not I'm not sort of, I'm driven by my curiosity of like, animation or this or that and I kind of like, which is why my IMDB page is kind of a weird mishmash of producing and documentaries, you know, like, I I love documentaries, like I'll go in that direction. Like, you know, I sort of follow I don't I'm not like my like, I make horror movies or I make you know, real comedies like, I've just love I, from the time I was a kid, but I just love film. I mean, my, my sort of taste in music is the same film, which is really diverse. I just watch a lot of different things. So

Alex Ferrari 1:25:15
Yeah, I mean, honestly, that at the end of the day, you know, I try to hack the whole set, like, what's the path I can take? Okay, should I try to do what Kevin did? No. Okay, maybe what I do what Robert did no. Okay, maybe what I do with Richard, like, and I'm not the only thing like we all do that, like at one point, you know, you start looking at other people. Like you guys were doing it with Richard, you guys were doing with slacker like, literally, that was what we were trying to do. But at the end of the day, it's it's it's a lot of luck. Right Place Right Time. Like you happen to run into Kevin Smith. You to happen to gel. He happened to have a script about clerks and then and then and off you go. And it happened in the early 90s When that was a fertile ground for something like that to kind of take off. Like you said, would that if it would happen in 85? Is there a does it happen in 2005? But you know, I always tell people dislike if Robert shows up with a mariachi today. I'm not sure he breaks through with a mariachi today. But in 91, a $7,000 action movies shot on 16 was exactly what the industry needed. It was the proof of like, oh my god, someone made a movie for $7,000. Or the story they sold at least

Scott Mosier 1:26:30
Robert was, if you, you know, to me, like you transplanted like the $7,000 version of El Mariachi that Robert would have made would have been very, very different. So

Alex Ferrari 1:26:41
In today's with today's Tech, you're right. Yeah, you're absolutely right,

Scott Mosier 1:26:44
Calculate that he could have sort of done it. Because, like, yeah, there's like, the thing that I still go back to, and, you know, it's not about people's career paths. Or look, it is about who you know, making connections, like meeting people having like a deep sort of list of people that you know, people that are making movies, I mean, it starts in film school, like if you know enough people you're working on shorts, and like, it doesn't even matter if the short skirt good just trying to get experience, right. Like that's like you're a good worker, you work hard. You can fucking push a dolly, whatever. Like, for me like that was a big part of it. But I also think like, this specific people want to be writers, you know, writer, writer directors and stuff like that. I think it's like, you know, the thing, it goes back to having that unique voice like what what's the story that only you can tell, you know, and at the end of the day, like no, mariachis, slacker is like very, like, all those guys had one thing in common, which is they really wanted to tell that story. Not because they really wanted to tell that story. And not because it was the idea cheap idea. That to me is like always, like people are like, Yeah, well, I really want to make this but they're like, but then I, you know, I came up with a cheap idea. It's like, well, no, no, like, come up with ideas. And like, if all your ideas are $80 million dollars, then you might have a problem. Like, yeah, but but like, if you like, if your passion isn't in these cheap ideas, like everyone's gonna know this.

Alex Ferrari 1:28:30
You're absolutely you know, I've never really I've really never quantified it the way you stated, because you're absolutely right. Like, you know, when I, when I make my movies, you know, the ones that sing, or the ones that I really wanted to do. And the ones that were like, I'm going to try to be this guy or I'm this is going to get me to that next level, this is going to be the one that gets me the agent or the those don't they fall, they fall flat, you know, and the ones that have all the passion and the voice are the ones that people really connect to. And that's something that filmmakers trying to break into, they really don't get. And that is the thing that will cut through. You're absolutely right, that is the thing that will cut through all the noise.

Scott Mosier 1:29:09
Because if you're I mean, if you have to go talk about a movie you're making, you know, that's the simplest part of the equation. It's like, if you're passionate about I have for hours, you know, if made it as some sort of vehicle, I mean, the amount of people I've known over the years, like, well, I'm doing this, but I really want to do that. And I'm like, I was like I get it, but I was like you have to find like everything should be an extension of your passion. You can do things just to learn, right? Those are the two levels. If you want to go make a film that you're just like because you can because you could afford to do it and learn and become a better director or become a better whatever. There's value in that right. But you have to know that the end result of that is that you learned you know, if you want to The other reason to make some is like, what are you fucking excited about? Like, what are you passionate about? Like, what kind of stories are you passionate about? Like, is it? You know, like, if you love horror movies, then it's like, that's great. But what's the personal version of a horror horror movie? You know? I mean, if you look at Jordan Peele, it's like, that's why those movies are fucking amazing. Because their personal like, it's not, he didn't invent or he basically it was like, This is my perspective of what a horror movie is, right? And I was like, Holy shit, like you are, you are the only version of you. And I'm not saying you're an antique snowflake. But

Alex Ferrari 1:30:40
We're all unique snowflakes that we're all unique snowflakes,

Scott Mosier 1:30:43
Your perception or your take, or your sort of joke on, like, if you throw something on the table, and everyone makes a joke, like, there'll be 10 Different jokes, right? Like, that's what makes you different. And the more you sort of push yourself to find that, and that, to me is like, was a very long process. Like I in 21, like, I did not have a voice. Like I like, and it was having Kevin was like such a great. That was part of the benefit of standing next to Kevin is because I was like, that's what a voice. Like, that's what it means. That's what it means to have a voice. That's what it means to cut through the noise, right? Because all the rest of it is noise. And so I was very aware of how long it would sort of take me to develop my own voice like I did the whole time. I was like, oh my god, like that's a voice, right? Kevin's a voice, like no one can argue that you may not like the voice, but this motherfucker has got his own voice. And, you know, a million people, the Coen brothers like Oh,

Alex Ferrari 1:31:49
Richard Richard Linkletter all those guys. Yeah, they all have a voice. You're absolutely right. Even even Robert, even Robert, who makes those kinds of action and stuff, but that's, that's his voice inside all those movies,

Scott Mosier 1:32:02
You can learn how to you can learn how to edit, you can learn all the technical stuff, and all that stuff is smart. Like that's basically just making you better your job. If you want to tell your story. If you if you want to be a writer, director, you know, you really have to find your most importantly do is find your voice

Alex Ferrari 1:32:20
Two last questions, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Scott Mosier 1:32:25
Find your voice

Alex Ferrari 1:32:28
Next question. Find the voice

Scott Mosier 1:32:32
To find your voice. And like part of the reason about finding your voice is that finding your way through the process of finding your voice, what you will do is create confidence in what your voice is, you know, it's like there's two, there's, there's all these, there's all these positives that come towards really taking a deep dive and be like, what kind of stories do I want to tell? Like, what do I get emotional when I watch? Like, what do I want to create, recreate on the screen, like, you know, some of those basic questions of like, when I watch, like, I love to make people piss their pants laughing. I like to make people shit their pants. Fucking, like scary, or like, if these are all like, we're all here, because we're like, movies make us. Movies evoke emotions, they make us feel things. And I really like for me, part of the process was going like, what what are the things that I love to feel when I'm watching a movie, and therefore that's the thing that I don't want to recreate in my own movies. And so locating that, like, you know, what's the thing that you're like, oh, fuck, like, I go watch a movie. And, and like, I'm terrified, like, I just walk away. And I'm like, from joy. So I'm so excited. If that's it, then you should focus on that. Like, if you're like, No, I love to make people feel like life is worth, you know, like, I like to make people cry. You know, like, all those things exist. And it's sort of, it's almost like finding your voice to me is more about focusing on like, what's the emotions that you like to evoke in the kind of content you're making? Because that's part of like, what will help you fill out the kind of stories you want to tell which is like, what's the emotional impact? You're looking for? anger, rage, love, like all those things. Like those are the things sort of think about so yeah, finding, finding finding my voice was like probably the biggest thing

Alex Ferrari 1:34:30
And three of your favorite films of all time.

Scott Mosier 1:34:35
If so many. I'll just sort of rattle some off. Well, I go way back to the beginning like time band.

Alex Ferrari 1:34:44
It's so good. Terry manTerry Gilliam.

Scott Mosier 1:34:48
Huge. The ones that like, you know, for me, it's always like, ones that shift your perception about you know what a film is? are the ones that really stick in my mind. And there's tons of amazing movies that don't necessarily do that. But like time, man, it was a big one for me. Raising Arizona was another one, like, really early on where I was like, I just, I just hate it. And, you know, and then now I can go. I mean, like Fight Club is a weapon later on in life where I was like, so completely just like, Fuck,

Alex Ferrari 1:35:27
What am I doing?

Scott Mosier 1:35:28
Yeah, just like, just like, I want to walk, like, and then I just watched it like, 100 times. But, you know, eight and a half was another, like, just mind blowing sort of experience, right? Like, you know, we're in that space. You're like, this is a movie. Like, that was the exciting part about being young is like, you're constantly like watching so many things. And that experience would be like I'm constantly redefining what a movie is. Through everything I'm watching. Like that's the sort of those are the movies in like time, man. It's Raising Arizona eight have been Fight Club is one where I was like, I was sort of be like, Oh, okay, like, I'm kind of pivoting and you're like, This is a movie.

Alex Ferrari 1:36:13
I mean, when I when I mean, I've had Jim who wrote Fight Club on the show, and I just geeked out with him and Fincher and basically anything Fincher does you just walk by and just like, what are we? What are we doing it really, I mean, and I've talked to some I've talked to some amazing filmmakers. And anytime Fincher comes up, they just say like, I don't, I just, I don't even know what we're doing here. It's, it's, it's having one of those like, it's like Kubrick when Kubrick would pop up with a movie just like what what am I doing?

Scott Mosier 1:36:42

Alex Ferrari 1:36:45
Scott, man, thank you so much for being on the show. Brother. It has been an absolute pleasure talking to you, man. And I wish you nothing but success exploring your new wants and, and things that excite you wherever, wherever you go. And I hope that IMDb account gets a little bit more broad and increased.

Scott Mosier 1:37:26
Me too. Thanks for having me.

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BPS 175: Making El Mariachi and Troublemaker Studios with Elizabeth Avellán

Get ready to have you mind blown. If you ever wanted to know the TRUE STORY on how the mythical El Mariachi, written and directed by Robert Rodriguez, then this is the conversation you want to listen to.

Today on the show we have producer Elizabeth Avellán.

Elizabeth Avellan was born in Caracas, Venezuela, where her grandfather, Gonzalo Veloz, pioneered commercial television. At thirteen, she moved to Houston with her family and later graduated from Rice University, where she had her first behind-the-scenes experience working as stage manager and prop master for several student productions.

She moved to Austin in 1986 to work in the Office of the Executive Vice-President and Provost of the University of Texas, continuing her studies in film production, art, and architecture. There she meet Robert Rodriguez – cult filmmaker and her husband to be.

Avellan worked as an animator on Rodriguez’s award-winning 16mm film, Bedhead, which aired on PBS after gathering acclaim on the festival circuit. She and Robert co-founded Los Hooligans Productions when the two began work on El Mariachi (1992) in 1991. Since then, Avellan has co-produced Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn (1996), Desperado (1995), The Faculty (1998), and upcoming Spy Kids (2001).

Besides she developed several scripts and produced with Pamela Cederquist and Rana Joy Glickman, Real Stories of the Donut Men, a dark comedy written and directed by Beeaje Quick, which premiered at the South by Southwest Film Festival in March, 1997. Additionally, Avellan served as producers’ rep. with Rana Joy Glickman for Love You Don’t Touch Me, a romantic comedy premiered at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival.

She co-founder Troublemaker Studios with Robert and have been causing “trouble” in Hollywood ever since. Elizabeth and I have an epic two-hour conversation spanning decades in the history of her, Robert and Troublemaker Studios.

We did a bit of myth busting on the now legendary indie film El Mariachi. Elizabeth also discussed what it was like working inside the Hollywood machine, the moment she introduced Robert to Quentin Tarantino, the uphill battles she faced becoming a producer and so much more.

Get ready for one heck of a ride. Enjoy my conversation with Elizabeth Avellán.

Right-click here to download the MP3


  • Elizabeth Avellán – IMDB


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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome to the show Elizabeth Avellán. How are you doing, Elizabeth?

Elizabeth Avellán 0:16
I'm doing great. Alex, thank you for having me come and share some fun stories with you.

Alex Ferrari 0:23
Yes, absolutely, it is. I'm a great fan of the work that you've done over the years. And I mean, you know, as a Latino filmmaker, you know, you and Robert and what you guys did together with El Mariachi and Desperado. And everything that your your giant filmography? Is, is remarkable. And I mean, I can only imagine the the struggle that you had not only being a female producer, in the studio system, but being a Latina, female, you were like, the one right, there weren't many in the 90s. I can't remember. But one of the few, one of the few. So I mean, it is an inspiration to see what you've, you've done, specifically as a producer. But before we go down this road, what was the thing that made you want to be in this insane business?

Elizabeth Avellán 1:16
Same, you know, I try to be go back to a little bit to the beginning. Because that encourages people, they themselves go back to that moment, when you're a kid. And you're starting to see what what your talents are. Little things inform that. You know, even when you're seven, even that was a huge film lover, as a kid, my parents loved going to movies, it's been a lot of time in theaters. And I, you know, I recognized good writing, I could tell that I recognize why isn't good, movie Good? And why some of it is kind of like bad, you know, because they will take us to all kinds of movies. And some of them, Are they fun, you know, like some sort of pulpy kind of your Lawrence of Arabia at six years old, that you're like, Okay, this is amazing, you know, like, you realize, you can't handle the contact, but you see the shots, and you're like, Whoa, and they don't my siblings didn't really in this early, you know, especially my, you know, just in general, at least I didn't realize they were noticing anything. And but I did, I noticed I noticed Peter tool, I noticed every nuance moment of you know, his blue eyes. And you know, when to close David Lee, I mean, just all those shots. And then the next week we went to see, I think it was A Fistful of Dollars, you know, part of the trilogy so it just kind of like game to the Yang, you know, very fun that way. My father loved all movies. So when they played on TV, you have watch this, you know, and he was not at all my mom's side of the family in Venezuela, are the ones that were in the film business. Well, in the TV business, my grandfather was panning of commercial television on Salloway lozman. Sara, the pioneer of commercial television in Venezuela, and but by the time I was born, he had sold what is now when we assume and moved on, you know, he was getting older. He had done he had been a groundbreaking guy. And he was ready to move on and had grandkids and his, you know, his, his daughters and sons. And so I didn't really grow up in it. But my father was very much against showbiz, and never allowed us. I mean, we were set, we were seven kids, my parents had seven kids, I was a second of seven. And we were asked to be in commercial because we have a few kids, you know, and my cousins were all in commercials. And we were not allowed, I mean, not allowed. And that so but I always had this yearning. And when I turn 40 We moved to the States when I was 13. And I started watching TV, I love seeing the pilot to things, because from there, I could see there was a seed of something or not, you know, I could tell, but I was like, how do you make money doing that? You know? And, you know, I was very, very studio so I went to rise, my father wanted to be an architect. And yet, you know, I there was the seed inside me that I got my car, it wasn't to go hang out with my friends. It was to go to River Oaks theater in Houston without anybody knowing to go watch all the, you know, high end film, it was the art house theater, and all in Houston, Texas. And that's what I wanted my car for. I just kind of plot it out and go see a movie there. And so I grew up doing that. I you know, my sister went to see Saturday Night Fever, it's 10 times I never saw it. You know, I was not that girl, you know, like whatever,

Alex Ferrari 4:40
John Travolta

Elizabeth Avellán 4:42
What I've chosen not to watch whatever, right? But as well as what I've chosen to watch. And so you see that and you don't know what it is, you know, and it's not until you piece it together. I freshman week I went to Rice University as a 16 year old, because I studied so much to learn English and I didn't want to go backwards by not taking summer school that I ended up graduating early and ended up at Rice University. And this senior girl said to me, you know, come on be come down to with me to the rice players, you know, I'm part of the rice players, it was the theatre group. I was like, I never had a chance in high school to do any of that I was studying, studying studying. So I mean, I just focused on learning the language really getting it down. And so I was like, okay, so I went. And of course, I mean, I knew that if I ever got involved in theater, because I love going to theater, I would be hooked. And it was always behind the scenes and never auditioned, it was always for me behind the scenes. So that's when you start kind of putting things together while you're going to architecture school. And you see a perfect marriage of Gosh, you could be designing sets for theater or, well, and rice at that moment, I think it was like one of the top five architecture schools in the country. And you got accepted into Rice University, and then you get accepted into the architecture school, they didn't see it that way. They were like you're wasting your time you you're the slot we've given you is precious, and you're not appreciating it very down, grading me. And at the same time, I thought I was working for an architect and I hated it. And I love working. So it wasn't the work part of it. So I'm like, this is definitely where I need to be. But my father's like, if you don't study architecture, I'm not paying for it. I got to be a little sneaky. Because so many athletes, so many art classes and the film classes, and the theater classes were all under under art, because it was such a small Rice's a very small school. And so I just knocked them in there without him, I need to take this for this, and I'm doing this for that, you know, so I kind of got them in there. And, and then, you know, it was the decision of, I really don't want to be an architect. And it's very painful to have to, you know, I was daddy's girl. And yet I knew that I needed to work. So I worked in medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, then I moved to Austin. And that's where things kind of shifted for me because I started working with executive vice president Provost at the University of Texas, and about three, four months in and my new my film, you know, reading all of that stuff is still in full growing mode, you know, and yet, I know I have to have a day job, you know. And in comes this young man, he wasn't even a sophomore in college had he just finished his freshman year thing, Robert Rodriguez, he was going to be our file clerk. And I was the youngest in the office. So and Latina Latino, you know, I was the only end of the night. Yeah. And, and he so we hit it off, you know, and he had done like, 20 short films, 20 Something short films. And he showed me one of them. That was a you know, we all got together and and, and I was so blown away. I was like, Whoa, shoot, he's He's like, he's really bugging me. He's like real, this is real. And and he hadn't even turned it into a film festival. You want to contest with it or something. And, and I and I thought, so I started talking when we started talking about all this. And I started telling him pointing out Film Festival. So that's how it started. He couldn't get into the film school because he didn't have the grades. I'm very academic. So I would we took some classes together so he would get his grades up. You know, even though I didn't need to take any classes I did. They wouldn't allow me one to take the hardest biology or things like that to get him through the gauntlet. You know, I think I got him through all his science.

Alex Ferrari 8:43
Science and Math right science and math. Yeah.

Elizabeth Avellán 8:47
And so but by the way, he became an all a student thing. And and he got into the film school because he also knew the new chairman of the film's called Tom shots because I worked for the second vice president problems and he was young and hip and cool. And he let Robert in because Robert one, the film festival that was a precursor to South by Southwest, the student films that were there with just Billy you know, and this little he grabbed three of his short films he's already he already made and put them together. And that's how it all really began to take off. And then mariachi you know and then he did bedhead first year his his production class so I was like whatever he needed, you know making a dummy so you could drag his brother to the ground you know just ways to do things without need because I need a dummy so you don't need a dummy. So we went to Walgreens grabbed a bunch of legs panty hoses and some stuffing from Michaels and I made him a dummy you know ever dressed it up and it set itself you know

Alex Ferrari 9:46
I remember I remember that dummy very well I remember that dummy very well i

Elizabeth Avellán 9:51
Im sure you've used that dummy

Alex Ferrari 9:54
I'm sure No,look

Elizabeth Avellán 9:54
Legs pantyhose

Alex Ferrari 9:56
Legs pantyhose and a wheelchair for a dolly. I mean, that's that's pretty much That's a that's a precursor.

Elizabeth Avellán 10:02
So So you know, it was really a beautiful thing because I also loved working at the university. So there was always an a plan that I would go get my Master's become a, you know, Vice Prez executive, but not exactly but never an executive, because professors do that, but at least an assistant vice president and had wonderful relationships there and, and Robert, they loved him. And he was working on mariachi, you know, just, you know, writing it there, you know, the computers there because nobody had computers at home

Alex Ferrari 10:31
89 - 90

Elizabeth Avellán 10:33
The rice at home, you know, I mean, I was a sugar mama the most cheap sugar mama you could ever have, you know. But, you know, I paid the bills, and I paid the rent, and I was really good with money, I had been able to be that person in my life always. And, and I, you know, so so as a result, we got all of that off the ground and things took off from there. So all of that. So the big question was, are you coming with me? Or are you not, you know, and it was a very Crossroads moment. For me. It's a very, like, and I thought that business is so hard, you know, we all know, and, you know, what context Do I go in? You know, how do I do this? I need to be thoughtful about because I'm a very, since I was very young, very thoughtful about when I saw broadcast news, I knew that too. I was, I mean, I was Holly Hunter. I was either going to go into news or I was going to go into into film, you know, or TV. I it was like, clear, crystal clear. For me. It's like that up. There it is. That's what I am a producer. Okay, got it. I understand now what I am. And I had been doing that with Robert all throughout. And so I really, really thoughtfully Alex, I didn't want to just do it because I want fame. I didn't want to do it because I wanted anything I wanted to do it because it's where I was supposed to be a my real destiny of life admission, you know? And I thought, you know, how do you guess who figured that? Well, you sit still. So I had already quit my other job. We had insurance. And I sat still for about a month in my in Houston, Austin, Robert was gone a lot of the time. And, and I was really, really, for the first time in my life, I think I was able to sit still. And try to listen to where I was supposed to be if I was supposed to do it. And it was. And, you know, it became very clear to me that I was supposed to. I didn't know why though. You know,

Alex Ferrari 12:47
That's the way the universe works. The universe. Yeah, the universe doesn't do that. Oh, yeah, no, no, no, no, no, that's not the way it works.

Elizabeth Avellán 12:56
You know, like, you know, because, because if somebody tells you the why, or the universe, God, whatever you want to call it, it may not make sense, you know, or it may, you know, it may not make sense until you are practicing in it, you know, so I did I, you know, I started began to work. And it's an interesting thing, because, to me, the reason I am in this is for the crew, and the cast, to be there as a person that tries to be and by the way, I haven't necessarily been this person every time because you know, life goes like cyclical, but consistently, I try, you know, to be that person, including in this last movie, where the needs what are this? Because once you prep the movie, the producer is just what is it that my other person does, I'm just going to spare change on the set, you know, if you've done it, right,

Alex Ferrari 13:52
Sure, if you, if you built them, if you bought the machine, the machine runs,

Elizabeth Avellán 13:56
You build the machine. And by the way, you just keep adjusting you make sure it has oil, you make sure that it has what it needs, you do all that. But really truly at that point is where are the potholes that you need to be fluid to fill so that people have a smooth ride? We all give up our lives, you know, for a moment of we're making a movie, or we're shooting a movie especially everybody puts their lives on hold or so they think but things happen every time you know, it never ceases to amaze me the how something to a crew member or cast member. And then do you have the wherewithal and the compassion to be sure that that person if they if they can continue the film great if not, I mean I've had, for example, you talked about John Sayles, Felipe Fernandez, El Paso was our set decorator industrial Don, he went to do a movie with John Sayles after that as a production designer, the one he did down in Chiapas.

Alex Ferrari 14:57
Oh, not that long star. No Was it was in Lonestar

Elizabeth Avellán 15:01
It's down in Mexico

Alex Ferrari 15:03
Yeah, yes. Yes, yes, yes. Yes. I remember that movie. Yes.

Elizabeth Avellán 15:07
And my brain is going to come to me. But anyway, but Philippe's mother passed away, but we're in the middle of shooting Dusk Till Dawn in Mexico and and he had been my my set decorator also on Desperado that was the movie after Desperado. And he was like, No, I'll stay. I'm here, you know, we're in the middle of a dry lake bed in Barstow in the middle of August. And I had to sit with him and say, No, you have to go see your mom, we will do all the work. And if you want to come back, open the door for that, you know, if you need to stay, you stay, if you want to come back, your your step decorate, right. So thank God for those moments, because everybody was going so fast, it was a really rough shoot in that dry lake bed. And to be able to, to do that, for Felipe. And throughout I mean, Felipe is just one example. So life continues, you know, and you were laughing about how people are like, oh, you know, movie, the film business. So exciting, you know, and kids are like, I don't want to work. Why do you want to be in the service, I don't want to be in a job eight to five. And I'm like, so you want to be in one from 7am to 7pm, or from like noon to like midnight or more? You know, like,

Alex Ferrari 16:21
I was about to say those were very slow days,

Elizabeth Avellán 16:24
In the cold in the past in the whatever, you know, in the whatever. With the movie, you know, that's where you really, and that's, you know, there are some that that is their passion.

Alex Ferrari 16:37
It's I call it I once you get no, yeah, no, absolutely. And I've I mean, I've obviously I've talked to him a million filmmakers throughout my career, and worked with tons throughout my career as well. And I've just realized that there's an insanity. There is an insanity to being a filmmaker, I literally was having a conversation with with a guest yesterday filmmaker, who lost everything lost their home with six kids moved in with their parents, because the movie failed, because they didn't know what they were doing. And their ego was out of control. Because when you're young filmmaker, your egos out of control. And his only thought was not that I can't eat not that have no roof. Not that I've had to move back in with my parents for eight months while they come back out of this. Oh my god, I might not remember the movie again. And that was the only thought in his head. And I'm like, do you understand? And I stopped him. And I said, everyone, I want you to listen, we're insane. We're insane creatures. As artists, we're probably one of the more insane artists, because it's the most expensive. It's one of the most expensive art forms on the planet. And you can't do it by yourself. You need a lot of people.

Elizabeth Avellán 17:47
You need I mean, you need a good crew. I mean, you need crews to sign it with about 40 something. And let me tell you, that means the producer is Lord have mercy. Everything No, absolutely not being fluid. Yeah, but it's true. It is insane. And you know, it's always interesting to me when you have new people that are PhDs or you see which ones haven't mean they're, they're innate, you know, they have the innate passion, that they're so good that you're like, This guy's never really been on a real movie set. That's amazing. Because, I mean, we had one pa in our group, this last movie that was this kid, you know, that came to we're in a tiny town in Oklahoma. And he came because his parents were moving. So he came to help them. He did you know, he's doing a little theater, but he's doing visual effects mainly. And this kid the woman? I'm talking about town the most Oklahomans don't know. And this kid named Johnny Juanito. One that that I call him, Johnny, because, you know, he spoke English and Spanish. Sure. And he was our intern. His mom was, you know, because they're in that town. She was a dishwasher in the, and she told me, Nancy, what's her name? She told me about him. And then I met him and I was like, great. Oh, you can be standing as an intern, whatever, right? Oh, my God, that kid was like, a rock star. Everybody wanted to take him to the next thing with them. I mean, incredible. And it's an intern, you know? And then you have others and you're like, Okay, do you not understand that? People walk through, like hot coals to do have the job you have? Do you understand that? How many people would like do anything to replace you? And here you are, like, 111? You know, it's it's hard because at the moment, I'm like, and what I always try to get across is like, this is a very short intense time. The shooting part of it is very short and intense time and you if you're not loving it, don't be in it.

Alex Ferrari 19:54
Oh, no, no, no, it's just and I've told people that so many times if you don't absolutely love what you're doing in this business, You need to leave because it will eat you alive. It you it will eat you alive. And I've seen a few bitter Oh. So this is

Elizabeth Avellán 20:08
It because you're like, Yeah, you know, the best situations, you know,you're, you know,

Alex Ferrari 20:16
If you're angry and the one thing I always tell people when I speak when I speak sometimes to film students and stuff, I'll go How many of you guys here know one angry and bitter filmmaker, and then handful of people who raised their hands on like, Whoever didn't raise your hand, you're the angry and bitter filmmaker that everybody else knows. And because it's true, because we all know an angry, bitter filmmaker, an angry, bitter screenwriter. And if you don't know them, it's you. It's you know, a lot. So I wanted to go back a little bit to mariachi because mariachi is it? Well, first of all, for me, it was again, an integral part of my growing up. I mean, I was working at a video store in 91. When that was released. I was in high school still,

Elizabeth Avellán 20:59

Alex Ferrari 21:00
Yeah, very Quintin. Very Quintin, very Quintines yes. Yes. That was my film school as well.

Elizabeth Avellán 21:07
I love it.

Alex Ferrari 21:07
Yes, I was working at a video store. I still have my El Mariachi video. So poster by the way. I've never I've got two copies of I stole two from the video store. I've never gotten rid of them. And my wife's like, what are you gonna do with those? I'm like, don't worry. One day, I'll put them up. And I have the but I always have them always, always ask them. And I remember when it came out, and it blew my mind because it was the first time to be honest, there was the first time I ever saw a Latino filmmaker. It was at a at any at any level in Hollywood, really. And there obviously had been Latino filmmakers before. But no one that really took the stage like Robert, and what you and Robert did. And obviously and I talk about Robert, I talk about El Mariachi constantly throughout the years of the show purely because I go look man, you guys are people still talk about mariachis, it's an urban myth at this point. It's an urban myth. They still talk about mariachi like, oh, you remember like mariachi, if he could do it for 7000. I could do my it was 1991. It was a very special time. It was the birth of the independent film movement, the Sundance independent film movement, you know, with Rick and, and Edward Burns and Kevin Smith and Quinton and Stuart, a Bergen, that that those that decade? Very specific time is a very specific time. And I always tell I had I had Edward Edward Burns on the show. And I asked him Oh, wow, yeah, I had Eddie on the show. And I asked, Ed, if if Brothers McMullen came out today, would you what do you think it would do anything? He goes? Probably not. And I'd argue that if mariachi showed up today, it'd be difficult to cut through the noise. Because originally from what I heard, and that's nothing against the movie, because there's a lot of no I agree with it's, it was just that time and then of course, all the blocks that hit you know, Robert Newman and, and that whole thing, but it was it because you can come on, of course, the story of mariachi, he was just going to do something for the Mexican video market. It was never actually supposed to ever be released in English. It was just as like his practice, film, all this kind of stuff. I have to ask you, what was it like being in the center of that hurricane? Because that was like, that must have been a world when? Because I mean, I read the book, obviously have it back there. It's it's it's a Bible for any filmmaker to listen to, to watch. And but what was it like being in the center of that? Because Oh, my God.

Elizabeth Avellán 23:34
No, it truly, I'll tell you, and let me begin with the fact that the seed for it. You know, one of the things that Robert was always confounded by was that people he would hear people say, Oh, well, if you go to film school, your short film and film school will cost $100,000 150 to $200,000. And, you know, it comes from a family of 10. We had, I mean, I barely we bet you know, we were it's not like my job paid a lot of money. But we we were able to stay out of debt, you know, which is a big one. That's a big one. Tell people out of college debt. And I talked to young kids about this, you know, it was a Tovar. But to say we can't be in debt, because you won't be able to be free, you know, to go do and take what you need to take. So my most important thing for Robert was that he continued to go to school and to get a camera. So when he did Bedhead, his first semester of film, was to get a hold of film cam, as he thought without a film camera. You know, I can't go to festivals, it's kind of thing, you know, without it being on film, really true to the bigger festivals, and so when he was able and everybody else was spending 1000s of dollars, you know, 2000 and he's, we don't have that kind of money. So because of his abilities, you know, and his siblings, he wrote Something that he already was just like my it, why do I have my kid my little siblings? I can do something interesting with them. And, and he had the film camera, which was an MLS film camera. You know, it was just a 16 tank tiny one of those crank up once

Alex Ferrari 25:18
Oh, well it was oh, so it wasn't even it wasn't even crystals. It was just a crank. So your production was probably was a ball either Bolex or an airy one of those. It was a fireball is one of those old ones. Yeah.

Elizabeth Avellán 25:31
So he ended up spending, including transferring the film editing the film and everything. 800 bucks, which he had gone to paramiko to get lab tested. So he had a little money to do that way. And you know, you know, in the meantime, I was helping with whatever pay per semester or whatever needed to happen. And he was doing a comic strip that he got eight bucks a day whenever he did that comic strip. So he made a little, a couple 100 bucks a month. And so that started sort of like his ability to go, okay. $800.08 minutes, $1,000.80 minutes, that was the see. Wow, from there is when he thought I can make a feature for like, I don't know, 8000 10,000. So he talked to Carlos Guyardo. And this is he and I got married in January 1990 got married. And so this is a now a year later, when he's already that the film started going to festivals and started winning things. So he was like, okay, okay, this is possible, you know? Oh, and he also did the animation. And interestingly, that his professor at the time was like, Robert, you already have an A. And Robert looked at him. And he was like, Dude, this is not about getting an A, you know, this is? So anyway, and I, you know, I help them with I helped with whatever I filled in the little cockroach wings on the animation like, oh, so great. Yeah, one of those, you know, very, it was a very sweet time, you know, for us. And then, you know, so he had some friends that borrowed a 60 NES. He had been writing, and they've been talking about it. So some guys he'd met at the access channel, you know, in Austin. And so those guys said, yeah, we can let you borrow it. So you can go shoot my edge, but he'd been writing it. He'd been doing, you know, taking sophomore year semester, but he was kind of like, and let somebody else write that movie, and I'll be a part of it and blah, blah, blah. So then a, he was writing in, in the computers at the office, so he would stay there longer. And we work together that worked in that office still and, you know, with everybody was so kind because he loved these people to just like me. So it was a wonderful group of folks that loved him and loved us, you know, and what he was doing, you know, they saw the passion, they saw that and how much he gave to the office. Anytime there's a birthday, he do a beautiful put, he's an amazing artist. So do a beautiful little poster in full Prisma color. You know, like really funny stuff, caricature but funny. Most people in the office were part of his comic strip, they started getting in there as characters, including the executive, Dr. Funk. So, you know, so for him, if it hadn't been that we worked in that place, it would have been harder, because no computer, you know, no free time in between classes to sit there and answer phones while we were doing other things. So he could continue to write a script. And then it was ready, he was ready to go, you know, and then he went to farmaco for a month. And that's where he finished reading, writing the script. So it all kind of converged together, the right combination of having the right people around you that are supportive. And so and then Carlos, and he already had done so many short films. And Carlos was dialed in that shoot that shot there before many short films. So everybody knew them as his kids, I'd love to do this stuff. So Carlos had a lot. So they wrote everything around. Robert wrote everything around what he knew he had, that is really what he did. So went down there. And then he gets a phone call about 10 days in and the guys need the camera back. So they're under the gun. There's like we got and he didn't answer the phone, you know, it was a no cell phones back then. So you could pretend it in here that like they're calling me and they're asking for the camera and he goes okay until the weekend. So the 14 days of shooting. Thank God he was able to kind of stretch it so that he could do that and then drove back with all the film, transferred it to three quarter inch, and you know, and then edited out the Austin axis. So all of that together is what leads to if I tell people if Robert got $1 paid for every hour, he's mariachi, forget me forget Carlos forget anybody. It would have cost

Alex Ferrari 29:58

Elizabeth Avellán 29:58

Alex Ferrari 30:00

Elizabeth Avellán 30:01
Easily I mean easily the budget would not be what it is. Plus he also did not make a film print. So that's why it's not 30 some $1,000 people he didn't make it for me stills, you know, urban mess. Oh no, he didn't make a film print. Hello me pictures made a film print for him. You know what the sound is? The sound guys in this plasma. So I heard the Columbia spent $200,000 in sound, because it sound Oh my gosh, is it? True? Not true.

Alex Ferrari 30:27
So what's what's the Okay, so this is the this is the urban myth that I've heard about this, like, okay, everyone's like, because I have I've had to defend Roberts honor many times at at film festivals, film festivals and things like that. They're like, that's all BS. That's all pressed at Columbia. He never made a movie for 7000. And I'm like, Look, he made the movie for 7000 He transferred the movie onto three quarter inch tape because I remember because I used to

Elizabeth Avellán 30:54
That only the film and then development of the film will release what cost 7000. and transferring right to 7000. restaurant was his own time.

Alex Ferrari 31:04
Right, exactly. So then he from what I understand he transferred it to three quarter ranch. He cut it, he cut it at the access at the access. You know, tape the tape? No, I did. That was my first job. I was cutting reels for a commercial house in Miami. And I know the Sony I know the Sony very well. So I edited on the exact same machine he edited on on three quarter inch, three quarters because you couldn't afford beta that was really expensive. So you couldn't do beta, you had to beta stuff dispelling the you know it's not true because it is true. So it's all so all of that. And I mean, and of course in the book, like he stayed overnight, and he couldn't leave because the alarms he had to he had to pee and in a jug of water, like all these stories, so you hear all this, but then they go so and then. And so they always talk about well, how about the audio and I go from my understanding, and this is this is what I understand. And I've done. I've read all the books and I've done that I've done all the research. I've I've studied Robert in depth, especially during that period of time. It was of course, he's wonderful. Yeah. To to so to my understanding. When Columbia got it. They obviously remastered the they went back to the print or to the not the print, do the negative remastered it all that stuff. But the sound is what cost them a good amount of money to redo cuz you have to be done everything.

Elizabeth Avellán 32:22
I'll tell you why. So he had him. It was as 16 escenarios 16 S No sound, right. So he had a Moran's tape recorder and a $50 mic and a box of TDK tapes. Same as that. Hey, the other kind that

Alex Ferrari 32:40
No, no, no, no old school with a pencil the pencil Pencil. Pencil. You're good.

Elizabeth Avellán 32:45
Those very much. Yes. And he since these guys were not actors, they kind of set things up the same rhythm so he could match the mouth, you know pretty well. So he would go through the paces all the Foley like they put the glass down. Like they think about the scene in the in the, in the bar, those three guys, you know, the beer, the thing, all the sounds is sound so he would go up and redo the whole scene for sound after after we shot so it's that so after you're done, and by the way, and he would grab when the beer was being poured. So he grabbed that kind of stuff, that glass hitting that same table. So he was kind of doing Foley slash down and they would go through say all the words again, you know, because he didn't have a sound guy with them.You know? None of that.

Alex Ferrari 33:33
And it wasn't it wasn't as cheap as it is today because now you now all this equipment is super super cheap, though Yeah, it's super affordable.

Elizabeth Avellán 33:40
So so that's why I was flipping through my sound guys this past movie. Let's it so what happened is so Jimmy Andre from Columbia Pictures that post production guy comes all the way to Texas to pick up the elements quote unquote Yeah, so he goes away with like, he brings us big bag. I mean the the film didn't even the TDK tape, just like you know the little box here it is. And Jimmy is sitting there in our apartment going Hello CUDA, by the way really good sound because he took the time to get so much stuff clean. Now, mind you, you're never going to be able to project this movie with that sound necessarily, necessarily. Unless you transfer it. And they didn't. They only sweeten things you can talk to Sergio antennae. They can tell you there were mixers at Columbia. And yes, they spent money in order to put something on the big screen like they were planning on it. You know? You can't show something that's in cassette tapes, of course not sleep, right. So, but they used all that sound. There was no ADR man There was none of that.

Alex Ferrari 35:01
When so there was no way so there's no so there's no ADR for sound but how about but for how about dialogue?

Elizabeth Avellán 35:07
No idea for sound. There was some Foley I saw that Foley happen. But Robert had gotten so many of the sounds in place they used whatever they could use it just wow. Oh, by the way, I mean, we're talking Columbia Pictures. Sergio antennae their biggest. Oh, no, no, no, no, they're just Latino. You know, antennae is a cool guy. They're like, we'll do this is we fun? You know,

Alex Ferrari 35:28
Nobody would nobody wanted to do this

Elizabeth Avellán 35:31
Sergio just passed away. He has been our mixer. All of these years. Oh, pretty much every single movie. He even moved to Austin. So he has mixed everything Sergio has So okay, so so he can tell he's passed away with all the you know, the truth which is this is the truth. I know it because we've talked about it so much.

Alex Ferrari 35:51
So So still think it's bullshit, you know? So, so then so then basically it was all sweetening there was there ADR that that all the talent have to come back in? And so all the all the dialogue

Elizabeth Avellán 36:01
All from the TDK cassette tapes,

Alex Ferrari 36:03
No hold up no hold up

Elizabeth Avellán 36:05
All of it

Alex Ferrari 36:05
So the dialogue the dialogue as well

Elizabeth Avellán 36:08
The dialogue all there was never ADR man. Never. Never no

Alex Ferrari 36:15
So they just so they just basically put it in their system sweetened it up, made it professional surround sound and did did as best as they could.

Elizabeth Avellán 36:21
Everything they needed to do. Yeah, exactly. And then then Robert himself and cut the film and a film print from his cut three quarter inch, they sat there with a camera looking at it.

Alex Ferrari 36:34
So they read Okay, there was no EDL there was there was no

Elizabeth Avellán 36:38
Self literally did this. And

Alex Ferrari 36:41
He did a frame he did like an old

Elizabeth Avellán 36:45
We created. That's what I'm talking about for every dollar. Mike. Yeah, if the amount of time Robert gave to this is pretty incredible. So then, so anyway, when I saw the film, because I'm I'm a critic, you know. Normally I said Why put as a film person, you know, I love I love film, you know? And I said to him, when I saw Moriarty in the three quarter inch version before he went to LA with it. I said, You know what? I give it three out of five. For the movie, I saw this movie is that three out of five? I saw it knowing rough, rough audience, but knowing the story of how you made this and how much it cost. This is a five out of five, you go out there and tell that story. You know, I mean, we agreed that that was really the thing. By the way, what he wanted to do also was, you know, he was a kid that never thought he could do it, because he heard there was so much cloak, you know, like these huge cloak curtains that you just did not touch as a Latino as a kid from a family of 10 or a family of seven. Sure. I know. You you financially know, you know, and to go to a family. We are in awe of like Rick Linkletter and your cantina who dared? You know, who dared? You know, but Robert decided to go open the curtain. And the wizard behind that is who exactly let's let's look at the wizard please. Okay. No, okay. There's no wizard is just keeping people up. So that's what he felt he had to do, which is why he convinced Columbia Pictures. It was laser discs. But back then.

Alex Ferrari 38:31
Oh, I know. I I had a laser disc

Elizabeth Avellán 38:34
That for the first time a movie like Omar Yeah, because it was all criterion. You didn't get to have

Alex Ferrari 38:39
Audio commentaries. You know, your your right, your right nobody

Elizabeth Avellán 38:46
It was criteria. And it was like

Alex Ferrari 38:48
$125. And it was $125. Yeah.

Elizabeth Avellán 38:52
Absolutely. Or Exactly. Or Robert convincing, this amazing guy named Clint Culpeper, who was so full of joy and, and enthusiasm for what was going on, you know, and he's still a dear friend. And Clint, and Robert. He was like, we're doing this and he convinced Clint Culpeper. And Robert convinced Columbia Pictures to do a laserdisc with the commentary. So to dispel the myths, but you know, people still think that is not true. And it is, it's, it's so beautiful, because it is all really true. So I'm so sad. You know, people were really angry some of them at Sundance that he had been. He had been a what do they call it media trained? No. By the way, Robert is one of the most shy humans in a lot of ways is very quiet. Very shy. You give him a microphone is the opposite of the of the states right? Yeah, the frog from Warner Brothers you know, hello, my baby. That's Robert backwards. You give that man a microphone, because he got so much sited about taking all that cloak and dagger stuff of filmmaking you know? And that's been his life you know?

Alex Ferrari 40:08
Oh he's been he is a troublemaker troublemaker Studios was and that was the thing that I and that's one of the things that I mean obviously found an immense inspiration for mariachi and Desperado and Robert and years career moving forward. But I've never seen the amount of hate bitterness of people that like when all he got him because of this or that and I got it because when you see when you see someone who has Oh, he got lucky Mita lucky and lucky no okay, look at the look look Lucky is lucky buddy man. Listen, Lucky will get you in the door, but it doesn't keep you there. And, and, you know and and yet there are certain certain things that the universe put in place, you know, that got mariachi? There's no question. The timing was right. I always tell people Robert was there with the right product at the right time. And and it just so happened that it went got to Robert Newman, Robert Newman said hey, let's do this. And and then it kind of took off from there. By the way,

Elizabeth Avellán 41:14
Robert Newman had no clients, right? He wasn't this big one was in ICM, right? I don't want a new one had that other people didn't have Robert Newman, Robert was given that name by a guy named dunk dominant. Robert Newman was coming down for a party for the film commission here in Texas. And Robert Newman, was the foreign sales guy at ICM he had no, he didn't represent anyone. He represented films that needed to have foreign sales. Sure that they had filmmakers that they were represent.

Alex Ferrari 41:46
Oh, by the way, just real quick, everybody. Robert Newman is Robert

Elizabeth Avellán 41:50
Robert's agent. Yeah. Yeah, he's that William Morris Endeavor, Robert Newman. And he has been from the beginning. But Robert was his first client, just so that you people know that, you know, but Robert Newman had been trained, he was the fourth person at a place called Miramax. And he worked for the Weinstein Brothers. Basically, when before they were an actual studio, or any kind of any kind, they were just, they would buy foreign films. So they went to festivals, and they physically take them to the Angelika theater to the laemmli in LA, all that stuff. They, you know, they, they, and they worked on campaigns for those little films to get them foreign, you know, Oscars if possible, you know, that kind of thing. But lots of Robert Newman was very used to foreign films, he was trained by the, you know, I hate to say not everyone's gonna is a genius of sorts in that realm, you know, and, and so that's who he, he was the fourth person, it was Bob Harvey, a British guy, I can't remember his name, and then Robert Newman. So he came from a training that he was really, really ready to see mariachi, with a different pair of eyes, timing agents would imagine, there could even if we just did the serendipity that the blessed sort of path, and by the way, and then it takes an assistant to an agent that is willing to open that door. So when Robert made that phone call, that assistant truly opened that door, so it is you know, I mean, I'm always very that person, you know, I try to be that person. So and I knew I knew who Robert was, and and I knew the purity of what he was trying to do too. Because it was it was pretty rough for people you know, you could not get it even if you were passionate and love the business you couldn't be in the business you know, you would never dream of assuming you're gonna be in the business

Alex Ferrari 43:53
Let alone Latino, let alone a Latina, let alone a Latino. Latino,

Elizabeth Avellán 43:57
Yeah, exactly. So so it was. It's a very opening of a world. So many people, you know, that. But it was also funny because Vietnam toto had done a lot of films Cronos you know, and we all were in festivals together with a mariachi, you know, and we went around the world with them. And lucked out to be as Quinton was finishing Reservoir Dogs. Last place that showed was Toronto and we were there. That was the second festival we were in. And when I met Robert not a person with a lot of friends. You know, he's shy. So he just works on his thing very obsessive and he has 10 siblings, you know, I mean, I understand it on my you know, you become friends with your loved ones in your house, you know? So, you know, you don't have time to go party. You don't have money like that. So, so a when I met Quinton, I was like, like I felt this immediately. I found a friend. I swear to you in the lobby of the Toronto hotel, we were staying. And I looked at him, because somebody introduced him to me. I may have been Robert Newman. And I said, it was oh my gosh, oh, wow. You know, and I was like, I want you to meet Robert, I want you to meet my husband. And he was like, Let's go immediately, like, let's go. And I was like, okay, so I took him up to our room, and I opened the door. I said, Robert, I have somebody for you to meet. It was like, magic. It was magic to find this.

Alex Ferrari 45:39
Brothers, brothers brothers.

Elizabeth Avellán 45:41
They've been that since you know, yeah, it found each other and they could understand each other. So well, you know, the same thing with em. There's just been certain people that Robert has done this with, you know, like, very, you know, I clicked into it. Yeah. And it's beautiful. Bizarre, you know, it's, it's not easy. This business bunch of fancy ones. You know? We're live in LA, we've never wanted to live in LA, you know? So it's been a beautiful, I mean, Jim Cameron. And Robert always hit it off, like, boom, you know, like, very close knit. So people are like, how did I leave that happened? It's like, they've been friends for a long time. Robert had been friends for a while, just like the emulator and Jim Cameron, you know? Yeah, he's his own person, you know, very close, tight knit people. They don't really hang out with a bunch of, you know, Hollywood types. Right now. So, so yeah, so it's beautiful. You know,

Alex Ferrari 46:33
It's kind of, it's kind of like, you know, we can smell our own. When you meet someone like that. It's like, oh, okay, I find it looks growing up you, it's hard to find other filmmakers that you can can or other people that you can connect with at that level. And that's why a lot of times when I'm when I say my passion, the, the that level of passion, the level of skill, and like all of that kind of because there's a lot of people who might be passionate, but that can actually pull off what you're doing. That's a very small group.

Elizabeth Avellán 47:04
That passion, though, leads to everything. I'm doing it because for example, in film school, it was hard for Robert because the other people that he was working with to make bedhead. You know, okay, get a party, I gotta go to you know, I gotta hurry up. We're gonna happen then to get tivity is a very interesting thing. It was hard for him, you know, and he just kind of went, you know what, it's okay. And he did all those films by himself. He didn't really need people to, to do that. You know? So so, you know, it was like that,

Alex Ferrari 47:35
I'm glad. I'm glad that we were able to put in the public record the story of mariachi, because it's been such an urban myth about so many things about mariachi through the and and yeah, and it's, it's beautiful.

Elizabeth Avellán 47:48
And the way that with my heart full, I can tell you and the writing of the book, I mean, that's his diary. Right? Look, his diary. He entrusted it to me to edit it a little bit. I was the pre editor before the editor got it. You know, just I just, you know, made sure that it made sense, you know, because it's just his stream of consciousness. And I admire that I don't write a diary. I don't. I'm not I'm not that person. You know,

Alex Ferrari 48:14
I've I've tried, I can't journal. I'm not. I've tried. I've sat down. I'm like, do we

Elizabeth Avellán 48:21
Yeah, it can do a greatfull list. That's about it.

Alex Ferrari 48:26
No, I'm a and that book. And that book, Rebel Without a crew is still to this day. It's a seminal book in independent film. I've, I remember. I was I remember when it came out. I was in I was in film school in Orlando. I picked up the book and I read it in one sitting. I just sat there just in awe. Because you again and for people listening you have to understand and 9192 I was in film school. I was 9494 95. I picked up a first edition. I still have my first edition of Rebel Without a crew. And wow. Oh, yeah. Yeah, no, no, no. So I said you said you. And I remember reading it. And for me, you people have to understand in the 90s there wasn't this. It wasn't cool to be the filmmaker just yet. The Rock and Roll filmmaker, the Rock and Roll director, which I think Quinton and Robert kind of created that kind of persona, because Spielberg had been around and Scorsese and Coppola, but there wasn't a rock and roll kind of like, present this kind of person. And so but there was no information there was no YouTube there was barely any making offs. There was like you had LaserDisc with commentaries. If you were lucky. There was nothing tense in that book for me when I was reading it. It was like a portal into Hollywood, which seemed like a world away. And I was being taken on a journey with a with a filmmaker, a Latino filmmaker, like so you have to understand the power of that for Latino reading. It was so influential and so powerful for me and I such reverence for that book that I always tell people, I wrote a book called shooting for the mob, about how I almost made him was made a movie for $20 million movie for the mafia. And I always tell people, oh, yeah, and then I was and then in many ways, so. So that what happened was, I made this book. And then, in many ways, because of the mariachi story, a lot of the stuff that happens to me in that book, I got flown out to LA, I met the biggest movie stars, I bet I met big power players. And I'm like, Oh, my God, this is my mariachi, but I got this psychotic gangster behind me threatening my life on a daily basis. So I always tell people, if you want to read two books in the film business, you read Rebel Without a crew. And that's the way that's the positive side of how a career could go and that you read my book is the opposite side of the coin, where I went into complete depression and almost got myself. So it's like the complete opposite.

Elizabeth Avellán 50:59
Yeah. I would say that.

Alex Ferrari 51:03
Like that book says, like, you could go off and have Roberts career, or you can go off and like, oh, you almost got killed. Almost this almost did that. It was it was a remarkable story. But anyway, but yeah, but

Elizabeth Avellán 51:16
He loved that. It was love that it must have been hard.

Alex Ferrari 51:20
No, hold on. No. I mean, it was it was

Elizabeth Avellán 51:22
No, but you know what I mean, I think that the negativity that came from it was harsh. I will be really honest, there was a lot of you either hate or hate, oh, God, a lot of hurtful things said. And Robert was really clear, he would even say it at the same Sundance where the other guys were, they're the ones that had a $38,000 movie. Howard said they did the same thing I did. It just made a film print. I didn't realize that's what a $30,000 is, you know, so that's the difference. I you know, I ended up going and shopping it around and somebody else made a film point for me. Because he was trying to encourage people that, yeah, you could do don't necessarily have to make the thumbprint. You know, so think about that, you know, he was already helping people think of it a little different, because it was like, I'm no different than a $30,000 movie. He was very clear in the panels. That probably wasn't even filmed at that time, you know, and saved. Because it, it really, but I just love that people like Kevin Smith saw that. And it. I mean, he was like, Okay, I gotta I gotta store that I work at a convenience store. I got some friends that are hilarious. You know, there it is. clerks. You know, I love that. I love that. And it keeps, you know, repeating itself. And, and by the way, I don't know if you know this, Robert, with some of our kids made a film called Read 11.

Alex Ferrari 52:47
Yeah, I'm dying to see it. When is it coming out?

Elizabeth Avellán 52:50
I don't know. I have to find out. But it is. It is a visual of how to do a $7,000 movie today with what you have. And exactly the mariachi styled but somebody, he had an actual crew film with him doing it.

Alex Ferrari 53:08
Oh, God, please, please release this

Elizabeth Avellán 53:10
So Luca fesi. resists. Latino also is the guy that filmed him doing it, but they were doing it, you know, exactly. The actors themselves. Were the ones. You know, my son rebel, is in it. And he also is the composer of the movie, I pay no money. But now he's composed to other movies. He hadn't paid for it. You know, he made the sacrifice for Cena, because he's a really good composed. You did we can be heroes for Robert. And you know, he's just a 22 year old kid. But man, he really is good. So you. And by the way, and he was buoyed by people like Don Dabney who, you know, wanted help to help them succeed, because we have had other people like that. Their kids have wanted to be filmmakers, and we've had them come and be interns with us or working on movies. You know. I mean, James Spader son, Sebastian worked with us for a whole year and a half, as you know, behind the scenes, because he loved and he had been working since he was amazing. You know, what I mean? We try to help mothers, you know, to for their kids to come in. It's and, and that they want something they want to learn from someone else.

Alex Ferrari 54:20
What I what I found amazing about what about what we've talked about so far, and just from what I've studied over the years about what you and Robert have done, is that you really did pull that curtain back for a generation of filmmakers, because they're, I mean, everyone on everyone listen, you have to understand before before mariachi before what Robert and, and honestly a lot of that generation, you know, Eddie and and Rick and all those guys. It was closed. There was the door was closed. There was no opportunity to do anything. And Robert was

Elizabeth Avellán 54:56
That glimmer of light it was one of those like thick blackout curtain. Yeah, you couldn't see. Yeah, it wasn't curtain but you thought it was a wall. You know it really wasn't curtain, but not one ounce of light came through it to help you nothing might nothing.

Alex Ferrari 55:12
Yeah, it was all you would see is I always say like there's there's gods and there's Demi gods of film industry and you would look at Spielberg and you would look at Coppola and Scorsese and and then Hitchcock and Lucas and Lucas and all these all these guys and and they would they just seem so far away the stories you heard that they were almost like you know, Stephen had his his mythical urban myth of him jumping off the trade off the off the tram and all that stuff. One day when I get him on the show, that's the first question I'm asking him. I'm like that Steven, please. Is this true? I just need to know. But, but it was so far away and when the story of mariachi showed up, and that's what I love about about one of the many things I love about mariachi is it was the first time the making of the film was in the marketing. Prior to that, no one ever led with I made a $7,000 movie. By the way, everyone listening don't do that anymore. You don't that's it's gone, because everybody can do that. Now. Stop Don't lead that you like I shot my movie with an iPhone don't care. Is it a good story, but back then, it was extremely impressive for him for Kevin, for even Rick and all those guys. It was extremely impressive.

Elizabeth Avellán 56:32
Nicholas Lopez, Lopez from LA you know, he He came with his little first film and and I love that he said he came all the way from Chile wrote me letters letter, you know, inspired. There's a character in Brasilia Rocco called Roberto Rodriguez. They lead characters named Robert Rodriguez, and he loves to draw and all this stuff. And, and he looked around at all Maker Studios and said, and I love this. He said, I'm going back to chillin to do this. And he has, you know, and that's beautiful. You know, when somebody gets inspired like that. I just heard while I was doing this movie about a, another filmmaker. That literally said, you told me to go home and create this at home. Sterling Sterling Harjo the Native American filmmaker, he, you know, he was like, I'm gonna move to Austin. I was like, and he told somebody that said to me, that I was the inspiration because I said, No Sterling go do and for your farm. That's what it's about in with your people with everything. And now he's working with Taika Waititi in reservation dogs. That's amazing. You know, and I love hearing stories of you said a little something that planted a seed and now it's giving, you know, it's growing and really going out there. And so sterling is doing it in Oklahoma man, and now they have 35% tax rebates. That's amazing. Amazing. That's amazing. Amazing. You know, so in Oklahoma,

Alex Ferrari 58:14
In Oklahoma, no less.

Elizabeth Avellán 58:17
So very cool. You know,

Alex Ferrari 58:19
So as so as a producer. Alright, so you go through the mariachi and and the whole world when and they go okay, Robert, we want you to make another movie and it's Desperado. And they give him more money. Then I kind of well no, no, no, actually it was road racers are road racers first

Elizabeth Avellán 58:37
I know about the road racers, but it was like, once they won the Audience Award, they were so confused as to what they wanted. They didn't know if they wanted a sequel. Or if they wanted to remake it reshoot redoing of it. They it was so confusing, because it won the Audience Award. That's what you're getting at Sundance. Yes. Before it was cool, just remake, you know,

Alex Ferrari 58:59
But then be like, wait a minute, people actually, like, reward people like this people like this movie. So it was Oh my god. So I good man, right. Originally, it was a blessing of a mess. Because originally it was not supposed to be released widely. It was like, okay, so obviously, we'll do this. We'll do that. But then Cool. Interesting. Cool. All right. He's got talent. Let's see what we can do. But now like, wait a minute one. Oh, my God, we're gonna have to put this out there. Like what do we want?

Elizabeth Avellán 59:26
By the way I mean, people are like, Oh, he just was media train and he was able media trinken media training tell you but let me tell you that that's not true. Because I'm gonna tell you right now, I'll tell you, right. It's not a competitive Film Festival. That was our first film festival. And, you know, we had the blessing of somebody like Chuck Jones, you know, from bunts money fame. Yeah. You know, John Wiley Coyote, who has a house intelli, right, and he had come to UT When lava was a cartoonist, and we love chuck a monkey. So he signed the book for us and everything. Robert always said the mariachi was kind of like a cartoon movie, you could turn off the volume and you knew exactly what was going on. And that his hero was Chuck Jones. And this man showed up. At a screening, we ended up with five screenings in, in Telluride, which is pretty unheard of. Yeah, like, huge films get by Sure. Sure, sure. Um, you know, movies that have done extremely well, but everybody wants to see it, because Robert got out there, and could explain what he did. And so it's really interesting. It's not, you know, Oh, he got a media train between, you know, but for Sundance, no, he went to Toronto, he did the same thing. He already been doing it, but he already knew what was important. Robert always knows how to, when you give them a microphone, he knows when you interview him. He knows how to get it's just natural with it really is.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:58
Yeah, and the thing, any interview. And I want I want everybody listening to understand that there was so many people and I was there. I wasn't there with you guys. But I saw it from a distance. How many people tried to tear him down? How many people try to break them down? Whether for whatever reason, there was so much jealousy? Oh, my God, I can imagine the amount of jealousy, even jealousy from like,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:01:22
If a lot of it from him, because me being people didn't know my face. Right? Here. These, you know, for example, somebody said, How dare they give him you know, go from the 7000 to $30 million talking another filmmaker that had been at Sundance $30 million for Desperado after tonight 30 million I went, No, it's not. I mean, it sounds like a lot. 7 million, but we had full actors full every day.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:46
And oh, no, no, no, it wasn't a lot. It wasn't no,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:01:49
It wasn't a lot. So and by the way, he'd done a $1 million movie called road racers. In the meantime, he did as Roger Ebert always said, the best room out of four rooms, they all have the same amount of budget. They all had Iraq, right. Yeah. And by the way, and that poor rooms is the seat of small kids. Yeah. When he says people, you know, it was like one of these people. Hmm. And then he thought, keep your mouth shut. Don't even say that word. Say it to no one, keep that seed, start writing it, start doing it. So when Bob needed somebody to do the faculty, which was a Kevin Williamson script, he had overpaid a lot of money for Robert it was like, okay, but you can't tell anyone this name until we got a deal where we could do spike ins and we could do other things. So, but we know it's like, okay, you do this for me. I'll give you five picture deals, you know, because already, you know, we had done though still done, you know? Okay, so now you want us to the faculty, okay, we'll do that. You know, you paid a lot of money for that. And nobody really wants to direct this thing. And we had fun with it. We had a blast. Yeah. And it but it helped us. That's when we began to work in Austin with our crew. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:54
In the family. We're building. Yeah, the family

Elizabeth Avellán 1:02:56
It's literally with the people that we've created as a film family here. So all of that the faculty was a really important thing for us to do to come home. We always kept our apartment here in Austin. It was just that, you know, just they didn't let us edit Desperado. Here. So in Austin, I'm in Austin. And it but so he had to go to LA to edit it in the meantime, does still don't happen. So while we're there, we would come home and we had our stuff here. So and but yeah, so that's how that happened. That's a progression of things.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:30
So we

Elizabeth Avellán 1:03:31
Were like, how did he get all that? And how did he you know

Alex Ferrari 1:03:35
Again Oh, my God, it was so much hate so much. Eight. I just remember so many filmmakers

Elizabeth Avellán 1:03:40
In hate it's sad. It was suddenly we quietly and by the way, we also had it from the Latinos, man.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:46
Oh, no, I know. Everybody

Elizabeth Avellán 1:03:48
Knows it was pretty. It was pretty astounding. You know, when your own people, you know, crabs in a bucket, man.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:53
No, it's crabs. It's crap. It was because

Elizabeth Avellán 1:03:56
By the way our leaving, leaving, being at home is part of the reason that we just got really out of the way of everybody and just made our thing happen here, including the studios little by little, you know, they were close. I love it to get for a short time to film spike, it's one you know, and then lobby for keep it for longer than lobby to get the big deal that we got to be able to keep it and put money into it. So we've invested a lot in ourselves and just quietly got people to shut up. So and then whenever anybody of those people that were so negative wanted to glom on to anything, we just kind of went, we're okay here. Maybe I don't want to bring that.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:41
I don't think you guys would have been able to do what you did in LA. There's just no way. There's just no way. There's no no way.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:04:48
They amount. Yeah, because when you when you're in a place where people are. We just kept doing that thing. We just kept doing our thing and Bob was not in LA Bob Weinstein and who we worked for Bob, you know, that's what we have. They're up doing the rest of the movies for a long time for. And it was wonderful because I love Bob, I love what Bob Weinstein is, you know, hobbies, you know, whatever, you know, but Bob Weinstein was always a fair. And very, I just call Bob, I never had to call anybody else. It was just right. And so I got to the, you know, the buck stops here, kind of So, and, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:23
So as a producer, when you were working on Desperado, this is your first big, you know, you got 7 million obviously, you're not the only producer obviously on that project, but

Elizabeth Avellán 1:05:31
Oh, no, by the way, I was just starting, like, nobody, I took no money. I was the wife, you know, like people are like the wife of

Alex Ferrari 1:05:39
I guess, if we get robbery I think that yeah,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:05:42
By the way, no. So I looked at them. I said, I'll tell you what, I'll be the producer intern that takes no money and I will work from beginning to end because I do want to learn so you know, people like Tony Mark who was our UPM really admired that because that person maybe that busted a move the people my the other line producer from Mexico, you know, they're still dear, dear friends, you know, cuz I passed the move. And I worked all through post production, nothing and learned so much. And I'm a studious human being you give me something to learn, I want to learn whatever it takes, you know, and, and you know what, so it didn't take anything from the movie. And I just was, you know, I was able to really navigate those things. Because nobody could say that I was being paid in right out of my art, you know, so, and I'm glad that would make it's not global was making a ton of money at that point, either. You know, that was the first film that was his first look film for Columbia Pictures. So it wasn't like, you know, oh, yeah, like, you gotta have a match check. Apparently, I'm going to put it all on the screen. I mean, we and by the way, and it was beautiful to be able to go back to that Konya where we shot a mariachi, yeah, actually pay people. You know, that's what we chose to shoot it there to go back and really pay people, because mariachi, there was no money. $7,000 What can you pay? So it's a beautiful way to bless a place that had been a blessing already to us, you know. And you had that back, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:07:08
And you had that in your head that young, young to two unknowns, here in the States, Mr. Antonio Banderas and Miss Salma Hayek and Mr. Danny Trejo, for that matter,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:07:19
Which, by the way, everybody wanted Antonio Salma, it was hard. Oh, no, it

Alex Ferrari 1:07:25
Oh, no, it was a first it was a female, first female lead Latino

Elizabeth Avellán 1:07:28
Road racers with her to give her one screen title on a movie in the United States. That was for Showtime. And that was strategic, you know? And he put her in there was actually that movie is David Arquette. Yeah. And it's tama, and it's John Hawkes. Yeah, on hawks, burst. I mean, he's such an incredible actor jaw. And David, it was really his first real lead, you know, like three of them leading and a million bucks. And the thing is interesting. So this is what sold Columbia Pictures. Finally, because Robert wrote 13 versions of the script. They can rewrites and more rewrites and more rewrites while he's doing road racers. Well, when he came in, it was 10 films for rebel highway series. Yeah, for sure. Right. It was me John Melius was one of the directors I mean, big time directors were doing this. And so many fell out. And they needed Wes Craven was doing one. I mean, people like that, you know, be and Robert was like, Oh, my God was Craven. And the reason why Robert did is because Deborah Hill was producing John Carpenter's. Sure. So by the way, she became one of my big mentors. Even before I did Desperado, I was able to take classes at UCLA Extension, because she called in favors for me to go into the higher level classes. And she let me sit not in Roberts part of the film, but in the other films, because I had nothing to do with those. And I was able to sit in budget meetings. So you know, I got a lot out of that, you know. And so it was a real blessing just to be humble. And somebody say, what are you when another woman says to you, what do you want to do? Me, Pascal pulled me into the office one day, I was just Roberts, white, you know, I can write and she pulled me into her office. She was not President. Back then. She was one of the executives. What did you I want to I want to get to know you. Tell me what you want it. I mean, how beautiful that is women, unreal. And so I've been blessed with having really amazing mentors that took me seriously, but also lovingly, you know, and so so that's the reason and Salman was able to get in because of that movie, but also because Robert really, really leaned in to get her to be the actress that he because that's what he wanted. He wanted some there was no option and I think it was that. There wasn't even a screen test, you know, and Robert just literally he coached some Yeah, he goes yeah. He would get it, you know, because he was like, hell no, that's what I want. You're not gonna give me some non Latina because there was some in the bunch that were non Latinas? Sure, that would have been testing, you know? So, you know, I was like, No, you know, this is who I want. This is the star that I'm going to put in my movie. This is the person, she has everything that I need for this movie. And she's going to be a huge star.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:25
And the chemistry and history. Yeah, and as we're speaking right now, Marvel Studios, the Eternals is opening. And she's, and she's one of the stars. She looks amazing and so proud of her. She done okay, she's done okay.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:10:45
Now, when she's such a dear, dear, dear sister, you know, I always, you know, just, we, we've had a great relationship throughout and I read act in love.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:55
I read somewhere I read somewhere that Salma called you like the best kept secret of troublemaker. Like, it was a very, like, like a really best kept secret of troublemaker

Elizabeth Avellán 1:11:05
She knows me because it's so weird what I do, you know, as a producer,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:10
so what is? So what is a producer? What is the definition of a producer for you,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:11:13
A producer is a person that, you know, in general, you know, gets the story of his book, or, you know, an article and puts together the development to create that script. And the filmmaker as a typical producer, the money sure brings in whoever the studio, you bring in, you start creating the creative group that will decide what the actors are you trusting who but the the director that you choose, or if it's a writer director that wrote the script and all that stuff, that's what I produce. And then you start, you know, in my case, I worked very closely with my line producer, UPM, and a man named Bill Scott to create the budget and to create, you know, we literally, that's what we did here, starting with a faculty and we did it for 17 films. So A, you just create all the synergy that has to happen, then you begin to choose the crew members, you know, and the teams that are going to come in. And like I said, All that happens in pre production, you're making it all work so that it is you have a schedule that matches what your budget that you know, that you know, that you're going to shoot, where are the locations that you you create all of those things along with the director. And, you know, with your, you know, with your first ad and you know, you you work in teams, you know, that's what a producer does. And then you you know, make sure that the everyday running of the movie as is going and you fix on and by the way, you make the deals with the actors, you so you're dealing with the agents, and then making sure the actors arrive and everything that's contractually theirs is there. And, you know, and happens and all of the the fun stuff. And you know, and you also, if you're a good producer, in my opinion, you make sure that they all feel, you know, safe and warm and cozy, you know, in a way.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:04
Like mother like a mother, like almost a mother hen in many ways, in a way.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:13:08
Yeah. And in some ways, you're also the principal. Yeah. Very much. And he comes in and it's when he has the gas here, so he's like, all bloody. So is this the principal's office? Am I Am I in trouble? Yes, it is. But it depends if you've been naughty behaved or not. What how you how we deal with you. It was so great. I love and he's always so funny. Oh my god. Hilarious. So i By the way, what a gentle way he was raised by his mama. Right? Let me tell you that guys like bad manners out the wazoo for women. But just in general, you know, like people just like, you know, very attentive, you know, very Latino that way people are nice, you know? Yes, he's and I'm like, noticing, look at that guy. Nobody else got up on him. When an actress came in, we were all at the pool. He noticed when she came in not because he didn't have any other reason than a gentleman you know. And he found a chair had a chair for that person made sure that he didn't just sit around and keep chatting, you know? So for that actress because she was just arriving into the fall. We were having a little party here at the house and I was like, man watching you and he's Yeah, I'm watching Yeah, that's good. Brownie points. So anyway, so So at the same time for me, like I told you from the beginning, there was a way bigger way bigger call for me. And it has to do with building something. It has to be with do with building. Even if I've never worked with a crew, how do you to help everything work? How do you become fluid or have the assistance so that you you foresee situations, you know, yeah. gonna happen or you see it. You know, most actors are in, you know, like, incredibly and very few that didn't feel the love that we create with it with a family we created in Austin with our crew. And, and it's a joy for anyone to come into that group and, and be received and then become part of the family if you had never worked with us and, and enjoy that it's a really beautiful way of working, you know, and I couldn't again, couldn't have done that in LA. No way we wouldn't have never had our own stages, you know, they're just angers nothing magical, just dumb boxes, that's all stages are. But to create a real place that you know, you're gonna be something happens, somebody cares, in your family in your life in, you know, in real life, you know, like real life always intersects a world of madness, you know, yeah. And I've had situations, somebody whose daughter, all of a sudden, I'm a big crew member, the higher up echelons overnight, all of a sudden has is in a in a coma because type one diabetic and didn't nobody knew a nine year old, you know, things like that have happened during my movies, and to not be able to cover for that person, so that their real life can be truly dealt with. And we create a bridge for that person. You know, it happens on everybody. We all are going through things, you know, oh, and then somehow, and if you don't have those eyes, and that heart, yeah, you can make movies. But you also don't. You know, I just I just finished a movie on Friday. Right? I told you, friend, it's not Saturday, Saturday, actually Sunday at midnight, one o'clock in the morning. And I never worked with this crew. In Oklahoma. They're mostly Oklahomans. And but it's a director I've been working with for a long time, who is a dear Lance Larson, writer, director, and a couple of other people that I've known for 20 years. Two of them were my breaking grips and the the faculty and inspire kids. And now all three were producers with me, and another produce for an entire period. But three, the three of them, one of them had been a first ad in a few movies for me, but he was a rigging grip 23 years ago. Another one is a big time DP he just finished crater. But he had been a rigging grip back then and went to UT. And the other one lands that writer director, and that the DP had gone to UT together. So it's these three beautiful humans that I have been around for many years. And then to be able to produce this with them, and then to, to let them do their job to you know, of being but Bobby bass thrash was, but he's Bob basta Raj producer, Bobby is the first ad guy back then. But now he was able to really be on set. And I knew that this set was taking care of, you know, we could you know, we had planned everything, so that he could be the producer there with his two buddies, it was their dream to do this together. But you know, the interesting thing is, you know, it's hard. It's hard. 99 degrees, but it was really cold one day, it was Yeah, you were in West Texas, and you know, a lot of stuff. And to be able to be so fluid as to make sure that you could take care of their wants. And it was only a 40 Something people crew and cast. And for me a movie making a movie. It's like going to summer camp and going to war.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:50
Oh, God. That's that whole lot. stop after stop there a second. That is the most perfect definition of going to a movie ever because it is a summer camp. But it is war at the exact same time. What a wonderful quote. Oh,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:19:04
It's war. Oh, and, and my job. I see my mission. My job as a producer is to make it more summer camp than more. And that's, that's why that whatever it takes, whatever it takes the fluidity of that. I mean, for example, we lost our caters. When we were going down to West Texas for reasons you know. They were they were great, but they couldn't come down to wisdom. So the Terra Pyrenean I decided, you know, we had to feed people a second meal. We're in the middle of nowhere in Westchester. I mean, like no cell reception, nothing. So we decided, You know what, we'll take care of the breakfast part of it get tacos and whatever from the businesses there. And you and I do the second meal because we have to provide a second meal for everyone before they go to bed, you know, and came all the way to us and we plotted it out so for six days She and I cooked a second meal a proper second meal for crew that was delicious, nutritious, yet nutritious. And you know what they felt so loved by what we did. So we would do everything we needed to do producer wise. And then we jumped in the afternoon to create a second meal and said, serve something, you know, that was that was that that helped them you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:20:27
And they would and when you as a producer, and as a filmmaker in general, when when the crew sees that, they will go down the alley of hell for you, they will walk right into it with you. Because you don't I've look, I've been on 1000 sets. That doesn't happen often. Unfortunately, unfortunately, it does not you don't you don't get to work with people like that often. And that's why when people do work with people like that, they're like, oh, no, no, no, I'm not gonna let you go, Oh, we're gonna work. That's why Clint Eastwood has the same team for the last 40 years. Like, and Ron Howard doesn't do a movie without his first ad. Like, and he waits for his first ad to be available and things like that. Because when you grab on, yeah, when you grab onto it,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:21:09
Emily is a family you begin to create. And by the way, just because I had never worked with them doesn't mean that I'm not gonna be the same person, you know, and be present for them. And by the way, it was not an easy shoot. But even though it was the first time these guys are just on a huge Martin Scorsese movie there in Oklahoma, the flower Moon something

Alex Ferrari 1:21:33
Yeah, they're posting that now. Yeah.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:21:35
Yeah, exactly. And that he, so you know, it so big. Lots of crafty, lots of them?

Alex Ferrari 1:21:43
Of course. Yeah.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:21:45
And this was a little movie. And so the ones that did decide to come play with us. I wanted to make sure that it was as good in other ways. Sure. The Independent to set a standard for what an independent film should be. Yeah. For them. And the Choose carefully in their life. You know, they want to continue in movies to find a way it's hard. It's not it's, it's hard making movies is art. It's not easy to never is lovely. And it was beautiful. Because Tyra Pyrenean, the other producer that she had interviewed me in spike, it's one. And that's what inspired her to want to be a producer, she was a journalist. And this was kind of beautiful, you know, because I got to take her by the arm, and she's a badass producer. She's worked for BBC, she lived in London, and you know, did all those royal, you know, documentaries, and that and I was like, Okay, in this one, we're going to be, this is what we're doing. And she goes, Okay, so we can't have any ego said no, actually, it's the opposite. It's very healthy ego, because nothing we do. Even if it's picking up trash, doing whatever we do, doesn't take away from us, and who we are, as producers, it's actually seen as a higher calling, in some ways, because most producers won't do. So all of a sudden, you are creating a situation in which people go, you know, what, if someday, I'm a producer, I want to be like that producer, versus that producer.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:19
And I hope everyone listening takes this everything that you're saying Elizabeth to heart, because these are the kind of words that I this is one of the reasons why I do the show, is to get this kind of information out into the world. That is not something you hear often, the things that you're saying are things we want to happen on a set I want people to act like, but often is never really, like I said, you've been around. I've been around, you don't see it often. You've created your own world. And you've had the privilege of being able to do that. And I think you you and Robert both understand the privilege that you've have in the youth that the universe is giving you and you've taken that and really done something pretty magical with it. I'll tell you one of the things I just recently moved to Austin, and I I'm Yes, living here. I live here. I live in Austin You're kiddingme. I live in Austin. Yes, I

Elizabeth Avellán 1:24:09
Do we get to hang out. We get we should definitely hang out to me, your wife and your daughter.

Alex Ferrari 1:24:13
Absolutely. Absolutely. But the reason the reason I brought that up is because I moved from Miami to LA because it was LA like you do you have to do. I was there I was there. 13 years, I met our common friends draw there to a month after I got there. And I haven't been able to get rid of him since I've tried many times. I can't get rid of him. He's like a dirty Penny. He's like a dirty Penny just keeps it all

Elizabeth Avellán 1:24:37
Wiseman is he's a patron saint of filmmakers he really is

Alex Ferrari 1:24:41
No no, no, no, he's it's one of those candles. Oh my god, that would be amazing. I should get that for his birthday. Oh my god, that would be amazing. No straw straw has been on the show. I had him on the show years ago to talk about what it's like to to what he does. Straw is a whole other conversation. But But I was there for 13 years. And I finally got to the point where people were like, Why did you move to Austin? Why did you leave la like the dream is to be in LA and, and to do all that stuff and I said to I said to everybody, I go I, I reached the limits of what I could do in LA, not in the business, but what I wanted to do for my family, or what I wanted to do for my company. Just like you guys couldn't have build troublemaker in LA. I can't build what I'm building with indie film, hustle and everything. I couldn't take it to the next level there. So here there's there's nothing but land. I just realize there's like

Elizabeth Avellán 1:25:38
A frickin

Alex Ferrari 1:25:39
There's nothing but land out here. Like I'm driving around like oh my god, like I cuz I live in bro. I lived in Burbank, so I lived in Burbank. And Burbank was awesome. I agree. I mean, it was just like, we're houses were on top of each other. And don't get me wrong. I love LA I love what I did. I love. I love going to LA I love LA I love LA not crapple that I love there. It's amazing. It's amazing. But But like, you know, I was right down the street from Warner Brothers. And I found out that my house actually was originally on the Warner Brothers ranch studio set. And they picked it up in the 30s and moved it to where it sat. I was like, What is going on? But you drive around a lake there's just there's no there's nothing there's no land. I mean, you got to go far out before you start seeing real land. And here the second I got here I was just like, oh my god, there's nothing even I mean obviously in the city it's the city but like it

Elizabeth Avellán 1:26:35
Yeah, the city is the city.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:38
The the smoke from Willie's 28 years does this smoke from Willie's house come over, you get a contact high or not?

Elizabeth Avellán 1:26:50
I can go visit him.

Alex Ferrari 1:26:54
But anyway, but that was one of the reasons I moved here in a lot of people have to understand that as you get older, you realize that there's things that what's important to you in life? You know, and where do you want to go? And it's a lesson for filmmakers to do as well. Because a lot of filmmakers think that you can only make it in LA and that's not true. I do do I think that filmmakers should go to LA for a short amount of time, you if you can get the experience that you get in LA I learned more in one year in LA working with straw. Then I did five years in Miami. And there's because it's just so much stuff going on there. But at a certain point you just go where do I go? What do I got to do?

Elizabeth Avellán 1:27:37
Where are they? Where are they openings to to? To grow to? To to expand to to allow the next set stage? Because you go in stages you know?

Alex Ferrari 1:27:49

Elizabeth Avellán 1:27:49
Let me tell you a I'm at a place right now. Where I am extremely picky what I do and how I do it with Yeah, I know the feeling it's especially things that I've been working on for a while this particular movie and it's called dead land I Lance and I have known each other like I said I've known these guys so long loved them they're good people they've developed their talents to a point that man they can ask for money whatever money Lance has been an editor for a long time for Disney for people like that, you know like big studios and but they're all from around here you know that when T T and and I've known them so long and they've always proven to be these incredible hard working talented humans that love film that love movies love storytelling, great writers, Lance and jazz Shelton that up wrote the script with a couple other people David Elliot of people like that so so you know so to be able to now work and by the way the movie is 75% Latinos because it was written as a beautiful story of not about it by the way when Lance said it was a movie as a border movie I was like I don't do border

Alex Ferrari 1:29:20
Yeah, I'm good I'm good

Elizabeth Avellán 1:29:21
You know me it's not really a border movie takes place in the border. I said I said it wrong. Okay, Lance because I love Lance Larson

Alex Ferrari 1:29:29

Elizabeth Avellán 1:29:32
Spiritual open human that I loved working with just the crew just adore he and jazz. I mean, they just spirit in that set was so cool, you know, and I, but it's just how, you know, you think your personal history is a certain you have on pathology. We're talking about mythology about your family and what it is and What do you think it is, and the thing you've written into it yourself from things you heard as a kid, you know, and then there's the mystery part of it, you know, there's certain things that nobody talks about in your life trying to figure it out, or things like that. So, and it's a movie kind of like that, you know, that has to do with a, a guy that thinks his father never showed up for him is a border patrol guy. And yet the story's not that simple. And, and so the beautiful in development of what goes about because he's about to have a baby, you know, so that he can be more of a complete man is the story of this movie, but we had a productive Vina and Juliet Restrepo. Both of them are Colombians. We had Manuel Luisa, who is Mexican and Mexican American, but he's amazing. And then we had Julio Sileo, who has been a ton of stuff really was amazing. And also Luis Chavis. That is this wonderful. Young man. I don't know if you remember in in Ocean's 13 He's the guy in the truck with Casey Affleck. He's the Mexican guy. That's that's Luis. Oh, Elise is this incredible? He comes from from Michoacan indigenous comes from a little, basically Adobe. And just to hear, we drove together from West Texas, and I said, I want you to tell me just like your first question. I want you to tell me, what's your house? What was the seed? Oh, my God, what a trip that we took across the Texas landscape, you know, hearing this amazing story of how he got to where he was, you know, and so much of it, you know, the steps sometimes of what we made happen, or if somebody like the Capitol Montalban Foundation, to create a space for Latinos to train in, you know, acting and film and things. That's incredible. You know, it's all in values, you know, little little stepping stones, and that's

Alex Ferrari 1:32:10
Yeah, and that's the thing that people also listen, they have to understand, if you guys didn't do what you did, like in a year, like it, it's step by step, step by step, piece by piece patient by patients. And when opportunities present themselves, you take advantage of the opportunities and you keep moving forward, and you just, and you keep going, and you don't let the haters in. And that was one of the things I admired from a distance about what you and Robert, were doing, because you just kept doing you and you're like, you know what, the hell with everybody we're going to set up in Austin, you know, we're going to build up our own thing here. We're going to keep our doing our thinking, and we're just going to keep going forward. And I don't care what anybody else says. And that is something that because I mean, the amount of pressure that that you guys have been under. And that just with mariachi, it's continued and still probably continues to this day. Yes, it always is.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:33:02
By the way, sometimes Robert doesn't choose to do Latino centered films, you know, he's done. I mean, yeah, lead was a Latina girl.

Alex Ferrari 1:33:12
Of course it was. And there was a couple other Latinos in there. Of course, of course, it was a couple of

Elizabeth Avellán 1:33:16
Michelle Rodrigues plays a huge part. But people are like me and believe me, it's a term drives bad but I didn't produce Alita of a John Landau came and just loved working with our family. Yeah. Brew. You know, that was beautiful for me. Because I know that John understands. That wasn't built overnight, either, you know, Oh, no. And that love he found in a tiny state because by the way, our green Queen strange, it's like 9000 square feet. It's not big, yet, we were able to shoot everything and create that backlog. On it's insane. We're in this, you know, I used to be airport hangers, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:33:51
Right. It know. And working in. I've heard stories of Jim and Robert working together and, you know, just talking together about stuff. And when I heard that this movie was gonna come out. I was like, That makes all the sense in the world. Because if not, Jim is never going to make it because he's an avatar world.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:34:07
He's busy. He's so my job. We know. Well, he has avatar 2 3 4 and he has Titanic 2

Alex Ferrari 1:34:15
And there we go. Is that an insight is that a scoop? No. It's called Titanic 2 Jack's back

Elizabeth Avellán 1:34:26
Somehow found something amazing but yeah, so So you know there's been that friendship for a long time you know between those two and and a beautiful one you know between Robert and Jim took him under his wing in some ways you know, and then and encouraged him go

Alex Ferrari 1:34:43
When did they meet when they meet when did they meet

Elizabeth Avellán 1:34:45
Long I mean long like this Mariachi time Desperado times. A we probably met him blabbered got to spend time with him. What was the name of that movie when Robert really got To hang out a little bit back in so excited was way back. I mean, oh, it was a after Desperado, I would say also,

Alex Ferrari 1:35:07
So it's around there.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:35:08
We're living in LA. Yeah. What was the it was? It was with Arnold Schwarzenegger the one with that. Jody Curtis. What's

Alex Ferrari 1:35:16
True Lies True Lies 94 True Lies

Elizabeth Avellán 1:35:19
Around there. Exactly. When we were living in LA to live in LA, so he got to hang out. We went to the premiere. And,

Alex Ferrari 1:35:28
And he was just, he was even in it for Jim was Jim like,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:35:34
Anyway, you know, this is one of the things people blah, blah, blah with Jim Cameron. And, you know, my oldest son is someone that pointed this out to me a while back and this continues. He goes Mom, what other filmmaker Do you know, that has never in his life made a flop ever.

Alex Ferrari 1:35:49
Like, amen. amen,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:35:52
Like never had a movie that didn't perform and made money. And it's like Jim Cameron's.

And at a high level No, and I always tell people I always I loved and I also defend Jim not that he needs my defense. But anytime. I'm always out there. I know. Jim. Jim is Jim is one of one of the on the Mount Rushmore of filmmakers for me, Jim, so Jim and Pete because he's such an underrated writer. And he's such an underrated, you know, a lot of times people like because everyone's like, Oh, he's direct. He's very direct. Like you read aliens. Are you kidding me

What he'd already done. Character, by the way, the character was the one that told me is Elizabeth, the character. But I've learned so much just receiving this treasure to direct. Because it taught me the character break. I mean, he knows who these people are. Each one of them is fresh and fully out, you know? And he said, It is such an incredible joy. And trust me that He has given me to do this, you know, and I hope we get to you know that the studio gets to make a second one. Oh, no. Has to because it's definitely part. Yeah, I'm praying hoping for that. Because they're incredible stories, you know, that? Truly, I mean, the father daughter story is just

Alex Ferrari 1:37:17
No, no, it's it's, it was beautifully shot. And what Robert did was amazing with it. But what I always also say with Jim ago, who else what other filmmaker on the planet today, can walk into Fox Studios and goes, Listen, I've got an idea. It's about a bunch of blue people, it's based no IP, there's a new technology that I'm going to develop, I'm going to need 200 million to develop the technology. It's gonna take me justice, just to see if we can make it happen, then there's going to be three years to three years of me, you know, messing around with that twiddling around with that, then I'll probably need to probably a couple 100 million more to finish it all up. And and we're going to do all that and it's going to be probably about good five, six years. Before you see anything. I challenge anyone who who will not any of the other gods that we've talked about filmmaking gods like that Scorsese and that Spielberg no one else has that. There's nobody else on the planet that can do that.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:38:13
It my, every day, I take my hat off to it can't really do it. sounding. So I'm going to ask him love the relationship with his brother to find Yeah, synergy of, you know, creating, I mean, we were able to do a 3d movie because of what they had done. Yeah. When we did track reliable girl 3d I love that movie came from, you know, on a spike. It's 3d. It came from the rig. They had an event, you know, and they have created so it's such an insanity. So much. I mean, imagine I mean, he's creating equipment, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:38:49
He's like, he's like, creating equipment. It's like, it's, it's an insane,

Elizabeth Avellán 1:38:53
Unbelievable, designing a little submarine that can go down to the friggin Titanic. I mean, that's a shoe. That's some high level stuff. But that's high level, that people from another planet know. And that's how I, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:39:08
And you start looking and you see, like, people like people, aliens. They're literally I think they're from the abyss. No, and people always talk to me, like, you know, a lot of people I know have worked with Jim. And they go, Jim gets frustrated on set when you can't do things the way he wants to do it. But the thing is that he can do your job better than you and everybody else is better because he's, he's not. He's, he's not. He's a completely different level.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:39:35
No, no, he's a tough guy, by the way, but John Landau was so yeah, he's moved things over. He reminds me, you know, he's a great example of being that person, you know, that can help smooth things out. You know, you know, Robert can get frustrated at times. Because, by the way, everything nobody else in that set. If Robert doesn't wake up and get that thing moving and tells them where to go. Nothing. Nothing goes. That's the director. And that's what I try to impart into directors. It's like so you and I also even tell them it's like you need once you're finished, I told Lance, I said, we was finished shooting, and I said, I need you to take the week off and cool your brain down. Feed your brain. Relax your brain. Because you have been on a daily calm, let for months now. You know? Yeah, and you have to, and I'm glad that Jim takes time in between things. That helps him

Alex Ferrari 1:40:35
Too many too many too many years, though. I mean, I mean, he's, he's, he's bordering Kubrick now at this point in the game. I mean, it's like, yeah, Jim. It's enough, Jim. Let's Can we just get them out, please?

Elizabeth Avellán 1:40:49
That's one of the things I love about filmmaking. And by the way, one of the most generous human beings is Quentin Tarantino, who I adore and winner and Desperado. He said to me that somebody asked him, you know, again, people throw in trash, you know, oh, God,

Alex Ferrari 1:41:01
I'll talk about hate

Elizabeth Avellán 1:41:03
And Quinton said, you know, they asked him so what are you gonna do next? He just finished Pulp Fiction won the Palme d'Or, the thing was going on in theaters. And and he was acting in Desperado. And they were sitting around, he goes, Do you have no idea? People ask me, What are you doing next? And I tell them, I'm gonna take a couple of years off. And this person goes, you can you can afford take a couple years off. And Quinton looked at them and said, because you're a filmmaker that was actively making films. Yeah. And he says, You can't Quinton lives. So simply, and it still does, you know. So simply, you know, he still was renting the apartments where he would have been living forever and present it you know, at that point, and driving in the little Geo Metro that he got from the money he got for Natural Born Killers, you know, 30,000 He got for that. And so when he said those words to me, he goes, Nick, people go, you know, oh, they've throwing trash with people. And he goes, I want my friends to make great films, because I can only make one every two or three years. So and I love going to the movies. So why wouldn't I want my friends want to support my friends in making good movies? You know? Yeah. That was, that was back in the day. And he still has the same ethos. He's still that person. And I love that, you know, he still loves going to the movies. I mean, seen him stop for a moment with a bunch of kids, when he's coming out with the, you know, the Arclight or whatever, you know, and talk to them. They're just standing around, and he just came out of a movie. And they're like, we'd known to just talk to us like, yeah, that sorry, did some, you know, awesome, that see that person still great. Clink laters the same way?

Alex Ferrari 1:42:49
Oh, Rick is Rick is. I love loving.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:42:53
I would i By the way, that's whether it's funny because I don't get to choose. I didn't get to choose with Robert, what themes? Movies I would make. I would dream to have been the producer of the before trilogy.

Alex Ferrari 1:43:07
Oh. boyhood or Yeah, no, no.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:43:11
I think those that by the way. He gave me original posters and sign them and everything because he knows how I feel about his movies in general, but also about that trilogy. To me. It's just

Alex Ferrari 1:43:22
Oh, it's Oh, it's beautiful. Oh, it's beautiful. And talking to Rick when I'm boyhood. Yeah. No, when I had Rick on the show, and I had the pleasure of talking to him for a couple hours. He was so generous with his time. He's such an artist. He is just such a. He is like, he's a consummate artist. And the one thing he said best advice I ever heard one of the best pieces of advice. I always ask people, what's your advice? And he's like, however long it's gonna take, you think it's gonna take it's gonna be twice as long and twice as hard. And it was like, brilliant, brilliant, brilliant, brilliant.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:43:59
And even for him, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:44:00
And it's still it's still struggle. He says I was talking to him the other day.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:44:03
And the movie is I tell people don't think that because you've made all those movies and you now have a studio do whatever the hell you think you have. No, it's still going to be hard. Still hustle? It Right? It's still hustle. Exactly. Right? Nation of, and by the way, and with me, I'm one of those people that I'm always bringing the ones I'm supposed to be here and take the ones out that are not supposed to be I'm in that process the whole time. So I'm never like, sad when an actor can't or decides not to or whatever says not for me. I'm always like, that's not the person that is supposed to be here, you know? And so they come in and out and then it begins to shape up. You know, Lance, we've been working on dead land for a couple years cuz you know, they got jobs. I got job. I mean, I got stuff to do too. You know, and so, someday we all had our jobs, you know, being the peas and things and editors and stop First Ladies, and you know, and I was always kind of the one there making sure that we were trying to get the right cast, you know, as the cast had to be just right. And and then Lance said to me, back in April, he said, Elizabeth, so, because he said, Oh, we're gonna start such a tilted date, and it never felt right for me. And I was like, okay, okay, perfect. Sure. And then he said in April, he said, So Jim is going to go off and do crater, jazz Shelton as it and then after that, he's going to free himself up, and we're going to go do the movie. So we're gonna start September 27. And I can't tell you how it was almost like, oh, just hit me. Just hit me like, This is it? We're moving? In? And it's been a couple years, you know, COVID kind of stopped the flow of Sure. You know, when it's September 27. That's what we're doing. That is exactly what that's what we're, we got to pull toward the scope, you know, and then, at one point, you know, we're running a little behind and some stuff happened. And I, you know, they were like, well, maybe we'll push and I said, if we don't start September 27. It's gonna fall apart. You gotta go. And we started September 27. And I'm so glad we did. Because none, by the way, is the first day of Mercury Retrograde, which is hilarious. By the way, the wireless thing is Robert, with hypnotic, which had fallen apart because of COVID. Last year, started September 27. Also, there was something about that date. Really important. Good, if not extend that day to, you know, at the studio. I was up in Oklahoma doing it. But But yeah, so there was something about that, you know, how you know, that, you know, you have this have the wish, that that's going to happen, and you have to have the faith that's going to happen that day, moments gonna come when it all coalesces. And man, when it does is like lightning in a bottle.

Alex Ferrari 1:47:06
When can I have to ask you, you I mean, you seem like a person who really listens to their instincts, listens to their gut a lot. And it and as I've gotten older in life, I've realized how important listening to my inner voice is. And and those feelings and especially like what you just said, like not September 27, like hot? And when other people don't understand what's going on. You're like, no, no, no, no. That's when this happened. The importance of understand listening to your inner voice as a creative and as a producer is so so important. Would you agree?

Elizabeth Avellán 1:47:39
Yes, by the way, it's truly what has guided me. And it's a thing that is elusive. Because it's you know, because sometimes you question it. Sometimes you like throughout the process with LANSON and COVID happens, and then No, no, this happened. You're like, that moment? You have to know that that moment, unless we like, okay. You know, because as a filmmaker, he's trying to lift it up as hard, you know, as he could. And it's funny, because we talked about it. And he goes, Elizabeth, when you said it's September 27, back in April. That's when I knew. I know. Because I knew that you knew, you know, and so you're like, No, yes. It's a it's some moment of like, the synergy of it. Yeah. I don't know why I thought September 27. Would be the moment. But we had no way we would go into a whole new wave of COVID. I mean, Jesus, I mean, it just got thick, man. And so you're like, No, no, we're gonna I did a movie during COVID with no vaccines the year before. And totally, but we really really became like a bubble. Yeah, camp, a real bubble. Nobody left. You know, it was a very simple movie with six actors total that four of them were the adults and that was it. And so the blazing world and I so a and that one was filmmakers that I didn't know I met them along the way but Carlson Young is just a beautiful writer and a beautiful young woman and a really great director that is sure she's gonna have a beautiful career. And so anyway, I but with Lance's we've been together for 10 years and the couple of scripts that you know, several things that he's written, and just a friendship and that's a real real connection, and his wife from Panama, and she's hilarious and they used to live in Santa Clarita, you know, until about about nine months ago, Ted no beginning of year, so about a year ago, and he decided he was coming home and she's from Austin. She grew up in Austin, her mom's Panamanian Rose, Rose Larson, and she She was like, I'm not coming back to LA, done. I'm not. And, you know, talk about the gut, you know. And she, and he's still working at Fox, and then everything shuts down. So he's working out of his house. He's like, What am I doing here? My family's back there. I'm here, you know. And so, so he moved this way. And by the way, but before that, Rose had said, No more brighter kids. They were in Texas, and the school that their son was going to start freshman year in. There was a shootout, puncher shooter, an active shooter. first week of school, oh, my God, so many of their little friends. And that's when Lance realized his wife had a gut, too. And was like, she knew something I didn't know. You know. And so I have to start listening to God, you know, really listen, so he moved. The funny thing is, I called her from Austin, I won't tell them what to do you know what I mean? And then, so he finished, he moved in. And I was like, so what did you move to? And he goes, Oh, and we ended up in Lake clay rough house, and like, You're seven miles from my house. Down the street. And so the house is pretty funny, you know, that people you just let them be. And so it's been fun, you know, because we could deal with things, you know, from here from this side of the town. No more cars, you know, and his kids are doing amazing, like, Travis and you know, cuz they have programs that they don't have in Los Angeles. So

Alex Ferrari 1:51:25
I know, I know. I know, I know, the so I'm gonna ask you a few questions, because I know we can keep talking and I please, I want to invite you back in a future time to keep talking to I absolutely adore talking to you. I'm gonna ask you a few questions, I ask all of my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Elizabeth Avellán 1:51:45
Start with a great story script, don't tell me you have a half written script. And I have an idea,

Alex Ferrari 1:51:53
I have an idea, an idea

Elizabeth Avellán 1:51:56
Everybody has, we all have stories, we all have ideas, we're storytellers by nature. And so put it down on paper, even if the then you write write a memoir, write something, put it together have an IP that you can leverage as a filmmaker, because that's the best way, you know, or, you know, that story has to be something that you can make for very little money. You know, if possible, and let's say 7000, but something that you understand and can carry out to get that first movie out there, you're going to learn a lot, in the process, make a lot of short films, maybe even make a short film about that particular subject matter. That's what Carlson Young was able to show me that she was a filmmaker, you know, she had his short, based on the movie, a little piece of it, that then when I read the script, it made sense. And it had gone to Sundance, so she already had made some. And that's how you start. And that's, I really believe that if you don't really learn those lessons, by making shorts, getting in there, knowing how to tell stories, in in moving pictures, no matter what format it is, it's animation, if it's whatever, then you're going in a little green, you have to have that as a filmmaker, if you want to be a filmmaker, and director, you know, even a producer, you have to understand how to do that. So that's my biggest advice.

Alex Ferrari 1:53:32
Great advice. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Elizabeth Avellán 1:53:43
To trust that something above you will guide you and really truly be able to give that over. And in Spanish we say something, don't put a coupon you know, I'm preoccupied. I'm used to always say not apropos pay the pay the preoccupied, don't do that. That let let go let thing let the universe move it let let have the the knowledge and confidence that if your heart you're in your passion you're in you're in you're you're you're developing those talents that are only you were like snowflakes when it comes to the combination of talents and what we love we that's how we are snowflakes. So if you are a person that is following that with their heart, I really believe that the universe God whatever you want to call it won't say no. It'll either happen or it will be not yet. Or it will be I have a better plan. Oh so Be open to that.

Alex Ferrari 1:55:02

Elizabeth Avellán 1:55:05
That's a hard lesson, man.

Alex Ferrari 1:55:06
Oh, tell me about it. You know how many of us listening? How many of us listening are always thinking like, I want this to happen this to happen to this to happen. And from from my experience, and I'm sure yours as well, first of all never happens how you want it to happen. Most of the times it happens in a different way that's better. And it might not be it might not be apparent when it happens. But in hindsight, you're like, Oh, I didn't get that job. I'm just I'm devastated. Like I got I was in. I was in Project Greenlight. In season two, I made it to the top 25. But I didn't get onto the show. And I was devastated that I got to very like right there. And I didn't get in I was devastated. And then after I saw what happened on the show was like, Man, I dodged the bullet. I'm so glad I didn't become that director because I didn't want I didn't want to be that person. So there's things that happen at a moment in time that you think that oh, God, it's the end of the world. But really, it you know, it happens. So plan, there's always a but there's a better plan. And that's what you have to kind of trust

Elizabeth Avellán 1:56:11
To trust that, you know, to trust that I think, you know, I always say I both my parents went away and each one taught me a huge lesson on their way. My mom, just she was 58 years old. 96. And she it was the process of the last seven weeks of her life. Were so hard and so beautiful. That she gave me the gift of not being afraid to die. Like be able to just go, Oh, it's just okay. And then that year, a movie, again, a movie, called Antonia's line gave me the language of what I had been at won the Academy Award that year for best foreign films and Dutch film. And this woman called it the miracle of death. And that's what I had seen a month before. Wow. So you know, so to to experience that and know that it's just a change of status. Because my mom's been in my life. Unbelievable. I mean, people can tell you the stories from this past movie, my mom shows up as a skunk. In this movie, the past three or four days she transmogrified herself. I literally go around. I'll show you one second. That's amazing. I carry around every movie every time I travel. Yeah, I got in Paris a long time ago. I have two of them. One travels, one stays on my desk, just in case you're my kids. Yes. And I'll tell you, it was insane. The last the last year, so the last two days, it was insane. And then my father passed away in 2018. And I took care of him the last seven months. Very interesting. My mom was seven weeks. And so now seven months were seven kids. And the last seven months, my father had a very, you know, difficult time it was it wasn't it was a heart failure, but just odd and all that stuff. But I was a person that handled in meditation, you know, yoga meditation as I do it, you know, but because of my dad, and I was the only person at that point, taking care of him a lot of the time by myself. I woke up early every morning to be able to be present for him. Whatever was going on with him, I had to be ready. And so amazing training for seven months, anything you do for seven months and consistently is going to, you're going to see a difference and feel the difference within you when you don't have that when you haven't done that. So I do that no matter what's going on, no matter what's happening. I wake up a couple of when it's called time, I wake up a couple hours before, so that I can do that and then be present, you know, and that's a huge gift. So those are the lessons that I learned lessons there. But it's, um, from that place, you know, you have to be present for a whole crew, no matter what happens because some stuff goes south man sometimes. And that's producer if you don't have the wherewithal to, to to be center right there. You know, like just and be able to handle in the comment. It's it can be hectic

Alex Ferrari 1:59:18
I've been I've been I've been telling my audience for years that I've been meditating heavily to two hours a day, at least every day, and it changed my life. It changed my life when I start meditating. It's

Elizabeth Avellán 1:59:30
I recommended everyone

Alex Ferrari 1:59:31
If you have if you have a problem, if you have a question, meditate and a lot of times the answer comes to you in the meditation. It's pretty remarkable. It's really, really remarkable. And last and last question, three of your favorite films of all time.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:59:47
Oh, gosh. He loves so many of them gosh.

Alex Ferrari 1:59:50
Three that come to mind right now.

Elizabeth Avellán 1:59:52
Three that come to mind immediately, you know Lawrence of Arabia Definitely because I got to see a couple of years ago presented to my kids. And it was a brand new 70 millimeter

Alex Ferrari 2:00:07
I saw it. I saw it in LA. I saw it in LA I saw that print the 70 millimeter print in LA at the end. Oh my god was gorgeous

Elizabeth Avellán 2:00:14
Here at the Paramount on believable marches. It was him again, transporting yourself back to the child in and then another seminal seminal moment was a movie that could kept me standing as a little girl. This is when I really fell in love with movies. Oliver. Oh, yeah. All over you from based on the Oliver Twist. I remember. So I mean, being a little girl and seeing this kid go through this journey. And being so moving Rex Reed and it was so heavy. It was a heavy film. Yeah. If you think about it as a kid, and I hope I mean, the image is still Oh, yeah. And I think I think I'm gonna mention Well, the trilogy from Rick, those were given already mentioned those. But I think one that I just thought Chase man has something else. Waking Life.

Alex Ferrari 2:01:10
Oh, Rick. Yeah.

Elizabeth Avellán 2:01:14
That movie. It's one of those you know? Yeah. Watch it again. You're like, wow, what I thought your facts, I think different, you know, such a weird dream, like, and I just thought what the guts to do that?

Alex Ferrari 2:01:31
Oh, no, it's the guts that he has to do anything. All the films that he does like

Elizabeth Avellán 2:01:36
Boyhood, oh, my god, like have the foresight to do something like that.

Alex Ferrari 2:01:40
I mean, and that there was there was a

Elizabeth Avellán 2:01:43
He's one of my favorite human beings. Let's just begin. He's a sweet, you know, like, he's humans. And she's such as one of my favorite filmmakers and to for it to be in, in this person that I mean, I love Bernie. It depends on the person we recommend. Rick's over to the sheriff in the little town in Oklahoma. You gotta see Bernie man. Bernie's great, you know, so. So yeah, so you know, there are filmmakers out there that are just transcendent and I thought I think I have to say Django have to kind of go by and filmmakers Django is one of my it's my favorite. Winton's. Is it my it used to be my dogs believe it. Yeah, Django Django for me. So like, crazy. Like wow, what a yarn for me. yarn

Alex Ferrari 2:02:31
For me. For me. And for me for Quinton, I have to say it's once upon a time in Hollywood, but it's just because it's it is it's everything as a filmmaker, it's everything. It's just like he's it's his love letter to La it's his love letter to Hollywood. It's totally and it was just so great. It was just this and that and it was those two probably. Yeah, and Django is not too far behind. Yeah, and then Inglourious.

Elizabeth Avellán 2:02:55
Inglourious was great anyway, there's so many but I mean, I love so many films and so many filmmakers I just admire the form and I'm part of the academy so should have signed up and I signed up again this year to to judge the to be the one that takes on like the task of the foreign films you know, to to nominate I'm proud of the producers brands and that's just something extra you can do as and let me tell you the best thing of all was knowing that filmmaking and storytelling was alive and well. I still films and most incredible if you haven't seen this film neon bought it. It's called the night of the kings by Wow from Ivory Coast. And instead of a prison movie, like again, like border movie, so not a prison movie.

Alex Ferrari 2:03:48
Yeah, watch. Okay, watch. It's like Shawshank looks like Shawshank Prison movie.

Elizabeth Avellán 2:03:58
Exactly. So you know, I just I love I love. I'm one of those people that the thing I miss the most from COVID From the whole period of this situation has been I go to the movies, lunch in a movie by myself at least once a week if not twice. Yeah. Alamo Drafthouse violet crown, I just literally make it. I'm going to a meeting so I schedule what's what's playing, and then I kind of make afternoon I miss I miss doing that, you know, and I love that, you know, by myself by myself. Yeah. And Tuesday afternoon, one o'clock, whatever, you know, and, and that's been the thing I missed the most. And I also think, wow, but I saw those foreign films. Each one was magical My God, like your honor from Guatemala.

Alex Ferrari 2:04:47
Oh my god. I can't

Elizabeth Avellán 2:04:49
By the way from Chile. That documentary. How the hell did she do that? And oh my god, I can't wait to see these things. Trade in this manner. I mean, it's just amazing. I mean, I saw incredible movies that I was in awe. I mean, like, Oh my god. So anyway, so filmmaking is alive and well,

Alex Ferrari 2:05:13
Thank God for that because we need stories now more than ever forever. Honestly, it has been an absolute pleasure and honor talking to you today. It has been so wonderful, the energy and the words of wisdom that you've you've dropped on on the audience. And I really hope that this helps a lot of people out there listening to it and gives people hope. And everyone and of course, we set the record straight into mariachi, which was very important. But really the inspiration that that you and Robert have given generations of filmmakers over the years has been it has been remarkable. So thank you so much for everything you do. And you will have to come back because I know we could talk for another five hours. But thank you so much for being

Elizabeth Avellán 2:05:59
We'll talk some people that you should interview that I really like my one of them is Jeff Fahey he's one of us, my brother. Oh, no, he was just here in Austin doing doing hypnotic. He's the I love Jeff. Jeff. I love adore him. He's such an amazing he's his brain is just, it's so interesting. You know, we brought him out of Afghanistan when we were doing Planet Terror. Yeah. Rebel Without a crew. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 2:06:28
Thank you. Thank you, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Avellán 2:06:31
Thank you so much.

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BPS 173: How To Shake The Film Investor Money Tree with Morrie Warshawski

Today, we are going to be talking all about one of my favorite topics; how to raise money to get our films made. I think every filmmaker wants to know how to make or get money for their films. But it becomes very challenging.

My guest is an expert fundraiser, film financing consultant, facilitator, and author, Morrie Warshawski. He’s facilitated a lot of fundraising throughout his 35 years career and has authored Shaking the Money Tree: The Art of Getting Grants and Donations for Film & Video, and The Fundraising Houseparty: How to Party with a Purpose and Raise Money for Your Cause. 

Shaking The Money Tree demystifies the art of fundraising for independent film and video projects for students, emerging, and seasoned media makers.

Morrie has assisted artists, filmmakers, and non-profit organizations with strategic planning, organizational development, and marketing across the entertainment and other sectors. Some of his clients are Habitat for Humanity, The National Endowment for the Arts, and Western States Arts Federation.

I really wanted to talk about the mistake filmmakers make when trying to fundraise. Morrie seemed like the right guy for the job and he delivered.

It was interesting learning that Morrie initially studied at USC in hopes of going into filmmaking but ended up majoring in English. And followed on with an MA in English and the graduate Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa. 

He started working with independent videographers and filmmakers through the Bay Area video coalition in San Francisco and that’s when he transitioned to fundraising.

Morrie was generous with knowledge bombs and tips we all need when it comes to fundraising.
He highlights in this interview how vital it is for filmmakers on the look for donors to have good comportment — the basis of presenting oneself to the world. Another component is, understanding why they’re doing the work and having a strong feeling that the work you’re making must be made. And lastly, understanding where your strengths lie, and how you can surround yourself with workarounds for your deficits.

Our conversation was pretty much enlightening and fun. Check the show notes for links to learn more about the work Morrie does and his books.

Get a notebook and pen to jolt down gems and enjoy my conversation with Morrie Warshawski.

Right-click here to download the MP3


  • Morrie Warshawski – Website
  • Shaking the Money Tree, 3rd Edition: The Art of Getting Grants and Donations for Film and Video – Amazon
  • The Fundraising Houseparty 2nd Edition: How to Party with a Purpose and Raise Money for Your Cause – Amazon


  1. Bulletproof Script Coverage– Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
  2. AudibleGet a Free Screenwriting Audiobook

Alex Ferrari 0:02
I like to welcome to the show Morrie Warshawski. How you doing, Morrie?

Morrie Warshawski 0:08
I'm good today. Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 0:10
Thank you so much for being on the show. I truly appreciate it. We are going to be talking all about one of my favorite topics how to raise money to get our films made. I think every filmmaker wants to know how to make get money for their films. One of the biggest problems, the biggest problems I feel is finding money and then making money. Right? Because finding money is I've heard that from from finance, here's just like, finding the money is a lot easier than actually making the money after the movie is unlike recouping that money, it's been harder than finding the money. But it's two very important equations in our creative journey. But before we jump into that, how did you get started in the business?

Morrie Warshawski 0:57
Well, by accident, actually, I was. I taken a lot of film courses in college, I was at the University of Southern California, and I thought it'd be a film major, but ended up being an English major. Then I got an MA in English and went to the graduate Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa. And I taught for a while at USC in a interdisciplinary arts program. And then, through a bit of serendipity, I was invited to be an intern in the dance program at the National Endowment for the Arts. So I spent the summer with dancers. And when I got back to LA, I turned to my wife and said, I'm going to quit teaching and work with dancers. So we moved to Portland, Oregon, and I ran a dance company called Portland Dance Theater. And while I was there, I met up with people who ran the the media project in Portland. And it's not there anymore. But it was a nonprofit that specialized in working with independent filmmakers doing distribution. So picked up work by filmmakers, Indies, and distributed. And this was back in the day when video had just started, there really wasn't any video distribution. We were distributing 16 millimeter reels, to schools. And I worked there for two years now I got hired to run the Bay Area video coalition in San Francisco and spent three years there working with independent videographers and filmmakers. And that's where I cut my teeth and working with independent filmmakers. That's where I learned a lot about fundraising.

Alex Ferrari 2:43
So yeah, I can imagine the days of distribution back before before video was just basically just trying to sell 16 millimeter prints and 30. I still remember when I was in God, I was in first or second grade, they had a 35 millimeter print or 16 millimeter, I don't even know. It might have been a 35. But who knew that probably was a 16 of Superman of Superman one. And they played and they played it in the auditorium for everybody and everyone lost their mind. Yeah. I remember those days now. So you've obviously you've done a lot of fundraising. For filmmakers, what is the biggest mistake you see filmmakers make when trying to, you know, fundraise trying to get money from different different areas, which we'll go into a little bit, but what do you think their biggest mistake is?

Morrie Warshawski 3:33
Well, there are many mistakes. I'm not sure I can locate the biggest one. But I think if I had to locate one, it would be comportment, something I call comportment, okay, which is central to my work. And if I work with a filmmaker, one of the first things I do with them is talk to them and work on their comportment, how they present themselves to the world. The attitude that they bring to the work when they're fundraising, because, you know, I rarely meet a filmmaker who want wants to fundraise. Most of them. I mean, really, they don't fail because you wanted to fundraise.

Alex Ferrari 4:17
Nobody wants to fundraise. Nobody wants to distribute. They just want the fun, sexy stuff.

Morrie Warshawski 4:22
That's right, yeah. But it's part and parcel of the work. So once you realize that you do have to have to do the fundraising. It's rare that the filmmaker enjoys it. You know, it's rarely an enjoyable process. So if you bring that kind of baggage with you to the fundraising process, it's a blockage to getting money. It's a huge blockage to getting money. So what I do is when I'm working with a filmmaker, I get them very centered in really understanding why they're doing the work and Why or whether or not it's important to do, because that's really like the bottom line, it's the basis for the fundraising is really having a strong feeling that the work you're making must be made. And that you must make it. If you can't find that, then I can't help you, then you should make one quick film and get the hell out of the business. So that's the first square. And then the second square is Who are you, and you understand who you are. And what your limitations on what your strengths are, it's really important to understand where your strengths lie, and how you can surround yourself with workarounds for your deficits. So I'd say that's, that's a huge, I guess I should have.

Alex Ferrari 5:59
It's always something. But so I agree with you. 100%. And you're right. I mean, I I crowdfunded my first feature, and I hated it. I hated it so much I not that it wasn't, it was successful. And I was able to fundraise for the movie, but it was just so I just don't like doing that kind of brand, that kind of work. I just, it's not for me. So my second film I financed myself, I was like, not, I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna, I can't, I can't, I didn't want, I need to do it as an experiment experience. And also, I could teach other people how I did and all that stuff, but I won't do it again. But do you find that there is a, I always find this with filmmakers, especially when they're looking for money, or they're looking for opportunity? Or if they feel that you can give them something in their journey, that that, that stink of desperation. It's it is it? Am I wrong? It's a huge problem, right?

Morrie Warshawski 6:57
You're right. And you cannot bring that stink of desperation to your work. Or it's, it's death. You're done. And nobody wants to be around someone who's desperate, right? So you have to understand that you have to put yourself in the shoes of the donor of the person who might want to help you. Pretend that you're them, and you're meeting you, and your compartment is on desperate by doing this, please give me the money. I'll do anything for them. No, no, no, no, no, it won't work, you have to bring a completely different attitude to it. And that's why the first three things I have filmmakers identified it for I help them fundraise is, number one, what are your core values? Because value, fundraising is actually a value laden proposition. What you're doing is you're trying to find people whose values overlay your values and the values of your project. And they're the ones who are most likely to want to support you. So you have to understand what your values are. And the values are your project. And you have to broadcast those strongly in your marketing, in the way you talk to people, and how you scan the environment for who you want to work with and what opportunities you want, and which opportunities you don't want. Because that will bring you money. And that will differ you away from money that's never going to come your way. And then the second thing I have every filmmaker do is write a mission statement. And the mission statement is I am doing this work because right, yeah, because that's what you're bringing to the conversation with a funder that makes you unique, they have to know that you have a backbone, that you're serious about the work that you're doing. You're not desperate, what you're saying to the funder is I'm bringing you an opportunity, you can come with me amplify your values in the world, do good in the world. And you'll feel great about it. Or you can ignore this opportunity, in which case I feel sorry for you

Alex Ferrari 9:18
But that's a position of that's a position of strength that you just laid out not the not the position of desperation, which is 99% of all filmmakers looking for money for their projects. And it's I mean, if anyone listening you just even if you if you're trying to go out with a guy or girl and either either one and you are just like on top of them and emailing them and and stalking them on Facebook, and trying to just like the sense of desperation. Nobody wants to be around that and I've tried to say that so many times. And that's not just with fundraising just like building relationships with people like you. It's a people thing you it's a people business, you need to build authentic relationships built on real values, like you said, in order for anything to happen, but if you start asking people, the second I meet you, hey, Morrie, I look, I'm looking for 50,000. For my project. I know you I just I just met you more than I am. But you fundraise the lot. I think you and I can work together, can I really need the money? Can you can you? Can you give it to me more?

Morrie Warshawski 10:20
Now, because, you know, when you're funding, you're saying you have to understand when, with when to approach the donor with the ask,

Alex Ferrari 10:30
and how do you do? So? Okay, so let's say how do you approach an individual donor? We'll talk about the other entities later, but it's specifically an individual owner, a donor? How do you build you know, build that relationship, do the outreach, and then start and because you don't do it, like right away? Like, how do you? How do you how do you build that kind of that gameplan that blueprint?

Morrie Warshawski 10:51
Well, you have to understand that there's a ladder involvement with any one can be individual could be a group, an organization, a funder Corporation, there's a ladder of involvement. And at the top of a ladder is, I am a rabid fan of yours, I love you, I will do anything for you, I will write you a check. I will beg my friends to give you money that's at the top of the ladder. At the bottom of the ladder is Who the hell are you? I don't know you? Why would I want to know you, right? And then there's all these steps in between. And what I tell my clients is be conscious of where you are in the ladder with anyone you are talking to. And what you want to do is you want to move people up the ladder of involvement and engagement. Only at a certain point in ladder, are you ready to make an ask for the month, and until then you're not ready. And that's why relationship building and community build are basic to this business. Now. That's what you should be doing all the time as, as you cast around your environment. Every time you write a letter. Every time you post something to social media, every time you decide which social media avenue to use. You have to say to yourself, how can I move people up the ladder of involvement? How can I make rabid fans? Because those that that's what pays off? 1,000%? So let's say that I wanted to get money from you? Well, the first thing I'd have to ask myself is why do I think that Alex would want to give me money? I don't know Alex, I've never met him. So I do research. I research Alex, I'll go to the internet. I'll Google Alex, I'll read your profile, I'll find out what your interests are. What I really want to find out is where have you given money before? Who have you given money to? Is my project going to be warm to you? Because they're going to contain something in it that you might want to help me with. But and then the second thing I want to ask is, what do I want from Alex? Um, I want money always want money. But maybe I want Alex's expertise. Right? Maybe what I could use from Alex is the use of his name as an advisor. Right? Maybe I want Alex so I could just pick his brain. So there's, maybe Alex has some equipment I could use, I want to borrow it for free or get it at a reduced but so this, you want to be strategic is what I'm saying? Right? And you have to bring that strategic attitude to every involvement with every person, it takes work. And research is at the basis of that. So once I've I've identified two things, one is what I want from you and what you're able to give. And the second thing is, what are your values? What are you interested in? Then the third thing I want to do is I want to see where are you on that ladder of involvement with. Right, and then I want to start drawing you in and it might be with sending in an email. It might be with becoming a follower of yours on Facebook. It might be with who casting that you follow me? It might be with my talking to a friend of yours, who's a friend of mine. To see if there would be an introduction does you're never that's very large. You're never more than three people away from anybody on Earth. Really, I mean six degrees of separation at the most but almost anybody you want to get to you can and like three stars on your friendships and if

Alex Ferrari 14:45
your name is Kevin Bacon even faster. No but so. So I completely understand your point too. But so sometimes your the approach that you're you're proposing is more of Have someone giving in supporting you, but there should be some sort of value you're providing them. And that value could be experienced that value could be hanging out with movie stars, that value could be financial that value could be, I'm bored with my life, and I just want to go do something cool that I've never done before. There's other things that you're presenting as well. So it's not just, what can you do for me, but it's also what I can do for you. Is that correct?

Morrie Warshawski 15:26
That's right. And I have to know that before I talk to you, right? If I can, if I don't, then there are ways to find that out like with you. But wouldn't be at a first meeting, ask, it might be at a first meeting lunch, or a phone call or whatever, I have to know what you the donor need from me? What do you really want? And can I provide that, and it's different with every donor, don't assume that every donor wants the same thing. So if I give you like two extremes of donors, there's the donor who I call an investor. And that person wants money. Right? Pure and simple. And if you can't give them an avenue towards a potential payback, they don't want to be with you. And then at the other end of the spectrum, there's a donor that just wants to feel good and let you do whatever you need to do. Because they want to see something good. And they don't want anything back. They don't want to remain anonymous, they don't even want their name on. And then there's everything in between. And most people and donors are in between somewhere. But those are the two Antipodes. And I have to understand where you are on that spectrum. Before I make the ask.

Alex Ferrari 16:47
Yeah, without question. So now that you have Okay, so let's say you're building this relationship, what are the elements of a perfect pitch? Like, how do you do that pitch, because that's a whole other I've have spoken about pitching extensively throughout my years on the show, and it is an art, it is an art and it's not for everybody. So if you if you don't know how to pitch, either learn or hire somebody and find someone who can actually pitch Well, if not, you're done.

Morrie Warshawski 17:16
So there's a lot to say about the pitch. The first thing I would say is, you must have a pitch.

Alex Ferrari 17:24
Step one.

Morrie Warshawski 17:27
And I don't care if you don't like pitching, know how to pitch yada, yada, yada, you as the filmmaker must have a pitch. And it must be no more than 20 seconds long. This is a this is a basic pitch that you must create. I'll tell you why in a second, you can have longer pitches. But the big pitch, the one that you must have is at least 1/22 pitch, often recommend that you have a couple of different short pitches, depending on where you are, who you're talking to. And it must be compelling. And the purpose of the pitches it needs to reveal your interest in if you are likely to be interested. Now remember, there's a whole universe of people who are never going to be interested. Forget them. What you're interested in is that small unit of people who are likely to be interested, and your job is to reel them in and make them want to talk to you and ask questions. The pitch is like such a powerful tool. It makes you money all the time. Because I mean, here's the typical situation. You're at the grocery store, Safeway, and you're in line waiting to pay for your goods. And it turns out the line is long. So you turn around to the person behind you, and you say, I'm always on the wrong line. Even if I'm at the shortest line, it ends up being the longest line. And the other person said, and this is actually a true story that happened in San Francisco at the Safeway in the morning, filming Tony Stark, right. So she's talking to this guy behind them. It's actually one of those places where single coda meet up, but at any rate, so she's, and she says them, you know, what I just said? And he says, Yeah, I can list all the time and always have to wait in line. And she says, damn, well, Woody, what do you do? And he says, Well, I'm in accounting. I'm an accountant. And he says, Well, what do you do? He says to her, what do you do? And she says, Well, I'm a filmmaker. How many times this has happened? You in the world, right? She says, I'm an independent filmic. He says, Oh, that's interesting. What what are you working on? Are you with me? He says to her, what are you working on? Now, if she doesn't have a pitch, she's, he's gonna blow that moment. Right? Turns out, this woman has a pitch, it's 20 seconds long. She's in the Safeway line, right? In about two minutes, she's going to be up there spending money and saying goodbye to this guy. He gives him his pitch. And he goes, Oh, my God, that is really an interesting project. Give me your card, I want to talk to you about it, right? Two weeks later, she gets $10,000. So the pitch isn't always going to get you the money. But if you don't have the pitch, it's not going to get you the money. It highly increases the likelihood of you're meeting the right people, and getting the right things that you need, you must have the pitch. Okay, so you ask how do you ask for the money? That's a whole? That's a little separate science.

Alex Ferrari 21:09
Right? Right. Well, so alright, so before we get to that, so just for everyone's listening, it's like, it's the equivalent of being a painter and having a brush, and paint increases, the likelihood of you actually painting something, you might have the canvas, you don't have the brush in the paint, it just increases the chances of you actually ever painting anything. So that's a bit so.

Morrie Warshawski 21:33
So what I'm trying to say on a big metal level, is you are trying every moment of your life as a filmmaker, to increase the likelihood of success for you your film, fundraising, and distribution. That's why you want to be strategic. You want your comportment to work for you. You want everything in your environment to piggyback and work for you. So you need to be conscious about all of those elements. And when you are they pay off?

Alex Ferrari 22:10
Without question. So then how do you Okay, so now you have the pitch for the project, but how do you ask for the money.

Morrie Warshawski 22:18
So the first thing is, you have to know that the donor is ready for your pitch. So they have to be on that ladder of involvement somewhere where they're written, and it can't be like a cold call. The second thing is, if you are really bad at pitching you, you are allowed to bring someone with you for the ask who's good at it. So that's a good thing for a filmmaker to know if you're a very, very introverted filmmaker, who stutters, or whatever, you can bring someone with you to the ask if it's appropriate. So sometimes I'll have a tag team go in, which is really strong. But let's say you're going by yourself. The first thing is, you know that they're ready. The second thing, very important. What am I going to ask for? You must have a specific thing, or a specific amount of money that you will ask for. That's part of the equation of the pitch. You don't want to go in and say I need support. How much can you give?

Alex Ferrari 23:27
Oh, no, big mistake,

Morrie Warshawski 23:29
right? Well, I need support. I'll take anything it could get. Oh, no, no, you need to research and know, what their comfort zone of giving is. Find out how much they've given to other things in the world. Quite often, it's a big surprise. You never want you never want to ask for less than their comfort zone. That's a mistake you are allowed to ask for above their comfort zone. If you ask below, let's say I'm the donor. Remember that donors are experts at donating. They get pitched all the time. So while you're pitching them in what's going through their mind, put yourself in their shoes? Well, the first thing they're saying is how good is this guy pitching? Oh, he's asking me for $500 he doesn't know that I could give 50,000 right, that's going through their mind. So you want to know their comfort zone of giving before? Yes. So the typical rhythm of the ask if all of those things are in place on by the way, you'd like to control the environment where the as capitals. So quite often you have to go to their environment. Sometimes, I mean, the best scenarios if they come to your environment. If you have a studio and they come to your studio, that's my favorite place to ask is your environment, because they see you and you have control. And then there's everything in between, like restaurants, which I'm not fond of, because of the noise problem and privacy.

Alex Ferrari 25:20
So um, so let me ask you, though, so when you're asking for money for a film, there is some legal things you have to have in place like a ppm and all that kind of stuff, or is that not true?

Morrie Warshawski 25:34
Well, what are you asking for? If you're asking for a donation, different attacks a dipole donation, then either you have to have your own nonprofit Are you have to have another nonprofit that's working for you. Right? Right, a fiscal sponsor, a fiscal sponsor, to give the money through. And there are many good ones around the country, they usually take a small percentage, anywhere from 3% to 10%, I think is high 3% is very low, most of them will last like six or 7%. Sometimes you can get one for free, if they're a nonprofit that loves you and loves the project, sometimes, but fiscal sponsor something else we can talk about. So when you're making the ask, if you're asking for a donation or nonprofit charitable donation, then you must have a fiscal sponsor. If you're asking for an investment, then that's not really a donation, that's different. And then you must have a legal structure that's ready to accept that money somewhere. And LLC or blah, blah, blah. But there is something in between, which is like a no interest or low interest loan. Right? Sometimes you ask for for that. And then you don't need a legal structure. But you do need to have a lawyer on your team. And you have to have an instrument that's ready to accept the money, or don't make the ask.

Alex Ferrari 27:04
Right. Right. Because if they're, you know, if I'm like, hey, just write a check out to Alex, that's probably not a good idea. That opens you up personally to a lot of liability, it could open up, it could be a bad, bad thing. So you write an LLC, if you have a corporation, you could do it through that. But I would have created an LLC for the project regardless just to protect yourself and your assets.

Morrie Warshawski 27:29
Absolutely. That's kind of bottom line. Good basic advice. Always create that structure. Yeah. So to get back to the ask, do you want to Yes, continue, continue. So let's say I'm coming to your office, Alex's office. So the rhythm of the ask is, I'll sit down, and I don't want to begin by asking, I want to spend just a couple of minutes being friendly. It's what I call ice break time. So I should be ready to ask you or engage you in some kind of icebreaker. Now, the best scenario is we know each other, I've already talked to you before. So I might come in and say, Wow, the weather's great. And oh, by the way, how's your family, you know, is your son son still playing softball, blah, blah, blah, something to break the ice. If God forbid, you go in, and you've never met the person before, and you don't want to know much about them, which I never recommend. But let's say that happens, I might look around the room for a queue. And the queue might be pictures of your family, that might be a fish up on the wall. So I know that your official person will talk about the any thing to like break the ice. So you break the ice. But the rule of ice breaking is don't do it too long. Because that's unprofessional. You'll get a feel for when it's time to get into the ask. So when the ice break is over, then you say, then you'll talk about the project. You'll give your pitch. You don't want to make it too long. You don't want to bore the donor. Ideally, they already have something in front of them about the project. So you talk a little about the project, and then you ask them if they have any questions. Now, the rule for the questions is let that go on. As long as the donor wants to make it happen. Now it's in, it's in their court. If they're interested in they're asking, let them ask whatever they have to ask. But at some point, you'll know that the time to talk about the project is over. And now you must make now you must make a direct ask for the money. And the direct ask has like a little equation to it a little formula. The first part of the formula is I have to look you straight in the eyes. Very important. Don't be looking down. Don't be looking over here. Don't be shy about it, you have to look them right in the eye. And then you have to say, Well, I know that you don't have any more questions about it about the product. I know that you're interested, we both know how important this project is. I'd like to ask you for a donation of $10,000 that I will use for post production. Period. Okay, so you ask for a specific thing and a specific amount. And then the next rule, and it's a huge, important inviolable rule for the ask is shut up. And the rule is, use zip up. And the next person to talk losers, it's not going to be you. That moment, or moments of silence can be very awkward and hard for you. You don't want to interrupt by going, No, but if you need more, Ryan, is that no, no, no, no, no, no, you the next person to talk is the donor. Let them sit back as much time as they need whatever your job now is to shut up and not say anything. And they will say something next, and they have like three paths they can follow the first path, the one you're hoping for is I'm going to write you that check right now. I love this project, not only I'm gonna write this check, I'm gonna tell my friends, I have to give us My name all over it, blah, blah, blah, you're hoping that will happen. The second scenario is they say, you know, I'm going to need a little more time to think. Now, if they go down that path, which is not unusual, then you still have, Oh, I'm sorry. For path number one, if they say they want to give close the deal. Find out when and how they want to give you the money, or the stocks or whatever. Make sure they understand your fiscal sponsor interface or the legalities, whatever. Get that all straight. If they go down the second path, which is maybe, then you still need to close you say, I understand completely. What information can I give you?

Do you need to talk to other people? How much time do you want? And the donor will say, you know, I'm really busy right now, how about two weeks? And you'll say fine? Should I call you? Should I email you? Or do you want me to come back? Should we set up an appointment, you must close the time and date that that maybe will get resolved. Okay. So remember that most of the time, if you've really done your homework, and you've done your relationship building, one of those first two scenarios is going to happen. But there is a third scenario, the one you'd all like you're unhappy about. And that is they say, you know, this project isn't for me. I just can't help you at this time. So you have to not take it personally, which is very difficult. And what you need to do is understand more about the rejection. Don't be mad about it. Accept it. Don't never, never argue about never, this is a big mistake. And I see filmmakers make this mistake all the time. They get rejected by a funder for instance, or call the funder up and say, How dare you?

Alex Ferrari 33:45
But you know who I am? You know, I

Morrie Warshawski 33:47
am this project should have never do that. So let's say they say no, then you plot it will say, Well, can you give me a little more information about your hesitancy or difficulty running this project? Just for my own information? And thank you for your time do you want to stay in? Can I keep sending information about the project? Or can I keep you on my mailing list? Something like that. And then you leave. Always, always follow up with a thank you note or thank you email for their time. Even if they say no. And that's the ask.

Alex Ferrari 34:28
And that is the very cool now in your book. You were talking about house parties. And I found that very interesting. What is the fundraising house party because when I think of house party, I think of the 90s and kid and play but that's just my generation. So what what kind of house parties are you talking about?

Morrie Warshawski 34:50
Well by this markets, it's the Bible on house parties. Okay, I'm I'm shocked that you don't know that house parties because they become really, really Popular. I'll tell you how I got into this to house party. Well, first of all the history of house parties goes back to politics. Politicians have been doing house parties since the days of Socrates, interesting. Oh, yeah, that's how they raised a lot of their money. But when I was working at the Bay Area video coalition, I felt met a filmmaker who was in their editing one day, and I said, How are you getting money for this project? She said, I have house parties, that you do what I asked for. And she explained to me, the root of it, besides the house parties, and then I got crazy about them because they work. If you do them, right, they always work. That's what I love about the house party. But there's a big provides on that is, you must do them, right. But very simply, people get invited to someone's home. And usually it's not your home. And they get asked for money, and they give money, and then they go home, you take the money with you. That's like, a real quick encapsulation. But

Alex Ferrari 36:09
what do you love? So what value are you providing for them at this house party? I'm assuming it's a party. So there's music and there's food and other things like that? Or you literally just it's a Tupperware party? And instead of selling Tupperware, you're getting money? How does that work?

Morrie Warshawski 36:25
Well, the first thing is, everyone who comes to the party knows that they are going to be asked for money. Important. Very important. It's a mistake to send out an invitation and not let people know they're going to be asking for money. That's a huge mistake. Okay. So the great thing about sending out an invitation that says to the person we're throwing, and it's usually got not coming from the filmmaker, it's coming from a friend of the filmic. Ideally, someone has already donated to the filmmaker, and they're inviting their friends. They're saying to their friends, here's a project I'm crazy about. I love this filmmaker, Alex, I'm going to have him over to my house, so that you can learn about about this project, bring your checkbook, your credit card, and cash. Right. So that's why it's important that you send out invitations to three or four times as many people as you'd like to have at the party. And typically like to have a party with 10 to 20 people. So you invite 80 people, but most of them don't want to come because you're gonna ask them for money. Well, the beauty of that is they're not coming to the party, and they were never going to give you money. Right? Exactly. You feel them up. And the corollary is the important corollary is, everyone who does come to the party knows that they're going to be asked for money. They're bringing their checkbook, they're bringing, they're bringing their credit cards. And that means if you do the party right correctly, 70% of the people who come will give you money.

Alex Ferrari 38:11
So how do you do it? Right? What is that? You said that a few times already? So what is the right way to do it?

Morrie Warshawski 38:18
Well, the first right way is you have to have a good host, person who's going to throw the party. The second right way is the host puts together a little invitation to have their friends. The third right way is you send out the right invitation, be it an invite, or, or a physical limitation. The fourth thing is the implementation must have an RSVP that allows the person to give you money without coming. So there are some people who just can't come but they want to donate before the party even happens, you're going to make money. Okay, so that's part A before you go to the party. The second part is the party itself. The big rule is it must be someone's domicile where they live. Not a factory, not a fancy office, not a restaurant, a house, an apartment, a tent, a yard, wherever the person lives. Because the significance of crossing the threshold into your private space is so strong. It can't be replicated in any other environment. It says to people right away, I'm really invested. And that's why I'm allowing you to come in my house and keep your shoes on get the floors dirty. Okay, so you want that to happen. You have to prepare the host. And the host has to be ready to at the very least, invite everyone and welcome Then when they show up, at the most, it's great if the host will make the ask that night and I'll talk about the rhythm of the party. So the party begins, people show up. And you must have some kind of food, but not a dinner. Not a sit down dinner, it's got to be food that people can put on a plate a week with their hands and walk around and mingle. And you have to be ready to juice the mingling. You might have alcoholic beverages, but not hard liquor. Right? depends on where you are and what the environment is and who's coming. But I would allow some alcohol but not hard liquor, maybe some wine, most hosts don't like to have red wine, because people are going to spill it. yada, yada, yada. So you want the food to be ready. Now, typically, the host will pay for the food, but sometimes you have to pay. Right? Okay, so whatever. So you got the food, you let people mingle, you allow enough time for for people to show up late. And Part two is you must have a place in the house prepare for people to sit down and have a formal presentation. So you gather all the people together in the room, and then you have a formal presentation. And there are three parts to the formal presentation. You have to do all this or you won't get the money. But if you did, right, right, the first part is the host welcomes everyone. The host has to say, I'm so excited, they have to show enthusiasm. And the other thing they must do is they must let people know that they've made a donation. Why would I want to donate if you haven't done it? Right, they can smell that a mile away. So they must let people know that that's part one is the host. The second part is you the filmmaker act do have a role in this. And you're the filmmaker have to get up in front of the audience. And you must have a very short demo reel. A sample of the project. And it's got to be like, pretty brief, like three to seven minutes as a nice timeframe. You don't want to show too much. But the key. My favorite, my ideal clip is one that makes people cry. Or one that brings up some kind of emotion. I guarantee if you can make people cry at a house party, you don't even need to ask for money, they'll start throwing. But if you don't have that kind of sample, at least something that teases people, tweaks their interest, gets them to want to see more.

Alex Ferrari 43:05
Yeah. And that could be still a stills presentation, something that is explaining, you know, concept, our interviews, if it's a documentary, things like just something that could get them like, you know, just deal with what their bill, if you will, whether,

Morrie Warshawski 43:24
yeah, and so the extreme is you haven't actually started shooting and all you have is like still a storyboard or whatever, right. And the other extreme is, you're getting ready for post production you actually do to have like a professional sample, something in between. But the point is, get them involved, get them engaged. And your next role is you have to open the floor for questions, people are going to want to ask you things you hope you're desiring that. So and the rule here is, you don't want it to go too long. But you want to let people have their say, and ask whatever they want. And then the next part is, you're going to have someone who's going to make the ask. That person has to be prepared or ready to do the ask. Ideally, it's the host. But let's say the host is uncomfortable asking their friends for money during you will say fine, who's coming to the party? Who can we get to make the ask that night. And again, it must be someone who is going to give you money either that night or has already given you money. And the other important thing is that person has to be credible with the crowd that's there that night. So that's why you would like a homogeneous group and not a heterogeneous group. And that's why you have a lot of different pass parties, because you don't want people in the room at different socio economic level. If you don't want someone in the room who could only give you 50 bucks next to someone who could give you $50,000, you have to make sure that the room is in the same confort zone of giving. It's really awkward if that's not true. And that will control the level of your ask that night, by the way. And, oh, the other thing you have to have ready is a card that people can fill out to give you money. And on that card, you'd like levels that are appropriate for the people that were there that night. But at any rate, the the next being important part of the house party is someone has to get stand up and ask for money. And they have to be very direct, not namby pamby and this is another big mistake that people make. They don't ask for money. They'll throw a party and just talk about the people see the pledge cards and get by the end of the day. I've seen that happen, doesn't work. Someone has to get up. Everybody knows why they're there. They have to get up and say on there, the person who decides when the talking period q&a is over, they get up and say, Alex, okay, I think that's enough talking, everybody here knows why we're here. If they don't already love your project, they should leave already. They're crazy. Look, you are all my friends. George, how long we known each other. Sam, thank you for coming in, I look, let's get real, this project is only going to get made and must get made. By the way. If we can raise $50,000 tonight, to get it to the next level. Let's do the math there. 20 people in here, we need to add $50,000. That's going to be what is that 5000. I can't do the math real quick. I am hoping I'm expecting each of you to give at least that much tonight. And if you can't, I want you to talk to me. Let me know why. Otherwise, you got a pledge card in front of you. We will take cash tonight. If you carry that much. We'll take your personal check, we'll definitely take credit cards, if you want to give us your stocks and bonds, we'll work out a way to do that. Please go to your heart. And then I want you to go to your checkbook and your pocket in your pocket book. And give as much as you can. Thank you for coming tonight. And then you got to be ready to take money you got to have you got to have pens and pencils, I went to a party once where there weren't enough pens or pencils for the pledge card. They lost money and pledge cards you have to be people have people ready with little baskets to take whatever. And then people mingle a little bit more The party is over, but the party is not over. Because there's one more important thing you must do. You have to send a thank you note to everyone. You have to be sure that you've sealed the deal for people who want to give, make that happen. And it might be an investment party or giving party a dinner party, whatever, that's ready. But the third thing and the very important thing is anyone who came but didn't give you money must be contact. And the ideal contact is from the host or the person who made the ask.

But I might have to be you. And it has to be very present pleasant, friendly call, like maybe a week to 10 days later saying thank you so much for coming to the party. Did you enjoy it? How did you feel about it? I noticed that we didn't get a pledge card back from you. My days ask, Are you intending to give? Right? If you do that, you will get 30% more money than you raise that evening. So if you got $10,000 in pledges that evening, you'll raise another 3000 with your phone calls. And that's it.

Alex Ferrari 49:01
It's It's It's a, it seems like a I mean, you're in there. I mean, this is the I mean, what you've just described, and especially from the hosts, like I expect all of you to do this, this and this. And it's you can't do that by yourself. You need a host you need someone who has an emotional connection with with the people in the room, who they trust and things like that. So it's not like a cold, a cold ass. It's a very warm, very, very warm ask. And if you do any other Yeah, and if you do multiple, you could do 234 or five of them, depending on the network of people that you have his friends. You could you could you could easily raise the money that you need. I mean, obviously depending on how big your budget is, but relatively speaking, you could definitely raise good I see that and you wrote what was the name of the book that you wrote about that?

Morrie Warshawski 49:53
Well, oddly enough, it's called the fundraising house party.

Alex Ferrari 49:57
I've really never I've never heard of this. I've I can't believe I've never heard of this concept of, because I mean, I've heard of candle parties, Tupperware parties, you know, all you know, makeup parties, all these kind of parties that you know, you go there knowing that they're going to sell you makeup or candles or Tupperware. But I never thought about it for fundraising, but I guess it works. And it makes perfect sense that politicians have been using it for years.

Morrie Warshawski 50:25
Yeah. And in fact, you know, I got an email about three months ago from Vivian Kleiman, filmmaker, an indie filmmaker, she just finished a really good documentary. And she, because of COVID, she started doing zoom parties, zoom house parties. So I would love to get the a little more about the details of it. But the long and the short of it is you still find a host. And they do a zoom meeting and make an ask over zoom.

Alex Ferrari 51:00
That's Yeah, did you set up a website for them to just here, click here and donate here. And I guess that's in the second edition, you'll be you'll do the second edition of that book. With zoom,

Morrie Warshawski 51:11
retires. Ready to take money automatically. And you do need a website that will take credit cards on home, I did not need to tell people this. But yeah, you need to be able to accept money electronically and over the internet. make it really easy for folks.

Alex Ferrari 51:30
Right? I mean, you can get a square image right then and there, or PayPal, swiper for credit cards at the party. But you should also have a website ready to accept credit card payments, you know, personal checks you could do and all that kind of stuff. Yeah, it's, again, you should have an LLC set up and bank account set up for that LLC to accept all this money. So it's not going directly to, you know, Alex?

Morrie Warshawski 51:56
Yeah, you know, the thing about being an indie filmmaker is you spend 80% of your time doing business.

Alex Ferrari 52:03
It's, you're absolutely right. And I always tell people, like, you know, you, this is the only art form where you spent three years to work for three months, at best case scenarios, to make the movie you want to do yeah, like to make your movie in a narrative scenario. Most independent films don't have the luxury of three months. And they have six weeks, if at all, you know, to make their movie so you work two years, just to get to that point. And then you're done shooting, and then it's just the post production process. And then you're back. It's a business selling it, distributing it marketing it. It's not like a it's not like painting or songwriting. You know, you can write a song today, if you're if you are painting or draw something today or paint something today. It is a it's a brutal art form. Because it's expensive. Yeah. It's one of the most expensive art forms on the planet. No, no, I

Morrie Warshawski 52:56
think after opera after opera, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 52:59
After opera and architecture.

Morrie Warshawski 53:02
Well, architecture is an art form. Yeah, yes. That's true. But it's out there in the top five, let's

Alex Ferrari 53:11
there's no question. Yeah. And you also need a lot of people, you can't you can't do it on your own. You need a lot of people to know,

Morrie Warshawski 53:18
you know, and that's very, very important because independent filmmakers No, no, no, no, no interdependent, you must, you must have two types of communities. One is a tight community right around you, that's going to help you, your team, very important. You don't want to be isolated. And then the other community is like the larger community, the ecology of groups, people, organizations, funders, bla bla bla, that want to be with you they want to have make the work in and use the work. amplify the work. That's why a big part of your job now is creating and nurturing your community.

Alex Ferrari 54:05
And can you before we go, can you tell me a little bit about your daughter's new film big Sonya because I saw the trailer it looks amazing, and that you use some of these techniques to raise money.

Morrie Warshawski 54:16
Oh, yeah. She's read my book many times. I was an advisor on the project. It's hilarious to see her doing documentary film because when she grew up as a kid, this is like the last thing on her mind. And her history of how she got into film is really, really interesting. But I would encourage people to go to her website about the film big Sonia SLN. And it's big Sonia calm learn about the film. I have many, many fundraising stories about big Sonia. Not only fundraising for pre production, production and post production, but fundraising for distribution community out Reach. She is still fundraising today. And the film came out three years ago. interest and it took seven years to fundraise and make the film. We're into like your 10 or 11 on this film, folks. Yeah, that's what it takes. Yeah, but I've got like dozens and dozens of stories. I'll tell you an interesting story recently was we're fundraising now for a community out What? Are you all familiar with the show or project? Yeah, of course, yeah. To show our project that USC Spielberg's project, they have this new thing they started a year ago, well, where they do intensive interviews with a survivor of the Holocaust. And they create a 3d and or hologram version of the person. So that later on, you can interact with them in real time. They asked them like 1000 questions they stored and computers, blah, blah, blah. So we're fundraising now to complete that project. So one of the things I tell my filmmakers is that marketing is fundraising. Public Relations is fundraising. So two weeks ago, an article showed up in a newspaper about this project. And a day later, Leah's fiscal sponsor in in Seattle, Oregon, the Northwest film project, called her up and said, Well, we just got this donation $4,000. Do you know who it's for? It was this woman who ran about the project got excited want to see that? But I wrote out a check immediately for it. So the kernel of that is there a lot of lessons in that, and they have to do with comportment marketing, pitching, the whole range of things. But you're always doing that you're always trying to be strategic and always trying to make it happen.

Alex Ferrari 56:56
And one last question, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Morrie Warshawski 57:04
Oh, self awareness? That's an easy one to answer. That's why comportment is the big word in my work now, self awareness, understanding who I am really, what my real core values are, why I'm doing this work. Whether or not I should be doing it is really important to me. And the other thing was, how do I come across to people? That was a big lesson for me to learn and it changed my work dramatically. Understanding that and it shapes everything.

Alex Ferrari 57:42
And where can people will buy your book shaking the money tree?

Morrie Warshawski 57:46
Oh, well, the best places to come to my website. warshawsky comm w AR sh awsk.com. You can buy them directly from me, and I'll even autograph them. Or of course, you can go to Amazon. So they're available on Amazon as well.

Alex Ferrari 58:07
Morrie, thank you so much for being on the show. And thank you for writing this book. I think it's a book that many if not all filmmakers need to read at one point or another in their careers until obviously they're loaded and filthy rich and they can sell finance their things or, or just call up Mr. Spielberg and go Steve, I got a project can you fund it for me? until those days come? I think we're going to be needing these tools for a long time. So I appreciate you for you being on the show, my friend. Thank you.

Morrie Warshawski 58:34
My pleasure. Take care. Adios.

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BPS 164: Secrets to Successful Low-Budget Films with Jason Blum

I’m excited to talk to a fellow low-budget independent filmmaker today. 

Granted, he does low-budget films on a completely different level than I or most people do at this point. But if we are going to talk about low budget filmmaking, it is only fitting to have expert horror film and television producer, Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions

Our chat sort out knowledge gems on Jason’s mentality behind his filmmaking and the budget strategy. Especially the ‘freedom’, he’s expressed in many other interviews, he gets from a low budget — in the essence of the chances it allows him to take.

Jason has over 200 production credits for numerous horror television and films franchises. The likes of BlacKkKlansman, Jordan Peele’s Get Out, The Normal Heart, Paranormal Activity, Elizabeth Moss’s Invisible Man, The Purge, etc. 

Black As Night, the Amazon original film, is one of the twenty-five projects he’s produced that have been released this year and streaming on various top streaming platforms.

The story is about a  teenage girl with self-esteem issues who finds confidence in the most unlikely way, by spending her summer battling vampires that prey on New Orleans’ disenfranchised with the help of her best friend, the boy she’s always pined for, and a peculiar rich girl.

He’s recognized for his multiple award-winning works and his production studio which is currently booked and busy with over fifteen projects lined up for the rest of the year to 2023.

That is a testament to his company’s high-quality production. Blumhouse is known for pioneering a new model of studio filmmaking: producing high-quality micro-budget films and provocative television series. They have produced over 150 movies and television series with theatrical grosses amounting to over $4.8 billion.

Paranormal Activity: Next Of Kin will also be coming out this December. It is the second film in the franchise. Which continues to follow a young man who became the target of a malevolent entity, he must uncover its true intentions before it takes complete control of him.

All you horror and non-horror fans out there need no further introduction about our guest. Please enjoy my informative chat with Jason Blum.

Right-click here to download the MP3



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Alex Ferrari 0:08
I'd like to welcome the show, Jason Blum. How you doing, Jason?

Jason Blum 0:14
Very good. How are you?

Alex Ferrari 0:15
I'm doing very good. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Man. I'm excited to talk to a fellow low budget independent filmmaker, but you do it at a completely different level than I do or met with almost anybody does in Hollywood at this point. But I'd like the mentality behind how you make your films.

Jason Blum 0:33
Well, you too, we love low budgets,

Alex Ferrari 0:35
right? Yes. And I think you've said it so many times on other interviews is like the freedom you get on a low budget. is it's immensely like, rather than having $100 million, or I'll make 20 movies or $100 million.

Jason Blum 0:50
Yeah, I love low budgets. Because you can take chances you know, you can make movies that don't feel like other movies, you can work you can bet on actors, you know, maybe you don't have the biggest printer up to use all famous people and you can kill the lead after 30 minutes. And you know, you can make movies about gun control and racism. Yes, that makes everyone nervous. And I love I love I love love budgets.

Alex Ferrari 1:11
So how did you get started in the business?

Jason Blum 1:16
Let's see, I got started. I I went to college with Noah Brownback, who's a great filmmaker, writer, director. And he his first movie he wrote was a movie called kicking and screaming, which was about five kids in college. That was one of those kids was based on me. And he wrote the script and I my friend Jeremy and I said, Let's produce this together. We had no idea what that meant. And we said that to every rich person we knew they all turned us down. One guy who was actually one of my ex girlfriends dad had it was an investor in a movie company in New York called arrow and arrow almost made kicking and screaming and at the end of the summer, they said I'm not going to make the movie but I'll give you a job. And Dennis friedlaender gave me my start in the movie business and I worked for this little company called arrow entertainment for three years and that's that's how I started

Alex Ferrari 2:10
and then you know, we'll jump a little bit fast forward to paranormal activity. How did you get involved with a film like that? And I mean the phenomenon that that became

Jason Blum 2:22
so yes, so Paranormal Activity came much later maybe 10 years later I was I was in my mid 30s I relatively recently moved to Los Angeles to try and you know make my way in Hollywood which is complicated and and we had a we had a first look deal with the overall deal at Paramount. We the first look deal with it with a guy named Stephen Schneider, who's a who's who is who's a producer, but he's more more more well known for 100 movies you should see before you die or 1000 movies you should see before you die, that series of books, he edits that series of books. So he took that cachet he had from those books and started his producing career and it was it was pretty good. And he's really kind of an expert in, in, in horror movies. And, and he is the one I think who initially brought my attention to to the paranormal activity movie which was actually sent to us as a directing sample. We were told we were told by the agent that the movie was going to go directly to DVD but that we didn't want to work with the director and Steven and I both saw the movie and we said we're or Steven showed me the movie and I said you know I bet this could work in a movie theater. And the rest is history but it was it was a long journey from that moment to when it came out in the theater was actually three years

Alex Ferrari 3:47
when you were starting out and had that first job in an arrow what was the what was the lesson that you wish you would have told your younger self that you had to learn the hard way during those those years those early years?

Jason Blum 4:02
That's my lesson I would have told myself well I don't know it's a lesson but the advice I would have given myself is to try and be a little less stressed out I was very nervous you know maybe maybe that's what made me successful I was so anxious about everything but but but I would have told my I would have told my former self to relax a little bit

Alex Ferrari 4:20
but you seemed a little bit more relaxed now. I mean you've chilled a bit over me ah ah chills you in general. I mean as you get older,

Jason Blum 4:27
I'm more relaxed now. Definitely by far yeah,

Alex Ferrari 4:30

Jason Blum 4:31
That's when I was 22

Alex Ferrari 4:32
Oh, can you imagine as I always say, I'm not the only one that ever said this. The youth is definitely wasted on the young

Jason Blum 4:41
he's so great to be young now.

Alex Ferrari 4:43
With with our minds today Jesus the damage the damage we could do cheese. Now when you opened up blumhouse was it kind of like a you open that up because of the frustrations you had with the general Hollywood mission. You have like making big budget movies and ego and always have to like if you make a small movie then and that's a hit you've got to make another bigger movie and things like that is that one of the reasons why you started blumhouse

Jason Blum 5:11
yeah you know my dad had his own company and I grew up in a in a in an environment where having your own company seemed possible and I worked for other people and I thought God I definitely want my own company I think I think initially it was not my frustration in Hollywood but my fret I hated working for other people I just I did not like it at all It just didn't didn't it did not work for me. I wanted to do things my way I didn't want to do things the way someone else wanted me to do them and and that that's what gave me the drive to start my I mean my own company was me and my apartment that was my own company was me and my apartment with a telephone and an assistant would come you know we come over to that apartment from nine to five or whatever and the two of us just sat there and you know tried to sell movie scripts and we sold them you know we made them we got these little movies made they were they were pretty crappy movies but we got them made and that was that was that was that was what drove me to start and then blumhouse what we you know, when we was really paranormal activity was this idea of an independent movie distributed by a studio and that that seemed like the kind of company I wanted to that's what I wanted to pursue as a as a model for filmmaking.

Alex Ferrari 6:32
And then tell me how the relationship with universal came because you have arguably one of the most incredible deals in Hollywood I mean it just doesn't doesn't exist anywhere else when I heard the deal is like How the hell did he get that and then the success on success on success I mean, you're only as good as many successes as you have but how did that relationship even start How did you even get how did you convince a major studio to your craziness

Jason Blum 6:59
I made a I made the such a successful movie for Paramount and then a second movie for Paramount that they kicked me off the lot. And because they wanted to keep all the credit for themselves, wow. And the money to doing that. And my my dear friend and partner in crime, Brian, Lord at CIA, had our lunch with Donald Langley who runs ran universal and still does. And Donna said to Brian, you know we really want to bring back the monsters and the tradition of scary movies in Hollywood. And Brian said you should meet Jason Blom and the first deal with universal with a very small deal and and oh god and and we I made a deal there no no one else You know, I couldn't I couldn't. It wasn't like it was a bidding war. I mean, I didn't have any other opportunities. Y'all and I took it I should say and it turned out turned out great. But it was a it was a it was a real leap of faith on her part and you know, I'll always be indebted to her for that.

Alex Ferrari 8:09
So what was the first movie with that original original urge? It was it was James is as as our friend James the Monaco

Jason Blum 8:17
James Monaco's movie we did the purging we screened it in this little this theater in the valley and a test screening and all of universals showed up because it was like the new horror guy you know Nikki Nikki Rocco was there and all the bras from Universal they're all going to this two and a half million dollar movie and they all liked it name of the company released it Adam Adam focus and was there and it was great but but but it was very nerve wracking.

Alex Ferrari 8:49
So when you work with when you worked with James because James was I don't know what he had done prior to the purge I think he's just in but this was a big deal for him. And when you work with James on that whole project and two and a half million dollars thinking about it now it's like you watch the purge is like,

Jason Blum 9:06
really that's all the cost is 2.7

Alex Ferrari 9:09
It looks so it looks so amazing. How since this was like the first big thing for you, how did you talk to James about the James that final cut? Like how did that work? Did you like did you have that power yet?

Jason Blum 9:22
You know had Final Cut on the movie? Michael Bay. Exactly. That's right. And Mike Kobe's a genius. So Michael, these two guys drew and Brad, who was working for him. And I met with them and we were like, let's do a movie together. No, not at all. And, and they he gave us a movie to do or something. And I said great. Let's do it. And Michael said You know, I'm not gonna give you a movie of ours to produce and loot unless you give something of us to me to produce. So of course we never made the movie he gave us but meanwhile we made six purges and a purge TV show all of which Michael Bay produced But anyway, Michael Bay had Final Cut on he still does By the way, he has Final Cut on every purge movie he had Final Cut or Michael Bay.

Alex Ferrari 10:27
That's I mean, and I've said that 1000 times and like whether you love him or hate him, he changed action movies. He's an absolute genius. Visual Yeah,

Jason Blum 10:34
I was just I just had lunch with, with with with with Jake Gyllenhaal who started his movie and you know I always get the best advice from you always get the best take on directors from actors always actors know better than anyone else. And and Jake was just saying you know he's one of the best directors if not the best and one of the best directors that he's ever worked with like it's just he's just he's he's you know really great at this at this at this at this specific thing but also at moviemaking you know, Jake Jake just loved them. I've never been I've made the Giga guys very rich. I've made him a lot of money I never heard from the guy. I mean, it's unbeliev

Alex Ferrari 11:16
You can't even get him on the phone for God's sakes. I haven't tried to call him calling me fair enough. Now what are you kind of laid out this model for blumhouse films? What are the few of the rules that you that you look for or have to abide by for a blumhouse release

Jason Blum 11:39
on the movie side for the original for an original movie, you know, we have to have you know, I always say you you can either have a lot of locations, a lot of speaking parts or a couple of special effects, but you can't have you can't have you can't have more than one of those categories. So really, it's a funny way of saying with the movies that the scope of these movies has to be has to be has to be small, you know, not too many locations not too many characters, no stunts, no special effects or very limited stunt limited special effects. And you have to be willing to work for scale and participation if the movie makes money and if it doesn't make money then you're not going to make anything more than scale.

Alex Ferrari 12:15
And and why do you were you afraid of people or the or the town starting to copy this model when this when you first came out and you had success after success? You're like, Oh my god, I'm gonna have 40 competitors all the big studios are gonna obviously be doing this. It hasn't turned out that way. But were you afraid of that happening? You know, I'm very competitive.

Jason Blum 12:34
But I'm not i don't i don't i don't i don't you know, I don't I'm kind of I don't have a lot of fear. I'm not like fearful in that way. So no, I mean, I was annoyed if people would try and do it, but I was afraid of that. I was I was I but I'm always competitive when someone else has a successful horror movie. I'm horribly competitive about that.

Alex Ferrari 13:00
Fair enough.

Jason Blum 13:01
And then quiet place almost send me to my grave

Alex Ferrari 13:06
you had get out so I think in Split I mean you did okay,

Jason Blum 13:09
I wanted all the horror I wanted to conflict and quiet place

Alex Ferrari 13:15
when when Jordan showed up with get out, how did that get? I mean, did you how did that whole process in because Did anyone think this was gonna be a hit?

Jason Blum 13:25
No one wanted to make that script, you know, script was laying around for a long time and, and we read it, I thought the script was great. I had a great meeting with Jordan. We talked about race in the meeting, because I wanted to be comfortable. We're gonna make a movie about race. I want to be able to talk I remember saying that Jordan. Like, is it true? Like if there's a party and it's all white people, and there's like one other black person you guys like, acknowledge that? And he's like, Yeah, it's definitely true. And I thought I'm never in a party where it's all black people in another white person, it wouldn't occur to me that you've got to nod at each other like we are. But of course it makes sense. And, and I found it, you know, very easy to talk to Jordan about race and, and, and he had such a clear vision for what he wanted to do with a movie and and, and, and we loved it. You know, we loved it. And we we, we had our partners in Burbank make it and the rest is history.

Alex Ferrari 14:25
No, when? Yeah, it definitely did. Okay, it did. All right. Yeah, it did. Okay. And I saw on one of your other interviews you did that you got, you're like, oh, Jordan won the Oscar. But I didn't. I thought that was great.

Jason Blum 14:41
So honestly, you know, I got nominated, I got the booby prize, you

Alex Ferrari 14:47
know, when you work what you deserve to know it without question. Now, when you work with directors, it seems that you know, looking at your filmography

Jason Blum 14:56
stake that year though they did make a mistake. I mean, that's that we know everyone is excited. allege that Yeah, yeah yeah I acknowledge that they may have a separate Oscar ceremony to acknowledge their mistake gave the best picture Academy Award to the picture that should have won that

Alex Ferrari 15:11
obviously that I think they'll be coming to your door any second any second now the now when you It seems like that from looking at your filmography the directors you you work with a lot of times, they're not first time directors that I don't think there's ever a first time director, but a lot of them

Jason Blum 15:28
blumhouse there are for our streaming movies and stuff like that there are but our on our other model, they rarely are Jordan techlink. It was a first time director. Yeah, well, Joel Edgerton, technically first time director, but they both of them had a lot of set experience,

Alex Ferrari 15:42
right, it wasn't like their first time on set, and they knew how to Yeah, they didn't know what they knew what a grip was.

Jason Blum 15:48
Which is more than I know.

Alex Ferrari 15:50
So when you're working a lot of a lot, but a lot of the filmmakers you work with, some of them were in filmmaker jail, and then they come to you to get out of filmmaker jail, you know, like EMI and emanates a great example because and I love what I did, because after a few of his films, he was just kind of like, Oh, it's over. Don't which is always insane to me. Like how can you take the keys away from an M Night Shyamalan like, how, how does that like, how does the Tom work that way? But when split came out, I'm like, Ah, he's back. He's back, baby it oh, you know, and you give those opportunities back to these amazing filmmakers?

Jason Blum 16:26
I did. I brought him back. And then he kicked me to the curb. It's outrageous.

Alex Ferrari 16:34
But it seems like I mean, it seems essentially that you are money. You're in Moneyball for movies. And I know that's the term that's been thrown around.

Jason Blum 16:40
Was that yeah, I mean, we I mean, you know, we're less that now and all series we were less of that now. And that that's because when we started the company, there was there was a there was there were a lot of super talented people who were not working. And that's no longer the case. It's that there's so much work now in TV and streaming and movies. There's just so much work now that it's it's you can't replicate what we used to do there really? Isn't that the idea of like Moneyball for movies? You know, it's not really, you can't really do it anymore, because everyone's working so much. But definitely the first, you know, 567 years of the company. I taught I used to always say to be what, no one no, no, it's funny to hear you say that? Because no one no one. No one knew what the hell I was talking about when I said that, but that's exactly what we did. You know, we looked and said, hollywood looks at your last movie. They don't look at your body of work, which is insane. It's insanity. always looked at the body of work, like the guy that did saw. You know, he did two movies that didn't work after that, but he wrote and directed the like the most success one of the most successful horror franchises ever of all time. I bet that guy can get this from a horror movie. I bet it will be good. You know, that was James one, you know? Yeah, I mean, amazing.

Alex Ferrari 17:59
Yeah. And when you give those opportunities, and again, Hollywood is just such a it's such a weird town. And it's in its DNA, this whole concept of having to spend more it's almost ego like you know, it like I think you said before the cool kids, the cool kids spend a lot of money and you're not a cool kid.

Jason Blum 18:17
I'm not a cool kid. Now the cool kids, they spend a lot yeah, but but

Alex Ferrari 18:21
you make a lot with your money. So then you become a cool kid after the fact.

Jason Blum 18:24
You think I'm not so sure. If I'm allowed to sit at the cool kids table?

Alex Ferrari 18:29
No, but I was I remember listening to Robert Rodriguez when he did I mean, who's one of the originating low budget guys in the 90s from coming from the 90s. And he did a spike it. And it was a huge hit. But he did it for like 30 million, which was a big VFX thing. But then afterwards, after he's like, okay, here's 100 me like, No, no, just give me 30 again, I'm good.

Jason Blum 18:50
I was smart. That was smart. Because the second one didn't do as much. People make big mistakes they every every manager and every agent, they their their idea of you have a successful movie is to make your client making a more expensive movie, which is which is stupid.

Alex Ferrari 19:05
Do you do you find that there's where do you find the resistance to your model? Is it more in the representative side, in the talent side, you'd like where because when you go

Jason Blum 19:15
and look, you know, the representation, although they now it's better, because I've made a lot of people a lot of money, but representation, it's not even their fault. It's just they're compensated by. It's like quarterly bonuses, right? So they're very, very incentivized to make money fast. Now, if you said I'll pay you $50 now or $100, over three years, give me the 50 now and then I'll get a job for another client. So it's not it's not that they're, it's not that they're short sighted. It's just the the the incentives aren't aligned. And the rep is incentive with the client is not really aligned like the client is much better with $100 over three years. The agent is kind of better with 50 bucks. Right now and then go to the other ones to get more so that's just the way the system is set up. I don't know you know, it's hard to really blame people for that. Now as much as I like to

Alex Ferrari 20:12
fair enough now when you work with directors I heard somewhere that you give director's cuts to a lot of filmmakers that you work with your final films. Yeah, final, final and

Jason Blum 20:23
we always get Final Cut to our filmmakers. Yeah, we do. Not always but 99% 95% of the time we do other than Michael Bay. Well, no, he was the filmmaker in that right so we actually did give the filmmaker but we didn't keep it ourselves. We gave it to him.

Alex Ferrari 20:39
Right? Exactly. Of course of course. But but that is so against the grain in Hollywood like to get Final Cut. So most of all, I mean, it's it's, it's, I

Jason Blum 20:46
think it's immoral to ask someone to work for a reduced rate, but then tell them but I'm going to tell you what to do. Like if you ask someone to bet on yourself, you have to allow them to bet on themselves. So if they go down sinking, they can say well, this is your fault. I mean, if you're really saying like you're financially invested in the movie, you can't do those two things. They they they don't work together, either. Either. You pay people a lot of money and then you know you could I would have no problem taking Final Cut. If people are making money up front. Then we do take Final Cut. But if you're not making money up front, if then if you're the director who has the most control over a movie by far, I think I just like I said, I think it's immoral to to take Final Cut from them.

Alex Ferrari 21:33
Yeah, cuz I remember I mean, when Spielberg and those guys started getting Final Cut, but then they were they were handing out Final Cut like candy back in the day, in the 80s. In the old days, but then it's just unheard of to have that kind of control. But I guess again, because you're at such a low budget, you can, you can play, you can do things that you just don't do and it's hard to give $100 million Final Cut. It's just very difficult. Yeah, that's

Jason Blum 21:57
what I mean expensive movies that never do it. Final Cut has only of the 150 movies with a we've made, there have only been like, less than five times where Final Cut really hurt us and hurt the movie, which is pretty good ratio.

Alex Ferrari 22:17
That's not a bad ratio at all, actually. Yeah, yeah. Now what some of your films go directly to streaming other or VOD and others go theatrical, then go there. What is your determining factor on which goes where?

Jason Blum 22:31
Well sometimes it's pre determined, like Welcome to the blumhouse all these movies for Amazon, they're all gonna go directly to Dell. Yeah. When we make an original movie for Amazon, we we I screened the movie in front of an audience and, and 99% of the time it's very clear if you show the movie in front of an audience, the movie is connecting with a big group of people in a movie theater in such a way that it shouldn't play in the theater or it's or the tone may be kind of the tone may be kind of different and it kind of may be slower or it may be you know the audience you don't you feel it where the audience is not like the movie could work at home, but it's not gonna work in a movie theater. And then we do we don't really do limited releases we either do funnily enough we need to do like a really wide release or we go you know, we'll do it straight to ancillaries to VOD or to iTunes or to all the all the different places you can order movies online now.

Alex Ferrari 23:29
Now you have the dubious honor of having a couple of records of note some are dubious Some are are not dubious.

Jason Blum 23:39
Oh, what am I What am I bad records I need to hear immediately.

Alex Ferrari 23:43
Is it the widest release film?

Jason Blum 23:46
Now got we got we gave that record up I want here now. You gave it up. Oh, we no longer hold that record. Oh my god. partner here. Do you know what the media took that as Cooper? He knows? Okay, so he that took that record from us. I was sorry to see it go. I had to pass the torch.

Alex Ferrari 24:04
That's what I'm sure you were Tara. You really torn up about it. I was

Jason Blum 24:09
real torn off about it.

Alex Ferrari 24:11
Now, I have this is one question. I've always wanted to ask you what makes a good horror movie?

Jason Blum 24:16
The name blumhouse showing before the film. This interview is going to be a great interview. I'm feeling very, very I don't know what it is. I'm hunched drunk, but I'm not drunk and I haven't even done that many interviews. Now Cooper. What is the movie that took the AR record for widest ride release? Lois gross. Ah Gosh, I think it was Warren Beatty I want to say no you knew this. We we celebrated giving up this record you don't remember Oh I know you're on the air. You're Live on the Air right? pressures on Yep. Live on the Air in a in a live interview. That's your interviewer.

Alex Ferrari 25:03
Hi Cooper. No No pressure.

Jason Blum 25:06
What's going on? Can you hear me? Yeah just FaceTime in your other no FaceTime or your face that was your rock the Kasbah that was the same weekend I came up the same week no no no no no are you literally doing a jacket right now it's coming up without answers Cooper it may have been rules don't apply the Warren Beatty movie okay maybe one day we'll go over that now view if you find out something else text Karen and then we'll we'll call it in right now. Now Now this interview is going to be one for the ages I mean this interview I mean, I love it.

Alex Ferrari 25:52
I love it. I absolutely

Jason Blum 25:56
rent your mate Have you are you really relaxed you're just you talked about James to Monaco Yeah, you called James now and I mean he just

Alex Ferrari 26:05
it's all it's all calculated. I I am a master at this sir. Just like making a good horror movie only is only good horror movies have blumhouse at the front

Jason Blum 26:17
only good. first have to have blumhouse and if you have that you're on a good road. Yes, a good horror movie should survive if you have take out the scares. And just watch it with no scares. It should be a great drama so good horror movie has a great story and great acting. If you have a great story and great acting. Good movie, The scares will work if you have not a good story and not a good act and you could have the greatest scares in the world in your movie and they won't be scary. You got to get the audience riveted with what's going on lockwise and story wise in order to do that you have to have a good story you have to have great actors they have to believe what they're seeing. So when you surprise them with a scare, they're so entrenched in the story that they're not ready for it and then it's scary and if you if you don't do that you're not going to be scared

Alex Ferrari 27:05
so yeah, because horror movies are infamous for being you know, they're bad a lot of there's so many bad horror movies out there and then your films aren't so there's a reason like what's the difference?

Jason Blum 27:19
Okay, say you have to have blumhouse obviously obviously right the movie by the way that was the empty man what's the empty man?

Alex Ferrari 27:29

Jason Blum 27:32
thriller well the empty man you look it up but the empty man took my word as the least successful, wide released lowest grossing film of all time.

Alex Ferrari 27:43
Wow. Thank you for thank you for updating that because yeah, please correct me because I was a fan of gem in the Holograms personally.

Jason Blum 27:51
That movie was great I think I still love movies you've done freaky is in a plus movie should have been ahead and it got all screwed up the releases all screwed up my fault By the way, I take all the blame for the release. I screwed it all up. But boy what there's nothing more frustrating as a filmmaker when you listen if you make a movie and it's not so great and it doesn't work it is what it is and we've done plenty of those but when you make a movie that's really fucking awesome and it doesn't work it's so frustrating and you know I always feel guilty about Chris Landon who made this great movie and we didn't deliver for him and we're good at delivering I always say to our directors if you give me the goods I can make the movie ahead but and I'm usually can but I wasn't able to with freaky which kills me at what kills me even more is I wasn't able to deal with Jon Chu who's turned out to be you know, the greatest director on the planet.

Alex Ferrari 28:51
He's done okay,

Jason Blum 28:52
these are two These are two These are two tremendous disappointments that I try not to let keep me up at night but often do

Alex Ferrari 28:58
but well I think you've done a few other ones that have been okay. So I think they balance that and a lot of successes. That's true. That's about to balance things out. Now do you believe Do you think that the purge is almost like the perfect embodiment of the blumhouse model as far as the rules are concerned of what the low budget pillars Oh yeah,

Jason Blum 29:19
there there are two movies that are letter that are really there. They're more than two but like the purge is perfect high concept low budget. Getting get out is pretty perfect, right kind of high concept, low budget, you know, sinister and insidious also really are where are where, where they really embody what a blumhouse original is they check all the boxes that it's this super gripping, wide release, wide appeal movie, made for very little money, and the acting is great. The story is great. The characters are great. And as a result the movies are scary as hell.

Alex Ferrari 30:02
And like and get out I mean, I think the most the biggest set piece was the deer crash right? That was like the most biggest visual effect.

Jason Blum 30:10
To goofiest, they crash in the world. But it's so scary because you have Allison and Danielle like talking. It's his it's his. It's his mixed race couple and they're talking about race and it's like you're you're just you're it's exactly what I described, you're on the edge of your seat because they're like, Oh, he's like, your parents don't like black people. And it's like, oh my god, where's this going? Oh my god, where's this going and the deer hits and you jump out of your seat? Because you're so focused on the conversation between the two of them.

Alex Ferrari 30:39
And the the I think I heard you say this bunch before the the difference on being cheap. And understanding how to get the most out of the budget is something as simple as if there's a waiter that comes to your to your table. He doesn't say he or she doesn't say, oh, would you like to hear the specials? They come in, they dropped the kids off. And the difference between a day rate of speaking day rate versus a walk on?

Jason Blum 31:05
We don't like we don't like characters to speak and yet waiters never speak in our movies. They always come up with a pad and they go like this.

Alex Ferrari 31:14
Exactly. Because of the because that's a substantial cost difference

Jason Blum 31:17
if a speaker cost me $600 What do you crazy?

Alex Ferrari 31:21
And if they don't speak How much does it cost?

Jason Blum 31:22
A Dell $600 less? Because

Alex Ferrari 31:28
it's so funny to hear someone have you know, someone like yourself who's done you know, so many movies talk like this, because you don't hear producers in Hollywood talk like this. Like that's, that's just not something that's talked about is like, Oh, well, you know, I'll just write it in.

Jason Blum 31:42
It's because they're not there. That's because they're already they've been paid upfront. You see, the producer is already made his money. So what are her money? So what do they care of the characters talk, we don't make any money unless these things make money. So we're, we're very conscious of where we spend because every every every dime we spend is a dime less we make. That's why everyone should I always think, you know, movies and shows would be so much better if everyone worked for much, much less money up front and then made money. When the thing you're doing connects, sadly, we're going further and further away from that. closer to that model, because streamers will have nothing of my silly ideas.

Alex Ferrari 32:23
Exactly. Yeah. So the streamers aren't thinking about doing fine. Oh, no,

Jason Blum 32:27
no, no, no, no. The streamers what they do is they pick, they pick, you know, 2030 projects a year that they think are going to be wild home runs, the extra systems, one of them, they pay everyone as if the movies have already come out in our home runs and the rest of everything they do they pay less. And it's a very different way of of, of compensating people.

Alex Ferrari 32:54
You have to imagine that. I mean, obviously you've had a lot of success you've been you know, you've been nominated for some Oscars and with whiplash and get out and other films. But and exactly blackkklansman but did but I have to just because I've been in town so long. And I was I was I've been in I was in LA for 13 years and I've done all the waterbottle tours and I've been in those meetings with agents and producers and things trying to get projects made it someone like you with your energy and the way you're looking at things I can't believe that you will open arms excepted with these concepts when you first started out I have to believe everybody was just like, Dude, this guy's nuts.

Jason Blum 33:35
They still think I'm nuts.

Alex Ferrari 33:38
absolutely insane.

Jason Blum 33:40
Were you talking to Yeah, I'm like, I'm like Crazy Eddie Remember him? Where are you?

Alex Ferrari 33:44
I'm from I'm from New York so I completely know what crazy ideas are you kind of I'm not gonna say but you kind of a little bit

Jason Blum 33:51
I'm a little bit like Crazy Eddie. I've been told that before. I was proud of that

Alex Ferrari 33:56
these movies are insane your logo you should sell do

Jason Blum 34:06
it's fun to do I think what are we doing in Hollywood if you're not trying to do some you know crazy stuff? I mean, I think it's I think it's

Alex Ferrari 34:14
we could you could be thinking it's just somewhere we could be digging we could be digging ditches somewhere

Jason Blum 34:19
yeah we're supposed to be having you know we're supposed to be having fun and making challenge I think also you have to I think your artistic process is better. If you're a little looser about what you're doing I think if you have all this tension it doesn't serve the director as well so I try and I don't know if that believe me I don't know I'm not always like this but I try and try and keep keep keep a sense of humor about what we're doing.

Alex Ferrari 34:43
I mean I can't even comprehend what you know some of these directors with $200 million on their head or I mean God forbid James camera,

Jason Blum 34:49
then that creates so much pressure and lets you know, some directors can work with that kind of money and not feel pressure but most of the most of the time they do and I think it doesn't doesn't help the creative On the movies.

Alex Ferrari 35:01
Now tell me about Welcome to blumhouse.

Jason Blum 35:05
Welcome. Well, welcome to the blumhouse. Yes, is a is a series of eight movies we did with Amazon. And we made this deal with them about two or three years ago. And Jen soggy who runs Amazon who I knew a little bit from her time at NBC. Right when she started, she kind of pitched this idea to me. And I lit up to the idea because we look at so many Scary Movie scripts, and there are a lot of great ones that don't fit for a wide theatrical release. But that I'd love to make that I think would be fun. That's to take. And when we did this deal with her, it gave me a place to put to put these movies so we were actually able to say yes to people who we couldn't say yes to before. And we chose to do all underrepresented filmmakers, which is which is, which is something we both really wanted to do, which is a more accurate reflection of what our audience looks like, you know, our audience audience for horror movies, the minority is Caucasian looks like you and I, you know, most people who watch our movies don't. And it didn't make a lot of sense to me that that the people behind the camera weren't reflecting that. And so this is the second we did for last year. And this is our second for this year. And I think the difference between the four this year and last year is that is that this year, we we not only have people from underrepresented groups directing the movies, but we also the movies are actually about marginalized groups of people. And I noticed that in a more pointed way than, than the last four movies. So I felt like you know, the stories that we're telling better represent the idea of hearing from directors we were we're not used to hearing from so I love the movies, I'm really proud of the movies, I think they're really cool. They're very different. They're very, you know, speaking of all the things kind of we've just talked about, they're definitely really original, all four movies. Don't remind me of anything else I've I've seen recently or a long time ago, and, and I'm excited for people to see him and I was excited to be able to give all these directors a shot. And I think like the first four directors we worked with, they're all going to go on to do more interesting things.

Alex Ferrari 37:26
Now I have to believe that you walking around at a film festival or at an event or even just walking around LA, you might get recognized and you might get pitched by somebody like Hey, I got this idea. Hey, I got the screenplay, because that's LA. Does that happen often to you? And how should you properly pitch a project to blumhouse? Because they're like, Oh, he's doing the kind of movie that I'm writing. It's be perfect for you, Jason. So how do you properly do it? And do you? Have you had any stories of people walking up to you like, Hey, here's my script.

Jason Blum 38:02
Well, you asked two very different questions. Okay, I'm gonna break them down separately. Do I get recognized and how do I feel about it? The answer is not nearly enough. I love nothing more than being recognized as the greatest thing ever when people asked to take selfies, especially when I'm with my wife because it really pisses her off. So you see me please don't hesitate to come up to me ask for my autograph or take a selfie or do anything well not anything because that's the second part of the question. Yeah, but but but I love it it does and it does happen sometimes. And yeah, and I'm working on making it happen more in every way I possibly can find it awesome. And I love to make my wife angry. Yes, that's her number one. Do not if you see me though, please don't pitch me your movie that would not be a good way to get your movie read or heard about in fact it's it's really not a good way first of all, you have to have representation which is just the rules of the game to submit a project to us but if an agent or a lawyer submits something to us, someone at the company will always read it and if it's something that feels right for us more people will read it and eventually I'll read it and and and that's that's the way to get us to do something. And the other way in is if there's someone you know the other thing that always helps is if there are a lot of people that are almost 100 people that work at the company and if someone knows someone who works at the company and is read your particular script, fine for that person to call the person they know it blumhouse and say hey, you should look at this submission or whatever I get I get emails or calls like that all the time. But that's that's the way to submit a something not on the street, but like I said, very happy to do a selfie.

Alex Ferrari 39:44
Sounds good. Now I'm gonna ask you three questions I asked all of my guests one, what lesson took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life,

Jason Blum 39:54
but the the premise of that question you You're implied in the question is like I've learned all the lessons. I have learned all these lessons.

Alex Ferrari 40:05
What are you still learning? Yeah, no, that's uh, yeah. Working on Yeah. Are you still working on?

Jason Blum 40:09
Okay, what I'm still working on is patience. I'm still working on not raising my voice which I've done before which I don't which I'm not proud of so I'm trying not to do that those are my two biggest things that I'm still working on.

Alex Ferrari 40:29
Now what did you learn from your biggest failure?

Jason Blum 40:33
Every I mean it's cliche every failure makes make you stronger but um you know you my biggest failure there like seven things going out of my head right now that I'm thinking about that what you learn from your failure is that you can recover that life goes on so that so that so that although you can fail at something or another thing you don't fail at life where you don't the company doesn't go down and i think i think the scary thing about failure is you think if you fail, you won't live again to fight another day. And I think what what I've learned from all my failures is I've gotten stronger and realized not to not to move past them and move into your next you know, your next chapter and not to dwell on your failures I think that's what I've learned.

Alex Ferrari 41:16
Was there a moment on any of your 150 plus films that you were a producer on that you were on set that day and everything was going to absolute hell and you fit and how did how did you handle that day? And what did what did you do to break from like to get through that that opposite?

Jason Blum 41:34
When one of the beginning of sinister the first shot we shot in the beginning of sinister is when the for the family is hanging from the tree we had a we had a we had a terrible stun person and hung the four people from the tree no one was you know no one was no one was was was was heard in a way they had to go to a hospital or anything but the stunt went wrong and someone was definitely scared and they were hurt you know some what it didn't go there it didn't the stunt did not go the way it should go. And we shut down the move we shut down the whole movie.

Alex Ferrari 42:08
Oh my God first day this day one first day.

Jason Blum 42:11
And we replaced a bunch of different people. And we add to add like you know, between 500 and 1,500,000 a million dollars to the budget with the budget was 3 million so it suddenly became 4 million is 25%. Jesus so it's 25% you know, cost. And that was a horrible day, you know, and I felt like I let Scott derrickson down and and that was my that was by far the worst day I've ever had on onset. Now I don't spend a lot of time on set anymore. So I think worse things have happened on our movies. I can hear a director saying oh my god, that was so much worse that happened on my set. But when when I was actually on the set, that was the worst thing that ever happened to me. It was bad. It was really bad.

Alex Ferrari 42:55
And last question three of your favorite films of all time.

Jason Blum 43:01
Citizen Kane, Goodfellas. Moulin Rouge,

Alex Ferrari 43:09
no horror movies.

Jason Blum 43:10
Now I'm going with those three today. Moulin Rouge

Alex Ferrari 43:12
is fantastic. And we're what are three horror scripts that every horror screenwriter should read?

Jason Blum 43:19
Roseman, Rosemary's Baby,

Alex Ferrari 43:21
such a great movie,

Jason Blum 43:25
three horse scripts the shining. Yeah. Yeah. And you know what? It's not my movie, but a great script to read, which I actually read this just because it's interesting to read is a quiet place.

Alex Ferrari 43:37
It is a great script. That is a great read. I know it's still I still know it still pisses you off, but you've done

Jason Blum 43:44
and it was a great movie. You know, it doesn't mess me up. I'm just jealous.

Alex Ferrari 43:50
And where can people watch? The when is when is it available? The Welcome to the blumhouse.

Jason Blum 43:55
So the first two films are on the first and the second two films are on the eighth. Perfect taste awesome over first and October. Then the other month, October is the most important month of course,

Alex Ferrari 44:07
obviously, obviously, obviously, it has been an absolute joy talking to you, my friend. And a lot of thank you so much for being on the show. And I wish you nothing but more success. And thank you for giving voice to filmmakers that might have not gotten that opportunity through the work that you do, man. So thank you so much.

Jason Blum 44:25
That's nice to say thanks for having me.

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BPS 156: Inside Warner Bros Writing Program with Rebecca Windsor

rebecca windsor, WB Writers' Workshop

Today on the show is Rebecca Windsor, the Vice-President of the Warner Bros. Television Workshop, the premier writing and directing program for professionals looking to start and/or further their careers in television.

As an extension of her role developing new talent, Rebecca was recruited to help launch Warner Bros. new digital content brand Stage13, overseeing the critically acclaimed short-form digital series Snatchers, which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and is available on Verizon’s go90 platform.

Previously, she was the Creative Producing Initiative Manager of Sundance Institute’s Feature Film Program, playing a key role in coordinating the Creative Producing Lab and Summit, Screenwriters and Directors Labs, and Episodic Story Lab.

Prior to Sundance, Windsor was Manager of Development at Samuel L. Jackson’s television company, UppiTV, and at Mandeville Films. She started her career as an assistant at the Broder Webb Chervin Silbermann Agency and ICM. A San Diego native, she attended Northwestern University, where she received a BS in Theatre.

Write for a Warner Bros. Show

Every year, the Warner Bros. Television Writers’ Workshop selects up to eight participants out of more than 2,500 submissions, and exposes them to Warner Bros. Television’s top writers and executives, all with the goal of earning them a staff position on a Warner Bros.-produced television show. The Warner Bros. Television Writers’ Workshop consists of three components, all geared towards preparing the writer for a successful career in television writing: lectures, a simulated writers’ room, and staffing. The 2021 Writers’ Workshop application closed on May 31st.

Writers’ Workshop – Apply Here

Direct on an Active Warner Bros. Set

The Warner Bros. Television Directors’ Workshop is an initiative that introduces up-and-coming directors to prime time television. With the backdrop of active Warner Bros. Television sets as the learning environment, and top television directors, cinematographers and showrunners as the instructors, those selected to the program will have the opportunity to participate in a workshop that is unparalleled in the industry.

Directors will be taken through the full process of episodic directing, from what is expected during prep, to working collaboratively with actors and key crew during production, through post-production. The 2022 Directors’ Workshop opens on January 7th.

Directors’ Workshop – Apply Here

Enjoy my conversation with Rebecca Windsor.

Right-click here to download the MP3



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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome to the show Rebecca Windsor. How you doing, Rebecca?

Rebecca Windsor 0:14
I'm good. How are you?

Alex Ferrari 0:15
I am doing fantastic. Thank you so much for being on the show. We we have a, a history together because our kids used to go to school together. And that's how we met originally. And I think one day, I realized, like you said it in passing, like I work at Warner Brothers like, wait, what do you do? And I think one day like we I was walking my girls to school and you like, Stop being like you're famous. You're in the LA Times. So we discovered that

Rebecca Windsor 0:41
You were some guy that like, I don't know, maybe worked in sound design, or I don't know, like, I knew you were tangentially related but like, I didn't know what you did. And then I saw you on the front cover of LA Times. And I was like, Oh my god.

Alex Ferrari 0:51
Exactly. And my girls like why did what why did why did? Why does it stop you what's going on? And it was so funny. Like, are you famous Daddy? I'm like, no, no, I'm, I've got less than five minutes.

Rebecca Windsor 1:07
For the day you were famous

Alex Ferrari 1:08
For the day, I was famous. I did get a lot of emails that day. Um, but yeah, but we and we just recently ran into each other at the Austin Film Festival, which was also a pleasant surprise. I'm just walking around. Like Rebecca said, it was

Rebecca Windsor 1:21
Out of context. I'm like, have it I was like, What is your face doing in this like barbecue mixer? And then it was like I put two and two together Oh, yeah. You moved to Austin last year Of course, he would be here.

Alex Ferrari 1:32
Exactly. So um, but so after after talking a bit, we're like, You got to come on the show. Because I don't think anybody really knows the inside workings of what you do over at Warner Brothers, and the workshops and things that you that you are in charge of. But before we get there, how did we get started in this insane business?

Rebecca Windsor 1:55
I will try and tell the CliffsNotes version or I don't know what the kids are calling it the new CliffsNotes it's something else,right?

Alex Ferrari 2:02
The YouTube video version Yes.

Rebecca Windsor 2:05
So um, so I grew up in San Diego. From the time I was, I mean, for as long as I can remember, I wanted to be an actor. I actually auditioned and got a callback for Punky Brewster that did not get the rule. But it was all I ever wanted to do. So I went to Northwestern and study theater. And then from there, I moved to New York, I think, you know, New York was always the dream of, you know, go be a struggling actress. And, you know, theater is much more important, and prestigious than, you know, coming to LA and I think also the back of my head, being from California, it just made the most sense that I you know, wanted to go to New York. So went to New York, I spent most of my time working in restaurants and bars, and you know, taking acting classes and you know, doing like really, really terrible student films and off off off off off Broadway, black box theater, but really, you know, was not making a living from it. And, and that was fine, because I, you know, I was young and I thought, you know, I was living the life. And it felt like what I always told myself was, you just have to persevere, you know, people stop pursuing acting all the time. And if I'm, if I stick it out, and I get the one job, then it'll just be a domino effect, you know, work begets work, and then you know, I'll have a career. So that was the plan. And then, you know, after a few years, as I saw, it wasn't happening as fast for me. And also, you can't tell from zoom. I'm six feet tall. So I'm not the most easily castable actor out there. I'm never going to be an ingenue. Um, I, I think it was that and looking at my friends who are also actors who I felt like were even more ambitious and more dedicated than I was, I mean, I was dedicated, but I also wanted to have a life, you know, and then when I met my now husband, I think that was the real thing where, you know, it's one thing when you're, you know, 2223, and you think about buying a home and getting married and having kids, those are hypothetical things that will happen at some point in your life. But when I met my now husband, I made this things a little bit more tangible as something that could happen soon. And so I think it was, it was hard for me to sort of say out loud, that I don't want to pursue acting anymore. And so I kind of, you know, I just kind of kept going through the motions, even though I don't think I'd ever stopped wanting to act. You know, the passion is still there, but it's just the life of an actor. And it's not the easiest. And I'm to, I don't know, tie day to, you know, kind of career oriented to I think that business part of it in the fact that so much is out of your control as an actor, that you have to wait for someone else to give you a job as opposed to your filmmaker you find a way to make your films or you're a writer you can write no one has to give you the opportunity but as an actor He has to give you the opportunity. And it just felt I had, like I had no control over it. So anyways, all of that, you know, combined with, I think, New York running its course for me, I love living there, but it's pretty, you know, tough place to live. And I always felt the pull to come back to California. So we got married, moved back to California, then it felt like okay, now I have to start acting again in a brand new city, find new management, all of that it just felt like, insurmountable, you know, rock being pushed up the hill. And so my sister in law who does not work in the industry, but is very smart lady said to me, Listen, you can go back to acting in six months, or you can go back in 20 years. But if there's anything else you want to do, you should probably start thinking about it now, because you're getting older. And you're going to have to start out at the bottom and work your way up. And it's going to get harder the older you get. So I thought those were wise words, very nice. I started reading I don't even know if they still have it. But there used to be the UTA job list that would come out every week that listed you know, assistant jobs and internships and things like that. So I got an internship back when you could still get unpaid internships, not for college credit, because I already graduated college. So I got an internship at a feature production company and learned about development. And the light bulb in my head went off, where I was still able to use that creative muscle that I you know, was using as an actor. But, you know, working with that we're working with writers and you know, making making scripts better. So it still fulfilled that, that drive in that you know, desire and that passion, but hopefully with more of a career path. So I had the internship everyone there said go work at an agency and if you don't want to be an agent, so I went I got a job at a literary agency called rotor Webb turbine Silverman, which was a boutique agency that was small but represented on the TV side. People like Shonda Rhimes, and Chuck Lorre and Don Bellisario created NCIS. So like, they were a powerhouse in TV. And I went in thinking, No, I want to learn features, like that's the sexy job. But the only desk that was open was a TV agent. So that, okay, fine, I'll just take it for a couple of months, and then move on to a feature desk when it opens. But so I get on the TV desk. And this was like the first renaissance of TV like, first year, there was the Friday Night Lights pilot, and you had you know, obviously, it was Cronos. And, and Lawson, like, you know, start studying to be this like, really like this wealth of really amazing content. So I think it was that like, seeing that the quality was there. And then also, as they learn how the business is worked, I realized that I really like the television business. And I like the cyclical nature of it again, that like, type a sort of structured brain that I have.

Alex Ferrari 7:49
Well, I mean, I mean, this is the one thing that so many people coming up don't understand is like film, film feature films are sexy. That's what that's gives all the splash. But where people really make money is in television. Yeah. And people don't think about that. And now Thank God, you know, there is such an amazing renaissance in the creative of television. And I mean, pretty much started with the Sopranos. It kind of, you know, David pretty much opened the crash the door open, and then everything. Everybody just started doing this amazing work from Breaking Bad madman, and they just so on and so forth. But people still because the sizzle, the Oscars are a lot sexier than the Emmys. And it's just the whip but smart people in the business television and like television directors do very well. Whereas feature directors are struggling to put I just talked to a feature director the other day who will remain nameless, who's like I've been nominated for Oscars, and I I have to do commercials to make ends meet. Because it's between job after job and he doesn't do like giant jobs that are paying him obscene amount. But he's very well known. And he's Philbert were well respected. I was like, that's the world we live in. That is, you know, that is the world we live in. It's not the 80s anymore.

Rebecca Windsor 9:08
100% and, you know, and I can talk about this a little bit, you know, later but you know, I have found just in the last several years as I talked to, you know, indie film directors and sort of trying to like sell them on the directors workshop and all of that and when I was first having those conversations like six years ago, I get a lot of Sure I'll think about it and you could tell there why would I ever do TV got to now people are like oh my god there's this you know, episodic directing, like yes I you know, I really want to do that you know, both for hitting you know, sustainability like you said just like making a living but I think again, TVs a little bit sexier than it was before so much was my my minds are open to it. So

Alex Ferrari 9:48
You know what's sexy though, that check.

Rebecca Windsor 9:52
The check is very sexy. You know, not not living hand to mouth you know, like in a tiny little studio apartment is

Alex Ferrari 10:01
Exactly, exactly now, you early in your career you got to work with or assist. Mr. Todd Lieberman, who is a very well known producer who's done a few movies, not many. But he's done. He's done quite a few films. What was the biggest lesson you took away from working with Todd?

Rebecca Windsor 10:23
Well, I think you know, but the lesson, I don't know if it's specifically with Todd, but it's with that company, which is Mandeville films that he runs with David overband. And they, you know, made like, a lot of really big movies. And, you know, very successful feature producers. The lesson well, if basically, the lesson that confirmed for me is I don't want to work in features. And I took that, I took that job, you know, after having worked at the agency, and started at the agency, I was like, Okay, I want to be a TV executive. And then I interviewed with Todd, and, you know, always take the meeting. And so I'm like, Okay, I'm meeting the President of this big feature company, I'm never gonna get it. And then he hired me. And I thought, okay, and he told me an interview, they were having a TV executive. So I thought, okay, if I'm working with the president, I will have my hands and everything. And so yes, right now, it's mostly features, but the TV, you know, their TV side is growing, too. So that's sort of why I took that job. And, you know, and I'll get to your question in a second. But while I was there, you know, it, it just, you know, it's even for a successful feature company, it took them several years to get their TV business off the ground, which is now very successful, but at the time, you know, it was still like, 90% of what I was doing was features. But, so yeah, I mean, it can, again, having the two and some odd years that I was there, we made five movies, which is, you know, pretty unheard of, or, you know, production companies these days. And even still, it's just that it's and it was, you know, the, the pace, you know, we had movies that weren't, you know, had opened offices in pre production, and we're, like, four weeks out of production, and then just, like, fell apart, you know, and, and things that were in development for years, and years and years, and then things that would fall apart. And then we'd come back five, and I was just like, I can't deal with that, like, I want to know that I'm working on something. And then, and it's either moving forward, or it's dead. I don't want to spend five to 10 years hope, you know, hoping that this project.

Alex Ferrari 12:15
Right, yeah, that's, that's not the way television works. Generally. They don't, they don't.

Rebecca Windsor 12:19
No no. And I think and I think for him, you know, Todd is, I mean, he's so smart. I mean, it was, it was a, it was really like a masterclass in, in, like, being with the studio producer, you know, being able to listen in on his calls and hear how he navigated tricky situations and how, when, you know, like, when he would get in the middle of, you know, I don't know, like an argument or like, having to deal with a situation, being able to, like, be that mediator and make each person think that he was on their side, and, you know, like, you know, fully supported them while he had to sort of navigate all those politics. I mean, it was really, it was pretty impressive. So I think that and, you know, and also just his tastes and his just his the amount of work that he did, I mean, he's a workaholic. And that's what made him so successful. So Young. Right. It's pretty intensive times. But But yeah, I mean, he just has a drive like no other.

Alex Ferrari 13:18
Now, you also got a chance to work at a little startup film festival called Sundance.

Rebecca Windsor 13:27
I keep all the credit for it success,

Alex Ferrari 13:28
Obviously. Obviously, it was you and Bob, you and Bob all the way that you worked over at the the institute, correct?

Rebecca Windsor 13:35

Alex Ferrari 13:35
What did you do for Sundance?

Rebecca Windsor 13:37
So So there's, you know, the Sundance Film Festival, and then there's the Sundance Institute, which runs the festival. So the festival is obviously the public facing, part of it that everybody knows about. The Institute is a nonprofit, and it is dedicated to supporting independent film artists in various mediums through through a lot of different programs. So I was in the feature film program, which was like the narrative side, there is a documentary side that is very successful. They have new frontier, which is like VR and AR and transmedia, you know, sleeve, a lot of different things like that. So, within within the feature film program, they run labs. So there is episodic Lab, I'm sorry, the episodic lab we started while I was there, but the ones that have sort of been around forever were the screenwriters lab in the director's lab. And again, like the people who came through that are people like Quentin Tarantino and you know and Ryan Coogler and Damien Chazelle and Chloe Zhao and like, you know, it's just like it goes kind of on and on and, and I always love like one of the stories that I heard from way back when was one of the first projects that they had in like the very early 80s was a was a screenplay called 3000. That was

Alex Ferrari 14:51
The pretty woman. Isn't it the pretty woman? Yeah,

Rebecca Windsor 14:53
Pretty woman. Yeah. But like when it went through the lab, it was like a dark drama about you know, like, not happy ending Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, a pretty woman, but you know, again, you know, like Tyco, ytt. And like all these people who just, you know, like, the history and the legacy of what they've done is pretty amazing. So, um, the labs are their talent pipeline programs, people apply to them. And, and the goal is how to, you know, trying to find filmmakers? Who, on the, I think on the director side of it, they have to be first time director, first time feature director, so they have to make sure it's I mean, or they have to, you know, done some work. And on the screenwriters, I think they, I think you're allowed to have had one feature credit on my, around the desert writers. But, you know, how do you take these independent artists who have, and it's project specific. So it's not just, you know, we're letting you in, it's, we're letting you in, and we're supporting you to try and get this film made. And they are very intense labs that take place at the Sundance Resort, which is a little bit outside Park City, there were like four to five day labs, and it's sort of like boot camp, in the best, like, in the best, and the most intense sense, like a creative boot camp where they bring in advisors again, you know, like, the top writers and directors in, in Hollywood, and a lot of alumni who come back to act as advisors in your assigned advisor to have read your script. And then you do these, like, two hour notes, sessions, you know, with, you know, again, these like, you know, ridiculously talented professionals who are trying to just give you ideas and help you make the best version of your film. And then you take all of that and go away. And, you know, then the next version is like the kitchen sink version, which is pretty terrible, usually, and then you just sort of like, let it marinate and see, what are the things that I you know, what were the common themes among all of the feedback that I got that are worth incorporating? So there's that that sort of creative process. And then post lab Sundance is really involved in just helping you try to get your movie made, even though as a nonprofit, they don't produce it, you don't finance it. It's, it's a lot of, you know, networking, how do we make connections? So if you need to find a producer, or an executive producer, right now, there's a lot of those people in their in their, Sundance family, extended family. So trying to find you those people like what can what can Sundance do to help you make your movie, if it's, you know, introductions to find in series is if it's introductions to casting directors, editors, whatnot. And then also kind of, you know, again, continuing helping to develop the scripts. And then, you know, ideally, hopefully, you got to make your movie and comes out and all that.

Alex Ferrari 17:44
So that's pretty, that's a pretty cool, yeah, I've heard of the legends of those labs. I've talked to a few people who've gone through them, and it's, it sounds like summer camp. But for filmmaking, it's like, the bad you've got, like, insane as actors who just show up, and they're like, working with like, workshopping your idea and stuff like that. Yeah. It sounds it sounds to me, like I sounds amazing. I think everything

Rebecca Windsor 18:06
But I mean, if anybody can get in, it is like the best experience and you know, they have anything to say about Sundance is that I know, probably from the outside, it sometimes can feel like, very elitist or insular or whatever. And it's, it's the opposite of that. The people I send into, that I work with are the most dedicated to the mission of supporting, you know, independent artists who are just trying to get their $500,000 movie made. So it's, it's, there's a lot of sacrifices that are made, you know, because because the people who work there believe so strongly. So really is a family of sorts, you know, in the best sense.

Alex Ferrari 18:44
No, I have to ask you, because I found out during my research that you worked with a an actor that worked at his production company, and Mr. Samuel L. Jackson, the legendary icon, that Samuel Jackson, I got to ask, What's it like working with Sam?

Rebecca Windsor 19:02
Um, I mean, it was, it was awesome. I mean, he's amazing. I was, like, the first time he ever came into the office, and this was the job I had before Sundance. The first time, you know, obviously, he's very busy. So it's not like he's coming to the office everyday because he's off making movies and stuff, but still very involved. But I remember the first time he came into the office, and at the time, I was still an assistant. And he was meeting with my boss in like, one door over but like, the door was open, and I'm like, you know, sitting there typing and doing my work and stuff, but I can hear him and it's just like, you're hearing Sam Jackson's voice and you're just like, This is so weird, because it's like, the voice is so iconic, you know. But then I also remember like another time he came into the office um, you know, it's like a year later and in our offices was on the CBS Radford buttons to your city, and right next to the lot is a subway, you know, sandwich. Yeah. And he like, he like walks in, carrying like a His Subway sandwich bag like to eat and I just I just like kept thinking like, what did the sandwich maker like it was working that way for like making minimum minimum wage. And like Samuel Jackson comes in ask for a sandwich. And he's like making it like, I'm

Alex Ferrari 20:13
He's probably like, make me my mother effin said no.

Rebecca Windsor 20:18
But no, I mean, what I will say about Sam is so nice and down to earth, you know, obviously very cool, and all of that, but really, really smart. Also, you know, the great thing about that job is, you know, sometimes with these, like, talent production companies, you know, actor driven pods, it's a vanity deal. It's like, someone, you know, is just like, oh, yeah, I want to make TV or whatever, and it's good. And it was never about that. For Sam, I think that came from the fact that he just was a voracious viewer of television, and was really passionate about producing it and creating and being responsible for putting great TV out there. And it was the best version of that kind of company where he, he trusted my boss and I and our extensive TV experience to sort of advise him on like, why this might work and why this might not, you know, but also used to, you know, being Sam Jackson, to our advantage, if that helps. So, you know, would go to like the network pitches, so we could try and sell the project in the room. And he would, he would give notes on material and again, like his, his notes and his feedback, were always so spot on, because he has worked with the best filmmakers out there. So he knows story. He knows character. But you know, if you have a note and you said, you know, that's not gonna work because X, Y or Z, he was like, Great moving on, like, I get it. So it was. It was really wonderful experience. And it was just, you know, I think like, the biggest disappointment was that we just never got anything on the air, which happens with production.

Alex Ferrari 21:55
It takes it takes a minute. Now, as a side piece of trivia, since you brought up the CBS slot. I don't know if you knew this or not. But my wife and I actually owned an olive oil and vinegar gourmet shop for three years and we were on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City right by Laurel Canyon. And our back door opened up into CBS. So it was your shop. It was it was called originally Ferrari olive oil is right out there and we don't get me it was it was a dark time in our lives. We're talking about like, nine years ago, eight years ago, so I'm like seven years ago. Something like that. And it was right there at CVS. I used to I used to actually get I was it. Oh, God, Brooklyn nine, nine, always had to shoot in the backlot right in our street. So the so location guys, like, Hey, we're gonna be shooting here. I'm like, well, you're gonna have to pay me cuz you're gonna disrupt my business. They're like, I know. So they would just pay off everybody. Just even if it was like two blocks away. We're like, hey, yeah, you just drop in business.

Rebecca Windsor 23:03
I think we mustn't just because I left. I stopped working at CVS in May of 2012. So we must have

Alex Ferrari 23:15
Just missed like, over we overlap like six months, maybe. So yeah,

Rebecca Windsor 23:20
I would have gone there. I love

Alex Ferrari 23:22
We had some we had some good. We had a lot of celebrities that would come in and buy for the holidays and buy for their offices and things like that. But that was a different life. It was a lifetime ago. But I just thought, because everyone listening knows. They're always asking me when they meet me. Did you really have an olive oil store? I'm like, yes, it's a large, long, dark story of, of times where I was, I was burnt out by the business. happened to the bathroom. It happens to the best of us now. But so now currently, you're working for Warner Brothers in the development? Well, in the workshop, what exactly do you do with Warner Brothers now?

Rebecca Windsor 24:00
Oh, so I run the Writers Workshop and the directors workshop. So two talent pipeline programs kind of similar to what Sundance does with their labs, but focused on on television. So one is for aspiring TV writers and one is for aspiring TV directors.

Alex Ferrari 24:17
Do they just end in they just submit? Like it's just an application?

Rebecca Windsor 24:22
Yeah, the both of them are application based. So I guess just it's easier to talk about them one at a time. So with the writers workshop, the application is open the month of May, we asked for a stack of a show that's on the air, which I know specs are a little bit out of fashion. But we do it for a couple of reasons. One, that is the job of a scarf writer is you have to write your show runners voice so for us if you if we're reading a spec of you know Mrs. Mays all are Stranger Things or whatnot, and it doesn't feel like the show you've failed the assignment. And you wouldn't get you know, you would be fired if you're working on a show and can't capture it. So and I also, you know, original pilots are very tough. And it's sometimes hard, you know, to do like an apples to apples comparing material. But if we have sort of a bar of where we know a show is meant, like to be done, we can also because we have such a high volume of applicants, we get, like 2500 submissions. So to get through that material quickly, and again, you know, we're using like Mrs. nasals as an example, like, okay, which are the ones that, you know, do not feel like the show, okay, those are easy passes, and then you know, go back and say, okay, which are the ones that really stand out. So we get through that. And then if you advance to the next round, then we would ask for an original pilot, or it can be it can be a screenplay, it can be a play, just, you know, some original material, because it is important to us to see what you know, your voice is as a writer. And then from there, we interview a smaller group of candidates, which is very important because TV writing is a communal experience. So it is very important that we know that you are an okay, cool, chill person that can sit around for 10 hours with a bunch of people.

Alex Ferrari 26:05
So the best advice, the best advice I've ever gotten, and the best. And this is the advice. I always tell people, what advice do you have, for me working in the business I go, the biggest piece of advice is, just don't be a dick. And if you that is so valuable. And if you could just sit in a room with someone for eight hours not want to kill them, that sometimes Trump's talent because you might have two people who are equally talented, maybe the other one's a little bit more talented, but if he's up he or she is rough to work with, though I always go with the person I can.

Rebecca Windsor 26:37
Yeah, it's like the showrunners putting together a dinner party, like who are they gonna want to be with? And yes, like, don't be a dick is like obvious, that it's still worth saying. But you know, beyond that, it's it's, I mean, we will look for more than that. I mean, there are people who are not dicks, but like, don't, you know, maybe you're a little socially awkward, you know, like, they're nice people, but you're just like, or they're just so introverted, that they just, you know, and again, everyone has nerves when they come in. So there's a lot of that. And there's also just, you know, we're looking for that like, that spark, you know, the Genesee quad of a person that's, you know, memorable. Whether it's in talking about why they write what they write, you know, what drew them to writing, you know, we want to feel passionate about championing these people, because I then have to put my name on the line when I try and get them staffed, and I'm sending them to show runners. So it is a reflection on me, so I really need to stand by them. So it is it is there's no exact science to any of it. But it's you know, you know what, when you when you meet that person, and you go like, Oh, yeah, they are ready, you know, it's a little bit of that. So, um, so for the 2500 people, we pick eight, Jesus.

Alex Ferrari 27:56
That's, that's almost as bad as Sunday. No, Sunday's is much worse. That's like 30.

Rebecca Windsor 28:00
Yeah, it's a little similar. Yeah. And then, and then the program. And I say like, you need to be in LA for this. We are actually back in person this year, which is really great. We're using the same protocols that the studio is doing for writers rooms, everyone is vaccinated, masked and tested and stuff like that. But so it's very exciting to be in person, but you need to be in LA, we meet one night a week, so that people can have their day jobs, if they're writers, assistants or whatnot. We need from October through March. And a lot of the workshop is focused on everything else that you need to know to be successful beyond the writing, maybe we'll work on their writing. But again, it's so competitive. So if you've gotten in we acknowledge you're talented writer. But there are so many other factors that you know, things you need to learn that are like the soft skills of being a writer.

Alex Ferrari 28:48
So what are a couple? What are a couple of those soft skills?

Rebecca Windsor 28:51
Yeah, so we bring in, you know, showrunners, and executives, we do everything from a class, it's just an overview, like a macro level overview of how the business works. And then we do a lot of other classes. So like, we will do a class on interviewing skills, you know, how do you prepare for a general meeting with an executive versus you're meeting a showrunner to get a job on your show? We do a class on going to set you know, oftentimes the writer of the episode will be sent to set to produce the episode and they act as the proxy for the showrunner. So, your first time staff writer and you go to set you know, and how do you how do you interact with the episodes director if they're maybe not getting the things that you know your showrunner wants? What do you do when the actors don't want to say the lines? And sometimes, you know, you can call your showrunner you know, sometimes they're not available so really trying to see you know, what's expected in that situation? We do an improv class to get writers to think on their feet and not censor themselves. So often in a writers room with with you know, younger writers or newer writers. There's so much pressure put on themselves to pitch something perfect that's going to save the episode and it may not land and then you just let it sit there beating yourself up going like idiot I shouldn't have said you know, then you get in your head, and then you don't keep pitching. So we want to take that pressure off, know that no one's judging you, they're judging their own bad pitches that didn't land and just keep going. Um, we do, we do like a group writing exercise, because oftentimes, a lot of shows, especially when they're under the gun and behind schedule will kind of Frankenstein a script together, they'll just say you two writers are doing x one, u two writers are doing act two, and so on and so forth. And then you have to put it all together and make it cohesive. So we do a lot of those kinds of exercises. We talk about difficult rooms, you know, we have sort of a cone of silence class where we hear from some people about some of the challenges they faced in in challenging rooms, and how do you manage? How do you get through it? How do you find ally ship? When is it time to you know, leave? Do you speak up, do you not? So those are those kinds of classes. And then we also do a simulated writers room, which is where we get into like actual writing work. And everyone is assigned a spec of a show to write, and then they have to hit the deadlines that are expected in a real world circumstance. So they come in and they pitch their story area for their episode, okay, in a story, this is happening in the D and the C. And they have to, you know, write that and then the next week, they turn in their vicita. The next week, they turn in their outline, they write their script over Christmas break, and then they have one week to revise. So we're looking to see if those writers can write strong material quickly under pressure. But also, we have everyone in the class read each other's material, before they come into class, so that we can act like a writers room, because it's one thing to say, you know, Do this, don't do that. And it's another to put it into practice, and see if someone is talking too much, and not giving anyone else any space, or someone had a good idea, and then got really long winded and she was stopped talking three minutes ago, or I can tell someone has something to say, but they don't want to say it until it's perfectly articulated. We've probably moved on. So you know, it's just learning how to how to give feedback in a collaborative, collaborative, positive way and take feedback in a non defensive way and then be able to incorporate it into your material.

Alex Ferrari 32:12
So then, how does so that's that's the that's the writers workshop, which all sounds fantastic. If you want to be a television writer. Yeah. I mean, if you can get a lot of successes, yeah, if you could be one of the eight. I mean, that's pretty, that's pretty awesome. Now the directing said, How's that work.

Rebecca Windsor 32:27
Um, so it's similar in philosophy of taking, you know, directors who have not directed episodic before, so they come from indie film, or commercials or music videos, or whatnot. Um, it's different in a few important ways. I think the biggest distinction and the reason for the distinction is that breaking into episodic directing is maybe the hardest thing to do in the industry, even if you've made features, because compare it you know, if you're a writer, and you've got your first job as a staff writer, you are one of many writers on a staff and you're low man on the totem pole. So you're not expected to do the heavy lifting and save the episode, you're just there to pitch ideas and keep the conversation going. But as the director of the episode, you are the captain of the ship. So there is reluctance from a lot of showrunners to give their $5 million episode over to someone who hasn't done TV before. So. So that's where we step in, is to kind of mitigate that risk, if you will, so. So it's also application based and the application will be open. I think it's January 7 to February 6, coming up to apply, you just need to upload up to three pieces of material, and then you know, personal statement and whatnot. And the other difference is in the selection process. So we will review everyone's material, decide we're really excited about meet the finalists. But at the same time, we also start talking to our shows and identifying which shows are open to a first time director, we have several that are really supportive. They've had success with previous directors of the program. So they're likely to say yes, and then we also have many shows that are not supportive, because, you know, for one reason or another, I mean, we do a lot of big like superhero shows and genre things with action and stunts and green screen that not every emerging director has in their portfolio. But anyways, once we've identified the shows that will support it, we would then match make and send each showrunner three directors material and have them watch the material have the showrunner meet them. And if there's one out of that group that they want to support, they let us know and that gets them into the workshop. But by doing so, the showrunner is also guaranteeing them an episode on the upcoming season. And the reason we do that it means that obviously not as many people get in because we've sent them three directors, they're only picking one. But it's really important to us to not just be a shadowing program. There are several directing talent, you know, pipeline programs around and they all have value but some of them only offer shadowing, which is a great learning experience, but really really wanted our workshop to lead to work and be a path right? And so less people get in, but those that get in No, they have a job.

Alex Ferrari 35:08
So how many so how many submissions do you get? How many actual directors get work?

Rebecca Windsor 35:13
Um, it's so we get less submissions than the writers workshop because as you imagine, not It costs money to direct things. So not 2500 People may not have lots of materials. So I would say it's usually around like the 500. Mark, depending on the year, and in terms of how many people get in, it changes year to year, because it depends on how many people we get episodes for. I would say the average is between six and 10. But again, it's it it changes year to year again, like COVID, like threw us into a tizzy. We didn't do it last year, it was you know, so it'll be interesting to see what happens in the coming year. And then the workshop itself is a nine week masterclass that we do, like end of May the beginning or end of May the end of June. It's taught by two directors, Bethany Rooney, Mary Lee Belli who have over 300 episodes between them. And they've written a book on episodic directing, which is on our website, what's the name of the book? It's called directors tell the story.

Alex Ferrari 36:14
Gotta get them on the show. Or get them on the show

Rebecca Windsor 36:17
If you should, it's a really great book. Listen, I didn't go to film school. So I don't know, you know, I don't know, lenses. I don't know any of that stuff. And so it's a very approachable book. It's not a dry technical book. There's a lot of anecdotes. And what the book does is take you from prep through posts, like what is the process of episodic directing. So we use that book as our curriculum. And again, the class is not directing one on one because everyone that's gotten in, we've watched the material, we know they're talented, it's really about how's the medium of TV different? And what do you need to know to be successful?

Alex Ferrari 36:47
And you have to be and you have to be in LA for this as well.

Rebecca Windsor 36:50
And you what you have to be in LA for this year? Yeah. But it's a shorter span of time. So we have had people who just like get an Airbnb for a month or two, you know. And so part of the clock, like the first few classes are lecture basic. And using the book, I'm just kind of talking about the nuts and bolts, you show up on day one of crap, what to expect, you go into a concept meeting, who's running it? What do you expected to know? What do you need to start thinking about the questions that are going to be asked of you, when you go into tech Scout, these are the people who are going with you in the tone meeting, you know, with the showrunner, you know, that's your last opportunity to have certain conversation. So kind of breaking down that whole process, we'll also have a script that we're working off of for the duration, it's usually, you know, some TV show that one of them is directed in the past. So everyone will have homework of blocking and shortlisting and doing all the creative prep you'd normally do with, you know, character, intentions and obstacles and themes and motifs. And then we spent the last several classes, putting scenes from that script on their feet. So we work on one of our sound stages and bring actors in for the day. And then every director gets a chunk of time to work the scene and get it to where they want it, you know, in blocking and in performance, and then then they will get feedback from Bethany Mary Lou, on on a technical level, you know, how was your blocking to feel organic? Do people get like boxed into a corner was really weird? Is it you know, it was more movement? And then how was your coverage? Did you? Did you get all the shots you needed to? Did you miss anything? Did you cross the line? Is there possibly a more efficient way to get what you want? By combining these two shots? It's gonna save you time in your day. And then they also get feedback on it on a creative level, how are you collaborating with your actors? You know, the trick in TV is that episodic directors are freelance, you're a guest director. And so you kind of go from show to show so you go to a show that may have, they may have been working together for years. So it's not your cast. It's not your crew, they know their roles better than you. So how do you find the balance between being the captain of the ship and the leader and knowing what you want making your days having a plan, having a vision, but at the same time, being flexible? You know, and in the case of the actors, you may have, you know, figured out the blocking in such a way that's going to fit your shortlist. But if your actors instincts, tell them to do something different, that still works for the scene. Um, but means you have to change your shot list, are you able to be flexible on the fly, you know, you don't want to move them around like chess pieces, and have them feel like you're just as a dictator. So we work on all of those kinds of things. And then at the end of the workshop, we would arrange a time for those directors to go shadow on the show. They're going to be directing, so they get to know passing through ahead of time, and then a director episode and then they're off to the races.

Alex Ferrari 39:37
That's that sounds again, amazing. If you're a director out there listening I would definitely suggest you submit to both of these programs. Now you obviously have over the years have read a few scripts from young writers what is the biggest mistake you see young writers make?

Rebecca Windsor 39:55
Oh my god. Okay, so really like simple one is Proof Reading, you know,

Alex Ferrari 40:01

Rebecca Windsor 40:02
Those are the worst. It's I mean, it's like, if you're bad if you have tunnel vision, like just give it to someone give it to a friend like just, you know, it's it just shows sort of, like lack of, you know, professionalism and effort, lack of proper Thank you professionalism. But I think, you know, sort of creatively, I think, um, I think I see a lot of us, but on the one hour side, you know, with, say, like genre shows, or any sort of like role building show two things. One is that you want to set up your world really quickly and really cleanly. So I know the rules, and I understand it, and then it's just the window dressing, and then you get into your characters, because it doesn't matter if we're talking Game of Thrones, or we're talking, you know, any other sort of big show. We're not watching it for like dragons, right? Maybe some people are, but we're watching it for character. Emotions, the relationships, right? And so a lot of times you're either the world is not set up, clearly enough. And I'm going wait, I don't understand. Like, there's two universes and you know, like that kind of a thing. I don't want to have to ask questions, or all it is, is world building. And all it is is like, set pieces and action, genre,

Alex Ferrari 41:16
There's the plot or character, right. There's the plot character. Right, right, right. Yeah. Cuz I mean, look, we've all seen dragons. We don't show up, you know,

Rebecca Windsor 41:24
Weve all seen vampire shows. But like, the reason they keep making them is if you have a specific point of view, and a different way of doing a vampire show that's really captivating. It can be successful, or not like he cares.

Alex Ferrari 41:35
Yeah, we've all seen we've seen vampires. And we've seen vampires done very, very well. So we don't Yeah, it's not just about the, it's not the what I guess when the vampires really start kicking back up. I mean, 90s 80s

Rebecca Windsor 41:49
Well, there was Interview with the Vampire, which was, I think, like, 99.

Alex Ferrari 41:52
Yeah, and Lost Boys in near dark, and that kind of stuff back in the 80s. But you know, it was it was it was kind of like with specifically with something like vampires. It was novel. Back then. Yeah. And like, oh, a vampire script. Now it's like a really another word. You've got to you've got to really take it to another place. Now, the same question goes for directors, have you seen a lot of directors samples and things like that? Yeah. Is there something that you see constantly from young directors who submit that you're like, they just don't understand this part, or they did this wrong, you know, things like that. Or even just even even after the even after they get into the program, even maybe they're extremely talented as directors, but they don't know how to work this crew. They don't know how to work the set. They don't know how to work the politics of it all.

Rebecca Windsor 42:36
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, a couple of things. I mean, I think I have a three fold answer. Okay, what is again, a little similar, like, it's a little similar to the writer things, you know, that style over substance, you know, like something that's like, looks really cool, and it's got visuals and all that stuff, but has no soul to it. Again, I still, I want it to look good. But, but I again, I'm watching it for the characters. Um, I think in terms of applying, and this is not a mistake that directors are make, but it's, it's more just a challenge by virtue of what you know, what we do at Warner Brothers, that there are sometimes really talented filmmakers whose films just feel too tiny, you know, to indie, and I can see the value in but not every producer, can, you know, they can be a little myopic if it's just like, you know, like quiet little dysfunctional family drama set in like 1920s, Kansas in one house, and whatever. And it's like, great performance, but there's no scope to it. I think, again, it's not a mistake, it's just sort of knowing, okay, if you're playing to Warner Brothers, and look at the shows that we're doing, right off, there's often going you know, and it's not just that you need to have like action sequences in your material. But I think thinking about some, you know, cinematic quality, visual style, all of that can go a long way.

Alex Ferrari 43:56
But you got to play to your audience, like, who is my customer here, when I'm submitting stuff, if Warner Brothers is my customer, I'm not gonna I'm not gonna give him the little indie shot in one room. Unless it's extreme. I mean, it has to be at a level that is so good that you just like, Holy Jesus. But if you could show off a little bit of scope, like, we could put them on the flash, we could put them on on one of those shows

Rebecca Windsor 44:19
That's why we asked her, that's what he asked for three samples. So if you have one sample that is super tiny, but like, your performances are just like, amazing. And then you have another sample that shows you know, maybe you're a commercial directory, the brand new continent, it's really like slick and stuff like that. That's great. So we know that you can do that and you can do that. Um, and then I guess the third piece of advice, which I think is more for, you know, writer directors, in particular, who you know, come from film and are used to you know, that autour driven. I am the sole creative voice on this show. That doesn't work well in TV because in TV, it's a writer's medium. The showrunner is king. So while yes, you are, like I said the capital into the ship of this episode, you're servicing another master. And so I think, you know, when I hear about, you know, a particular director on their first episode, or maybe not their first episode, but he just like, did not work well with the crew and was sort of, you know, was not collaborative. It's, that's something that I always tell people, it's like, if you're going to get into this, know that, it you are not that guess you bring ideas, but ultimately, it's not your decision. But having said that, I think there are a lot of benefits to indie directors, working in television sustainability, of course, and like making a living like you go, like, if you get like three to five episodes in a year, that takes up like, three to five months, and then you've made enough money to live and you can go spend the other part of your year working on your passion projects. But I think equally important, is that what you got to do as an episodic director is go from show to show and not a, that means you're directing a lot, you know, a lot of feature directors get to direct what once every couple of years, if they're lucky, you know, for film, or you get to you get it, you're honing your craft, and you get to continue doing it. And you get to work in different genres, with different casting crew with different toys, you know, so everything you're doing on episodic, on the episodic side, is going to make you better director on your own project.

Alex Ferrari 46:18
Now, you also, you travel to a bunch of different festivals and, you know, markets and things like that. And I have to believe that you have been because I've been approached this way. So I can only imagine what you once they find out who you are. They're like, Oh my god, do they? Can you talk for everyone listening, how not to approach someone in the business? If you're just like that, with that desperation? That I call it a kind of a cologne that we can smell kind of like Jakar in the 80s. Yeah. It's just smell it. And it's so off putting, and it's so unprofessional and the way you do it, it's like I just met you, Hey, can you make my dreams come true? I just met you. You don't know me? What do I need to do for you to make my dreams come true? And that's generally not the way do you purchase so can you explain maybe a horror story that you have? And how you should approach someone like yourself At least?

Rebecca Windsor 47:14
Yeah, well, actually, there was like one of the most awkward interactions I've ever experience happened in Austin Film Festival, although this wasn't exactly that, but we were at a different mixer. And he was, I was standing with two of my friends. One's a writer, one's an executive. And we were we were talking about a mutual friend. And this girl just kind of came into our circle. I was like, Uh huh. Uh, huh. Like laughing along with us? Like, she was, like, part of the conversation. She's like, wait, wait, who are we talking about now? And it was like, and she didn't introduce herself. And she just sort of like, inserted herself in a very, very awkward way. And didn't have an ask of us, which I will, you know, like I was happy about, but we were just sort of like, we didn't know what energy who and she was like, oh, yeah, I thought you were talking about this movie, though. We're like, no, no, we're just talking about a friend of ours. Okay. Okay. But like, didn't, didn't pick up on like, it's like reading the room. Right. Um, so that was very weird. But yeah, like, there are people who just, I mean, I think in general, most people that I have experienced, or at least when I meet them at a festival, are respectful, you know, especially like, if I'm, like, if I'm leaving a panel on the table, I don't want to take too much of your time. I just had like, a quick question. Happy to do that. Sure. Of course. Um, so I think it's really just a we're like at the Driscoll bar, which is like the hotel that everyone hangs out with, at the end of AWS, it's like from 4pm Till, you know, the wee hours. Everyone's just sort of, like hanging out, which is great. And, again, happy to have those conversations, but it's like, recognizing, if, if you see someone that you know, you want to talk to, and they are like, in a deep conversation with someone, maybe not at that time, like find, find your moment, right. And then again, if we're sort of in a more social relaxed atmosphere, just be mindful that we also just, like, we're happy to have conversations, but we also want to, like take a break from, you know, from time to time. So I think it's just, you know, being really respectful of people's time. I mean, most people I know, including myself, and my friends are happy to give advice and ask, you know, but, you know, and then there are times where someone will say like, because I don't work in development. So someone will say like, Oh, can I send you my pilot to see if Warner Brothers wants to make it and I'm like, I don't I don't do that, you know, I'm, oh, what? Can you send it to someone? And again, like, then that requires like me reading it and putting my my reputation on the line. And, you know, and there have been times that I will send a person or a piece of material but I think having that ask him in that way, like puts me in a weird position.

Alex Ferrari 49:53
Right and also that asked him somebody you don't know. Like, if you've built a relationship with them, you might know the work or you Like, all that kind of stuff, it would be a little bit different than, than someone just walking up to him like, Hey, here's my script. Can you go hand it to Samuel L. Jackson? Like, like, it's, and that's where a lot of people, you know, hopefully people not listening to the show. Everyone listening to the show would not know not to do this, but, but a lot of times I've seen Look, people send me material. Like, can you help me produce my movie? I'm like, No. Do you not know who I am? i That's not me. It's not what I do at events or festivals. Some people are like, Hey, can you I know that you interviewed? You know, Edgar, right? Can you get this script to I'm like, Oh, my God, I'm like, Dude, no, like, even if I could call Edgar up on the phone, which I can't, I wouldn't do that. Because it's the exact same thing you'd like, I've got to read it. I've got to, like it makes Come on.

Rebecca Windsor 50:52
Yeah. And you know, listen, I have a lot of sympathy for, of course, you know, for aspiring writers and directors, and especially when they are not in New York and LA, because I think it doesn't. I mean, even in New York and LA, it can feel insurmountable. But you generally make out some connections here or there. But you know, again, when you go to festivals, you get people from all over the country and world who just are like, how do I do this? I don't know how to figure it out. So I do have a lot of sympathy and want to be helpful. But I think, you know, to your point, it's, it's yes, like, if you are trying to break in as a writer or director, like, do your research and figure out strategies and not just like, cast a wide net to every person that you have ever come into contact with?

Alex Ferrari 51:33
Yeah, that's the shotgun approach doesn't really work. You got to be more, you know, you got to be more more surgical. With Yes. And do and do your research. Do your homework. Don't pitch somebody who does comedy, a horror script, like that's, this is what a one, but it's a lot of people that like, so desperate, they're like, Well, you're in the business. I want to get into the business. i You're my opening. You're my way in. Yeah, it's just weird. But I wanted to put that out there for people listening, because I think it's a service that we need for young people coming up. Because look, I look, I don't know about you. But when you were starting, I was starting out. I had I bought, I literally bought cases of that desperation. Jakar and I doused myself with it. And anytime I would go to an industry party, you could literally just smell the desperation on me. So I know what it feels like to be on the other side of that. And that's why I'm so like, that's why I put 21 of the reasons I did the show to educate people about Yeah, don't don't do that. It doesn't work.

Rebecca Windsor 52:34
You're doing God's work.

Alex Ferrari 52:35
I'm Trump doing the best I can. Now where can people go to submit to both the television Writers Workshop and the directors workshop.

Rebecca Windsor 52:44
So, um, we have a website with all like, so much of what I talked about, and more. And, you know, as I mentioned, for the writers workshop, we have, you have to write a spec to get in, we have a list of accepted shows, because it's not every single show on air, because it'd be impossible, but it's a really comprehensive list and we update it, we'll update it by the first week of January based on what's been cancelled and what we need to add. So that's on there. On the directors workshop side, we also have a list for for shorts filmmaker. So like if you if you've made a feature, no problem. But if you've made a short we have sort of like the top, you know, 100 short, like Academy, qualifying shorts, festivals, we just want to make sure people are not submitting, you know, films that they made on their phone. Because they're unless they're Shaun Baker, but you know, so so that is on our website, which of course it to

Alex Ferrari 53:39
Go ahead, I'm gonna put it in the show notes anyway, but

Rebecca Windsor 53:41
It's a it's TelevisionWorkshop.Warnerbros.com.

Alex Ferrari 53:46
Fair enough.

Rebecca Windsor 53:47
And also, there's like a Contact Us button. So if you just have like a general question that you know that I have an answer, you know, it goes, you know, someone will say that.

Alex Ferrari 53:58
And I and I'm going to ask you a few questions that I asked all of my guests. Okay, what advice would you give a filmmaker or screenwriter trying to break into the business today?

Rebecca Windsor 54:08
I think if it is the only thing that you want to do, and I say this again is like recovering, like, currently after recovering, recovering, struggling. So you know, if there's anything, we're just like, I don't need to be like a parent. Like, if there's anything else you want to do do it. But if you know that this is your goal, you have to find a way to do it. So if you're a writer, it's even easier, like you just keep writing you have to you know, and if you you know if you can find like a writer's group, you know, just a couple of friends or colleagues that can keep you discipline. So, you know, you know, I know writers need deadlines. So it's, you know, you're meeting once a month and you have to have a new draft and you have to have a revision, you have to have a pitch, you know, you just have to keep doing it. Even if you have a script that has been very successful and gotten you lots of meetings. That's only going to work for a couple of years and you know, years later, people are gonna want new material for you. So I think you have to keep writing and then directing Yes, you still have to keep directing, it's so much harder. I know, because it costs money, it costs a lot of money to direct stuff. But if that's what you want to do, you have to find ways to do it. And whether it's through, you know, branded content, or whether it's, you know, commercials or, you know, I don't even know how you know how else you find ways to direct but again, if that's your goal, you have to keep working at it. It's the only way to again, hone your skills. And people are, again, going to want to see new material, like I don't want someone applying to the directors workshop with something they made 10 years ago. You know, I want to see that you aid not have something that's super dated, but also have the drive this is this is what this is your passion. And this is the only thing you want to do in your life, you found a way to make it work.

Alex Ferrari 55:52
Fair enough. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Rebecca Windsor 56:00
Um, yeah, don't compare yourself to other people's paths? Yes. And I still struggle with that from time to time, you know, even you know, as I, you know, made the switch from acting to, you know, go into executive path. My path was very zigzaggy. You know, I had friends that I started out at my first agency job with who got a job working for, you know, X producer, or whatever. And that person became their mentor, and they just, like, champion them, and they skyrocketed. And now they're like, running, you know, departments and stuff like that. And for me, I never had that, you know, I, like I said, I ended up in Mandeville films, even though I knew I wanted to work in TV, but I was like, No, I'm gonna work at this feature company and worked with the President and then worked at it at a tea pot, and we just didn't get anything made and then went to Sundance, which like, none of it sort of makes sense, if you will. And if like one other job had come along, or I didn't accept something with it, maybe my path would have been quicker, you know, because some, you know, several of my friends had much faster rises than me. And it was always so frustrating. Like, why is it taking me so long? To get ahead? You know, why can't I work for the boss who's going to promote me? But having said that, when I got this job at Warner Brothers, it, it was the culmination and it was like, all of my different experiences. Having worked at Sundance, running a talent pipeline program, having worked in TV before, made me the perfect person for that job, and made the job perfect for me. So Hindsight is 2020. You know, and don't compare yourself to other people. And especially if you're a writer, director, it's even you know, there is no one right way to go about doing it. So just trust that you're, you know, on the right path and keep working and it'll happen.

Alex Ferrari 57:50
Know what, three pilots that every television writer should read.

Rebecca Windsor 57:58
Oh, God.

Alex Ferrari 58:00
I know there's different genres but just generally.

Rebecca Windsor 58:05
I mean, the Friday Night Lights pilot, I think was just so perfect. Um, I mean, I hate to say like breaking down a madman. That's what everybody says. But it's but it's but it's true. They're there. They're great pilots.

Alex Ferrari 58:20
The Wire. Sopranos.

Rebecca Windsor 58:23
Yeah. Dexter was a great pilot.

Alex Ferrari 58:28
Lost was a good pilot too

Rebecca Windsor 58:29
Lost was a good pilot. I'm trying to think if there's anything more recently. Um, I think the great is a great pilot. Oh, no, there's so many.

Alex Ferrari 58:49
Okay, that was good. We listed a bunch of them off. And lastly, three of your favorite films of all time.

Rebecca Windsor 58:56
Oh my god. It's like choosing among my children. Um, let's see. Princess Bride. Genius. Heather's

Alex Ferrari 59:08
Oh, so good. Heather's that's our generation though. That is so our generation.

Rebecca Windsor 59:15
Oh, man, what's the third? Ah Oh, my God.

Alex Ferrari 59:27
I mean, it's not gonna be on your gravestone, so you could just kind of

Rebecca Windsor 59:31
No, I know, I know. I'm like, do I go with like one of those movies you could just like, watch over and over and over. Or something that's like important.

Alex Ferrari 59:39
Just what No, yeah, cuz yeah. Like, yeah, Citizen Kane and seven, seven.

Rebecca Windsor 59:45
Schindler's List, right. One of the best movies of all time that I never want to see again.

Alex Ferrari 59:53
That's so true. There's some movies that you watch. Once you're like, I'm good. It was fantastic. I never want to go down that road again.

Rebecca Windsor 1:00:00
I think the one like that's that fits that bill the most is Requiem for a Dream. Oh, that movie and I was like, I don't know what I just thought it was brilliant and I can't get those images out of my head ever. But, uh,

Alex Ferrari 1:00:15
I remember pi. When I saw when I saw pi two. I was like, I don't need I loved it. I don't need sci pi again. Like, it's just like, yeah, it's there's just a thin density there but

Rebecca Windsor 1:00:26
Yeah, but I'm feeling you I'm feeling you know ah Clue

Alex Ferrari 1:00:42
I love Oh my god clue. Please, everyone listen to go watch clue. The the Great. Tim Curry

Rebecca Windsor 1:00:51
And not on call.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:52
Oh my god, Madeline Kahn. And I wish a studio would have the cornice to do what they did with clue and release three different river endings in the theater at the same time. So people were like, well, this is how the movie had a no it didn't it ended this way. And then we'll go back. Oh my God, it was such a brilliant marketing move. Why hasn't anyone done that again?

Rebecca Windsor 1:01:18
I don't know. Sorry. Can I amend it? i Can I say one more which again? That I think is like one of again, I don't they don't make movies like this anymore. Goonies. Oh, it's just a perfect adventure film with children that you know what I mean? Like, there hasn't been a movie. Like, obviously, we have kids the same age. And it's like, I wish that there was a movie like that for them. I just like, I don't think that there is like something smart and fun and not like,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:49
Yeah, it's tough. It's tough to find stuff like that anymore. I mean, and now we were sound like the two old farts in the room. Yeah, back when we were kids went back when we were kids.

Rebecca Windsor 1:01:59
Recently. I really liked the favorite.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:02
Yeah, that's good. That's good. But Rebecca, thank you so much for being on the show. I truly appreciate you. You the work that you're doing God's work. You're bringing new artists into the world and hopefully giving them ways to make a living in this insanity that we call the film industry. So I do appreciate everything you do. And thank you again for being on the show.

Rebecca Windsor 1:02:24
Thank you so much for having me

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BPS 146: How to Succeed as a Screenwriter with Thomas Dever

Today on the show we have head of writer success at Coverfly, Thomas Dever. Thomas has been helping screenwriters for years. I wanted to have him on the show to discuss what he’s seeing in the film business, from a street level.

Thomas works with all the major agencies, top end producers and managers. If anyone knows what Hollywood is looking or he’d be the one.

We also discuss how screenwriters can better position themselves in the marketplace, debunk a few myths many screenwriters believe and much more.

Enjoy my conversation with Thomas Dever.

Right-click here to download the MP3



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Alex Ferrari 0:00
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 Thomas Dever. How're you doing, Thomas?

Thomas Dever 0:15
I am doing well. Thanks so much for having me.

Alex Ferrari 0:17
Oh, man, thanks for coming on the show, man. You know, you and I have been working together in a in a way for a while now. Because you guys work. You work with coverfly, who works with me on bulletproof script coverage? And why this hasn't happened earlier? I have no idea. So I'm glad you're here. Now we're going to talk all things about the business and how to, you know, I hope that you have all the answers, Thomas, because all of the answers because, you know, there's a lot of screenwriters listening right now who want to know how to make it. And I was told, you know, so we're gonna get into this.

Thomas Dever 0:52
No pressure.

Alex Ferrari 0:54
But how did you get started in the business?

Thomas Dever 0:57
Oh, I mean, I feel like I've got a pretty usual story that I grew up in the Midwest and film industry was just this mythical thing way out on the West Coast. And pretty much as soon as I finished undergrad, I packed up my stuff and moved out without really kind of any clue of what I was gonna do, how it was gonna work. Just like I think as soon as I realized, oh, people like actually do this for a living. And these are actual, like businesses, and I can work at them. Just kind of that was all I wanted to do, you know, started internship to then reading with a production company that had first look studio deal. So we're really fortunate to get that was my crash course on development and coverage and everything that goes into a film before it gets made. And then from there, I started working for a producer that was working on a Fox Searchlight film. So then, that was my crash course on how a film actually gets made. And then after that, I think everybody was kind of telling me, you know, you really got to work at the agencies, the agencies is what you do, that's kind of the way that you get into it. I interviewed at two of them, I won't say which scared the hell out of me, like, genuinely, the interviewer scared the hell out of me. I remember walking out in my, like, nicest suit that I could find and telling the HR person like, Yeah, I think you can take my name off the list, I don't think because I a little too thin skinned and little to reset from the Midwest. So then, yeah, so then I just kind of, I think I use the Verba, mid 20s my way around around the industry for a little bit of producing some things continuing to sort of work and freelance capacity taught at a film school at one point, before eventually finding my way to this, you know, this little world where we found each other, which, you know, the competition and the coverage space. And truly, I went into it, thinking, you know, I remember the scripts that I would write coverage on at the production company with the with the studio deal, and like, they weren't great. They really, I remember thinking, being a professional screenwriter is very attainable, based on me samples. And so when I went into the competition, I was expecting, like, Microsoft Word documents and typos and incoherent stories. And I started reading for them. And it was like, Oh, this is, this is really good. And this one's really good. And this writer is amazing. And these writers are every bit as talented like, what, what's like my brain couldn't process. And I think that's where it all sort of clicked to me of the like, all at once the sort of barriers to entry, not necessarily being your skill sets, or your quality of your writing or your dedication or your discipline, it's all of these other sorts of things, you know, be it geographic or socio economic, or, you know, you know, there's these sort of cliches of who you know, in the industry. And then I think the the rest is history kind of just really dedicated to this competition space. And then ultimately, the the platform that became cover fly, and, and creating those opportunities and providing that level of access and insight and resources to the writers that, you know, weren't fortunate enough to just have that readily available.

Alex Ferrari 4:33
What was what's so fascinating thing a lot of screenwriters don't understand this, they think that good writing and good screenplays are are unicorns, where, I mean, you've read 1000s of scripts, probably in your career. I've read a ton of scripts over the years and I've read some stuff from really accomplished screenwriters, people who have published like, have produced screenplays, some of them even with Some Oscar nominations, I've read some of these scripts, and they can't get them financed. They can't, they can't get them in. And then it just like, it's disheartening. I'm like, wait a minute, this thing is sitting on someone's shelf for the last 10 years. It is amazing. It's one of the best scripts I've ever written. And no one's financing this with with talent attached. And I'm like, What? What is going on, let alone the unknown scripts that I've read from screenwriters who are so talented? And I'm like, why are some Why do some pop? And why do some don't? And it's, I mean, I'd love to ask that question to you. Like, why do and it's a hard question. Like, why does one guy or one gal make it? Oh, get the opportunity to door opens for them? And the other one doesn't? If their talent is at the same level, you know, is you know, give or take?

Thomas Dever 5:49
Sure. Yeah, I mean, it's a it's a strange thing, right? I love a good craft panel or lecture. And I love like craft is undoubtedly more fun than the business. But the business considerations are what are deciding it? Because like, of course they are, you know, that this is a, you've brought commerce into it. And these are, these are companies that are distributing projects. And that doesn't mean that they're all Philistines that hate art. It just means that there's their considerations and what happens here, other than simply what is on the page, and I think that you can find a ton of examples of those of projects that were, you know, not in demand, and then you know, wait a few years, and suddenly they they are and your script that everyone was passing on is is aligns with that. Because the one thing I would say to your question is, you can't like so much of it is out of your control, like so much of it is out of your control. I don't know anybody that can write fast enough to either anticipate or accommodate like the trends, which of course, you're going to be changing on a regular basis. And they also don't know if I've met a screenwriter that can pander, you know, that can write something just because they think it's popular, and not really have

Alex Ferrari 7:16
It's too hard, it's too hard.

Thomas Dever 7:18
I recycle the cliche that like, Look, if it wasn't fun for you to write, it's really not going to be fun for me to read, watch or watch, or watch, right. And I think anybody can see through that. So really, I think our approach to it, you know, if you sort of consider whether your goal is getting staffed on a series, or signing with representation, or getting your project option, or sold, like the last step of that is a decision maker reading it and responding to the material. And there's nothing that you can do to make that happen. Like there's literally nothing that you can do, they're either going to like it or they're not. And so if you accept that, like the final stage of this, you have zero control over, it sort of puts in perspective, put your energy towards the things that you can control, right, which is the material that you're putting out the putting out the best possible version of it networking, creating those opportunities, getting in front of those decision makers, I guess, to increase the odds of responding to it and increasing the odds of this scenario that you have no control over. Because I would say the two the two most common things that I have seen in the sort of writers that quote unquote, make it which is maybe like a separate discussion of what making it. But the two most common things that I've seen is one, they they just they worked their ass off, like they truly just went when I meet the sort of more six most successful or busiest writers or highest level writers that I know. It's like, oh, hey, what have you been up to? And they're like, Well, I just did a draft of this feature. And I'm doing a polish on this treatment. And I'm also going out with this other thing, and that's just in like the past couple of weeks, you know, that is just you have to crank out the material and and it is just, um, it's a really the discipline and the dedication to it. And then the other tree is just a clear focus, like a really clear kind of focus on what their strengths are, what their goals are, what they want to do, what they're good at. And this kind of on this knack for not ever getting knocked off of that, that that not having a sort of like 10 step plan that goes to hell, if Step Two doesn't go as you thought it was going to that is just like, Yeah, I'm going to be a staff writer and oh, this didn't pan out. So I'm going to try this pathway and getting an opportunity that's not like a literal one to one of what they're trying to do, but seeing like, Okay, here's the parts of this that can move me towards my goal. So that's what I'm going to get out of this opportunity. Um, and and so that that's the closest thing that I can sort of I Identify in terms of commonality.

Alex Ferrari 10:02
Yeah. And again that that I love that you said that what is the definition of success? And so many screenwriters think it's getting that million dollar spec script or $2 million spec script or, but, you know, I always look at success now and this is maybe just because I'm a bit older now it's just like, can I make can I? Can I make a living doing what I'd love to do? Can I keep my roof over my head? You know, food on the table, send my kids to school, you know, live a comfortable life. I don't need millions can I do what I love to do? And that's that's a disconnect for a lot of screeners because they're sold so often only they're sold the lottery ticket. I always use the term lottery ticket mentality. They're sold, you know, and it goes back to Shane Black and Joe Astor house back in the 90s. When they were pulling in two, three $4 million. A picture or a script? Do you know your story? Do you know that Do you know the the story? I have to tell I haven't sold the story on the show?

Thomas Dever 11:02
I don't. I don't know just to that like what you're gonna say that like the industry that Blake Snyder describes and save the cat was just kind of like popping off ideas. Oh, yeah. Like that's the industry that I want to work in because that's dope

Alex Ferrari 11:02
God that was it was seeing at the moment. No, it's great. There was a story I heard from from a friend of mine of a house Shane Black and his lot that movie Last Action Hero which has got his the record 4 million you got 4 million for that. He Do you know that he sold that? That script off of a cocktail napkin idea.

Thomas Dever 11:43
It rings a bell. It sounds like I read this in our Grantland article way back when it was

Alex Ferrari 11:49
I just heard this. I was at afff the other day and I was talking to somebody at the bar and I know that I know that. You know, I know. It's it's a reputable person I'm talking to so they're like, this is how it happened. Apparently, the agent of Shane said, Hey, do you have an idea for a movie? And he's like, Yeah, I have a great idea for movie goes. Write it on this cocktail napkin. He wrote these logline on the COC that no script logline on the on the cocktail basket and then that agent called every studio head in Hollywood and said, I've got Shane Black's next script on a cocktail napkin. And you need to come to my office, and you can read it in my office. And wait a minute, and he goes, You can't send anybody it has to be you. So all the six or seven major studio heads all came down to the office read it and there was a bidding war off of over a lot of the cocktail napkin logline and ended up being 4 million for Last Action Hero, which then of course did not do well. And Shane Shane had a little rough time for the next decade. Until he came back.

Thomas Dever 13:01
We got we got nice guys, eventually.

Alex Ferrari 13:03
We know what brought him back was kiss kiss, bang, bang.

Thomas Dever 13:06
There we go. Sorry.

Alex Ferrari 13:07
Kiss Kiss Bang Bang brought him back.

Thomas Dever 13:09
It's like 20 25 years,

Alex Ferrari 13:11
But he was out when he was out for about I think it was about 14 years. Like he was like he couldn't get arrested. He couldn't get arrested. It was serious. But then he finally got Kiss Kiss Bang Bang made and then that launched him back into the good graces. But that was an I use that story as a as an example of the insanity. That I think that was the height of the the the being drunk. I think it was just being drunk on the spec scripts situations back then.

Thomas Dever 13:39
Sure. Yeah. I mean, well, that stories. That story is way sexier, right? Because super sexy if you're if you're sitting at home because writing is such an isolating thing, right? It's literally you you in the screen and the keyboard it is it's so low and some that I feel like it's more romantic to picture just coming up with this once in a generation idea and then the millions of dollars based off of that. I think that's maybe a more enticing story to hear then just yeah, you just like you work your ass off every day and you take these sort of progression these progressive steps with with your career, and you sort of grind your way up to that's

Alex Ferrari 14:22
Not sexy at all. That's not I don't want to hear that. Thomas. I want to hear the cocktail napkin story times I don't want to hear I have to work hard for this.

Thomas Dever 14:31
No, and that's I mean, that's the thing is it's and you know, even with even with that, I feel like it's not like it's not like they pulled shame. Blacks name out of a hat right? You know, he he was already exactly 10 to 15 years before that of the of the grind to get to it. But no, I absolutely and I think that that is the I understand the allure of thinking like that but but the truth is, or at least the more common thing that we're seeing as he is just, it's a job like anything else. And it's difficult, but

Alex Ferrari 15:05
You know, and so I'll give you another another story that might illustrate what we're talking about when Shane was passing around Lethal Weapon. Every studio passed on Lethal Weapon, every studio passing Lethal Weapon. It was a young from my understanding was a young Chris Moore, who is the Oscar nominated producer of Goodwill Hunting and Project Greenlight did all that stuff. He read it and said, This is great. And he forced it up the ladder and got someone to finally take a real look at it again and got it financed. But it was passed on everybody passed it because it was such a Buddy Cops were essentially the new the buddy cop really came in with in 48 hours. And that was only probably a couple years prior to that. So it wasn't a thing yet. And people passed on it. So it was just like he had a champion. And then of course the talent was there. And then everything else blew up. Yeah. And

Thomas Dever 16:01
I think that that kind of goes back to it. Right, which is what I was just saying a few minutes ago though, like, hey, the last step of this you have no control over that was even a script as incredible as lethal weapon. It's getting to exactly that or just not responding to it. But you keep you keep sending it out. You keep sending it out. You keep working on it until it finds the one and you just find that one champion, and that's really kind of all you need sometimes.

Alex Ferrari 16:24
Well, yeah, I mean, finding that finding that champion and finding we all need champions, everybody needs a champion. Spielberg had a champion, you know, Nolan, Shane, everybody, all these guys have champions. You know, if it wasn't for Steven Soderbergh, Nolan wouldn't have gotten I think was insomnia, which then of course, got him Batman. And then the rest is history. Right? Yeah, you know, so but you need someone to just go, Hey, it's okay. But you got to keep grinding. And that's the thing that people the screenwriters specifically don't understand is the grind. It's the grinding day in day out, do the work. I think the other thing is too, I always tell I always tell screenwriters this that if you if you have if you've been working on a screenplay for seven years, you're not a professional screenwriter anymore. You should read. You need to have 10. At seven years. Yes, like 510 screens?

Thomas Dever 17:16
Yeah, I mean, even to like what you were saying earlier, though, because I think that's one of the things that like we so cover fi with, we have a dedicated to you and people and we offer free consulting for screenwriters. And that's whether you're a professional screenwriter that's hit a, you know, hit a rut or you're just an emerging screenwriter, we'll you know, we'll consult and we'll help kind of come up with a focus and a plan moving forward. The first question I asked everybody is, what's the dream like genuinely what's, what is the dream if I could stop, not like, what you think you're supposed to be doing based on trends, or what you think is realistically attainable? Given your circumstances? Like genuinely, if I could, like sprinkle pixie dust or snap my fingers? What would you be doing? Because, like, let's figure out a way to do that, you know, that if your dream is to just make indie films that you write direct produce, that's an awesome dream, let's figure out how to make that happen, you're probably not going to make that happen by cranking out pilot samples and trying to get staffed in a room because you think that that is like the more viable pathway. And you're gonna do a lot of work and probably be unhappy. Right? Even with that your goal is to write and direct your own. And like, Look, if you can find a way through that, that it's like, okay, I'll use this to ultimately get back to the goal. Do that, but it's, you know, do Do you know, like, what you were saying, then like, finding a way to be happy with it. And I think if your goal is to just sell finance and make your own projects, like, do it, instead of living up to this, like that the only measurement of success is selling studio specs or something, it's, you know, that's, that's some person's dream, but that doesn't have to be yours.

Alex Ferrari 19:06
Right! No, and I think that what you said it was so wonderful, is being happy doing what you're doing. Because, I mean, I always wanted my goal, my dream, if you were gonna ask me that back when I was 22, I want to direct feature films. That's all I want to do. I want to direct feature films, but I jumped into post production, because that was a way to make a living. And I was very grateful for that. But I was probably in there a lot longer than I should have. And I should have really fought a lot harder to get out of just doing editing or color grading or post supervising or the other stuff that I was doing to make a living. To the point where I got so unhappy. I was bitter I was angry. I was I always tell people to angry and bitter story which anytime I speak, I speak in front of audience. How many people here know an angry and bitter screenwriter? And then everyone raise their hands and like if you didn't raise your hand, you're the angry and bitter screenwriter everybody else knows. So So But it's because you become angry and like that person's like, Oh, I'm working in, I'm working in a writers room. I've been pounding out these pilots. It's horrible. I'm on like this fourth or fifth level down, show somewhere in, you know, in the middle of the country or whatever. And I hate doing what I'm doing. But I what I really want to do is what you just said, I want to write, I want to write direct produce my indirect in detail, because

Thomas Dever 20:27
That's, that's the thing. I think that there's this. I don't know, there's this perception that, gosh, we're getting like, so philosophical here. And it's like, good perception and money is gonna make you happy, like genuinely, post people do pretty well. And if you're on top level projects,

Alex Ferrari 20:44
I did. I did. Right? I did fine. I did, I kept I, my, my, I was good. For a long time. The post, I can't say anything negative about it. But I wasn't happy doing it. Just just as the same thing. If someone paid me a million dollars a year to, to, you know, push a broom around all day, I, the money would be great. But at a certain point, you just like, This is not what I want to do. This is not why I'm here. And now you start asking the question, well, why am I here? Am I here to make money? Am I here to be happy? Now we're really getting deep into philosophy.

Thomas Dever 21:21
Because that's, I mean, usually, it's funny that we're going through like, the progression is like we're deconstructing a cover of like consultation calls. Yeah, another question that I asked, right, like you and I were saying before we fired it up, like we're crazy, right? This, oh, this is insanity. And you know, that I, I admire the conviction that I had in my early 20s, that I'm just like, all pack all my possessions and just drive to a state 2000 miles away. But like those, you know, asking writers it's, I asked what I? What is the like, what do you sort of see coming up in everything that you write, and not just like a format and genre, but like genuinely like what themes? What like philosophical or stylistic consistencies? Like, what are your projects like, and what are they about? followed up with? Like, why is that because this is not something that you just think about, or something that you're interested in. This is something that you are compelled to express in the form of feature screenplays and pilots and shorts. And, and usually, if we're, you know, talking with you, not just that you're doing it pretty well. So like, where that's coming from somewhere there is coming from some sort of innate need on your part to express this. And and so I think that puts in full scope, just how, I don't know just like how much passion is behind this, that, that if you're trying to put it towards something that your heart isn't in how much it is going to take out of you and why it is going to make you and just sort of suck your soul to the point that you were talking about? Because this is a I don't know, this isn't like a job that you can just like, Okay, I'm done. At the end of the day, you're playing, you know, heart soul, and you're into this.

Alex Ferrari 23:08
Could you imagine if you could just check out? Could you imagine if you just clock out at five, like okay, I don't I'm not a filmmaker anymore. I'm not a screenwriter anymore today. Oh, thank God, let me just let me just let me just get a beer and drink and just chillin. I think about anything anymore. No, it's a, I've called it a disease. It is a disease, that you get bitten by the bug, and that bug. And once you're bitten by the bug, it will never ever, ever go away. It can go dormant for decades. But eventually it will surface in one way, shape, or form. And I do this because I've talked to 65 year olds, who are seven year olds who's like, I'm retired now, what I really want to do is direct and it happens. And there's really, I don't even know what other industry there is that that has that kind of insanity. You know, like, look, I did the same thing you did. I did a little bit later in life. I didn't do it in my mid 20s it in my early 30s, where I packed up, moved cross country to California New to people. And this was my plan. My plan was I had to rent an apartment in North Hollywood, where one room would be where we slept in the other room would be where I put up my editing system. And I was just gonna show up. Now mind you, I had I had a decade of stuff behind me before I showed up but even then, I just for whatever reason, I started working. And I started working I started working and it worked out but it could very easily crash and burn.

Thomas Dever 24:33
Oh yeah. I mean, it's the it's the same thing. But I think that like like you said, I mean it sort of goes back to the Hey, you have this like unwavering focus of what you're going to do and you don't have the sort of steps figured out but you're just really not going to be denied. Because yeah, because your heart is in it to that point. And it is always fascinating, you know, to find so many people that are really successful in other fields that this is like a hobby for them or this Something that they're pursuing. And this is, you know, I, but that's I don't know, that's what kind of makes it. That's definitely what makes it so cool. You know, I think of all the I mean, I tell people all the time, I think I've just got like one of the greatest jobs, that I have all the ways that you could kind of get up and earn a living and pay your bills, I get to get up every day, and with an entire company full of people do something that we'd like, genuinely truly care about, and get to be with people that love the same things I love. And that's, that's what's so fun about stuff like this, you know, you were saying, you know, getting together at Austin Film Festival, we just, we kind of find one another, you know, there's this this this little like family that seems to emerge around the screenwriting community.

Alex Ferrari 25:48
Yeah, absolutely. And without question this, I went, when I started helping people with my podcasts and with my websites and things like that, my life changed. And I think I'm blessed just like you, I get to do what I love to do on a daily basis. And while I pursue my own projects, and I pursue my own, you know, books and stories and other things, that things I like to do. Now, one thing that a lot of screenwriters don't really get is the absolute necessity of networking. And being able to make those connections, but make them in a very organic way is opposed to Hey, man, I hear you're a producer. Here's my script, you know, yeah, like, I just met you, like, you know, it's like, it's ridiculous.

Thomas Dever 26:39
Yeah, I mean, I think that there's a I don't want to generalize writers, and I'll say this, that I used to be the exact same way, I think that there's, it's not that networking just makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Because let's let's just call networking, what it is, which is talking to strangers, it's, you know, it is starting a conversation with a stranger and, and, and putting pressure on yourself to build a connection in a short amount of time. And as a person that like I, my undergrad degree is in English, I sat in the back, I spent most of college just reading, you know, so Billy, like, yes, going and talking to people that I didn't know was like, My worst fear at some point in time. Um, so I think that there's a reluctance to do it. And that's what kind of fosters this idea of like, Oh, it's just, you just have to know this person. And they just give these jobs to their friends and things like that, when it's like he like, there's certainly a degree of that in the industry. But there's like, to put in perspective that if you're an exec, or producer, a showrunner or someone around those people, you're going to get a stack of like, 200 scripts for one spot, maybe, and they're all going to be good. Yes, it's very common that you break the tie, so to speak with the opinion of a person that you trust, or a person that you know, or a person that you like, or a person that you just, you know, is not going to let you down in that situation. So take that for whatever it's worth in the scope of networking. Um, but to what you were saying, yes, for some reason, the like, sentiment around networking seems to be, I'm just pitching any stranger that like, returns eye contact with you. And I feel like there is, um, you've all been at a networking event, regardless of how big it is, where there's just a person there. That's just kind of on like a loop of just like, they give their project and their spiel to this person. And then they give their project their spiel to this person. And it's like, I think, surely someone listening to this right now is like, like, they're feeling this, like chills down.

Alex Ferrari 28:50
They're cringing. They're cringing. Yeah,

Thomas Dever 28:52
You know what it is like to be on the other side of that? Oh, like, yeah, don't don't be that person. To me, I always say, go in with questions go in with learn about who this person is, what they do, what's important to them, what they're working on right now? Do they have any problems that you can solve? Do they have any projects that you can help on and like trust that if they're working on something where there is a world for you to collaborate, it's going to come up, I asked him those questions, that if you're, you have this amazing horror features back. And you start Hey, so what do you do? What sort of projects do you work on? What types of movies do you like? What types of material do you respond to? And they start saying, God, I just love horror films. And we've got to find the answer. And we're trying to find something like this that fits your project. That is such a better way to bring up your material and mention it to them versus going in and just being like, I've got a horror feature. This is what it's about, and you should read it and here's that and it's like, I work in TV. Why are you yelling at me? You know, also a screenwriter, I don't know what you want me to do.

Alex Ferrari 30:04
And I was like walk. It's like walking up to Jason Blum and going, Hey, I've got this dog safe Christmas script. That's, I think you'll be perfect for Jason. No. And, and the funny thing is, I, this is always infuriating. I get cold emails about pitching projects. To me, I have no power. I can't finance your script. I'm not looking for projects to produce. All you got to do is listen to three or four of my podcasts or just read a couple articles and you'll understand who I am. And people are just so desperate that they just start throwing things out and it just gets deleted automatically. But you start like emailing, you know, you get an IMDb Pro account, you just start emailing people you script. That is not the way to do it. The shotgun approach doesn't work, you've got to be more searchable.

Thomas Dever 30:54
Well, yeah, and that's that I mean, we take the same approach because we do console. I mean, the thing is, like, am I going to pretend that queries have a high rate of success? No, they do not. However, we've worked with writers that have 100% found success with queries, because I think that there's a, there's a good way to do it. And so if you, you know, so much of what we do is like, um, one be really concise and articulate, get get through who you are, why you're emailing them, and what the ask is as quickly as possible. Because if you're emailing a person that works in the entertainment industry, there's a good chance that they have like 200 emails in their inbox. And if they open it up, and it is five paragraphs of boilerplate, like even if you are a dead center bullseye of what they're looking for right now. They just don't have time to do that. And they're going to delete it. Um, and so like what you were saying with it, it's always like, here's where I am, here's what I do. Here's where I'm, like, emailing you, I'd love it. If you know, if it's a fit, I'd love for you to take a look at my script, if not no worries, knowing that most people are not going to respond. But you might have a person that is looking exactly for that. And you're respectful and got to the point. And they're like, Yeah, sure, send the script. At this point, they've requested your material, versus it's the equivalent of like, put again, put yourself in their shoes and use common sense of like attaching the script in the initial email. How would you feel if a person walked up to you on the street? And was like, Hey, I heard that you can help me spend two hours reading this script and giving me your thoughts on it. Your your response? 100% would be it's awfully presumptuous to just assume that I'm going to do this and yet that's kind of the common practice of queries. Right?

Alex Ferrari 32:38
Right. It's, it's it's a fairly insane. It's insanity. Man, it really is. And I also wanted to ask you this, because I actually had this question from a screenwriter the other day, should a screenwriter sign a submission release form, if they're submitting to a producer or a company or something like that?

Thomas Dever 33:01
There, the thing is, like, they're their common practice, you know, that they're commonplace. So don't think that you're signing your life away, you know, I guess read it and make sure you're not signing your life away. But I am guessing that somewhere in all of them, there's going to be a cause that it's like, Look, if you a year to five years from now see that we have a project that looks really similar to something that you submitted to us, like, you can't sue us. Um, and the reason that's the case is because you can imagine what companies would be opening themselves up to if they didn't do that, but if you, you know, they're already I think, getting sued all the time from people trying to claim that but of every script that was submitted to them that any line or story or beat or commonality that like appeared in a project that was later produced, that's why they're doing it. Um, at the same time. I, I don't think that you have any problem in signing it. I think that there's no, I don't know anybody that is it looking for an amazing script. And if they read your script and love it, and really respond to it, they'll work with you. Because I think that there's a perception among writers or a fear that, oh, they're going to read it and like my idea and steal it. And it's just like, I don't know, I don't know if I've really seen that. I don't really know why they why they necessarily would do that. But at the same time, I totally get where the fear is coming from.

Alex Ferrari 34:28
Yeah, I mean, I've had heard of some people's ideas getting stolen or read. And when I say stolen, it's more like, they took a couple of kernels. And sure, all of a sudden now they have something new. I mean, I remember when we were, this is years ago when I had a script floating around that got to Sony. And I said they asked for it because they seen one of my one of my films. And I said I submitted it to them, and they're like, Oh, we're gonna pass because we have something similar in theme and then two years later, that movie came out, which was not, not anything like anything like my script at all. But there were ideas and themes there. So you have to protect yourself as

Thomas Dever 35:13
I guess what I, you should 100% Protect yourself, you should, it's one of the biggest things that I think is valuable about a platform like cover fly, because you, you know, we have the writer platform where you can host your projects and your bio. And then we have an industry facing portion of it, where they can search for writers and projects. But we really closely monitor the activity on that side of it. And so if somebody downloads your script, we have a timestamp of when they download it, and this isn't necessarily a commercial for the data protection that is cover fly. It's it's to drive home the point that like, yes, you should be precious with your material. And and I think with a submission release form, you're passing it along through a friend or having them request it is always going to be the better option. So I would advise that I'm with it. I will say I'm by no means am I an attorney, and you should always check with an attorney, absolutely lightly taking my advice. The consensus is you cannot copyright an idea, only the execution of an idea. Um, because I do think that like most screenwriters, I know have had like an idea that they were super excited about. And then they see like a trailer they read in the trades and idea that is really similar. And I'm not going to pretend that that doesn't just like it happens all to be

Alex Ferrari 36:34
All the time. Are you kidding me? When I saw when I saw clerks by Kevin Smith, I was working in a video store. I'm like, son of them. I got I had this idea. Why didn't I just execute it? Well, they're you

Thomas Dever 36:50
No, truly and so I'm I get it, I feel the pain of writers in that situation. What I will say though, is that I don't want to say that ideas are cheap, but like Good ideas are good ideas are easier to come by than the execution of good ideas. Truly, um, I think most screenwriters I know come up with like five blockbusters in the shower and on their way to work in the morning, you know, it's just like, you're coming up with these ideas. And really, the tough part is an executing it. Um, so as tough as that can be, it sort of goes back to what we were saying earlier of like, you gotta be cranking out material. Because, man, if you're just kind of hinging all your hopes on one project, you are kind of opening yourself up to that, right? You are you are sort of opening yourself up to like, oh, I have to make this one thing go versus like, really utilizing your talents to give yourself multiple opportunities?

Alex Ferrari 37:44
Yeah, it and I wanted to ask you as well and kind of put this to rest for so many screenwriters out there. This is my opinion. I'd love to hear yours. I get asked all the time. How do you protect your screenplay? I go you register with the the Library of Congress. That's the only one that matters. You could do it with a W GA. That's nice. But the WJ does not hold up in court, the Library of Congress, right? That's the only one that you have the boom and is that and you can and again, you can't do the idea. But you can do the actual screenplay, right? The only way I know of and that I always recommend? Well,

Thomas Dever 38:21
Sure. I mean, and that's I mean, if that's, um, you're probably gonna do that, right? If your film is moving in any sort of production, right? Because at some point, unless you're just kind of shooting the project yourself, somebody else is going to need to own the script. And they're well, halfway there. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 38:40
Once it gets into production, that's you have to have that that's part of a chain of title. But prior to that, whether you're pitching and things like that, to make you feel better, as a screenwriter, you want to have that attention, spend 35 bucks, 40 bucks, get a cover, and don't mail it to yourself, that doesn't work. That's that's a myth. Don't mail as yourself,

Thomas Dever 38:58
Because that's the thing. I think that like what you said there is it's making yourself feel better and giving yourself the peace of mind to know that you're protecting this version of this story on otherwise, I think it's always good to have a paper trail. Right? And and because I know that getting, getting an attorney can be prohibitively expensive for a lot of emerging screenwriters. Why it's just it's kind of like cover your bases to to as much as is necessary for it. You know, if you're in the sort of like talking stages of a project, and there's no real money on the table, you probably don't need a 15 page contract. Right? It says, like to find terms of why, you know, but I think always just be really clear. And I think this goes into a lot of what we've been saying whether it's like working with a producer with a collaborator, especially when you sign with representation, because that's a whole separate discussion we get with writers is just be really clear about being on the same page of expectations. Because I think that that's where a lot of problems come from right which is with I think a lot of writers with producers are being afraid of getting taken advantage of or afraid of their material being mishandled, which is why, you know, before you embark on a working relationship established, if the expectation is like, Okay, we want to, we want you to we want to develop this with you, does that mean one draft and a Polish? Or does that mean like infinite rewrites until I'm happy with it over some non specific period of time? Because if you think one thing and they think another, the project's kind of doomed before it even gets started, and same applies to working with, with a manager or an agent.

Alex Ferrari 40:37
Which brings me to my next question, the agent and manager conundrum, where there's so many screenwriters think that all you need is Ari Gold from entourage, and they represent you, they're going to get you the million dollars, they're going to get your career and so it and then people are like, how can I get an agent? How can I get a manager? I'm like, and I always asked him, How many scripts do you have? I have, I have one and a couple of ideas. I'm like, You're not ready for an agent. And, and I've known writers who won the Nichols, who placed in the Nichols who have placed in multiple big and they get signed, and they go nowhere, because the management is like, should I push Shane Black? Or should I? Should I push Bob? Who I just I'm talented. But what's gonna be how am I gonna make? What am I gonna make the most money from? Where's my money? Where's my ROI? And ROI? You know, make the most sense. So can you please kind of demystify the whole Agent Manager thing for people?

Thomas Dever 41:41
It is on doubtedly, the most popular question that we get. And I don't I actually don't know what's even a close second, it is always how do I get a manager? Right? That is the that is the the holy grail of emerging screenwriters. And I get it, right, because I think that the perception is, I think you're sort of feeling that frustration of being on the outside looking in the lack of access, the lack of opportunity, and like, yes, a manager, an agent can solve that. But if there is this perception that like, okay, great, I signed with a manager crack my knuckles, I put my feet up, and I just wait for the deals to roll in. That's definitely like not the case, right? Like it is you're going to be facing a lot of the sort of same struggles, and even the writers that we do know, with representation are still having to grind and get to that next step. Um, I can't remember, I can't remember who said this to me, because I would give credit if I could recall, but I think we made the comparison of like, view view, getting a manager like having an accountant, like, does your career

Alex Ferrari 42:52
Do you have money?

Thomas Dever 42:53
Does your career necessitate having a manager right now. And in the same way that it's like, if you've just got like your 1099, and your W two, as you can probably file your own taxes, right, and you can, you can get your own opportunities and develop your material and build that. But if your career gets to a point where you need a wrap, it's just a much clearer kind of pathway, right, and getting to a point where you need a manager and need an agent. Um, and that's not to say that people don't sign with representation very earlier, and they're very early in their career, but it's usually much more common that you've built up a degree of sort of, like momentum and opportunity in the managers not, I'm just kind of picking somebody starting somebody from scratch. Um, because I think with, you know, a couple of things. One, think about it from the perspective of the manager, to go back to the queries, we've seen a lot of writers that approach reps, and the consensus is, hey, you should sign me as a client, because I really want a manager. And it's like, that doesn't like what does that do? When I mean anything to them? Right? Like, this is their job. This is their livelihood, that yes, it is art. And it's passion, and it's emotion, and it's this thing that they deeply care about, but this is also their livelihood, this is how they pay their bills. And their job is to assemble a roster of clients and projects that are going to make money that they collect a commission on. So it might not be the sole determinant in their decision, but it's going to be a portion of it. Um, so if you you know, if you understand that, yes, they need to respond to the material, but also have this idea of where your career is going to look right and sort of have these opportunities and what working together is going to look like I'm getting to the part that you're working writer in that conversation. Because the other I think it goes back to the sense of indie filmmaking, which I special place in my heart, my heart is always in indie filmmaking, and will be an indie features. The economics of it don't always make sense to me. Have a rep, because if I'm a rep, and I get 10% of your projects and your deals, and you make a low budget feature, let's just even say 100 grand, yeah, 100 grand, right. And so you, if you're making any money as the writer director, you know, it's, let's say you get 15 grand, right, which is right now, there's no way that you would take 15% of the budget, let's say that you get by 10 grand, right? Five grand, and you're probably working on their project for like, at least a year. That means that their commission is $500 for one year, that even if they love you love the project care about the material, it just is really tough to dedicate any behind any job, anything right to $500 over 12 months, versus something that's going to yield that but I don't, I don't want to taint the perception because I really, I think so much about it too, is just finding that right fit is finding the person that gets you gets your material gets this sort of vision for your career, and you can work with and building that relationship. At the same time. Don't underestimate your own ability to generate those opportunities. We come across writers all the time that have gotten their projects sold that have gotten themselves staffed on series that have episode credits that are getting sort of meetings with major studios and streamers. And there's no really one way to do it. It's just a lot of networking and leveraging relationships and sharing their material and maximizing those relationships that getting themselves to that point, the discussion of pursuing representation becomes so much easier, right? Because if you're, you're kind of painting this picture of like, Hey, here's what my career is going to look like. It's much easier when it's tangible. And you're working in a writers room versus just off of like the samples, if that makes sense.

Alex Ferrari 46:56
It Yeah, it does make sense. And I want to ask you as well, so many screenwriters will walk into a room, you know, like, let's say, let's say perfect scenarios, they get in manager manager gets them a meeting at a studio, because they they had one sample script that they loved. And I like this guy's voice or like this guy's voice. Let's get him. Let's get him in. And let's have a meet. They come in like, Okay, what do we love this script? I can't produce this as it's unpredictable. What else do you have? Right? So that's the moment where a lot of deer in headlights because they're like, wait a minute, that took me three years to do. And I don't have any, I have three ideas. And if you have three ideas, you're pretty much dead in the water. Because everybody has ideas. Everybody in that room has ideas. But you can't produce an idea. You got to produce this grant. So how many scripts in your opinion is a good number two projects that you should walk into with a meeting like that, like real? Like real, real things?

Thomas Dever 47:54
Yeah, I mean, it's, um, I guess, two answers to that, like one, the idea thing is interesting, I guess I won't say but one of the more prestigious writing and directing fellowships, I've spoken to writers that have been through it, where the first couple of weeks is literally no writing, no development, just ideas. And they make you come up with a bunch of ideas, and then they throw them out and make you come up with new ideas. And speaking of the writers that have been through that program, they say, that is the most difficult part more so than notes and writing and rewriting because you're just, you're you're getting down to like the marrow of who am I as a creator? Like, what is my 25th idea? Or is it a new fresh idea, um, but I think that puts in perspective of just like the standard that you have to sort of hold yourself to as well as, like, um, I think after a certain point, you get good at generating those ideas, knowing it, um, to, to your question with it, you know, the two parts of it, I would say, the samples I, I think most people really want to see what you can do. And whether that is I would say at least two maybe, you know, if you've got like 15 It's sort of like oh man, this person just kind of like how like polished or any of these even are polished the perception of seeing 15 I think so. So at least two probably like three or four but but really the the more important thing is having a consistency and like what your voice what your talent is, what your perspective is and showing how it applies consistently but in different meetings, you know, there is no shortage in the world but especially in southern California have people that can write just a really excellent tight feature or one hour half hour pilot like that is not hard to come by. So if you're going in with like, oh, I can write a feature. You You know write write a horror feature writer like create. You're the one

Alex Ferrari 49:53
We've been waiting for you Bob. Poor Bob, Bob really has No clue.

Thomas Dever 50:02
But like truly is as sentimental as it sounds like what no one else literally no one else in the world has is how you tell this story, your respective your experiences, what you're bringing to the page. And as much as you can articulate that, as well as display that on the page, whether that's across four samples or two, whether it's across a, you know, one hour procedural and a thriller feature. I think that's kind of the key to it. And then within that meeting, yeah, that's every Gen ever, right, which is we love is the greatest thing ever, but it's not what we're making right now. So let's spend the next like 59 minutes figuring out what to talk about here. Um, and I think it goes back to what I was saying about networking, right, which is, if you don't make the effort to understand it, you should have done, you know, hopefully, you've done some research before the meeting. But if you don't make an effort to understand what is it that they're working on right now, what is it that they're developing? What is it that they're maybe struggling with? Or really looking for, or excited about? And what do I have that fits that? I think that's, again, it's a much easier discussion to have, because you, you know, what you have in your arsenal. And if they happen to be looking for this high concept project, that you've only kind of flushed out a little bit and maybe only have a treatment for, you can get to that by asking those questions. Whereas if you just fired off, oh, I've got like a comedy feature sample in this one hour, you're now like over three with them. Whereas you had this idea that they wanted to develop with you, if you could have just sort of like worked to that in the conversation. And that's kind of typically the advice we give for generals and things like that.

Alex Ferrari 51:47
That yes, the water bottle tour if you if you're lucky enough to go on the water bottle tour.

Thomas Dever 51:52

Alex Ferrari 51:53
Now, it's a zoom tour water bottle, he announced the zoom to Yeah, bring your own bottle, your own Yeti, with you. Now, I'm gonna ask you few questions, ask all my guests. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Thomas Dever 52:10
Oh, my goodness, wherever? Um, I guess I'll give both I think I think in the film industry, it's just it's kind of seeing it for what it is. And I mean, that in the best sense, right? It's like, it's an industry industry, right? You know, and I think that anytime that you are asking people to do to give you money, and in some cases, a lot of money to make your project or to write a project, you do have to understand that there's a degree of business that goes into it. To recycle all my metaphors, they say, you know, Nike doesn't just like design a shoe and then put it on the shelves and hope that people buy it, there's, here's an entire presentation of why Nikes are cool, and why you should buy them and why they're better than other shoes. And that's why you sell them in like two cents. That's what you have to do as a screenwriter. And there's no substitute for excellent writing. And the writing always comes first. But I think the tough lesson is like, understanding the business circumstances that go into most decisions. But accepting that that's okay, that is something that you can use to your advantage. And that doesn't mean that you have to, I don't know, really, that it's all about the money that you can navigate it and, and understand that to your advantage. In life. I see like, you and I were talking before we started I just think like getting getting a little older, you like calmed down a little bit, I think is kind of trust that like things are gonna be okay, I had enough sort of like, one year, five year 10 year plans that just kind of like go out the window, perhaps none more spectacularly. Then in March of 2021, I, you know, have spent the past year and a half and counting at home. And I think that's really kind of informed the philosophy that we impart to writers, which is like, just remember what's important. Remember what the ultimate goal is, don't make it harder on yourself by like defining the steps along the way, as well as saying that you have to do it. There's no timeline on this. You know, there's, there's tons of people that break in in their early 20s in their mid 30s. or later, you know, just just have focused on what you're going to do and try and take steps towards that. That's, that's the best I've gotten in terms of a life philosophy.

Alex Ferrari 54:43
Fair enough. Fair enough. What are three screenplays every screenwriter should read?

Thomas Dever 54:51
Um, I'm going to go back to I'm thinking of my I'm thinking of when in my reader days when I was reading and reading it Kevin measures company it had already come out but I think that the screenplay for Little Miss Sunshine is just no. Brilliant it's like it's it's a it's a novel I didn't know if we can retroactively give it like a Pulitzer or something.

Alex Ferrari 55:22
No, it is it is. It is a brilliant it is a brilliant script and a brilliant film. Really excited

Thomas Dever 55:29
To just to just sort of have this really this like dark, quirky comedy that is this also deep exploration of Persia in philosophy that is like readily apparent on the first page and then perfectly executed for the rest of the script. That was the first one that came to mind. Um, I remember reading this script, this probably dates me but I remember reading the script for Crazy Stupid Love. Such a great script, also an a great script that when I read it, and I forget what draft I read, was like near identical to the film that they ended up producing it like down down to the like lines of down to like specific words of just sort of, I say that one not necessarily for like a philosophical or thematic of just like, This is what a produced screenplay looks like, this is a read the screenplay before I saw the film. And then I saw the film. And it was like, oh, that's like, verbatim that these guys just like got it up onto the screen. Um, and then the last one, I feel like I should give a shout out to a cover fly writer.

Alex Ferrari 56:40
Um, this is three of all time, so you don't have to feel

Thomas Dever 56:43
All time. So they're not. They're not whole. I mean, I guess it's prevalent. Now. I don't know how much it's changed. But again, from my like the last duel, which is finally coming out. I see that's a sort of put in perspective, like, there was some major talent attached to it when I read that script 10 years ago. And it is just coming out now. And I think it kind of made the rounds, then I'm just in the sense of like, I say that one to maybe just be cheesy and that it can. Sometimes it is like some really ageless people were on that script. And it still took 10 years, you know, it's just right. You never know, I'm so pumped. I'm so pumped to see it because it was amazing. And the fact that I think that's a testament to reading hundreds if not 1000s of screenplays since then that I still I still remember it. Um, and I don't know, I just gave myself goosebumps with it. Because there's, there is a there's what we love about it, right? That it's just all about building that connection with with the material that it does stick with you years and years after the fact.

Alex Ferrari 57:54
Thomas, it's been a pleasure talking to you, man, I know, we can continue talking for three hours. But yeah, I truly appreciate I know you have a young one that you're taking care of so and you're probably exhausted, and you're probably exhausted,

Thomas Dever 58:08
I've got a I have a two month old daughter. And so I've noticed that I just kind of start a sentence now. And it just I forget, I forget how I started it. And I just kind of go until I run out of steam. So hopefully your listeners and your viewers that this made this made sense and bearing with me. Um, no, I by all means I think before we run out of time, head over to cover fly Yes, get the account set up. Um, you know, that's always kind of the first step regardless of where you're at in your writing career, what you're looking to do, just by creating the profile completely free to do so we can find you and direct you to the resources that are that are most useful to what you're looking to do. And and our team will be able to support and one of those resources of course is is the coverage service that we were talking about beforehand

Alex Ferrari 58:59
Bulletproof script coverage Yeah, so i i Truly I truly appreciate you. Thank you for doing all the good work you're doing with screenwriters out there and helping them navigate this shark infested. You know, alligator snapping kind of world that is a fortunately but I do truly appreciate you man. Thank you again.

Thomas Dever 59:18
My pleasure!

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