BPS 315: Hercules, Hollywood Accounting and Indie Films with Kevin Sorbo

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Alex Ferrari 0:07
I like to welcome to show Kevin sorbo How you doing, Kevin?

Kevin Sorbo 0:10
I'm doing good. How you doing Alex?

Alex Ferrari 0:11
Good, my friend. Thank you so much for for coming on the show man. It's, it's, I'm a I'm a fan and, and believe it or not, we've worked together then beyond that you didn't even know but I actually worked on two of your films, one of them being abels field where I was the colorist and the post supervisor.

Kevin Sorbo 0:29

Alex Ferrari 0:30
Unable to field.

Kevin Sorbo 0:31
I love that movie. That movie deserved the theatrical you know, it's weird with these independent movies. It's uh, yeah, if I could draw it's about PNA it's about word of mouth. But you know, we got a big battle when battling the Hollywood giant studios, but that's a really good movie.

Alex Ferrari 0:46
It was a fight. It was a fun movie. I love the director love the producer. They get picked up by Sony eventually. So I know that I know. It did at least get some sort of good release. And then I worked on another movie I forgot it was it was you in a jungle fighting a monster of some sort. I forgot the name of it. This is years ago. And I was the colorist on that one as well as in Louisiana.

Kevin Sorbo 1:08
So in Louisiana,

Alex Ferrari 1:10

Kevin Sorbo 1:11
You're gonna jungle fighting a monster. It sounds like Hercules but I shot number seven.

Alex Ferrari 1:14
No, no, it was not. It was definitely not Hercules. It was another movie. I'll find it I was actually looking it up before interview I'm like I couldn't find in my I got a lot of pee. I got a lot of credits in my thing. So I was just kind of looking like where it is. And I know they changed the name afterwards. Anyway, but, but I've Oh, so I have you on I've had you on my demo reel for a while. Back in the day when I was when I was color grading. But, uh, but I was a fan of yours since the beginning. But let me let me start off the interview with how did you get into the business?

Kevin Sorbo 1:44
Um, a really small town in Minnesota about 7000 people in it. We're about 25 miles west of Minneapolis. It's called Mount Minnesota. It's on a beautiful shores of Lake Minnetonka. And so get the name Lake think Minnetonka we were home to Tonka toys. That was the industry in my little town employed like you know, 25% of the population there. But we went to the Guthrie Theater and the Guthrie Theater is very famous singer Minneapolis and back a lot of actors out of Broadway start there. A lot of things start there before they move like Lion King, for instance, was there before they moved to Broadway. So we went 11 years old went to see the Merchant of Venice. It was a field trip with my elementary school. I was 11 I don't know what the hell they were saying because it was Shakespeare but I was mesmerized by it all. And I you know, on the way home I told my mom I said, you know, I'm gonna be an actor. And she said, is that right? She goes, Well, that's nice, dear. And, you know, I I kept it quiet because you know, being a thespian, where I came from and we made fun of those people in the drama class. I was a jock. I was a football basketball baseball guy. So I had to hide in that closet so to speak, until I got into college where I had double major in business but I took my minor in drama so I but I, you know, Minneapolis, really offered a lot of great things for me because a lot of people don't realize that Minnesota Minneapolis is headquartered national core is seven 3am Honeywell Pillsbury General Mills target Best Buy so all these companies they said there that all their commercials back in the day there so I got that all important Screen Actors Guild card by doing commercials all through college.

Alex Ferrari 3:24
That's when I was I was when I was in Florida. You know, the actors I worked with they were just just dying to get on to the get that sag card. And that's how many of them got them just by doing that commercial like oh my god, I'm sag eligible now because I got this this commercial. So it is it is a hustled being an actor, there is no, no, no doubt about it

Kevin Sorbo 3:46
I double major marketing advertising, I tell people I market and advertise myself because you are your own product in this industry, you know, and you got to get out there. And most of the time I tell people that want to get a business they go What's the like, and I go, I'll get ready for you know, a lot of doors being slammed in your face because rejection is the main thing of Hollywood. So, you know, it's a matter of getting out and again out there. I remember I did a lot of commercials. I'm one of the few guys I know that I'd befriended when I moved out there because I didn't know anybody. I already had the sag card. I already had the commercial agent because I sent my reel out to the commercial agents that I you know, found out about and they all assigned me because you know, I had a good reel already. I already had like 40 commercials on there. And so they knew my face from commercials. So that wasn't a problem. I never had to work another job. between 1986 and 1992. I shot over 100 commercials.

Alex Ferrari 4:37
Wow, you were you were an actual working actor.

Kevin Sorbo 4:41
I was a working actor and in between that was enabled me to do the really good acting classes. I said I studied with Roy London, for instance. You know they were Roy Roy in my class alone I had Matthew Perry's classmate Brad Pitt was in that class with me, Charlotte Ross. With some really good people that went on to do obviously had really good careers. So it enabled me to study and not have to like miss things because of work or something like that. And I remember my commercial agent one time I called up because you know, once you start to get to know people, Hey, man, there's one for there's one for Coca Cola. You hear about that one, you know? And so I'd call my agent all the time. Hey, what about this one? And my commercial agent said to me one time it's Kevin, I got 100 other clients, you know, I said, I don't give a crap about your other clients. Do you think they care about me? My mantra is, let me have the opportunity to be rejected. That's why I said, let me at least go in there. I'm willing to drive and this craphole traffic of Los Angeles to do what you know, and wait an hour before they see me for my two minute little audition scene. Let me have the chance to get turned down. I mean, I treated it like a business. I really pounded the pavement.

Alex Ferrari 5:51
Now, you know, you know, I mean, I've I've been directed for a long time. And I've obviously done a lot of auditions. And we as filmmakers get a tremendous amount of rejection. But it pales in comparison to the immense amount of rejection that actors have to deal with on a day. I mean, sometimes being rejected 456 times a day, if they get to that many auditions. How do you deal how did you deal with rejection? Because I'm assuming Yeah, you were a working actor, but I'm assuming for those 100 so commercials, you probably went out for 2000 of them?

Kevin Sorbo 6:21
Oh, sure. I live in Santa Monica. Right. And Ocean Park Boulevard is right in the Venice border. And to deal with rejection. I went and pumped on everyday at Gold's Gym and bike and either bike or rollerblade to downtown Manhattan back every day. Otherwise, I think I would have gone postal on people you really have I think and I think being that jock. I used to be that outlet was amazing for me. And I needed it. I needed I also played I had six years I was in three basketball leagues. So I was I was playing basketball three times. We had one in Pasadena, one in Northridge and one in Beverly Hills. So I wasn't I was playing hoops all the time. So I was always physically staying active to burn off that frustration.

Alex Ferrari 7:03
Because Yeah, it's absolutely frustrating to say the least.

Kevin Sorbo 7:06
I got down the last two guys for Lois and Clark, who's Dean Cain and myself. Dean's very dear friend of mine. He's a great guy. And we both did our auditions. Our screen tests with Terry hats are have already had the role. And that night, my manager call she got the role cap. And that was when Laura Mar studios used to be in Warner Brothers. They're gone now. But I think Les Moonves was the president there before he moved to CBS. Right? So they call me you got the role. I got excited. We want party. And then the next day, yeah, they change your mind. They're going thinking, Oh, that'd be absolute high, high highs of acting Low, low lows. It's a very frustrating business. But ultimately, three months later, I did book the role of Hercules. And as I love to tell de my show, when for seven seasons found a new zealand around the world. 176 countries became the most watched TV show in the world. And you got Canada for three seasons. I'm okay.

Alex Ferrari 8:03
It all worked out for everybody

Kevin Sorbo 8:05
It worked out for me. Things are great. I've done a couple movies together and we got another one we want to do together next year. We're trying to raise money for right now.

Alex Ferrari 8:12
Now, what is the one thing you wish you would have known when you started in the business?

Kevin Sorbo 8:21
I wasn't surprised how political is I wasn't surprised how crazy it is, you know, because I knew enough about it. And even just in the commercial world in a smaller place like Minneapolis St. Paul, which really isn't that small. It's pretty big, pretty big around there too. But I just I I had a hard time dealing with the backstabbing, they came from your own agents and your own managers that you found out about later. I remember one time I was in talking my commercial agent a good buddy of mine I just finished golfing and I stopped by and say Hey, what's going on blah blah blah. And right next to me. I heard the Booker from my buddy say oh card no carts out of town right now but I got a much better person for the role anyway. And I stood up and I said I just got off. I just got off the golf course with corn I busted him and I told you this happens all the time. It's It's It's amazing to me and also you know when when you sign I got very lucky I two series Hercules and Andromeda. So I 12 straight years of two series I the lead in him, and both of them 117 years, 115 years, and the percentage of you getting a second season is very rare. So but the amazing thing is how corrupt the industry is because you've heard it before the creative accounting.

Alex Ferrari 9:43
Don't do it.

Kevin Sorbo 9:44
They admit to a back end deal on your series or movie means you're gonna take it in the back end is really what it comes down.

Alex Ferrari 9:51
Great. That's actually a really great term.

Kevin Sorbo 9:53
I spent nine years in my lawsuit for my back and I Hercules with Andromeda and ultimately I'm getting throwing out my phone out that the judge behind it all was in the back pocket of the studio already the whole time. And my man, I really I really big entertainment lawyers, big, big ones that handle like the big name actors out there. And they said to me, Well, you know, you know, I said, Why? Why can't they just be honest? And he said, whilst the price of doing business, really, the price of a business is trying to screw you over, when when Titanic was the first movie to make a billion dollars back in 1997. Yeah, Arnold Schwarzenegger gets up in front of an audience of 2 billion people around the world and says, here's a movie, even the studio won't be able to hide the profits and, and you got a lot of nervous laughter from those first 10 rows of all the big wigs that run the whole frickin world, you know, but it's amazing to me how corrupt the industry is, and it's pretty open about it, you know?

Alex Ferrari 10:49
Oh, and it's something I've been yelling and screaming from the top of the lungs trying to warn filmmakers about because and I've seen it like, you know, you know, working on posts for such a long time on films like angels field and things like that. I hear it from the producers, I hear what's going on with distribution, and the Hollywood accounting and, and all of that kind of it's, I remember, I had a conversation with a distributor on a film of mine. And he actually told me, he goes, Well, you I was asking him, why is the cheque so small? Or? Or where's this cheque coming from? Or like, I got a check, you know, like, but where I know reporting, I didn't know what it was from. I'm like, thank you for this little money. But I like what, what is it? And he's like, what are you complaining about? You got to check. Most filmmakers don't even get a check. so nonchalant about it. It was just like, it was just like, I'm gonna go get a cup of coffee. It was so nonchalant. I was like, Oh my god, this is completely entrenched information

Kevin Sorbo 11:40
If you get into a second season, third season, a TV series, press me, they're making money. And they're making big money. And behind closed doors, they will each admitted I've golf with these guys. And they sit there and go, yeah, it is kind of what goes on the business. But he goes, Oh, yeah, I made money in there right away. But you know, certain people get paid and other people don't get paid because you got to play that Hollywood game. And I'm not a very good player at this stupid game. I'm not a big fan of it. I'm not a Hollywood guy. But I love being on the set. I love making movies. I love doing TV series. I like you know, it's I still get very excited when I'm working. I love doing it. And I'm going to hopefully, you know, thank God for independent movies, I'm still able to keep a career going.

Alex Ferrari 12:18
Now with with Hercules, how did you get involved with Hercules? Because if I'm not mistaken, it started off with some It was like movies first, right? And then it turned into a series.

Kevin Sorbo 12:26
yeah we have five to our movies. What when my agent called me on this one, I kept, I'm not a small, I'm a six, three, you know, and back then I weighed around 225. I'm to 10. Now because I'm getting older. It's hard to keep the muscle mass, though working out every day, though. But, uh, when I got the call, I thought all right, you know, I mean, I'm athletic. I played sports. And I'm, you know, I work out all the time and lift weights all the time. But I tell them that they're gonna want some, you know, 280 pounds, no neck, you know, bodybuilder times they know, what they're looking for, is the guy that looks like he's an NFL quarterback, or maybe a decathlon guy. And I said, Okay, that's interesting. So I read the read the size that went in to read for that universal. About a week and a half later, they call me back and again, another week and a half later, they call me back in again, another week, they call me and seven times over like two and a half months. Wow. And the very last time i big build right off of the the the one on one that universal. Yeah, you know, the big tower hole in the big black towers, on the highway. I call it I call it the building where actors go to die.

But I went, I went in there, I was down the last three guys. And Sam Raimi was our executive producer. So I get in there, I'm on the stage. And that must have had there's like 30 people in there. They're all whoever's gonna make this decision for this TV series as all the men and women that have all the power and universal beside what TV shows get picked up and which ones don't. Right, so I got on stage and I said, you know, you guys have brought me in here a lot. I appreciate it. I signed the contract cuz now you're done the last three, they're gonna make it right. So we sign that five and a half year contract in case it goes more than more than one you know, turns into something more. And I said you guys never give me any direction here. Is there some way you want me to do this? You know, I'm looking at Mr. Ram. He says no, we like what you're doing. Just keep doing you're doing. So I read I read again with the with the actress. And then they said That's great. That's great. Okay, um, Sam hits the woman next. She goes, she goes, Oh, yeah, I need you. I have to ask you to take your shirt off, please. Right. And if you watch the show is in good shape. So I took my shirt off. And there was a you know, a few audible Oh, my sort of gas. And then being a smartass that I am I said, Well, I'm a lot bigger out of my clothes. Sam says to me, Ramy says so if you get the row Kevin Would you be willing to you know, shave your stomach and chest. I'm not like Robin Williams like seven inches. The girl but I got a little man cover there. Sure. And and he said, Would you be willing to shave it? And I went, Oh, I'm sorry. I thought you wanted a man for this role and I started walking off the stage. I got I got a big laugh and I said thank you all I left and the next day I flew to Vancouver because my ciclos series The commish so the third day on the set, I somebody had one of the pieces come up, Oh, you got to call your manager. So call my manager, Beverly Dean. And Beverly says you got the role. You're going to be Hercules. You're going to do five star movies are going down in New Zealand and blah, blah, blah. She's very she's all excited. I walked back on the set and I looked at checklist and I said I don't want to crap from you. I'm half God now. I went I went I went down there that actually for the next two months, I pumped a little hard to put another five pounds of muscle on and I trained with Douglas one Douglas one was one of Bruce Lee's original students.

Alex Ferrari 16:00
Oh yeah,

Kevin Sorbo 16:00
We went 60. Oh, great guy. We went his he developed thing called a white lotus kung fu method, whatever it was, but he taught me all kinds of weapon we work like eight hours a day for five days a week for two months. I go to New Zealand. Who do they book opposite me to play Zeus but Anthony Quinn. So I get a whole year working with Anthony Quinn Paulie and your listeners don't know he has Shame on you.

Alex Ferrari 16:24
Yes, please, everyone just google Anthony Quinn.

Kevin Sorbo 16:28
People need to in this industry they need to get schooled on the people that were there before us. And this is the guy that was nominated for six Academy Awards. He won twice. So it was halfway through the third movie where something happened on the set with Michael Hurst who played my sidekick Keolis and co crew laptop just cracked up and I looked down because we had we had live in the show not to make writers mad but we would add live stuff and they could take take it off they wanted to but I looked at Michael I said that's what this show is going to get picked up as a series he was a thing so I said yeah, because there's nothing like an on TV right now. There's nothing like this. It has this bigger scope with the cinematography what is New Zealand It was beautiful. The wardrobes we had the fight scenes that we did the monsters that we had. And sure enough by the end of the movie, the third movie, universal said we love what we see we haven't released anything yet. We're still cutting the first three movies but you're gonna stay down. We're gonna make this a TV series. And so by our season three, not only that we spin off. The female sort of Hercules version was Xena Warrior Princess. That same season. You know how Hollywood is is something's hoppy. I'll copy it. Sheena came out another another female thing. Robin Hood, Tarzan, Sinbad, Conan all these other shows came up sort of copy what we are doing. And by season three, we did pass Baywatch as the most watched TV show in the world which is pretty cool.

Alex Ferrari 17:53
That's amazing. And you guys were shooting in New Zealand before was in vogue. It was before Lord it was it was before Lord of the Rings right before

Kevin Sorbo 18:00
Peter Jackson used to come on the set the sailor cruise developing because we shot from 1993 through the end of 1999. I was down there for seven years. And we had Peter Come on a sailor cruise developing because all during that decade he was writing all three movies of Lord of the Rings. And when we wrapped he took 80% of my crew he took all the stunt guys. He took our our camera team we took well john Mahaffey and pm McCaffrey, the camera guys were just amazing. The john Mahaffey ended up doing second unit directing and all those things plus all the Spider Man movies after that, but nyla Dixon won the Academy Award for Best wardrobe for Lord of the Rings. I always told my crew I said, you know, it's ridiculous that they don't want to nominate us for a Golden Globe and me fine for acting, whatever like that, but to not look at us for cinematography. There's nothing on TV that looks as beautiful as his show and for our wardrobe and I was sort of like okay, she's not winning the Academy Award for the wardrobe on Lord of the Rings she should have got a gold over me on my show because the wardrobe on my show on Xena was amazing. And our stunt guys were just incredible as well so I don't know it's it's the politics of the business once again because we wrote first one syndicated show we weren't a network show so they just like they don't want to pay attention to us even though we had higher ratings than most shows on networks. And it was it was funny because

Alex Ferrari 19:17
I really never heard of and maybe you can tell me if this happened before but the studio doing a five movie like deal first then to see then roll it into a series has that been done before?

Kevin Sorbo 19:31
Well, here's what here's why that happens called the Action Pack wheel. Where they had they have four other shows doing movies we were the only ones that did five movies because they love with the show look like the other ones that for you had tech wars that Shatner was producing. You had midnight run where they took the movie that Charles Grodin and De Niro did was such a great movie it is had they had BJ in the bear and they had banishing sun does this karate thing. Okay. So we were the only one that it was funny because Sid sheinberg was the was the president of unify the time? And I remember, it was like, it was around season three, and I was back home with the universal Christmas party. And he comes up to me says, You know, I gotta be honest with you, when they came up with these action, we'll we just figured Hercules would be the first to go and you're the only one that still around? I don't know. It's just like throwing spaghetti against the bloody wall and see what sticks. But I you know, it's it's it's it's funny how what I was gonna say is if it back in the 70s, ed McMillan and wife in the cloud, and they had all these, these these two hour rotating shows that we're going over, like every Wednesday night, I think that's what they're trying to copy again with his Action Pack, but just it just didn't take off. I don't I don't know what happened to tech wars and why that didn't work. But we were the only ones that ended up surviving, which is great.

Alex Ferrari 20:51
I mean, to be fair, I mean, on paper, it does not sound like if you would sell like, you know, we're going to do tech wars with we're going to do and we're going to do Hercules. Like Hercules is one of those stories that has just obviously been beaten to death forever, because it's just an it's one of the oldest stories around. But yet you couldn't quantify the magic of the chemistry of what you did. And what the writers did with the directing team to production team, everything. It's just that old soup is not on the paper.

Kevin Sorbo 21:17
Yeah, well, you know, I think a lot of us do what Sam Raimi is brand new to you know, I mean, they love the quirky humor and breaking the fourth wall like Gilligan's Island or something. I mean, you know, every time I even turned my head they put a big sound effects. In the fight scenes, I love doing the fight scenes, you know, we did three every episode basically. And Peter Bell, our stunt choreographer would let me work with I mean, we would sit there and we shot like eight to 10 day episodes. So I was down in New Zealand 10 months here that was home for me for seven year. So when we were not shooting, I was fighting that day, we'd still be rehearsing I'd go in and block a scene that I'd go you know 50 meters away with the stunt guys to rehearse what the next you know fight or flight scene is gonna be and we always try to put in funny stuff. Like if I would throw a guy 100 meters and he lands he only put a wire economy lands in the Calpine pasture somewhere and then I kicked sword out of one guy's hand and flies through the air we've always made sure as that flies through the air make sure that guys getting back up and as sword hits some of the back of the head and knocks them back in the golf ball thing you know, in a bar fight I throw a guy out the bar you know through the wall and it's a cut up body of us you know, and you know, the hole in the wall is is kind of body and fans love that stuff. And it was it was corny it was cheesy but it was done that way on purpose because we knew with a show like this we got to have we want people to laugh with us and not laugh out. It works.

Alex Ferrari 22:41
Yeah, it's a very you had to do a little tongue in cheek I mean, if you would have done it dead serious. I think it probably would have not

Kevin Sorbo 22:48
I said tongue firmly planted in shape.

Alex Ferrari 22:53
And if so, and to go back to what you were saying earlier, you have to actually fight for back in participation on on that all that stuff for her.

Kevin Sorbo 23:01
Believe it or not, they after seven years they were gonna do seasons eight, nine and 10. Right. I got approached by major Roddenberry Gene Roddenberry's widow to do the first show ever created by Gene Roddenberry after the original Star Trek series back in 1969 was Star Trek it wasn't enterprise wasn't the next generation it was actually Andromeda. And my captain Captain Dylan Hunt was the first Captain ever created Captain Kirk so they she came to me and said, boom, they gave me a they gave me a two, two year guaranteed 44 episode pay or play. If the show the imago they're gonna pay me for 44 episodes holy cow at the salary that I was being offered for season eight on Hercules per episode. It was it was it was a mafia deal too good to turn down. Yeah, and I'm a Star Trek fan to begin with. And universal wasn't that mad about it because they own a sci fi channel anyway, so I was like, I was still part of that family. But because I didn't sign eight 910 I think it was like a screw you to me. And it's it's amazing what they will do to juggle the books. You know, they said they said oh, we lost so much money on the show. I wouldn't you lost money. I knew they were making money by season two, season three, they're making big money. But they can say whatever they want. And they own the court systems. They don't I mean, it's amazing to me how corrupt the system is and it and everybody knows it. Everybody knows it. I know guys that did other series that didn't get paid on their back end either. I know James Gunn, I used to golf with the late James Garner. And I was a big fan of Rockford Files. Yeah, he had a he had a fight 13 years or fers back end deal 13 years ago always make an improper file. It's It's unbelievable what these guys do. And it's it's they said oh, it's just part of doing business. Well no, it's not just being honest. But there's no honesty and integrity it's gone you know and it's it's bad that battle so I never got paid my back end.

Alex Ferrari 24:59
Oh my god.

Kevin Sorbo 25:02
They had Sam Raimi and Rob tappers contracts down there during the negotiations during the moderation mines next to theirs. My lawyer says their definitions are identical when you pay those guys. One lawyer from that studio said, well, all depends how you want to define the word definition. And that's when I said to the moderator, we better go to a different rooms right now, because I'm about to go across the table and probably do something that's going to hurt this guy. So Wow, it's amazing. What, what they'll do. So you know, and I'm a Midwest guy. I mean, a handshake shakes as good as a contract. But you know, you see, you'll see how thick the contracts are in Hollywood with all the double talk. And, you know, it's like, it's like Washington DC, right? What? 5000 page bill the other day, and they said, you got to read it.

Alex Ferrari 25:52
Yeah, they do. They do that constantly. All the time. They do stuff like that. It's so then but if you would have played ball and gotten 789 signed, that might have been different for is what they're saying?

Kevin Sorbo 26:03
Who knows, knows no one knows. I don't think I don't think would have been a different I mean, I know guys that didn't get paid in their backends other shows, I won't name them but they came back and said, Hey, we want to do a movie out of this. And they said forget it. And then they got paid their back and all of a sudden

Alex Ferrari 26:17
to do so when when So basically, if they want something from you, you can give them more money somewhere else. Generally, they they'll play ball like the Rockwood file thing is insane. That's insane. rockcliffe I was a huge I mean, what the 13 seasons, 13 seasons,

Kevin Sorbo 26:29
why don't win 13 seasons, but he took him through 10 years to fight it. Oh, yeah. I think I think they got seven years out of

Alex Ferrari 26:36
it. Exactly. But still

Kevin Sorbo 26:38
13 years before he got paid. And he did finally get paid. He finally got paid. How much money did they make on the money they owed him for those 13 years? Oh, of course. Of course.

Alex Ferrari 26:49
No. It's it's it is it is. It is. It's it's Aren't you happy? You're in a business?

Kevin Sorbo 27:00
It's amazing. You know, it's not the City of Angels. It's a city of broken dreams.

Alex Ferrari 27:04
But no, no question that

Kevin Sorbo 27:07
I think you'll agree doesn't matter what side of the cam you're on. Yeah. It's a business you want to be involved in.

Alex Ferrari 27:13
Especially if and the more I figured this out in my in my tenure in the business is the more control you have over the product, the distribution, their creation yourself, the better chance you have to actually get paid.

Kevin Sorbo 27:29
That's what we're that's what I'm doing my own stuff now. You know, so, but I mean, I don't think anybody gets in the business and say like an actor. Well, I didn't want to be an actor just sort of happened. Okay, right. Exactly. supermodel is I never really want to be a model. Yeah, you were just a hot babe that everybody was gawking at all. But I don't know, somebody took my picture and paid me $10,000

Alex Ferrari 27:47
an hour. So I'm like, why not?

Kevin Sorbo 27:52
Okay, I believe that.

Alex Ferrari 27:54
Now, um, can you explain something? Because I mean, obviously Hercules and Andromeda, you have fans, you have a really passionate sci fi fans? And what can you tell explain to people what it's like to actually be at Comic Con, and to meet your fans. Because I've been on both sides of the table. I've been on the I've been getting the autograph. And I've also given the autograph. And it is a really interesting experience. And I can only imagine what it's like for someone like you. So can you explain that to people?

Kevin Sorbo 28:25
You know, it makes a difference if the show is current as well. I mean, I still do Comic Cons, I still get invited a lot of them. I mean, this year socks, of course I had about, I pick out about eight a year, even though I probably get invited worldwide to maybe 30. I pick, okay, I've never been there. I want to do that one against that was good. But Hercules and Andromeda are still out there. And they're still fans out there with it. But when it's current, it's more rabid. It's more insane. Because I'm there as Hercules I come back for my two months, then I'm back home in the states before I head back down for the next season. And so I still got the long hair. I still got the you know, the look. And you sit across a table and people are there. They're nervous to shaking. Yeah, there's shaking. They're scared. I've had a couple women faint at the table. It's crazy. But But now because it's like those people now are in their 30s they're the age I was when I filmed this during my all my seven years of my 30s and now they got kids. So they're showing it to their kids. And there's more there. It's just kind of a nostalgic thing for them now to see me and meet with me but the kids are the ones that saw open eyes. But I love doing them. I have a blast doing them. I'm a golf nut so I'll golf every con i go to it I find a course Well let me tell you off at seven in the morning I go fast. I'll do 18 holes in less than two hours. And I go to the con and hang out and we go to dinner with some of the other actors like going to dinner. Shatner was just a just a hoot man banza come up to me during dinner and I'm cool about it. I chatted Like he won't take any of this like, he goes, Okay. You want to talk to me come to Canada. And I started get that two months I've been. I've been sleeping on an airplane. I've had people wake me up. No, I mean, I'm sleeping. And hey, can I get a picture?

Alex Ferrari 30:22
Here? Yeah, you kidding? No.

Kevin Sorbo 30:26
But but most people, most people are really cool. You get the people that hate you too. I mean, when I got married, I had female fans, right? And I hope people watch your show now. They got married, got married, I guess they thought that they sent me a picture of them in a bra or something. I ended up marrying them. Right? It was

Alex Ferrari 30:42
the it was that dream that hope that he's not married yet. So there's still hope that I might just maybe,

Kevin Sorbo 30:49
but I don't I don't know. But most fans are pretty cool. I gotta say most most people, especially now with the movies, I do a lot of family friendly movies. Like a whole spiel. But in the movies, I call with a good message in there and stuff. So I know I've lost some fans with that, you know, I'm heavy on Twitter and Social Media and I I posted truth. And like jack nicholson says you can handle the truth. And a lot of people can't they don't want to hear the truth. They want to believe whatever, whatever is fed them on the internet, because if it's on the internet, it must be true.

Alex Ferrari 31:17
Well, that'd be that's the law. I mean, that's the law says if it's on the internet, it has to be true. Now, there was a movie that you did call call the conqueror. Can you talk a little bit about that? Because it seemed to me that was in the middle of the Hercules. You know, fire not fire storm, but in the hurricane that was Hercules. And, and it was a universal project. I think they were kind of in you please correct me. They were kind of grooming you for something at that point. Can you talk a little bit about call? Um, yeah. I

Kevin Sorbo 31:45
mean, Raphael and Dale Aransas called me up and she's Dino's daughter. And she worked on the first she produced I think the first I think all three of the Conan movies. Conan called call was Conan his father in the books and also in the comic books. And they sent me a script, and I knew is in that vein of Hercules, but it was much more violent, much more sexual. And they were worried about me offending my Hercules fans, I was not I wanted to do with the way the script was written, which was much darker than what we ultimately shot. But they took the they made that our movie a PG 13. And a kind of a light pG 13. Really, we had a lot of humor in there as well, which I love humor and everything I want. I want the I love the humor and all that stuff. But yeah, they were kind of grooming me to sort of take over and not really take over our little bit, do the next thing because I had another movie right after that, that I was supposed to start filming as well. But that fell apart because of an illness that I suffered. And, but it was a bummer that I wasn't able to continue with them. But cold call was fun. It did. Okay. They opened on Labor Day weekend, which is just stupid. And I knew it was stupid. I said, I told my manager I said, we got to fight this. This is dumb. I mean, I know what the numbers are. People have gone to movies all summer long. And now Labor Day weekend, as most schools have been open for a week or two and people are done going to movies. And I said this is a Thanksgiving movie. Please wait. And they wouldn't universal wouldn't listen. And so the movie did. Okay. It's done very well in reruns and DVD sales. And because every time I go in autograph shows, Comic Con shows, I get at least 30 or 40 people that come up, they have any autograph the DVD. So I know it's out there and people like and it's funny. just mention it because I was at the gym just yesterday with my son here. And there's two people came up and they brought that up. What cracks me up is I did it. The last season of the OSI and I'll meet these these women are college girls. Oh, I love you on Oh, see. So I got you know, 250 episodes been Hercules and Andromeda. They don't nothing about that. But they know those eight episodes.

Alex Ferrari 33:47
It must be I mean, as an actor with such a fan base. And yet me you've done so much in your career. I mean, can you just we talked a little bit about it earlier, but for people to understand what it's like to kind of walk in your shoes, like when you walk out in public, you know, you do get recognized and and because I mean, Hercules was like you said one of the biggest shows in the world. And I'm assuming this is worldwide. I'm sure you probably have stories that you were somewhere in Europe one day and and people just walk up to you like Achilles and where they go Herky jerky, you know.

Unknown Speaker 34:21
Perfect. Exactly.

Alex Ferrari 34:24
But But how what is that? Like? Because I mean, I don't I'm never gonna have that experience. I'm just curious if you if you could share a little bit of that.

Kevin Sorbo 34:32
I said people are people really nice about it. Last year, I had three Comic Cons and row near. one weekend after the other. I looked at my wife and I said, I got three, three teenage kids, two boys and a girl. And I said, Let's take the kids, let's go spend a month in Europe. Thank God it wasn't this year because all would have been canceled, right? So year and a half ago already. So I had one in one in Vienna, one in Munich and one up in Brussels. And so when I was when I graduated college, I went to Europe to study In three months, I end up living in Europe for three and a half years. So a form of de la. I stayed in Europe, I was with an agent in Milan agent up in Munich, and Zurich, and, and Hamburg, London. So I shot a bunch of commercials when I was in Europe as well. So I love being there. It made me grow up. I was 22 year old kid, it made me grow up. And really, I'm in a different country, different language, different culture. And it was really good for me to do it. It's I mean, it's a different world over there now, but it was, it was great back then. So to take the kids back, there was amazing and to go back and walk through the old man, I live in Munich for like a year and a half, walk back my old neighborhood and go out wherever we went out. You know, it was like, Oh, my gosh, it's Hercules or, and drama. It was always it was all all of that. And every city we went to outside of the Comic Con, of course, the Comic Con brings in those crowds. We just walk in the streets. It happens every day. I mean, of course now I get to wear a mask when I'm walking around by yourself. And we can breathe our own, you know, carbon dioxide, which is great. But it happens every day through airports and hotels. But what's interesting now, most of the time, it's about my family friendly movies. Like what if God's not dead? Let there be light tables field. It's those kind of movies that people stopped me now more than anything else, which is pretty, pretty amazing.

Alex Ferrari 36:23
That's awesome. And that's really awesome. Now when you're working with a director, what do you look for in a director when when you're working with one?

Kevin Sorbo 36:32
I want him to let me do whatever the hell I want. As far as

Alex Ferrari 36:37
I know all stop it. Just let me do me.

Kevin Sorbo 36:42
You know, it's, uh, I have the progress. I do love blocking. I want to go out there and, and I like to rehearse with the actors off off. You know, when you guys are setting up lights, some actors want to do some some don't they want to be more spontaneous with or something like that. It's fine. Everybody's got this sort of little approach to things. But I want the words to be secondary, right? I want to be in them. I want to be in there with the the Meisner technique. I'm working off you, you're working off me. But like I said earlier, I like if there's any chance for humor in there, I want to throw in humor. So I talked to the writers all the time on a Hercules we were always three scripts ahead. So in between setups, to I'd be on, you know, on the set phone calling back to LA because the writers were in LA, they went with us there. And I say I'm looking at, you know, this episode we're shooting in three weeks. I don't get this. So I love this part here. Can we expand on that? So I'm always open to work with the writers. I'm always open to work with the directors. In all the years I've been involved the business I think it's only handful of directors that were really kind of a pain in the ass that were just tough to deal with. And it wasn't just me it was with everybody. And but for the most part, I've been very fortunate. And even all the actors I've worked with, there was only one person of all years and Hercules I'm not going to name his name. That was really a pain in the butt when it came down to guests on the show news Panda, but for everybody in dangerous, dangerous and the fights, you know, and that's why actors think that look, I'm a good athlete. I know I'm and I'm good at fight scenes. And all the fight scenes I did in Hercules which would be I don't know hundreds and hundreds of I only hidden one stunt guy physically hurt him. And it was because he went past his mark when I'm throwing elbow behind me because I'm throwing an elbow without looking as I'm fighting guys up here. Sure. Anyway, two feet past his mark. And I busted his nose. I mean, it was blood His eyes were cliff, I'm sorry. That's my fault, man is my fault. Me, but I felt horrible about it. And I know what the you know, I've heard stories of Steven Seagal hurting guys all the time on the set. Right? And I know, do that with other actors. their ego is why can do this. And I agree with Harrison Ford where he said I don't want to fight actors. Because I'm doing it all the time. And these guys are not but their egos why can do this. And I that's the time, I would tell my stunt guy. Sam, come on in and you're taking over for this point, you know, because it just wasn't worth it for me to get hurt because I got hurt enough on that show. Just doing stuff the way it was. And, you know, it was my ego that wanted me to do my own stuff, my own stunts, but I just had fun doing it. I loved him.

Alex Ferrari 39:17
And and now and I know you mean you've you've worked on the every scope of production from you know, indie indie budgets to multimillion dollar budgets. How do you deal as an actor with difficult production environments? Because I've been I've been I've involved the different production environments when I'm not the director, but and I just I just watched to see how and I can only imagine like on the production side of stuff enough. But if you're the actor in front of the camera, and you're the star, how do you deal with, you know, not to say in competence, but maybe you know, ego, things like that. What do you do as an actor especially, it also depends on where you are in your career at that point, too.

Kevin Sorbo 39:58
I think the best thing to do When you reach those points, which, thankfully for me, I have been having a lot in the creative span 35 years now. You take those people aside one on one I don't like making I don't like when I don't never want to embarrass people in front of the crew. I don't want it to me. I like I don't care if I'm acting or if I'm directing on it. I like to have a fun set. And I love to work fast. I believe in Clint Eastwood's mentality. You know, you're an actor. You come in prepared. You're on the camera team. You come in prepare, Clint those two takes and they move on one if it's if it's if he's happy with it, you know, and he's used to people coming in and whispered to directors. I mean, a lot of these younger directors think you know, all Hollywood, you got to work 16 hour days, you know, and I'll whisper in their ear. Oh, by the way, Clint Eastwood does eight hour days makes Academy Award nominated movies. Okay, just saying I'm just

Alex Ferrari 40:51
throwing it out there. You know,

Kevin Sorbo 40:53
there's so much waste of time on this.

I act.

I act like an assistant first ad. You have the first ad but then you got me and I walk on set and go. What are we waiting for? What's going on? You know, just get get going. And on Andromeda we kept a much. Hercules was longer days only because

Alex Ferrari 41:14
of the locations and an action to action always takes a little time.

Kevin Sorbo 41:18
And drama. We rarely went out even though you know, Stargate was filming down the road from us where their studio was, but every time Stargate was always outside, but every planet looked like Vancouver, you know, just pure, beautiful trees. That so we rarely went outside. We did a lot of green screen. We kept it we had two two big studios that we had my ship and one we have the rica Morrow and another one. And we did a lot of green screen and we worked that show Hercules including drivetime and lifting weights every day. I was 17 to 18 hours door to door. It was a brutal schedule. Wow. And drama those 12 hours door to door. If I if they picked me up at six I'm home at six my crew lovebugs that crew would just come off X Files. And David the company moved to X Files down to LA for last season there. were created a big stir he was like I'm done with Vancouver and I love Vancouver by the way but anyway um my crew love me because most one hour shows by your call time at 5am in the morning on Monday by Friday because those 12 hour turnarounds you're looking at a five o'clock in the afternoon start then you shoot till eight or nine Saturday morning. We wrap virtually every single day between five and 7pm every day. My crew is going home every day and having dinner with their family and they love me for after coming off the hellhole that they had on the hours they had on on x file so it can be done in I my latest movie miracle is Texas which will be in theaters next summer. I don't know if you can really see that post back. We can. I directed it. We got Lou Gossett Jr. We got john Ratzenberger was great. We got Tyler Maine. The WWF fans know Tyler Maine is the sixth dude. But he's also Sabretooth on all the x men movies. It's a great wonderful movie set in 1930. So people look for that when that when that does come out miracle in East Texas next spring. But that one we wrapped every day between 10 and 12 hours of shooting at the at the most. And we were outside at a ranch most the time we shot in the same location they shot Revenant where they set Unforgiven where they shot Lonesome Dove and open rains with Kevin Costner. So it was a great location and the people that crew we had was phenomenal. And I there's no reason that you can't, you know, shoot 12 hour days Max, there's no reason you just got to get people moving and keep things going. I like an ad I want to I don't want to be the jerk on the set. That's my abs job. I need the ad who's tough and on on top of things. And he's got to be he's got to be the bad cop. I'll be the good cop. But I've always trusted in everybody that I hire for their departments from hair and makeup to wardrobe to camera that you're hired because you know your job better than I do, which of course they did. So, you know, I may have ideas but I want I want it to be as corny as it sounds. I want to be a collaborative effort, which it should be, you know, if you have a bird's eye view of his set, I don't care what kind of movie there's independent big budget movie. As you know, it's a I call it organized chaos. You know, it's just it's crazy of all the people running around and hear people coming out and doing this person and camera guys lighting guys, and all of a sudden and action and then it's just becomes that scene once and cut and then it goes back into organized chaos.

Alex Ferrari 44:44
It's the second year everyone rushes in. It's like

Kevin Sorbo 44:49
It's like all the ants took a break and then oh, we found a dead animal.

Alex Ferrari 44:55
So So how do you how do you like directing now? I mean, I mean, you do to direct any Hercules episodes, I

Kevin Sorbo 45:01
started writing on Hercules. Yeah, I've been I've I've been DGA now for 2024 years and sag rover over 35 years. So yeah, I mean, it's uh i love it. Um I think I'm very good at that keeping separate the acting part and the dragged by when I'm in the scene because I'm in I'm in the movies I direct as well. I will I will leave it over to my first ad to do the action and cut. I don't know I I like to I love to film rehearsals. Because there's some wonderful things have happened. I do I'd love it

Alex Ferrari 45:43
if I can I do it.

Kevin Sorbo 45:44
How many times been on set when the director didn't film I so I go just shoot it. You know what it is? Oh, come on, in there. Get it on film. Because, and one thing that bugs me more than anything, is if an actor screws up in line, even if it's me, don't cut that it shuts the energy down right away. It just shuts it down.

Alex Ferrari 46:07
You know,

Kevin Sorbo 46:08
and we in very few directors did that on Andromeda, which is great. You know, you screw up. Now go, go, go, go, go keep going. And I just get back in that mode and go again, give me give me the lead in line, whatever it may be. But keep keep that energy going. Because a lot of times in the DPW goes, Wait, am I just got to fix the light. You know, that's 15 minutes.

Alex Ferrari 46:25
You they always have to fix a light?

Kevin Sorbo 46:30
Well, you know, I think I think for every for every department that a friend of mine who is an editor says you can never ever stop editing. You just got to find a place to finally stop.

Alex Ferrari 46:44
Yeah. Oh, yeah. You're never in a movie is never finished. It's abandoned? Yeah.

Kevin Sorbo 46:51
Okay, we're done. You know, cuz you sit in that editing room. And thank God, it's just as quick as it is today what it used to be, oh, cut a squirrel. But still, you get in there. And you can get glassy eyed after a while. It's just like,

Alex Ferrari 47:03
test me. I know. Trust me,

Kevin Sorbo 47:05
I definitely know what I will do. When I get my first director's cut in is I will bring over about 10 buddies of mine, friends of mine in the industry, and let them watch it and get their thoughts on it. I think is a smart. And I think every director, I'd read through that morning, every writer read throughs are important. And writers scripts, because writers are there and they're three in the morning. And they're writing and writing, writing. And then they get too close to it. And they can be such major holes in people's scripts that they can't see anymore. You get a bunch, you get a bunch of actors that you know, as a writer to read it out loud, and you can hear it out loud in yoga. Okay, yeah. And make your notes during that. I think it's important.

Alex Ferrari 47:45
That's so amazing. It's very, it's very, very true. And yeah, a lot of times when I tell writers as well, like, read the dialogue that you're writing, because it might read well, but when someone says it, not so much.

Kevin Sorbo 47:59
Those four writers take the most abuse, and they got the hardest job. They do the hardest job, you know, how do you find a great script? I mean, I've been on the set many times, and I've been guilty of it to where the actor goes, who wrote this crap. writers, you know, and actors take enough abuse the way it is. But yeah, it's it's a tough job. I wrote one episode of Hercules and we shot it. But I'll never do it again. It's just it's way too much work for me.

Alex Ferrari 48:25
And how and by the way, you've done so many projects. How do you pick projects, because I'm assuming you're getting bombarded with opportunities all the time.

Kevin Sorbo 48:32
You know, it's funny on LinkedIn, Kevin sorbo, dotnet, where people go get a hold of me as well. I get I get 1015 scripts a day sent. I mean, a week sent to me. And I got to type the same thing over again. I'm only looking for funded projects right now because I've got, you know, I've whittled down, down about down to about 20 that I want to do. And it was 25 but I've done five of those so far. The hardest thing is finding funding of course, it's so frustrating to find money for independent movies. And independent movies are fine with Avengers fine with the Pirates of the Caribbean. Why would they you know, all these action movies that cost 300 million bucks and they'll spend $100 million promoting it so they're on every their trailers and every football and basketball game and every whatever. And when I'm doing movies that are three $4 million people think that's a lot of money. That's like the catering budget on Pirates of the Caribbean. I mean, seriously, this and i i do movies that have that aren't filled with violence and hate and anger that seems the only thing coming out of Hollywood right now these movies that have such a negative viewpoint and just everything's got to be weird and just off beat and I like to do movies that people can go to and go like a blindside movie or Green Book which was awesome movie well.

Alex Ferrari 49:51
It's also a Soul Surfer and souls

Kevin Sorbo 49:53
yeah soldier. movies that have a positive message movies that characters. I can never be Hercules in real life. You'll never be Iron Man. Okay, but we can be the characters that we see. And what made me fall in love with acting was my mom. I'd sit with her when I was a kid watching Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy and, and, you know, all these wonderful actors that are in that golden age. And I love these movies and with with a with a humor and that whatever that was in there, I just said, You know, I see actors that never seen Casa Blanca, these young kids you've never seen Casa Blanca, you've never seen, you know, Lawrence of Arabia, all these great old these movies that were just mad 10 commandments, and there's so many massive movies out there. And people that get in this business, I think need to get more educated on the history of the business as well. I think this is important.

Alex Ferrari 50:43
I mean, I was I was doing a color session years ago with one of the hottest music video directors in the world at the time. And I'm color grading this and I'm working on this project like hey, do you want a little Blade Runner here? And he's like, what's that? And I'm like, wow, I'm like your music video director. And you haven't studied Ridley Scott, probably one of the greatest commercial and visual storytellers of all time. He's like, No, I'm like, I need to stop the session right now. We're gonna go, I'm gonna grab my blu ray, watch the seed. Like, I was like, Are you kidding me? And I was the old fogy in the room. And I was like 30 something.

Unknown Speaker 51:18

Kevin Sorbo 51:19
it was.

Alex Ferrari 51:20
It was it's, it's insane. I just want to touch back really quickly, when you're getting all these scripts, because I want to do you a service. So everyone listening because I know a lot of people are gonna try to probably reach out to you because they're all filmmakers and everybody wants to get their projects done. A lot of times when they're and I've tried to tell people not to do this. They'll reach out to, you know, actors of your statute and with with your credibility, your bankability, and they'll go, Hey, here's my script, I need a letter of intent to go help find money. Can you explain why that is something? Do you do Letters of Intent? Is it is that something? I mean, all

Kevin Sorbo 51:57
if I read the script, I give scripts 20 pages, hold my interest, then I'll keep reading if it doesn't, I'll move on. But I'll do a letter of intent only now if it really has my interest because almost all these movies come in with no money attached to it. Right? And there's it's in it's frustrating, but if it's a role that really hits me after 20 pages, then I'm interested I mean look I got three movies and they can right now one of them is miracle is taxes. They're going to be in theaters next year. Hopefully we get past as COVID ridiculousness is shutting down the world running people's lives. I got a new TV series called the pot wins. It's like a Last Man Standing Tim Allen series as we shot at it. We shot eight episodes this past July in August, in beautiful San Bernardino. And it was a very boss who plays my dad and it's it's hilarious. It's great. Very, very funny stuff. We'll see what happens with that we did like I said we did eight is

Alex Ferrari 52:51
that was that independent?

Kevin Sorbo 52:53
Yes independent. It's independent but Netflix is interested in fox is interested right now. So we'll see what happens with that but but I've got four movies lined up for next year already one of my directing as well. We just got funded for that one. We raised the like 4.2 million, but I'd see it's like every two years I'm able to raise this money I want to be able to do two of these movies a year it's tough out there guys. And I know people come to me saying well I got a nice little independent movie that's a good you know, I call them actors movies. I'm gonna backtrack a little bit when I look for movies now. I want to look for movies that that move people like you said that like Soul Surfer like lineside like like greenbook which I thought was amazing bigger Morton's incredible. Like, I love doing movies like that, that people go I know guys like that or I can relate to that make you laugh, make you cry, movies that have hope in them. You know, we lost them. We have so much anger and hate in our world right now. And divisiveness. I want to do movies that hopefully would pull people together and you know, have a good message in there for anybody and everybody looking for something good. And because I think I think most people are I just think the media loves to perpetuate the anger and hate right now. I think most people are good people. And you know, we just got to find a place where you know, we can do movies that that get made and I meet very wealthy people I do a lot of charity. I do a lot of charity golf events. I meet very wealthy guys and they can spend $9 million dollars you know promoting some candidate for governor a president that doesn't get elected and gone that 9 million bucks I can make two or three really good movies that would be out there forever because that candidate yard is backing no one remember that is anymore? No so it's weird it's it's weird where we got to fight for the culture now I think more than anything else and that's kind of the movies I want to do movies with a positive message.

Alex Ferrari 54:34
And you also have a book out right?

Kevin Sorbo 54:37
I got I have a book that came out called True, true strength that came out about eight years ago I finally wrote a follow up called true faith. true strength was born out of us in the season five and Hercules I was having all kinds of problems my left arm and my shoulder and my fingers were cold and nama comfort was going on. I came back to do promotional work on I was on Letterman Leno did all the talk shows before called the conquer So I went to see my doctor and Beverly Hills there and he found a lump way up here. Before they could do a bio Shannon, thank god they didn't end up being an aneurysm that had been spitting blood clots down my arm for months while it opened up, sent hundreds of class my arm. And unfortunately for class my brain I suffered four strokes.

Alex Ferrari 55:19
Oh my god. So

Kevin Sorbo 55:20
I spent the I had another action movie I was going to be doing and I couldn't do it because I couldn't walk anymore. So I learned to walk and balance over the next four months. Again, it took me three years to fully recover. If you watch the last two seasons of Hercules, you can see I lost about 15 pounds of muscle because I wasn't able to work out the way I was working out before and I went from an 18 hour door to door day to about a three hour door to door over those two years is slowly building myself back up to about 10 hours a day. But it took me three full years to recover from it and true strength. People go to Kevin Sobel dotnet and get an autographed copy. It opened a door for me I thought I'd never be doing which is speaking events I do about I've had all 12 speaking events are canceled because of COVID. I've been to in the last month fortunately, one back in my home state of Minnesota, and I just didn't want up in, in, in in Dallas. I was in Dallas last week. So it's starting to open up again slowly. But it's really about true strength is sort of plan words because it Hercules had a lot of stunt guys make me look like a stud. Right? So I couldn't beat up those guys. And really, for me, it's like, you got to find your own true strength because everybody's got a story. Everybody's gonna have a roadblock in their life. No matter what age you're at, that you got to find out. What am I going to do? Am I gonna blame God family, friends, everybody else? The reality is you have to look in the mirror and say, okay, it happened to me. What am I going to do about it now and you got to find your own way to get back to living a life again, instead of blaming and crying and whining about it.

Alex Ferrari 56:44
Amen, brother, amen. And then I'm gonna ask a few questions asked all my guest. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Kevin Sorbo 56:54
Go for an intern intern. I mean, don't get paid for the hack where they get yourself in the set. You know, I tell people all the time I got when I my first my first acting coach is Bill trailer at the LA studios and they're in LA. And his wife, Peggy period died just the year before in a car accident. But he taught me so much in terms of just just sticking with it and going for it. But interning is just a way to get yourself on a set. He told me to keep doing the commercials I'm doing says because you're putting in miles, you're getting in front of the camera. Some commercials I talked in other ones I did. I got to be on a beach with a beautiful girl in a bikini selling, you know, orange juice or whatever, you know, but you're on that set, and you're doing stuff. I remember an actor in that class kind of make fun of you not a real actor doing commercials. Well, I got a hot date one night, he's my waiter, okay. I don't have to wait tables, I have money to be able to go out and have a meal. I do do commercials. I'm telling you one thing. Number one, you get your sag card. And number two, you'll make money. The first two years on Hercules, I made less money than I did the previous three years that I made in commercial residuals, because I would at any given time I have 15 checks a day coming in, whether it was $10 or $1,000, but I would rip off and every check while I'm watching Monday Night Football go on. This is awesome. You know, and there's money in there. But there's also a chance for you to do the things you want to do to further your career. And so I tell people get on a set and intern at any position. Watch what people do learn that way. Kevin Costner did Dan Raleigh studios, he learned what? Okay, this is what the carpenters guys are doing. This is what the camera guys are doing. Do you think he's a good director? Yeah, I think he's a damn good director of the no damn good actor.

Alex Ferrari 58:38
And Yep, absolutely. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Kevin Sorbo 58:47
I think patience. More than anything else, I'm a very impatient person. Me to what I did learn earlier. That's that's that kind of ties in with patients as a as a positive thing against the negative of patients is failure. I used to caddy at this private Country Club in Minneapolis, very wealthy guys, mostly guys, I cared for between 30 and 70. Okay, they're all successful guys all had money. And I would ask them, you know, here I am, as an 1819 year old kid carrying double bags is walking a fairway? How did you become successful? They all said, Kevin, oh, I failed. And then I failed again. And then I failed again. Then I kept failing. He said failure is a positive thing, not a negative thing. You got to you got to get rid of all the bad stuff. But take the positive stuff and drag that along with you. Because that's what I learned getting out to Hollywood with all those doors being slammed in your face because I told you as an actor, oh, you're too young. You're too old. You're too fat, you're too skinny or too whatever. There's always reasons they want to get rid of you. So I just I looked at that is a positive thing. I said, I know every actor, they get in their car and they're chewing on their steering wheel when they're driving the four or five or whatever. Tell them I say it that way. Why did I do it this way. I got to the point. I just Get in the car and said, I did the best I could have. They don't pick me. It's their loss. And that changed a lot for me just being a lot more positive about it.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:08
Very cool. And last question, what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Kevin Sorbo 1:00:13
I already named one of them. Casa Blanca, no question about that one. Yes. Jeremiah Johnson, Ray, maybe Jeremiah Johnson. And then it's a tough one because there's so many great ones in there. But I'm gonna take HUD it's an earlier poem and believe what I, the reason I want to be an actor were Paul Newman, Robert Redford. I've met Redford Newman passed away. But I have a letter from Paul Newman that's on my wall in my office. And it was great supportive letter and how he, you know, was a fan of stuff I've done and it just, it was just, it was just pretty cool. But, of course, Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid in the sting are pretty darn good.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:55
They're not bad. They're not bad films. They're not bad. Not bad at all. Kevin, I really appreciate you taking the time to do this and this crazy, crazy time that we're in. And I appreciate you, everything you've done in your career and a lot of joy that you've brought to a lot of people over the years as well with all the parts you've done. So thank you again, my friend and safe safe travels.

Kevin Sorbo 1:01:14
More to come more to come Kevin Sorbo Happy New Year. Let's make 2021 awesome.

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BPS 313: Building Long-Term Filmmaking Revenue Streams with Brady Trautman and Alex Blue

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Alex Ferrari 0:08
I like to welcome the show Brady Troutman and Alex, how are you guys doing?

Brady Trautman 0:15
Good. Thanks for having us on the show today.

Alex Ferrari 0:17
I said it right right. I said the name right.

Brady Trautman 0:19

Alex Ferrari 0:21
For a second I went, did I say the wrong name again. It's been a long day, guys. I apologize. Hi, guys. How are you guys doing, man? Thanks so much for being on the show.

Brady Trautman 0:32
Yeah, we're doing good. We're, we're currently in Lake Tahoe and California. And the seasons are transitioning from spring to summer. So we're kind of in in a really good spot and excited for the summer in the lake.

Alex Ferrari 0:43
So very tough life is what you're saying? Very tough life.

Brady Trautman 0:46

Alex Ferrari 0:47
It's rough.

Brady Trautman 0:47

Alex Ferrari 0:48
very tough.

Brady Trautman 0:48
It's rough.

Alex Ferrari 0:49
So, It's rough out there. It's rough out there in Lake Tahoe, the main streets of Lake Tahoe. It's tough.

Brady Trautman 0:53
Yeah. Pretty bad, actually. But

Alex Ferrari 0:57

Brady Trautman 0:59

Alex Ferrari 1:01
So, um, I want to get you guys on the show. Because you've had you, I've had other you know, youtubers on the show, and other people who kind of use this futurpreneur method. Not specifically that you use it for me. But you might have modeled it after some, someone like yourselves, who do that kind of like building content and creating multiple revenue streams and servicing a niche audience and all that kind of stuff. But you're very, you have never really kind of spoken to anyone with a niche like yours, which is boating. And I want you to explain a little bit more. But how did you guys leave the normal world and go straight into like boating around the world and just following basically doing what everybody wants to do other than like, going off and joining the circus? I think basically swit sailing around the world essentially would be on the top of people's like, dream to do list. So how did you guys go, I'm assuming you didn't just come out of the womb like that. Got your boat at five and just kept going? From what I read. You guys started in the normal world and said, You know, I'm tired. So can you tell us how you got in there?

Brady Trautman 2:06
Yeah, for sure. I guess I'll start first because Alex joined the journey a little bit later on. And she had her own journey before we met. So I grew up in Orlando, Florida, and I was going to college there. And my brother at the time was up in Seattle, Washington. He's 10 years older than me. And he had a web design company that basically he left it. And we were both getting into sailing at the same time. So neither of our parents were into sailing, we didn't grew up sailing. But we were both getting into sailing at the same time. He was 32. And I was 22. And we ended up getting a 53 foot sailboat. And the plan was to basically hang out Mexico for a little bit, and maybe eventually cross into the South Pacific and go to Tahiti, because it was just like an incredibly big dream. And so that happened, I had one semester left of college, and we made a decision that we were going to leave Mexico and sail out into the South Pacific. And I took out all my student loans that I could sign up for as many classes as I could took out all my student loans and then dropped all the classes and figured I'd use my student loans to go to university of life, I guess. Wow. So yeah, that was that was in 2010. And I was only supposed to help him because he was kind of a little bit in a better financial position to travel long term than I was at the time. So I was supposed to help him for like three weeks, the passage from Mexico to the mark cases was about three weeks long. And we got the mark cases. And they were like, oh, a couple more months. I'll say a couple more months. And then we got to Tahiti, and it was a couple more months and then yeah, that eventually turned into 10 years and a circumnavigation so that that's kind of the the journey and then along the way, a lot of things happened, you know, are we ran out of money a lot, of course, but our family and friends we had a blog and photos, but it wasn't enough for our family and friends. They were always just still like, What the fuck are you guys doing? Like, I don't get it? Like, are you camping? Or got a motorboat? Like does your boat have an engine? It's a sailboat, but just people didn't really understand. So we just started filming our journey, little clips at a time and uploading small short videos to YouTube. The first videos were even like pictures with music behind them. So they were just complete like family slideshow kind of things. Which is great. Our family loved it. But then as we started to film and progress, other people started watching. And it was kind of at a really interesting time in YouTube where it was new and fresh. And it wasn't like click Beatty. It wasn't really you didn't have to try as hard if you had good content. It got put in front of people naturally I think so yeah, people kept watching and we eventually saw that there was a opportunity to make like a full on production from it. And keep filming and keep sailing and and yeah, here we are now.

Alex Ferrari 4:54
And Alex How did you leave the normal world enjoy this psychic, psychotic pirate on his Island

Alex Blue 5:02
Well, I got pretty lucky Actually, I don't know if I ever quite entered the normal world. Nice play. Yeah. In in college, I started Yeah, I was studying like media. And so I started my own film and photo company and got basically what the goal of wanting to travel I had this random dream I don't know where I got it from, but I really wanted to work in Central and South America with my camera. So pretty much once I graduated, I made my way down there and was able to get paid pay my way with my camera. And one summer I ended up on in Colombia, and I got offered a position on a sailboat that sailed between Cartagena, Colombia and San Blas islands, Panama. And so I lived aboard this 5052 foot catamaran for a summer and we would take like 20 backpackers from Panama, spent five days in San Blas Salem to Cartagena and then have a couple days pick up 20 more backpackers from Colombia sailing back to Panama. And anyone that's ever been on a 52 foot sailboat will understand how ridiculous it is to have 20 plus people sleeping on a boat like not just people but backpackers. Yeah. So it was pretty much a big party. But it was beautiful. I mean, yeah, I slept outside every single night in the hammock for the entire summer and pretty much fell in love with living on a boat and started to see other people on boats to at the anchorages and realized that people were living on their boats and that cruise cruisers were a category of people that I have come to know a lot about and become one myself. But yeah, pretty much after that came back to Tahoe for a winter. And then a sailing friend of mine sent me a Delos episode on the YouTube channel and said, Hey, I think you'll like this. So I gave it a watch. And they were Yes, sailing, scuba diving, which I had also been getting into and filming, which is pretty much all the things that my life revolved around as well. So I just sent them a random email. And they actually now in retrospect, I know that they get, you know, I don't know, probably 1000 of those a year or something like that if people didn't want to join through with them. But for whatever reason, luck was on my side and Brady's older brother Brian caught the email and said, cool. If you want to be in Africa and South Africa in two weeks, then you can cross the Atlantic with us. So I just went again, I didn't have to like quit a job and sell my house or anything. a transitional phase. Yeah, I already worked for myself. And I was just floating around anyways. So what I did there, and then within like a month we were we were dating and yeah, I like to say our first date was crossing the South Atlantic.

Brady Trautman 7:47
How romantic?

Alex Ferrari 7:48
Yes, it's very intense. I'm imagining it's an intense first date, to say the least

Brady Trautman 7:53
I was I was away, I was away at a wedding. And my brother called me He's like, hey, this guy, Alex, he's a videographer. He's a sailor. And like, you know, we're looking for crude to go from South Africa to Brazil. Like, what do you think, man? And then we had we had a video call like Alex isnt, a dude. Perfect. guy was good here in a week and a half. And she made the decision. And then yeah, we were we sailed on that book for three and a half years together before we moved to town.

Alex Ferrari 8:21
You know, it's, it's, it's insane. Because I love the way you guys talk about these trips, like, it's, it's just like, I'm going down to get a cup of coffee, like we're going to just going across the Atlantic, or I just want to go to Tahiti, you know, in going into the South Pacific, like when I think of the South Pacific, all I think about is just like this massive amount of water. And this and this little little island called Tahiti or Fiji, or you know, like, like Hawaii is essentially a monster complex comparatively. And you're like, yeah, you know, just just gonna just keep going and I love that mentality because for you, that's normal. To me, that's insane. But in a great way, and I admire that so much because you are truly living you living the dream because you guys are doing what you love to do. You're making a living doing it, you're helping other people, you're you're providing value to people around the world. And you can literally travel the world on your own dime and do whatever the hell you want to do. You have complete freedom and I think that's I think we all that's the one that's going to the you know, running away with the circus, essentially, we're gonna go with the circus, but I'm wondering

Brady Trautman 9:36
thank you for saying that. I think I don't know after doing it for 10 years. I definitely got a little bit jaded and you know, as pretty as it is like anything in movies or documentaries it or series whatever. It feels incredible and you're watching it. It's like oh my god is the dream but there's there's hardships and there's a lot of difficulties that go along with living on a small sailboat with five people at a time. It's amazing. I wouldn't trade it. For the world, and I'm so grateful that I did it. It's just yeah, it's nice to hear again, people from the outside, like you say stuff like that cuz it's like yeah, I'm really lucky. I was able we were able to do that.

Alex Ferrari 10:11
Yeah, absolutely. And but, you know, I couldn't look you're traveling to South Pacific you're traveling, you know, across it, you know shits gonna happen, you know, I'm imagining it's just that like crystal blue sales and everything's running in the dolphins are jumping over next to you like the entire way. You know, I'm assuming you run out of money, you run out of food, you run out of gas, or whatever you're doing, like things happen, like, oh, there's a hurricane showing up. Like, I have to imagine things like that happens. But that's life. But you're but you've taken life by the kind of horns and just done what you want to do with it. Which is, believe me, I talked to a lot of people. And I talked to filmmakers, which we're all nuts. We're all we're all nuts, filmmakers. And filmmakers are insane people. I mean, I'm insane. We're all insane. My family looks at me like, what do you do? 20 years, 25 years. And you make and you do what? And now they see me on YouTube. So now they're just like, oh, he talks to famous people. I'm like, Yeah, okay, that's sure. That's what I do. That's all I do in my life. And I was that Sure, why not? But there's an insanity that comes along with being a filmmaker, but you guys just amped up that insanity. Like, instead of shooting a movie, let's shoot a movie on the open sea for months at a time. And oh, let's open up a YouTube channel. And you can like, Oh, my egg. You can never leave set. Yeah, exactly. It's always going. So when you guys started doing the videos that sent back to your family, because they just wanted to make sure you were alive and doing well. How, by the way, how do you communicate like carrier pigeon? Or like How? Like, I'm assuming the cell reception? I'm assuming the cell reception is not so well down there, especially 11 years ago?

Brady Trautman 11:52

Alex Ferrari 11:53
In the middle? Yeah.

Brady Trautman 11:55
I mean, yeah, the best way to communicate really was, was when we get to an island and you'd find a random computer, somebody would have a computer with internet and you'd sign in checking emails. Really, that was it. I mean, we didn't even have cell phones weren't really a thing through the South Pacific in 2010. Now you can find the cell phone pretty much anywhere you go. And you buy a SIM card, a local SIM card, and you can get you can get calls and data and stuff. But back then yeah, it'd be months before we'd we'd reach out or do anything and even uploading stuff to YouTube, right? Like there was times where, where we couldn't we leave the laptop in like a cafe somewhere for like two weeks to try and upload, like a 500 megabit video, and it just wouldn't upload. So we found we buy the small little USB thumb drive, put an episode on it, ship it across to my friends in Florida, and they would upload it for us and then post it for us. So that was faster than actually uploading a video at that time.

Alex Ferrari 12:51
Jesus. And you certainly you started doing this for your family, essentially. And you just opened up a YouTube channel just like start doing things. But then eventually, people just started finding it. And you're This is about 11 years ago?

Brady Trautman 13:02
Yeah, yeah, really, it was 2010 is when we first started uploading the little picture slideshows, and then 2011 there was a bit more video involved. And then, yeah, I think 2012 is when we really decided I think we we ended up getting a check from YouTube at some point for like $18 or $20. I don't remember the amount and we're like, holy shit, what is this? Like they made a mistake or something. And we didn't realize that they were monetizing our videos. So we realized that there was a way to make money on youtube, even if it was small. That was like a case of beer, which is awesome at that time when you have zero money. So yeah, we just kept doing it. And then once we realized that there was a way to grow it, it was growing and growing. And we found out that as long as we were consistent, and we were ourselves and being authentic and honest, and we just kept growing. And then the real real change happened when one of our one of our followers, one of our viewers on YouTube reached out and said, hey, there's this new thing called Patreon. It's perfect for you guys, you should check it out. And it must have been the first six months patron was was a lot. And we signed up for a Patreon account. And then yeah, people really, really understood that because there's something really special about giving directly back to an artist or somebody you like it's a personal connection, instead of giving it to a cable company or a network, and maybe it'll trickle down to them, like literally giving $5 or $10 to that creator. It has an emotion attached to it. And that's 100% why we were able to be successful.

Alex Ferrari 14:30
So so with YouTube, you start making some money with it you realize that there's an actual something there at least it's you know, beer money, we can work for beer money, basically. Yeah. You start working with beer money. And I put what Alex At what point did you like coming? What year did you jump in with him?

Alex Blue 14:46
Let's see. It was 2016 or 17.

Alex Ferrari 14:51
I think 17 March. So you guys were off and running already. The YouTube channel had already been Oh, yeah.

Brady Trautman 14:56
Yeah, we were full on by then we're just started. Like probably right then is when we started making a profit, I would say, like our expenses were paid for. So like, the boat was paid for insurance, food fuel, like cameras, it was kind of breakeven, like our lifestyle was paid for. And then right around that point that Alex joined us when it kind of kept going, and we were able to pay ourselves $500 a month.

Alex Ferrari 15:21
I mean, obviously. It's all Alex is 100% but Alex joy, the videography got better. The storytelling got better. The editing got better. Yeah, perfect.

Alex Blue 15:33
No, I mean, it's actually funny. Yeah, to look back, because when I once I realized I was going, I didn't watch any more episodes or anything to me, it felt weird to know that I was going to show up and know these people and they weren't going to know me or anything. So I kind of just went and didn't really look into it much shows like they seem legit, whatever, just go

Alex Ferrari 15:54
Okay, so let's, let's stop there for a second. I want to because my daughter's not see this one day, and I'm gonna say no, this is not the way to do it. I looked at the video, it seemed legit. I flew to Africa. This is not a statement that I ever want to hear my daughter say.

Alex Blue 16:11
Yeah, my mom had some doubts.

Alex Ferrari 16:14
I would hope so.

Alex Blue 16:17
But No, I didn't. I didn't know that. That Um, so the tribe is what they they kind of tell us refers to as the the people that watch their videos, and I'm telling you people are so inspired and like touched by these videos. I had no idea. It's like a it's like, it's almost like a cult classic in a way with Delos. The Delos episodes like people are so into them. And they've people have altered their lives so much like so many people have sold everything they own went and bought sailboats move their families aboard, like I'm talking hundreds, if not 1000s of people from these episodes. So they really touched people in a lot of ways. And yeah, and I just had no idea any of that before I got on the boat. Some people like to think that I saw Brady online buddy was cute, and like, came came in to swoop a map, but I did not have that much foresight

Brady Trautman 17:09
I was a lot skinnier and Tanner.

Alex Ferrari 17:14
No, it's it's it's really interesting, because as a creator, you know, with with what I do on a daily basis with podcasting, I've done hundreds and hundreds of podcasts. And you as a creator, you don't know what effect it has on people. You really don't you just put it out into the universe. And only when I'm at an event or at a film festival or a if I get emails or something like that. Do I realize the impact that Yeah, an episode? Did you found me listening to podcasts? You're like, Oh, yeah, yeah. And I have people who follow me like, Oh, my God, you know, you saved you saved me from losing $500,000 because that predatory distributor was gonna screw me, or those kinds of things all the time. So but as a creator, you just don't know, man. So I can imagine I understand that feeling of just putting it out there. And it really does affect people lives. For me. It's just like an interview. Like, I'm having an interview with you right now. And then I promise you somebody will just like, Oh, wait, what's that? What? Let me click on that YouTube channel, boom, all of a sudden, and they sell their boats. They sell their lives, they get a boat, and they go with a strange man. With a strange man with a strange man. Oh, no, she's a strange men. Exactly. But you don't know. But I promise you probably something like that will probably happen at one point or another, someone listening to this will happen. So it's, it's really, I always tell people, it's so important to put whatever's in your heart to put it out there. Because you just have no idea what effect it will have on another human being. It could be nothing to you. And you could say something like I say stuff on the show all the time. That to me, it's just not that's something I just it's just part of my vernacular, but it will blow someone's mind who's never heard it. And I'm assuming this, like, if I started watching your videos, if I wanted to get into boating, you'll probably save me years, FPA years of pain and suffering on how to run a boat or take one of your courses or, or you know, or something like that. It's it's pretty remarkable. It really is. Now you started once you speak regard, you started doing the YouTube channel, you started seeing there was a real thing. How did you build the audience? Or was it just strictly like I'm just going to create content? or How did you start interacting with them? How did you build that tribe? Because I called my guys the tribe as well.

Brady Trautman 19:28
I don't know our when we first started getting followers besides our parents. There was something inside of us like I knew something was I just knew it was gonna be big. Like I knew we were the first sailing YouTube channel in the world. And now there's, I don't know 10,000 or something, or I don't know how many there are, but I just knew that it was gonna go big, like, it was gonna be something big and we made kind of a rule just to only make videos that made us smile. So to be authentic to be ourselves. 100% never make A video based on a comment or, or what other people think. And and only only do it if it makes us happy. So if it ever came to a point where it was just too much and too stressful, which those times definitely came, then we had to take a step back and reassess. And that combined with the consistency is I think what grew the channel like we were releasing one episode 20 to 30 minute episode every Friday, still to this day, it's a brother scene. It's it's, it's ridiculous. And now I've been off the boat for full time for a little over a year now. And my brother and his wife and they have a baby on board now. And they're still doing it. And we have we have outside editors and stuff helping out but it's just like seeing it from the outside. Now I'm like,

Alex Ferrari 20:43
How the fuck did we do that for 10 years? Like I don't it was just 30 minutes of fresh content shot and edited every week is obscene.

Brady Trautman 20:53
The content was probably five months behind real time. Sure. So is backlog but yeah, it was every Friday 20 to 30 minute episode,

Alex Blue 21:03
sometimes maybe even longer labs every five minute episodes, double releases to try and catch up. Yeah, ridiculous.

Alex Ferrari 21:10
It's insanity. That's insanity. That's absolute insanity. Now out of sight out so you've mentioned a couple of revenue streams, you've created the YouTube advertising, which generally from my own experience on being on YouTube and just from other other youtubers I know. You got to have obscene amount of numbers to make, like people think like you're making a million a month I'm like, Dude, are you out of your mind? Like maybe in the beginning that was like it was a lot easier to make money when it started. But now you know, you got to really work to make and it's an it's not make make a living off of YouTube. Unless you've got millions of them. You got to have a lot a lot of us. So but you able to build that revenue stream? And then Patreon How did Patreon do for you guys? Is that really supported you?

Brady Trautman 21:54
Yeah, that's been the main revenue stream. By far. I mean, the ad revenue in the beginning in 2014 15. It was good. I think around 2016 it just started to drop even though our numbers grew, our ad revenue didn't really go up very much, because it was just so flooded. But Patreon yeah has continued to grow since we started it. I think we started it in 2013 is when we first started our Patreon account. And yeah, people find us on YouTube. And they watch a couple episodes. And of course, we push it in our YouTube videos like these videos are free. If you really want to support us head over to Patreon. And we give them rewards of course, t shirts, and sometimes we pick somebody's name out of a hat and they get to come sailing with us. So the rewards is it's a really cool platform. And without Patreon, I don't think we'd be where we are, we would have found a different route to continue. But I don't know if it would have been as big or successful as it is at all. We also have another revenue stream, which is really fun. Is our it's not a donation button because donation seems so like

Alex Ferrari 22:51
oh the give me buy me a beer.

Brady Trautman 22:53
Yeah, Bobby and beer. Exactly. And we came up we were sitting down having beers when this is before Patreon existed and we're like, yeah, people should like they people want to give us money. They're asking how to donate but you're like, come on, who's gonna donate to two younger dudes on a sailboat living living a great life in the South Pacific. Like, I wouldn't donate to those guys. But we we kind of formed it more in the way of if you're at a bar, and somebody tells you to good question or tells you so it tells you a good story and makes you laugh. Then you buy him a beer, right? It's like, Oh, that was a great story. Let me buy you a beer. So that's kind of how we did the whole thing. And that was a huge success. And it still is Yeah, cuz

Alex Ferrari 23:30
you guys start building out your website and yeah, I mean, all that all those kinds of things. And then obviously have some merge that you submerge and Oh, the one other other the US now do tours. You also do is you don't you have a course or like some sort of training Do you do as well,

Brady Trautman 23:48
I have a separate now like, since since we left the boat, Alex and I have started our own. I'm still part of Delos. But we're not involved in the filming or the editing of it. So we've kind of done our own thing. And instead of relying solely on YouTube to create an income, and to constantly pump out videos as much as we can. We've taken our experience of sailing around the world and all the stuff we've learned and we've made sailing school. So we're teaching, it's not through Delos, it's not through the YouTube channel. It's just something we're doing. So that way we can go back to filmmaking as a passion instead of a constant like, how are we going to make money off this next film?

Alex Ferrari 24:24
Now is that is that is that online? Is that an online course? Or is that an in person course? in person? It's an in person course. Alright, so do they fly in? And yet? Oh, wow. So I must be Yeah, solid. And then you could just film when you want to film and it's good. It's It's remarkable how you guys have been able to just figure it out in a way that like I'm just gonna keep doing what I want to do. And I'm never going to work with a man and, and just and just live the life you want to live and it's really inspiring truly, truly honestly as filmmakers and it's just a human being To be able to just I don't think you could ever get a chocolate could you get a chop? Like could sound like

Brady Trautman 25:05
why we there's no way I could get a normal job. I just don't I wouldn't know how to do it. I'd fail. I get fired probably right away.

Alex Ferrari 25:13
I always I always tell people, I'm unemployable. I think I'm psychologically unemployable. I cannot I there's no way I can have a boss. No, I get. I just got rid of my clients like three years ago. When I when I close my post, I was done. I was like, yeah, I'm done. I can't do this all full time now. And it's, it's been great. Now, you also did a documentary series called 80 degrees north. Where, because you know, this opposite, it's not enough. And of course, the Atlantic is not enough in the Indian Ocean. And you're like, well, where Haven't we gone on this planet? On the Arctic? Oh, there's that's so. So let's go up to the Arctic and do this adventure. And you did this movie called 80 degree movie, but a series called 80 degrees north. Can you tell everybody a little bit about that? That project? Good.

Alex Blue 26:02
Yep. So we have a couple of friends who are also sailors, they have more of a it's not a charter. It's kind of like a blue water ocean experience school where you can go make long ocean passages with them. And they were going to be up in small Bard for anyone who doesn't know who that is, which is good chance probably.

Alex Ferrari 26:25

Alex Blue 26:26
Yeah, it's, it's north of Norway. It's about 600 miles from the North Pole. It's a group of islands. And yeah, they're, they're very, in the in the summertime, it's 24 hours of daylight, and polar bears and all kinds of wildlife up there. And they recently have become more of a tourist attraction because a lot of the ice the pack ice the normally kind of packs them in, even in the summertime has been melting. So they had this idea they wanted to go up there, it was kind of between trips, and they invited the Dallas crew to come out and meet them, which definitely isn't something normally that the Dulles crew does, like we're always on Delos sailing around from place to place filming kind of doing our own thing. But it was an opportunity at that point where I think that everyone is pretty ready to try something new. And Delos has spent most of her life, you know, at the equator. And so everyone was like let's go see what you know, Coldwater sailing is all about. try this out. So yeah, we all flew there and hopped on their boat. They have a 40 foot swan. So it was them too. They had a ship photographer and then five of the Dallas crew came. So there's eight people on a 40 foot boat for three weeks. And we sell like 15 cameras. Oh my god, so much camera gear flying everywhere. So yeah, hopped on board with them sailed around and pretty much just filmed our experience everything from sort of what it took to prep the boat to the encounters that we had with glaciers to seeing polar bears, beluga whales, walrus, the sailing conditions, everything. And yeah, maida ended up making a four part documentary series with it.

Alex Ferrari 28:08
So I got I just want to go back to that for that scent that you said, hey, let's fly up to the Arctic and see what that's about. Again, that's something that is normally set by a normal human being. I just want to let everybody know that right there. Cuz you say it's so weird. Like, it just rolls off the tongue. I just want to stop for a second just so you're aware. That's just not the way we're normally used to living living in our underwear and bikinis in Brazil. Right? Oh, let's

Brady Trautman 28:32
try and fancy Yeah, let's do that. What a great idea. It was a great idea. It turned out to be a great idea. But looking back, it was like, we had no idea what we're getting ourselves into. It was just a completely opposite thing than what we knew and what we're used to. And I think that's why it excited us because at that point, when you're constantly filming your life every day and and editing the same footage, you kind of you don't get burned out, so to speak, but it's not as you're not as passionate about showing it anymore. You're like, Okay, get it doing the same thing we've done 200 times getting in the dinghy go into an island. So the idea of going to the Arctic someplace we've never been with totally different conditions, reignited our passion for filming and exploration. And we knew we wanted to do something different with it than the YouTube channel. Like we didn't want to have it just a normal Friday release and one of the time grows is filmmakers and just learn more and try different things. So we spent a ton of time it took us about two years to finish editing it and we did tons of interviews and yeah, so full on little mini series.

Alex Ferrari 29:33
That's That's awesome, dude. And I was gonna say, I don't know how you guys edit yourselves for over a decade because if it wasn't for me talking to other people, I can do this. Like I could not edit my source My life is boring as hell, but nothing nearly as cool as you guys do. But like just seeing myself all the time and doing the same thing after like, it might be cool for a little bit but after a while, like you said like okay, we get The thing again, we're gonna go to the, you know, I know everyone everyone watching is like, Oh my god, but for us, it's like, you know, like, Okay,

Brady Trautman 30:08
before she joined Bella, she was behind the camera like, 100% of the time. And she got on the boat until Africa. And there's a camera in her face. And she's like, Oh, so that was the last thing for you to get used to. Right?

Alex Blue 30:19
Yeah, I think it's actually there's a lot of value in you know, people always say if they have to listen to voicemail that they leave or, you know, watch a video clip of themselves. And they, they're like, I hate my voice, or I hate the way I look. And for me, it was really, really interesting. Because Yeah, I'd always been behind the camera and but there's a lot of value, even though it's straight up sucks. And it's really hard to like, watch yourself on camera, you realize a lot of I realized two things, I realized things about myself that I never realized before, from not new perspective that I wanted to change. And then I realized things that maybe you know, weren't perfect about me. But that's who made me who I was. And I was never going to change those things. So it actually really helped me grow as a person and see myself from, you know, someone else's point of view. And I think I became a better person for it from it. But it's, it's brutal.

Alex Ferrari 31:10
Most human beings go the other way. They go like, Oh, my God, this sucks. I'm just a horrible, I can't do this. And it just you don't find the positives or even the constructive. You just look at the negative. I took me years before I can listen to myself, like I know. Now I've got a little more accustomed to listen to my voice. But all was proved. It took me forever to get on. It took me forever to skim. If you if you go to my YouTube channel, the first videos, it's all just audio, I just threw up the audio. I just took me like two, three years before I started putting myself on video. I just I'm like, Oh, I want to be buying the camera. I don't want to do it. So it is brutal. It's brutal. So I tip I tip my hat to you guys, for doing it for as long as you have. Now the really interesting thing about 80 degrees north is that you have a very unique distribution model. And how is that working for you? And what is it?

Brady Trautman 31:57
Yeah, it's actually turned out we took a big risk, and it worked out very well for us. Luckily, when we first Yeah, when we first started editing this thing together. And we had three parts and four parts and we knew it wasn't going to go on YouTube. I started reaching out to you know, distribute distribution networks. I started listening to your podcasts like what other avenues other What do people do? I started talking to aggregators, I talked to people at all the major streaming networks that I won't name but all you know all the big ones that are out there. It's a short list. Yeah, yeah. And the most common thing that I heard back from them was where where's the arguing? Like, where's the drama where I'm like, we're fucking sailing in the Arctic, we have to carry a rifle. Because polar bears can attack us for protection. Like, is that not enough for you? Like it's not enough drama, you really need to the Alice to throw like they just wanted like, they're like, when did the crew argue? You know, if you argue with your brother, there had to be eight people on a 48 foot. You had to have argued? Like no, like, we didn't actually it was perfect. We didn't have any arguments. We didn't have any disagreements. So

Alex Ferrari 32:59
they were they were looking for the housewives of the Arctic is basically Yeah, no. Don't make a spoof of that now. Oh, my God, oh, Housewives of the Arctic

Brady Trautman 33:10
glaciers, beluga whales. Let's just you guys argue in a small space. It was a I don't know, it was a wake up call and a turn off really because as a as an independent filmmaker or something you feel like getting on one of those streaming platforms is like this is that's where you want to go. That's you get in front of so many people. And it's almost like a notch on your belt. But then I realized that we have such a cool, dedicated audience already, like our YouTube following our Instagram accounts, everybody is so engaged and so interested in what we're doing, we realize that no matter where we release it, people will want to watch. So instead of Yeah, instead of going with the streaming platforms or, or even charging, like on amazon prime, where you charge a certain amount for the for the episodes, we decided to give the people the choice and how much they wanted to pay. So we did a pay what's fair model, who built their own website, put up a trailer of it at North series.com is where it's all at, which is a podcast and people started hearing about it and then there's a little box where you can go and you type in whatever amount you want. And then you get to watch you get to stream all four parts of the series for as long as you

Alex Ferrari 34:22
have to ask you I mean, I don't want like accounting but like what's the average? Let's see. I was $15.35 Wow for two visitors and almost a little bit over two hours that the full series if I'm not mistaken.

Brady Trautman 34:35
Yeah, yep. So it's about 30 minutes so it's Yeah, a little over two hours. So I thought more people would watch. I mean, I'll tell you the amount of people that have watched it is right around 14,000 people right now are sorry that I paid 14,000 people

Alex Ferrari 34:50
so you can do this amazing.

Brady Trautman 34:52
It's great. We were able to cover our production costs like the flights of the crew, all the camera gear you know, all the all the stuff that goes into that. But it didn't reach as many people as I thought it would. Because we get, you know, in our in our YouTube channel, we get close to two to 300,000 views in a week span, like from the first Friday release. So it's a small percentage of people that are watching, but they're actually paying more than I thought, maybe I thought it would be 100,000 people or they pay $4.

Alex Ferrari 35:20
But I'll tell you getting 14,000 people off of a 200,000 like audience is a massive amount of conversion. That's it. Yeah. Really massive. And at that price point that you're talking about, is massive, because I've seen guys who have guys and gals who've got a million. And like, if they can get, if they get 10,000 off of a million, it's you're you're winning, it's again. So that's a that's a really big conversion. That says a lot about the passion of your audience. Now, you know, when I saw the pay to play model, I was like, Okay, this sounds great. But without an audience, this is really a tough sell. This is a hot, you know, if you if you got nobody, and it's only your mom and your uncle and maybe your best, and all the actors, or all the crew, people's parents and friends, yeah. This is this the pay, it's not going to really work. So it's so important. I've been yelling at this from the top of the mountain for so long, building that audience, connecting with that audience, and then feeding that audience, giving that audience what they want, providing a service to them, through your videos, through your services, through your products, through everything that you create. And you didn't go off and make you know, a movie about the carnival. or running off with a circus. You didn't make that movie because that movie wouldn't sell to your audience, maybe maybe a handful who just want to like, Did Davos, just join the circus. Which, by the way, would probably be an interesting documentary. It's a documentary but but you focused on the niche and you stayed within that niche, which is a niche you love. And you've maintained your life livelihood for the last decade by doing what you love. And isn't that every filmmakers dream?

Brady Trautman 37:06
I think so I never thought I would be a filmmaker or make documentary films. And then it just kind of came to fruition by necessity, I guess then yeah, it's 100% energy, my talk to a lot of other YouTubers, a lot of people that have YouTube chat sailing YouTube channels. And it's always the same question like, how do you create revenue from your YouTube channel or for making films, and it's so hard, it's really hard. And that's why we're really grateful to have such a good audience. And that audience was born out of going back to what I said before, being authentic, and just being ourselves. And you can see, you know what, the minute somebody is fake or does something to think that audience will like or something for money, the audience can see it right away, like the viewers will notice right away. And they'll be like, Okay, this person's not not real. They're only doing it for these reasons. So being authentic, really helped us all the way through, even for this documentary series, because people really stood behind us. And they're like, yeah, screw those guys trying to make you argue, do your own thing, and we're happy to support it.

Alex Ferrari 38:06
Now, did you just do you guys do sponsors as well? Or no?

Brady Trautman 38:10
No, no, we do. We do like gear sponsors and stuff. We don't do any big paid sponsorships? We've kind of stayed away from all that. If somebody wants to send us something like a dinghy or or sales, and we use it organically in the YouTube series, then awesome. It'll show up, like, organically, we don't have to blatantly put it out there. So we've never actually done really big paid partnerships. And for the at North series, we didn't do anything. No,

Alex Ferrari 38:35
no. Is there? Is there any reason? Would there have been a partner in the at North series that might have been a good like a maybe a couple brands or something like that, that would have aligned with your message of what you're trying to do? And help that also help pay for it? Yeah, I mean, the whole the whole series is pretty much alley hands and commercial. Yeah.

Alex Blue 38:54
We had a, we had a pro deal with Helly. Hansen. And yeah, we got like, 50% off. Yeah. And none of us had any snow gear or anything. We all a bikini, so we had to get literally fully fitted out all of our gear, all of our valleys and Helly Hansen. So like Brady said, the whole thing is a Helly. Hansen, essentially, but I mean, yeah, maybe if we tried to work it before, but at the end, it's like, well, it's already there. So yeah. Look what we did, it's already released.

Alex Ferrari 39:22
Do you want to give us money? Give us some money now for it. Now, what do you guys what do you guys planning in the future? I mean, obviously, obviously, this season, you're going to be at Lake Tahoe and sailing. I'm assuming you're doing courses or training. Now. You're gonna be doing that this summer. So what's up next for you guys now?

Alex Blue 39:40
Yeah, so Well, actually, me and Brady had the the idea of starting our new business, the cruisers Academy, which is the sailing school, when we were still on Delos. We really like teaching people. And yeah, like Brady said, just take a little bit of pressure off the filmmaking so that we can kind of you know, Enjoy it again. Not put so much not not put so much pressure on it. So yeah, so doing the sailing school and our original idea with it was to teach people how to live on boats how to cross oceans, Offshore Sailing, yeah, how to provision for six months at a time. And that still is our goal. But you know, given the last year and the travel restrictions and everything, we just decided to keep it local on taho. So we're kind of getting the Tahoe chapter set up. But we also are in the works of buying a blue water boat that can sail around the world. So we're going to be hopefully buying that boat this summer, and expanding the cruisers Academy to the ocean side as well. And then yes, still making films. We actually just got back from a dive trip in the Galapagos Islands for weeks. He told me

Brady Trautman 40:49
how was that? Like? It's like everything you see on Discovery Channel. There really is it's not? We're Galapagos

Alex Ferrari 40:57
is we're off of South America. Ecuador, right? Yeah. Yeah. It's off of Ecuador. Yeah,

Alex Blue 41:01
it's actually right at the equator. So yeah, we're diving with schooling, hammerheads out there and sea lions all around the streets, like, you know, dogs and everything like that. So we shot about four terabytes between the two of us two weeks. And that's going to be Yeah, the next film project that we put together, again, not putting a huge amount of pressure on when we're going to get it done. But hopefully by the end of summer, we'll have either some kind of long format product from it, or a few different episodes on our new cruisers Academy YouTube channel, but pretty much just still doing sailing and filming, but switching it up the amounts that we're doing of it, I guess.

Brady Trautman 41:38
Yeah, it was the first time this Galapagos trip was the first time we really picked up our cameras. And we're so intense with filming in about a year. When we when we left Delos and came to Tahoe, we kind of put our cameras down and we're like, okay, let's take a break from filming everything all the time. And then this Galapagos trip, we were right back in it with all of our cameras. So it felt really good. And it was like rejuvenating to film again, and be creative behind the camera. So I'm excited to see what comes in the footage. We haven't looked at any of it yet. But I think it'll be pretty cool. If it's not if we don't get cool footage from that trip, then we should not have ever again. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 42:13
All you gotta do is basically just turn it on and expose it. You should be take the lens cap off, and you should pretty much good.

Brady Trautman 42:20
So yeah. And then apart from the sailing school, we did because we've kind of branched off of Delos, because like I said, my brother and his wife and baby are still on board doing that. So we started our own YouTube channel called Crusaders Academy, same name as the sailing school. And that's what we'll be posting our short little stuff like, like, we're not going to do stuff once a week, like we talked about before. But whenever it's just a place for us to release our creative energy and to film and to edit stuff, but not in any way. Trying to turn it into a big business.

Alex Ferrari 42:50
Right, just just enough to kind of keep the ball rolling, just to keep the ball Yeah, and that's the thing a lot of a lot of filmmakers always think you know, that you have to be, you know, living in the Hollywood Hills making millions and millions of dollars as a filmmaker or as a YouTuber. And at the end of the day, like, is your is your is your roof paid for? Is your free pay for? Like, you know, can you buy a couple nice things if you need to go to the Can you go on a trip? You're living the dream, man. Like if you're making you know, even more importantly, do

Brady Trautman 43:21
you enjoy what you're doing? That's a huge value cleaning a lot of people forget about is maybe you can get a job paying double what you'd make for yourself, but that value of enjoying eight hours a day, 10 hours a day doing what you're doing is worth way more than double your salary.

Alex Ferrari 43:37
Oh, that's huge.

Alex Blue 43:39
And so are you proud of what you're making? You know, like, it's so fun to be able to go to the Galapagos and film exactly what we want edit it together exactly how we want like, we're the final. Like when I worked for production houses when I was first getting going in video, I just remember making an edit on something and someone coming in and telling me to change it to some horrible way. I was like, I cannot do this. This is literally ripping my soul out of my body. And that was when I decided like I'm making my own things and I'll make way less money but I'll be so much happier and yeah, it's a good path. Oh, trust me.

Alex Ferrari 44:17
I was in post for 25 years all I know I did everything so I Oh dude, dude, I direct and then I would do post that my post was like my day job. So like I always had post to pay the bills and then I would go off and direct stuff. But man all from color grading, editing post supervising VFX ah

Brady Trautman 44:39
brutal, brutal, brutal. A lot of a lot of your listeners are in those fields. Now.

Alex Ferrari 44:44
They're like, they're like, damn it. Damn it. Hey, but some people love that. Like I've interviewed I've interviewed Academy Award winning editors who are just like love that collaborative process. I'm too much of an entrepreneur. I'm too much of my own boss. I like collaborating, but I can't, I can't man. And as you get older, and I think you guys can feel this, as you get older the tolerance just actually go down of what you're gonna put up the shit that you'll put up with, it just starts, because you'll put up with a lot of 22. But a 32, things start getting different at 42, things get really different. And that's why you see the 82 year old guy walking out with his with his underwear half off his shirt to pick up the paper in his eye, he doesn't care. He's done, done. Now, I'm gonna ask a few questions asked all my guests, what advice would you give a filmmaker tried to break into the business today?

Alex Blue 45:41
I think it's interesting, because the business has changed so much from what it traditionally used to be. And there's so many different things that you can do within filmmaking, whether you're interested in writing or directing, or editing or, you know, filming or vlogging, you know, is a huge new one. So I think it really depends. But, as we've said multiple times over the last hour, I think staying true to yourself, even if there's less of an immediate reward is the way to go. And you know, in the long run, you're you're really shaping your your career path. As you go every job you take every client, you take every decision you make every project you work on, that's going to lead you to your next step. And if you can make good choices and kind of make sacrifices along the way to stay true to yourself, I think that's going to get you to where you want to go.

Brady Trautman 46:32
Yeah, for sure. I think besides like what I said about being authentic, it depends. If you're behind the camera, and you're on a set, you know, you're not filming yourself, you're not creating a vlog but for for a filmmaker that has total control over everything, to be authentic, and do what makes you happy. Like I've said many times during this, but also, I think a lot of people nowadays, especially in the YouTube world get caught up on the most expensive gear and the craziest transitions and, and stuff like that. And you're just like, just tell the story. At the end of the day, like that's what it's all about is is editing something that makes somebody else feel something on the other side of the screen and focus on that, like I've followed some people that film their YouTube channel with like iPhones the whole time. And it's incredible because they are who they are. And it's it's not very cinematic, but it's real. And they're great storytellers. So focus on that first and not the big effects and the big cameras in the transition the slides.

Alex Ferrari 47:31
I like the star wife personally, that's just made up stocks. Fantastic. Let's do one finds all the blinds the blah you could do it this way if you're if you're fancy you could do it angled wise this way. Yeah. Oh, hey, let's not get crazy man. That's like that's actually that cost a little extra? Yes to start wipe. Fantastic. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life? lesson to learn? That's a tough question. You're both looking over to your right. So I guess the answer is over there. That's just a window. That's a beautiful window. It's because I was wondering are the answers there?

Brady Trautman 48:14
The first thing that popped into my head with taxes. I wish I learned all that shit earlier. Like, I still don't get it. I still .

Alex Ferrari 48:25
Dude. We were just talking about that. You know, California. Hey, man, taxes. It's like the second and that's the second highest second or third highest place to live after New York and New Jersey. As far as taxes are. It's insane. It's insane. It's insane. But you know what remaining? Yeah, thanks. Thank you so much, sir. Hey, man, hey, I'm with you. But I'm still I'm still on this boat. I'm still in this boat. Sir. I am still in this boat for the time being. But you know what, that is probably one of the best answers I've heard on the show. taxes, learn taxes, learn accounting, what everything does and how to do stuff. How to deduct, how to legally deduct, like, I'd love to. I'd love to see your itemized list like, Oh, yeah, everything. Everything is deductible, everything, food, the whole thing. It's all part of the show about you, Alex.

Alex Blue 49:16
Let's see. I think something that I've learned is that when you find good people, like treat them right and do what you need to do to hold on to them. I think that one of the hardest things about being an entrepreneur probably no matter what business you're in, even if it's not filmmaking is that it's hard to find another one of you, you know, and if you can find someone like that, they are worth their weight in gold and like, you know, make sacrifices to keep them on board and keep them happy and value them because, you know, together you can do way way more than you can separately. So that's that's a big thing that I've learned and something that I am definitely going to carry through As we start this, this new venture,

Alex Ferrari 50:02
and three of your favorite films of all time.

Alex Blue 50:06

Brady Trautman 50:08
that's a really good question two out the window. What do we got?

Alex Blue 50:14
I really went by the ones that I've watched the most. I'm going to go old school and save 10 Things I Hate About You like Heath Ledger five years and put it on and still no, like every word that movies I had. I remember how to like I recorded it off TV on like a VHS tape when I was little and I used to watch it all.

Alex Ferrari 50:32
I don't know what I don't know what VHS is our way to that.

Brady Trautman 50:41
The first one that comes to my mind is The Goonies it's always holds a special. My heart sounds probably a classic that many people say The Goonies Yeah,

Alex Blue 50:49
there's actually Yeah, one of my favorite films, also, like independently made it's called chasing bubbles. And it's about an absolute legend named Alex rest. I think you can watch it for free on YouTube. Go watch it and just be prepared, you're going to want to like sell everything and buy a boat after it. But it's so worth a watch. It's really really good.

Brady Trautman 51:11
Yeah, Chasing bubbles. That's a good one. Um,

Alex Ferrari 51:16
one more.

Brady Trautman 51:17
That's really tough.

Alex Blue 51:18
I have one more I have one more. It's actually a film about the wild mustangs in the US, but it's called on branded. I read horses and I have a Mustang. But even if you don't, the film is really, really well made. And it tells the whole story of Mustangs and it's about these cowboys that actually go get wild horses and put a little bit of training on him and ride them from all the way up the PCT from Mexico to Canada. so crazy story. really well done. Go watch it.

Alex Ferrari 51:47
Wow. I see that you is which one? Yes series. Of course.

Brady Trautman 51:54
Probably not original, and everybody probably loves it. But I've watched It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia like 10 times over. Like I put it on I'm going to bed in the morning. I don't know he's got to just geniuses.

Alex Ferrari 52:05
The the two shows that I do that too. And that's also not originalist. Seinfeld and friends. Like I'll just I was I was just watching Seinfeld the other day. And I'm like, so good. It's just so good. I can't I can't believe they got away with this stuff they got away with. And then I and then my daughters now are obsessed with friends. They're, they're like young, like super young. And they just sometimes you're like, no, that's not appropriate. It's not appropriate, and appropriate. But now like it was so funny, Jennifer Aniston we watched Marley and me the other day, and they go, is that is that Rachel from friends? I'm like, my wife and I both looked at each other. Like, we've done something right or wrong. I'm not sure what it is. We don't know. Yeah, we don't know. Something. And where can people find out more about what you guys are doing and follow you guys.

Brady Trautman 52:55
The best thing is cruisers Academy. So you can find that on Instagram cruisers Academy or YouTube search cruisers Academy, or cruisers academy.com for a sailing school. So if anybody's interested in coming up to Tahoe and sailing, we're pretty booked up. But we'll find some space to do some charters and whatever, just stay in touch. So cruisers Academy on all platforms, is the best to stay in touch.

Alex Blue 53:16
And also Brady mentioned it before, but 80 North series.com if you did want to watch the docu series that we made about our adventures in the Arctic.

Alex Ferrari 53:27
Yeah, very cool. And we're looking forward to the Galapagos series coming soon. Well, maybe not that soon. Because you guys will take by two years to come into

Brady Trautman 53:35
It will come when it's supposed to come.

Alex Ferrari 53:39
As, as a true filmmaker, as a true record filmmaker would say, guys, thank you so much for being on the show you are an inspiration on how to live life to its fullest and follow the dream follow the bliss and you guys are definitely examples of that. So thank you so much for being on the show, guys.

Brady Trautman 53:54
Thank you so much for having us. It was really nice.

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BPS 294: The Essentials of Screenwriting with Pilar Alessandra

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Alex Ferrari 1:35
Enjoy today's episode with guest host Jason Buff.

Jason Buff 1:40
On today's episode I'm going to be talking with Pilar Alessandra about screenwriting. I just read her book, the coffee break screenwriter, and I mean, it's it's an amazing book, it's got all kinds of activities you can do to kind of jumpstart your creativity and start really figuring out what your screenplay is about and what the characters are, you know, what their motivations are, what they want in the story, I really enjoyed it. And it's got a lot of stuff that I haven't seen another screen or there's a million screenwriting books, and I try to read as many as I can. And this one had a lot of great new stuff in it, so I highly recommend it. Here's my interview with the amazing Pilar Alessandra, like a typical workweek for you like what I mean, are you do you have like a pile of screenplays that you are going through? Are you talking with screenwriters on the phone, what what's kind of your world like there?

Pilar Alessandra 2:26
My world is a little bit busy, I wouldn't recommend it to everybody. Unless you're, you want to commit to workaholism. I consult on two scripts a day. And I run Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, I run for different private writers groups this is these are things I actually don't advertise, they're made up of writers that I've picked out of clients that I think that are really at a certain level with their writing, and are also good and good in a room. So I run those private writing groups, four times a week. And then I also have six week classes that I teach currently teaching one on Saturdays 1230 to 330. And that's those tend to be first draft classes. And then I also do rewrite weekends and the occasional specialty class. I'm very, very excited because I'm also teaching TV class about every two months now. And it's usually a one day intensive. And then when I'm not doing that, I'm really lucky I get to travel and, and teaching other countries. And recently just got back from South Africa, which was amazing. I got to spend five days with an animation company called Trigger Fish, and 35 writers from all over Africa. So that was really cool. No,

Jason Buff 3:48
Is that ever intimidating to you? I mean, do you? You kind of pinch yourself and say, you know,

Pilar Alessandra 3:55
Yeah. Like every time I'm invited somewhere, I just think that they've just sent that email to the wrong person.

Jason Buff 4:02
Impostor syndrome.

Pilar Alessandra 4:04
Yeah, we kind of go through that for a little bit like, well, you know, there's, you know, like, no, no, you so, so yeah, I'm very, very lucky. And it's really cool. So, so yeah, I work really hard. But it's a it's a great job.

Jason Buff 4:20
So working with creative people, do you? Is there something that they have in common that they're looking for that they need in terms of they have a certain way of thinking they have a certain way of wanting to create and want to write, but they just need somebody to come in and organize their thought or something like that?

Pilar Alessandra 4:38
I think I think everybody wants to know, are they expressing their intention? They had this idea in their head or they had this person in their mind or they had this amazing scene. Is it there? And then one of the reasons I call this on the page, my business was because it really all came down to was it there was it on the page? It can it can live in your mind. Um, you can help a director brings it out or an actor, but if it's not on the page, then it's just not working. So that's what everybody wants to know. Am I seeing it? Is it there? Will audiences see it? And if it's not there, then we talk about what's the best way to express that so that they can get their intention.

Jason Buff 5:18
One of the things that I've had to learn over the years was okay, where's my talent? What am I good at? What can I you know, I can see, when I write I kind of see scenes, I see it. And it's almost a way of like, taking dictation, putting it on the page and saying, Okay, I've got a movie. Now, how do I take that movie and then structure it right and put it right, so that what I'm actually seeing is what I'm conveying to people, you know?

Pilar Alessandra 5:42
Right. And then there's the tricky part. Because if what you're seeing is sort of a list of things, I see things, I see that I see the other thing that can get monotonous and it can feel cuttable. But if you phrase it in a way, you know, I see it and it looks like this thing. You know, if you're using a simile that works for you, or a metaphor that people don't, don't appreciate, I think how how, how much screenwriters are writers, they have to find the right phrase, in order to convey visually, what's in their head. Because they're a list of things doesn't work. It has to be a sometimes just concise sentence. So so we're choices is everything. Ah, work,

Jason Buff 6:27
It seems like a lot, you can take a lot of liberties with certain things when it comes to kind of making your vision come to life. And I was wondering what you thought about that in terms of just do you find that there's a lot of as long as they're getting their vision through? They can kind of play with that?

Pilar Alessandra 6:44
Yes, if it's readable, it's working. If it doesn't make the reader stop, to notice the format, or look at the page number it's working. People are so hung up on, you know, is there am I doing the correct format, but I really believe over the years it has loosened up. Because at the stage that you're submitting your script, it's for people to grasp on to the story and characters, and then start pushing it upwards. So if that's not coming through, if they're not completely involved, it's not gonna go anywhere. They're not going to pass on it because you did some kind of incorrect formatting. They're gonna pass it, they're bored. So yeah, even. That's my call waiting, sorry.

Jason Buff 7:33
Everybody will just assume you use some bad language there. So

Pilar Alessandra 7:38
It'd be really funny if it just kept

Jason Buff 7:40
Okay, let's try to keep it on the table here.

Pilar Alessandra 7:45
Don't worry. Even David trotty, a, he wrote the screenwriters Bible, and he's, he's known lovingly as Dr. format. You know, he's, he's, over the years, said as much, you know, if it's working on the page, if it's, you know, the things the objects you want noticed are being noticed, and the visuals are coming through. And the dialogue is clear, and you're working down the page with, with a certain pace, it's working.

Jason Buff 8:14
One of the biggest things that I remember was when I was in my younger years, I re read, you know, Shane Black screenplay for lethal weapon, which is kind of like what everybody has to read when they're first starting out. And it just blew me away, like, you know, even noting parts of it, where it was like, you know, that he was in the kind of house that I would buy if I sold the screenplay, and like, all these little things that he put in, just to kind of keep people interested. And it just seems like in the good screenplays that I've read, it's all about just keeping people's attention. You know, building that tension, making sure that every, every scene has a reason to be there, and everything is pulling you in and just affecting you versus some of the more amateurish things that I used to read, which was, you would just have people talking and dialogue that kind of went nowhere, and people would be creating a world but they wouldn't necessarily be creating a story.

Pilar Alessandra 9:03
No, I totally agree with you. And, you know, fortunately, I think writers have, there's so much more out there now for them as far as resources go, that they know now, that di unit, just hanging it on dialog is not the way to go. There. The scripts that I've read over the years have gotten better and better and better. And the bad news is, that means your competition is getting is also getting better. So now when people sort of when it's not good, what people so now when it's not working page wise, it's not so much because people are hanging it on amateur. Late sorry, I'm getting a little tired. It's not that people are getting amateur in their writing. It's that they sometimes they're just is actually too full of bells and whistles now.

Alex Ferrari 10:04
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Pilar Alessandra 10:13
Now, it's like, I'm not going to tell you the story. I'm gonna go to a really cool flash forward. Now I'm gonna go back in time, and I'm gonna go from somebody else's point of view, I switched genres. I'm so clever. And so when that starts happening, that's sometimes what I see is screwing things up, not because you shouldn't be inventive, because you should, but because they're throwing all the cool spaghetti against the wall. And it just feels like spaghetti against the wall,

Jason Buff 10:42
Kind of the Michael Bay version of a screenplay.

Pilar Alessandra 10:46
I think what Michael Bay does, you know, he commits to, I don't know what they want, like if they if you know, the right No, Michael Bay movie, five committed to it. But if you're writing a Michael Bay movie, but it's half that, and it's half Tarantino, you know, and it's also a super indie at the same time. It's like, okay, make up your mind. It's that kind of spaghetti method. That could be a problem.

Jason Buff 11:09
Yeah, well, I remember when when I was in film school Tarantino was it Tarantino, it really just come out when I think Pulp Fiction was out. And Reservoir Dogs came out, I think when I was a sophomore, and it was funny, because, you know, I was taking a screenwriting class and every single person in that class started writing Quentin Tarantino screenplays, you know, and they had the dialogue between two guys that was kind of like, didn't really have anything to do with anything. And there was something kind of, you know, in the background that you were supposed to add, they just kind of missed the point of that and just went for the the funny dialogue versus it's funny dialogue, because you know, something bad is gonna happen. It builds that tension, you know, the kind of Hitchcock way of showing you something bad's gonna happen, and then having people do stuff, you know, they would just forget about that part.

Pilar Alessandra 11:53
Yeah, you've totally just nailed why that scene works, which is, it gets our defenses down, you think, wow, these are just two guys who were just talking about this guy, fun stuff. And then when you see the blow of the scene, which is, you know, they're on their way to kill a roomful of people. That is what that scene is about. That's why it has to be there. And you're right after that, people wrote a million copies. And I read them all because I was at the time, and they didn't have any reason for being there. They were just clever. And, and, you know, cleverness, without context without a connecting to anything. You know, it's a cute scene, but it, it feels, it kind of wrecks the screenplay feels out of place.

Jason Buff 12:46
Now I want to I want to step back a little bit and talk about your time at Amblin. And working with Amblin. And DreamWorks. And that's that period. And so if we can just go back in time a little bit,

Pilar Alessandra 12:59
Way back, and oh, my goodness,

Jason Buff 13:01
Well, I can't let it go. Because I'm a huge Spielberg into Mecca span,

Pilar Alessandra 13:06
You know, I first took on the job because it was really cool job. It was like, Oh, wow, this would be great. You know, I can, I can work from home and I can do the other things I was interested in and hanging out with my friends. But my work on workaholism, you know, soon. Soon got in my way, where I was reading tons of scripts for them. When I first started, it was the heyday of Amblin. Jurassic Park had just hit Schindler's List. And, you know, everybody was feeling really good about the content. And it was a real or sort of happy go lucky place. If I remember, right, I was in like MIT. And you could show up and on Friday, people were, you know, having a beer and, you know, it felt like, even high five. Yeah, you know, you go in every day, and the place looks a lot like the Flintstone compound to me, you know, these cute little hatches, and yeah, it was, it was it was pretty amazing.

Jason Buff 14:10
I think I remember seeing that and like a Barbara Walters special or something. Because, yeah, they had all the Jurassic Park stuff around and dinosaurs.

Pilar Alessandra 14:18
Yes. And it was it was such a cool place to be working in 20s. You know, I was like, wow, this is this is awesome. And I was definitely learning on the job. You know, I made some screw ups. But I also had, you know, a couple creative executives who really thought I knew story and, you know, would would, you know, give me some of their more trusted work and over there once you were trusted, and were working your butt off, you know, used to also start doing notes on existing projects. So that was interesting for me too. As a reader, what you're usually doing is going If yes or no, as somebody who's doing notes, you're saying, Well, of course, because it's a project. And this is what you can do about it, this is how you can make it better, which is very much the kind of work that I do now. And when it became DreamWorks you know, I got to be senior story analyst one of the one of a couple of senior story analysts, which really just met work harder. And, and then when Bob Zemeckis did have a deal with DreamWorks, and he was on a lot, for a while there, I was sort of reading a sort of a go between between both companies. It was interesting, just tons and tons and tons of content that was coming my way. And I was really getting, I think, pretty good at homing in on what made a script exciting, and and where it might not work for the executives I was working for. And that was what led me to create a bunch of writing tools that I used in classes and became the root of my book. But it was a great learning experience.

Jason Buff 16:11
Where were most of the screenplays coming from where they just people that were submitting screenplays or where they

Pilar Alessandra 16:18
It was all the big agencies of the time. CAA ICM, really Morris? APA, just just, uh, you know, the big ones, which I can't always say, in my opinion from, from reading somebody's scripts over the years is necessarily always a good thing. Because since, you know, since that work, and now that I've been on my own for so many years, and I've read so many writers who aren't represented or represented by smaller agencies, I have to say, I think sometimes the studios are missing out, because there are some wonderful work out there, that that isn't wrapped by a big shiny agency. And, and, you know, that's where a lot of unique voices are. So, you know, I've read some, I would say, over the years, even better stuff than I read back then,

Jason Buff 17:18
Do you think it's important for writers to try to get an agent so that they can get into that world?

Pilar Alessandra 17:24
Yeah, unfortunately, it still is, because you still need somebody who can champion your work and have the connections that can that can reach out for you. So yes, you still want to try very, very hard to get an agent or these days a manager, because a manager manages your entire career, and may understand that you have more than just one sellable project that maybe you have something that would be good as a writing sample, to get you work or to staff you up, or maybe you have an incredible play that needs to get get out there, or a web series. So that's what a manager does is, tries to get you out on all kinds of levels, an agent that turns around and tries to sell a script.

Jason Buff 18:07
Okay. Now, when you were reading the screenplays, would you Was there any? Is there any sort of moment when you would kind of know that it wasn't a good screenplay? I mean, is there a typical pattern that you would see in terms of you know, a screenplay arrives, you start reading it, and then you start seeing maybe like red flags?

Pilar Alessandra 18:28
Well, you know, there's something that happens in the second act. And it happened then. And it happens now, where I'll read something, it has a really strong first act, it has a great concept, but I kind of call it spinning its wheels in the second act, it doesn't really know what to do with that concept. And it starts playing one trick over and over again, and you start going, Okay, I've been here before, can we get can we get out of here? You know, can we get out of this mud and know that it's just spinning its wheels. And if it just sort of fails to ever sort of cleverly get out of there. Then usually that's that's that is a problem that I see. Sometimes, the problem is actually the third act where everything has been sort of interesting and fun and games. And you know, it's trucking along in the second half, but then there's no clever. There isn't a clever resolution. There's just sort of achieving resolution, you know, they get the treasure, they get the girl they live happily ever after. But there wasn't an interesting way of getting that treasure or the girl are living happily ever after. And the writers just hoping that the audience will be okay with that. And I don't think audiences like to be cheated out of a third act. So, so that could be a problem as well.

Jason Buff 19:46
It seems like a lot of times, screenwriters will keep setting up things and setting up things and making things like oh, well, I'm going to throw something in, it's going to make you it'll pull you into the story and make you more interested but it's not paid off at the end. There's nothing that it really leads to.

Alex Ferrari 20:02
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Pilar Alessandra 20:11
You're absolutely right. I think too, that's sort of the secret to coming up with a clever ending is mining, whatever you created in the first half. And so writers get stuck because they think that they have to come up with something completely out of thin air. And it's like, no, just look, look behind you. What did you invent along the way, the smallest thing could be an incredible payoff. And I think when we see thrillers that work for us, or even romantic comedies that work for us, they're often pulling from something that we didn't expect, but it was there, it was there, it was right in front of our nose. And then they use that to their advantage. In in, in the resolution. And that's what I teach in class. And I find that, you know, I'm constantly surprised when somebody does do it. Well, in a great script, I'm like, Ah, that was a great payoff. And in when I was working for the studios, that would get passed upwards. And now that I'm not, it's it I do see those scripts move on to success.

Jason Buff 21:12
Now, one of the things that full disclosure is that, you know, I'm, I've been working on a screenplay for the last two months, and I got your book in order to, to talk to you about it, you know, and I actually when I once I started reading it, it kind of blew me away, because it's exactly the kind of thing that I need, because I'm a very disorganized all over the place kind of person. And I absolutely love the concept of just being able to have somebody guide you through and say, Okay, let's focus on what's the logline. What's the idea? What's this? And what you know, talking about the third act, one of the things that completely made the screenplay, about 100 times better was the concept of working backwards from the third act. And it was just like, it was so great. Yeah,

Pilar Alessandra 22:01
TV writing. And, you know, over the years, my work has changed from just screen, just dealing with screenwriters, I would say half and half of it is it's TV. And that particular exercise works really well for TV writers too. Because if you're plot, plotting out TV, your ACT breaks or everything. And when you're figuring out your TV show, you need to think about act break backwards. So let's say you have five acts, if you ask, what is it, you know, what's my act break going to be? And then do that kind of work of well, how did I get there that will help you figure out how to tell your story. So so I'm very glad that worked for you. Because I do think that it, it is something that can help people in outlining, especially if they're not outline, or

Jason Buff 22:50
How long do you think people should be outlining before they actually jump in. I mean, one of the things that I have found for myself is I'll go through and I'll try to get everything together. But I'll still have a lot of scenes that I haven't worked out. And then once I start writing, it almost becomes like this improvisation, you know, and I want to make sure that I have the tracks laid out and I can kind of stay there. But I kind of go into these wild ideas, all of a sudden, I'll invent a character over here, and I'll have this happen over there. And it's like, oh, wait a second, I gotta get better. You know, I'm going off a little bit. But it's also good, I think to have that first draft out there. So you can just start generating all those ideas. You know,

Pilar Alessandra 23:30
I think what you said is perfect. I am not a believer, and 25 Page outlines, I think all you've done then is spend time on a 25 page outline where you could have been writing your screenplay. So in classes and in the book, it's very much what you just said, I provide a blueprint, so that you can see big picture with your with your screenplay or with your TV, pilot. And then as you're writing, I think you're right, sometimes the characters go a place you didn't expect. Now, if they're starting to go in a place that could completely modify that outline and you like it, go back into the blueprint, adjust it a little bit so that you can see what that butterfly effect is going to be. And then okay, you've got a new blueprint to work with, and go from there. But but your outline should be something that is changeable. Because I agree your writing is going to change that story as you go you sometimes to never really know until you're actually writing it.

Jason Buff 24:35
Do you find that people when they're writing their first draft tend to say, Oh, wait, wait, wait, I had an idea. And they want to go back and start changing things

Pilar Alessandra 24:44
Going backwards thing, it can be a problem. It's not so much that they usually go back and say, Oh, I had an idea. It's usually that they want to make whatever they did just perfect before they move on. And what ends up happening are those perfect first acts that we talked about, and those Oh, God, I'm so tired third acts. So I, I, if you if you have an idea, and you're like, I want to change the first app, because the idea now is is the better one to help you move forward, by all means, do it, just don't spend a lot of time rewriting all the stuff around it, just change that idea so that you can see now how it's going to retrigger. The second act,

Jason Buff 25:28
That's the mistake that I made for a very, I ended up rewriting a screenplay for almost a year and a half that I would go in, and I would watch a movie. And I'd be like, Oh, I really liked the tension in the scene and kind of like what's going on here. And I would be like, maybe I can use that. And I would go back and like, start changing the screenplay around a little bit. And it just became this gigantic mess. And so now that I write, when I write now, it's more pay a lot more attention to the outlining process and making sure that I don't get into it and say, oh, I want to change things, you know, halfway through,

Pilar Alessandra 25:58
Right! You got to get to the end, in my classes. It's all about in the first draft class, it's all about, you got to move forward and just finish this, we can go back and make a pretty later can go back and nuance it later. But it doesn't matter if you're most beautiful writer in the world, if you never had anything done.

Jason Buff 26:14
Now, in your classes, do you find that there are certain different approaches to screenwriting? Terms of personalities?

Pilar Alessandra 26:21
Okay. Yeah, I would say if I've got 30 students, there's 30 different ways in and there should be there should be you know, everybody's got to have their own style and their own stamp. So that's why again, it's important to loosely outline and not get hung up on saying to people, certain plot points have to be at certain pages, I believe, because they don't have to be, your story should be unique in its telling, not only in its subject matter. So we can talk about patterns that have been in successful movies and TV shows. But then, once you know that, once you feel confident in your outline, you should just go and see what happens. So yeah, there's a million ways to tell the story, fortunately, and that's what keeps keeps us watching movies and TV, because we just never know what the next approach is going to be.

Jason Buff 27:19
Do you find that some people are more into the structure side of it, and then other people are just more more like me, that are just like more creative and not really like? I mean, I remember I had a conversation with Cory Mandel. Intuitive versus conceptual. Yeah, that's what I was talking about.

Pilar Alessandra 27:37
Yeah, I love that. I love that approach that he has. And, you know, you can, you can say the dummy version of it, which I'll say, which would be like, inside out or outside. And you know, and there are the conceptual people. Those are the outside and people, the people who see big picture and see the outline, and then have a hard time sometimes finding the scenes and they have to work at the dialog and they have to really work at their craft. And then they're the people who are, as he calls it, the intuitive people I call it the inside out people who Korea's way smarter than I, the people who love their dialogue, know their scenes, but have a hard time seeing the big picture. And certain times can get lost in the minutia. And in, in my classes, I like to think that we do both at one time. I'll start everybody big picture. But as we are fleshing out the big picture, the craft issues are coming in, and we're dealing with them as we go. So that you're sort of having a flip between both minds. And, and you're not abandoning one over the other. But you really do have to get strong at both. And I think that's why the experienced writers over time have done that.

Jason Buff 28:56
I always think of it like, you know, somebody who's a right handed person having to sit there and try to write with their left hand for, you know, a couple of days to start strengthening that up.

Pilar Alessandra 29:06
It doesn't have to be as difficult as that. It could be 10 Your right hand do two things that one time. Can you multitask, you know, and anybody who has texted somebody, while they're writing an email, and posting Facebook, you're doing three things at one time, where you can probably look big picture out your script, and right from within, without having to completely go to your left hand. You know what I mean? It doesn't have to be as foreign as that.

Jason Buff 29:42
Now, can we talk a little bit I know you talk a lot about loglines. And I'm sure that you're probably a little tired of you mind explaining the importance of having a long, long logline and how that guides you as a writer,

Pilar Alessandra 29:55
No screenwriting teachers ever tired of talking about love lines, God, we love our love lines.

Alex Ferrari 30:02
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Pilar Alessandra 30:11
I think the reason that that everybody's so hung up on them is they serve a purpose for the writer and they serve a purpose for the listener for the writer, knowing what your hook is. And being able to articulate that in one line means that you always have a thesis statement you can go back to whenever you're lost in your writing process. So you can go oh my god, where am I look at your logline and say, Oh, that's what I wanted. That's what my intention was. So that's why it's important for the writer. For the listener. It's important because it's a mini pitch, we get an we get an idea right away of the kind of movie or TV show you're going for. And what's special about it, what's special in the what's a special idea? Not what's special fanatically, although that should bubble through, you know, what's that cool idea that we haven't thought about before. We want to explore more. And that's what happens in a logline. And that's why it's important.

Jason Buff 31:09
What is the key? Do you think to creating like, if you're a little bit lost? Are there some ways that you can create your logline or figure it out, because a lot of people will be will write screenplays, and they're in the middle of the story and what you know, one of the common things that you'll do is go up and be like, what what is your story about? You know, and and for whatever? I mean, people would do that to me, and I just be like, Well, do you have half an hour? Play? And I never, it wasn't until I started focusing on that idea of creating an idea logline that I, you know, I can be like, Oh, well, I really need to know how to say this quickly.

Pilar Alessandra 31:47
And it's about is actually a good way in to find your logline. What's your story about, it's about a person who experiences this thing. So they have to do so and so, or it's about a person who wants to do so something in a particular way, or it's about this group of people who in their attempt to do such and such end up in conflict. So, yes, just starting with it's about is is a great way in but yes, your the answer to that question is usually a sentence is not have a half an hour? Yeah,

Jason Buff 32:18
Can you walk through a little bit of how to deal with X structure and just structure in general for how to lay out their story?

Pilar Alessandra 32:26
Yeah, you know, I have a second edition of coffee break screenwriter. No, no, no, this was a bit. Yeah. But I just want to tell you what's

Jason Buff 32:34
Alright, well buy the book.

Pilar Alessandra 32:35
No, no, no, there's something that's gonna be in there that that I'm using in classes. Now that's not in the first one. And I can tell it to you right now, you don't have to buy the second edition at all. But I want to tell you, it's, it's just the idea that for screenplay structure, all those books, everything we've been talking about all the analysis really comes down to, in my opinion, for things, trauma, training, trials and triumph. And the idea is that in Act One, if you will, or the beginning of your pilot, trauma is that thing that sort of traumatized as a character into a new experience, and it can be positive, it can be negative, or it could be positive, falling in love with the trauma, then the training is kind of an on the job kind of training, where you're sort of learning about your new experience or your new environment by doing. And that can be seen as you know, the first half of Second Act or the first part of the middle for your pilot, then we've got trials, which is a real push back and testing. Really, you think you know what you're doing? Oh, yeah, well, here's this big conflict that's going to happen deal with that. And then we've got triumphs and which doesn't have to be happy ever after is just that solving of the problem that we talked about some kind of closure. And in a pilot that tends to be sort of a mini solving of the problem with a greater question asked. So trauma training trials and triumphs. You asked my take on structure, that's pretty much what it is. Tr words that I can say really quickly, and that sounds kind of cool. I like it. Thank you.

Jason Buff 34:16
You can put it on a shirt. Yeah, yeah. It kind of reminds me of the hero's journey a little bit.

Pilar Alessandra 34:22
Yeah. And I think it's sort of that idea of what's everybody saying? You know, we're all trying to say it a different ways. Well, I think you're really out of those four things. There you go.

Jason Buff 34:31
Okay, moving on. One of the things that I struggle with a lot is not so much the second act, but what you have in your book is the second second act.

Pilar Alessandra 34:40
That's that be that middle part for you? Yeah.

Jason Buff 34:44
Now that it seems like a lot of kind of screenplays, that's where they die in.

Pilar Alessandra 34:48
Well, that's where that trials part comes in. And it is that pushback. And that pushback can be from an antagonist, where somebody goes, You know what I see you Turning on the job and I don't like it, I don't want you to accomplish a goal, I'm going to do something really big. So enact to be, you might be thinking, Okay, wait a minute, somebody is really going to try and stop them in a major way. Or sometimes it's a characters flaw, that's the push back, you know, the character was doing really well, and even even sort of, you know, dealing with a flaw or overcoming it, but something about their nature just screwed it up, their flaw was triggered, and that's the push back. Sometimes it's an event that happens, we talked about that midpoint event that happens right before that section that focuses the main character and forces them now to really accomplish one mission, instead of several little moments of fun and games. And that can make act to be feel feel more important as well. And if you look at that, as pushed back, it's, it's the idea that, that that person now has this mission, and that's going to be really hard, is that they were learning on the job, they thought they got it, okay, now they have to do this. So those would be some ways I would be thinking about to heighten act to make it interesting and different. So that the reader doesn't go oh, here we are more than

Jason Buff 36:18
One of the things that I think a lot of writers get lost in. And one of the things that you guys do, I think a really good job of on the podcast is talk is analyzing what people are writing, how they've put it together and how if somebody is going over the top in terms of explaining what the details are in the room, every painting on the wall and everything like that, what what do you in terms of rewriting so that people are actually making progress? What is your advice for them,

Pilar Alessandra 36:47
I'm a big believer of essence statements? So instead of you said, you said, you know, all this stuff in the wall, and you know, the set decorating, so instead of set decorating your environment? Is there a comparison you have Is there a way of of describing it in one sentence, that is the personality of the room, the essence of the room. So I think an example that I use is, you know, Bill's office screams CEO. So if a if a room is if an office is screaming CEO, you know that we've got a big desk and a huge cheer and an imposing environment. And, you know, diplomas all over the wall, something like that, the set decorator can do their job, you don't have to say they're all those things. The personality is just there screaming CEO. So I'm looking for those personality descriptions for environment for your rewrite, an essence of character instead of just physical lysing them, those kinds of things, help paint the picture and make your writing better.

Jason Buff 37:53
One of the things I love about doing the podcast is I get to do a lot of research. So you know, I've been watching some of your presentations that are on YouTube. And I really loved what you what you said about you don't want to you want to make sure characters aren't just saying what they're thinking, you know, and that's a problem that people get into. It actually made me It reminded me of that. I don't know if you ever saw that SNL sketch with Joe Montana, where he just walks in and he's a guy that can only say what he thinks.

Joe Montana 38:21
You know, honestly, I could talk to you for days. The ad like the jumper bones.

Leslie 38:28
Same here, you know, I haven't even noticed the time where she jumped my bones.

Joe Montana 38:34
Whoa, I didn't realize how late it was. You know, you're welcome to spend the night here in the living room. If she says yes, I'm home free.

Leslie 38:44
Gee, you know, I really shouldn't. I don't want to seem to trampy

Joe Montana 38:49
Wow. Suit yourself. Okay, I will. Oh, great. That's my roommates do what a time for him to show up. Terrific.

Leslie 39:05
I'd love to meet him. And oh, no, he's gonna ruin everything.

Joe Montana 39:09
I think he really likes to is absolutely the most sincere, genuine, straightforward person you'll ever want to meet a real honest guy. What a jerk. He is.

Leslie 39:20
He sounds really nice. Yeah, it sounds boring.

Joe Montana 39:24
Oh, here he is. Hey, Stu, come on in. Oh,

Stuwart 39:30
I hope I'm not disturbing you. I hope I'm not disturbing them.

Joe Montana 39:39
God, he's gonna scare her away. This is Leslie. Leslie. Sue.

Stuwart 39:43
Hi. I'm very glad to meet you. I'm very glad to meet her.

Leslie 39:50
Nice to meet you. Guys.

Joe Montana 39:54
Leslie was going to sleep in the living room.

Alex Ferrari 39:58
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Joe Montana 40:07
Unless that's a problem for you, in which case she could sleep in my room and I could sleep on the floor. Come on, you idiot helped me out.

Leslie 40:15
You know, maybe it would be better if I stayed in dance room because we don't want to inconvenience you.

Stuwart 40:20
Hey, it's fine with me if you stay in the living room won't bother me at all. It's fine with me if she stays in the living room. It doesn't bother me at all.

Joe Montana 40:29
Thanks a lot, Stu. Yeah, thanks a lot. Jerk.

Leslie 40:34
You know, you are so sweet. Boy. Yes, this guy lame.

Joe Montana 40:39
Well, listen, Stu, I think Leslie and I are gonna stay up a while and talk. So I guess we'll see you tomorrow.

Stuwart 40:44
Great. See you tomorrow. Great. I'll see them tomorrow.

Leslie 40:51
Listen, we'll talk quietly so as not to disturb you. Okay.

Stuwart 40:55
Oh, you won't disturb me. I'll be in my room masturbating. I'll be masturbating.

Jason Buff 41:06
It just call us. I'll send you a link to it. But it's like a thing that people, you know, if you're reading a screenplay, it's like, you know, I'm angry at you for this? Well, I think because you did this. But you know what I mean? So he talked a little bit about dialogue and the way people you know, use dialogue that's not just like on the nose and the different kinds of dialogue I guess

Pilar Alessandra 41:26
You're awesome. You know exactly what you're talking about. The the the fact that a lot of people don't understand that on the nose means saying what you absolutely feel it's so weird for, for a grown up to say exactly what they feel like we've learned how to lie. That's, that's what being a grown up is about. We've learned to say, wow, it's great to see you instead of oh, God, I can't believe it's you again. Because we're in such a civilized society. And, and, you know, that's why with comedy, often, the comedy comes out of somebody who's simply unfiltered, who's just telling the truth. So if you look at one example I given in classes, I show a scene from Silver Linings Playbook. And you know, what makes those characters so incredibly quirky. And funny, is the fact that they're in a romantic comedy. And they're saying things like, you know, there's they're just speaking the truth to each other. And it's just so weird and unfiltered and wrong. That is hilarious.

Actors 42:31
Okay, so coming over you okay with that? Sister, Tiffany, Tiffany and Tommy? Just Tiffany? What happened to Tommy? You guys, tell me that? Cops die? How to die. Please don't bring it up. No. How did he died? He said, I let her die. Hey, Tiffany, this is Pat. says no, Tiffany. You have nice. Thank you. I'm not flirting with you. I didn't think you were I just see that you made an effort. And I'm gonna be better with my wife and working on that. When I acknowledge her beauty. I never used to do that. And do that now, because we're gonna be better than ever. Nikki is practicing how Tommy die. What about your job? I just got fired, actually. Oh, really? How? I mean, I'm sorry. How that happened? Does it really matter?

Pilar Alessandra 43:26
It's, it's I should say. It's a completely new take on traditional romcom. Right. So yeah, I think that you have to be careful that if you're writing dialogue, and it's not intended to be funny, and somebody is just saying what's on their mind, it's going to seem really cheesy. It's going to seem like you know, Oh, I feel this mixture of attraction and revulsion right now. It's like, really, I Are you a human being? Don't you know how people really talk? Which is the lie. You know, instead of saying I'm feeling this mixture of a Jackson and revulsion, they might just say hello. And the the action underneath would show the subtext. You know, they might do something to express how they really feel. But that line itself is as simple as Hello. I hope that makes sense.

Jason Buff 44:22
Yeah, I mean, I think one of the, you know, as a screenwriter, you're always looking for things, to make your audience curious, to make them want to know more and to really pull them through the story. And you know, Spielberg is great at doing that. You always want to know what's going to come next. And when you when you have characters who aren't giving up everything and that you're, you know, maybe at some point, you're going to figure out what is actually going through their brain but I mean, it's, it's a really important thing, I think, to make people wonder, I wonder what that person actually is thinking, you know, versus what they they say,

Pilar Alessandra 44:55
You know, it's a great scene to go back to an old classic Spielberg scene. You that I just think shows that I don't know there's there's more subtext and subtlety in certain Spielberg movies then then people give those movies credit for the mashed potato scene in, in crawl. Yeah, you know, I love the mashed potato scene. Because there you are at a family dinner. And this guy becomes obsessed with building a mountain out of his mashed potatoes right in front of his family. And they're looking at him like he's the craziest guy in the world. When he looks up, one of the kids is crying. The mom's mouth is a game. And all he's been doing is showing what's in his head by playing with his mashed potatoes. And it's a great scene. It's just, it's, it just sort of expresses it all. Without having to completely talk about it. Now, it does trigger him to finally say, Okay, this is what's going on with daddy. But, but the story is really told before he actually says that.

Jason Buff 46:06
Yeah. Is that the same scene where he's like, you kids might have noticed the dead?

Actors 46:11
Yeah. No, cool. Well, I guess you've noticed something strange with Dan. It's okay. Still can't describe it. When I'm feeling when I'm thinking. This means something.

Pilar Alessandra 46:54
But if you started to see in the data, you kids might have noticed and blah, blah, blah, blah, would feel artificial. It would feel on the nose, we needed the expression of what was in his brain through activity first. And that triggers him to finally have to admit, okay, this is what's going on.

Jason Buff 47:09
Yeah, I mean, I think something that I did back in my early screenwriting life is I would try to make things sound natural, and how people you know, you're like, Okay, I want it to be real. So I'm going to, I'm going to write like, people actually talk. But at the same time, it's like, you can't do everything in your scripts, it has to be deliberate, you know, it has to be moving you towards something. So I would just sit there and write, you know, two people talking to each other. And then this would happen, then that would happen. In my mind. I was like, Oh, I'm just setting up this world. But it wasn't, there was no point to it.

Pilar Alessandra 47:40
Right! And, and how people really talk, I'm not saying that people in movies shouldn't talk the way people really, really talk, there needs to be an authenticity to the voice. But if we included every, um, and stutter, and you know, and all those things that we do, it would be really difficult to watch. Which is why we added a lot from the tops and bottoms of scenes, because often it takes us so long to get to the point where with scene work on screen, we're able to get to the point much quicker. And we can lop off all that hemming and hawing that gets us there.

Jason Buff 48:20
Now one of the another thing in your book that's really helped me a lot is the concept of goal, action and conflict. As you go through your scene, can you talk a little bit about that, and the importance of, you know, breaking things down into those idea of goal action and the conflict that it calls,

Pilar Alessandra 48:38
It's one of the ways I get people to outline and just figure out their central beats, so they can figure out what their story is. I asked, okay, well, you take all those scenes that you think are this part of the story, and ask yourself, What's the goal? What does the character want to do? What's the activity? What do they actually do? Not what do they think or feel or plan? And then what's the complication? What gets in their way? And if you can do that big picture, you can start to find your major beats. But you can also do that, in your scenes in terms of what is your character wants in the scene? And what and how do they intend to get it? So yeah, it can be done in the macro. It can be done in the micro, but it always sort of keeps you on story. So yeah, it says something I would just recommend, as far as outlining and for rewriting

Jason Buff 49:27
When you mentioned the idea that it's a macro and a micro way of doing things, what I ended up I was going through and I was putting together the different you know, in the book, it breaks it up into first act, second act, second, act B and third act. And so what I ended up doing though, was I found that even in a moment by moment level, I was looking at it, you know, so I would have like five or six different moments in the first act alone where I was asking myself, Okay, here's this character, what is their goal? What do they want? What is the action that they're taking to get that goal and then what conflict is that causing

Alex Ferrari 50:01
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Jason Buff 50:10
And it caused the scenes to be so much more dynamic. And you understood the characters much more.

Pilar Alessandra 50:16
I'm so glad that worked for you. I don't know if I want to go around going. It's the GAC system. A little bit,

Jason Buff 50:23
I got money making shirts. Can you talk just for just a second about once somebody has a final screenplay once you've worked with them, once you've gotten it all, like ready? What is kind of the next phase after that?

Pilar Alessandra 50:36
So I think are you talking about sort of like, how would you push a tour to sail?

Jason Buff 50:40
Yeah, I mean, I guess the idea is that a lot of people that listen to this, and you know, there's a couple of things I wanted to go into that I want, just in terms of like people who are not in Los Angeles who want to ride and people who are trying to sell screenplays. Are you finding that people that you're working with are trying to build a career as screenwriters like full time screenwriters? Or is it something that's kind of like a part time thing? And is it a viable option for people? I mean, what what can they do? Once they have a screenplay that you sign off on that you say, Okay, this is really good.

Pilar Alessandra 51:11
Well, let's talk about the people who don't live in LA first. There's all kinds of different feelings about competitions. But my feeling is, why not. When you submit to competitions, competitions, know, first of all, that you might not be in LA person, which actually is to your advantage, because they're looking looking for diverse writers. And that means diversity of experience in place as well. So that gives you an advantage. Another thing is, it's a writing competition, not a selling competition. So competitions are looking at your craft and and not necessarily you know, whether or not they want to take this on and thinking about oh, but there's a competing project. So both of those things can work in your favor. And once you do win a competition like that, it's become a bit of a vetting situation for agents and managers who may not have their own personal reader reader pool, and use competitions to as a reader pool and a way to help them find undiscovered material, so and undiscovered writers. So I do think that it is worth submitting to competitions, you know, high level competitions, not necessarily you know, your friends, cousins, competition, who's paying me 50 bucks. And you know, you want to make sure that there's some kind of pot of gold at the end of that rainbow for sure. So I would do that.

Jason Buff 52:36
Are there any competitions that come to mind?

Pilar Alessandra 52:39
Well, the nickel fellowship is definitely the most prestigious that's through the academy, Austin, Austin Film Festival, screenwriting competition is also prestigious. The kind of the ones that are typically time for people, those have been around the longest. And that usually means that they had the most success behind them. Blue Cat screen Screencraft is doing a good job as a new screenwriting competition because they are genre oriented. And that means that it doesn't have to just be a drama that wins because they have their own comedy or horror category just for those films. So So I think that's a good one. There's also a lot more open for TV now for competitions, and short films to a lot of short film competitions are out there, that will give you money to make your film, which is awesome, because making your stuff is also a great way to get people's attention. If you're from outside of LA, and you have a good camera and a really tight, smart script. And I'd be thinking about, you know, really short form content. And you feel like you could make it without mortgaging your house and put it on YouTube. And it's something that could get eyes on it. That's another way to go. People are looking for talent online. Another way to go if you're, you know, the the pitch fests, a lot of cynicism around them, that and I can understand because there's this sense that they can be a little bit of a circus. But once you are one on one with somebody, that's your opportunity, it can be a pretty intimate, intimate moment. And it's an opportunity for face time with industry that you might not have otherwise, I think it's replaced the query letter as far as being sort of a cold look at your work. So all those things can be good for people who don't live here. For people who do live here. They're doing the same thing, but also they're looking for who do they know who knew who knows somebody and they're trying to mine their contacts. And in that case, what they're usually doing is saying, hey, person who knows my friend. Not Can you read my screenplay, but I, could I take you out for coffee? And can I pick your brain a little bit? And if you make that relationship by the end of coffee, they might say, Yeah, sure, send me a script. But you don't want to start with a favor. You want to start with mining relationships. And that's what people in LA do. And why the caricature of that is known as, you know, as as being very smoothie. But really, you know, it's how an LA person moves up is they have to make their relationships and a lot of people in the industry live out here, and they got to make friends. You know, and I think making friends is actually not a bad thing. So yeah, so that's, that's my advice for moving things forward, just a little bit of it. Because the people who come on my show, they always have interesting stories about how they got in. And, inevitably, it's always some kind of random moment. But the only thing that ties them together is that their work was ready. When they got that opportunity, they had a great kick ass script, which is why I spent tend to stay on the content side trying to get people to write a kickass script.

Jason Buff 56:14
If people need to have a body of work. I mean, should they have like, some people say three screenplays or four screenplays that they can show?

Pilar Alessandra 56:22
I don't know if there's a magic number, but I do know that the first thing somebody says after they've read something is what else do you got? So you want to make sure that you're at least knee deep and something else before you, you know, paper, your script all over town? Because if the answer is no. You know, at least be like, Yeah, I certainly do got something else. And as soon as I'm done polishing it up in a room and finished the effort

Jason Buff 56:57
Well, you know, I know you gotta go so what? How can just so people can get in touch with you? I assume most people have already heard of on the page. But what what is? What's your info?

Pilar Alessandra 57:08
I don't know. I don't know if most people have on the page. That'd be cool. If they have but you haven't it just so you know. Yeah, there is a podcast called on the page. It's on iTunes. But also, I think a catch all for my classes, the podcast, my book. Also have some recorded classes for people who live out of town. It's just go to on the page.tv That's my website. It's got it all there. And and I'd love to work with you someday.

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BPS 291: Inside One of the Most Dangerous Film Shoots in History with Jon Gustafsson

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Alex Ferrari 0:03
I like to welcome to the show, Jon Gustafsson. How are you doing Jon?

Jon Gustafsson 0:24
I'm very good. Thank you. How are you?

Alex Ferrari 0:26
Oh, thank you, my friend, thank you for being on the show you are in, coming from us from Iceland. Probably one of the more safer places in the world to be right now. Regarding COVID,

Jon Gustafsson 0:38
absolutely. And about to get even even more safe. Because there is some, there's some big, big news happening here with with COVID in Iceland. And we have like, on every given day, we have like between zero and maybe five positive

Alex Ferrari 1:01
siblings. Stop it. Stop it. I live in Los Angeles, please.

Jon Gustafsson 1:08
But we are on Isla an island in the North Atlantic almost by the Arctic Circle. We have a population of 350,000 people. We have one International Airport. So we can actually, and they have put in restrictions. Everybody who lands in Iceland now is forced to have a test at the at the airport, and then quarantine for five days and then be tested again. So we got some, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:34
well, I envy you, sir in many, many ways. So, but we're here to talk about film talk, let's talk shop. So before we get started, how did you get into the ridiculous film business?

Jon Gustafsson 1:51
It's, um, it's a bit of a long story that I'll just try to compress a little bit. I my first love was music I that. But I was never really that good. As a musician. I ended up in studios producing, recording. And then, in in high school, basically, my friend of mine had a radio show. And I figured, you know, hey, maybe he can get me a job on a radio show on national radio. So I ended up getting a weekly show, playing one hour, a week of music. So I fell in love with radio. And I decided this, this, you know, this could be a career. And I went to BBC in London and studied radio production. And I came back and there was no, there were no jobs for me in in radio. So I figured television might be similar, you know, similar elements to work with. So I went to the TV station, and there was a crazy guy who had taken over the program's department and he was an old film director, used to do Viking movies. And he saw me walk in and he gave me a job on the spot. So suddenly, I had a job and television and I he actually gave me my own show, just sort of weird situation. And so I had my own television show for about two years. And then I said, Hey, you know, this is this is this is an interesting place to work. But I do I don't want to be in front of the camera. I want to be one of the other side. So I started looking for a place to study television production. And I found a school in in Manchester, England, so and i because I had worked in television, they led me into the second year. So I missed the first year. Second beginning of second year, was a class where they sat us down and said no, we're going to do a short film, go home and write a script and bring it back. And then we'll pick some scripts and we'll shoot them. And that was just an eye opening thing for me. Like Suddenly, a whole new world opened up. So I finished my bachelor's at Manchester Polytechnic, and soon realized they didn't know anything about filmmaking. This this sort of World of filmmaking that was opening up for me I was already like 25 or 26. But so this world of filmmaking opened up, but the the the guy who was the head of the film school, he said in one of our first classes, he said, Now, now you're a film students, you should see yourselves as filmmakers. So, you know, don't be afraid to walk around like this.

Alex Ferrari 4:56
And you're holding up. I'm sorry. What is it Like, like I know this, but I don't I don't know the Okay, so people listening he's holding up he's putting his hands together and not the standard like you know, letterbox or or the shot of like the framing your shot with it you know that famous those famous director shots where you see them holding up their hands, trying to frame it with their fingers. He's holding up a drop some sort of I don't even know what that is. So that that says a lot about the teacher, I guess. But I think the nicest guy you could find, you know, so supportive, so encouraging. But I found out his background was from the pottery department he was a pottery teacher, so that would explain the the pot the pot look. So you're starting off with you're starting off with a bang, okay.

Jon Gustafsson 5:52
Yeah, but, you know, I actually was in a great class made some one of my best friend from from from that class. It was a small class, but you see, she ended up making a film that was distributed by Miramax all over the world, and, and so on. So, so, you know, it was not completely hopeless. But I realized that these people did not could not teach me filmmaking and I was spent two years in Manchester and it was raining the whole time. It was raining and cloudy, foggy. And I figured I'm going to continue down this path, but I'm going to do it where the sun shines, you know, so I applied for some schools in LA played to like three schools and got into one called CalArts, California Institute of the Arts, and got into a master program there for directing theater and cinema. With actually amazing teacher gold Alexander Mackendrick, who was one of the Ealing studios, sort of golden years. Directors. He directed. The lady killers, the original Lady Killer. Oh, wow. And another one called man of the white suit. Which was an Ealing comedy. He made whiskey galore. Very sad. You know, the ladykillers probably the most famous one. And then he moved to the states and did sweet smell of success with Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster.

Alex Ferrari 7:42
Wow. So he was he was he was a heavy hitter of his day.

Jon Gustafsson 7:46
He was very much and then he pretty much got ruined by Lancaster. Like, that's the ruins his career. And so he ended up teaching, he had emphysema and, and he you know, smoke too much all his life. Sure, sure. Sure. Sure. So he drive his buggy around school and, and teach us directing. And so so it was like old school filmmaking, film language. Pretty much the way they would shoot films at Ealing studios. God, it

Alex Ferrari 8:34
was very old. It was the old style of filmmaking like, you know, more studio style kind of filmmaking, which then leads me to one of the main reasons I got you on the show is because of your film, Beowulf and Grendel which is, you know, I'm just curious how that whole studio mentality worked. I don't think it was very, very similar. How did that work out? Well, first of all, tell us about Beowulf and Grendel, how you got involved with the project. And then we'll go into the misadventures, let's call them of the making of

Jon Gustafsson 9:12
Beowulf and Grendel was directed by one of my best friends, a guy called Sterling Gunderson. He's one of the leading directors in Canada. And he was born in Iceland, grew up in in Canada. And it was it was his dream project. He has been had been making movies for a while and he was no Oscar is an Oscar nominated director. And he wanted to make this big, big film in in Iceland's Bible story of Babel and grant all he wanted to shoot it in this sort of primal landscape of Iceland and So, he called me one day and asked, he had a list of actors, and he just wanted to, like, you know, run them by me. What do you think about, you know, the big names of young guys. None of them seem to seem to seem to fit. But the last name was Gerard Butler was pretty much unknown back then. And he said, so, you know, have you heard of this guy. And as it happened, did, I got five days earlier, my friend from Manchester had called me and said, I just finished a film with Gerard Butler and, and Emily Mortimer, and it's going to be playing at Tribeca, and Miramax is giving us a limo 24 hour limo, like for the whole duration, you know, come down and party with us for the Tribeca festival. And so, I knew I was I was going to be hanging out with him. So I told sturla to come down to Toronto with me. And so we we met up with with Jerry and still ended up casting him for the film. So it's digital a basically asked me to come along and shoot sort of behind the scenes stuff. To do a website for the film, it was probably the first time our film was being promoted as it was being shot, at least a film off that level. So I would be like interviewing Jerry taking pictures, interviewing different people putting it onto the web, as little web videos, little behind the thing behind the scenes, things. And with no money, just a little, tiny little Sony mini DV camera. He gave me a little mini DV camera and gave me a box of tapes. So in order to, you know, justify having me there the whole time. He cast me as Bible warrior number two, Bible, played by Jerry had an army of 10 people. And some of them had names. And then the Bible's warrior number one babbles warrior, right. So I was just completely at the bottom of that list of 10. Warriors, pretty much. It was interesting guys in that in that team, one of them ended up on a game of thrones, playing the hand on Game of Thrones, for example. And so I was there in Viking costume for 40 shooting days. So I basically basically lived in these remote country hotels and guest houses. And 40 shooting days in chainmail armor, um, you know, this sort of leather stuff. helmet, had my own sword, and some other weapons.

Alex Ferrari 13:29
So then and then so he hired you basically, to do a documentary or look behind the scenes, or did you just just, we're just there to kind of document things in and you're like, wait a minute, there's a documentary here. Let me do a little bit more with it.

Jon Gustafsson 13:43
It's right from the start, things started going wrong. We were supposed to start shooting at the end of July. And because of financing, because of the British co-producers mostly, they didn't put in their money. The shooting got delayed, everything got delayed into the fall. So this from from very early on, this became a story of things going wrong. So when you're when they're going to build a set on top of a mountain, on the south coast of Iceland, with the open North Atlantic, right there in front of you. And then you get delayed into the fall. You're into the storm season. You know, those big storms that come up the East Coast of the US and they they spin up basically across the Atlantic. So we have a lot of those because some of the some of those storms and hurricanes hit to the east coast. Some of them are just out at sea but they all end up in Iceland so we have a very stormy season. For all season, so things went wrong, right from the start.

Alex Ferrari 15:08
And then so Okay, so because from from your movie wrath of God, you know, it's it is arguably one of the most difficult sets and difficult productions I've ever seen. Go going through a documentary. I mean, I saw the documentary of the abyss with James Cameron, which arguably was one of the toughest, obviously, Apocalypse Now. Hearts of darkness. Obviously, that's a very difficult one. But this is this is up there as one of the more difficult ones because it just seemed like you were just getting not only pounded, but you were getting pounded from multiple directions and nothing seemed to be going right. Can you tell me about the Viking blessing because apparently, it might have been a blessing or a curse depending on how you look at it.

Jon Gustafsson 15:52
The composure for the film, baby grand total is a is an incredibly good composer. He's also the head, pagan priest of Iceland's of Botha, pagan religion. So certainly got into to come on the you know, the night before the first shooting day and perform this, this ritual, a pagan blessing. And so he's doing his ceremony there and we don't understand the word he's saying, but we're whole or the whole crew, you know, we have like, you know, Jared Butler, we have Stellan skarsgard, from Sweden, and you know, all these all these big actors and stuff, people around. And then after the ceremony, Stuart law, the director, he he falls and hits his head on the rocks and then this beats where we were it's a rocky beats, and is almost knocked out. And like, the sound that went through the crew was like, a sound of of terror because we realized we may have just Jinx the production.

Alex Ferrari 17:15
So you guys already that was a really a bad omen that the director almost knocked himself out and almost killed himself at the beginning, where the when the blessing was happening. So this was already a bad scenario walking in. Now,

Jon Gustafsson 17:30
but everybody I see, as you as you will see, in this in the documentary Wrath of gods, we were already almost canceled a few times, we don't worry, everybody will be sent home a few times, because they couldn't pay the salaries because the funding was not in

Alex Ferrari 17:47
it. But that's the oldest like I mean, I wrote a whole book about my adventures trying to make a $20 million movie with the mob. And it was similar It was like the financing would like we just we got enough just to pay the crew and keep the crew happy for another two or three weeks and then we got to find more money and before the real money drops and was just constantly constantly chasing money, but you have you know, your pf people in another country. And and you've got sets built and weather is coming and you got issues with all that. The financing, you know, the financial just never You were always behind the eight ball essentially with financing. Correct.

Jon Gustafsson 18:24
The production was the spoiling the documentary completely. The the production wasn't financed until two weeks after the shoot ended. Oh, wow.

Alex Ferrari 18:42
So then how did you guys keep going?

Jon Gustafsson 18:46
That's, you know, telefilm, Canada put in a few million. They decided to trust the process. The Icelandic film fund put in like $1 million. And they were just told that everything was fine. They were just told that hey, you know, it's all good. It's fine. It's all good. And they decided to, to trust the process and paid all the money. So they managed to keep it going. And managed to bring Jerry over. And, you know, start shooting and all the time, afraid that the crew would just disappear because if crew doesn't get paid, like why, why don't they stick around?

Alex Ferrari 19:40
Right. This is not like crew not getting paid in Los Angeles, Sunny Los Angeles where they might be able to hang out for a couple days. They're there. They're literally in battle with nature at this point in the game. I mean, you're getting hurricane storms hitting you. You. I mean, what Tell me Is it true because I I saw I saw this and I have to ask you, is it true that if a crew member would have fallen or an actor would have fallen into the water where you guys were shooting, that they had about three to five minutes before they die?

Jon Gustafsson 20:14
Wait, they so they, they rented a Viking ship replica, like the only real Viking ship replica or like you know, full size faking see a replica that there is there is in Iceland. And they wanted to put it on what's called the glacier Lagoon, which is like the coldest water in the world. It's a, it's a lagoon where a glacier is melting, and you have these pieces of glacier breaking off and floating through this, this rather big lagoon. And when they finally got the Viking ship to the lagoon, and put it in, it turned out it leaked like a sieve. Because the boat had not been trapped, it had been standing on dry land for for a few years. And there was no money to pay the owner to prep it

Alex Ferrari 21:13
to seal it. Not sure everything was fine. Yeah, of course, yeah, I

Jon Gustafsson 21:16
know, you need to put it in the water, the wood needs to expand and all the cracks to close and all of this. So this was this was never done. So once they put the ship into in the water, it started sinking. So they managed to make it float by putting in a lot of pumps. So we would sail with with a full sail and everything through this glacier Lagoon, between the icebergs, with Jerry and the the army 10 of us on on the on the boat, they would, they would shout, you know, cut the pumps would turn off the pumps, roll the camera, and we will grow as long as we could, but the water was racing in, in the boats. And when when we you know, when the captain said, That's it, they would cut the camera and we would stop ups.

Alex Ferrari 22:23
So you need that. So you made the tell me that you have your entire main cast, Gerald Butler is one of them. Big You know, he wasn't a big movie star then yet, but you have Gerald Butler, you have you the other cast with one of the main, I'm assuming one of the main set pieces of the movie, which is this big boat in the coldest water in the world. And you decided or the or the director decided, you know what, we're going to go out with pumps. And we'll pump out the water as we go. Now if the pumps would have broken the the ship would have sank, and they really would have been a big problem.

Jon Gustafsson 23:03
Is that correct? Well, you know, luckily we didn't find out. But but the the guy who was like head of security for the lagoon said, If you fall in life expectancy is between three and five minutes. So just wait for the rescue guys to come and pick you up. And it is, you know, incredibly cold, but you have to trust that they had, you know the way to get us back to shore and all of this. But if everybody had gone down at the same time, like you know who would they say first?

Alex Ferrari 23:48
So you this is insanity. This is this is the definition of filmmaking insanity. Because I mean, you can see Terry Gilliam in Los Mancha. And you can send you could see these there's so many stories of crazy directors doing crazy things to tell their story. And that's fine. I'm not saying your director was crazy. But this is this is a bit. This is a bit insane. I mean, obviously you had safety. It wasn't just like, you went out with a bunch of it. This wasn't an independent film with a bunch of people. Let's go and risk our lives. You had safety crew around and you know, but if something would have really gone wrong. There might have not been the depth to help everybody at the same time. I know I was not first on the list.

No, you were obviously well let's head henchmen tend to number two. Number two number two, you weren't even bail wolf warrior number one.

Jon Gustafsson 24:45
You were not so um, I was always hiding this little sony vegas Hummer, right you're doing this behind my shield, right or or behind? A cape I had like this sort of Cape sometimes or like a thingy, over my shoulder. So I wouldn't, I wouldn't always carry this little Sony camera with me.

Alex Ferrari 25:10
So you were filming you were filming the documentary while you were acting in the movie. So like, between takes or between while they were pumping the water out or something, you would start shooting behind the scenes, you would do some on the set interviews, because I saw there's a lot of on the set interviews with Jared Butler and other cast members and things like that. That's insane. I mean, talk about a real true documentarian, you're in it?

Jon Gustafsson 25:34
Yeah. And, and the, the interesting thing is that, I mean, I hadn't, I had never really worked on on a big set like this. And I was just I was, I had done some documentaries before of a television, smaller stuff. But I was watching my friend go through hell, right, the guy who gave me his camera, and he gave me a box of 50 tapes, and said, just film stuff, just, you know, grab it. Right. And I was watching him basically go through how the director of this of this movie, right. And and watching him, you know, I was I thought he was he was losing his mind. You know, imagine being faced with this dilemma. Do I just cancel now and send everybody home? Or do we go on that, that leaky Viking ship and try our best to tell a story

Alex Ferrari 26:34
now, so if it was and then there was there were some sort of there was at times hurricane force storms that hit you guys, while you were on? On on location? Correct?

Jon Gustafsson 26:46
Yes, one. I remember waking up or getting up after a sleepless night. And the coming out to the to the to the into the breakfast and being told the set disappeared. So the whole set got blown out to see. And because they had built a set down by the seaside, somewhere closer to the sea, and everything was just gone. And it's it's in the documentary I went on there with the first car and there was there's like crew picking up stuff somewhere way far in the distance and tried to drag it back. God all these other dining facilities and all the porta potties and it was like it was like an explosion happened. And it was a disaster scene.

Alex Ferrari 27:43
I just as you're saying as you're telling because I've seen the documentaries I've seen I've seen this stuff it's it's it's remarkable to think that you know it you the the the strength that you need as a as a as a human being as a filmmaker to lead all of these people into into war because it's as you're battling the elements, you're battling financing, you're battling all of this stuff is pretty remarkable. It really is.

Jon Gustafsson 28:15
It's, it's absolutely incredible. And you see another day we lost eight cars because of flying rocks. The wind was so strong that it was picking up rocks and smashing, windshields and so on. And when when when the front windshield or back, back window or whatever is smashed out. You cannot use that car in a winter storm. Right? You just you know, put it away. So eight cars, we lost eight cars in one day. And I was living in one of them with the producer rolling the camera filming the producer and the director arguing or having a heated discussion. We wanted to send everybody home off the mountain the director wanted to keep them there in case the wind went down and we could shoot something then this rock comes flying and smashes the rear window of the of the SUV we were sitting in and and you know got it on a camera. And that was the moment when I realized I have a documentary. I have a story. Just you know, catching enough stuff. When that happened. I figured this could be a standalone documentary. So the this was supposed to be like, you know, what

Alex Ferrari 29:48
do you call it like, behind the scenes? Yeah, behind the

Jon Gustafsson 29:51
scenes additional footage. Instead of bonus bonus material. It's called bonus material on a DVD. You know, because that we would have the movie and then you would have bonus material. And that's that's what I was supposed to be doing. And at this point, I realized I have my own story. So the but the interesting thing is everybody, almost everybody, I'm just gonna I'm just gonna lie and say everybody, because it's not true about obstinately everybody, but almost everybody refused to leave the interview. They just said we, we have to get through this, this. This was such a such a challenge. And it the biggest challenge was not the brittas corporate users who refuse to send us money. It was the elements, the storms. And I don't know, have you been out in a big storm, or in a mountaintop in a big storm? It's it's, it's fascinating because you you have this the power of nature that you were fighting, and it makes you stronger?

Alex Ferrari 31:12
Well, I mean, it's like a like a sword, like a sword becomes stronger, the more it is bent and beaten, and heated and bent and bent. And that's how a sword becomes stronger as you continue to fold it and fold it and beat it and heat it and fold. And that's as filmmakers, that's what happens to us. Every time we're in a production. We're getting beaten, we're getting folded, and we're and we're getting stronger and stronger. That's why when you You know, I've had the pleasure of interviewing some very accomplished filmmakers, who are samurai swords, who are like the ultimate samurai swords because of the battles that they've gone through. And then I've also talked to, you know, the film student who has no idea what's coming to them. And that's what I try to do with this show. And with everything I do is try to warn everybody, you're it's not a matter if you're going to get hit in the face. Everyone gets hit in the face. I don't care who you are. It's about keep keeping going and preparing for the hit but you're going to get hit there's no way that you're not every every filmmaker ever every artist ever gets slapped, hits hit that's life. But you guys were man, you guys were you were I think

it was the entire UFC was coming in and being there at the same time now is it true also that because it's not enough that you had hurricane winds a leaky boat that can you know water that can kill you the set caught on fire as well didn't it

Unknown Speaker 32:42
though, because they had like, you know, it's a Viking long house and there's a rubber soles towards the center of the fire. So of course they had some propane, gas, you know, stuff going on underneath. And one day like this was this was towards the end when when you imagine somebody who has been beaten down and just rises up again, like like, like their spring, like you know, on a spring, we were all like that. So when the set caught on fire and these guys come running and screaming everybody, everybody out this guy or via I think Jerry went walked like calmly out, and Stellan skarsgard walked calmly out and just lit a cigarette and he's like, you're really getting your stuff you're on aren't you?

Alex Ferrari 33:35
This is this is really good for the documentary, isn't it?

Jon Gustafsson 33:43
And it became like, the sort of the documentary became in a way something that that kept us together a little bit because we wanted this story and especially Jerry at the end wanted to this story of this madness told everything we went through and let me tell you he was not a huge star by then. But it was very obvious he was going places and that's it comes out in the character. Somebody who's willing to do this will be willing to suffer this month's for what he's doing. And I never heard him complain like like not complained complain, you know, we'd all say, you know, we're all curse the weather and the conditions, but he never showed anything other than determination. And the EU It was so obvious this guy is gonna survive. This guy is gonna go places.

Alex Ferrari 34:56
And he didn't you don't remember we're hearing it but When did he find out that he got 300? Because it was it was a during it was right after,

Jon Gustafsson 35:05
it was right after. It was. I never know the the actual the other side, but I know that they were looking at our website, they were looking at our photos and our videos and stuff that was coming out of our set. And it became very obvious, very early on that Jerry was material for a you know, I got hero before that he had done like, Phantom of the Opera. Right. And it went nowhere sort of thing. Because it was supposed to give him this recognition. But you know, then you end up with a guy with a mask covering his face. And you know, how you don't get any face recognition out of that. So, so that didn't work. But it became very obvious as he put on the chainmail and the sword and the helmet. And we were writing a lot of horses, I had to do like horse riding training for for three weeks to just be in the army. And he did as well. And he was so good at it. And he showed that, that that hero character that that that warrior character. And so 300 was a logical next step.

Alex Ferrari 36:41
So if it wasn't for Beowulf, we might have not had a Gerald Butler Lee Unitas

Jon Gustafsson 36:46
I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna choose to believe that I'm sure agents and monitors and whatever who say,

Alex Ferrari 36:55
Look, I've lived in this town for a while and I know how this town works. And they go, Oh, look, he looks like Like, if he would have just had fan of the opera, it would have been a tougher sell. But having those images that footage that thing he looked I mean, you look at look at them and Beowulf, it's not that big of a leap over to 300. It's not at all it's not at all. And that's what Hollywood loves Hollywood likes it. Okay, that makes sense. He looks great. So it's basically a giant casting video. For Jerry.

I think I think it paid off for him. You know, he did. He's done. Okay. He's done. Okay, he's,

Jon Gustafsson 37:33
but But you see, if you if you look at it, how many male actors of that age with charisma have what it takes to play King Lear notice,

Alex Ferrari 37:50
there wasn't many. And there was a lot of them were part of the 300 that might have been able to play that part. But the gravitas that Jerry brought the, the and then also the ability to do that workout. I mean, he I mean, that says a lot. The working out that those guys did was ridiculous to get to that shape. So there wasn't many at that time, there really wasn't. And it's he was a special special guy.

Jon Gustafsson 38:13
Because like, you know, you can even edit me out for being politically wrong. But insulting, but a lot of the other actors in a similar place at the time. Were not that manly. I agree with you. No, that's not I wanted it. You know, and I understand I understand. I understand what you're saying. But, but he was able to show a manliness that that, that that justified him being able, you became

Alex Ferrari 38:47
Yeah, he has the testosterone level. Yeah. Without without question, Jerry. And that's not something that he tries to do. He just has it. There's actors who have that, you know, from Stallone to Swartz Nagar, you know, to those, you know, the classics like those guys. They just have it naturally. And then you see other actors who will remain nameless, who try to act it, but you can tell that they're really not. Gerry's, one of those guys that has no question about it.

Jon Gustafsson 39:17
You know, like Crowe has said, Oh, yeah, Russell. So, so. And so, there are a few and he was one of them.

Alex Ferrari 39:28
Yeah, no, no question about it. Now.

Jon Gustafsson 39:31
I'm not I'm not saying he was the best actor in the world back then. But, but he had what it took. He was the best for that part. And I think and he was the best for Bailiff at that moment in time. He did what he was, he was a good match, not just in front of the camera, but also behind the camera and having the gusto to continue to move forward. When obviously the gods were not with you. on this on this shoot in many ways, oh, that There were days when we were on. I remember the scene we're on. We, Jerry and his army. We all walk up this hill to the top of a hill and Stellan skarsgard comes running out of the the Viking lung, how's the meet Hall, and we all meet at the top of this hill, and a gust of wind. So strong, came along and moved everybody about two feet to the side. Like the wind picked up everybody and just threw us two feet. And, and everybody just kept going with the scene.

Alex Ferrari 40:41
Because I mean, and William had been on a lot of productions where crew crew sometimes doesn't want to move forward in the tough situations or actors might not want to move forward. And in a situation like you guys were in, if you would have had a lot of dissension in the ranks, it would have not flown if you would have if Jerry would have been a prima donna and said I don't want to do this. It's called it's done. You can't move forward the whole the whole production shuts down.

Jon Gustafsson 41:09
Well, this is this is exactly a Jerry was the opposite of that. He was obviously for Prima Donna, he he was one of the one of the main elements in driving this forward and making this happen by never complaining, you know, Stellan skarsgard you probably know who he is, yeah, he he was another one of those those guys he like, cool, cool as a cucumber through the whole thing. And, you know, the toughest different most difficult things he's he's he's what he's been through. Not necessarily but one of them. And nobody complains. The incredible crew and the the, the stunt master a British guy called Peter pedrera. He was he was very worried about the whole situation. He's he's done like, you know, stands for all the big British movies. And he was quite worried when we were on top of the mountain in a storm. But we've stayed friends since and he for at least many years after he always had a DVD of my documentary in in his back. So on these big movies, you know, whatever they're shooting James Bond or or Harry Potter or whatever. He said, he told me this once. He said young at every every production gets to a critical point where people are getting tired and they want to go home and they're about to give up and complaining like crazy. That's when I have a beer night. I bring my whole crew and anybody who wants to come with me. And I play them Wrath of gods. And I say you think you guys got it's tough. Take a look at this documentary. And it always fixed this morale.

Alex Ferrari 43:12
Like, I know we might have a tough shoot, but nothing compared to that. Let's go out there and finish this movie guys. Now I have to ask you, would you do it again? Yes, of course.That's the insanity of filmmakers. We are weird.

Jon Gustafsson 43:33
You know, and I do all the time. You know, I decided to live in in Iceland, you know could have lived anywhere. But now this is it's one of those things you know if you you make it through you I will do it again in a heartbeat. It was crazy madness and fantastic people you know on a one this production for example. Because we got delayed for for about three weeks stolen had arrived in Iceland and then we got delayed. So for three weeks roughly. We had nothing to do except sit in this mountain hotel. Eat, drink smoke and tell stories. So every night in this one room set usually stolen telling stories usually sell and telling stories about last year hit his brother, you know he calls in his brother and and you know enormous camaraderie and and then when you go through this, this hardship together. It sort of in you know bonds. It creates a little bit of a bond And nobody wanted to leave because nobody wanted to be the guy who left you know, the guy who gave up.

Alex Ferrari 45:08
Exactly here here in the states we have I don't know if I'm assuming you know who the navy seals are. And it's one of the most tough trainings in the world to be a, you know, a navy seal. And there's that bell, in during their training if you if you quit, you have to hit the bell on the way out and nobody wanted to hit the bell on right.

Jon Gustafsson 45:30
Now what, but but mind you with the the documentary, I couldn't tell the whole story in the documentary? I will, there were, there were things that happened that I couldn't put into the film, because at the time, they would have ruined people's careers. Because there were times when we basically reached some sort of point of madness. And I remember this one night party until five or six in the morning in this country hotel, Friday night, everybody getting drunk and everybody on whatever mushrooms or whatever they could find. And these two Canadian guys come to me and they're very high or somewhere out there and and I said to them, like stupidly Hey guys, you can still make it to regularly in two hours and get there before closing time if you hurry. And I shouldn't have said that. Because they stole a Landrover and started driving at high speeds. The police found them in a field the Landrover had exploded over this farmer's field. And in the vehicle, I mean, land rover is a tough vehicle, but it wasn't spread all over the place. Both guys lived, they survived. They were bruised and battered, but they probably survived because they were so drunk and loose and stuff right now. Yeah. I couldn't put this into the documentary because these were friends of mine, and they would have exposed you know, something that we didn't want to expose. There was a there was not, I don't think the same night, but a similar night, a British stunt man decided to walk these. It's like three miles from the hotel where we were living and partying to the place where he was living. And he started walking on this Black Country Road with no lighting. You know, wearing black clothes walking along a black sand. Another guy from a different department, equally drunk, decided to steal one of the grip trucks to drive home because he didn't want to walk. And he hit the stunt man. And that was like a career ending injury. And these things I couldn't put in there. Of course

Alex Ferrari 48:15
not. No, of course you'd run into people's careers. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Wow. I mean, talking about a curse Jesus.

Jon Gustafsson 48:25
Well, there was there's like, there's a hint, there's a hint at the end of it. Like when Jerry says, we've been through so much on this film, we've had like, you know, tons of injuries and car crashes and stuff. But I didn't want to explain or, you know, include that. Because these were all my friends, friends of mine.

Alex Ferrari 48:47
Well, everybody listening can watch Wrath of Gods on indie film, hustle TV, which I'm so glad I make it part of our streaming service because I'm proud to avid it is going to be I know a best. Very, very popular, very, very popular on the on the platform. So I do appreciate you putting it on our on our little platform. I appreciate it, man. Now I want to ask you before we go,

Jon Gustafsson 49:13
so it was it did really well on DVD back then. Because Jerry kind of exploded became a huge star. And so it's so a lot on DVD. Great, but those times are over.

Alex Ferrari 49:31
Yes, the DVD days are definitely over but it's still valuable.

Jon Gustafsson 49:36
I'm actually very proud of the of the documentary and there's a there's a little group of documentaries like you said hearts of darkness. burden of dreams. Have you seen that?

Alex Ferrari 49:46
Yeah, of course the Warner Verner

Jon Gustafsson 49:49
Hertzog Yeah. And and I met the met the les Blanc who did that documentary he went with hertz up to the Amazon forest medical Toronto once and I ended up, you know, having a drink with him. And we were talking war stories. And I asked him, did you ever feel like quitting and going home and giving up on this? And he said, Yeah, you know, when the natives were coming over the hill and they were shooting at us with arrows. I think it was day one.

Alex Ferrari 50:23
IV you just have to laugh because it's so insane. But I think that this movie, this documentary definitely is up in that in that in that Echelon. Now tell me Can you tell me a little bit about your new film shadow town

Jon Gustafsson 50:38
Charlottetown is a low budget Icelandic film done in English. Again, Canada, Iceland, co production, it takes place in in Reykjavik. I stupidly decided to film during the darkest time of the year, the you know, December, November, December, where we have three or four hours of half daylight doesn't even get bright. You know, like it just the light meter would go lift up a little bit, and then fall back down. But I ended up with a British wealth actor called john Rees Davis who was in Lord of the Rings. In in one of the sort of most important roles a small small role but Indiana Jones as well. Yeah. He he was he was an all the intelligence movie. And, and which was, which was the only place I'd seen him I've never seen Lord of the Rings. But, but first time I met him, we had lunch when he came to Iceland, and he's walking towards me and I'm like, six feet something and, and he walks to what it had been, had a big beard at the time when we were shooting and he walks towards me and says, My God, you look like a Viking. So I told him, Well, actually, you know, I played a Viking once for 40 days, and I had my own sword. And the worst thing, the hardest thing I've ever had to do was to return my sword to the props or due to the weapons department. Because the sword became a part of me, so make me my most connecting with my Viking heritage. And he just looked straight at me and said, well, Viggo slept with his sword.

Alex Ferrari 52:40
And there you go, and there you go. Now what are you and what are you up to next? What are the projects you got?

Jon Gustafsson 52:51
The the one that I'm trying to finance now is called drama club. When I graduated from, from directing, in California, I came back and I thought I was gonna look, you know, start getting work as a theater director. And the only job I got was to direct an amateur theatre group in a small town, isolated town, and I went there and from from day one, it was a disaster because the three best actors in the whole group had to leave because they were farmers. And the land bearing season started the night before. So I ended up with three car mechanics who couldn't act and that sort of thing. So it's, it's a story of a young young director who gets that job to direct an amateur theater. Okay, so I'm hoping to do that. This summer. I've started the financing process for that. And if that if I don't get the financing this year, I have one of those micro budgets. prior to going that I you know, one of the reasons I started listening to your podcast is, is that approach the, the the the tiny crew? Yep. I mean, I was actually a volunteer at Sundance, when Robert Rodriguez showed up with El Mariachi.

Alex Ferrari 54:19
Oh, wow, that must have been amazing.

Jon Gustafsson 54:21
So I knew him and his his girlfriend and his two lead actors for five days, always had lunch together for five days in a row. And then on day six, he didn't show up. And I was sitting there with his two actors, and they said would work what is Robert? What happened? And he had been just whisked away into stardom, you know, he was signing deals somewhere and so on. So I've always loved that, that approach so so I have this small project ready that I want to do with you know, one camera one sounds to actors And it's it's a story about two people, two young people stuck in Iceland. And for three days and three nights, and both their lives have changed at the end of it. And it's a story about why we're never happy with what's right in front of us. Why? Why we always think there's something better the grass is greener on the other

Alex Ferrari 55:24
side of the fence. Mm hmm. It is. It is a an illness that we filmmakers specifically have, but other most people have as well to glasses.

Jon Gustafsson 55:35
It's a human condition. And, but I need, I need two young actors to smuggle them into Iceland during COVID times, and then we can just isolate ourselves and shoot this film. That's the way to do it. I'd look I did my last two features. We're done like that. And I can't tell you how much how freeing it is. It's so fun. And it's a really wonderful creative process. So if you need any assistance, you let me know, I'll be more than happy to to help you. I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I watched I've seen at least one of them. Yeah. And it's fun. And I find this so fascinating to do it this way. I mean, this is how to documentaries, and I want to do it exactly. Like you do it. Except except I want to meet the actors before I start trading.

Alex Ferrari 56:25
You know what I'm going to say? You should meet actors before you start shooting and don't don't just meet them on day one of the shoot, generally not the best way of going about it. But

Jon Gustafsson 56:35
I have to I've directed a lot of theater. I love spending two months with actors just on the line.

Alex Ferrari 56:44
Absolutely. But unfortunately, I just had four days to shoot an entire movie at Sundance. So you know, and that's a whole other story. But respect, respect to you, man, I appreciate that respect to you, too. My friend shots me after seeing that documentary much respect. Now I'm going to ask I'm going to ask you a last few questions asked all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today? Don't run away, run away.

Jon Gustafsson 57:13
But, you know, I've I've realized it helps to, to study acting. And it really helps to to be your own actor, or marry an actor, you know, because getting getting to getting a relationship. You know, we couldn't name it. We could have like a list of actors who have done it this way acted in their own films, and they be because they have the charisma to do it. But if you're going to be a director, the best thing is read as much as you can and study acting become an actor join a theater group or start doing scene work with with other actors understand what an actor goes through understand what it takes to make a scene work. This is this is because anybody can learn, you know the equipment and stuff. And this is this is what makes it makes you a much more interesting director and filmmaker.

Alex Ferrari 58:15
Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life

Jon Gustafsson 58:21
I'm basically you know, not being too hard on myself. It's it's actually it's actually what would you know, john Reese Davis said when I was saying goodbye to him because I was kind of I was kind of devastated because I didn't get enough data to shoot and and and I was missing this I was missing that I was so much more that I wanted to do. And and and he he said listen, nobody's going to be as critical of your film as yourself. So give yourself a break.

Alex Ferrari 58:58
Good advice, and three of your favorite films of all time.

Jon Gustafsson 59:02
This is a horrible question. It's horrible. I'd love it. I love it because because Can I can I say like all Coen Brothers films and Okay, so

Alex Ferrari 59:12
that's one I'll call them brother films. That's one okay. Number two.

Jon Gustafsson 59:16
Oh, I'm only have two left. I have such a long list just

Alex Ferrari 59:22
to be fair, to be fair, I gave you like 30 movies in the first one. So that's I mean,

Jon Gustafsson 59:31
I'm going to say I'm going to say sweet smell of success. Because it's an amazing film and if you if you if you watch Mac on Netflix, they they studied sweets, Middlesex is when they were before they shot Mac, they they it's it's incredible film. And the last one is is called three colors blue by Krzysztof kieslowski

Alex Ferrari 1:00:03
mono kieslowski of course I love red. My I love red. I love all of them. But I think red was my favorite. I loved absolutely loved red. I am.

Jon Gustafsson 1:00:15
I want to see blue with a friend of mine. And this has never happened before. When the movie ended, we just sat there in silence. And we just couldn't speak. We looked at each other and we just we were we were speechless. That experience of watching that film in in a cinema. When it came out. It was like it felt like something had changed. Your world had changed a little bit. This is the magic of movies. If you will, every now and then a movie comes along and you feel like it has opened a new channel in you in your you emotionally. And you when you leave the theater you're slightly different.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:04
If anyone listening has not seen the trilogy red, red white and blue by keyswitch. Krzysztof kieslowski you have to watch them they are masterpieces they really are and double life of Veronique. I love double life. Nick is the one where he did right before that trilogy was amazing. And now where can people find you and find out more about what you're doing?

Jon Gustafsson 1:01:32
I do a lot of aerial photography, helicopter photography. You can find that on Iceland gone wild.com. My, my film company RTO films, ar ti o films.com. And if you look up my name on Google, you'll find my website yawn gustafson.com.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:59
I john, I appreciate you being on the show you. You telling us your amazing adventures battling the gods in Iceland. And I cannot recommend the movie enough Wrath of Gods for everybody listening. If you're a filmmaker, you have to watch it. You have to watch it. So thanks, my friend.

Jon Gustafsson 1:02:19
Alex, thank you. Thank you for the podcast and everything you do. It really serves a purpose. It is it is especially in COVID times that is giving all of us filmmakers that are sort of stuck around the world, a community it feels like you are a center point for that indie community that I cannot go and meet in Berlin or can so you it's very valuable, what you're doing and incredible interviews. So thank you,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:49
I and that means a lot to me. So thank you so much. I appreciate that very, very much, my friend be well and stay safe. Thank you!

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BPS 285: Creating Friday the 13th & the Horror of Hollywood with Sean S. Cunningham

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Alex Ferrari 0:14
I'd like to welcome to the show Sean Cunningham. How you doing Sean?

Sean S. Cunningham 0:28
I'm doing great. How are you?

Alex Ferrari 0:30
I'm doing great, my friend. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I've you know, I've not only been a fan of of that little movie you did back in the 80s. With the person with the get the hacking and the stuff. I'm a fan of that, and what you did there. But I mean, I when I was in a video store, I worked in a video store from pretty much 88 to 93. Many of your movies were on my shelves from deep star six. And, and so many movies, spring break. And many other ones that you that you directed and produced, which you've done a couple of you've done a few things in the business, my friend, you've done a couple for sure.

Sean S. Cunningham 1:09
I've survived since the 80s.

Alex Ferrari 1:12
Exactly, exactly. So my very first question to you is, how did you get in this business? How did you start? Because you started back in the if I'm not mistaken, the early 70s producing?

Sean S. Cunningham 1:25
Yeah, I got well, it's weird. I was working on Broadway, some stage manager and I thought, Oh, maybe I could produce something off Broadway that would be that would be better than just stage managing all the time. And I looked at that. And I said, John, there's no way I would invest a nickel in an Off Broadway show. And let alone you know, recommend it to my friends and family. So I was looking around, do something. And then I guess the long story short was that I said, Well, if I were going to do a play, you get some actors, you get a script, get some costumes, you rehearse that, when you finish, then it's done and you show it to people. So making a movie can be more different than that. Exactly. And so that's how that's really how it started, I made a I made a sort of was the name used to be white coder, you know, an actor or come out in a white coat, and say in the better interests in the interests of better marriages in interpersonal relationships. I'm going to show everybody how to fuck better. Fair enough this week, but we didn't. This was before. Before there were any any overt pornography, but it was a it was a strange way to get started. But it spoke to the fact that I think one of my biggest assets is I didn't know what I didn't know. So therefore, I didn't have these red lights saying, oh, you can't do that. Or that's crazy. Or, you know, what are you doing? And I would just just kept staggering forward. And what happened with this, this little movie is that, oh, I needed to get in a movie theater. So I got the yellow pages, which they had then and when are movie theaters, and near the top of the listings was Brandt theaters. Now bingo Brandt was in his day, a legend his family owned a whole bunch of property in New York and they own theaters and 42nd Street. And he was very kind and he said he looked at your movie, I play a movie kid. And I said, Great. How does that work? And he explained it to me and and you know, a certain amount of money comes into the box office. And then after that we split it 5050 I said, Okay, that's how it works fine. And he ran the damn movie. I think it ran for something like 27 weeks or something on the corner of 42nd Street and Broadway. And so the Make no mistake, the movie is terrible. I mean, you know it, I mean, and even looking at it kindly. It was terrible. But I had something that other people didn't have as I was a producer of a hit movie. You know, it had play, you know, it got made for $1 and a half and it played in Times Square. And it made a bunch of money compared to what it costs. And so that was that was basically the beginning for me. And good. No, I was just that I I had a background in theater and then doing Broadway shows and Shakespeare and stuff like that. But what drove me when I first wanted the film business and continued to drive me for a long time was not to not to fulfill, you know, some great creative vision, you know, I just wanted to make something and sell it for more than it costs to make it, you decide a family, and kids and you know, all kinds of things. And so I had to I was in the movie business to make a living. Now, that's not to say I didn't enjoy a whole bunch of different things and, and different kinds of movies and try to, you know, tried to figure it out. But at the end of the day, I think that that was, that was one of my guiding principles is, you know, how can you who's gonna buy this, and, and why.

Alex Ferrari 5:59
And you know what, I'll tell you that's so refreshing, because most filmmakers that go into the business go into it as an artist, and not as a business person. And if you can find that combination of a businessman and an artist, or a business person and an artist, too, that's when you get real success. And it was really interesting that you came out as a producer first, correct. Before you before you started directing. And then you produced another little film with a young up and coming horror director, Wes something or other? Yeah. The last house on the left and 1972 you was that his first film as a director?

Sean S. Cunningham 6:36
Yes, it was. Wes and I met at 56, West 45th Street, and he was working as a cab driver. And he was also syncing up documentary 60 millimeter film down the hall. And, and we needed someone to help in the editing room, and we became friends. And, and there came a time when, when some of these guys that I knew, wanted to make a feature film for their driving theaters. And so they asked if we wanted to do it, I said, Yeah, I think so. Let's I never made them. This is a movie movie. And, and, and West said, you're all writing because he likes to write was one of his one of his things. And, and so we got this script, which is kind of roughly inspired by version spring. And, and, you know, and it had some, you know, dreadful, horrible twists in it. And we just, you know, it was like, I'm being kids sneaking out at night and drawing graffiti on the on the walls, and nobody catches, you go home, dude. And but that was, and that picture was turned into, you know, sort of a cult film. But this time, it was so disturbing to people who saw it. They wanted to close the film down or, or, you know, Lynch the people who made it. And, and it's true, and

Alex Ferrari 8:32
No, I know, it was 1972. I mean, you said,

Sean S. Cunningham 8:36
Was released we made in 71 70 71. And was like, how do you really becomes how do you do this? You know, I remember it was, yeah, it was shortly after, after last house. I went to California to see people in the movies for the first time. And there was a company called American International pictures, and met this guy called Sam arc off and he got me onto a few sets. And I came home with these stories. And it included. Say, Wes, let me tell you about this. There's a jam called script supervisor.

Far as we were concerned, you know, that was somebody that just took a roll of tape, held it up to the camera and gave, you know, clap to sync it up. Or if you had a cigarette to know how long it was on a certain line but but not only was a great idea, but I just didn't know that there was somebody that really did that job, professionally, and how important that job turned out to be. But that's the kind of less The kind of ignorance I was dealing with.

Alex Ferrari 10:02
And then also, I mean, back in the 70s. Look in the 80s. When I was coming up in the early 90s, there was barely any information about the filmmaking process in the public eye. I mean, you had to go to a film school and even in the 70s, I mean, film schools were starting to get off the ground with Coppola and those guys. And Scorsese and, and them coming up. But there was just wasn't a lot of information. Now, everybody knows what the script supervisor, everybody knows what like they, you know, ever you can make a movie with your iPhone. So it's so much more information out there about the process. I can only imagine you guys were just basically bumping around in the dark, essentially. Yeah, yeah.

Sean S. Cunningham 10:39
And you know, and we survived her lucky to get by. And then we went on to whatever the next, whatever the next thing was going to be.

Alex Ferrari 10:48
So then there was a another movie that came out out of California, that about this guy with a mask on, who was killing? Who's killing people. And it was a huge hit. I remember it was called Halloween. It was it was called Halloween, and it was a big hit. And then, was that the inspiration for you to start trying to figure out Friday the 13th?

Sean S. Cunningham 11:12
In some ways, it was I saw Halloween. Oh, gosh, I don't remember six months, maybe before Friday 30s. Before I decided to do phrase searches, maybe nine months, I don't know. But I thought the covers are made a terrific film. But what I really liked about it was that it was so small. And so so personal, you know, seemingly Curtis going around the dark house and some Steadicam stuff outside and, and and it just really worked. And so it's you know, it said, you don't have to have these giant crews and do all this big stuff. We could make a small movie song as so long as there was a market for it. And maybe you can figure out how to make how to make, you know, a scary movie, you know, at this point, last house was in my rearview mirror way back. And I didn't want to make some version of last house again. But and I had been I made two children's films in the late 70s, which a loved one was on baseball, the other side on soccer. And I thought that that was where my career was probably going. And the soccer movie was actually it was okay. But it got optioned by United Artists. And so they wanted to make it into a TV series. That was great. But it's gonna take six to nine months or, you know, to roll around. So how am I going to raise money? What am I going to do to keep the machine going? And when I was working on the kids, soccer roving. One of the things you do is you come up with trying to come up with titles, this movie opens, nobody comes better titles get a different title. And so you make lists of titles. And well, I was one day when making lists of titles. I said on Friday the 30s, huh, man, if I had a movie called Fridays or teeth, I could sell that, you know, that was the that was the entire thought. And so that, you know, cut to six months later, however, however long was the end of nose around the Fourth of July. And I said, Let's try to make let's try to make a scary movie. I want to call it Friday the 13th. And it was a question of, well, can you get the rights and who knows what the rights are? And I said, Well, yeah, I think so. And so I took out a full page ad in variety, you know, Friday, the 13th crashing through mirrors and glass, the most terrifying film ever made in. And I figured if there was somebody that had the rights to that isn't gonna respond. And few weeks passed, I never heard word one from a lawyer. And, and but I didn't hear from distributors said Well, I'd be interested in that. And I'd be interested in that. So we spent the rest of the summer trying to come up with a movie, which was okay, what's scary, what can you do this, like, scary? And, and be kind of fun. And Victor Miller, who I was working with at the time, you know, we said, well, what if it's sort of like, you're a kid and you're in bed and you think that, oh, there's somebody in the closet and the kids holy? All right. Well, well, let's make a catalogue of those things and, and see if we can include them in this sort of structure. So I was trying to Find set pieces that seem like, seem like they would go together and Reyes, roughly I mean, it's, you know, is kind of 10 Little Indians got a bunch of people in the woods dying and being killed. And so you in the audience say, Oh, who's doing that? Oh, not her, she's dead. But he died too. So he gets smaller and smaller. And it wasn't that it wasn't that I had ideas of trying in some way to imitate Johnsville. Halloween, it was just that we had a small budget, we didn't have any stars, we didn't have any distribution or production plans. But figured let's just try to make this thing and see it, see if it works. And, and then we'll come back to the children's film spring.

Alex Ferrari 15:55
So personal, it seems to me that that you guys were basically creating the template for this kind of horror movie, because I know John's had a high school that was a little bit bigger in scope. Then Friday, the 13th, you, if I'm not mistaken, was the first movie which is like, take a bunch of kids into the woods and kill them off one by one. I don't think that's basically a template for a film now like what?

Sean S. Cunningham 16:21
Yeah, I would hasten to tell you and anybody that happens to be listening to that, I think that there were so many shortcomings in Friday the 13th. And, and the film was grossly successful, not because of those things that we did wrong, but in spite of them. So what happened was, so what happened was that, oh, look at all the money they made, all they did is take a bunch of kids in the woods, chop them off, and, and there, you already have a movie, I think he killed 10, people will kill 20, it'll be so much better. And the thinking isn't far off of that. But I you know, over time, forever and ever. I keep thinking, no most important part of anything you do, like this is the story. And the story that you're going to tell. And it's very, very hard to come up with a good story well told. But that's, that's where the money is. And if you can figure out how to do it, or how to get a story, then you're off to a good start. And I think people who write good screenplays get paid a ton of money. And the biggest reason is that, so few people can do it, you know, and it takes, you know, it takes so long to learn that craft. It's not just getting a copy final draft and start typing. See, you know, it's it's different than that. So I, I think that my advice is, you know, three most important things in a movie or story, story and story.

Alex Ferrari 18:17
Without without, without question. And you know, when you're out there making this, it's again, it sounds like you guys were just literally bumping around that night, no pun intended. While you were making Friday the 13th. And you know, you've got a bunch of young kids, one of them happened to be a young Kevin Bacon, which is I always find fascinating. He'd done a I think he'd done Animal House. He was an animal house prior to that. And I'm sure he was just happy to get a job at that point. He wasn't sure. He wasn't. He wasn't Footloose just yet. Yeah. He wasn't great at you know, a great kill, if you will, if you're gonna say kids in that film. And so you so you decided to make this movie, you're starting to cast? Who gives you money for this kind of film that it is not? Other than Halloween? Been a financial success yet? Because it came up pretty. Pretty soon right after Halloween. So within a year or two, right? Yes, yes, within a couple of years. So Halloween is the only one that's done like, broke that kind of opened the door open about it and said, Hey, there's a market here, who who's crazy enough to give you the money to make this right now?

Sean S. Cunningham 19:28
What happened was that John, John's Halloween was a really good movie, but it was in the days of view used to go to Cincinnati, and you'd have 10 prints in the back of your car. Right and you sneak out some new newspaper ads and put up posters in the lobby and see if people came you might have radio as you know, you're trying to figure out how to do it. And if it works, okay in Cincinnati and you get your 10 prints or then hopefully it's When he prints you go on to the next market and now you've refined your refined your sales strategy, and you go to another market, but you never opened why that nothing was really never done. The first picture to open really wide in I think was 800 theaters at once was drawers. Right? And when it came time to figure out what are we gonna do with Friday 13th A backup and tell you that the money that came the money for Friday this Thirteen's came primarily from owners of theatres and drive ins. And we had we had worked on some other little things before. And I wasn't ever sure if I really wanted to get back into into bed with these guys. But I said what the hell, we'll just we'll make a movie and just do it. And so they have relationships with Frank Mancuso. And paramount. And we took it to Paramount and Paramount, the executives, for reason I can't understand they just loved it. And then what they want us to do is schedule a second screening, and then bring all the secretaries that they could and, and kids if they could enter the screening and wait for the ending and the popcorn go flying. And they laugh. And it was so mad, because at that point was head of distribution of leave at Paramount. And he decided he's going to take this little movie with the name Friday the 13th and no stars, and no apparent, you know, story to you know, to push and open it nationally. And it's like, okay, hold on your seats. I don't, because this could, if this hadn't failed, he might have lost his job. It was one of those. It was one of those like all in moments for him. And as it turned out, he was absolutely right. And he went on to become president of Paramount and do other things.

Alex Ferrari 22:20
But the when I if I remember the release of or studying, going back and studying the release of a Friday the 13th it was it was released widely. But the trailer for it if you just were basically selling the title, and there's some kills. And that was essentially it wasn't a story plot. It wasn't. It was just like it's called Friday the 13th the most terrifying day in the calendar. You know, next to Halloween, if that if that price scarier than Halloween because it's not a it's not a

Sean S. Cunningham 22:55
What I have found is it has universal psychic real estate, you know, people carry around this this thing about Friday 13th And bad luck. And, and it it transcends almost all cultures because every culture, they may not call a Friday the 13th. But they have a day of the year, which is predicated on top ladders and that kind of thing.

Alex Ferrari 23:22
Right! It's all it's all kind of bad luck stuff. Yeah. In Now, going back a little bit, though. When you were you came up with the characters you came up with you were you writing the

Sean S. Cunningham 23:33
Victor Miller, I and and Steve minor and Tom Savini were sort of fixated, I first had this notion of you know, 10 little Indians happening at a summer camp. And and Steve was going to be the line producer. And we're trying to figure out how to get a special effects guy. And we went and that and there's this guy in Pittsburgh, and Savini Gee, can we try to find them track them down and stuff and, and we did and he got in this car was his friend taso and came up to Connecticut. And he was so excited and so psyched to do this. And, and so we're all just working with Yeah, you've got a kid in the woods and he dies. Okay, what happened? And how do you make it scary and how do you shoot it? And and, and, and, and, you know, none of it could have been done? What you know, all four of us really combined to to make it make it happen.

Alex Ferrari 24:46
What a Tom do prior to that, like there wasn't a lot of

Sean S. Cunningham 24:51
Night of the living dead.

Alex Ferrari 24:53
Oh, that's the original?

Sean S. Cunningham 24:54
The original. I think that was that was his only that was his only credit Which, as you may recall, is pretty good credit. Yeah, well now it's a really good credit at the time. You know, what's this? What the hell is this? I want to see sound the music and I am in here.

Alex Ferrari 25:16
So he was just a young kid who's super excited about makeup and Roy, I think that's the movie that essentially launched his career after that he was a very, very busy man in the 80s.

Sean S. Cunningham 25:27
Oh, yeah, he continues to this day. No, he studied with a guy named I believe. I want to say did Clark, Rick Baker, Rick Becker, thank you. And, and he really knew how to do prosthetics and all that kind of stuff. And he wanted to do it. And he told me, he's like, I Have a Dream speech. But his dream was he wanted to chop somebody's head off on camera. You know, so you could really sell that had never been done before. And that Yeah, and so we figured out that, you know, very carefully the staging the blocking for for how we could chop this up. Well, first of all,

Alex Ferrari 26:11
I mean, you essentially ushered in the slasher, the slasher, as we know it, to a certain extent helped help help it help that along without question, and I think it was after Friday the 13th. That's when there was a couple of copycat just a couple of copycats. Chopping wall, Chuck slaughter, slaughter house,slaughter party ,chopping mall, genius! I was watching I watched the trailer the other day, I was like, what I remembered in the thing I remembered in the video store I used to I used to, I used to rent all this stuff, and people would come in and Friday the 13th we're all up there all 450 versions came out. And then you know, obviously Freddy, and all these kinds of that that decade is where all of the the characters that we you know, horror, horror lovers love like the Freddy's the Jason's the Michael Myers. And then then they started to go from there. But those are the original. The originals that came out of it, that whole thing. Now, look, as a director, we always have a day that we feel like the entire world is coming crashing down around us. And that we're that I mean, that's generally every day. But there's always that one day in the project, that you're like, Oh my God, I don't know if we're gonna make it here. Like I can't catch my get my day done or the camera falls into the lake or prosthetic isn't work. What was that? That? Were you? Did you have any of those days on Friday? The 13th? And how did you

Sean S. Cunningham 27:48
I think every filmmaker has had that day. I mean, there may be worst days, but the oh my god, I'll never work again day. Which, you know, you've you thought this movie was going to be set just going to work so well. And you've got as tight as you can. And then you show it to you show it to an audience. You're sitting in the audience. And they're getting ahead of you. And it's not working for this audience. And oh, why did they leave that in? I should have cut it out on what am I going to do? And and then you know, that's sort of like day one, and then you recon and, and try to come up with a movie that that represents what you were doing. But so for you. There's always that screening a screening doesn't necessarily have to be in front of a paying audience. A could can be first studio, it can be for a focus group, but it's one of the you're sitting there with strangers who have nothing invested in the movie. And they're going and what the hell is that?

Alex Ferrari 28:51
Was that empty? Was that ending? Always there?

Sean S. Cunningham 28:54
No, no, the ending was the ending was something that that one of my investors wanted to he wanted to try. And it just seems so stupid. Me This is a reality based 10 Little Indians thing. And I've said I get it. But I don't know how we can insert it into the movie because as it was conceived is she's just there and the thing that was scripted was everything was her on the lake and the police arriving and everything. And then just I don't know where this creature comes up out of the out of the bottom and grabs.

Alex Ferrari 29:43
It sounds horrible. By the way, it says yes, you're explaining a horrible idea.

Sean S. Cunningham 29:47
And it was and and and I said I wouldn't or wouldn't couldn't shoot it until we figured out what Wouldn't what would follow it? What's the epilogue the coda? You can't you can't just end the movie with a punch in the stomach like that it's, you know, no explanations or anything. And once we got the little there's little epilogue with Allison and hospital bed and, and dreaming about the things that happen. Did it happen? Did it not happen and stuff? Like, once you had that, okay, now we have least a place where it could go it might be understood maybe it was a dream, maybe it wasn't. And Sametime Savini just grabbed a hold of that. And he just, he was, he came up with this deformed creature. And, and, and he just and it had to work underwater and had to do all these different things. And and he, you know, he just, he created that. The that that creature that 12 year old boy or whatever it was, are a limb. I've tell you, sir, my son, Noah was supposed to play that role. It was mostly Jason in the lake until his mother found how you are not taking my son and putting them in the ice cold water. That's crazy. Get somebody else and so that that's how we that's how he lost the part in there. He could have held it.

Alex Ferrari 31:28
I'm sure. And I'm sure he was. I'm sure he's given me some somehow over the years over

Sean S. Cunningham 31:32
Over the years. Yeah. But at the time, it was like, Oh, good. I don't have to do it. Jesus that that water so called.

Alex Ferrari 31:38
I mean, he could be signing in conventions right now. Oh, yeah. Well, so so with the that's what one thing that always it's one of those trivia questions is like, who is the killer in the first Friday the 13th? And the wrong answer is Jason. Because everyone always says Jason is Jason's mom, but it's one of those one of those lovely questions. Now also, you know, I'm sure you've seen scream at this way in your life. It was a scream, and a lot of those rules that he put in the movie or Kevin, Kevin Williamson, who wrote it, put in the movie about don't have sex. You know, don't say I'll be right back.

Sean S. Cunningham 32:18
All the horror tropes and

Alex Ferrari 32:20
All the tropes. Many of those started in Friday the 13th Am I wrong?

Sean S. Cunningham 32:27
Yeah. Some of them did. I mean, it's, you know, you got 10 Kids in the woods, and you're going to chop them up. Okay. If they could do, yeah, and, but I think one of the things that happened is that people started to impose a morality on top of it, like, you know, the, the loose girl and, and the, and the pod has, well, they've gotta go, you know, because they're obviously the bad people who are not behaving well. It's a cautionary tale. So we're going to really be rooting for this one girl, but we're going to kill the others, because they're so irresponsible. And that just made makes a bad situation just that much worse. It's just, it's just a bad idea. And, and I think that the, the underlying, scary part of, of Friday, 30s, and things that followed it. I think it came from Jaws, that there's a shot in Jaws, about halfway through the movie, and they've opened the beaches, and it's sunny out, it's Fourth of July or something. And, and there's a shot of the shark going down, and he's looking up and, and he sees nothing but legs, and they're all people and young people and women and men and, and the and he's going to just eat somebody, and it really depends how hungry is it has nothing to do with, oh, I'm going to eat, you know, I'm going to eat that dope, dope smoking jerk, or I'm going to get the tramp or some, no, it can happen to anybody at any time, for reasons which are completely beyond our control. And knowing that I mean, I think that's a core beliefs that we all have. And we need to we have this cognitive dissonance because what we do on a daily basis is deny that anything really bad could happen to us. And on the other hand, there's a part of us that knows it could happen at any moment, the rational versus the irrational, you know, and we're hardwired to ignore it. But nevertheless, it's it's in there. And it's this the dynamic effect fairytales where you look at something that you know, is true, or could be true, and it's really scary. So you've freeze up, but when you see it in the safety of a movie theater, or you know somebody telling you a story about once upon a time You know, you get to be exposed to your father dying or, you know, being abandoned by your parents or whatever it is, that might happen. And, and you see it so many times, and as you see it, you get a little bit numb or a little bit numb, or to the thing that was really so scary to you in the first place. And, and in a way, it's sort of it's establishing value systems. And it's it's a way of teaching you to deal with or saying that there are tough things you have to deal with in life. And you can do it, then you know, and I think that that's, that's my understanding about how how horror films have, you know, a lot of them were at their core, they were fairy tales, that were

Alex Ferrari 35:57
It's cathartic. It's cathartic,

Sean S. Cunningham 35:59
And catharsis. And there's a book by a guy named Bruno Bettelheim, which called the uses of enchantment which really opened my eyes to this. And it's, you know, I, anyway, that's

Alex Ferrari 36:15
You actually answered a question that I hadn't I was about to ask, which was, why do you think these films have lasted the test of time? Characters like Jason and Freddy and Michael, that that we just keep coming back to these these monsters, even jaws? And those kinds of what was about them? What are about these films that people keep watching them, not only again, and again, but keep, like, I mean, obviously, from Friday the 13th there was maybe 234 You know, five big horror movies and obviously, the exorcist and all those kind of movies, which were different. But then the slasher genre, it just kept growing and growing. What is it about that genre of horror that people just kept going back to? And in many ways having fun with because originally, if I remember, Freddy, Friday was terrifying. But then Friday turned into a comedy routine with some more adventure and Jason

Sean S. Cunningham 37:17
I think what I don't think people keep going back to horror films. Because of their horror films, they go back to experience. You know, why does the kid say no, no, read me the readme of the story again from the beginning. And, and don't change it because oh, he doesn't like it when you change it. But you know, from the beginning. I think that some strange strange things happened to Jason and to Freddy and Michael Myers, I think, but he started particularly with Jason and flirty, his you went you went to the movie, for whatever reasons. He's going on a roller coaster. It's like, oh my gosh, oh, my God. Yeah, I went, Oh my God, and you know, and it becomes kind of a fun, crazy event. And then there's another and then you start saying, Okay, let's we're gonna have a softball game. Friday. searchings we're gonna have a softball game. We're gonna choose up sighs Okay, I got the big guy with a mask. Who do you got?

Alex Ferrari 38:27
The big guy with the mask that doesn't die. That guy.

Sean S. Cunningham 38:30
He'll be on my side. Yeah, you can have those for football players no problem. And the I think that I think that there's something in in the transformation of this called JSON pretty JSON, slash or flatten you kind of and that is that it's, it's it's, it's kind of Revenge of the Nerds on steroids. You know, so much of the audience feels like, you know, they did they were allowed to sit at the cool kids lunch table.

Alex Ferrari 39:15
Oh, and all the cool kids are the ones dying leader son.

Sean S. Cunningham 39:18
And the same thing happens in living dead, where you can shoot the principal of the school, if he's got that look in his eye, you know, and, and I, there's just kind of I think nobody's ever said that one for one. But I think that that's the, that's the thing that happens. And so if you're gonna go out and experience that now, it's sort of predictable, like a roller coaster ride where they're gonna be things that are scary and bloody and gory. But you can't scare me know that because I got the big guy on my side. People that you know, you go to a roller coaster ride In six flags or someplace, there's gonna be a lot of people get on a roller coaster. There's a whole bunch of people sitting on the bench. They don't want to get on the roller coaster and they're never going to get on the roller coaster. And and so that this experience is not for everyone. You can't make it for everyone. You're crazy if you think you can, because she can't. There are people that like the roller coasters on people that don't. And liking the roller coaster has to do with those moments where you have no control, you think that you're enormous Jeopardy, but at the same time, you're strapped in and in their bars and harnesses and stuff. But still, there's that moment and you know, and then if you're like a fan, you start, you know, putting your arms up in the air. I'm not afraid of anything. But no,

Alex Ferrari 40:51
I understand. No, but I understand where you're coming from. Completely. You're absolutely right. I've never thought of it that way. But that makes so much sense. Because in a lot of those movies, I don't remember it might have happened, but I don't remember them killing the nerds. It's always you know, the beautiful girl that the big jock. Those people that the cool kids are the ones that go that go first. I remember and I don't remember, many nerds getting knocked out? Because he's like, Well, yeah, it's equivalent of kicking the dog. Like you don't do that. You can get a dog, you can't kick a dog in the movie, because that's the villain. No, I didn't ask you. I do want to ask you, Shawn, after the movie comes out. It's a huge, huge hit. It is one of these, you know, biggest independent films of its day? I'm assuming you get a few phone calls. And how did the town treat you? And why didn't you keep going down that road? You know, as as a filmmaker, because you didn't do the second or third or fourth? Or any other Jason movie? Why didn't you go down that road? Where others have just curious?

Sean S. Cunningham 42:03
Well, if it were to happen again, tomorrow, you know, I I would definitely, you know, ordered my business life differently. But I didn't you know, Friday searching Susie took a bunch of kids in the woods and chopped them up. I didn't want to do that every year. And you know, find, you know, better machetes, and I wasn't what I wanted to do. Friday searching I was, I was naive enough. Like I said, my education took all time to think that, you know, they say, oh, Shawn, you made a really, really terrific hit movie, and we'd love to meet with you. And, and then it would always come around to so what do you want to do next? Now me? I thought Eric comes out. Yeah, I thought that the guy sitting behind the desk, has got a whole filing cabinet full of great scripts. He just hasn't found the right director. And and he's What do you want to do next? And my answer was kind of, I don't know, what do you got? The only thing that the guy sitting behind the desk will see here's, I'd like to do Friday the 13th every year until I die, you know, and oh, and I could have signed up at that point. I had no idea that that was you know, I thought I think I sound a phrase searching this is a sample real kind of she I can drag. You got anything.

Alex Ferrari 43:41
Now let me go back real movies. Yeah.

Sean S. Cunningham 43:44
And I'm gonna have a script supervisor this time.

Alex Ferrari 43:48
I hear they're important. It it's fascinating, because I've had a lot of people on my show over the years, who had these kind of like, lottery ticket moments. I mean, you were one of the you and John and Wes, you had these kinds of lottery ticket moments where you had extremely massive hits. And how you, you know, I've seen a lot of them just go go a different direction. Because like, I don't want to do that for the rest of my life. And every one of them said, If I would have known now, if I would have known then what I know now. Yeah, I would have done at least three or four more. Just just and then retire.

Sean S. Cunningham 44:37
Yeah. Well, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 44:40
But you had it but you had a hell of I mean, you had a hell of a run in the 80s as well. Yeah,

Sean S. Cunningham 44:43
I had I mean, I got a lot I got to make a lot of movies and and, and, you know, the challenge of making any movies you know, it's an it's like climbing a mountain you just get together with a bunch of people you know, Try to do this thing, it's really hard to separate from the content, it's just making movies is really hard. It's really hard work and you and you meet and bond with a bunch of people making movies is making room movies is the fun part of whatever, whatever we do, the rest of the time is spent trying to get the movies made, and that gets sold or sold. Yeah. I would. I know that I know that a number of your viewers are probably film students are people relatively new to relatively new to the business. And he talked about going to film school and so on. What nobody ever tells a film student is you go and you learn about the cameras, and you'd learn up and now you'd learn about certain kinds of media and, and you learn how to make and do all this great stuff. But there are no jobs for you, none, none, nobody's going to hire you to do that. If you really want to do that, what you have to do is along with everything else you've been doing, is learn how to raise money. And, and if and it's very difficult, and until you get a handle on that you're going around you know the script in your under your arm trying to get somebody to give you enough money or to make it for you, and it doesn't happen. It only happens if you find a way and yet being a type A personalities critically think you got to go out and find find a way to get enough money to make it. And if it's $5,000 Do you take your iPhone, you go out or your iPad and you go out and and and shoot it and do the best you can come back and make another one next week. And the week after that we got through that. Because that's the only way you're going to learn learn how to do it. And and nobody's going to give you the money to do it. You have to find and by the way, everybody gets money, different ways, different places, different times. Oh, but that's, that's one of the things that they don't teach in film school. And it's, you know, it's a critical lesson. And you know, you probably more than I but see a lot of people that are talented and they've got great footage and they can't get hired. They can't, you know, they can't break in. And but there isn't a way to break it. There isn't an apprenticeship.

Alex Ferrari 47:40
You know, for for directors is tough for other parts. Yeah. camera department art department.

Sean S. Cunningham 47:46
Yeah, but those yeah, that's, that's a completely other thing. Yeah. And, you know, if you have the, if you have the right bloodlines, for the right genes, you gauge that you can be, you know, a dolly grip, too. But I'm talking about the the, the people that you go to film school, you don't go to film school via grip, you go to be filmmaker, a storyteller and stuff like that. And that's what you have to keep doing. But you're going to be on your own for a long time trying to do that. And if you know that going in, it's it's better than if you don't.

Alex Ferrari 48:22
It's really and I appreciate that, because that's a very wise piece of information there. Because I've come to understand, I heard this the other day, and I thought this was fantastic. And so it's so perfectly defines our industry, which is, it is possible for anyone to direct the movie, but it's not probable. Okay? Because he's like, there's so much work that goes because at the beginning, everyone can make a movie like, oh, it's possible. Yeah. And now more than ever more than in your day, your day to day that was much harder to get a movie off the ground. Now, you could go make a movie for three or five grand, and you can. But the probability of that happening is very small. Because the amount of work, things have to line up, things have to fall into place. You have to be persistent. The perseverance years, like you said, to get things done. And you know, I've been in the business now closing in on 30 years. And that is really the definition of our business because it's possible. Yes, that's what Hollywood sells. Anyone can be a star. Anyone can be a director. Anyone can write a million dollar script.

Sean S. Cunningham 49:36
Oh, forget and nobody knows anything.

Alex Ferrari 49:39
And nobody knows anything. But you you can win. But the probability of you selling a script for a million dollars. How many scripts get sold for a million dollars? Right? A handful. How many filmmakers make a studio movie now? None. Very few young filmmakers make them is very small. So at just thought that was such an interesting and it's a raw, it's a tough pill to swallow, but it is the truth of our business. Would you agree?

Sean S. Cunningham 50:07
Absolutely. It's it's. Yeah, anyone can, but most people, you know, could could get it together to get a movie made somehow. Not likely, like you said, this is not probable, but it's a lot of work. And it has nothing to do with what you learned when you studied making movies. It's, it's an integral part of making movies, that's just ignore him. Thinking about a few things that that, you know, when I, when I talk to people, about the movies, my, I stay away from the technical, technical issues, because I don't know him as well as all the people that do them every day. But it seems to me that there are a few really important things. One is, I'm going to refer to something called your ad, the poster, or, back in the day, we call this the one sheet. But today, it might be the billboard on Sunset Boulevard, or the thumbnail in Netflix or the thumbnail. So what is the thumbnail for your movie? And because what is contained in there? If it's done, right, is the promise of what the movie is, you know, and you. So from day one, you know, what you promise the audience and then you have to deliver on that. But you have to keep coming back to it. You don't think about it later. If you think about this, I read the script and the pages did they just, you know, took all my emotional energy. I just couldn't couldn't stop reading it. Okay, what's the poster? How, you know, how are you going to? How are you going to get people in it? Because what you what you're doing for all intents and purposes is you're you're making this thing, and then you're stopping strangers on the street saying, wait, wait, wait, wait, come with me, please, I want to show you something. And it's a movie and you're really going to, I promise, you're really going to like it, please come with me. And you try to get him to your point and you put them in the seat. And that'll be 15 bucks. And then the guy has to sit there for the next two hours of his life, and leave happy. And that's what we do. And if he doesn't leave happy, you don't get a chance to do it again, or not very soon. And so I think that that's knowing what the poster is, and embracing the fact that you have an audience that is vital to what we do for a living. The other thing that I think gets lost and and that's who do you make a movie for? Who's your audience. And I think the way to approach it is you're creating a gift for somebody. And it's not for you to find yourself, and to work out your anxieties and work out.

Alex Ferrari 53:32
That's an art film, that's an art.

Sean S. Cunningham 53:35
But even when you're not feeling, you know, you you're making it for somebody else, and you want it to be good and you want to be able to give, give it to this other person, or people and they're going to be glad that they got it. And they'll they'll react to the fact that you really did the best you could to create this gift for them. And that is those are that's what you're doing if you're doing it right. And those aren't words you hear very often. But I think they're I think they're really critical.

Alex Ferrari 54:10
Those offensive I mean, those those words, I mean, I've been yelling both of those things from the top of the mountain for quite some time. Now, Shawn, it is something that's so important and filmmakers, they don't they don't think about it. They don't think about the poster. They don't think about the marketing. They don't think how they're going to sell it. And they definitely don't think about the audience. They just think about I want to make this movie I want to put this out there. But if you don't think of who this is for, it's just an expensive art man. It's just not a this is not paint on canvas. This is not writing a book. You know, this is this is expensive art that takes a lot of time, a lot of collaboration, a lot of things to fall into place for it to be done. Period, let alone well because there's a lot of movies made. And then there's this many that are really good and and stand the test of time, for whatever reason is and it is I appreciate you saying that and it coming out of your mouth. Hopefully, people listening will listen,

Sean S. Cunningham 55:07
They hear and wants to anyway.

Alex Ferrari 55:09
But it's interesting, but it's something that needs to be, especially for younger filmmakers or first time filmmakers, they don't understand that I wrote a whole book about that about like, understand your niche audience, understand your audience, and build a product for that audience, build that thing that serve them, and really connect with them. And it's it is something that is not talked about very often. So I do appreciate you saying that. There is one question I always have to ask this.

Sean S. Cunningham 55:38
I need you to go. No offense.

Alex Ferrari 55:40
No, no, no, no, it's not done on us that that kind of answer that that question. But I've always wanted to ask this question. Because you do go to cons. And you go and you sign a cons and, and I've been to MIT, I've signed up some, some cons. I've I've experienced it myself. And I've, I've gone to horror conventions. Earlier, when I had one of my first films and I met a lot of your contemporaries and all that stuff. When you first got called. They say, hey, Shawn, we know when they bring you over to a comic book convention or horror convention to sign what did you think your wedding?

Sean S. Cunningham 56:21
I'd say exactly what I saw. Are you out of your fucking mind?

Alex Ferrari 56:26
You are me.

Sean S. Cunningham 56:27
And when I'm one night was like, that's, you know, if, if you hit 62, homeruns, and a baseball, she's, okay, go sign up baseball. I but I'm just a guy. And, you know, to, to charge somebody for signing something seems crazy. And so I didn't do it. And, and I still I still do. Not many. But I really enjoy it because I get to I get to better understand people that are fans of the genre. And you get it, it's really, it's really kind of good for your it's good to be reminded of the people that are out there. And, and that they're often really nice people.

Comic book and horror that they're such sweet people, most of them I've ever met.

And Wes refer to themselves as wearing urban camouflage. Paint don't, you know, they don't want to stick out and they want to be with their be with people that share their values and their sense of fun and entertainment. But there's kind of a uniform, so that if you are one of them, you Oh, he's our he's our kind of people. And you learn that and I, I like I like interacting with the fans. And it's just, it means so much more to them than it has to be.

Alex Ferrari 58:22
Right. I understand. I understand that completely.

Sean S. Cunningham 58:25
And so I you know, I the notion of selling your signature traits still strikes me as goofy.

Alex Ferrari 58:36
It is a little goofy. And I remember I was at a I was at I think the San Diego Comic Con and I wanted to talk to an actor. And I won't say the name because I'm still a fan. But uh, but I he was just sitting at a booth by himself. There wasn't even an autograph scenario. And I had a statue of one of the characters he played this years ago. And I go, Hey, you know, can you sign this? And he's like, if you want to dedicate it is 275 bucks, if you want it non dedicated is 450 bucks. And I'm like, I'm just a fair match. I just if I'm not selling this, I'm just a fan. He's like, Yeah, that's the price. I'm like, wow. Okay, so there's a dark side to this is what? slumped, but it wasn't even he was just sitting in the corner by himself, like even in an autograph scenario. But it's interesting. It's such an interesting there's a bit there's been documentaries on cones and, and that whole subculture and stuff but I always wanted to ask someone like yourself, what did you think when they first asked you to sign something again?

Sean S. Cunningham 59:40
Yeah, it just seemed

Alex Ferrari 59:42
Looney! Yeah. My name is Mickey Mantle or Tom Cruise.

Sean S. Cunningham 59:46
Right. Right. You know, it's like, do you remember those? There's a TV show East Hollywood Squares. Yeah, I remember. Exactly. Right. And there are individual personalities in each of the boxes right and most of them were famous for being famous not because they didn't need anything you know what was a OJ Simpson's house boy Kato Kaelin he became famous for almost everything in the guest now.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:24
You want to you want to hear a funny side note when I moved to LA my second home was a townhome in Toluca Lake. And I lived across the way from Kate, okay. First, very sweet guy,

Sean S. Cunningham 1:00:39
You went straight to the top.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:41
I mean, I was there, but I arrived right in the middle of now I'm gonna ask you a few questions asked all my guests. Sean, what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Sean S. Cunningham 1:00:53
The smart answer is Don't quit your day job. But I think that, I think then what this has become, is something that you love to do. And this has to do with acting or directing or any number of different things. And it's quite possible, as you say, to do this with the very limited resources that we have at our at our fingertips. And do it and do it and do it and enjoy it. But and do that in the same way that you might enjoy. I don't know, playing softball with the guys over the weekend. You know, it's something that you can love and enjoy and and be fine. How you can do this thing that would then allow you to support yourself doing it is just, it's, it's possible, but it's not probable. Now, there are going to be people say yeah, yeah, whatever. Alright, what else?

Alex Ferrari 1:01:53
That's not me. That's not me.

Sean S. Cunningham 1:01:55
Right! What What else you got, and I say, well, story story story. And, you know, if you can either write or find somebody that really knows how to write well, and, and then tell stories. And don't think that what you're going to do is get it the first time out, or the second or the third. So what you have to do is, you have to keep making mistakes. And that's how you learn anything is you go out, you try something seems like a good idea, the time you fall down doesn't work, you get up and do it again. And the the amount of time it takes they throw around 10,000 hours. And that's not very long. But to convert the 10,000 hours that I think it takes the even heavier ante in the game, as I say, a writer. You can't go to, you know, Robert McKee over the seminar weekend, and then come home and write a great screenplay. You just can't, you get good guidance, but you just can't do that. When you have to, if 10,000 hours is let's just say you don't know anything about carpentry. You know, you've looked at cabinets your whole life, you know exactly what cabinets look like, but you don't know how to make them. So you apprentice yourself to a master carpenter. And he teaches you and you work really hard, five days a week, and Christmas off. And after four to five years, depending you will have put in your 10,000 hours. And at that point, maybe you can make one of those finely fitted cabinets and know how to stain it. Because that's all you've been doing for the last five years. And it's only five years. I mean, if you did that when you were 17 or 18 years old, you come out at the age of 23 as a filing cabinet maker, and then you then you keep building on that. But there's a great deal of I think there's a great deal of time and effort that has to be put into learning the craft. The art comes at the art comes at the end. And you know 90% of what we do is is a craft and it's like any other craft it has to be studied and learned and you have to do the heavy list lifting and you can't you you can't start as a star.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:30
But that's what the film schools teach you your star kid, right? Yeah, and that's that's the afford. Did you ever see the documentary? Jiro Dreams of Sushi? It was a it was an award winning documentary about this master sushi maker and in Japan like he's a he's the only sushi maker to ever win a Michelin star ever. And when you apprentice with him it's a 10 year commitment. The first four years If you don't touch fish, it's all rice. All you do is cook rice for four years. So you learn how to cook rice properly. And then you begin to start touching fish. After four years. Can you imagine?

Sean S. Cunningham 1:05:18
Yeah, it's Oh, god,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:22
There's such a brilliant, but it's such a great thing. It's like, you know, if you want to be a cinematographer, you just want to get on set and start moving lights around and start moving the camera. But no, you've got to learn so much technical knowledge,

Sean S. Cunningham 1:05:34
And and you only learn it by doing it.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:37
Absolutely can't read about it, you can't watch about it. And

Sean S. Cunningham 1:05:41
I think that, yeah, it's, if you want to make a career out of it, what you must do is sell a movie for more than it costs you to make.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:55
Every time Roger Corman style

Sean S. Cunningham 1:05:56
That way, that way, you get to make another movie. And, and that seems overly simplified. But that's got to be at the core of what you're doing if you're trying to make a career out of it. But you don't have to, you can, you can get yourself a camera and microphone and go, shoot whatever you want, and play with it and come up with all kinds of things, show it to your friends, go to film festivals, all that stuff. And you can let you you know, certain people will come up with, I don't know if it's gonna be great art, but it could be really good stuff. But they're not trying to make a living doing that. You've got to have your day job, or married very well.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:40
That's amazing. Great advice. I've had that. That's some advice I've had on that. Like, I talked to one director. And he was advice you give them like rosemary. Well, that's what I that's what I did. And my wife helps me pay for all my movies. So now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Sean S. Cunningham 1:07:01
For me, it's not learning, but it's one of those things you you tried to do? He tried to do the right thing. Don't always do the right thing. And you nobody goes through life without making mistakes and having regrets. But you stay on the road and you do the next right thing. Everything you did yesterday was yesterday. So and that's I mean, that's that's a lesson to be learned every day. But that's, you know, let's try to do

Alex Ferrari 1:07:33
And last question three of your favorite films of all time.

Sean S. Cunningham 1:07:38
Oh, so they go all over the place but I would say love actually saw the Lion King and maize in jars. He just I remember. I remember seeing the alien. The really Scott original. And that was just so good at what he did. He was trying you know, and he just the all all those were for me homeruns

Alex Ferrari 1:08:13
I can't I can't disagree with any of those choices, sir. They're all excellent choices. John, I appreciate your time. My friend. Thank you so much for coming on the show. It has been such a pleasure and honor talking to you about.

Sean S. Cunningham 1:08:25
Very nice of you to say that I hope I hope you got some we got some time I think we got a couple of you can probably trim this down to a nice tight seven or eight minutes. Appreciate it's really gonna, you know, add some music, a few sound effects

Alex Ferrari 1:08:44
And, and a good kill and then we're good that we then I could sell it.

Sean S. Cunningham 1:08:48
And you can sell it.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:50
Sean, I appreciate you my friend. Thank you for everything.

Sean S. Cunningham 1:08:52
Thank you very much. And we'll talk again I'm sure.

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BPS 284: The Evolution of Your Creative & Filmmaking Dream with Kyle Cease

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Alex Ferrari 0:20
I'd like to welcome to the show Kyle Cease, How you doin Kyle?

Kyle Cease 0:52
I'm so good, man. It's so good to see you.

Alex Ferrari 0:55
Good seeing you too man. I, I we were just talking before we started recording that, you know, we both come from the insane world of the entertainment business and two different fields. And I've walked over some of the same courses that you have over the years. Yeah, absolutely. RapidILL. Which brings me to my very first question I always love. I've worked with a lot of standup comics throughout my career as a director. And they're very interesting group of people. And in, I've always found that comedians are not the happiest people I've ever met. And there, they got deep things going on. And it's interesting. I love to find out what drew you to comedy because it is arguably one of the toughest things to do stand up comedy specifically to do in the entertainment business.

Kyle Cease 1:45
Well, you know, one aspect of why I was so lucky was I started at so young that I didn't get to get to the stage where it would be a scary thing. In fact, it actually birthed after I'd been doing it for 15 years. So in other words, like when you're a kid, you just you know, well, there's other aspects too. I will say I was born into a family that energetically had some aspect of themselves that were used to being in the entertainment industry. So my uncle was the prop man for Gallagher.

Alex Ferrari 2:16
I am old enough. I'm old enough to remember Gallagher's. Yes.

Kyle Cease 2:19
Right and he'd spent time also doing a lot of carrot tops props, too. But when I was in like second grade, I remember a spending time in Gallagher's warehouse. I mean, is there any way better to get a child into stand up comedy than Gallagher because his his his giant toys and smashing fruit and and then having this intellectual conversation, I as a child, really remember also feeling connected to my dad through that, like my dad was always playing New Gallagher specials and laughing and that's where my dad seemed to light up. And that's where I felt a connection to him. So I as a child, wanted to feel that love with him. And I feel like unconsciously stand up comedy was a given that that's the way to do it. I remember very well in second grade, Mrs. Blaylock, my teacher in second grade, giving me five minutes to do whatever I wanted at the end of the week and me doing Gallagher's material, which was funny because I was talking about sex and taxes with a southern accent and didn't get any of the jokes. I would I would use props to add up my dad's underwear and be like women you go out shopping you buy us underwear that fits cardboard, am I right guys? I'm saying Am I right guys to second graders. And you know, doing this stand up act and really feeling the most entertaining TV to me was either sitcoms or stand up comedy. I was not very much into cartoons. I really loved Mike, my favorite show as a child was a&e as an evening at the Improv and then watching all these comics was amazing. And so I was doing it throughout elementary school. I was doing assemblies and different things like that. And, you know, I think one aspect I'm realizing now as I do so much inner work and awareness work is that even though it was my passion and my highest drive, I believe it also kept me safe meaning like my feeling of safety with my father was that we bonded through comedy like my dad was often and I love my dad, but he was often as a child, he was in his head didn't feel like he was there. And I felt loved if stand up comedy was involved, right? So we bonded via TV we bonded through laughing. And so I kind of wonder if my dream career that was like my, you know, my dharma and my calling was actually you know, me not getting hurt or me not getting unseen. And you know, me creating this thing that I had to do for safety and for expansion. And you know, in junior high I noticed I am I was a chubby kid but I am so loved if I'm doing stand up if I do an assembly if I speak Get something I'm getting more loved. And so I was doing comedy clubs, small comedy clubs at 12 1314. And then like public access shows, and being able to walk into school and be like, did you guys see me on TV yesterday, and then at 15, I was like a middle act at comedy clubs and. And so, because of that, I learned how to be a comedian before I learned how to be a person. And all of the aspects of what I needed to know how to be as a person continue to grow. Now, it's like, there's a quote, I don't remember what the actual quote is, or, or you know, the basis of a but once you get famous, and I'm sure not saying I was a child star, but once you have this recognition for a talent, you kind of stopped growing. In other words, like I was able to dry off my tears with stand up at night or get love with stand up or get attention with stand up or be seen. And so it was hard for me to develop the same way, I think, as most people, because I was a comedian, also a musician, a singer and different things. So I had this constant weapon to get love and to be seen. And it wasn't until I was like in my mid 20s, that with my career through the roof, and everything that I actually developed stage fright for the first time. And it was just because I had almost taken for granted that I could just do this. And I was touring so much that I ended up finally at one point, creating stage fright. And that was what opened the door to my entire conscious awakening going through a motivational Tony Robbins phase. And that shifting to me understanding, vibration and flow and now really understanding more and more than now, all of those happened when the aspects of my ability to hide behind my success. Were starting to fall apart. Right? They needed to to get me to find me. And so, so yeah, so I didn't it is a hard business. But for me, I was almost unaware of that was born into it, if you will, yeah, yeah, kind of my grandma was also a puppeteer on The Carol Burnett Show. I also have an uncle who's a Grammy nominated jazz musician on my mom's side. I am my grandma, on my mom's side was a massive political activist. Like it was very happy birthday was in five part harmony and my right and, and so there was a lot of just given that we're, this is a thing that is part of me that I'm an entertainer, but that I didn't learn a lot of the aspects of being a person or at least aware as a human being. And even higher than that, until way later.

Alex Ferrari 7:49
No, no, I, you know, I've obviously, I've read both of your books, I've studied a lot of the things you've done. And what I find fascinating about your story is, and you've kind of touched upon it in that first answer, which is you had a very successful comedy career. I mean, you had specials you had number one comedy specials, you're touring all the time, you know, you're making a living doing what arguably, you love to do. But as you said, things started to fall apart. And this is where historically, a lot of comics destroy themselves. Yes, they start going down, you know, you know, obviously, the James Baluchis and these kinds of folks, you know, they start to destroy themselves, but you didn't do that. So what was the thing that caused you to go towards the direction you went to?

Kyle Cease 8:32
That's a great question. So one of the things is weird, I'm gonna bring up 2020 and 2021 for a second, because I think it ties to this. But one of the things I see this time as being is the fall apart of our false identities. In other words, if you look at 2019, you might have had a decent enough job, or the ability to escape via travel or going to restaurants effortlessly, or whatever. You just had a medium enough relationship, whatever, that you didn't have to go within. And then it seems like 2020 just collapsed all of these little false identities, right? That, that you are a whatever, that your identity is your connection to your family. Well, a lot of families separated in the last two years, right, that your identity is your career. Well, a lot of people got laid off, that your identity is that you're someone who gives all authority to outside of you, the media, the government, whatever, and now you kind of are questioning what the hell's going on. This is what I see as the universe's way of making us go inward. You know, like, instead of looking at it from what's going on with them, like the government's or whatever, it's this opportunity to go inward. I started realizing that every time something is falling apart in our lives, it's trying to kill what we think we are but not what we truly are. And so, as a stand up comic, I at one point was so the first fall apart happened. When I, I was, at one point really successful as a stand up comic, I had done a ton of colleges, I had headlined a lot of clubs. And it was just a thing that I do, there was not a part of me that even asked asked anything deeper about what I am, you're just go to the next gig, make money, get partying with people have a great time, whatever, go to the next gig have a great time. Well, at one point, I'm on stage and I at that point, I'm maybe 2526, I could do my act in my sleep, I could go on stage and I had just performed every single night, an hour and a half or so a night at these colleges and killed so hard that it wasn't challenging me. And I could go on stage and be spacing out and deliver not even know what I'm saying. And just like run the motions, kill have a really good response. But it didn't challenge me to keep creating, I could do my act. You know what I'm saying? It was like I had the act. And sometimes it would write itself more on stage. But I really believe that if you're not creating your your mind will creatively sabotage you. Right? It'll come up with stuff. So one day I'm on stage, I'll never forget this. I'm in Mesquite, Nevada, and I'm on stage and I'm killing and out of nowhere, my mind goes, I wonder if you could think about it enough if you could make yourself faint. That was the thought I had. And I remember right when I thought that I started like waiting out. And so I thought oh my god, and then you know that thing where people say you can't not think about something like don't think a pink elephants thing, you know? And of course, so I've started believing about that you can't not think about something. So I'm basically this unraveled this thought I'm on stage doing different material while inside. I'm going in like there's two me's going on. There's a me outside delivering standup, and there's a me inside going, you cannot think about something. So what, what if you just keep thinking about fainting, and then you'll faint when you're on stage, and it'll ruin your career. And the underlying belief is I am my career, right? Like, I don't know, anything I am without my career. Like, there's no reason to live without my career at that, like, I am this person that has the sets. I get love from this. I haven't gotten to a depth yet that investigated anything past that. So it was just like, what if you think about it so much, if you'll make yourself faint. This started snowballing into the craziest thing. And the other thing was the year before I had done at one point, like 200 colleges in a row and every flight, every gig was two flights away or more. And I didn't sleep, lived on Drive Thru, drank had coffee. And then you know, at the end of that tour, was able to be on autopilot yet my body was gone it there was no you know, your your life is your career. So you're not even thinking sleep, you're I would go on stage and he just be so exhausted. And then the Act would make me so hyper and excited that I would wake up when I need to go to sleep, because it's night, you know, and then everyone wants to party and you're hanging out with people. It was the craziest thing you know, because you now you're excited. You have you have to get to the airport at 4am. That's three hours away in a different time zone. So you'd stay up with these, these people are you hanging out or you're just too high in your own hotel room and you can't sleep so you get like 40 minutes asleep, drive to the next gig two, three flights away. So imagine on top of this sabotaging thinking, my body is just dead it, there's no nutrition in it, there's no, I've hit a wall of exhaustion. That is unbelievable, right? So all of that's in there. So the beginning of all of my shift was this first fear. Where what if I think about it, and then ruin my career, like basically the crazy kind of brilliant creative thinking but in the negative is you'll not be able to stop thinking about fainting when you're on stage. And that will ruin your career, and then you'll be nothing. Right? And so I walk off stage after that first night and everyone's going great show and I'm going I'm gonna faint I know. It sounds so stupid and weird. But it was really profound for me because I'm like, you guys, it'll be this thing. And people would just kind of belittle it like, Oh, it's nothing and I'd be like, that makes me be like, No, I'm going to prove it to you. It's really bad. Like, we love to prove our limitations, right and, and I'm going to prove it to you like you're wrong. This is really a nightmare. This started becoming a thing I'd worry about all day. I'm going to faint when I'm on stage and that will be the end of my career. This built bigger and bigger and bigger. While I'm at this the biggest height of it becoming a snowballing crazy panic attack anxiety thing. I booked my first Comedy Central appearance on the show premium blend. And my manager says you just got premium blend. This is big and he goes don't blow it and I'm like it's six months. out, how could I blow it? And I'm like, what if I faint on premium blend? And I'm like, That's my big opportunity. I finally get this Comedy Central career down, I have all the foundation, and I get the stupid freaking anxiety. And I'm like, what if I faint when I'm on it, I know this sounds crazy, but it was really huge. And so I start thinking, I'm going to, I'm going to faint when I'm on premium blend. I started picturing it, I start going through this whole thing. For six months, this gets to a point where I almost can't do gigs anymore. I remember going to an assembly I'm performing at a junior high assembly and with this girl that I was dating at the time, and she's like, Baby, you're not going to faint. And I'm like I'm so I like I'm so it's crazy. And they had this huge, wide open hardwood floor like a gym floor. And I for the first time start wobbling and I see her like in the audience like, Oh my God, he's gonna faint, and I grab a chair now. And I'm in a chair now. Like, this is the first time of doing my act sitting. And this is proving to me, Oh, my God, it's going to be a horrible thing. Like you're going to it's this thing. This gets to the point where now that was so traumatic, that I had almost the reverse the opposite of claustrophobia. In other words, I was scared of giant gym floors like, and if I was walking on any hardwood floor, whoever I was dating at the time would have to hold my hand with me. And like I described gravitated to, I almost can't walk yet, I'm still taking gigs, because I am I am, you know these gigs. And I don't know anything past it. So I'm going through airports. And I'm, and I'm unable to walk. And I'm like, I remember going through the Chicago airport, and that long underground thing where the lights are going. And I'm, I'm kneeling on a baggage cart along the thing because I can't, I can't walk anymore. And I'm trying to get to the next gig. And I do premium blend. And I mean full anxiety. It's like the only time in my life I took a half a Xanax, I go on stage. And all I'm thinking of is Don't faint, don't faint get through this set. I do an eight minute set in six minutes, because I'm trying not to faint. So my act is crazy fast. My feet are turned on. If anyone watches my premium blend. You can see I'm holding the mic stand. I'm just trying not to faint the whole time. It's crazy how much this escalated into a thing. I walk off stage. And somehow the weird, awkward, don't faint energy that's flying through me, causes me to kill and Comedy Central goes, we're giving you a half hour special force. And the girl I was dating is like, oh, shit, now he's going to worry about failing on that, you know. And what I ended up doing was first I ended up going to the hospital to get anxiety medication. But the hospital took too long. So I'm in a waiting room. And I'm like, I'm gonna get pills for this. This could have been I'm sure not saying what anyone should do. But this could have been where I turned into John Belushi. But luckily, the hospital took too long. I'm in a waiting room for 45 minutes, and I hear this voice go get up. And it goes to get out of here. We're not going to do it. We're going to we're going to figure this out. And I have this moment where this this thing like goes, let's just figure it out. I know we have no idea what the hell we're doing. Let's just go because I was at almost suicidal level. I mean, I was really feeling like killing myself. I have these Comedy Central specials and I'm not I can't get out of this. And and there's no reason to live and you get why. If you're identified with the thing, and it's not just fame, it's it's your relationship. You're identified as your mother's kid, but she won't talk to you. You're identified as that, that achiever and now you can't achieve you're identified as a victim and no one believes you, whatever. These patterns are trying so hard to fall out of you. You're people pleaser, whatever, right? So, I go and I grab.

I go, I go for a drive. I remember calling my mom and being like, I'm gonna heal this and she's like, Why do you think you have something wrong? And I'm like, I just heard a voice like, I'm just not so. And I go to a borders. That's how long ago this was. And I look up and look up anxiety and I find a Tony Robbins book, Awaken the Giant Within and I'm like, Okay, this is where I get this first hit of a new possibility. He's talking about Yeah, you can't not think about something. Like I have that pink elephant thing. You can't not think about this, but you also can't think of two things at the same time. So what if instead I'm picturing this is basic law of attraction stuff at this at this moment was the first moment I heard this is like, what have you picture? I started thinking what if I picture that instead of I hope I don't faint on the Comedy Central special that I have the number one Comedy Central special. So I start walking around my house and just saying out loud, okay, I do the Comedy Central specialist number. I'm not bringing up the anxiety at all. I'm like, it's the best Comedy Central special, blah, blah, blah, then my mindset I was talking about the special that's after that one because it was such success. And within a few days anxieties kind of gone. And then I but then this opened a door with like, How good could it be? It's like not just get out of the anxiety, it's like How good could this be? So for several months, I just am waking up and doing this, taking my soul to the gym, I have a number one Comedy Central special, whatever, cut to the end of 2005, I'm recording a 2006 special, it's giant standing ovation, I'm confident I'm in the pocket, there's no anxiety. And it was at the top rated special, the most played special of 2006. So then this started this total achiever stage, this is not where I am now. But this started the focus on your outcome stage. I don't believe that's the highest stage. But I think that's a stage that can be very necessary to go from a victim to an achiever, right? So what happens is, when one of the things that I think is going on in the world is our false selves are falling apart, if you're identified as the self that falls apart, you're gonna go down with it, right. So if you keep being like this relationship might be trying to fall apart. But if you think your only source of love is this relationship, you might attach to it and try to keep it going. And life is going to kick your ass, it's just going to be like, You're too attached to this, you're identified with this. And life is trying to get us to cry out these patterns, that maybe you think that relationships the only thing because it actually equals your childhood, meaning like, this person feels just like Dad, Dad always abandoned me. So I'm going to date someone who always abandons me or mom always shame me. So I'm dating a person who shame me. And now this person and I are breaking up. So that would mean my Mom's leaving me. I don't know if that makes sense. But it's perfect sense. So in this time, you either are going down or up. If you are identified as the thing that's falling apart you are how much money you make. And your dad said, Good job. So that's falling apart. You're losing your dad's approval from 1974. And you're and you think that's you now, you're either going to fall apart. So I would imagine without knowing anything about what was going on. And really, and John Belushi is mine, that a lot of those stars, they got such a massive, worldwide love when they became famous. And they're identified as that. So that has to go perfect. Well, if that has to go, perfect, man. And you're not just the now and this unfolding being you're now an SNL star and a movie star, this gets the point where you don't get an audition or someone doesn't like you or whatever. And it's just, it takes nothing, right? Like, you, I remember when if you've I would used to audition for different movie roles. And you'd feel like when I booked I booked 10 Things I Hate About You, and not another teen movie, when I got those parts, like they were like, my identity, like cheerleaders from high school suddenly had a crush on me that I was the nerdy kid. And now, you know, and then you'd book and you'd get another audition and not get it. And you if that thing is the source of my happiness, then the thing not happening is the source of my sadness. Right. So these are trying to fall apart, if you grab onto the true essence of what you are, you'll go up, if you grab on to it, you'll go down.

Alex Ferrari 23:22
And that's the what's fascinating about your story is you literally started to your mind started to break down. Like it started to break down this whole thing around you to the point where you couldn't walk. But that's fascinating to me. So it's as opposed to,

Kyle Cease 23:43
Which shows you how powerful it is.

Alex Ferrari 23:45
It's extremely powerful on both ways you can go up or you can go down and that mine is extremely powerful. But you were crippled over months, over months of time, you were crippling yourself little by little. Because you were you're it's just a really interesting psychological example of what happened to you. Yes. And then that switch when Tony Robbins, his book kind of gave you a different focus on that power, it started to go up again, because you use that same, that same mind the same drive in the mind, but you started to go well, what what if it's the number one special? Now what if I think and I love the idea of not having you can't keep two thoughts in your mind at the same time, which is a very, very powerful, powerful thing. And you said John Belushi I mean, I remember when he died, he was biggest movies. The number one movie number one show number one album, he had a comedy album was number one as well. Yeah, he was literally at the on the top at the top of the world and it just key went down. The way he coped with it was with drugs, the way you coped with it as your mind just started to break you down. Yes. And you and if you would have gotten those drugs at that hospital

Kyle Cease 24:59
I wonder if I'd be dead. I wonder if I if the if the if Kaiser Permanente had been faster when I checked in there, I, you know, because they probably would have just given me something to numb this versus see what's causing it. And had I gotten pills? I really wonder, I don't know, maybe I still would have had that drive to override it and be like, I'm getting off the pills and fix this. But like, you sure get like, if all I'm feeling is anxiety, and suicidal and not worthy, like, alcohol is gonna sound good, you know, like, like, this is I need something to numb this.

Alex Ferrari 25:34
So this is very interesting, in very potent in the conversation where most most people in America, let's say or in the Western world, they look for things to numb the pain. And that could be drugs. That could be Netflix. That could be sex, that could be food. Yes, it could be, you know, relationships that could be set. I mean, it could be a million things to numb what you were going through. And I think we all go through that, in one way, shape, or form. I mean, I've told the story and I'll tell you the quick story of my numbness of when I identified as a director and my entire world was identified as a filmmaker. I was then the universe said, Oh, really? Okay, well, we're gonna give you a shot to make a $20 million movie, but there's this a little catch to it, you're gonna have to deal with a psychotic bipolar gangster, who's going to take you on the journey. And I literally was stuck in the mafia for nine months, trying to make a movie for an ex gangster, where then I was flown out to Hollywood, and I met the biggest movie stars in the world. Biggest agents biggest I did everything that the waterbottle tour did the whole thing multiple times. Even met Batman had a whole chapter in my book about how I sat in Batman's house. And we talked about, are we talking to Michael Keaton, or I it's Val Kilmer. But it's awesome, though Kilmer 2001, which was

Kyle Cease 26:57
Definitely like, it's Adam West.

Alex Ferrari 26:59
It's I always I always used to say adolescence out of West. No, but but. But afterwards, I was in a three year depression, when that whole thing fell apart. Because I identified with that it took me three years to rebuild myself to a place to even come back to a set to even come back to doing what I love to do. It took years, literally years, I hid in a in a hidden a garage, my friend's garage, organizing comic books to sell them on eBay. That's how I made a living, because I couldn't even do anything else. It was just that and that was mind numbing. By the way, that's how I numbed myself. It's just the monotonous of organizing comic books because I, for whatever reason, in this life, I don't like drugs. I don't like drinking. I wish I did. And some times when I was I wasn't a lot of pain. I wanted to numb myself, but I didn't have those options, those options were just not available to me. So so as you were telling your story, I automatically thought of mine and I had to rebuild myself to be able to get to the place and then it's a constant rebuilding throughout our amazing, but but I think people listening should really think about what they're using to numb their pain, or try to numb what's happening to them. Because I agree with you. 100% 2020 2021 It was a reset button. For millions of people around the world. Yeah, in a way. That's the billions actually, that never has happened in the history of humanity. That entire planet at one moment stopped. Yes. And we started fighting for toilet paper.

Kyle Cease 28:37
Right now that was the first which was the insanity first numbing. You know what I mean?

Alex Ferrari 28:43
I can't have an attorney. Yes, I can't have but has to be clean. Like it was. It was the we're like different in walking dead. Did you ever see people freaking out about toilet paper? No.

Kyle Cease 28:54
Thinking about water and food? That's No, I'm I know, like, I'm not worried about having the food that I going to shut out to, to wipe my butt. Like it's the it's just the after, for sure. I have a smorgasbord of food in the next two years. There's no question but for some reason.

Alex Ferrari 29:12
Like I can't I can't, God forbid have to use anything else. Like day. That's why I have a bad day now. So I don't have to worry about these.

Kyle Cease 29:19
Right! Yeah, I know that. What if the next one is a mad rush on today's like, just there's just like, I need birthdays. For my family.

Alex Ferrari 29:27
I need my but the end of the day forever and a backup a day in case the day breaks?

Kyle Cease 29:31
Right! Right, just in case. Yeah. Can I play off of what you just said? Please? What you just said is profound. Because let's talk about what this is. Let's go even deeper about what it is that we're numbing because it's not the thing. The thing becoming a director becoming a successful stand up comic getting in a relationship like getting that money is is burying some default setting that you're used to having in your body that's a negative meaning like, falling in love is so great because it's covering up the default setting of your fear of being alone. Right? Being being rich, for some people is this great thing because it covers up your default setting of shame that you have in your body. Because your mom said once, you'll never be anything unless you make money. So we have what I've the way I've experienced it in the last two years, I had so many shifts, because I was about to do major tours with huge speakers and stuff. And then 2020 happened. And I ended up just being home for two years. And that was the first time since I was a child that I didn't travel. And I just stayed home. And I did a bunch of one on ones. And thank God because I am such a better father in the last couple of years. Because of this, I have a five year old daughter who is the most incredible thing. And I would have been on tour I would have been here and and I am so grateful for what's changed. But one of the things I've learned in the last two years is that so imagine it this way, let's say you're a child, and you have a thing happened, that's too much for your body to handle like a dog snaps at you Dad hits you a mom shamed zoo, whatever, this feels so painful. That what you're bought your little child body can't handle it. So what's it do? It creates a character that you think is you it goes okay? If dad yelled at me because I got a D in school. So I'm going to become this crazy achiever. Right? So now your identity falsely is actually an identity you created to prevent trauma from happening again. And imagine that under that is a trauma that still sitting still sitting in your body. And this is why we have such a hard time just sitting with ourselves and being because that thing would finally come to light because we're at a consciousness where we could heal it if we wanted to. But we're not aware of this. So we get this false identity that says I'm an achiever. No, no, no, you created the achiever. So you wouldn't get hit, or it says, I'm whatever. And we create this false us, right? The numbing is here to help you numb this thing. That's a false view that could come out of your body that could leave your body. Right? So when you're more connected to the now, the pattern in the body that says I'm a worrier? Well, that's just because you experienced trauma, and you're still sitting in your body, right? And you haven't forgiven that thing. So you keep recreating it. Right? If you had a dad who abandoned you as that example, you're going to actually look for people that abandon you. So you can keep them here, so you can heal your shit with your dad. Right? So the way that I'm seeing it, and what I've been doing, I've had a couple 1001 on ones in the last two years. And one of the things that I do is, I noticed that people are like, I gotta build this business, I got it, whatever. And I'll say, if you don't what happens, and they'll say a sentence like then I'm a failure, then I'm unloved, right. And then what I have them do is I have them say something that the energy of failure in the body has never heard, you're allowed to be a failure in my body, meaning like, I'm here with you, even if you're a failure, I love you. Even if you're all alone, I love you even if you're abandoned. See, we've created a false belief that that thing that we that we don't want to have happen, again, from our childhood, that if it happens, it equals death. And so we're in this bizarre box of preventing an arbitrary thing that everyone has a different one of that if that happens, I die. Well, that character that's preventing it would die. So what they do is they take a deep breath, and they say to this pattern, whatever, you're allowed to disappoint other people, you're allowed to be a failure allowed to feel disappointed, you're allowed to feel abused, right? It's not saying we're aiming for it, it's saying, I'm with you, even if you feel that way. This causes almost every time a bunch of tears to come out of their eyes, and that those tears are a false pattern that they thought was them. That is not them. So when we are like oh my god, I'm a successful stand up comedian or I'm a successful director. That's helping not have a a default setting be looked at like when you're like, oh my god, I'm now a successful director. Now I'll be loved. The default setting in the body was I'm not lovable. Right? Just as is I'm not deserving just as is I'm not love. Just because I exist. It's only if I achieve something or prevent trauma. Right? And so those patterns are now coming to light and it's kind of amazing. If you look at it from a universal perspective, it's going for us to move forward, those false identities of trauma that you've kept buried in your body through addictions through whatever those patterns are going to come to light with. Do you want to or not? So imagine up to 2019, you lived in what you thought was a one story house and you kept your circumstances really good. And we use just all this Think positive stuff at that time, right? Like just the secret thing positive. Imagine that the spotlights bigger and God's shining a light on the fact that you actually have a two story house. And the two story, the second story has a bunch of bodies in it. And all these patterns and rats that we need to clear out. So the bad news is, there's a bunch of darkness in your body. The good news is your consciousness can see it now. It was there also 20 years ago, but you couldn't see it. So imagine that the lens that you're looking through is bigger. And it's going I'm going to take the patterns inside of your body that you've been burying, and we're going to release them, we're going to heal this. So we do that by getting here, because the now will will wipe that shit out, you start to oh my god, I didn't feel loved when I was eight, I didn't feel this thing. And you get present for it. And that turns into tears and comes out. And I actually pretty much have yet to work with anyone in the last two years that this didn't work for we did one on ones and found everybody's pattern and found that they're under this illusion that that that pattern is them. So you can't get rid of a pattern if you think it's you. But you're the whole now that seeing the whole thing. And when you realize that then the pattern that's been preventing that pain from happening, can die, and then the pain that you're judging still can fall out of you too

Alex Ferrari 36:35
I mean, as you're talking all I can think about is my journey in my head of like, okay, yeah, that's what that happened. And that one happened. And that would happen. And, my God, if you if I would have had the success of being a director making a $20 million movie working with big movie stars, at that time in my life, I would have absolutely self destructed because they built it would have built up to a place where imagine the people which we've seen this happen in Hollywood a lot, where there's an actor who blows up, the first movie blows up, or the director who comes out with way too, when they're young. And then maybe the second one does well, but when one of them wobbles. They just everything goes away. Like they just self destruct. Yeah, because they don't know what to do anymore. Yeah, they just truly don't know what to do anymore. Because they've identified so wholeheartedly with the thing as opposed to themselves. And I think as we get older, and if you and I are of similar vintage, you know, when we're younger, at least at least our generation at least. We, when we look back upon what we were when we were younger, you start seeing these patterns if you're doing some self work if you're doing some inner work. So when I started to write my book on my experience of the mobster and all that all of that started to come out. It was massive. It was a TA I was crying while I was writing. It was just this kind of cathartic event. And then I started thinking, you know, why haven't I gotten the shot to direct bigger movies or bigger things throughout my career? And then I started looking at who I was attracting to myself during those times. Yeah, a decade. And I'm like, Oh, I kept bringing in people that were just not right. Sabotage, I was self sabotaging myself, because I was afraid of the pain that I associated with being a director. Yes, I get it. You see what I mean? It's like all of that kind of stuff. So it's when I finally realized that and I started to like, Oh, I'm not who I who I would is I am and, and then there was this whole three year walk about I did selling olive oil and vinegar in LA, when I opened up a gourmet shop. And that's a whole other conversation. Which is just but it was the I needed to that was almost a cleansing of my filming. It was interesting. And then after I got out of the olive oil game, I started podcasting. Yeah. And I was like, Oh, this is kind of what I'm really here to do. I could do with the other stuff, too. But this is what I really love to do. But I am not I wouldn't wake up in the morning going Alex as a podcaster. Yes, that's not what I say. I'm just like, I'm Alex. I'm a dad. I'm a husband. I'm a podcast, I have multiple things I am not one thing defines me holy. So I live within the me as opposed to that, and that has liberated me and it's liberated me tremendously throughout my life.

Kyle Cease 39:41
If you think anything completes you then you're not ready for it. Right? Like in other words, that relationship will complete me well now Okay, what if they leave you you're incomplete again, right. So, so this pattern of the the false belief of incomplete is trying to come up and die and if you get the relationship that you think leaves you then it's on pause for a minute and it's still running the show. So you're you're codependent on these things. So I have a rule that if you want something really bad, you're not ready for it. Because it's, it's, it's not a match to your vibration, it's bigger than you and your mind. And and what you're talking about when these child stars are these people that get success really quickly, is like their connection to their soul is not up to par with what they perceive their connection to this success as it's higher in their opinion than their soul. So this is why a lot of child stars often fall apart, right? Or, or even, I would watch comics that were young, that would suddenly get crazy things, you know, like, they'd come on the scene and be in there for three months and suddenly be going to Montreal festival and, and and on Leno and stuff like that. And then you'd see the drinking start to really kick in and every because it's just like, this thing is bigger than me. And I know that feeling, you know, like that would be the answer of just I get this movie role or I get this thing. The default setting is I'm nothing without it. Which really the default setting is I'm nothing. I'm not anything. Just give me the movie. So am something right, right.

Alex Ferrari 41:14
Oh, god, that's so dumb. Oh my god. I'm just working with actors in Hollywood for so long. That's what it is. Yeah, he's like, if I don't get this part, I'm nothing and that's why you have to numb yourself to survive with it.

Kyle Cease 41:26
It's not even if I don't get this part. And we're really just saying I'm nothing like

Alex Ferrari 41:30
I'm nothing without the relationship. I'm nothing without the party. I'm nothing without the job. I'm nothing without the money.

Kyle Cease 41:36
But in that weird because the default is I'm nothing like that. Like, right? It's like your default setting is I'm nothing unless this movie calls me which is like so that we just live we're walking around with a bullshit false the default setting that says I'm unworthy. That's in your body. That's a lie you like, like Daryl Anka says, or Bashar says, you exist, you're worthy. You're you exist, that's your that's it? Your worthiness isn't because you're looking through your worthiness through through the world's ego, not through that you are through the Soul of the now. Right. And so I didn't mean to interrupt that. But it's just so funny that it's I'm nothing without that movie is one thing. But if we just take out without that movie, you're just saying I'm nothing

Alex Ferrari 42:21
In talking to you know, I've talked to a lot of spiritual leaders over the years, especially on the show. And I've studied people like Yogananda and, and his lineage of of Yogi's and things. And when you start studying these people, or meeting some of these spiritual masters, you realize something that when they walk, or they talk, there is a level of confidence and energy to them, that they are whole, without anything else around them. That this illusion this matrix, if you will, really doesn't define them in the lease, not the clothes they wear, not the ashram that they live in, not the wealth that they might have. Nothing, it's really, that's when when you meet, or you speak to someone like that, you you feel that confidence that energy, you watch old films of Yogananda speaking and it's just like, this just Sledgehammer of truth coming at you from from the ages, where when you meet someone, let's and I, again, this is a theme that we've been talking about some an actor, or someone in Hollywood, there's so much insecurity because they they are holding on to things that are not permanent. The only thing that's permanent is you the inside of you, your soul. That is what is the truth. Right? And until you discover that truth, you're lost in so many ways, and you're just jumping from one thing to another, trying to find wholeness. And people go through live lifetimes, like this lifetime is just again, hi, finding I need this car, I need this thing. You know, like I've told my kids so many times, I'm the worst person to buy Christmas present for because what do you want? I'm like, I'm good.

Kyle Cease 44:16
I know.

Alex Ferrari 44:16
Like, I just I don't, I don't like I don't I don't need anything and I have to find something for them to give me like that. So they can have they have the ability to give me something but I'm like I let's just go on a vacation. Like let's give you an experience that speed thinks absolutely absolutely. Because that big screen TV or that Tesla is going to be cool for like the first few days.

Kyle Cease 44:39
You tell your kids to buy your Tesla.

Alex Ferrari 44:41
I mean, obviously, I mean

Kyle Cease 44:42
I'd like a Model S

Alex Ferrari 44:44
A Model S a Model S please Yes, please. Yes. Fully loaded. Yeah. Extended extended to my

Kyle Cease 44:50
Ludicrous speed can you do that five year old five year old can you do that please? Otherwise I won't be happy

Alex Ferrari 44:57
Or otherwise you won't get my love

Kyle Cease 44:59
Yeah, right! That'll do it. Oh, that one. Oh, that's the shit that made of Michael Jackson, you know, like, right you do it or you won't get my love and

Alex Ferrari 45:08
Dance and make us or you won't get our love and right. We all know where that went.

Kyle Cease 45:13
Yeah, right. It's no, there's, I think that it's really interesting because as I do this work, you know, I meditate all that sounds like we're really in a similar boat. It's so fun to be talking to you and learning more your story as we go. And, you know, what, a way that I kind of perceive it as is, I think I've said in other interviews before is that imagine if you and I went to another planet, and we're raised by 220 foot tall aliens, have you heard this before? Have you imagine where so you go, you and I go to another planet, we're each separately raised by 220 foot tall aliens, and we don't know how they, we don't know how to stay safe. We just know that one comes home drunk, and he's really loud. So we start going, Okay, I need to be quiet with that one. Because I'll get hurt otherwise. And let's say the other one really loves it if you tap dance. So every time you tap dance that one gives you love and shows you to the other aliens, you start to, you start to wire yourself, okay? Stay quiet with this one, and then tap dance with this one. And I get love. And let's say you're raised by them for 20 years, and you're worried that you're with them for 20 years doing this thing. Now your body's fully conditioned, I am a good tap dancer, I'm good at being quiet around a loud person, right? Then you go out to the rest of the aliens, and they all got their own patterns. And they're like, I don't give a shit about tap dancing, and why are you quiet? And you start to realize, I created a prison of a false meme and cut myself off from my soul. Me, right? So imagine now humanity through our conditioning is in a prison. Imagine people that get success too quickly are in a prison that's got gold and candy being thrown into it. And imagine 2020 2021 is overall a lot of people's prisons are on fire. And there's a lot of people that you were saying there could be actors watching this or you're saying actors have decided there's some that are like they're still their circumstances and everything. And and one thing I'll offer is they won't quite understand this now thing we're talking about until life forces it on them by kicking their ass, I've noticed that it's very hard to will your way into it fully. If it's not your it's not your like, still, they might hear us and go, that's great, but I'm gonna go get the movie. Like, that's great, but I'm gonna go and it's not until life just cuts it off from you. And makes things really almost impossible to deal with that it forces you out of your prison. And your prison if you were in it for 20 30 years is home, and you're actually free, but you were more used to being in your prison. Luckily, many of us have had our prisons just crapped in lately. And so we're leaving it. So there's some prisons that are on fire. And there are some that are just more and more gold, and candy and sex and everything being put in there. Right. And so for people watching this, if you're it's the weird thing is the good news. Bizarrely good news is if you don't get what we're talking about one to your life in certain areas. And this is actually a good thing will in some ways fall apart. And if you have the awareness to know that that's also fine. See, a lot of people have their life falling apart. But they think that's bad, because they think they're that story. But if you start to get here, then you cry out the EU that thinks you needed that thing. So the great news is your the the seemingly things that are happening now that are undoing us from our comfort. If you start to get here and you forgive and you let go and you apologize, and you look at yourself and you get humble and you listen more to the now than your agenda, you're gonna be free. And if you're like, No, I'm gonna get that part no matter what, or I'm going to get that relationship no matter what, that's the only answer to my life. Life is going to kick your ass more now life is kicking our ass of if we're not listening to the now and letting go of this egoic identity that we decided of what our future was going to be.

Alex Ferrari 49:10
Well, let me ask you this. Because as as you know, people going after goals they say in life, I want to be an astronaut. I want to be a football star. I want to be a comic. I wanna be a director, whatever, might be a writer. There's a drive that you need. And a certain amount of ego Yeah, that you need to be able to, to even attempt to achieve these goals. Yes. How can you how can you rectify the conversation we're having with the want or the need to follow something that's internal inside of you. Maybe it is the story. Maybe it's not the story. Obviously, you're very good as a comic. You're you were very you get a lot of success in it, though. It wasn't the ultimate thing you did. I've been I was working filmmaker for almost 30 years. And, but yet, I'm podcasting most of my days today, because I'm more enjoyment this so we both have kind of similar paths different in obvious ways but, but some kind of tones of the same. So how do you kind of talk to somebody go, Hey, follow that dream, but you're not your dream, right? Well, you know what I mean?

Kyle Cease 50:22
I guess I would just say where I am. And I absolutely encourage everyone to follow what their truest thing is. I guess for me, I'm just gonna say me, I've noticed more and more that life has more for me than my my plans. And, like it, it has more for me than my dream. And I noticed that my dream career happened at a different level of consciousness. My dream career was when I truly believed that was the highest I knew and didn't see that there were elements of control or fear that were actually driving that career. So I'm absolutely a fan of people following what their highest consciousness is. One of the things I've noticed in the last couple of years is a lot of clients that have come to me are people who had this level of self help in them. They were scared of the old kind of 2000 teaching of I'm scared that I'll die with my music. and you in Me, you know that there was a Wayne Dyer, quote, don't that was a very needed quote for 2020. I'm sorry, for 2000. That was a level of consciousness that was permission to get your gift out. Right? I personally feel like 2022 is more, at least for me. And it seems like a lot of people more about hearing, then getting it out. Right, like, like, there's a level where this voice is coming out. But I also noticed that, you know, I'm all about free speech, of course. But I noticed that we're now a collection of egos just yelling at each other. We're just politically opposites that are just mad at each other. And I'm also about on an even higher level freedom to hear, because I think that a lot of our collective egos are just screaming, and it's not getting anywhere. And there's a higher us that's trying to come through. So more and more, for me at least. And this might be permission for some people who feel for the people who keep going, going after their dream and then stopping and going, Why am I starting a project? No, actually, it's not it, you might have access to consciousness that might be higher than that, I have to follow my dream thing, that's actually just permission for you to listen to what it wants for you. Because maybe it wants to do something through you. What if there's a higher frequency than your dream that's trying to birth through you maybe, maybe we just listen to what's here. And, and, and follow in the now just what feels higher, minute by minute versus, you know, mapping out a six month plan towards your dream career. If that's truly your highest, then do that. But imagine that there's a consciousness now that goes, I kind of want the dreamer, for some people doesn't have to be you. But it could be there could be a consciousness in the body. That goes, I'm ready for the dreamer in you, that maybe was also dreaming to escape a painful childhood, that maybe was dreaming, to escape your own judgments of yourself to die, and that I want to work through you. And that that there might be there might I mean, at one point, I'm at the height of my comedy career and just let go of it. And then all of a sudden, evolving out loud this this event that this creation that came through me this combination of comedy meets transformation was bigger than what I could see I had to follow a Lego of this not see why the hell I was doing it. And then I started getting little evidence of more fulfilling happening, but I had to follow the now more than an agenda I couldn't, if you told me leave stand up, because you're gonna create this thing for the next 20 years. It called evolving out loud or whatever, I'd be like, I'd need to know what that looks like or whatever. Instead, it was like, trust me, don't know why follow the feeling, have no idea what the hell's going on, cry out the party that needed certainty in the first place, because I have higher and I started realizing with a lot of different clients that had this fear that they're gonna die with their music in them. They are trying to create out of a fear of wasting their life. And the belief you can waste your life is now I think, a thing that needs to be purged, because your life includes things that are beyond your agenda. And maybe you were here to just be and maybe you were here to go through dark times. And maybe you were here to not know for a while. And maybe in those moments, the universe is taking you to a higher thing than your agenda. So, so at one level, if you feel like you have this dream, and you know that's it. I am such a fan of you following that. But I'm also here for the people who keep trying to figure out what their dream is, or and or having this dream but then it keeps collapsing. It might be that you're Your consciousness is too high for you to follow through in the achievement of that thing that you think will make you something because you're connected to something that knows you're already something, and it's got better for you. And it needs you to just let go of the attachment to anyway, just follow the now follow what your truest thing is, there's a teaching every second happening inside of you. So there's a consciousness birthing, that's the universe's dream through you that's bigger than you could ever see. And that's where life starts to be breakthroughs and releasing and crying and holy shit all the time.

Alex Ferrari 55:34
I can't, I can't agree with you more, because I do absolutely believe that life has much the universe is going to do things, it's going to create things in your life that you truly have no understanding of, I'm an example of that. You're an example of that, yes, with this, this idea of following your dream, if you wouldn't have been a comic, you wouldn't have built up the tool sets that you would have need and the experience that you needed to overcome in order to do the work that you're doing. fair statement.

Kyle Cease 56:05
Potentially, I don't I don't know that that's for sure.

Alex Ferrari 56:09
Nothing's for sure. But what I mean, like the way they look, but the way the Blueprint was laid out

Kyle Cease 56:13
How we see it, yes, that sounds that would make sense. And I definitely would say without being a stand up comic, I wouldn't have developed the skills to be able to communicate this Well, I wouldn't have been able to just, you know, default to delivering stand up off the cuff through my teaching sometimes, you know, right, right. Like, there's definitely skills and hours on stage that have accumulated Absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 56:34
And then but the breakdown that you went through, because of your standup, which is such an odd thing, because the skill, the one of the biggest tools in your toolbox is comedy. But you're now using it differently. So that skill, that whole mission of the thing that you were doing had to be broken down in this really dramatic way, as you told at the beginning of the of our conversation. And that's the thing that kind of pushed you towards the Tony Robbins, yes. And push it and then it made you start to change. So it was all if you look back, it seems like a master plan that nobody had any blueprint of except maybe someone the universe, if you will, same thing happened to me the exact same process. My dream is to become a victim to become a you know, big director, all this stuff. But the skills that I've picked up along the way, about communication, about how to tell a story about all this, all those little tools have made me the kind of communicator that I am today. So even all the pain and and to be fair, without the pain of my events with the mobster, I wouldn't have made such an effort to try to save other people the pain of this industry. That's what my first podcast is all about. It's about helping filmmakers and screenwriters avoid pitfalls and to protect themselves to understand what they're getting into. If I wouldn't have gone through that massive amount of pain, and then in the next 15 years of ups and downs, I wouldn't have felt the need to start that which then has turned into all the other things that I'm doing now in this space. So again, yes, we needed that initial dream to get yes rolling, but it's going to turn into something else. And yes, there are those people who I'm going to be an actor and you win an Oscar and then you're Meryl Streep, like there are those people?

Kyle Cease 58:27
Well, and that's that's so big, because I'm not I'm absolutely not saying following your dream as a problem or anything great height of saying, You know what I mean? Yes. And I'm more saying like, yeah, those things that I did were the highest I knew at the end you right? And so as following us following the highest we know like everyone's at a different consciousness, right. Like, for instance, there's some people if you're having a problem with with something and you want to protest, and you've been a victim, your whole life, like standing up and going to a Capitol with your signs is absolutely essential and consciousness for you, where you went from a victim to an achiever. So the me at 12 that started becoming a stand up comic was absolutely the highest I knew. And my journey was perfect, right? But then there's some people who've been protesting those things forever. That might be like, there's something in me that feels like I could contribute more to this cause in a different way. And then you start to go okay, well, there's if there's 5000 people protesting at the Capitol because of something they don't want. What if that was 5000? Yoga Nando's? What if they were bringing 5000 Gandhi's out? I'm not even talking about Gandhi followers. I'm talking about God, what if there was 5000 Gandhi's What if there were 5000 Martin Luther King's right. We're talking that could be birthing. Right. And so you start to realize for some people, me at a loving frequency if you had a if you had a million Mr. Rogers on the planet, healing all the murders of The planet by being an unconditional space of love for them, you start to realize that it actually is an ascension at one point to go to an even higher frequency, right? So, I guess for me, I've done so much meditation in connection that I'm finding that there's no achievement, even getting in the now making now a future concept that's better than the now. Right? Like right now, like I am just at a place where I'm really experiencing the truth of in this moment, even if you have all these patterns that exist and all these things that you think you need to overcome. In this moment, you are free. And the ego goes, it's when I understand what's wrong with me that I'll be free. And I'm like, No, that actually keeps you in prison. Right? For some people, and some people that would be ascension, does this make sense? Makes perfect sense. And so, so to understand were completely free, then we undo even the concept of the idea that you could waste your life, or a life is better lived? Had you made 100 billion books sold? Right? Like, there's a great line in Law of One that says if you if you serve one, you serve all. So I find that me doing a one on one with someone or even me choosing my highest for myself, is a better service to humanity, than if I have a book go New York Times bestseller again. Right? Like it's not based on how many numbers you get. It's based on the frequency you're emitting. Right. And so for some people, they thought the highest frequency would be to achieve their dream, but they might be connected to a frequency that's even past that and goes, nope, forgive your dream. And be here, I got a better dream for you. Right?

Alex Ferrari 1:01:50
That's, I mean, it's absolutely beautiful. One thing I wanted to ask you, fear is something that's so prevalent in our, our psyche, as a society as a species. And we do have negative bias, you know, we are built to look at the negative things in life because it's, it's it's a survival mechanism. And I think I saw somewhere I think in Harvard, or Yale, they did it, they did a study where it's like, for every nine negative things, you see one positive comes through, things like that so heavily that heavily may have a negative bias. So fear is something that's always looking at the worst in the situation as a survival mechanism. How can we overcome these kinds of fears that prevent us from getting to, to higher stages of consciousness, to higher achievements, in our in our life, in our career, in our dreams, in our relationships, and break through those fears that are basically built within us they're built? There's no one else that's creating them. But yes, unless there's a tiger in the room, and then that's a safe that kind of fear.

Kyle Cease 1:02:53
Well, that's what it's for is if there's a tiger in the room, right? Right. It's literally for if there's a gun man in your house, and the guns aimed at your head, or the house is on fire, but we use it for everything right? In my eyes, fear is in invest is an opportunity to go to a deep investigation, right? All fear in my eyes, in my eyes, comes from other than true survival. Like I need this to run up a tree if there's a tiger or whatever. Sure. Like. But we all are weirdly scared of different things. Right? What we would all have the exact same opinion on the same president, if if it was really outside of us, right? Like all of us would believe 100%, these Congress, people are bad. These ones are there, we're triggered, because of something that's inside. So you start to realize you're you're not scared of things outside of you, unless it's literal fight or flight, you're actually scared of stuff that's inside of you. Right? And so you use the outside to trigger something that's inside, right, that hasn't been seen. And what I love to do is I know I have enough knowing that whatever the fear is, if it's not literal fight or flight, that I get to do more investigating, and I kind of get excited because I'm like, I've done all the cool things with this stuff still in here. What am I like when this is gone? Right. So when I noticed that I'm worried about something I'm worried whatever they'll say something about, they'll attack me that, that I that it won't be successful that someone will hurt me that I that I'll fail, whatever it is, oh, there's an investigation here. So I start with the first thing like whatever the thing is, you're allowed to they're allowed to whatever it is, they're allowed to talk crap about, you're allowed to be criticized, you're allowed to whatever the fear is, like, you're allowed to fail at that audition. You're allowed to have people judge you you're allowed to be unseen by your dad. Right? So that's the first thing because it only wants to know that you are with it, a DAC Usually, you're creating this middleman that needs to happen, right? Like, imagine if your literal children like my five year old daughter, if she came in and said, I feel like no one loves me. Imagine if I how weird it would be if I was just like, well, let's put some makeup on and run over to the neighbor's house and make you tap dance in front of them. And maybe they'll like you. Don't be nuts.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:21
But that does happen, by the way.

Kyle Cease 1:05:23
Yeah, right. Sure somebody does happen with other parents, right? But we have the least awareness to go versus just giving her a hug and going, you're allowed you can totally feel that way here. That's what she needs to know. Now, we would never do that with our kids. But we sure do that with our own inner children. Absolutely. I feel unloved. Okay, I'm gonna make the video bigger. I need to get more views I'll be loved when it hits a billion people whatever.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:48
More views, I need more downloads. I need more likes. Right? Let's everybody's looking how many likes because my whole identity is attached to lights or grades or downloads.

Kyle Cease 1:05:59
Now wouldn't that be weird? If Vivi, my daughter said I don't feel like I'm I'm liked. And I'm like, well, here's how we get likes. Like I want you to watch the scores your watch this course read this book. Yeah, I need you to take this marketing class. And I'm gonna say branding all day.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:15
Red brand building with me. We need to start brand building lead Elmo alone. We're gonna brand build today. Hey, my brand.

Kyle Cease 1:06:23
Hey, guys, my daughter's feel love. So we're going to build her brand. That's what we are doing. Do you know how many clients I have to undo marketing courses from? They have what their soul wants to do. And then they have all this like, yep, I'd love to do that. But I was told I have to post twice a day on Instagram. And I'm just like, by someone else who did a thing. Like when people teach you how to do what they did in a different time that was successful for them. That'd be like taking a songwriting class and Michael Jackson being like, right, Billie Jean. That's what I did. It was a hit. You're like, Oh, I get the story. You already did that.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:00
I was like I was at Comic Con years ago. And Quentin Tarantino was on stage. And some kid asked him like, what advice do you have for filmmakers trying to break into the business? And Quentin Tarantino stood up and said, Write Reservoir Dogs? That's all I know. He literally said write for dogs at a house yet. It was a huge hit. Right? Reservoir Dogs. That's what I did. I don't know what to tell you. That's how I broke into the race. I can't tell you how to break into the business because everyone's way is different. But it was just so beautifully presented by Reservoir Dogs.

Kyle Cease 1:07:35
That's a great well, and you know, what's amazing is what that also brings up is, we don't understand that the factor of what also makes something is the consciousness it's in, in other words, that I watched a special recently on Netflix about Woodstock. 99 Oh, god, yes, I saw it. Oh, did you see it? Oh my god, what were they trying to do, they were trying to bring the same feelings back that they created on a conscious shifting hippie movement in 1969. But with Limp Biscuit, biscuit in a time where that breakthrough isn't what the universe wanted, the universe isn't trying to break, like 69 They're getting out of the Vietnam War and you're you're trying to bring that is that was a true conscious shift. But the factor also was the time it was in. So when we do this all the time when we say as a person, I want to feel how I felt five years ago when I was in that relationship. I want to feel like I felt 10 years ago when I was on top of the moon when I was doing this thing. Don't try to be what you were in the past don't try to be what anyone else was in the past because there's a new you trying to come through. So we keep trying to orchestrate movements that worked 80 years ago, and like the the Martin Luther King march for instance, might not work the same way now because the consciousness is different. And there might be an inner shift that we're trying to have that we've never seen. But that sounds to me like what the universe is trying to do. That's so cutting edge but it's not familiar to us right? So so that's exactly Quentin Tarantino is answers hilarious because like of course if you rewrote Reservoir Dogs and put it out now it wouldn't work. Woodstock 99 You could feel I remember when it was coming out I was like that's not gonna work that doesn't feel agree and it was even created by the same dude that did Woodstock and it came out and it was people lighting themselves on fire and sliding around and shit mud and and it was robbing each other and dying. Like it was just like this nightmare. And and this dark way overheated terrible event that you have Rage Against the Machine and Limp Biscuit screaming Don't you want to hit something breaks. Woodstock guy is talking like this is a love thing. And like you know, there's you got to hear what the consciousness is of the time and that one To the consciousness of today. Now, what did you do yesterday that worked? What is trying to come through you right now? Right? So even if so when you get a marketing class, it's like, this is the strategy I used in 2008 to whatever. That doesn't mean you should. Right.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:15
I mean, and so many times that I tell I tell the filmmakers that I counsel and even on my shows, I tell them because a lot of them still think it's the 90s and that the film movements and making independent movies is that time it is not you are not Kevin Smith. You're not Spike Lee, you're not Richard Linklater, that was that time, just like you're not Steven Spielberg in the 70s. You're not Coppola in the 70s. You're not Millia, sir, or George Lucas. And like that was that time, just like you're not a Hitchcock in the 20s. Like, it's a different

Kyle Cease 1:10:50
Dude, you're not even you in the 2000s. You know what I'm saying? Like,

Alex Ferrari 1:10:55
You have to find out, which brings me to the next thing is authenticity. And I always tell people, if you want to succeed at anything in this life, you need to find that sauce, I call it the secret sauce inside of you the thing that nobody else has that authenticity. And that is that's what people are attracted to. Reasons why my podcast do well is because I am 100% authentic to who I am, and I'm truly being authentic. I'm not like, I'm gonna make a money grab and make it a podcast. Like that's not about Woodstock. 99 podcasts are hot. Let's try to do something cool. No, I'm actually authentically trying to help trying to be curious with my, with my guests to have conversations that are deep and meaningful for the audience listening, but that's an authenticity. And every single person in history, who has ever been successful, was authentic to their themselves, to their soul to their inner secret sauce. So we use actors you we can use writers we can use, you know, Edgar Allan Poe was Edgar Allan Poe, Dickens was Dickens. Shakespeare was Shakespeare, these people had a connection to who they were and weren't afraid this is the key, weren't afraid to show it to the world, warts and all. And that's what people are attracted to. I think that's one of the reasons you're so successful, because you are completely 100% authentic. And you also make people laugh, which is also helpful.

Kyle Cease 1:12:21
Well, you know, here's an irony to is, the more you find that authentic thing that's trying to come through you, the less it's even scary to do it, it like takes you to a level where it's not, I gotta get this out. It's like, just like, Oh, I'm in a world where that's me. And it's not like this overcoming feeling that you have when you're not authentic, where it's like, you know, you know, like, like you actually kind of when you find that real you you actually access some other invincibility energy that makes it not even a big deal to put it out. You know, it's,

Alex Ferrari 1:12:55
But that first part is the first time Yeah, the first time is really hard, but it's much harder to keep a mask on. Yes, it's much harder to be someone else. Always what people are always trying to do, they put a mask on, they try to pretend they try to, they put clothes on they act they have to like get you know, certain things have to wear, wear certain clothes, get in certain cards. This is all part of the masking. And that's hard, man. I did it when I was in high school. I remember, I did it through a lot of parts of my life that I tried to be someone I wasn't. And then the moment I decided to be myself so much easier. It's like the heavy lifting is off. Like you could take the jacket off. You could take the mask off and just be you. And if any bullets start coming towards you because of like people not liking who you are, you're just like Bing bing, bing just bounce off of you because you're like, if you don't like me, man, that's your problem. That's not mine. And that's what people are attracted to.

Kyle Cease 1:13:49
We do get this choice. I think Jim Carrey said something similar to this but we get this choice between being at one point I think Jim Carrey said this, there's a choice we get at one point where I'm either going to be what I truly am and risk losing everyone and everything in my life, even though I probably won't, but you can you're willing to lose it all for for whatever. Like my highest intention is to learn what I truly am and I'll let go of everything for it. Right that's that's where all your power is. Or you'll give up what you truly are and be what you think that people you know, want to see and you'll go to the grave with people never knowing who you truly were. And I you know I think every i He said that there's one moment where that happens. I think that choice happens every day. I think that it's like continually either going up to more you and there's a new chapter to each day that you've never seen that takes you even higher or you know sell out a little bit and be what you what you think people want and then learn from that lesson and you can go up right now I'm kind of like go up and then oh, I didn't realize I was doing Not I sold out oh shit no, I'm not going you know and you just keep finding this authentic you through doing that work right so yeah, there's a there's an audience for everyone watching there's an insane you that's birthing that's more powerful than anyone you've ever idolized than anything you've ever seen. And it's trying to come through you. And I think it doesn't it's not even just a new you is trying to birth through you I think a new planet is trying to birth through you. I think the more you're in the now that you'll notice that I've had so many experiences I'm sure you have to where the world weirdly mirrors what I just did. Like if you ever forgiven someone they called you have you ever, like just let go of something? And then like you've noticed that the thing you were holding on to isn't as stringently holding on to you. Like you go to a different frequency. And you almost wonder if this is a virtual reality that shows you what you just healed inside is being mirrored on the outside. I've seen that so many times with clients, when they let go if they finally let go of the thing where that a frequency where it doesn't matter. All the sudden it heals itself on the external too. And so I think a new world is trying to birth through you. Not just new you,

Alex Ferrari 1:16:09
Kyle, I could keep talking to you for hours. I really fun. It's so much fun to listen, you're definitely coming back on the show. We got to keep it we got I mean, I literally have 30 questions I never even talked to you

Kyle Cease 1:16:22
Sure I'm here anytime, brother.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:24
It is such a pleasure. Can you tell everybody where where they can find you what kind of where they can find out the work. You're doing books and courses and one on ones all that kind of stuff?

Kyle Cease 1:16:33
Yes, so my I get giddy talking about it. Because it's so amazing. We created a membership site called the absolutely everything pass. It's got 1000s of people on it now creating an amazing community. It has probably about 1000 hours of backlogged content plus I do a live event every Sunday. Other teammates do a live event Monday and Tuesday called it's totally possible, where they literally riff all the things that are totally possible and create this different frequency. Tuesday mornings, I have different guest speakers come in and do interviews with them. Wednesday night, I do a q&a. And now I have a new series called Hot Seat on it where you can watch me work within the next few months, I'm working with people, I'm going to do 100 hot seats, you're gonna watch me take a person around an hour, and break down all of the lives that are in their body and then see what comes through. And you can see on YouTube, tons of videos of me doing work with people where I shift their reality. And it's my favorite thing. And it's something that is changing people's lives pays for itself over and over and over. It's crazy affordable. And a lot of our money goes to different charities, we just recently announced that we're doing an event in March that that event will take place in Sedona. And it's the event is is all the money of this two day live event is going to Operation Underground Railroad who's the group that is stopping child trafficking. And we announced it about five weeks ago, maybe and we've brought in $226,000 for them so far. That's amazing. And they're just telling us stories of what that money has rescued and arrested. And that it's just like bringing darkness to the light everywhere. So we have a two day event in Sedona that's 80% sold out and it's six months away. And it's called freeing all children inside and out. And the purpose of the event is to free your inner children that's got its own Warden that says you can't or you have to do what everyone else says. And then also literally freeing children that are being trafficked. And this group operation Underground Railroad is profound. We just had the founder Tim Ballard on and it was one of the most amazing interviews ever. And all of this is on the absolutely everything pass. It's $79 a month, they can cancel anytime I promise you. It will pay for itself over and over all of my live stand up events where I do talks to day events, everything that shifted people, they're all in there. If you watch that and don't completely shift your career, your income your story, like then you're missing out because it's crazy. So it's called the absolutely everything passed. They can get it on absolutely everything.tv They can get I have two books. My favorite one by far as the illusion of money grants the second one yeah, thank you, brother. Good man. That and God we have 500 videos on YouTube, you know, and we got I'm here.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:26
Listen, brother, is there a message you would like to leave us with?

Kyle Cease 1:19:30
Just you're totally free. You are free right now. Don't try to understand it. Don't try to prove it to yourself. Just find the freedom in your breath right now. Just connect to your just the air going in, you're free. You will discover a forgiveness you will discover a release. You do not even need to do the work to get to the freedom. Just start here at the freedom and see what happens as a byproduct of your freedom versus your when I get this I'll be free. Screw that. You're free. Let's See what happens from that?

Alex Ferrari 1:20:01
Brother. It has been a pleasure honor talking to you, man. And I hope this conversation helps a lot of people out there. So thank you. Thank you again for all the work you're doing my friend,

Kyle Cease 1:20:10
Honored to be with you, man. I can feel your soul. You're a good guy and it's so great to talk to you today.

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BPS 280: From Sundance Hit The Puffy Chair to Mack & Rita with Katie Aselton

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Alex Ferrari 0:27
I'd like to welcome to the show, Katie Aselton. How you doing Katie?

Katie Aselton 0:44
Hey, I'm doing really good. How are you doing?

Alex Ferrari 0:44
I'm doing great! Thank you so much for coming on the show. I've been watching you since the days of the Puffy Chair.

Katie Aselton 0:46
Ohh you just watched me get old right?

Alex Ferrari 0:56
I hate to tell you we all do it.

Katie Aselton 1:03
I just happen to do it on camera.

Alex Ferrari 1:05
I was I was gonna say that's so interesting. Like you like my kids. See some videos of me when I was a kid. Like when I was younger. And they've seen pictures of me younger, but they literally see their you know, yeah, you and Mark just grow old. Better, better, I would say yes. You know, we're just evolved. We're evolving. Exactly. So no, I've been and I'm a huge Morning Show fan. I love the morning show. Love the money show was such such a great show. So my first question to you, Katie is how and why in God's green earth did you want to get into this insanity that is called the film industry.

Katie Aselton 1:40
I know. I grew up in Maine on a on the coasts, like past the tourist parts of Maine, like real main. And it wasn't a town where people left to go to Hollywood. So it wasn't like I was following in the footsteps of anyone else I knew. I just got a wild hair, that this was what I was meant to do. And I had like, just big dreams that I kind of kept to myself for a lot of my early years. And finally, I couldn't keep them in anymore. I don't know. I'm like the kid who? And look, I think we all do this. But I was definitely the kid who in everything I watched, like put myself and I was I'm like a super empath. And so I would like things like really got me and I would really just throw myself into every story and, and my siblings were all much older than me. So I was essentially kind of an only child living in like a really rural area. So my sense of imagination was always very full. And yeah, I just I don't know, it just I don't know, that's what lit me up very early, but then had no opportunity for that. You know, like, if you look in my high school yearbook like I'm in the drama club. There were no productions.

Alex Ferrari 3:01
So what did the so what is the drama club? Do the has no productions just hanging around?

Katie Aselton 3:05
Yearbook picture every year I don't know. It was the weirdest thing. And that is that we're the drama program like they used to put on productions. I think they put her on productions. After I left. It was just my four year stint like nothing. Wow, you're getting Uruguay gets high school.

Alex Ferrari 3:27
Wow. So obviously you've set out to the university. You said, hey, I want to be an actress. Yeah, I want to get to the film industry. And then obviously Hollywood just called and said, Hey, what would you like to do? Oh, my baby, what do you need? Let me help you. How can I? How can I help you? Not sure what you got? So what was the stage from when you want the dream? To go to New York? Did you go to LA? Where did you go?

Katie Aselton 3:53
I went to Boston.

Alex Ferrari 3:56
Obviously the I think the third biggest action in the country.

Katie Aselton 4:02
My family, my parents, God bless them. We're like, you need to go to school in New England for at least two years. And I think their thought was, you know, I would fall in love with a program or a boy or the city or, or just forget that I kind of thought maybe I wanted to move to LA to be an actor. Um, but I didn't. I didn't and while I was in Boston, I went to be you. In my denial of my dreams and my, my sort of need to become to like be perceived as like a serious, like, contender in the world. I told my parents I wanted to go into journalism. I was like, that's the closest I think I can get there's a camera involved. I'm still like a personality. And so I applied and and, and got into Boston University, which has a fantastic journalism program that I absolutely hated that I read Howard Stern's book and I was like, This is gonna be great. Not for me, because I actually just wanted to be Holly Hunter, and actually a real journalist. So I took acting classes on the side and really, really loved it and, and, like, kept looking at my clock and was like, Alright guys, and we're at the end of the two years, and you said you promised and they, they stuck by their word and they did it. And at 19 I moved out, not knowing anyone in Los Angeles and I scoured the pages of backstage West, as early actors did as you do before the internet. And I found a play and I sent in my headshot, and I got a play that was in Sunland. Now, I don't know if your listeners are familiar with Southern California.

Alex Ferrari 5:58
Yes. It's just a bit. It's a bit out of LA. It's a bit just a slight

Katie Aselton 6:05
And north and there's nothing there. It's like industrial parks. I landed a play called at a place called Play us at the foothills. And

Alex Ferrari 6:19
That sounds like a place where that's where a horror movie starts. The play house of the foot that you said sounds like something where a horror movie would start?

Katie Aselton 6:26
No, I and if you saw it, it definitely looks like a place where we're moving. It should take place. They didn't even give me the full script. Like I just got my scenes, but I was like in it. I loved it. I was so excited. My college roommate came out to visit. And this is where the story gets. Gets a little sensational. But I'm promising you right now this is all true. Because she came out we were 19 we didn't have fake IDs. So we were going to go out to celebrate what were we going to do? We're going to go to Mel's diner on Sunset to celebrate get some strawberry shortcake. So we did and while we were there, I look up. We were sitting outside. I look in the windows and I was like oh my god. It said afterwards that Dracula do like, what is his name? I can't remember his name. And Rita's, like, my roommate was like James Woods. And I was like, yeah, it's James.

Alex Ferrari 7:25
Do you ever play track?

Katie Aselton 7:29
Our one of my. I think he did.

Alex Ferrari 7:34
We'll have to look it up. I don't I'm not sure if James was playing

Katie Aselton 7:37
In my head at 19. I was like, he played Dracula. I think he did. And now, I was like, I don't know. But he's looking at us. And I think he's gonna come over and talk to us. And she was like, now what does he want to he doesn't want to talk to us. And I was like, I don't know. But he's walking to the table right now. And he was like, Hey, are you an actor? And I was like, yeah, no, I'm trying to be. And he was like, Well, my name is Jimmy, my friend. Here's a manager and he thinks you have a good look. And through that manager, I ended up getting my first agent. And that is how my career was born.

Alex Ferrari 8:10
So you were you were discovered in Mel's diner? Is that is that?

Katie Aselton 8:16
Yeah, like it was 1949. Like I was Yeah. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 8:22
That's amazing. That's an amazing story.

Katie Aselton 8:27
Why an ultimate scumbag?

Alex Ferrari 8:31
Hey, welcome to Hollywood.

Katie Aselton 8:33
Listen, you just gotta find ways to just make those stories work for you.

Alex Ferrari 8:39
So then, Alright, so now you have an agent, you have a manager? And then how did you get involved with this very big budget film puppy chair? This is at least 100 million if I'm not mistaken.

Katie Aselton 8:50
Oh, yes, it was. I mean, all the financing for that movie came from Mark's parents.

Alex Ferrari 9:00
By the way, what was the what was the official budget of that film? Because there's a lot of myths about that film. Do you remember it's there?

Katie Aselton 9:05
Yeah, we can say I think it was like 20,000 or something like that. Right? Yeah, that's low. But it's so much more than the budget of my first film, the freebie which was 10,000.

Alex Ferrari 9:16
So you have one up on marketing.

Katie Aselton 9:20
But I, you know, so there, I spent a couple of years in LA, like, really, I like putting myself out there auditioning. Getting some crap roles that I really wasn't graded and didn't love but I knew I loved doing it. So it was at that point, a couple of years in that I was like, I'm actually going to go to theater school. I had started dating Mark already, Mark was in an indie rock band at the time,

Alex Ferrari 9:44
And really quickly for everyone listening because just in case they don't know. You're married to Mark Duplass, who is the director of puffy chair and many other independent films, brothers, yes. And half of the Duplass brothers, as well. Jay and mark. So yeah, just so everyone He knows who we are. Because we just keep saying mark like you and I know,

Katie Aselton 10:02
And everyone knows, I think everyone, anyone who's listening to your podcast is gonna like they know, but just in case. So we've been dating, he was an indie rock guy, not a filmmaker, not in movies at all. And while we were dating, he, he did it, they did their short movie, this is John. And then after that, we and while I was in school in New York, we did the short scrapple. And that went to Sundance, both of those went to Sundance. And so then the day after I finished my, my theater school program, we went into production on the puffy chair.

Alex Ferrari 10:44
And, and the rest, as they say, is history. So I have, so I have to ask you, because, you know, during that time, I mean, there was obviously that film movement that you know, which I know a lot of the filmmakers in that world don't like to use the word mumble core, but because it was coined by some, some journalists, but for lack of a better term, I'm sorry,

Katie Aselton 11:04
Growth journalist isn't.

Alex Ferrari 11:07
Exactly. So but. But during that time, there was a group of filmmakers doing this kind of style of filmmaking. And in looking back at those kinds of films, you know, when I, I mean, if you were I mean, puffy chair, and mark, and Jay and Lynn Shelton, and all that they were just such huge inspirations for me, for my first featured I didn't, I don't know, a few years, a few years ago. But the thing that was interesting about that, that kind of that movement of filmmaking, it was just very run and gone, it was shot with video cameras, I have to ask you, because you had been at least in productions at this point as an actress. So you're on the set of puffy chair? What do you think as an actress going, it's this kind of work? Like, there's no lighting? Is that kind of like raw? It's like, what did you think about that?

Katie Aselton 11:53
It was really interesting, because, you know, in there in the early years in our relationship, Mark would see me in LA with my friends who are all like, all actors who are out of work. And he's like, I don't understand why you guys just don't grab a camera and make something and I was like, okay, that's cute. Like, that's not how it's done. Okay, like, you need a studio, you need a trailer you need, you know, it was like, just an idea, because that is what we were told was always just how it was how it was done. And it's because it had to be that way. Back in the days when you're shooting film, right? But right around this time is where everything started to change with technology and things became so much more accessible and affordable. And I mean, God, you look back at some of those early mumblecore movies, and they look they're garbage. They look so

Alex Ferrari 12:49
So much so much. Joseph Jones Jones, just Weinsberg stuff. I look back on what how did that get released

Katie Aselton 12:54
I know, but at the time, like no one cared, because it was you were getting cameras in the hands of young artists. And so it was so exciting to hear and see young voices at work. And so it was, I mean, yes, there were definitely moments on puffy chair and Scrabble. And this is John where I was like, this is like, never gonna fly. But also there's something so incredibly freeing in like, first off, not kind of knowing the rules that you don't even know you're breaking. Right? So there's that whole idea of like, know the rules before you break them or not, or just go from the gut and make a piece of art that you're excited about with people you love. And by the way, for anyone looking to go do this, you absolutely should because even if it fails and doesn't go anywhere you learn so much. So as long as you're not, you know, bleeding money doing it you should absolutely be getting out there with your friends with a camera and going and making some fun stuff.

Alex Ferrari 14:01
And the technology today is so much more advanced than what was going on you reshot you shooting mini DV I mean I shot my first film on mini DV dv x 100 A if when it kicked out a little bit I got a sonic

Katie Aselton 14:14
I want to say that might have been what we did Pepe cheer on.

Alex Ferrari 14:17
Yeah, it was one that was the it was the first time you could get a film look out of a real

Katie Aselton 14:23
Very loose but at the time

Alex Ferrari 14:26
I look but at the time it was a 24 p camera and look gorgeous for the it's because all you had is like the 30 unit video cameras compared to so it's like it's beta canon or oh my god it looks like film.

Katie Aselton 14:40
So like with puffy chair no lights. We had one guy who did sound and like would occasionally hold a sheet up over like her slate. It was all we had we could do

Alex Ferrari 14:55
You just run a gun. So that was that was fun because I was wanting to ask actresses and actors who Were in those early movies like, I got, I mean, before it was a thing, and you were there at the beginning of it, you had to go like this. am I wasting my time? It's, um, am I just doing this because I love mark, like.

Katie Aselton 15:11
And I'll also say, like, you, you have those moments in there where you're like, Oh, it feels really good.

Alex Ferrari 15:18
It's wrong. It was wrong.

Katie Aselton 15:20
It was, there were some moments in the puffy chair that I still look back on. And like, you know, actors talk about like, it was in the flow, but like, you have this moment, and you're like, that was one of the more authentic moments I've ever had. As an actor,

Alex Ferrari 15:37
It's really interesting to go back and look at those those films because there is this kind of kinetic raw energy to them. And even though they're technically not sound at all, at all,

Katie Aselton 15:50
But their hearts are so pure and bright.

Alex Ferrari 15:54
And it completely goes through and it is pretty remarkable. And of course, you named it something so marketable. Like the puffy chair, which

Katie Aselton 16:04
When you tell what a movie is about, just by hearing the title, it's about a puffy chair was about.

Alex Ferrari 16:10
I remember during those years, I was I was hearing the rumbles of puffy chair, and I was like, hell is the off the chair. And I'm like, why is this? Oh, it's actually a puffy chair, like, and I remember thinking to myself before because this is, it wasn't pre internet, obviously. But it was internet like, like the early internet. So it wasn't like there was a lot of information out there about the movie. So I remember what like hearing about it. Like, I don't even there was no YouTube yet. 2004 2005 is when YouTube started. So the trailer wasn't out.

Katie Aselton 16:41
Now, it wasn't. I don't think we had a trailer until years later. Yeah, until like, Finally, eventually, someday ended up on the apple. And that's a very sweet person who just like cut it together for for fun.

Alex Ferrari 16:56
Now why? I mean, when did this film when the movie came out and went to Sundance? And were you surprised at the reaction? I mean, I mean, that's the question. I was like, did you know it was going to be hit? I knew you didn't know. But it's so overwhelming, because

Katie Aselton 17:10
I will say in the test screening. When we were testing puppy chair, I cried. Because I was like, this is awful. I also like never as an actor had never been privy to a test screening, right? So like, when moments fall flat when things like aren't playing well. And like, I never should have been in that room. Thank God, I was now that I'm making movies like I'm so happy. I know what it is. But my God, I was like, this is awful. I never should have done this and might end our relationship. This is a real a real stinker.

Alex Ferrari 17:48
By the way, did you have a conversation with him about this afterwards?

Katie Aselton 17:52
Yeah. And he was like, David, it's a test screening like every year asking people to critique the movie. They're like, they're, they're there to criticize it to make it better. So you gotta tear down to build back up again. And it was an early, early, early test screening at two boots pizza in the Lower East Side.

Alex Ferrari 18:09
And I can imagine, I'm assuming technically it was sound very technically sound

Katie Aselton 18:13
That sounded and looked amazing. But call it riding alone was fantastic. Again, what I will say is that experience to the next time I saw it, because then I said I would refuse to watch any more cuts of the movie until it was done. I've been next time I saw it was when it premiered at the library at Sundance, and it played to a full theater. And when that Death Cab for Cutie song comes on, and your, your The van is pulling through the tunnel. I just like had this moment that where everything just froze, and I was like, Oh, I think this might work. Like it just you can feel the energy in the room. But the interesting thing about that screening was that I had never seen puppy tears like a funny movie, because I was like pouring my heart into it. And it was about heartache, and you're watching this couple fall apart. And, and as at some point in the movie, I think it's in the hotel scene. Maybe I haven't seen this movie in 100 years. But I think it's in the in the hotel room where I'm like, give me I'm having a complete emotional breakdown. And I'm sobbing and I'm like, give me a number I just want to know, and like the whole audience laughs and I was like, Wait a second. I was like, Oh, it is funny because there's nothing else. As an audience member, you're so uncomfortable and you can relate so much and you connect. And it was in the moment. I was like, Oh, I get it. And I also get what I can do. And I get like that that particular type of humor of like really dissecting like human discomfort like that something clicked in me It was really amazing. And then like, everything changed after that we got I got signed by at the time it was William Morris, and on stage at the premiere and we moved right out to Los Angeles from there and we've been here ever since puffy chair premiered.

Alex Ferrari 20:17
So then from that point on your career kind of took off.

Katie Aselton 20:21
Oh, yeah, it's been it was so easy. After that, it was just everything happened.

Alex Ferrari 20:26
Everything is like it was just, they just did they, when they backed up the money

Katie Aselton 20:31
In every television show. And in every movie, it's like hard to figure out like when to take a break because I'm just always work.

Alex Ferrari 20:40
So when they pulled up the money truck, and they did it back up into the front yard.

Katie Aselton 20:45
Like all BP dump it in. Yeah, no, it's funny, I didn't work that way.

Alex Ferrari 20:52
It never does. It never does. Even for even even for Mark and Jay. They had to, they had to hustle.

Katie Aselton 20:59
Work at it and still bust your ass and find who you are as an artist and decide what kind of artists you want to be. And then I'm gonna know that's like all part of it.

Alex Ferrari 21:11
So when you made your first feature, the free V. Which when I when I was watching, I was like, Oh, this is obviously taking a cue from puffy chair, arguably, much more sound technically, I have to say, if I'm if I'm gonna, if I'm gonna call it out,

Katie Aselton 21:29
Mark will be the first one to tell you that I lean into cinema a little bit more than he does. He's like, I don't give a shit. I just give me like, give me a performance. That's all I care about. I literally don't care what's in the frame, it doesn't matter. Kind of want it to look pretty.

Alex Ferrari 21:44
So when I was watching them, like, definitely there's an inspiration from from that that core, the mumble core movement, but it's definitely a little bit more cinematic. But there's still there's watching scenes, there's like, oh, there's no lights here. Like this is all natural. This is all natural. It's and then you had DAX Dax Shepard in as your co star who's absolutely wonderful. And, and I mean, he was in 2010. It was pre parenthood. Yeah. So he was he was he wasn't Dax Shepard. Yeah, he was. No,

Katie Aselton 22:12
He was. He was without a paddle Dax Shepard. Oh, punked or pound Dax Shepard. He was there. Um, which is like, I really take great pride in being like this. Like the first step for him into like, him really showing the world who he is as an actor. And I truthfully, I really hope he gets back into more of that kind of acting. He's a beautiful actor.

Alex Ferrari 22:39
No, he's he's, he's excellent actor, even when you're in parenthood, he was, oh, my,

Katie Aselton 22:43
Well, that's the thing. I think you said he took freebie in an effort to like, get into natural acting. I was like, it's like training ground. Like he was just like, he was working his stuff out on me, which like, Thank God, thank God, he did, because he finished. You finish shooting. He finished shooting our movie, all of eight days that we shot that movie and went right up to San Francisco to go shoot parenthood.

Alex Ferrari 23:15
And he's done. And he's done. Okay, since then he's done. All right. He's done a rough himself. He's, he's gonna write for himself. No question about it. Now, the one thing I always love asking directors into something that's not talked about as much as it should be. Is the politics on set. That there's a lot of politics that young directors and especially female directors who have had on the show, they have a whole other set of things that they have to deal with, on set. Is there any advice you can give young directors both male and female coming about politics on set? And when I say politics of set? Yeah, there's obviously the politics of studio executives and investors and producers.

Katie Aselton 23:52
And I can't speak to that at all.

Alex Ferrari 23:54
But but with even crew people who push back on you don't believe in your vision, or are been doing this for 30 years, and they're like, Who's this kid? And that how do you deal with that? What advice do you have for kids? Or young, young young directors coming up?

Katie Aselton 24:10
Yeah, I mean, please, I want the 60 year old who's making their first movie to deal with the politics of the sunset. Because the truth of the matter is, is I've had two different experiences and look 3d was a unicorn all on its own like that was like felt like film camp. Like it was a very like Cassavetes esque, like just really warm environment where it was so collaborative, and I don't think we'll ever have anything like that again, where I felt fully supported from every single person who was in my home shooting that movie. It felt like such a safe space. My second film with Blackrock I definitely went in with a much heavier sense of imposter syndrome. And I think I I wrongly, so balanced that out with like, a strong persona of like, no one's gonna push me around and I didn't treat people I think the way I want to treat people moving through this world, like I, I very much regret the way I handled situations. And I think part of it came from insecurity and part of it came from stress and, and we were under so many, like, the physical elements of that movie were so hard, we were freezing cold and wet and bug bitten, and, you know, over budget, and all of those things, I think, led to me not being the leader that I really want it to be. And then with Mac and re, I went into that, having really spent 10 years since Blackrock sitting with that and thinking about the kind of director I want to be in the way, I want to leave a set. And, and with Mack and Rita, I lead with kindness and gratitude, and respect, and, and humility. And I think that there is nothing more powerful than someone saying, I don't know, let's figure that out together. I don't know, what do you think there is a reason why you hire the incredibly talented people around you. And that is to support you with their knowledge of their job, right. I don't know how to be a cinematographer. There's a reason why the cameras not in my hands, because I don't know how to do it. I don't know how to hang a light. I don't know what it takes for, you know, everything that goes into production design, I hire people who are wonderful at their jobs. And I think the biggest job for a director is to trust in those people. And to thank them for their work. And it is still a collaboration, it's still a conversation, you can absolutely weigh in on things. But I think that if you can end every day with thank you so much for everything you did today. I couldn't be doing this without you. I think that would be my biggest piece of advice.

Alex Ferrari 27:06
You know, what's so interesting is when when I watch Black Rock and washed, makin read up, it's you can you can feel the energy difference. I mean, they're two different kinds of story, but you can just feel, you know, because in Black Rock, you're one of the actresses, you can kind of sense that and I have to I have to ask when I was watching, I was like, Man, this must have been a super easy set. I mean, it should have just just flowed everything worked nicely. On Black Rock. There's no issues whatsoever, because you're running around on an island and I'm like, oh,

Katie Aselton 27:37
Exteriors on the poster name. I mean, it just my rental house is six hours away. Well, you know, when your water housing fails, like you're there, like, we were supposed to have cameras in the water with us didn't have any like, things like there was no shooting and jiving on that movie. Like it was

Alex Ferrari 28:01
Yeah. Opposite of freebie.

Katie Aselton 28:03
The complete opposite. And, and sitting in that headspace for two years, the you know, the time that it takes to make that movie. Really? It didn't a number on me.

Alex Ferrari 28:17
Yeah, cuz I mean, I mean, it was it was your Apocalypse Now, in many ways, because you were stuck out.

Katie Aselton 28:21
And I must admit, I was the one having 10 heart attacks.

Alex Ferrari 28:28
I mean, it must have been it must have been brutal. Because as I'm watching it, I'm like, This is not easy on a massive budget. Oh, my God was $100 million budget. You're still in the elements. Anytime you shooting in the elements, even a scene or two, shot most of that film in there, and you're running.

Katie Aselton 28:46
The only interior shot of that movie is in the car in the beginning when the two girls when Lake and Kate are in the car is the only time wow, that there is an interior shot.

Alex Ferrari 28:58
So when you were prepping that film, I have to ask you Did you Did it come up that like Hey guys, we're gonna be shooting outside? Can we control because you're at the whim of weather and the sun going in and out? Time all tides we probably never considered booking tides that go in and out. Ah, god, it was a it was

Katie Aselton 29:26
A matter that were like we bit off more than we could chew with this one. And it was I'm still so proud of what we made ultimately. But man, it was hard.

Alex Ferrari 29:35
So how do you how is the director? Do you keep morale going? And by the way, you have the added bonus of being an actress in the film that you're directing in this insanity. So I can imagine

Katie Aselton 29:47
I think I misstepped is I focused the most on morale of the cast. And not because we were also in two separate camps like the crew was all held up in One house, and the cast and the produce the Daelim Romanski. and I were in another house. And so

Alex Ferrari 30:08
I was like, so above the line below the line,

Katie Aselton 30:11
I need to keep the actors happy, not realizing that the crew was like ready to uni mutiny,

Alex Ferrari 30:22
They were going to they were going to do so that is if everyone listening, if you can at all help it definitely don't separate above the line and below the line on an on an independent film, try to bring them all together.

Katie Aselton 30:33
And in my head, I was like, this is it's all going to work if we can all just get through these 23 days, like, it's all gonna like, I promise you, it's all going to work. But like when you're getting $100 a day and getting the shit kicked data you and they bitten eaten alive by bugs. Like it's hard to remember that it's all I ultimately, like financially going to work. You know, it was hard. And I hope for your listeners. Yeah, I hope I can take with you.

Alex Ferrari 31:06
I mean, look, I've shot I've shot and in nature, and it's it sucks. It's like you just can't control. When that sun goes behind a cloud, we gotta wait, are we going to try to light it are we going to, because we don't have the we have the budget to actually set up a nice, you know, 10k up and turn it on and off the matches. It's it's just, it's just, it's, so when I was watching this, I'm like, I know she didn't have the biggest budget on this. This is our second movie. And she's running around on an island.

Katie Aselton 31:34
We make make it free.

Alex Ferrari 31:41
It was the pilot for Naked and Afraid that's exactly.

Katie Aselton 31:45
Every, every time we hit a thing, you just can actually crank it up a notch. And that's where we were it was. Wow. Looking back on it like, glad I had that experience. But holy, holy cow.

Alex Ferrari 31:58
Wow. Now, you've gone through a bunch of stuff in your career, and you've gone through your journeys, is there anything that you wish someone would have told you at the beginning of your career? If you can go back in time and talk to yourself? And go look, I know you want to be an actress? And that's all good, we're gonna do that. But keep this in mind.

Katie Aselton 32:17
Ah, the one thing that I would say is like, and I mean, it really speaks to your podcast is like never stop hustling. You gotta just like I am, I will forever be so upset at myself for the way i i operated post puffy chair. I was like, I just had a movie that was a hit in Sundance, like, I'm fine. I let Mark and Jay go to every film festival. And I was like, I'm gonna do pilot season, I missed every opportunity to meet filmmakers to get in those conversations. And, and that was such a loss. Like, I'm so proud of that. And it changed the narrative, right? And, and the narrative became like, you know, Mark put his girlfriend in the movie. And it's like, oh, no, I'm actually like, I'm an actor. I've been doing this longer than he's been doing it. But like, because I wasn't there. I wasn't a part of the narrative.

Alex Ferrari 33:17
You know, someone else wrote the narrative for you.

Katie Aselton 33:19
Someone else wrote the narrative. So that would be my piece of advice to my younger self is like, Don't let anyone else write the narrative, like, keep the pen in your hand at all times. Do you think that doesn't mean? Sorry to interrupt you mean to be utterly obnoxious, and to be that person who's constantly like trying to shove the door open, but it just means like, say yes to opportunities, and never think that you are at a point where you are too good to whatever that thing is, for me as an actor. It's like, I still put myself on tape for everything that I'm excited about. Like, I am not good for that. I don't care. I don't care. I'll do it. And for you know, as far as like putting back and read out the world, I want to say yes to every opportunity to talk to anyone because this is my moment now. And I don't know when I'm gonna get this moment again.

Alex Ferrari 34:14
And that's something that people people don't realize is like when you're directing, I take it when anytime I walk on set, I'm like, I'm so happy to be here. Unless you're Ridley Scott, and you're directing every single day of your entire life for the last 40 years. Generally, people don't get that opportunity. So when you get the opportunity, as artists, directors are the one artists that we rarely get to, to perform our art. Yeah,

Katie Aselton 34:37
Well, I'll say that to Eddie. Any, like actors feel the same way at least? A lot of times directors or creators have their own art, right. So at least then you have some semblance of control, in your in your path. We're as actors so often we are left to you know the mercy of others. are like making the correct decision like asking permission to do what we do. And so, you know, look, I think the more we can self generate and and, and at least just keep our idle hands busy but even, you know, directors, I think have a little bit of an easier time generating things for themselves but it is it's hard. It's deceptive, right? Like, the job the work is it's few and far between as as you move through the world.

Alex Ferrari 35:32
When when when you were saying that you didn't take advantage of all those conversations after puffy chair and you were just like, I'm gonna go do pilot season was that ego? Where you're just like, I have arrived. I don't need to do this

Katie Aselton 35:43
100% It was young, stupid ego, and not really understanding the business that Well, I am still the girl for main who like I wasn't raised in this like I didn't. And I didn't have anyone really guiding me to tell me. You This is like we were mark and Jay and I sort of came. And you know, my previous group of friends in Los Angeles, we're all living very different lives. And they didn't understand they didn't understand the Sundance of adult right. They were like, so crazy. And in their minds. They were also like she made it. Like, you know, Jeremy Sisto on a TV show doesn't understand, like, Katie Appleton edits in a Sundance movie, you know, it's like just two very different worlds. And so I had no one to look to to be like, how, what do you think I should do right now?

Alex Ferrari 36:34
There was no podcast that back then to tell you. I would have killed for this podcast 15 years ago. Could you imagine having all this information, having these kinds of really candid conversations? I mean, it would have been massive.

Katie Aselton 36:51
It's so awesome to have something that just demystifies something that is that we grew up, like putting on a pedestal right? But it felt so unattainable. It felt so like, you know, we grew up looking at directors like Spielberg and just being like, how does he do it? But like, what if he actually told us?

Alex Ferrari 37:11
I had the pleasure of talking to some of the and I've had the pleasure of talking to some of these kinds of gods. He's like, filmmaking gods. I'm trying to get Steve on the show. I thought I call him Steve, because you know, oh, but

Katie Aselton 37:23
I saw him one time I had a meeting at DreamWorks. He just walked in the door. And I was like, the only thing I could say is, he looks exactly like Steven Spielberg. I know. That's so weird. But like, he like he looks like he like had the best he had, like, just I was like, Whoa, no, you are absolutely stupid.

Alex Ferrari 37:45
It's a uniform. It's a Steven Spielberg uniform. Yeah. You know it. Can you imagine? And I've talked to so many people who've worked with Steven and and had businesses with him and stuff. How what's it like being someone like that, that in certain circles, I mean, he could walk around, he could probably he's so famous. And he's such a he's such a known person around the world. But he's not Brad Pitt. Like he can go off

Katie Aselton 38:08
He looks just like Steven Spielberg,

Alex Ferrari 38:09
Right. So the point is, like, every time he walks into a room, and there's a filmmaker in there, they all had the same reaction you did, like, how do you? And I've talked to people like, how does he deal with it? He's like, he's just really nice, man. He's just really nice and pleasant.

Katie Aselton 38:23
And I think there are people who are not quite so kind, but I think

Alex Ferrari 38:27
No, in this business, stop it.

Katie Aselton 38:30
I know it shocked up it.

Alex Ferrari 38:32
Next, you're gonna say there's egos in Hollywood.

Katie Aselton 38:34
I know. I'm not the only one it turns out.

Alex Ferrari 38:39
So I had the pleasure this morning to watch your new film, Mack and Rita and I absolutely adored it. It's so much fun. And I'm, you know, in the beginning of the movie, you guys shot in Palm Springs. And I just left LA, I moved to Austin, about a year ago. And right before I left, I went to Palm Springs for the first time. And that's where the devil lives. I don't know if you know that the devil actually has a home in Palm Springs. It was 119 when I went, I've never been in 119

Katie Aselton 39:09
You're not meant to go in. But there's times I don't quite know. You're thinking.

Alex Ferrari 39:14
I went to Joshua Tree and then we're like, Hey, we're close to Palm Springs. Let's just go check it out. And but there's human beings walking the streets and bursting into flames. So I felt like just yelling at them with the Tron with up like, don't you understand? Don't you understand what's happening? Me? Thank God they love them so much. So as soon as I was watching those scenes that you shot, I was just like, when did they shoot this? Because it had

Katie Aselton 39:36
It was March. It was hot, but not as hot as it

Alex Ferrari 39:43
So when we were in the 90s Hundreds, yeah,

Katie Aselton 39:46
it was probably it was probably like 90 and honestly like it was fine. We were okay. Okay, yeah, could have.

Alex Ferrari 39:51
Cuz I'm just like port I keep going. Alright, so tell me about the movie. Tell me what the movies about.

Katie Aselton 39:58
The movie is, is really ultimately about being your truest forming yourself at any age, right? This is a really hard movie to give like a one line synopsis too. So that's one line, right your

Alex Ferrari 40:14
Pitch, that's your pitch this

Katie Aselton 40:16
Is like be it is your true self at any age Or pitch.

Alex Ferrari 40:23
Please tell us the longer pitch.

Katie Aselton 40:24
The longer pitch longer pitch is it is a story about a 30 year old woman named Matt who finds herself living a very inauthentic life. She has friends who are all very hip trendy, and with it, yet she connects more to the older women in her life. She was raised by her grandmother and she really feels like she is a 70 year old woman trapped in the body of a 30 year old. So while on this wild bachelorette weekend in Palm Springs with her girlfriends, she is just dying to lay down and get away from it all. So she tucks herself into a side tent that has a regression pod in it and she doesn't care. That's a regression pod, you're going to lay down and in that pod has a bit of a mental breakdown, and really screams that she is a seven year old trapped in a 30 year olds body. And sure enough, she comes out Diane Keaton, and which is very,

Alex Ferrari 41:22
Very big, very big style. Tom Hanks big, beautiful.

Katie Aselton 41:27
But it was so fun to like then watch this character. Have a seven year old woman have to live the life of a 30 year old but the obligations of the 30 year old she's an influencer. She's a writer like she just still has to live that life and it turns out you know, our girl Mac really confused age with wisdom. And the truth is she didn't want to be old. She just wanted to be her. And how do we get back to ourselves?

Alex Ferrari 41:54
Oh, much better pitch than the first one I have to say. It's it is no but that it takes a minute to to bring it out because and you know, just that Pilates scenes alone was probably I mean that must have been so so you so you're working with this young upstart Dan keen? What is it like? Introducing what's it like introducing it into the world?

Katie Aselton 42:16
I'm gonna be excited for people to see what she can do.

Alex Ferrari 42:20
What's it like working with a living legend? I got it. Like it's a director. How do you approach giving her notes and directing a scene? How did you work with her?

Katie Aselton 42:28
I say like it truly someone at some point was like, Oh, you're directing Diane, like dream come true. And I was like, a dream that big. Like, look at what I'm doing. This is insane. Who dares to dream like I'm from a town of 300 people from a school that didn't have a drama program. Four years. Four years I was in a drama club with no production. So it is like it is a real like even like on the eve of like putting this movie out into the world. I am still pinching myself that that is my reality that I get to work every day with her and the truth of the matter is is that is she is just an absolute fucking delight like she is she is one of the reasons why she's so great in this movie is because she is hands down like the most authentic person you could ever possibly want to meet the Diane that we have known and falling in love with as audience members like for decades is exactly who she is. That is Diane, those quirks the idiosyncratic like wild, wackiness, the in the insecurities, the the heart, like the humor, all of that is wrapped up in, in Diane and it's all right there she is, like, vulnerable and real and fun and, and self effacing. And it's just like she's a true delight and working with her was I was really expecting are prepared anyways, I think a lot of actors, nevermind actors who are in their 70s and have been doing this for 40 years, or 50 years. I you expect them to be very set in their ways that they're going to come in, they're going to give the performance they're going to give and no one's going to tell them any different right? And Diane was not that at all. She was so open and like game and ready to play and always wanted to do more physical comedy and yeah, it was just, I am so grateful for what she brought every day.

Alex Ferrari 44:46
And I mean, just again, I'll go back to the Pilates scenes. I mean, it's absolutely brilliant what she did and that that you could just see the the mastery of timing and and comedy and how she's able to like she's a she's a masterful Whoa, competition really is

Katie Aselton 45:02
I know and he doesn't get to do it, which is like crazy to me. I feel like I feel like I haven't seen her do like be this physical in a movie since like baby cheese Baby, baby boom as like a reference throughout this movie because I think it is a very underappreciated movie. It's still 100% holds up. The story of Baby Boom is it's almost more relevant now than it was then post pandemic, and are we going to work from home? And like, do we work to live or live to work? And like, what was the who's the director of that Shire? Oh, who is it? I think it's Charles Shire, wasn't it?

Alex Ferrari 45:46
It was yes. I think yeah. Because I had I think I had him on the show. I didn't think I had him on the show. And I was asking him about this is Charles I think it was yes, yes. Yeah. He's Yeah, he's a master who's, ah,

Katie Aselton 45:58
What's really physically in that movie, like, they're her like, freak out, break down at the well, when the well runs dry. The way she kisses Sam Shepard, like, all of those were touchpoints for me, in making this movie, and we talked a lot about it. And, and I just loved it. I mean, I love all of Diane stuff. But I think what she did physically and baby boom was really like, where we were looking to sort of land with Mack and Rita.

Alex Ferrari 46:28
And what was it, you know, as a director we always come up with is that day that the whole world's coming down crashing around us? And I know that you could argue that everyday stuff. But there's always that one day that has

Katie Aselton 46:42

Alex Ferrari 46:43
Exactly, exactly. Was there a day that sticks out in your mind that the whole world was coming crashing down around you and you felt like oh my god, how am I gonna get through this? What was that? And how did you overcome it?

Katie Aselton 46:54
The day that we were shooting out at the beach, the big fire stuff? Yeah, a clear power Summit. Shooting and all of a sudden, I'm sorry, I think like the Army's landing nearby title. We were shooting at the beach. We had this big big fire stunt and we're getting going and it's a gorgeous day like so psyched, the weather's great. And all of a sudden, like as we're like gearing up for the fire stuff, like the wind starts to pick up. And la ended up having like, gale force winds that day. And you're gonna watch like there's hair blowing everywhere. We ended up having to CGI like most of the fire we could not get anything to frigging light it was the most infuriating finally dying was just like the second third fire I'm getting on stage I was like yes, you're gonna just go and we're gonna do it and we're gonna and thankfully I had Nicole Byer there who is like just a comedic genius and I could just rely on her to like be clutch like you just need in moments like that you need people to deliver and so we ended up like barely pulling out that fire thing we go to turn the cameras around so we can get her walking through the event. And the when I want to say was like 40 miles an hour Gail first picks up all of the tents Get Lifted like Wizard of Oz and fucking Malibu like they went so far. And we were just like we gotta call it like obviously we we cannot shoot

Alex Ferrari 48:36
We don't have a set anymore. God doesn't want you to shoot is basically

Katie Aselton 48:39
Not want us to finish this day. So he like go home and we're like, oh my god, what are we going to do? What are we going to do? So we're looking at the schedule working out with AD and the only day that we can like fit in a half day reshoot is the day that we are shooting Diane coming out of the pod Yeah, the first time I'm Dion's work hours are 12 hours portal portal, hair and makeup. All of that requires some time to locations Santa Monica to downtown oh man and a massive massive wardrobe change in between and a hair changed because she's has the longer hair there meant that I had 20 minutes to shoot day and coming out of the pot.

Alex Ferrari 49:39

Katie Aselton 49:41
It was like only the most important

Alex Ferrari 49:43
Basically the most important shot

Katie Aselton 49:46
But then also the Marie Claire thing is important because then that's like production value, right? Like we need the feel of this big huge event. We need Diane like working the vendors we're you know, we're shooting her coming through and doing the whole thing. There was No compromise. You just had to do it. It was one of those things where I was like, oh my god, oh my god.

Alex Ferrari 50:07
And you know what, and I love these kinds of stories. That's why I always asked that question because I love to demystify for for young filmmakers coming up that they're like, Oh, you've got Diane Keaton, this is a big budget this is this and that everything runs smoothly. No, no.

Katie Aselton 50:23
Shit goes wrong at every level. Like I don't care how much money you have. I don't care what studios making your movie. I don't care if you're just making it with friends, every something is going to always go wrong, and you just have to be ready for it.

Alex Ferrari 50:38
Now, when is when is this film available?

Katie Aselton 50:40
August 12 in theaters. Yes, August 12 that's Friday, August 12, in theaters, and then we'll be PVOD in September and then on Hulu in December.

Alex Ferrari 50:53
So awesome. I can't wait for the world to see this film. Now I'm going to 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?

Katie Aselton 51:04
Make stuff with your friends, get good

Alex Ferrari 51:07
Work and just hustle

Katie Aselton 51:10
Hustle make it.

Alex Ferrari 51:13
What is lesson? What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Katie Aselton 51:20
I think it is. You got to put that ego on the shelf and do the work.

Alex Ferrari 51:25
It is something that they don't talk about.

Katie Aselton 51:27
Like you got to bet is I think, you know, listen, I listen to Oprah, and Deepak and ego is is a daily struggle for everyone. But it is like the enemy. Like if your ego does you no favors.

Alex Ferrari 51:41
But you know what the funny thing is that in our business, it's even more prevalent, because not everybody has a group of people or an entire industry telling you you're the best. Yeah, awesome. It's difficult to handle that at any level.

Katie Aselton 51:55
Well, and I think that it gets confused. ego gets confused with confidence, right? Like you can have confidence in your skills and your abilities, but not be led by your ego.

Alex Ferrari 52:07
Right! Exactly. Like I'm too good for that. I remember when I first started directing, I went out as a commercial director, and I had been editing I was with top editor and in South Florida, I was making tons of cash. And then when as soon as I made my demo reel I just said, I'm no longer an editor. I'm just going to send my and then I got calls. Hey, can you work? No, I don't edit any more. I am now a director. Mind you wasn't directing.

Katie Aselton 52:30
Hard to call yourself the director when you're not actually doing it.

Alex Ferrari 52:33
Exactly. So it was just very automated. I always tell people don't worry, the universe has a way of just slapping this little nudge here and there.

Katie Aselton 52:42
I can knock in your head just a little bit.

Alex Ferrari 52:44
And last question three of your favorite films of all time. Hmm. Tootsie so brilliant. Ah, Big Lebowski. Not a brilliant one. And I will say baby, boom. Very nice. Very nice. I had one other question. I forgot to ask you. What did you learn from your biggest failure?

Katie Aselton 53:09
That that there's always another there's going to be a tomorrow you know, the world doesn't stop making movies The world doesn't stop making TV shows. It doesn't end on on the last project it's going to the business keeps going. And no one gives us much shit about you as you do

Alex Ferrari 53:37
Do you spent how many. How many hours of your life was wasted thinking about what other people thought of you and you can and as you've gotten older you didn't think a bit about me they have their own crap. Oh crap they're dealing with how egocentric are we to think like when we walk in the room? What are they thinking? I'm how I look.

Katie Aselton 53:56
No. Everyone cares. No one get no one cares. They're all worried about themselves. right and the wrong cut everyone else some grace. Everyone's doing their best.

Alex Ferrari 54:09
Yeah, exactly. There's no quit. We're all doing our best and we're all just trying to make it through this. This life's journey and in this business is is brutal.

Katie Aselton 54:18
Without some grace, cut everyone else some grace and trying and enjoy it as much as you can.

Alex Ferrari 54:25
Katie it has been an absolute pleasure and honor talking to you so much fun. Thank you so much for dropping your knowledge bombs on the tribe. I appreciate your very, very much and best of luck. I can't wait to see your next project. So thank you again.

Katie Aselton 54:37
Me too. Alright, I'll talk to you soon.

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BPS 277: What They Don’t Teach You in Film School with Shane Stanley

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Alex Ferrari 0:21
I'd like to welcome Mr. Shane Stanley man How you doing?

Shane Stanley 4:20
Alex I'm good Thanks for having me. How you doing?

Alex Ferrari 4:22
I'm as good as we can be in this crazy upside down world we live in sir.

Shane Stanley 4:27
Whoo. Every day. I keep thinking it may just start finding its right way back up and then the wheel and the ball just spins back. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 4:35
And then and then it starts raining murder Hornets. So I mean,

Shane Stanley 4:42
and what was the new animal they threatened us with last week.

Alex Ferrari 4:47
25 foot 25 foot Grizzly like I don't know it like it's it's it just saw but this is this is going to be a film geek thing before we get started. Did you see that the trailer for Grizzly too. The film that was shot in 1980 something and is now being being released in 2020. But starring George Clooney, Laura Dern and Charlie Sheen.

Shane Stanley 5:11
Oh, wow.

Alex Ferrari 5:12
And I saw I just saw it was on my Facebook feed. I was like, This is never been released. It was sitting in someone's closet and they finally Brent remastered it and edited.

Shane Stanley 5:23
You know what's weird, is I used to run Charlie Sheen's production company from 96 to 99. Okay, he was he was friends with George Clooney. And he kept saying, Yeah, we did a movie together years ago. That's it years ago. And and wow, I'd like this and it never came full circle. Now it did.

Alex Ferrari 5:44
I'm glad I can bring closer to that part of your life

Shane Stanley 5:47
is wondering what that was because it never I never got answers

Alex Ferrari 5:51
Grizly to start. It says George Clooney, Laura Dern and Charlie Sheen. And oh, God, the guy. No, the star of credit. The star of it is Oh my god, I can't john. JOHN Reese, the guy from Indiana Jones and Lord of the Rings. With the big the big voice in the beard.

Shane Stanley 6:13
Yeah, I know. You mean he's English actor.

Alex Ferrari 6:16
Yeah, he's an English actor. Exactly. Yeah. He's, he's, he's the star of it. And you see him. And I saw him and I saw him in the trailer. He's literally lassoing a 25 foot which is so obviously not a 25 foot crazy, but it's just so brilliant. I can't wait to watch it. So I'm sorry, everyone. We had to start off with a little bit of film geekery But so, uh, so Shane, tell me how you got into the business.

Shane Stanley 6:51
You know, Alex might my journey into Hollywood was was a little different than most but not uncommon. My father when I was born, was a working actor. And he had been in films like ice station, zebra rock cuts, and Mannix modsquad. He was a working blue collar actors under contract with MGM and Aaron Spelling. And as I was born, he volunteered me for a national television commercial. It was for a new company called century 21. I was the little baby in diapers that this new couple was buying a house and so I became a childhood actor before I could even walk and did that for a number of years and was quickly bored with being in a trailer and being there all day to do a couple of minutes of work. And my father had transitioned into becoming a filmmaker, a documentarian and a very successful one. And he had a movie all around the house. He had the RS 16 millimeter cameras, the flatbeds splicers, and I was fascinated by that equipment, Alex, and before I was seven years old, I was running a movie Ola, I was assisting him and his editors doing sound sync and splicing and fixing films that would come in and needed repair. And I just, I fell in love with the process of just from watching them storyboard ideas and doing educational and documentary films and then seeing it on the screen when it was all done was just that whole concept of delivery was fascinating to me and that that's really what what brought me in

Alex Ferrari 8:22
and, and then you you worked on a film called gridiron gang starring the Rock Can you tell us how you got involved with that project?

Shane Stanley 8:29
I executive produced that it was an interesting story. I'm being independent filmmakers. My my father, my my stepmother, Linda and I were producing this documentary series called the desperate passage series, which ran from 1989 to 94. And in involved at risk youth taking them out on at sea expeditions, you know, Michael Landon, Lou Gossett, Jr, Marlo Thomas, Sharon, bless Eddie James, almost all used to host and we had a great pool of talent. And there was a story in the LA Times about this juvenile football team that had hatched up at the local prison. And we had already shot I think five or six films up there. Camco Patrick in Malibu. So my stepmom found the article, she brought it to my dad and said, I think we should do this. My dad said, No, I'm kind of done. I mean, we've done five or six of these shows on these kids. Let's move on. And she wanted us to really pursue it. So he called probation and so he helped us again, we'd like to do it and he said, Oh, get in line. Hollywood's Hollywood's come knocking in some, some big studio had the rights to do it. And three weeks later, they called us and said, do you want to do it get up here they start practice tomorrow. So my dad myself, Philip Byrne, Ken Schaefer and David Johnston God rest his soul, went up to camp Kilpatrick and shot for three weeks, and a documentary that became known as gridiron gang, which as soon as it aired became in 94. Those property your parents have gotten more Really and then 15 years later we made that pyramid Saudi Columbia for 15 years before we made it.

Alex Ferrari 10:09
So yeah, that's a that's a lovely little thing that film filmmakers listening should understand that the Hollywood is not fast. by any stretch of the imagination. It's still these. There's projects that stay in development for decades and decades.

Shane Stanley 10:24
Well, what was really interesting is we weren't in the gridiron gang and nobody would Eric for two years and we had already had a ton of success with acid series. We had 13 Emmy nominations, we won like eight. And I don't know I think it was because it was football, you know, high school football who wants to air that that's that, you know, and they're kidding.

Alex Ferrari 10:46
Like, everybody wants to see how like so many people want to watch high school football.

Shane Stanley 10:49
9192 different time, Friday Night Lights hadn't hit. So once it got aired on, KTLA, everybody wanted it. And it was interesting, too, because a lot of actors want to know, Mel Gibson, Charlie Sheen, we were talking about john candy share. You know, as Sean Penn, a lot of people were calling for the rights and wanted to get involved. And then we made our deal with Sony. And they put it on the fast track. And at the time, Mark Campbell was the president of the studio and they were going to attach everybody from Bruce Willis to Andy Garcia to Dustin Hoffman. They had all sorts of plans. And then it went into turn around when more Canton would show the door at Columbia wanted to turn around and sat for another eight years without, you know, being able to do anything because they had over $2 million charged against the film. So anytime a producer called us Alex and said hey, whatever happened gridiron getting be great to make that. Yeah, great. You know, pay Colombia 2 million. And then we can talk about as a they had that much invested in those terms.

Alex Ferrari 11:52
And then how did so then they sold it over to paramount. Paramount picked it up?

Shane Stanley 11:55
No, no, no. What happened was is Neil Moritz was a budding producer. You know, Neil is known for fast and furious SWAT and about every other hit Hollywood is cranked out in the last decade. And Neil was was somebody who was involved with us early on, and he went on to do fast and furious and SWAT and triple x and all these great films and we always stayed in touch with Neil he's he's genuinely a good guy. He endorsed my book as you saw. And Friday Night Lights came out and then we knew we were Marshall was getting made facing the Giants was this big indie Christian head. And it was like movie after movie invincible. We heard in one thing we have to admit Alec, you and I joked about this before we started as Hollywood repeats itself, they copy it's a copycat industry. And it was kind of like if there was ever a time to make Baron gang, it's now so my dad and I called Neil and said, Do you want to make it? He said, Yes, let's meet tomorrow, but have a cast in mind. Because that's what's always stalled this thing out so I'm coming up with a cast list a mile long Vin Diesel, Bruce Willis again, let's go with these guys. And Jason state them and, and my wife, then girlfriend at the time, was in the bedroom watching TV. And she came in and she said, I need you to come see something and I said, I'm busy. I'm making a list for Neil Moritz. And she said, Stop what you're doing come in here and look at what I'm watching and it was the E True Hollywood Story on the rock. And he had been arrested a dozen times before his 18th birthday. He had played a very high level in the national championship. Miami Hurricanes was drafted into the CFL NFL blew out his knee and started from dirt and made something great of themselves. And I watched that five minutes Alex and I went back to my office I tore up my list of 35 plus names that I'd spent four hours coming up with, went into Neil's office the next day. We caught up a little while since we saw each other and he said alright, where's your list? And I said, I got one name for you. I said Dwayne Johnson. And he yelled to his assistant, Nikki, Nikki, when's my dinner with the rock? She said tomorrow, he said, Give me a copier. Give me a DVD of the grid of the documentary you and your dad made. Two days later. We were up at the jail with Dwayne Johnson walk in the premises. And he knew we were making a movie. I mean, you know,

Alex Ferrari 14:06
that was and and Dwayne. I mean he was he was the rock but he wasn't the Rock like he was he was big but he wasn't what we know of him today.

Shane Stanley 14:14
He just done Walking Tall Scorpion caves

Alex Ferrari 14:17
early early. He had done if

Shane Stanley 14:20
it was early Yeah. And he was leaving to go do God that video game movie he did right? Oh, don't do

Alex Ferrari 14:28
that. Do that. Yes. He jokes quite a much about a bit about that. But it was still early on. Yeah, walking to Walking Tall was a hit and you know, but he wasn't what we would call like the rock now is the rock.

Shane Stanley 14:43
And I can't think of a I can't think of a person who deserves the success more talking about humble, sincere, gracious human being. I feel honored to say that we're to this day. 12 years later, we're still good friends. We stand regular touch. He's if anybody has earned it, and you really know his story. You would say it's him. And if you ever get a chance to work with a run to it, you'll be glad you did.

Alex Ferrari 15:05
That's amazing. Yeah, he's, I'm a huge rock fan. I've been watching the rock since the WWF days and I frickin love the rock. Oh, no, the I could do one eyebrow, that's it, I could do. I could do the Y kit. I could do one, I can't do the other one. Now, you wrote a book called what you don't learn in film school, which is basically my entire brand. What I've been, it's been pleasure. No, it's been what I've been talking about for years. And it's like, Guys, you know, one of the reasons why I started the podcast was like, I didn't hear anybody really out there at the time. telling it how it is from a place of someone who's walked the walk, like being in the industry, and really getting the shrapnel and getting the hell out beat out of them. And, you know, 20 I mean, at the time I launched, I was already like, 18 to 20 years in, you know, and just working with a ton of people. And I've been, you know, in all sorts of craziness. And, and I wanted to give like a voice to like now guys is not really what it is. So that's when I when I found out about your book, I was like, Oh, I gotta I gotta have shading out. We got it. We got to talk. So what are your thoughts on film schools in general? Do you do need to go?

Shane Stanley 16:21
Well, I think you know, it's a question that is the the age old it's a $64,000 question. I am not against film school, what I am against is charging PVS six figures to get a degree in French noir cinema. Yeah, theory in cell silos and how to keep it preserved in an archive. I mean, there are curriculum that I think are completely useless. But there are things here that I think are important, and I definitely know, like me, you're a blue collar guy, you know, if you come on to set on my Jane Seymour film, if I wasn't working with Jane or my dp, I was physically unloading the grub truck and helping the guys set up. It's just who I am. But I think there's a lot of us who didn't have a parent who bought us a camcorder or we didn't grow up at a time when our phones could make movies. Or I really was like his maid who grew up with movie holders and dads who were making documentaries. So if you don't have an understanding of the craft, or have any idea about it, I think, you know, to become an architect, you would go to school to become an architect to become a lawyer, you would do that. I think the most important thing somebody can do is read a book like the one I wrote or be involved with websites and movements, like indie film, hustle, because there's only so much they're going to teach you at school. They have to keep the persona on that you do need this or there without work. I mean, that's the way it is. But there's so much the business of the business that they don't teach in school is, you know, they don't teach about distribution deals. They don't talk about how to hire crew or how to make I mean, I do all my own contracts, whether it's actors Screen Actors Guild, I IATSE teamsters, it'll teach that. Nope. Look, where are you going to learn it, you're going to learn it from guys like you and me and the other people out there that have that have, you know, stood on a soapbox and try to promote it. So I think film schools are good, I get nervous where a lot of them their instructors are not tried and true filmmakers are people that that haven't been on a set in 20 or 30 years. I go around the country and do workshops and seminars will now that we're on zoom, I do them from air, but it amazes me the lack of credentials, the teachers teaching our next generation of storytellers have that's all just third generation stories about the history of cinema that's not filmmaking.

Alex Ferrari 18:44
No, I agree with you 100% I again, I always tell people look if you can if you can, if you have no understanding and you have no no other way to get this information. Then school is wonderful. At a price at a at a price like my film school. I went to full sail and I paid 18,000 bucks. I know what well, I paid 80,000 bucks in 1990 something and and for 18 grand it was was well worth the cost. You know, because I learned how to ride. I'm sorry.

Shane Stanley 19:15
Were you in Orlando?

Alex Ferrari 19:16
I wasn't I was there for a year and a half.

Shane Stanley 19:18
I was there in 93. I taught us a workshop in 93 in Orlando. I

Alex Ferrari 19:22
don't know if he was I was I was not there yet. I'm a little bit a little bit older than you a little bit a little bit younger than a little bit older than that. I'm not a little bit older.

Shane Stanley 19:31
I'm sorry. I'm 49.

Alex Ferrari 19:33
Well, sir. Well, no, I'm I guess some were similar vintages. Let's say. We're similar vintages. So but the thing is for that 18 grand, which I still think was a little bit pricey for my taste, because I learned how to wrap cable. And I learned how to make a cup of coffee. Those were the two biggest takeaways from my film education because because the technology was changing when I went so I was I was Did you know I was I was still told by my post production professor, that a computer will never be able to produce broadcast quality images. So yeah, that was a quote. I was like, wow, okay. Yeah. Okay. So the big issue I have with film schools is that, yes, I do have some great stuff in it. But the ROI is not there cannot charge somebody 60 7080 100 $120,000 for an education that you and I both know, will not return its investment. If you're going to be a doctor, there is a system setup to get your money back. If you're a lawyer. If you're a pilot, if you're an architect, if you're any of these other if you're an engineer, there are ways their system set up for you to start. And it might take time, I'm not saying the doctors, they cost like, you know, 300 or 300 $400,000, for their education, but there's systems in place to get that money back. Whereas in filmmaking, there is absolutely nothing you can do to guarantee anything, and you and I both know, that it will take if you're good and lucky, and you hustle like there's no tomorrow, maybe five years before you start generating enough money to support yourself if you live in Los Angeles, and that is like the outskirts, more likely 10 years.

Shane Stanley 21:28
You couldn't you couldn't say it best and a better and, and you know, my whole thing. When I started this, I learned the hard way. Because, you know, I like you was trying to come up with a way where in between films, what could I do to make a living and also help others there's got to be way because I tried to be a teacher, I squeaked out a high school. So nobody has hired me as a teacher because I didn't have a degree. Yes. Okay, fine. I get it. So how can I help? And my things, I was meeting with some of the top film institutions in the country. And I said, and I still am very close to a few of the chairs, and they let me in on some very private stuff. But I would be under exaggerating. If I said they know 86 to 92% of the kids who go through their full programs will never earn a dime in this industry Absolutely. Know that. And my original approach Alex was, what if because of the connections I have in my passion to help these students become because they are a next generation of storytellers, my way of giving back, how about if we started a mentorship program their senior year, so when they get out, we're almost handing them a baton. So people like numerous people like Amy Powell, who was running Paramount at the time could know these students and help place them in introduce them. And maybe once a year, we can have a gathering, you know, obviously before COVID in an arena or something where there's a lot of film people, a lot of students who can make connections. No, nobody wanted to do it. No, they didn't want to do

Alex Ferrari 23:03
no, and there's and look, they're selling the sizzle, man, they're not selling the steak. And that's that but that's the that's the thing. They have to sell the dream Hollywood needs to keep this dream alive. Where if you go to film school, and by the way, before that was the truth, which was you had to go to film school to get the kind of education you needed to get even a job in the industry in the 70s that's true in the 80s there was no other option where now there's guys like you and me out there talking writing books, doing podcasts, YouTube channels, there's so much information out there that you don't need to and I know a lot of filmmakers who decided you know what i got $50,000 for an education I'm just gonna go make a movie and they learned so much more by just going out and making a movie which might be good or bad regardless, it's an education I promise you if you go make a movie it's it's

Shane Stanley 23:59
you will you will learn more making a movie whether it's a short or a full length because you know you've made more than I I learned something about others. I learned something about how society interacts because I come back to a cave you know, I shoot a movie. I do concepts of delivery. So I'm usually editing it I'm post supervising it it's an 18 month process for me. I go away Well, I think it's safe to say the last 18 months our world has been to quite a bit in my studio last 18 months working on break even which comes out later this year. So to be honest with you, I kind of know what's going on but I can't wait to get back on a set it schooled and reminded where we really are I use those as such learning curves for me because I go in and I'm like okay, this is where we are today. And it's it keeps me on my game. It's an exciting experience. And every time I do something I learned

Alex Ferrari 24:53
no without without question every single time I want to set every single time I do you know in post production every time writing a script, you learn more and more, it's, it's like anything else, you got to learn the craft in every part of our craft, and it's so complex, it's not just writing a song, it's not just playing an instrument, it's not just carving wood, a table out of some wood.

Shane Stanley 25:19
You're right,

Alex Ferrari 25:20
it's multiple disciplines that you need to understand at least if you don't have to do them all. But you should understand this entire process, which is massive. It is what it is a complex art form. And we haven't even talked about the business. That's just the art form, then the business is a whole other conversation.

Shane Stanley 25:38
There's the business side, you're right, you've got to go hustle your your money to get attached to the project to get the actors to sign them up to get going. And then you got to crew it and cast it and location it and feed it and make it and then sell it.

Alex Ferrari 25:54
It's a process and the do it all again. And and it doesn't and it doesn't generally, generally speaking doesn't work out exactly how you have planned whether the positive or the negative, it's always something else. And, and it will break your heart. More times than not. It's it this is a horrible relationship. This industry we have with it. It's an abusive relationship. It's an absolutely. It's a toxic, abusive relationship.

Shane Stanley 26:21
It's so well said it's awesome.

Alex Ferrari 26:22
But with that said, we can't quit crazy. We can't we can't quit. Like I need

Shane Stanley 26:32
it said it says bro back now I just can't quit you right?

Alex Ferrari 26:35
I can't quit you, man. It's the truth. It's the truth. You can't quit. Because, you know, I've been saying this for a while. It's kind of like you catch it. You catch it. And it's with you for life. You can't get rid of it. It flares up. Sometimes it goes dormant for decades, even sometimes, but it Oh, I'd literally had a conversation with a filmmaker the other day, who was 65 just retired and said, Hey, I'm starting to write my screenplay, because I always wanted to make a movie. And I'm like, that is the case it's it's flaring up. It's flaring up now.

Shane Stanley 27:11
Well, you know, it's funny, I I've had a good run if I if I dropped it tomorrow or was told I'd never make another movie. I'd be sad, but I fought the fight. I won some battles. I'm proud of my body of work. So I wanted to just become a workshop guy and a seminar guy and a mentor to these film students. I was done I feel if I don't make another movie again. I'll be on a team I've done my I fought the fight my resume is there and I don't want to go teach. And I did that for six months and and I still love teaching and mentoring and workshopping. I do it a few days a week now. But I couldn't wait to get back on a set. I missed my crew. I missed five oh, the writer. I missed arguing with a dp and fighting with an actor and being told I don't know shit and you know the hell with you and having them stormed off and all that fun stuff that actors do and they know they're wrong. And I missed it. I missed being the big one. Why did I get that extra angle? God dang it. Why aren't we got to make it work anyway, you know, I missed that

Alex Ferrari 28:09
I just can't quit. You just can't I just can't. I can't I always say I just can't quit crazy, because it's crazy. It's it's insanity. Now, what is the biggest thing you see film schools leaving out of their education, besides absolute honesty that 93% of the people going through the program more likely will never make a diamond the business?

Shane Stanley 28:34
I you know, that's a great question. I think when you look at a standard curriculum, I think that the most important thing that film schools leave out is the importance of learning different variables within our industry. Because when I go to a seminar, the first thing is how many you guys want to be writers hands go producers, hands go up directors, all the hands go up. And I say, look, there's 200 of you in this room right now, if two of you were able to make a living as a director in 10 years, I will eat this podium, still haven't eaten yet. And I say you know what, I always try to preach it, you have a choice. And you you touched on it. Alex's it takes five to 10 years to get a foothold in this industry. And what I always tell the students in the kids coming up, and I do a lot of work with community colleges now more than university because they're older, they've had to fight for everything they have they take buses to school and skateboards and kids and but what I always say is I you want to write I get you want to produce direct or act and I love that don't ever let that passion go. But if you want to work in this industry and better you're learn how to be a gaffer, learn how to be a grip, learn how to be an AC learn how to edit, learn how to learn how to learn how to because I bet you would much rather be on a film set as a script supervisor than driving Uber. I bet you'd much rather be helping unload a grip truck and setting up for a cinematographer than flipping burgers. And if you're honest that you're going to be around actors, producers and directors, and if you stand out and you conduct yourself, Well, people will take notice and want you for the next journey. And that is what I feel the film schools leave out, which isn't a specific curriculum. It's common sense. It's life skills. It's how if you don't make it as the next Quentin Tarantino or Billy Bob Thornton, or you know, Damian, helped me to

Alex Ferrari 30:31
sell, sell, sell, sell

Shane Stanley 30:34
those three, which they always tell you, you can be what you're going to do. And one thing I love is Chris Christopher Rossiter, for anybody listening at La Community College, he has an entire course off of cinematography, that is just grip and electric. He does that so people can learn a blue collar skill on a set and go make three to $500 a day.

Alex Ferrari 31:00
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. I can't even tell you that's like music to my ears. Because when I first started out, I didn't know how to do anything. I start pa and I realized that pa ng sucked. I hated it. It is atrocious. It was horrible. And I worked. I worked at Universal Studios Florida. I worked in Disney MGM. If Are you familiar with the Orlando area during that time, the other productions?

Shane Stanley 31:33
My father's whole side is from Orlando. Okay,

Alex Ferrari 31:36
so I so this is just a little bit of a trivia I've never I've never even said this on the air before but a little bit of trivia. Let's see if you can. Let's see. I'm gonna test your Orlando knowledge. Live first, pa job, which was an internship pa job started off as an internship intern pa was with Kim Dawson. On the back on the backlot of Disney MGM, he was the producer of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Oh, geez. And he did a show called the news on on the backlog of universal so then he started off they started off on on Disney MGM, but they actually shot it on the back lot of universal and then we moved over to Universal. And it was like, it was like a Saturday live ripoff. And I that was like the coolest thing ever to work for the producer of it, which at the time was the biggest independent film of all time.

Shane Stanley 32:34
And it's made a comeback.

Alex Ferrari 32:35
Yeah. Oh, now it's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Obviously they've done. They've done well. But that was that's why and then I worked on Seaquest I worked at Fortune Hunter.

Shane Stanley 32:45
Did you work on Seaquest in LA?

Alex Ferrari 32:47
No. Universal Studios, Florida.

Shane Stanley 32:49
You know they had they also shot here at Universal here. I worked on seaquest here. There you go. Castle Rock back in 9394. On Seinfeld, they throw me on Roseanne even I was at a castle rock show. They threw me on seaquest American girl and a couple other ones. And they would occasionally coach and they would throw me on seaquest when they needed extra bodies over there. And it was usually the fake dolphin in the tank.

Alex Ferrari 33:13
Oh, yeah. All day, I get to see Roy Strider and on the set was the coolest thing ever. And then I was there when they switched the seasons that Michael Ironside is the lead. So I mean, I it was it was it was an entertainment. But that was my whole and I also worked in Nickelodeon. Of course.

Shane Stanley 33:30
That's cool.

Alex Ferrari 33:32
I worked jobs. I actually worked on global guts. Global guts was like this. This show for it was kind of like a it's like American Ninja for kids back in the day. And it was awesome. It was so awesome. But anyway, we're taking. We're just going down the Orlando road

Shane Stanley 33:52
going down memory lane. Well, we did a film with Dennis Hopper called held for ransom him dead Bayes R and I think that deal and it was based on Lois Belkin book who wrote I Know What You Did Last Summer my dad directed and we went out and shop with them for was when they were first getting started, you know, for oil has done a million things since then. And that was quite a hoot going out there to see family and work on this film. It was interesting, but that was the only time I ever actually did a film out there.

Alex Ferrari 34:21
What Don't forget that don't forget that Orlando was going to be the next Hollywood don't you? Don't you remember it was gonna it was gonna be the next Hollywood everything's the next Hollywood

Shane Stanley 34:30
next Hollywood.

Alex Ferrari 34:31
I mean, the only thing that's even come closest Georgia at this point became that they've actually pick up the next Hollywood

Shane Stanley 34:38
start wearing masks, they actually may have a chance.

Alex Ferrari 34:42
So what is the what are some of the biggest mistakes you see first time filmmakers make? You know that?

Shane Stanley 34:51
I'd say some of the mistakes that that I see first time filmmakers make Alex is and I touched on it in the book. I feel everybody's trying to make that move. For Sundance they're so convinced their ideas fresh and bright and are going to be the next you know Damien chazelle are gonna be the next you know, whoever and I like you and probably guests on set all the time I get invited first time filmmakers last time filmmaker, same difference. And it's the attitude. It's this air of arrogance and all this bs precisely, just shut up. treat people with respect make your movie the best you can and learn from it. And to me, it's, it's they try too hard to to be a part of something that's probably not going to datum as you and I were talking about before we started this interview. And hey, if you get into Sundance and all that, that is the greatest thing an indie nobody can get on their on their resume, and I hope it happens for them. But go make a movie, enjoy the process embracing consume, learn, be a team player. Don't be above that all because you raise $6 or you're directing this stupid movie to go help a guy who's struggling setting up a craft service table, I watch more people's egos. You know, you go work on a film like gridiron gang or some of the studio films I've done even though there's union rules, it's unbelievable how helpful everybody is for one another. And you get on some of these indie show Oh, fighting for position of what their value is or what they're worth, maybe, God forbid, they see a guy who cuts his arm off trying to figure out a, you know, hydraulic lift out of a moving truck before they discover and help the guy and that's to me is put your pride aside, help each other out. You'd be so amazed how far you can go.

Alex Ferrari 36:39
I always find it interesting that filmmakers in general, they're taught and the myth in the industry is that you're going to be the next winter. And you know, you're you're going to be the next Robert Rodriguez. That is, but what they don't tell you is like, well, that's nice. And one out of a billion people is going maybe that'll happen too, because we're still talking. We're still talking about guys in the 90s. Who made it you know, there's not a lot of new up and coming stories. There are a handful. But

Shane Stanley 37:12
I'm not to cut you off. I'm a firm believer Hollywood, make sure there's one or three every other year just to make sure that

Alex Ferrari 37:18
keep that keep that thing going. Yeah,

Shane Stanley 37:20
to keep that. Absent not to cut you off. But I do believe there is a method behind the madness of development out of nowhere. Success, I think there is

Alex Ferrari 37:29
no there's no question but they don't teach you what happens if you don't become the next point Tarantino if you don't become that, and that is so toxic for for a filmmaker and when you're young. And I was definitely a guilty of this. The ego is rough. I mean, there's a reason why I called my last film the corner of ego and desire because as a filmmaker, if you have even a remote amount of just if you get an award at the local Film Festival, your ego is out of control. And I early on in my career got a lot of attention for some shorts. And that was a little bit I was already beat up a bit. But I was a little bit in a little a little ego. egocentric in regards to the way I approach stuff. But I never once walked on a set with a big hat that said director on it. Or a big t shirt that said director on it or walked around with a eyepiece that I didn't know how to use not like a net like the James Cameron like, you know, let's set up a shot or Martin Scorsese. Yeah, a real like no, like one of these really small ones that have no association to the lens that you're going to use. It just makes you feel like you're a director, the only thing that were that they were missing was a monocle and a blow horn. I mean, it was it's insane. The stuff and I've seen these stories, and I've seen these directors on set. And And nowadays, like when I see that happen, I'll just don't Don't worry. worry about it. He'll be fine. It'll be fine. It all works itself out. It all works itself out.

Shane Stanley 39:05
I found that the best experiences the best synergy vibe on a set is when you know you may be the guy who raised the money, the guy wrote the script, producing it directing it going to do the whole thing. And you make everybody feel comfortable. Everybody feels safe. And that's our thing. You know, as you read in the book, it's about respect. It's about treating people how you want to be treated. And I know that sounds so cliche, but it seems to me unless you're a few of the real crazy tyrants out there. I won't name them. It seems like the smaller the filmmaker, the bigger the ego. And that's just something that's always wrote I just don't it's true, I think missing tremendous opportunity to collaborate with some great people that feel stifled that can. I'll give you an example. We were shooting breakeven last summer. There we CJ Wally. Up who, you know, wrote this scene, as I asked him to write it, I gave him a Google image of the harbour we're at, there's a part where the two people come off of paddle boards onto the dock, walk down the dock, throw a guy in the water, jump on a speedboat and steal it. Okay. And I wanted it as a winner on steady cam that would pick it up. And I'm looking at the logistics of the actual now that I'm here, and the boats here in the fuel docks are there and this and that, I'm going, I can't get what I designed. And, you know, I've got 40 people staring at me. And the first thing I did was I said, guys, take 10, if you can contribute to the thought process here, I welcome you to stay in, if you can't just go get some food, we'll call you in a minute, I got to rethink this out. And I need help because this is not what I envisioned. It's not what I envisioned won't work. And I suggest anybody has an idea to sit with me. And you know how hard that was to do. Here. I am, Rector, producer, and I'm leading the charge and I'm sitting on the bow of the boat. And I'm like, what I want to do won't work. And I want some help. I need some suggestions. And it was probably a second AC that came in and said, Hey, why don't you do this? Holy Toledo. That's not a bad. Alright, everybody, let's go. And

Alex Ferrari 41:12
you know, but that's as opposed to someone who has no confidence in themselves, because that takes a secure person. And I think that does come with age, man. Like unless you're wise beyond your years. Age is where that comes from, or just life experiences where that comes from. Because it's like, I couldn't like a twin. I'm afraid of what would have happened if I would have I had a project that I worked on when I was in my mid 20s that had big stars. And I wrote a whole book about it and about like working with a mob and all this kind of craziness. And I was afraid I look back now like if that would have gone. If I would have actually gotten a $15 million movie and was working with the caliber of stars that I was meeting and working out I would have I would have completely self destructed I would have would have I would have never been able to handle that because I was not prepared for it for

Shane Stanley 42:07
nothing all over again.

Alex Ferrari 42:08
Oh, sure. Yeah, Jeremy. And if it didn't, if it nobody knows that Troy Duffy, please. I wrote a whole giant article about Troy Duffy and the and the boondock saints. And you why you've got to watch the movie overnight. Every filmmaker should watch to watch that every filmmaker has to watch. Because you see the deterioration of of of a film director who's out of control. And by the way, years later, I had a friend of his on my show, and he told me about you because because you still talk to Troy he goes yeah, talk to Troy all the time. Troy By the way, did very well on boondock Saints to like he did he didn't millions did extremely well. Nobody's crying for joy. No, no one's crying for joy right now. But, um, and of course ever since the whole Harvey Weinstein thing which he you know, he Harvey he was making Harvey to be the villain and overnight and now you look like, Okay, this now makes sense. He maybe he wasn't wrong about that. But he said it goes imagine dude, if someone ran ran around with a camera during your early 20s when you would do in a movie like that? I promise you, you probably wouldn't look that great. And I go You know what? You're effing right, man. You're absolutely right. If someone had been following me during that time period of my life, and now that is the image of my name and with my brand for the rest of my career a Troy would have to do so much to break away from that. But that is

Shane Stanley 43:30
you're right. And you know, what's funny is is you know, we talked about the George Clooney, Charlie Sheen Grizzly movie. Yeah, I was I was very young and I was put in a situation of running a movie stars production company. And he was at a point in his life where Okay, was he still do he just come off terminal velocity in the arrival and shadow conspiracy and he wanted to he was hot. Yeah, he was. Charlie was still making 11 $12 million. A movie. Yeah. Who's rolling? We were we he was rolling. We were getting a lot of moving money to make movies. And he wanted to start doing indie films, and they paid us a lot of money to do indie films. I was, let's see was 96 was it 2526 years old? I'm sure I was. I thought I was being nice. I never really became a deck that I know of. I don't have those cringe worthy moments. When I look back. There's a few things I said or may have done to people that I wish I hadn't said it in that tone or with such enunciation. But you know, I look back and go thank god people weren't following me around with a camera I was on my best behavior.

Alex Ferrari 44:27
But the thing is to also you were raised at the business so it's so it's not like you kind of grew up with this. So it's not as like from coming from nowhere to all of a sudden being associated with big stars and big projects. And then all this crap that Hollywood in the film festivals shoved down your throat like the myth the Tarantino's Robert Rodriguez, you're going to be the next big thing. And then and then you're not. So

Shane Stanley 44:53
to me every day is a grind. I always you know, people always say what was it like growing up with nepotism? Well, to me, it made it harder. When I was a child, I was given jobs. I remember when I was done pursuing a professional music career and said to my dad when I was 17, okay, I'm serious. Now I want to be a filmmaker. He said, Great. Do you want my Rolodex? You want to call some people and see if they'll hire you? I'm not hiring you. I was like, Well, what do you mean? You got to find pitcher deal? What do you and he's like, I can hire you go work for the world, dude. Give me a call. He said, Oh, and by the way, the other phase down there third door to the left. Why don't you go spend five or 10 years in there, and then we'll talk you'll go learn filmmaking. He didn't. He didn't give me anything. I mean, my dad was a maverick. He pissed off a lot of people off which which made it hard for me to get meetings. And still some of those calls ever been returned. But I wouldn't want it any other way. It keeps me It keeps me fired up. It keeps me churning. It keeps me doing things like this and wanting to inspire others it just don't ever get complacent. And it's never easy.

Alex Ferrari 45:52
It look I got in a lot of people get all caught up with nepotism. And all you got to you got to weigh in. I'm like, Look, man, they might nepotism might open the door. And it might get you a meeting. And it might even get your project. But it's you and I can get you a job. But it's you doing the work. And actually seeing if you have talent, and can you make the money. That's the only thing that keeps you in the door. I don't care if you're max Spielberg, that doesn't mean anything. You're gonna get a meeting, if you're max. And Max didn't go into the business to my knowledge, they'll know what it's like. So he's like, no, I if you're max Spielberg, you can get a meeting, though everybody, everybody, that's how we'll meet with you. And maybe even get you a job. And maybe even you just start to direct, but it's about you, your hustle, your work ethic, all that other stuff that's going to keep you inside the door so I don't nepotism, yes, it does give you some opportunities that might have not gotten elsewhere. Like my kids. If my kids want to get into the business one day, I would yell at them first. But if, if they if they ever want to do get into the business, they're going to have, you know, decades of my experience that guide them, which I never had. I was in Florida.

Shane Stanley 47:04
Well, you know, there's something that I've always tried to remind people and I know a lot of people who had nepotistic opportunities who are selling storage bins right now they're selling cars, and there's nothing wrong with that. But they've got a list. Parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers running studios, and they can't keep a job in Hollywood anymore. And what I learned quickly was it's not okay. It may not be what you know, it's who you know, but you better know what you're doing when you get there. And you better put all that nepotism aside in your conduct. And I think when you're when you have a contact to get through the door, you have to work that much harder, because so many people are hoping you'll fail. I remember the first job my father ever picked up a phone and got me and all it was was was a second AC job on a on a Richard credit movie back in the late 80s. Yeah, all the DP he knew and said, Look, I don't care if you pay him or not. I'll send them with a sandwich. I want to get the kid on a few sets that I'm not running. I want him to get his ass kicked, thrown to the wolves. So they threw me on this Richard credit film. I didn't get paid, I was allowed to eat.

Alex Ferrari 48:09
That's awesome.

Shane Stanley 48:09
I remember the DP didn't like me anyway. But he liked my dad. And him and I are friends now, which is great. We've done a ton of things together. But back then I was at 17 year old punk. And he threw me to the walls man. I got called every name of the book. People were playing tricks on me. They were putting signs on my back. They just wanted me to fail. And I wasn't even getting a paycheck. I was just another guy to just move cable and hang a barn door. And you know, they didn't care.

Alex Ferrari 48:34
Oh, no, I'll tell you what I had. I was consulting a friend of mine who works in the business. She works over at Universal but like in the legal department or accounting or something like that. And her daughter was just getting out of film school, a local film school that would remain nameless. And and then she was like, can you talk to her a little bit about what the business is like, I'm like, do you do you want me to? She's like, Yes, I want you to tell her the truth. I'm like, okay, so I had I had coffee with her. And I said, Listen, I want you to you know, you see that your mom and this and your mom can make a few phone calls and get you on into our, you know, into the DP section or are in the art department or someone you can get on the backlot, she could do all that for you? And she's like, Yeah, I know, you know, and I'm like, if I were you just understand that if you do go in that path, and I By the way, if it was me, I would take that opportunity, because anything you can get get it. But understand that the second you walk on the set, if anyone finds out how you got the job, you've got a target on your back. That's right. And she's like, what do you what she'd like you could literally see that she never thought of that. And you really have like deer in headlights. What do you mean she's like, they will want you to fail because the same person that's next to you the same PA. That's next to you. came up from Kansas. Drove cross country is living on someone's couch right now and is in busting their ass to get to the same place that you got because mommy made a phone call.

Shane Stanley 50:03
Yep. I you couldn't, you couldn't be more correct. I remember I used to produce a bunch of commercials for an ad agency here in town. And I remember the owner of the ad agency said, Hey, I need a favor. There's a newscaster, who will remain nameless. But she is one of the biggest 3040 year running broadcast news anchors in the business. Her son just graduated high school, he's thinking about getting into production, can you find a job for my school, I can't be a PA. And he's like, I don't know, just treat him well, mom's a good friend. And I remember like getting 50 or 60 people wanting that job. But he got the job because of who he was. And I sat him down. And I said, I happen to know your mom. I haven't seen her in years. But I've met her I thought she was wonderful. I said, Look, you have a target on your back. Because you're you're at the bottom, you're going to be getting thrown the most crap to do, everybody's going to be watching you because you have the same last name. And it wasn't a common last name as your mom, people are going to connect the dots, you have a choice, you can either rise up as the water starts to get high around your neck and rise up with it. Or you're going to sink and I will tell you, if you fail me, I will fire you. I'm not I don't have warm body syndrome on our sets. Dude, you'll get the opportunity. And you know what he was his star, he did a really good job. And but you're right, these these youngsters coming up don't realize the target that's on her back. You know, getting these opportunities. It's very tough. It's not? No, it's not.

Alex Ferrari 51:29
And can you talk a little bit of stuff? Because I know this is something that they definitely don't teach in film school. How about the politics of a film production?

Shane Stanley 51:38

Alex Ferrari 51:40
Exactly. Just Okay, so I sit in the director's chair, no, no like that. So like the politics of, of the other set, okay. And then each department has their own hierarchy of politics. So the DP with the firt, the kid assistant camera, and then, and then there's the light, the gaffer and the lighting department and, and then the key grips, and the dolly grip, and all these kind of things. But the thing that people don't understand, at least from my experience is that there is a lot of politics going on. A lot of a lot of times, people have different end games involved. So I've always told people, like whoever you hire as your dp, make sure that they're there for the story and not for their real, because they will, they will bust their balls to get that crane to get this nice, long 22nd crane shot that will never make the Edit, you're going to use two seconds of it, but they want it for their real so and you're and you've burned for hours because they're lighting it like it's a Scorsese film,

Shane Stanley 52:38
and 20 grand to get the crane and all the permits to and all

Alex Ferrari 52:42
that so. But as a young filmmaker, you don't know any better. So you really need to understand. So that's one set of politics, then there's the power struggle, where if you have a young director on set, which I've been the young director on set, not as much anymore, but but I was a young director on set where then the script soup was sent in by the producer to test me and push me to see if I had the metal to actually hold the production together. Right and because they didn't know who I was, or what I had done prior and a redonk commercials and music videos and other things like that before I got on a narrative film set. And and does this before IMDb this before the internet so that other people didn't know they could check up your work they just heard so that they needed the test. So that's the kind of politics you have. And then sometimes there's like spies, from the production that come in to see if you're directing, right? Or they're spies from your head of your department. They're like, hey, hear the cat, you're the head head camera guy. Keep an eye on on Joe there, see how Joe's doing? And you never know that you're being watched? So there's all these kinds of things can you can touch a little bit of I've touched on a bunch of it. Can you touch a little bit or add to that?

Shane Stanley 53:56
Well, you know, that I can take up to hours doing that. I mean, that's an interesting, that's an interesting, the politics and the dynamics on a set are unbelievable. I mean, I kind of I mean I work with a lot of the same people now I try to have a loyal crew that I enjoy working with but yeah, there's times where I'm a work for hire, I got up bringing on other people and you try to keep those things. You know the one thing I always do with the DP if I'm hiring one is I say look, this isn't about your reel. It's about the overall when I look at a new dp I don't want to see as real I call directors and editors he's worked with and say send me raw dailies I don't want to see is real because you know all ask a director or an ad that this dp where you guys ever held up because he was slow setting up? Did you guys need 10 1520 tapes because the camera or do you do five or six takes and everything was great and it was more a director's choice. I like to find those things out. I always let people know this isn't about you. It's about us. That way. They don't feel alienated, but it's more a team effort. And I was telling them upfront you're not getting anything for your real until the movies out and that can be anywhere between a year happened three years. So suck it up. You're here to make a movie. But there are dynamics. I, you know, I was taught very young Alex, that anybody who's a camera man wants to be a cinematographer or cinematographer, they want to be a director there are this they want

Alex Ferrari 55:15
your first they do a lot of times they want to be the director,

Shane Stanley 55:17
they want to be a director too. So I remember that going in. And to me again, I always found that's probably why don't hire a DS when I'm with these. But yeah, there is a, there's politics, there's dynamics. On a set, I feel, you know, I learned from Jeff McGuire, who is the tremendous writer, he wrote gridiron gang, he got an Oscar nomination for in the line of fire with Clint Eastwood. Jeff taught me something 30 years ago, he said, just remember something in this business, no matter what, no matter how kind somebody is being or how accommodating they may seem to you, they are doing it for their own gain. Don't ever forget that he was you'll make a lot of great friends in this industry. But he said, Just remember, everybody's got a purpose for what they do. And is it true or not? I think it's more true than untrue. But I just think it's, it's about working with people that you can trust and making sure everybody's on the same page. And I think if people feel comfortable, like we talked about earlier, that they feel from the top down, it's like we look at what's going on in our country. And people can say, why is things happening the way they're happening? When you look at the top and how people are behaving coming down? Oh, well, it's happening up there. It must be okay to treat somebody this way. I think if you can, I think you can, you know, leave with a soft voice and a big stick or whatever the term is, I think people the respect, and the backbiting and the conniving on a cetera did become a lot more minimal.

Alex Ferrari 56:48
I agree. That's what I, from my experience, too, if you cast the crew, appropriately, it's casting the crew, you cast those personalities to see if it's all in because if you have one toxic person, especially if they're a department head, it's tough because I mean, I've had a boom guy who was toxic, and it just brings the whole set down until I have to have to go over my get another guy here tomorrow, cuz I'm not going to work with this guy. He's just, he's just toxic. His attitude, his energy was heavy, everything was just rough. And it's just too damn stressful. making a movie is a stressful scenario.

Shane Stanley 57:23
It's hard enough. We don't need that Apple's to use a generic term. And you know, it's funny when you said that it reminded me of something. I was on a film a couple of films ago. And it was weird. I always do a SAG AFTRA film with a non IAA crew. That's just how I work. Some of my guys are a guys, they want to come work for me. That's fine. That's the right. I love having them. But we don't have union rules. So what are those rules? Well, we don't pay the union rates we still have the days are the same length. We still pay overtime. We're still feeding them feeding them

Alex Ferrari 57:51
breaks. Yeah,

Shane Stanley 57:52
very well, we overfeed. And they're just some things like hey, you know what, guys, I need grace, we need to get two more taxes. So we all good, everybody good. You know, ask for grace. And then you get that one guy who's part of the union that shows up one day that just angry, bitter. Trying to tell everybody let's turn the show and all our budgets 400 grand, you really want to turn the show.

Alex Ferrari 58:15
I've been I've been involved with productions who had their shows turned in for everybody listening, if you if you don't know what turning a show is, or flipping a show, is when a when you're in a non union shooting, you've got union guys working on it. And the film I was working on, I was doing post on, they actually were 50 were outside the circle, they were outside the 50 mile circle. So they were they were they were quote unquote, okay, they had some union guys, but there was this one guy, one assistant camera, who wanted to be part of the Union. And he made a phone call. And the next day the union was there, and they and they shut down the production. And they had to flip the production. And because of that one dude, that film sat in my hard drives for a year, because it had to, they had to raise another, like, you know, another few $100,000 to finish the film. And it was all because this guy flipped the film. So that's,

Shane Stanley 59:13
it's just one of your productions.

Alex Ferrari 59:15
No I, was I was I was just working post, just a dude in it for themselves. So it what I

Shane Stanley 59:22
what I do is I have an understanding of where budgets need to be to not get flipped. I mean, if your budget is a certain amount, they're gonna leave you alone. If you start treading in areas that you risk,

Alex Ferrari 59:35
go ahead. One of the thing was that our project, that project that was working on was a low budget project, but it had two high profile stars.

Shane Stanley 59:43
Ah, well, yeah, I mean, something I guess anything's possible. It's just, you know what? I always I always try, I don't, I don't subscribe to the theory. Permission or forgiveness is easier to get them from When it comes to filmmaking, I always try to knit the budget. Like what I set up to do my independent stuff with visual arts entertainment, I called the head of the CIA. I just I call them got to the head of the I introduced myself, this is what I'm doing. I've got three films I'm doing. These are the budgets, I need to know that I'm not going to have a problem. He goes, You called me. You're telling me your budget, your budget, I believe you. I told him where we were shooting, we're way out of the T zone. And he said, Dude, I will keep a note of all of this stuff, you will not hear from us. And guess what, in a four and a half year period making those films we did have one guy not a problem,

Alex Ferrari 1:00:37
or is it all is relative to the production because I was on another project. That was a million dollar production. A Million Dollar production had Austin in Florida had Oscar winning ask Oscar nominated actors in it, like big actors. I otzi showed up. They didn't know what the budget was. Now they I otzi showed up and they were shooting on a Panasonic dv x 100. A a million dollar production. Don't ask me why. On that camera, they were shooting this is this is back in the 90s. This is actually early 2000s

Shane Stanley 1:01:13
vs 2000. Remember,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:14
it's amazing. It's amazing camera. And they said, Oh, sorry, we didn't die. They just walked away because they said there's no money here. Okay, great. But what if you haven't had that conversation, and they see a big star, they're gonna flip they're gonna they're gonna, you're gonna have problems. I agree with you 100%. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. Now, can we can we talk about the film deception, I mean, distribution. As you know, I don't know if you know or not, but I've become a kind of like a warrior for film distribution. I want to help filmmakers navigate this ridiculous system that is film distributors. I love to hear your thoughts on the system. What's wrong with it? How can it be fixed? Your horror stories, all that stuff?

Shane Stanley 1:02:12
Well, you know, that's the chapter in my book, film deception. I mean, distribution. Exactly. Right. And it's, you know, I've been involved with some some big indies that were like million $2 million entities that had deals and nobody's made any money, nobody's seen money, and they go in and they audit and they find out the film's made $3 million. And Oops, sorry, I missed that. You know, um, I think you have to realize that it's hard because you as a filmmaker, you got you create a product, you raise the money for it, as you say, you cast the crew, and then you cast the film, you know, the actors, you go through the brutal process of making you go to war, let's be honest, making a movie is a war. And then you kill yourself in post, and then you get it done. And then you and trust it, you entrust it to somebody to sell. And I you know, unfortunately, you will never know the true numbers that a movie makes or doesn't make. And I think you have, as I say, in my book, what I always try to say is try to find a group that will capture the vision early on it, you know, everybody has that envision, oh, well, I'm gonna just throw it up and let the bidding wars begin. It doesn't work that way anymore. Night,

Alex Ferrari 1:03:25
it's not the 90s. And we're not at Sundance that

Shane Stanley 1:03:28
not, it's not you know, who dreams it's, you know, come on. So what I always suggest is really try to develop relationships with distributors that have got longevity, you don't want somebody who just fell off the turnip truck or a guy's running a company who was part of a company for two years and part of the company six months before that, you know, there's some good companies out there that are tried and true. Just no going in there. They're all going to have their creative accounting, and butts up

Alex Ferrari 1:03:55
right there. So stop there for a sec. I just want to I want to touch on that. And this is what I've been yelling about from the top of the house there. And is it's a systemic problem in that side of our business. It has been going around since the days of Chaplin, which is called creative accounting. I feel that it is as prevalent as the casting couch was prior to the me to movement, like the casting couch was a it was just like, you all heard it like oh, yeah, you have to go on the casting couch if you want to get the part or you heard of this, of this casting couch. And when I was in film school, you heard about that, and it was even joked about in movies and stuff. It was just part of the way movies were made until finally, that that horrible cycle was broken. I feel that the same thing is happening on a financial standpoint, in the distribution side, where Oh, there's and I love the way you just said like, oh, there's gonna be creative accounting. Why? There's no other industry that I know of like the cookie business. If you see if you make a cookie, you sell a cookie, you send it over to the supermarket to supermarkets, like there's no creative accounting and the Cookie business. Why is it right? So why is there creative accounting in our business? And why is that still acceptable in today's world?

Shane Stanley 1:05:08
It's well the reason sadly it's acceptable is because you know, you got 33,000 movies a year Alex being made through sag with at least what somebody deems a bankable actor. Okay, that's a whole nother discussion. But, but people are beholden to investors or their wife if they wrote the check themselves. And they got to get a film out, and distributors know how desperate us filmmakers can be. And they also know there's 54 territories on the globe 174 buying countries. So Alex, if I'm a distributor, and I take your film, and I know I'm a hip pocket dealing, Guam, the chances of you going to Guam on vacation with your wife and staying at the Radisson and seeing it at two o'clock in the morning on Guam vision or whatever, you're probably not going to see it and you're not going to know if I got five grand for 2500 for it. So what happens is there's 54 territories, they're going to hopefully sell the biggies. You know, you may get somebody come in and buy up 20 territories, you may sell them Germany, Southeast Asia, Vietnam, China, but most of us filmmakers don't realize and it's in my book, there's 54 territories, all those territories equally need content, what is what I believe keeps a lot of the smaller distributors awake and alive is those hip pocket deals they make at AFM Toronto, MIPCOM Berlin, where they're like, Look, I'll tell you what, you can have these 10 movies for 10 grand, you would I will never know about. We just don't know about. I mean, I've traveled the world and seen my films on TV. years later. Like, I never made a deal here. And like, you know, like, seriously, I mean, it's happened. And that's, I think, and then there's also the charges, the market charges, you know, they'll charge you up to $25,000 then there could be a market overhead charge for another 25 plus anything that you don't have the money to do you need to surround 5.1 surround fully filled m&e, well, we didn't do that I only had a few grand that makes the film in stereo, they'll gladly do it for you. So you have to be sure they're not charging you more than it should cost. Will you mean like, what

Alex Ferrari 1:07:17
do you mean like $10 per minute for closed captioning?

Shane Stanley 1:07:22
Yeah, we're doing 90 minute movies that can cost you more $212 I mean, remember, I remember doing a music video for VH one for an artist. I won't say who? And VH one demanded. We did closed captions for their video and I found a place that was for a music video three and a half minutes. You've done a lot of closed captions for

Alex Ferrari 1:07:45
what year was this?

Shane Stanley 1:07:47
year? 2004.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:50
Okay, sure. Okay.

Shane Stanley 1:07:51
Not a long time ago. They was $582 I'm freaking out because I never like closed captioning three days I called a friend of mine, Todd Gilbert. Robbie Lerner's post production. I love Todd I called him I said, Hey, buddy, I got a question. He's like, what are you out of your mind call this place in San Francisco, it's gonna be like, it's gonna be like no money. So the music video did cost me like $38. And right, this money for my 90 minute movies, it's $112 for 90 minutes, all in.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:21
Exactly. And there's so many other options now as well. But so I love I love the term hip pocket deal, because not many people understand what that is. And what you've basically explained is like, they have your movie, they have worldwide rights, what they're going to do is they're going to call up South Africa, or even a smaller market, and you have a relationship with Guam, let's say Guam, and you're like, Look, I'm going to give you 2000 give me 2000 bucks for this film. And, and you'll never hear about it, because you unless you audit them. And even if you audit them, good luck. And so that you have no power,

Shane Stanley 1:08:54
you will get away from it, not to have to wait to get away with it as they do the block deals. So there is no paperwork for that

Alex Ferrari 1:09:02
film. Although they do talk about packaging don't get

Shane Stanley 1:09:05
it will do 10 to 20 films for 20. It's 1000 to $2,000 per title, take all these titles, a lot of people. I had a guy who came to me to help sell this film. And I befriended a former scorn distribution guy. And he said, and I said to him, this guy's got insomnia. He's up at 230 in the morning watching Cinemax. He can't figure out how some of the worst movies in the world are on there and why his movie can't get on. Here he goes, Oh, I can get it on there tomorrow. We'll just have to package it with 10 to 20 others we'll get two grand and Ruby on Cinemax and four months. He goes because those deals are packaged. They don't show up. They just hurry but that's it. None of that though Cinemax, under the bus Cinemax isn't doing anything wrong. It's the people peddling these package deals to these foreign networks and countries and ancillaries just

Alex Ferrari 1:09:53
what happens and there's also don't forget the fire sales and there's fire sales as well that like oh yeah, here. Yeah, I'll give you this movie for 500 bucks. Just you know. Here we go. And, and those deals are done at AFM. They're done at a con. They're done at Berlin.

Shane Stanley 1:10:06
Yep, they're done online now. Yeah, but you're right. And when where that comes from is a sales agent takes on a film, they can't give it away. It's a stinker. And they may have put together some artwork or a trailer and be out a few grand of liquid cash to their vendors to get it done. They need to start recouping. So what I always tell filmmakers is please, please, please, please read the fine print, read my book because I actually copy and paste a lot of contract misleading language. in that chapter of my book, I the way the book came about, I get a lot of calls from independent filmmakers for advice. I even get some calls from very well known filmmakers for advice when they need to save a buck or two. And what what happened was as I started writing a blog, and they said, Hey, do you want to write a book? And then my wife was like, you know, you're getting a lot of time to people? Why don't you just you keep She goes, I've been listening to you do this for 20 years, you keep telling them the same thing? Why don't you just write your thoughts down, and it's all in one place. And that's how the book became. And while I was writing the book, I had a really respected indie filmmaker, who for the first time in her life was stuck, he raised over a million and a half dollars of his own, you know, of liquid cash, made a movie got a couple of big stars attached, and it was on his ass to sell his movie to get distribution, he had no idea how to do it, he was a very good filmmaker would know business and distribution. So he starts sending me all these contracts, and his investor wants him to sign this with this company. And I that is when the light bulb went on. For me, Alex, I went, Oh my god, I got to write about this, I have to take these documents and copy and paste them and put them in a book. Because these are so duplicitous, and so misleading. People don't realize when they have a $20,000 market charge, and then $20,000 service charge, it's 40 grand that the movies gonna make before you see a dime plus a percentage, plus marketing costs of a trailer. The trailer probably cost 1000 to make they're gonna charge you five grand, the posters cost them a few 100 they're gonna charge you 1500 how it gets back charged, do and then they're gonna take 20% on top of that

Alex Ferrari 1:12:14
as a commission. Oh, yeah. But they'll take no forget, they take that 20% before all of those expenses, they make sure that yeah, oh, yeah. So if you're, say, 100,000, that 20 grand goes right off the top, then they start pulling out all the it's you it is, it's such a scam. And I think that I mean, my second book, Rise of the film entrepreneur, it's about giving the filmmaker the power to take control of their own thing. And, and which leads us to the next question I want to talk to you about because you worked a bit in the music industry as well. And I've been yelling from the top of the lungs from top of the hill as well. And in my book, that if you want to see where the film industry is going to be in the next five years, all you got to do is just look at the music industry, it's the exact same pattern that is happening. Whereas the actual art, the actual content is, for lack of a better word worthless, it means it has no value to it, where a song used to cost $18 to get the album so you can get the song. Now, Beyonce is getting paid a 20th of a cent for a play of one of her songs, what do you think an independent artist is going to have? What chance do they have? So I want you to talk a little bit about where you think. Because if if you think that's not happening, look at Amazon Prime, and you're getting a penny. And I'm sure they're going to go to fractions of pennies soon, I promise you they will. Or they not already. If and if they're not already, you're right. So that, you know, a penny for an hour of viewing is what Amazon's paying. So essentially, the movie is almost worthless. It's essentially free.

Shane Stanley 1:13:52
I you know what, let me let me answer that by starting going backwards on what we just talked about. I knew the sales agent, not a distributor, an agent that got so frustrated not being able to sell somebody movie that was actually pretty good. He made a couple of foreign deals like in South Africa, in Germany, and like, you know, the same areas, the movie was starting to make a little money back. And he got frustrated. And before his contract, his three year or five year deal was over. He uploaded it without the filmmakers permission on amazon prime. So then it became worthless. He couldn't give it away after that. And he got his first royalty check after a year and I think he saw $7.38 and you're talking about a six figure movie. I mean, I think the guy paid six 700 grand for his movie, it wasn't cheap. So that is happening. You know, I'll tell a story and this is directly from artists that I've worked with over the years, Alex and you and I were talking about this before we started today. The music industry used to be something that you know those artists for the writing. They're performing recorded material had value. Like he said, in the 90s and early 2000s. We would go to the CD store on paid and spend $19 plus tax on a CD for that one or two songs. There was no you know, downloading on Napster, which really changed it. Yeah. And it really did, sadly. And I learned from some artists that I'm very close with one day about 10 years ago, they said, Well, you know musics free now. As soon as our CD comes out, somebody puts it on YouTube or music video on YouTube, you go to YouTube to mp3 convert, you download it, it goes on your iPhone, your iPod, your iPad, your iPhone, whatever people have, there are music everywhere. We can only make music in the touring and merchandise. So the question now becomes, I know there are titles I have that we have to go on YouTube every single day and 510 times a day, there are titles of mine that are being purged on YouTube that I have to go in take 20 minutes of my day, and fill out a copyright request thing. And it's the movie was out and sold that people are watching it for free. It's basically useless and worthless. We don't have live performance touring and merchandise, really, I mean, unless you got Yoda like you do in the back, there are some of the cool things you've done here. You're a pretty smart dude, you've got things that you're moving I figure, I don't know what the hell yeah, it's this industry is this sustainable independent is going to be tougher and tougher. Because the deals are going to get smaller and smaller. The content is not slowing down, everybody's making something I don't know where we're gonna go. And then you still have the demands from the unions on the royalties and

Alex Ferrari 1:16:47
backup, but they're, but they're also building that out off of a model from the 80s. In the 90s. When money was five, which money was flowing, like I was working in Miami, where they did a music video and I saw it was a $500,000 budget on a second tier artist. Not even deficit, the top tier artists there was the there was the 90s there was money flowing like there was no tomorrow, all those deals, all those residuals just like there are there's not going to be any more fro any more friends deals, or Seinfeld deals where those actors are pulling in 20 million a year off of residuals, those days are gone. Gone. And it's going to be rough. It's not only refer musicians, but on ours, outside actors are it's getting tougher and tougher for any residuals on actors. Before you could do one or two national spots a year. And now and that could keep you afloat comfortably. You could pull in 60 to 120. If it's a Superbowl ad or even a big national ad that gets played about you will get residuals. Hold on a second.

Shane Stanley 1:17:49
One of my best friends did a Bud Light ad for a Super Bowl three years ago.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:54
And how much it was brand, man, how much was it? five grand, right? So now that's what that's the only so now. So before you used to be able to do that.

Shane Stanley 1:18:05
Yeah. Now. Whoa, are the guys the shell guy

Alex Ferrari 1:18:10
or mayhem mayhem mayhem is making.

Shane Stanley 1:18:12
Those are the guys that you know flow. Brent Bailey, who's the shell guy and mayhem are the guys that are making good quality because they are owned for two years. They signed two year contracts with these companies that their first refusal they may get paid. But you're right. And I remember growing up as a kid I you know, I grew up in the industry. I had a neighbor who was a gator raid girl or a Coca Cola girl she I remember when she was in high school. She went to her mailbox one day we got off the school bus. I heard this screaming we all go over there. She opened up a check for her Geeta read worldwide residuals, it was $74,000. And this was in 1986.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:48
I had in full and full sail. One of my teachers was the associate producer of parenthood. Huh, okay of that movie parenthood by Ron Howard. He was he was a happy days guy and all that stuff. So he was telling the stories like he played the part of the opposing, literally coach for Steve Martin. And he had two lines.

Shane Stanley 1:19:10
He's under five, right?

Alex Ferrari 1:19:11
Yeah. He said two lines. And he said, Come on, Jimmy, you could do it. Come on. And that was that's all he did two days. They held them for the first day. They didn't get to him. They said he paid he got paid like whatever it was at the time, like five or $600 a day it was like 89 or something like that when it came out. Then first residual $50,000 Yeah, $50,000 was a really good buddy of mine was the unit production manager of seven movies. So the movie seven with Brad Pitt, David Fincher movie. Sure. First residual check 50 $70,000 as the as the UPM because he's a DJ. So UPM first ad and director all get residuals. All of that's going away because Netflix changed the game. And they said no, no. Why are we going to pay residuals? No, don't worry. We're going to do buyouts and as you as you saw the Disney Disney is actually saying, Yeah, we're going to give you two seasons of residuals, two years of residuals. And that's it, is it. And so the whole game has changed. So they're literally the corporations are trying to squeeze now, even all of those kind of like placeholder things to help the artists to survive. As an actor, as a writer, as a director, as a filmmaker. The lot of things that we grew up with or were taught with are no longer going to be around or are around period.

Shane Stanley 1:20:29
And I'll be honest with you sag afters made it difficult because they basically make you sign your life away to get your film cleared. So you can make it with a SAG actor. And then they want to know why the result. There's our name, well, I got a streaming deal. Somebody's paying me $3 to stream the movie. You got a $600,000 movie here, it's made back $18,000. What like, you've got investors, you've got costs, you got overhead, you've got commissions for nutrition. It's such an in, you're right, it's like everybody is still going everybody who's squeezing the filmmakers working off of boiler plates from the 80s and 90s when there was tons of money, and there was DVD markets, they won't be honest with you.

I had a film a couple of years ago air on a cable network. And the buyout from the cable network was five grand five grand. So the union saw that was like oh, why didn't it up, buddy. We're backing up the Brinks truck. Oh, it was it was fun to show them that oh, I lied. It was actually $4,000. They expected this huge six figure and it was a big and it was a big network. It was huge network they bought it out for they had a six month run on it for like one of the big paid pay networks. Now they give us four grand, but the whole the whole, like six months or a year for four. And don't forget the sales agent took 20%. So we really obviously,

Alex Ferrari 1:21:52
obviously, obviously, this agent took 20% where's the residuals for what they're that's and that's the point. So and as and what COVID is showing us is the pressure now it's showing us how flawed the system is, and so on and so flawed. So I am saying Rome is burning. I've been saying this for a little while now. Rome is burning, and Rome is Hollywood. And the systems that are around Hollywood that be in film distribution, whether it be the unions, whether all of it has to burn down because it's not that I want it to it's just has to burn down now. And then out of the New World. This new system is going to come up I hope this new system can help filmmakers and artists. I'm not sure it will, I hope there is more potential for the artists to get more control of their art and of their finances. But it's going to be a battle and what it was before like when you and I were coming up. You could make a living as an actor, as a as a writer doing small projects as a filmmaker doing small things. Remember music videos like I was just saying you can make a living to music videos, your kids music videos as a living nownow unless you're at the very level

Shane Stanley 1:23:08
When I was doing 80s rock band music videos talking about the half million dollar budget Oh, motley and poison and Guns and Roses because we're getting seven figures to do videos.

Alex Ferrari 1:23:18
Oh, yeah. Well,

Shane Stanley 1:23:20
I still work with a lot of those bands when we do videos now is hey, you know, can you grab a camera and a couple buddies will give you five grand Can we make a video? Yep. And it's not that they're poor. These guys were smart with their money that it's just they're not dumb. They're not getting the record label support they did back in the day. They're not having 100 grand go to catering and limos and blow. It's now coming out of their pocket and they know what things cost. And they're like, hey, Shane,

Alex Ferrari 1:23:44
can you get a couple buddies? together? five grand for you? Can you do a video for us? Oh no, I was doing videos. I was doing videos with Snoop Dogg and ludicrous. And I saw ibw $2,000 because they knew the artists knew a lot of times mshs Luna and Snoop specifically, they were guest starring and some other people's stuff. But they knew that as a director, you're like, well, if I have Luda and snoop on my reel, I'm gonna be able to get some work. And they know that. So they're leveraging that to get you work. I mean, it's I you know, I wanted this episode to be kind of like a little bit of a box that opens up and exposes the truth about our industry in a small way, especially things that they don't teach in film school. So this is really geared towards people who have not been on sets who've not been in the business for a long time to really understand the reality. And this is a pretty raw and brutal conversation. You and I were just two old, old old war dogs who have got a lot of shrapnel because we've been in the business for a while. But I'm sure a lot of people listening right now are horrified.

Shane Stanley 1:24:49
And I don't want it to discourage anybody. No sessions with you until the frickin cows come home. I enjoy it. Yeah, it's the fact and point is is are we going to be real Are we going to sugarcoat It's like, right you know, you want to tell a woman who's thinking about having a baby. It feels really good giving birth, especially make sure you don't get the epidural. You'll love it. Yeah, have to be honest, creative. Because I, I mean, I hate breaking hearts I hate. I would never want to crush your dream. If it was easy, everybody would do it. I still want to encourage people to do it, but know what you're going to up against. And you know, you've opened my eyes to some stuff here. And it's like, yeah, you

Alex Ferrari 1:25:26
know what? That's the problem. I never heard it voice like that, Alex, it's brilliant. There's so working off of the 80s and 90s contracts to turn things into date. That's sure me. But the system is built on those boiler plates. The system is built. The sag contracts are built on that the DGA contracts the wg a contracts are built on with the assumption that there's money that there's money flowing, that everyone's making money. And yes, there are, but that about people who are actually making money, it's extremely small, and they're all the way at the top. Okay, I always I always use the example of like Blade Runner. I'm not where the owl is at the top of that building. I'm at the bottom where the really good food is. That's where I live. I live on the street level where Harrison is where Harrison's game picked up by James any almost Okay, that's, yeah, that's where I live. And that's where most filmmakers live. We live down at the bottom level of Blade Runner. But most of us want to be up where the owl is up where Sean young is introduced. That's where we all want to be. And I've been in that room a couple times. You've been in that room a few times, we get to visit it, but we never get to stay.

Shane Stanley 1:26:38
Yeah. For a little while, have you over for a drink?

Alex Ferrari 1:26:42
Right? You know, you might even stick around for a little bit. But sooner or later security finds you and kicks you out. That's still a way I always look at it. But but that's the game. And that is that is our industry. And that's why I've been yelling and film distribution is the worst out of all of it. Because all of their systems are built on shit from the 90s, early 2000s they're still talking about DVD sales. Like it's a thing. Don't get me wrong, there is still money in DVD but nothing like it wasn't

Shane Stanley 1:27:12
a 30% comeback during COVID. Let's hope it sticks.

Alex Ferrari 1:27:15
Right. But the point is that that's not that's not the growth industry. DVD is not the growth. It's not vinyl. It's not vinyl, it's there's no

Shane Stanley 1:27:24
Best Buy and Walmart to find them or the 99 cent

Alex Ferrari 1:27:28
store. Right? And all of them are enclosed areas that generally people don't want to go into now because

Shane Stanley 1:27:35
people don't realize this DVD deals are done where they say hey, we'll give you $2 a disc or four for 4000 of them. We're going to sprinkle them around Walmart.

Alex Ferrari 1:27:43
Yeah, but they don't talk about the the returns. Oh, no, no, no, no, you

Shane Stanley 1:27:47
don't get that you get the $3 per disc less, you're 20% but they're gonna sell them for nine or 12 or $15.

Alex Ferrari 1:27:54
But a lot of it but a lot of those Walmart deals because it's Walmart, they'll go Yeah, we didn't sell about 500 of these. So we're going to ship those right back to you. So you're gonna eat those costs. And I always tell people do you think that you think the film distributor is gonna eat that? Don't you worry. You will you won't you won't ever don't you'll ever even know what happened. And that's

Shane Stanley 1:28:15
you wouldn't be better off getting a credit card that you may get a five or $10,000 limit on and just buying up every desk. Yes, so that doesn't cost you back I know that sounds crazy.

Alex Ferrari 1:28:29
Oh no but buying them all out because at that point then at least you could go out and sell them yourself if

Shane Stanley 1:28:34
you want like you did I mean you're you've been very smart selling your neurons I gotta learn from I want to get your next your last book about that because it there's so much to learn from guys like you that have figured it out. No, it's it's just one thing. One reason I was really excited for us to talk besides your platform being something that was excited to be a part of it in researching you and what you've done Alex it's brilliant because first that's all like I hate to keep bringing him up that's one reason I think we hit it off. I mean the guy's been poisoned back in the 80s they could not get a record deal. And they find every record label passed on them. They literally got a deal it was them to smithereens and one other band I can't writing was great white got a deal from a nygma they went to a warehouse in wersi Airport that area then no no van de la excellent What is that?

Alex Ferrari 1:29:24
I know what you're talking about. I know you're talking about yeah the

Shane Stanley 1:29:27
house there that the guys were literally shrink wrapping and packaging and putting the sticker on there for the label labels like that will give you a record of you got to come here and help us package it and ship like literally Brent and Bobby and CC and Ricky were shrink wrapping their own records and helping get them out to the stores. And then what happened was is Capitol Records ended up buying a nygma and then exploded at the right time and everything worked out but that's how we have to remember it really is and how it was and how it very well could be again unfortunately, we have to So we can sell

Alex Ferrari 1:30:02
it, the game, the game has changed so much. The rules are so different and I just want filmmakers listening to understand that the industry is still still built around those old models. And that's why the industry is having that's why took Disney 10 years to launch a streaming service 10 years 10 years before before they launched a real streaming service that compete with Netflix because when Netflix showed up, everyone was like, I don't know. And Hollywood is definitely not no for innovation. It takes for it takes someone with some major weight like a George Lucas, like a Steve Jobs, like someone to ship come in, and go or James Cameron and come in and just go You know what, guys? This is the new way. Follow me. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Shane Stanley 1:31:01
I will tell you how Right you are. I did gridiron 1212 years ago with Sony, I stayed on the good graces and in regular touch with the regime for another two or three years, you know, developing other things. Hey, you want to have lunch? You know? And I remember talking I think it was Amy Pascal. She was still there. And I think I remember her saying she had this really bizarre meeting with all the heads of the other studios it was paramount. Universal Warner Brothers Sony Disney, Disney and Fox It was like it was like a you know, a big gathering

Alex Ferrari 1:31:33
was like all the all the all the mob. You were just like all the mob bosses were getting together in an undisclosed location. Got it?

Shane Stanley 1:31:41
What was the person and she said, Netflix is going to be a major problem for us. And we all need to have a meeting of the minds and we're gonna start pumping the brakes with these with these guys. And we are we need to all create our own streaming service.

Alex Ferrari 1:31:52
What What year was this? What year was this

Shane Stanley 1:31:55
was 10 910 years ago, probably nine or 10 years ago. And I said so wait a minute, you guys, you're gonna start pumping the brakes on what you're giving these issues. They don't pay much. And they're owning it right now. Why? We have Sony streaming impairments streaming and universal streaming or Disney and it wasn't called Pandit she wanted we I don't remember this conversation was like eight years 10 years ago.

Alex Ferrari 1:32:21
And you're right. Have you commit your right to Disney 10 years, 10 years. And Disney's and Disney is killing it. And Disney is killing it right now. But peacocks having peacocks having a rough time right now. I know HBO Max is doing okay. And they're I think they're fine. But they also had they were leveraging HBO Go already.

Shane Stanley 1:32:42
Yeah. And I think Maverick is going to end up being paramount. Paramount network's big push at the end of the year. I think they're gonna end up just screaming that well, I don't know theaters are starting to open up but I still think they're gonna use Maverick for something.

Alex Ferrari 1:32:54
Yeah, and but and I've been saying this and then because this is we can keep talking for another four or five hours I'm sure. But um, but I've said this before, a ton of times I'll say it again. Within the next 12 to 18 months, Paramount Sony, or Lionsgate or MGM is going to be absolutely absorbed by either Google, Amazon, apple, or Facebook. Those four guys has so much cash that Facebook wanted to really come in to this game. For real. They're playing in the streaming they they do a couple little shows on their Facebook watch thing. But if they really want to come in, they buy MGM catalog, they buy Sony's catalog, they buy Paramount's catalog, and all of a sudden, you got content and lots of it. Oh, yeah. And they're all and all of them are prime their prime targets because they're not doing well.

Shane Stanley 1:33:52
I am a firm believer that, um, I think Apple's gonna end up buying Netflix in the next three years.

Alex Ferrari 1:33:59
I that's that's been the rumors for a while. It's gonna take a lot because I think also Apple has the cash to buy anything they want. I mean, there was talks of them by Disney. I know. That's like, like, just wrap your head around cash. By the way. It was cash. It's like they have enough cash to buy Disney.

Shane Stanley 1:34:18

Alex Ferrari 1:34:18
That's a slush account in Ireland somewhere. But um, but I don't I think Netflix itself and then we'll and then we'll start we'll start winding this down guys unless you guys if you're still listening fantastic. I think that Netflix itself as a company is not diversified. So they are they are very vulnerable. Because if they get hit if this this plus goes away tomorrow, Disney's fine. If HBO goes away tomorrow h Warner's is fine, don't make it. If Netflix is numbers drop. That's going to hurt and they're going to they're going to drop go out there in debt up to their eyeballs. Yeah, it's taking forever for them. To pay their filmmakers not that they're not paying them, they are paying them. But it's taking delayed responses and things like that you can start seeing the writing on the wall on what's going on. And now Netflix is having a pump so much more money in to compete with the Disney pluses to compete with HBO backs that compete with Hulu, and all of these other platforms. So right now I don't think Disney would buy them because they're just too big for what as a compared is comparatively to the deals in the marketplace. The deals in the marketplace because they have the they have the distribution. They have the membership. They have emails from millions and millions of people have all their other accounts and stuff like that. So but if you buy Sony, which has all Columbia and TriStar and all of Sony's content and all their television and all that stuff, that is a bargain. Paramount's a bargain. MGM is a bargain. Lionsgate is a bargain, comparatively to buying Netflix, in my, in my opinion, if I was if I was Apple, or if I was Google, or only these guys, I'm like, Okay, we've got the tech now the Apple, Google Facebook figure out that if they don't figure it out, now they already have the technology, technology is not a problem with them. infrastructure is not a problem for them. Content is a problem for them. And Netflix also comes along with a lot of debt. A lot of it so anyway, okay, let's let's finish off this, this amazing conversation. I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all of my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Shane Stanley 1:36:33
The advice I would give a filmmaker trying to break into the industry today is where a crash helmet. Just be prepared to hit a lot of brick walls. be tenacious, don't give up. Don't give up. Because if you do, it could have been that one next try that could have done it for you. And I just see if it's in your heart and you're passionate about it. Just Just keep going. You hit the door enough times for the bad it's eventually going to come off the hinges.

Alex Ferrari 1:36:59
Amen, amen. No question. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Shane Stanley 1:37:07
Um, you can't change people

Alex Ferrari 1:37:10
was a good answer. A real good answer,

Shane Stanley 1:37:12
I think I think a leopard shows their spots. And that could be me, it could be somebody I'm working with, or a partner, I think I think people show you who they are. And if you think you're going to change people and mold them into who you want them to be, you're gonna waste a lot of time and energy in that and you either can accept who they are and work with that or move on from that if it's toxic or unhealthy.

Alex Ferrari 1:37:34
And three of your favorite films of all time.

Shane Stanley 1:37:36
Three of my favorite films of all time, they're not what you would think they are. I would have to say sideways. Yep. I'm Jerry Maguire, Notting Hill. I will stop everything and watch every time they're on.

Alex Ferrari 1:37:50
Yeah, there's just there's that that's a that's a group of films that make sense together.

Shane Stanley 1:37:55
I think the greatest movies of all time, absolutely not. But I can I can spin past anything. But when those are on I gotta stop. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:38:03
exactly. Now, where can people find you what you do and get access to your book? Well, thank

Shane Stanley 1:38:09
you. Um, what you don't learn in film school is you can go to what you don't learn in film school.com it will guide you to the different places you can buy it. It's available on Amazon. A whole bunch of different retailers, Barnes and Noble all online or you can get the hard the hard cover books as well. So what you don't learn in film school comm you can go to my website, Shane's family info.net lm sorry, Shane Stanley. dotnet. I think God, yeah, the email is info chain, Stanley dotnet. If you want to get something to me, I'm pretty open and accessible in that respect. So yeah, so those are the places you can find me.

Alex Ferrari 1:38:49
Shane, it has been an absolute joy talking to you and having you on the show is it's always nice talking to to an old battle hardened dog, as yourself and myself together. I always love I don't like to use the word old, I think seasoned, seasoned battle dog, man.

Shane Stanley 1:39:07
Seasoned indie rad

Alex Ferrari 1:39:08
ops. Absolutely. And we're still here. And we're still we're still here. We're still fighting the good fight. And and you and I both know many filmmakers who are not still here. They've left the business they've gone to do other things because the business got the best of them. So if you're able to just be persistent, a lot of times the people who make it are not generally the best. Not the most talented. Not the most experienced. It's the people who just nice and not the most nice it's just the guys who the guys and the gals who just just keep showing up,

Shane Stanley 1:39:41
keep showing up they figured it out. You know, I learned a long time ago it's balls and passion that makes it happen and you know, films get made you know a lot of people will watch a movie it's against worst thing I've ever seen how they get made. Well back up and look, how did it get made. Somebody was passionate about it. Somebody had tenacity, they had balls and capital. They had something because they were able to get it on. The screen, so it's doable. You got to snap it on and figure it out and do it yourself.

Alex Ferrari 1:40:06
Again, Shane thank you so much for being on the show. I appreciate it, brother. Stay safe out there.

Shane Stanley 1:40:10
Alex, it's been an honor. I hope we get to do it again. Thanks, man.

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BPS 269: The Godfather of Ninja and Cannon Films with Sam Firstenberg

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome to the show Sam Firstenberg. How're you doing Sam?

Sam Firstenberg 0:14
Excellent, thank you. I'm glad to be with you.

Alex Ferrari 0:17
Thank you so much for reaching out to me I was I was excited when I got your email. I'm like, oh my god, I gotta talk to Sam, I gotta I gotta get into the, into the the stories, I'm sure you have one or two stories about your time at Canon and all of your directing and filmmaking career throughout the 80s 90s. And even in the 70s, as well. But the but specifically, we're gonna focus on the 80s and 90s, and a lot of the cool stuff you did back in those days. But before we get started, how did you get started in this business?

Sam Firstenberg 0:49
I was one of those kids who love movies love cinema. And actually one of the, you know, there's always this one kid who goes and see the movies and comes back to the neighborhood and tells the movie to the other kids. So this was me. So that the answer I don't know that they love to cinema is I don't know where it comes in the love of storytelling. But I grew up in Israel and from Jerusalem. And I had no knowledge. We actually we didn't have television even then, when I was a kid in the 50s. And when I finished high school and the mandatory service in the military in Israel, so by the time I finished 21, I decided I'm going to Hollywood to study film, to learn how to make movies. So that that's basically it. I I traveled from Israel to Los Angeles and enrolled in film school. And I started to learn how how we make film, luckily, or accidentally or luckily, I met famous Israeli producer Menahem Golan did in Israel. He was very famous. And I met him here, here in Los Angeles in Hollywood. And, and I started working in, in in with him and other movies, all kinds of odd jobs. Assistant helper griep electric, anything in the beginning. So that's how I started into the business of movie.

Alex Ferrari 2:30
So you started with with with him and started just doing any little odd jobs and he was already was he? I'm for everyone listening. He started he was one of the cofounders of the legendary canon films.

Sam Firstenberg 2:45
Correct. But they were but that time was was still 1972 to 1973. They were there was no connection between him and Canon at the time. Okay. He was producing movies in Israel together with his cousin Euro Global's and they came here to Hollywood, they sold the movie, because I've learned and they they created the small company, the name of the company was America Europe picture. And they produced the movie he directed they produced a movie with Tony Curtis was called Lipkin a gangster movies. So in the 70s, you know, they had a company in Israel, no film, and they had this little company. America picture that produced lab care then produced another movie with Robert show diamonds, and few little movies. They only purchased the purchase cannot they did not establish canon canon was at a company in New York, a small distribution says company of movies in New York, and they purchased the company I believe in in the beginning of the 80s 1979 1980. The purchase they took over this company can all and then they took it. They took it and made it into a huge company.

Alex Ferrari 4:05
Right! So isn't so what but what was canon doing prior to them getting it? I mean, they were just just a normal small little distributor, right? They weren't doing genres stuff.

Sam Firstenberg 4:13
Correct. They were they were producers and distributors. They produce some movies. The base was in Israel in Tel Aviv. This was the base. And they produce a lot of Israeli movies. They made a lot of local Hebrew speaking movies. In conjunction with making this movie, let's say the dimension lab diamonds with Robert Shaw and was Assistant Director in the movie diamond. They produce the movie which is called the Passover plot. So a mixture of Israeli movies in some kind of international movies, English speaking international movies, but they were very good at sales. They used to go every year to confirm is divided into all the other film festivals and film market and sell those movies that they produce. And they became very knowledgeable. And with this process of selling movie internationally, up to this point, they always had the dream, both of them always had the dream to go to Hollywood one day to make it in Hollywood. And eventually they did. So the opportunity was they produced an Israel kind of successful movie operation tangible about that, and table operation. And they sold it to one of the major studios here. And I guess my guess is with the money of the sale, they bought this company, Cannon, they also had another hit. It was lemon PepsiCo, it was a Hebrew speaking movie that produced by the director they produce was directed by Bob Davidson, and also a movie that made a lot of money. So I guess that with the profits of both of those movies, they they were able to buy or to take over cannon.

Alex Ferrari 6:07
So how did they? How did they start? Since you were basically they're working with them. How did they make the decision to start going into genre? Because everything you're telling me right now is none of its really genre. Yeah, maybe a gangster movie here and there but not genre as we knew it.

Sam Firstenberg 6:25
Correct, correct. They, when they produced movies in Israel, there were mainly local comedy, that cater to the local audience. Very much like movies in Turkey or in Greece or in, in Egypt, those kinds of local comedies that deal with local subjects. And then they kind of always flirted with action a little bit. As I say, Operation Thunderbolt was a big action movie actually military action. But they had the SPN as movies they flirted with action when they came to when they took over. Ken on it was in the 80s 1980s 1981 What was very popular at the time here in in Hollywood for the low budget independent is to make low budget horror pictures. This was the standard there were many many of them done very low budget, you know, not much has changed not much has changed. Now much was my the source by the sorcerer but other movies by the excesses, sorry, influenced by the movie the excesses, but others, you know, there there were so many, and cannot, those two partners and cousins and 100 year old that was they decided to go this route of low budget, because it's really cheap to make a horror picture. But they were not very successful in terms of it was not part of their culture they in grew up in in America, that horror picture is a very American genre, it's very specific American genre, which is not definitely not that, at that time, was made in other countries around the world. And but they they it didn't really catch because they didn't understand the essence they then they didn't grow up with a horror picture. So they decided at some point to switch to action. And their first the first action movie they produced was called enter the Ninja.

Alex Ferrari 8:31
So they so where did the Where did the ninja come from? Because essentially, they popularized the concept of a ninja in America. I mean, I was I dressed as a ninja I went to ninja school. I was at throwing knives I mean, I didn't um Chuck's I mean yeah, there's Bruce Lee would not but the ninja was they brought it to America.

Sam Firstenberg 8:50
Definitely. So next you know next to the horror picture there was a an another genre floating around Of course you had from Hong Kong the martial art movie the Hong Kong the Chinese Hong Kong martial art movies, which we used to call them karate movies or kung fu movies. And but there was a beginning Chuck Norris, octagon. And then Enter the Dragon with Bruce Lee. So there was this other general martial art going parallel to the, to the horror pictures, but not as big you know, there were a few in one day. And I can go on used to, to hear ideas. People came to him with scrapes and idea. And the story is the legend is I did not witness it. There's one day Mike stone walked into the office and Mike stone one of it was one of the champions. You know, as well as Chuck Norris and Tadashi and Bruce Lee. And and he pitched to Menahem Golan this idea to make a movie about ninja And now ninja was a as you say was a novel idea was a different idea because we all knew about samurai movies we you know that scene Akira Kurosawa Seven Samurai you Jimbo and and we all knew about the Americans martial art movie entered the dragon was the big one and but ninja nobody ever heard he says a specific you know sub genre of the in Japan in the Japanese mythology of martial art in the Japanese culture and nobody ever thought later on I found out that here and there in Hong Kong movies there was some appearance of energy or energy here there's bad guys oh sure here and there very very few various spurs. But here Mike stone pitch to the idea. He probably had a story storyline I wasn't there and may not have gone I loved it and he said okay, this I understand actually, for the international market that's something that I understand and they produced and they went to the they did the filming in the Philippines they filmed it in the filament and they did it and came back editing and they sold it won pretty well much they sold it in a much better way that they sold that they did with the the horse right so I guess you know I'm trying to play to play to be in his brain so I guess they decided okay, we know what we don't want to do we understand we can do action and this new gimmick for them it was a gimmick ninja works people buy it you know the buyers buy it was Franco Nero was the star of enter the Ninja. And show Kosugi was the villain and Mike stone choreograph the fight and, and suddenly it was you know that the audiences around around the world not only here suddenly they saw this noble new idea and enjoy a nice gimmick tonight. As a nice look the the wardrobe. Yeah, it was it was very Oh my God, when you're a kid, at the beginning, when you're this is the legend. This is the story. Oh, Mike Stone, nothing to learn and how it was born.

Alex Ferrari 12:27
And now the funny thing is, is when you're a child, I mean, especially a kid growing up in the 80s and you see a ninja for the first time and you see the throwing star and the sword and it's like, oh, my it was just it was just a revelation. But I mean, nowadays there's so much when we you know nowadays they have 1000 things but back then there wasn't anything like that. Especially not thing on TV. No movies, it was a it was a thing. And I think what I mean and I think this is obvious cannons explosion in the in the world marketplace had to do also with the timing of the home video market, which that they fed off of each other and exploded Correct?

Sam Firstenberg 13:10
Definitely. So remember Ken on eventually, when we are looking in hindsight became the biggest of the independent company, but companies but it was not alone. There was a bunch of those companies, Shapiro Glickenhaus, am entertainment, corral call, and many, many more. And all of them were producing some of them specialized in horror only some of them specialize in in kind of comedies. Some of them specialize in what they used to call TNA movies,

Alex Ferrari 13:42
Right! Soft core, yes, soft core erotica.

Sam Firstenberg 13:47
There are many of them, and suddenly came in a new market, a new source of movie which was the home video market. The rental people went to the corner stores, they rented the movie. The major studios did not pay attention to this to this money, they're scarce. And but those little companies immediately they realized for them, it was a goldmine. And they started to produce movies, and they sold it so there was money there was no problem. The risk was very long. So this was the beginning of the 80s. They took very low risk. And worldwide not only here in the North America, not only in the United States, Canada, but worldwide those those this industry of renting cassettes to home was and you know the shops that had to buy those cassettes, they had to pay a lot of money.

Alex Ferrari 14:40
I worked at them. I worked at a video store. Oh yeah, we 10 to $20 Oh, I think wholesale we used to pay 75 60 to 75 bucks for wholesale retail was 100 books at least four copies of every movie business before blockbuster bought 1000 copies of everything.

Sam Firstenberg 15:02
It was a business so cannon thrive because of this, because of this money because of this market. And they started to, to produce more and more movies to the point that at some years, they made about 30 or 40 movies a year.

Alex Ferrari 15:18
Jesus, and it was it's so funny too, because I remember I worked in the video store 88 to 92. So I was right in the middle of the heyday of video stores, there were no DVDs, any of that stuff. But I remember because I was the manager. I will you know, we buy we buy, you know, four copies of American Ninja. Each one of those would make probably on on on return 400 bucks 500 bucks per and then sometimes you would get a movie like faces of death, which would which give you 2000 Because everybody wanted to read that one. But it was true. Our store was full of disk, Orion Pictures and canon and Kericho and then slowly the studio's figured out, they're like oh, maybe we should start throwing our movies up

Sam Firstenberg 16:11
Exactly what happened eventually the major switches he realized they say why are they making the money where we can make the money we have the power at the beginning of the 80s the mindset of the studios theater theatrical you know they make money in theaters then they sell it to television to networks they make a little bit more money they sell it to the airlines they make little bit more money with the airlines but then they realize this what's happening here making good money up over there with the with the cassette with the whole video let's let's move in and and and then you had predator then you have got these decided let's make those the same movies a little bit bigger budget bigger stars or quality and and then we will take over this.

Alex Ferrari 17:00
Right. That's when the diehards and the lethal weapons and all of the all those those were all essentially genre movies but with

Sam Firstenberg 17:06
Genre with a better budget with a bigger budget

Alex Ferrari 17:09
With bigger budgets. Exactly it I mean, it was I look back on those days very fondly working and everyone listening to the show knows how much I loved working in my video store. And I worked. I worked two video stores. I worked at a movie theater for two weeks, and I quit. Because I hated cleaning up the popcorn. The video store was a much better gig.

Sam Firstenberg 17:33
But But Alex the the studio is rigid, more or less. Right? So many departments. So when studio make a movie, it's rigid, independent companies at the time and the 80s they went crazy because there was so much money. There's so many Oh yeah. And basically they told the directors you guys go and do whatever you want. We don't have time to control you and to bother you. Right. Toby Hooper Joselito Sheldon is you guys weren't you basically had into the into the scene and they started doing Friday the 13th eventually also

Alex Ferrari 18:13
Got picked up Yeah,

Sam Firstenberg 18:14
Bigger movies came out of this big bigger idea.

Alex Ferrari 18:17
Right, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and all these kinds of stuff.

Sam Firstenberg 18:20
Chainsaw massacre, Terminator came out of this genre.

Alex Ferrari 18:23
Yeah, exactly. The Jim Cameron, it was it was really a fun, interesting time because it was just those always a time when when the studios are in trouble. And they can't figure out or they have to fill a lot of content. They give a lot of freedom and creativity to the creators that happened in the 70s with the Scorsese consumers, right and easy writer. But in the 80s, there was so much need for content. I remember we used to be only able to buy two to three movies a week. That's all that was all that was being released. Like that was it and then now I mean, it's there's three movies a minute being released. And that was the other thing too for people listening and like you were saying that the studios are rigid. It took them 12 years before they opened up a streaming service after Netflix launched same Exactly. So Netflix made all the money for a decade, got a huge head start on them. And now they have a major competitor that they're losing talent to creativity actors are all losing them to Netflix because Netflix was ahead

Sam Firstenberg 19:29
It really it's a it's a it's a tide that repeat itself. The only thing was really we were lucky there was there was good money at the time in the 80s. I was not the budget. The movies that we made are not we're not tremendous budget, but we're not bad when you talk about like a couple two, 3 million in that time. Yeah, because if you take American Ninja, for instance, yeah, we shot it nine weeks, six days a week with two units, some some Halo six unit Nine weeks, nine weeks, nine weeks of six day nine weeks of with two unit two full units. That's an additional unit. Full unit. The crew was huge, like 250 people, we had anything we wanted. So they were really medium budget, and the streaming don't have this, you know, unless unless they make a event movie or television series, they they don't give those budgets. And today, young filmmakers have to make movies in five weeks, four weeks,

Alex Ferrari 20:32
Five days. It's it's, it's remarkable. But I mean, also back then, the the barrier to entry was a technology, it was so expensive to own any of the technology to make it where now, it's not about technology. It's not now it's about distribution. It's about actually getting your stuff seen. I always tell people in the 80s if you finished a movie, good, bad or indifferent, you made money with it, you sold it. It was sold. If you figured if you flush out a 35 millimeter movie, finished it, it went into theaters. And then when the whole middle market hit it definitely what I mean I saw stuff that I'm like, how did this get produced?

Sam Firstenberg 21:13
So Golan is a very funny quality. I think in the movie electric booger the secret of Cannon, he said. And they quoted him, but it was quote from the 80s. He said, I don't if you make a movie and you don't make any money, you probably stupid I don't understand.

Alex Ferrari 21:33
But But he had it. So his business model was low budget, you know, so we're talking, I mean, 1 million to $3 million. Which, right? Yeah. And above a little bit, depending on how big it was even more Electric Boogaloo was, like $6 million. Oh, yeah. But that you had a huge hit with break in the first one. And then there was a circumstances. And then of course, he did Masters of the Universe, which was a whole other thing. That's a whole other conversation

Sam Firstenberg 21:59
Another level of Cannon on which it's not exactly what we are talking about. Sure. But that was like, I think that was their hayday. But they had this model of, you know, that, hayday, they invented I know, they invented the so called PRISM that really took them to the marketplace, took them to their distributors. And and offer them this poster, that poster this idea, even before they had the script, if they saw that the buyer, you know, kind of liked it. Here's a poster with Chuck Norris, you liked it, they came back to the office, they pre sold it. And then they came to the office, they roughly in a rush way they wrote the script. And he went and made the movie to fulfill the promise of the poster and sell concept. So they came up with a pre sale. They knew how much money to invest on in the movie according to the pre sales to the amount of money

Alex Ferrari 22:57
So they they're the ones that came up with pre sales. We had no idea that Cannon was the guy those guys were the ones because when I heard about the pre sales, I mean pre sales now are are rare. They're there but it does happen especially if you have a relationship with the buyers and you're long standing. But generally me because before you literally could go to AFM with a poster this will do to open up a shop and go do you want this new movie with with Michael Duda coffin it great $50,000 for your territory $100,000 for your territory $250,000 For Germany and and, and they would sell up so they came home they're like, Okay, we could invest. Let's invest a million dollars because we have 1,000,005 it pre sales. And then we also have other places we can make some more money off of it. I mean, it's a win win.

Sam Firstenberg 23:45
Right this will this was the model this was the system. Beside the Menahem Golan in your world was there was another partner Danny Dean Berg, he was the head of sales. And they kind of invented it. Everybody adapted the system all the independent companies have pre selling. But yes, there was so much need for product all over the world for the for this new emerging market of home video. It was revolutionary for young people. Today. It's hard to understand when you see the streaming, the idea that you can take a cassette, bring it home, start the movie or whatever you want. You can pause it go rewind it rewind it restart. It was revolutionary. It's hard today today's how to grasp.

Alex Ferrari 24:32
Nobody was right. I literally had to go see Ghostbusters 34 times in the theater when I when it came out as a kid because but when the VHS came out, I bought it. And I watched it a million times at home and I would stop it. We rewind it. I could play it back. I could play the scene I loved again again. It was something that you know kids today really don't understand because now they're like well, I just had opened up my phone and everything that's ever been made is accessible to my fingertips. i It was revolutionary and people love that idea and that you can go out and rent 2,3,4 movies a weekend.

Sam Firstenberg 25:06
And it was equal in, in Los Angeles. Yep. And in some small village in Africa. In Africa, Far East, a little hot around the cafe. The video had the video machine, you know, so the village and the machine or every home and the machines are not expensive. It was a cheap.

Alex Ferrari 25:28
It was. It was. And I try to explain to people to back and we're still only talking in the VHS days when DVD it it was even cheaper to make things and when it was cheaper to produce the DVDs than it was to create the VHS is you could you can make 1000 of them in a minute. And it used to take a lot longer to do VHS is and I tell people like That's why sniper 7,8,9 were pre made and released because they knew they were going to make five or $6 million in the DVD market. But then in 05 06 It started to dwindle. And then streaming came along and then it just it destroyed. It destroyed that market. And I think that everyone I think it was basically from 1982, early 2000s It was a goldmine. Everybody was making money

Sam Firstenberg 26:19
We call the type of movies that we are talking about Friday the 13 American Ninja we are calling them that genre, low budget independent movies of the 80s in the first half of the 90s Right. So this was the era 15 years and then the studio's realized it's not it was not the end of the this industry but the studio started to take over in the middle of the 90s and they said they came they started to come up with bigger budget predator etc. True lies a terminator they started to take over the market of course they have more power or more financial power better product etc. Eventually they took over and they created the relationship with Blockbuster and it was in a movie became a business have a bigger budget now pushed away pushed away the smaller companies

Alex Ferrari 27:20
Right that's why Orion went under that that time and Cannon eventually call it fair there everybody my guy but they were making care Kericho was making to Terminator two, Total Recall. You know, Orion was doing Robocop and won four or five Oscars in the course of a decade. I mean, it was an Kuroko and made some big big moves. Oh huge movies they made Yeah, absolutely. So American Ninja. So So American Ninja which I just I you know when I heard first of all the ninja came out and you did Revenge Of The Ninja came out and then the ninja started to come out. But then American Ninja you like wait a minute, an American Ninja and it was like a mind blowing thing. You're like holy cow and Michael Duda cough is up there and he's doing how did you how did how did American Ninja come up? Was that your idea? How did that come?

Sam Firstenberg 28:13
Not mine. So we so they made enter the Ninja. Let's just talk a little bit about the history of the company made enter the ninja and the movie did pretty well you know moderately well. And they immediately they wanted the sequel. They wanted to make Revenge Of The Ninja they like show Kosugi very much he was the villain in enter the Ninja. And but the Menahem Golan, which directed enter the ninja did not want you know the company was starting to take off and he was busy. He didn't want to do the secret. So he turned to me I just finished directing a movie that I sold to Cannon and this was the beginning of 1982. I just sold to the movie one more chance that I directed and produced and they turned to me said would you direct it? Of course we had relationship as I told you I was his assistant director. I was assistant director in the company for a while and and here they saw that I can make a movie. This was this one more chance movie with Kirstie Alley by the way. Yeah, he was there. And and they turned to me said would you direct the sequel? Okay, so we made Revenge Of The Ninja which show Kosugi he was the star. It was they liked it. It was kind of successful they wanted? No it wasn't for them. It was more than successful. It was the first movie that MGM picked up. It was the first movie from canon that the major company picked up for distribution Revenge Of The Ninja because it was distributed by MGM. Okay, theatrical

Alex Ferrari 29:51
I remember I remember the box. I remember the VHS box was the big

Sam Firstenberg 29:55
Kosugi flying in the sky with Yeah, and this was actually designed by MGM and now we are talking you know they really need the sequel to make money. So, you know because of some reason show Kosugi did not want did not feature he was in the third the ninja three the domination he was not the feature the feature character but Lucinda Dickey, it was a female ninja and and then suddenly there was the craze of breakdowns So, Cannon pose with, with ninjas in the braking and braking to Electric Boogaloo which I directed again a sequel to the sequel, but the interest of the buyer when I say the interest of the buyers around the world maybe the viewers with the with the break downs with the breaking was quite for favor of quickly and the buyers wanted more ninja maybe they weren't ninjas. By now everybody's making movies. And they call me back to the office Moran Colin Colin calls me to a meeting. And he says we need another ninja movie. But this time it's going to be American Ninja. So not my idea. The phrase came from him. I don't know how he came up with this. Now this is a revolution actually a revolutionary and crazy, really crazy idea. Because Ninja is really unique. We already mentioned Japan very unique to Japanese collector culture. You can have Brazilian martial art, but you don't have a Brazilian ninja. Capoeira which is a Brazilian sure there is a Chinese martial art there is Korean martial art but not ninja Ninja is specifically Japanese samurai and it's part of the Japanese mythology and curse of course. And as long as we made that the ninja at the first three ninja movies with some connection to Japanese culture it was fine okay, but here he comes with IDEA forget about the Japanese forget about the American Ninja no connection to Japan whatsoever and culture so it was his idea there was no script there was no nothing this was only this idea. And you know I was thrilled I like our American cinema I believe that American cinema is the most successful and this is as close as I will get to to a James Bond thing in western America ninja so now I mean that I'm about to do Western james Bond.

Alex Ferrari 32:31
Now so American Ninja did extremely well it blew it was it exploded didn't it and I know it killed it by at the video stores I mean just killed

Sam Firstenberg 32:41
We didn't know what's going to happen you know of course as I said for Cannon film for Cannon breaking was a major major moneymaker the first breaking and breaking through electrical are big,

Alex Ferrari 32:53
I mean massive you're talking about 10s of millions of dollars breaking

Sam Firstenberg 32:59
And both of them or I mean MGM the first breaking was distributed by MGM the second the one I directed was distributed by Tristar Columbia Tristar so being distribution

Alex Ferrari 33:10
So also canon at this point is getting major distribution from because I know they had an output deal with Warner Brothers. That's how they got a Bloodsport

Sam Firstenberg 33:18
You mentioned must serve the universe they were flirting little bit with the Spider Man No Spider Man Superman yeah okay yeah that's right they did they can and Superman Yeah, I think the already they they also already had the Chuck Norris under contract invasion USA missing in action. So they already had Chuck Norris working for them. And they had Charles Bronson working for them exclusively at this point. That was number two. That was number three. Number four. Yeah, so by then the company was being and we are and they send us to the Philippines to make it to Manila to make American Ninja. And you know, we chose microfluidic have to be the American Ninja the persona, the actor who personify American Ninja, and we are there and we start to make the movie and we kind of realize you never know you know, maybe while making a movie. Nobody knows if the movie will be a success will not be a success. The audience will like it will hate it. You don't know you're making. It's enigmatic. It's it's a question big question mark when you but there was a good feeling. We saw Michael on the screen, the charisma, the relationship between Michael Ludi Cove and Steve James. It was really the bond was working on screen. Even the love story Michael do the COVID through the air and so on and she came from Friday the 13. So this was working with and we put the movie together editing room and music. And actually they were so eager to continue the company that they send us to new before the movie was released. They send that to New Orleans Would Michael do the job and Steve James and myself to make the movie avenging force, which was really meant for Chuck Norris and he didn't want to do it. It was part of the invasion USA. franchise, but he didn't want to. So we are now in New Orleans shooting this movie filming this movie, avenging force. And then the American injure came out in theaters. And then we hear we kind of start to hear and read the explosion. Worldwide. I'm not talking about America that this is like the new terrorism. Or this is the new mini James Bond. Right now this week. Yep. Wow, this whole idea that the concept, the phrase, American Ninja, and it's exploding all over the world. And we are there in New Orleans. That truck just did not even participate in any promotion anything because we were like, it was just like, yeah, do you think it just really soy? It was it was huge. Immediately. Of course, there is a target audience as you yourself was the you're the target audience share the young people male boys teenager or up to the age 3540 This was the mainly then, of course there were also girls that like this. He was so handsome Michaels looks so good. And but but it was a target market. It hit the market. Right. Right on all over the world. Oh, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 36:33
What year was that? 8590. Right. So right when God VHS the video stores are exploding. There. I remember my first video store experience was 8182. And I rented for I think, no, it's actually later than that. By like 84. But I but I rented Flashdance. I never forgot it never forgot it. And we rented flash that's so around that time it was starting to it was starting to really take off blockbusters still years away. So the mom and pop stores are still running everything.

Sam Firstenberg 37:08
And, and in the case of American Ninja, it was theatrical all over the world. Yeah, it played theatrically in Africa, in Asia, or South America all over the world. Suddenly, it was if before there was some kind of, you know, the audience, I'm trying to terrorize here, though this has to relate to Japanese type of culture. Now, from this moment on, they didn't have to. It was a James Bond, American Ninja, you know, it was Hollywood movie the way they like, you know, the way most of the action movies in the world look like. And all American characters to the military in the military base, American military base, the story that happened? So I guess it was easy for the audiences around the world, the young people to identify. And this correction,

Alex Ferrari 38:02
Yeah, no, no question. And what I also always loved I absolutely love the chemistry between Michael and Steve. James. I mean, the late great Steve James. Well, I mean, he was so charismatic. On, on cam, I just never forgot him. You know, I looked him up a few years ago. And I heard that he had passed and I was very saddened by it. Because he was because I was looking at like, you know, maybe I could use him, I would love to have him in one of my movies. Just you know, to show respect to to a hero of mine when I was a child, his chemistry was amazing. Was all that like a lot of those lines in that stuff on set? Was that him and Michael just kind of, you know, riffing?

Sam Firstenberg 38:42
So yes, yes, you're right. When we cast when we when we were in the casting of American Ninja, and our main goal was to find this character American Ninja Johnstone, but also Jackson was already written the script, his body body sidekick, was written in the script. And we saw a lot of young people for both part, but and we had some hesitation with American Ninja with the jaw stone because everything is only shoulder. But let me tell you when Steve James walked in for the casting, and I spoke with him a little bit, and he was a martial artist and we read few lines. We didn't look anymore and he agreed when he agreed to do it. We didn't look anymore for this Jackson character. This was Steve James he will, you know, the Okay. big muscles, the shoulders that look like a Hercules.

Alex Ferrari 39:37
And he was funny. He was funny. He was smart and funny. He was smart and funny too.

Sam Firstenberg 39:42
So he had this, this, you know what you see eventually on the screen, and when we got to the Philippines, they they didn't have even chance to meet each other Michael Gove and Steve James up to the point because in the low budget, we don't have rehearsals. We don't have money for rehearsals. They don't give us any rehearsal time. So the first time you meet your fellow actor or the director many time with actor, it's on the set the first time, the first day of shooting, so they met on the set. And and they started, you know, as the scenes were developing, I don't remember exactly the order that we were shooting the scenes, but the chemistry, the chemistry between them or developing on and on. Now, Steve was a big fan of action movies. And and always I will say he's a historian of action movies, especially black action movies. You know, he had a big collection at home steam like 2000 movies, he was specializing in black cinema, sharing from the either black directors, black actors, silent from the silent era movies. But anyway, he was so this genre shaft, you know, he wanted to be the new chef. Basically, he could have been very familiar to. So back to your question many of the, of the one liners many of the mannerism he brought in. But now let me tell you something funny enough. Every time you know, I made you movies, it was teachings, I directed theater. But then at some point, he knew exactly in the series, some point he tears off his shirt, throws it away. To show his muscle ties it, Steve, you're not asking me. Every time in every movie, at some point, you take off your shirt and you continue. He said, What do you think you know how I'm working for this muscle? all this hard work I'm not going to show it off I have to show it off.

Alex Ferrari 41:49
Then how many and how many American ninjas were there. I think I remembered up to four was there more?

Sam Firstenberg 41:54
I directed only two of them. Okay. And then I directed with Michael and Steve the movie avenging for us. And I directed with Steve James another movie, which was completely different movie, which was called Riverbend. And this is not in the genre of the ninja. Not even martial art. It's kind of it's a racial tension movie in the south in the 60s.

Alex Ferrari 42:17
Oh, he must. That must have been awesome.

Sam Firstenberg 42:19
It's a very, and he was the lead. He was very happy. And then he took it was a little fight he took off his shirt.

Alex Ferrari 42:27
But obviously listen, if I looked like Steve James I would I would walk around without my shirt all the time.

Sam Firstenberg 42:31
I had the privilege to direct Steve James four times for movies.

Alex Ferrari 42:37
Like I said, if I look like Steve James, I would walk around without a shirt all the time. Did I mean absolutely. Absolutely. There would be no question anyone listening Google Steve James and you'll understand what I mean. Now was the biggest hit for for Cannon American Ninja. Oh, it was a Break in?

Sam Firstenberg 42:57
No, I I don't know exactly by number. Let's say they produced about 200 300 movies. She's the best, let's say the best. from a quality point of view. The best movie was runaway train. Oh, yeah. So people, most people agree that that's the best movie they made was runaway train with Eric Roberts, and Jon Voight. But a popularity they had few kind of franchises that were doing very well, the American Ninja, the Deathwish and the missing in action with Chuck Norris. So 111 franchise was Charles Bronson, which was doing very well one franchise with Chuck Norris, which was doing terrific and the third one was American engine. Now when the company the company ended up with bankruptcy and a lot of companies and people and creditors came after came to the court. They all they probably owe money to everybody to a lot of places and and the SS were divided. met everybody wanted American Ninja. It's a good title and eventually MGM won the entire American Ninja Series in and the breakdance series went to MGM so all the movies that either directors for Canon ended up with MGM but some movies ended up with Warner Brothers some ended up with Paramount and other creditor Charles Bronson was a creditor he gave us a lot of money Yes but this was the as the title American Ninja is the the you know as the title the title it the it is the thing that that came on headed as an essence not necessarily the movies but as a title. So yeah, the missing in action doesn't sound it sounds good but it's okay. Oh, that wish they did not originate as you know that wish was originated before Cannon

Alex Ferrari 45:00
Right, exactly. So then you did. So I remember when breakin came out because I was breakdancing as a kid back then and breakin was when it was big. It was breakin and Beat Street. Those were the two big breakdancing movies that came out that those years then came out break into the Electric Boogaloo with it, which I argue is probably the best title for a sequel ever. There's, I mean, it is Electric Boogaloo. Anytime you're trying to make a joke. I'm like, oh, yeah, we're gonna make lethal weapons three the Electric Boogaloo. Like you always throw Electric Boogaloo at the end of it. Who came up with Electric Boogaloo?

Sam Firstenberg 45:36
Okay, the phrase electric villa. There is a lot of discussion or disagreement about this. Now, there is an essay, somebody wrote an essay about this phrase electric Google, with the really research into history of America. Now, our two stars Shabba doo. Also, the late poor shabu also passed away this year. Shabba Doo and Michael shrimps, both of them kind of claim that they have invented it. But it has a deep root way back in the 50s. From what I read in the article, so either there was a Google was a type of dancing that goes all the way back to the 50s and 60s, and Shabba doo was very active in in the what was the television show The train the Soul Train? Yeah. And in the Soul Train, there were a lot of brigalow that there is a style of dancing that goes way back. How it was kind of combined and the shrimp and the name of the the street name of Michael chambers. So he's Michael Boogaloo shrimp chambers, Michael chambers. attached this, the word Bogota. But the combination of those two words and lectric boogle happened after the movie breaking and so sad probably in this because they already knew that they want to make a sequel. Even hookipa who did it though but who actually put it together for the movie? It was between men and Golan Shabba doo I had nothing to do with it when I was hired when I was asked to do the movie to directed the name braking to Electric Boogaloo was already on the script so I have nothing to do with it. So every every one of them in many discussions if you search the internet for interviews with the Shabba doo interviews with Sri with Michael Chang there or written interviews, you will find many different versions but but that to the best of my knowledge, the legend it It happened in Cannes Film Festival. When they were selling, breaking they took the three of them Lucinda and Shoba do and Michael took with them to can to promote the movie. And as they saw that the response of the buyer they immediately decided to do a sequel. And the legend the storytellers that right there in Cannes, it came together this breaking two Electric Boogaloo. I saw right about that it became a new meme of the 80s phrase of the 80s. And it was borrowed to many, many different purposes, including at some point somebody put a joke. We should write a Bible to Electric Boogaloo. Lately took a sinister turn, you know the it was adopted by the group. The Bigelow's that right, white supremacy grew Right, right believing in a sequel of the Civil War. Of course. The first they took the word he used to call it the second Civil War Electric Boogaloo. But then it was shortened to the Buggles the writers on a second in a second Civil War. Oh my god. I know. So the whole gamut from dancing to comedy to this to to a sinister

Alex Ferrari 49:10
Sinister doing white supremacy, you know, and it's, it's interesting also, because as artists, you just put things out there you don't know how it's going to be received and who's gonna take what and you just don't know as a as a, as a creator of these things. But, you know, I like to look at it. That term Electric Boogaloo is a very funny you know, a joke that a lot of people kind of throw out like the Bible to Electric Boogaloo and things like that that it's just so it's just one of those names that you you hear you never forget it. You hear bring it to the light you never forget it.

Sam Firstenberg 49:41
Right it has a good ring to it good sound and you know when they read the the sequel they when they make the when they made the documentary, right so immediately they took the title of the movie of this of the documentary is electric burger,

Alex Ferrari 49:57
Which exactly which summarizes everything Cannon did in two words. It was it's remarkable. And I do remember I never forgot this scene, and I know how you do it. But I'd love to I'd love to find out how you guys did it. How did turbo dance on the ceiling? You know, when he was dancing up on the wall? I know it's generally a big giant thing. I've seen Chris Nolan do it. It seemed Stanley Kubrick do it? But generally you don't have those kinds of budgets. So how the heck did you guys do it?

Sam Firstenberg 50:21
Okay. So this was not on the original script, this dance scene, this dance was not on the original screen, a script in one day, why even while I was shooting, we were shooting the movie in East LA more in the neighborhood, which is called Bowens height, which was the scene in the center of hip hop and breakdancing. I was called lunchtime and I was called back to the office office, the offices were in Hollywood. And man, I'm gonna say, come back. I had no idea why I'm coming back. Maybe he wants to fire me, maybe? I don't know. But anyway, he had this idea and said, Let's have shrimp dancing in the ceiling. Now, this is not a new idea. It was done by Fred Astaire. Yeah. Yeah, royal wedding, the name of the movie. So that's the first time it was done, then it was using Kubrick, right? In many horror pictures. And so basically, I knew what it is, it's, the mechanism is called gimbal. gimbal is kind of a simulator for flight simulator. You know, the, the, you know, the aerial photographers. So they actually, they practice in this gimbal, they put them on a set, and when it's too big, huge hoops, or rings, big one on rollers, and the chair is in the center, and then you can roll the dice big. So the cinematographer is upside down, or the pilot in training is upside down. Now, if you take this huge, huge gimbal, this huge of big rings, the Turing's on rollers, and and the set the room is built inside the camera is glued to the floor of the of the set, or kind of hooked not glued, necessarily here, you know, braced and if you turn the room around, the camera does not see the turning around because the camera goes around with the room. So for the camera, man, the room is always the straight, look straight. But dancer, you know, once you're 90 degree, let's say the camera man is to the right or to the left, the dancer is already on the wall, but the wall is horizontal to Earth. And when it is all the way up 180 degree the cover man is up on the way up, and the ceiling now is down. And he's dancing in the ceiling. But the camera doesn't see the difference. What you do need, everything has to be glued to the set. So all the for the pictures on the wall, everything all the books on the shelf, like behind you, you have books on the shelf, they have to be glued, because when it's up, they upside down, you know all the book to find. And if there is some scenery in the window, the scenery has to move in the window with the with the gimbal and all the lighting, you cannot have a change of light. So the lighting, everything moves together with this rotating and that's how it's done. And you know, it was done in a lot in horribly. This party I think that we got our particular gimbal from Elm Street.

Alex Ferrari 53:45
Oh, yeah. Well, yeah, I was I said what I was gonna say, Well, I West Craven because I know he did it for the blood, the blood coming out of the bed.

Sam Firstenberg 53:51
Okay, so he just read it was like it was somewhere around in the warehouse in Hollywood and

Alex Ferrari 53:56
They rented it. Okay, that makes sense.

Sam Firstenberg 53:59
It was built our our department builder said, Sure. And we hired the special cinematographer. You need the aerial cinematographer, because when they're upside down not to get confused. They are the aerial photo cinematographers the they they are used to this turning Iran upside down and

Alex Ferrari 54:18
I have to ask, I have to ask you, thank you for that. Because I mean, I always wonder like, they didn't have $10 million to build something like this. But I didn't think that they just had a couple of these lying around in LA because in LA there's everything I even shot. I shot I shot a television series.

Sam Firstenberg 54:34
Our operation Alex our operation was so cheap that it was turned by hand we didn't have multiple routes just kept pulling on this new drawing by hand manually.

Alex Ferrari 54:49
People always ask me like, should I move to LA I'm like, Look, you know, I just moved away from LA. I love LA but in LA you i mean i There's a standing spaceship set that I shot a whole series On that we just it's just a standing set that looks like aliens it's there you can't find that in Ohio

Sam Firstenberg 55:08
You know naturally the industry you know you you have to deal with cars you go to Detroit I mean, it's natural. The I worked all over the world I worked and filmed all over the world. And there is from a convenient point of view from a technical point of view and from personnel from people point of view. Expertise, there is no place in the world like Hollywood for me making film. I'm not talking maybe Hong Kong of course in Hong Kong in China, but London but there's nothing like all the get the generator goes down within 10 minutes you're another generator. Immediately easy. Somebody will find another generator in 10 minutes and it will be on the seven and working. You need this special lands crazy land on somewhere it is somewhere for rent within five or 10 minute drive is say it wardrobe. Obviously this is the center of this this type this industry it's the central point in the world for the for Western moviemaking is home. So everything is here you're right.

Alex Ferrari 56:12
Now what is the craziest story that you can say publicly from your times in cannon?

Sam Firstenberg 56:23
The truth is The truth is nothing extraordinary happened on the on any of the sets that I work not not a serious injury. Obviously nothing fatal. Nothing happened. No, no series we were so careful. And so methodic in working and in nothing crazy happened while filmmaking but let me tell you an interesting story that relates and does not realize and no, we were in the Philippines in Manila shooting Americans. And we stayed in a nice hotel Manila hotel in in Manila. This was the biggest hotel was beautiful. And Sunday we were not shooting they were not working. We are on the in the swimming pool most of the time in the swimming pool. So one of those Sundays, I am, you know, the crew is in the swimming pool. And next to me, Michael Rubicon. And we are kind of laying on those chairs in the sun and enjoying. And Michael is next to me. I'm here, Michael is suddenly I realize that something is wrong. There is a woman frantically running on the edge of the pool. And I look down and I see a girl that sees like a girl that like still like going up and down. She like she's drawn. And I look up and there was a lifeguard but he was completely busy. His attention was completely in another direction. Jesus. So I hit Michael right away. Michael was right next to me. Michael jumped with me into the pool. No question. So we both jumped into the pool and we dove all the way to by then the girl was all the way into one. And what we could see. So a nobody sees only this woman which apparently was the mother. And nobody else is it was just a moment that nobody was paying attention to what's happening in the water. And Michael and me were tagging all the way down to the bottom. We grew grew up the girl we bring there both of us put her on the edge by then she's not breathing anymore. So I'm trying or whatever crew to do whatever we do, but you know, I'm not the medic. I don't know what I'm doing and pushing and breath resuscitation. But then comes a young man. He says I'm a soldier. I'm a medic, we'll move over everybody let me I'm the only one in charge here right now. He was one of the soldiers American soldiers at the time. There are many many American soldiers in the Philippines. He took over as he knew what he was doing much better resuscitation push the on the chest. Water came out boom she came back and and that's it the girl came back back to life let's say and no we visited her that it was very exciting very emotional, you know to bring somebody from the dead back to life. She was her family was actually Chinese from Hong Kong they were visiting and vacationing over there. And later on I was in Hong Kong I visited visited with a family but there are a nice picture of Michael and me with a girl a day later this girl and and I consider it pretty crazy for that we were there shooting American Ninja at the right moment in the hotel in the day off to save some of his life. So I consider maybe The purpose of American the movie American Ninja was actually to save a girl.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:04
Right! So, so American Ninja actually saved, the American Ninja actually saved her.

Sam Firstenberg 1:00:13
Absolutely. Now, let me ask you, you didn't have that. You know, when we went to South Africa, we were talking about the explosion of American Ninja. And then we were shooting night hunter which became avenging force in New Orleans, all of us. And as we came back, and we finished editing, they already by then they needed a sequel to American Ninja badly because American Ninja was a huge need all over the world. They needed. And for some reason they had this time they had some money in South Africa. So apartheid South Africa, it was toward the end of apartheid, but still apartheid. And Steve was pretty worried. He said, Well, I'm a black person, I'm going out to South Africa. But he told me anyway, you're going ahead of the Euro pre production, call me and I want to go to hear from you every day. Tell me what it is in South Africa. Nobody knows. We went to South Africa. And this was really the the ending days of the apartheid. Actually, when I was there, there used to be three different identity identity identification card different ideas for different races, but by then they unified it to one car. There were no more different cards with different colors. So I um, you know, I told I called Steve I spoke with Steve you there there's still nothing to worry about. That is changing. The atmosphere is really changing. There is no more white beach Black Beach. It's it's changing, you know, really changing. Come up. So he came over in the first week, and in the weekend we went out in Johannesburg to the street. Now we didn't realize how big they became my political and Steve James became huge stars to the kids too. They were recognized everywhere. We couldn't walk in the street anymore. Because all the young African kids were running after them especially Steve that was tall and impressive. And in you know, probably for them they saw this hero black hero not only you know the African American hero or their it was something special. And they ran everywhere we went with Steve James it was impossible in the streets of Johannesburg.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:29
Wow. Amazing. Well, let me ask you so I asked I'm gonna ask you a few questions ask all my guests what is what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to to make it today's business?

Sam Firstenberg 1:02:42
What I see what I see today, let's say action more action because you know they're always placed for drama person on movies you can always make and take as you mentioned, technology is cheap all you need a computer camera, put the editing program in your computer and you can make them so all those person on movie like moonlight or what those movies will always be done. People will young people wants to tell story and express themselves, they will do it. The question comes down when you want to make a more expensive movie when you want to make action movie. It's not cheap, making actual movie is not cheap. And they're they're explosions, there are mechanical, there are cars chases, etc, etc. And what would happen from a business point of view that the movies went through transformation in the 2000, etc. They became paperback movies. It was expensive to make movies, you needed the lab, you need the camera, you needed to buy film, you need to print the film, everything was expensive. So you can make a very, very, very cheap movie. And you can make a movie you need at least to to be near a lab to develop the film, at least. And this have changed a lot. It's cheap now you don't need the lab. So the cost of production has strike. The buyer the potential buyer, television stations streaming services, whoever buys those small independent movie they got used now they can pay less money to buy the movies. You know, so now it movie they used to buy movie for $1 million. A young filmmaker that just finished a movie can you can have my movie for 80,000 I don't need 1 million. I will cover my costs if I sell it to you at and I sell it to some German television and cetera very quickly I will cover my costs. So the buyer got us to buy cheap movies. Now when it comes to make a action movie, and you need this eight weeks or nine weeks of shooting the 6 million today equivalent formula the buyers that we don't have don't make this action movie I don't care if you're not making Spider Man if you're not making superhero huge event movie, don't make this movie I will buy the small movie the cheap horror movie I will buy the the the cheap dramas. So the sources have dried the money have dried to make an action movie. And despite the fact that is it's it's cheaper, technologically cheaper, but still you need the money and and there is no money around. So producers who want young director to do action movies, they're asking them to do it for 1 million today money for weeks shooting and it's not really action movie. So this is a tough, tough, tough area. When you deal with action or sci fi stuff that needs special effects. This is one area the big the saving grace is the digital effects. Graphic digital effect we did not have it we had to or they were very very very expensive. So we had to physically produce everything every fight every Chase every card hit every head to really physically be done with to flip cars. Today, with some ingenuity and some knowledge you can flip a car on in your computer you can have a huge explosion for no money, etc. So those two forces which are really not working either working against each other or complementing each other, less money, much less money, but the technology of the CGI or the graphic. computerised graphic SpecialEffect help. So they have to navigate this area. They also the young filmmakers, again in action, they come up from a different background, we came from a background of as I say Western James Bond Tarzan's and the young filmmakers are coming from the background of video games. Sure, not home movies, they're back their visual background, the visual way they see thing is the way they saw it when they play video game to their kids.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:21

Sam Firstenberg 1:07:22
Fast pace, great special effect. Very grand stuff. So So those are the things that have changed, and but you can prove yourself by having a computer and camera people can buy a camera, they can buy a supercomputer, or they can just buy or this right Oh, the phone,

Alex Ferrari 1:07:45
The phone will do it. Then it shoots shoots 5k or 8k Now who knows? It's insane. Right? Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Sam Firstenberg 1:07:57
If you think the movie business is the analogy to life Okay, you I say I would say as it you know, Director Director is the chief guys, he's a top of the pyramid, he makes the decision. And he delegate the tasks to everybody. So he's at the top of the pyramid. So I've learned I think the most important is really, to be humble enough to humble yourself. There is nothing you do by yourself. This is the biggest bluff in the world. I mean, unless you're an animator and you sit at home for three years by yourself and you make the movie animation, you use a lot of talent, the director, the creator of any this type of movies, not It's not painting so you're not in your, in your studio by yourself painting, you need a lot of help and a lot of talent and and only with the help only with the with the harnessing all those different talents into your talent as the director is the storyteller, something the magic will happen. So, in my case, my success, you know, the movies that have been successful American Ninja Electric Boogaloo. They happen because many people contributed to the performers that are there. The cinematographer that and all of this together was channeled through my, my talent or my abilities or whatever you want to call it, to create what you've created. And I think it's also true in life. You don't go alone by yourself, are not alone. I can tell it now I'm 70 years old and look back you don't go alone by yourself if you don't have a support by friends and family, etc. Very true. Probably.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:49
Now and what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Sam Firstenberg 1:09:53
Films of all time?

Alex Ferrari 1:09:54

Sam Firstenberg 1:09:55
I'll tell you I am All it's hard to say there are so many features

Alex Ferrari 1:10:03
Three that comes to mind.

Sam Firstenberg 1:10:05
But the I love Akira Kurosawa's movies when I was introduced to this Japanese genre of action, Eugene Bo, 7 samurai I was struggling Oh, wow. Amazing. But, you know, I was influenced a lot when I was young by Hitchcock movies, you know, watching John Ford and etc. I'm not a great fan of horror pictures. So those are the type of movies let's say the most impressive are the movies of David Lee. I mean, Dr. Zhivago Lawrence of Arabia, big vast movie big big movies and and those are really the movies that I really like there is a big best Nestle, some action, great drama unfold within the movie, the story of the movie and etc.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:10
There's very few directors in today's world that gets to play on that kind of Canvas. You know, the James Cameron's that Steven Spielberg's the, you know, the Chris Nolan's of the world, they get to play in these giant giant canvases, because it's so darn expensive to play on those on those canvases. But, but it's remarkable but Sam, listen, I want to thank you for coming on the show. It has been an absolute honor and and pleasure talking to you and going back down the nostalgia lane talking about cannon and your amazing work you did back in the 80s and 90s. I appreciate you my friend and thank you for helping make my my childhood a little bit more interesting and entertaining. So I do I appreciate you my friend.

Sam Firstenberg 1:11:54
Yeah. First of all, you're very welcome. And I was happy to be in touch with you and I hope that the listeners will enjoy what we talked.

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Best FREE Screenwriting Software in 2023…PERIOD!

A welder cannot build a bridge without his torch. A rockstar can’t have a solo without his guitar. A screenwriter cannot write a script without screenwriting software.

Today we’ll look at five of the best screenwriting software programs out there in the market in 2023, and the best part, all of these choices are FREE.

Maybe you’re a first-time writer looking to try and bring the film you see in your head onto the page, or maybe you’re a seasoned writing veteran looking for new software to try out. Well, let’s look at some of your best choices.

Arc Studio Pro

Arc Studio is one of the best new screenwriting software options. It offers an easy-to-learn, intuitive interface with professional features and a free browser version (yes, totally free). It’s great screenwriting software for professionals or beginners. One of the great things about Arc Studio is you can collaborate with other writers in real-time, similar to Google Docs. You can also export your screenplay as a PDF or .fdx file for easy sharing and collaboration with other writers who use different software.

The cloud-based software allows you to access and write your screenplay from the downloadable software (Mac and PC), in your browser, or from the iOS app on your iPhone or iPad. And it has automatic cloud storage with the ability to save to Google Drive or your hard drive and access your screenplay from practically any device with an internet connection.

Arc Studio also offers a great outlining tool for breaking your story and crafting your characters’ arcs. If you need production tools like colored pages and starred revisions, you won’t get that with this tool, though the Arc Studio team says those features are coming soon.

Cost: Free, with an option to upgrade to the $99/year Pro version. You can download the software here


Celtx is screenwriting/pre-production software designed to create and organize media projects in various formats: film screenplays, television screenplays, stage plays, games, podcasts, and documentaries.

It is one of the most well-known screenwriting software in the film industry.

With many collaborative features built into its code, it’s perfect if you want to collaborate on a script in real-time.

Some features require you to pay a monthly fee to use, but if you’re just looking for software that’ll allow you to simply write and have things in the proper industry standards when it comes to formatting, you can’t do wrong with Celtx.

Celtx is also available on all devices, making writing at home or on the go possible.

You can download the software here


WriterDuet is screenwriting software for writing and editing screenplays and other forms of mass media.

Initially released in 2013, this software has been getting more recognition as time has passed and is a favorite among up-and-coming filmmakers.

Firebase powers the software. This allows users to write together in real-time from multiple devices.

WriterDuet is an online-based program, but recently the software has been given some off-line features that are free to use.

While it’s not false advertising to say that WriterDuet is free, there are some stipulations to the free title.

Unlike some other programs, WriterDuet allows its users to write their first THREE screenplays for free. After that, you either have to pay a per-month price or an annual fee.

With that said, if you are a first-time writer, it’ll take you some time to finish your first –second fully – and even third screenplay. By that time, you may decide to invest some money into a full version of this software or go with a competitor.

Scripts written with WriterDuet allow the user to save their script in the FDX file format, which 95% of Hollywood studios, producers, and production companies use, so if you get a script request from someone in the industry, you’ll be able to send the script in the proper format easily.

You can download the software here

Fade In

Fade In Professional Screenwriting Software, or Fade In, is screenwriting software for crafting film and television screenplays, stage plays, radio plays, graphic novels, and more.

The look of the software is very watered down, allowing the user to simply focus on writing their script.

While the software is free, you can only work on one script at a time unless you want to pay a fee to work on more.

If you’re just getting your feet wet in screenwriting, the simple free version will do its job just fine.

You can also save your script in FDX format, which means you can send your script to someone that uses Final Draft and its compatibility.

With the software available for both Mac and Windows users, you don’t have to worry if it works on your device.

You can download the software here


Trelby is a free, open-source screenwriting program that provides a simple, uncluttered interface for writing scripts.

This is the only open-source screenwriting program we have on this list. This means any user can edit the program’s code to add new features or take away ones. This is how innovations are made.

If you’re looking for software that not only allows you to write your script but also does other things like budgeting, creating cast lists, and other related pre-production tasks, this isn’t the software for you as this software has none of those features.

Treble is designed to be clean and straightforward. If you simply want to sit down and write, then Trelby is perfect for you.

Kudos to Trelby for being 100% free. There are no extra features that you have to pay for.

You can download the software here

Kit Scenarist

This is free screenwriting software you may have never heard of before because it’s still in beta but available to download now.

It allows you to export for Final Draft, Word DocX, and PDF files.

A major feature that caught our eye that no other screenwriting program features are a clock that gives you an estimate of the duration of your screenplay. Each scene heading includes time for how long the software believes your scene will run.

This isn’t a feature that makes all other screenwriting software obsolete, but it’s a unique feature we haven’t seen before and could be useful, especially for those writers who tend to write longer than normal scenes. It’s also a great tool in quickly assessing the pace of your script.

The layout is amazingly simple and allows the user to focus on the most important, writing the script. Everything looks clean and sleek.

While the program is free, you can pay for dedicated cloud storage and buy a mobile version of the program for your phone so you can continue writing your script no matter where you are.

The only visible downside to Kit Scenarist is that since the program is still in the beta stage, you may run into some issues here and there as the programmers are still working out all the kinks to the program’s code.

But if you’re looking for something brand-new, free, with some unique features, this could be the perfect screenwriting software for you.

You can download the software here