BPS 185: Confessions of a Writer/Director with Krystin Ver Linden

Today on the show we have writer and director Krystin Ver Linden. She has always steered the course of her career and her life with her love for film, and it shows through her work. She was recently chosen as one of Variety’s2022 “10 Directors to Watch,” a coveted honor.

Ver Linden’s script Ride sold to Lionsgate with Joey Soloway attached to direct and was featured on the Black List. She went on to sell numerous scripts as well as the pitch Love in Vain, an unconventional biopic centering around blues music pioneer Robert Johnson. The pitch is set up at Paramount with Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Mike Menchel and multiple-Grammy-winning recording artist Lionel Richie producing.

Her new film is Alice.

Alice (Keke Palmer) yearns for freedom as an enslaved person on a rural Georgia plantation. After a violent clash with its brutal and disturbed owner, Paul (Jonny Lee Miller), she flees through the neighboring woods and stumbles onto the unfamiliar sight of a highway, soon discovering the year is actually 1973.

Rescued on the roadside by a disillusioned political activist named Frank (Common), Alice quickly comprehends the lies that have kept her in bondage and the promise of Black liberation. Inspired by true events, Alice is a modern empowerment story tracing Alice’s journey through the post-Civil Rights Era American South.

We discuss how she got Quentin Tarantino became her mentor and much more. Enjoy my inspiring conversation with Krystin Ver Linden. 

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome the show. Krystin Ver Linden. How're you doing, Krystin?

Krystin Ver Linden 0:15
I'm doing pretty good.

Alex Ferrari 0:16
Thank you so much for coming on the show. I'm excited to talk about your new film, Alice. I get pitched all the time for people to come on the show. And when I saw your trailer, I was like, Oh my God, yes, I have to have her on the show. I have to say I need to see this film. And then I need to have I need to find I need to go inside the mind that came up with this film and see how the hell it got made. So first question, my dear is how did you get into the film and why did you want to get into the film business? This insanity that is the film industry.

Krystin Ver Linden 0:44
I it's all I've ever wanted to do since I was a little kid. So from the time I was about seven I remember seeing Lawrence of Arabia. And I got it. I didn't get obsessed with Peter tool or the actors. I got obsessed with David Lane. And so my parents that I was really weird, but I was obsessed with David Lean film, so I wanted to see Dr. Zhivago everything he made and it took me down that path. Ultimately he was like a rock star. So then I got into Akira Kurosawa and are Andre Tarkowski. And Sam Peckinpah which Thank God my parents let me watch. And

Alex Ferrari 1:21
How old were you when you were watching Peckinpah

Krystin Ver Linden 1:24
This is later down. So I was probably 11 or 12

Alex Ferrari 1:27
Still way too young to be watching Peckinpah way too young. Your parents are horrible, but yes, good, good for the artistic, artistic development.

Krystin Ver Linden 1:37
But I realize all of my heroes were screenwriters. Yes. And that's how they became filmmakers directors. So in in, you know, in a neurotic panic in sixth grade existential crisis, I switched my trajectory to screenwriting because I knew that would be the the go the path into becoming a director. And thank God it worked out.

Alex Ferrari 2:04
And it's been smooth sailing the entire time, obviously. I mean, you just wrote your first script, you just you just got millions of dollars have been. I mean, money just falls in you could do whatever you want. Not generally, that's just been smooth sailing. Correct?

Krystin Ver Linden 2:16
So easy. You know, it's been taken at 11 years at all.

Alex Ferrari 2:21
You're an 11 year overnight success. So how did you get like, what were the first kind of gigs? How did you I mean, cuz I'm assuming you've been writing a lot since you, you began. But how many scripts did you write before? Something was purchased? optioned?

Krystin Ver Linden 2:39
Oh, man, well, it was kind of a weird trajectory. Because I started working with Quentin Tarantino became my mentor.

Alex Ferrari 2:47
Never heard of him.

Krystin Ver Linden 2:48
He's really nice, you know, cool, crazy guy, but he's trying to make it too.

Alex Ferrari 2:54
Yeah, he's hustling out there as well. Yeah.

Krystin Ver Linden 2:57
But he, um, I learned everything from him. And ironically, he was never my hero growing up, he was just, I looked at him as, oh, we have the same heroes in common. So we speak the same language. Um, but yeah, I learned, you know, how to conduct myself as a director on a set how you create a safe space for actors. And he just as a, as a screenwriter, as well, he, he helped me with, you know, don't write a screenplay and look at it as this is the this is the means to support myself look at it as I have a voice What is the story I want to tell without thinking of the outcome? And that was the big difference from when I was writing as a teenager versus when I started working with him. And yeah, I mean, I don't know how many scripts I've written because I was writing scripts free for since I was a kid. So I mean, yeah, there were tons and tons. But this the first script that sold was about Arthur Ashe, and I know it sold because that was when I finally listened to him. And I wasn't thinking of commercial was and I was writing my heart.

Alex Ferrari 4:15
Yeah, because our Arthur Ashe is that bio is going to get at least three $400 million budget ese comfortably, comfortably, huge, huge, very general market fill. Um, no, but so I have to ask you, though. How did you hook up with Quinton, how did that because every filmmaker, every young screenwriter in Hollywood would love to be mentored by Quentin Tarantino. So how did you guys meet and how did you how and what did you do for him as far as working with him?

Krystin Ver Linden 4:42
Yeah, so I met him. I started when I moved to LA I started throwing like underground movie nights. My uncle was a big boxer in the 70s. And so he broke Muhammad Ali's John took the title so he and and then he got into blaxploitation movies Before I was born, so every summer,

Alex Ferrari 5:03
Who was your and who was your father was a father or Uncle? Uncle? Yeah. Yes, I know. Of course. I know who came because I'm like, wait a minute. I just saw the Muhammad Ali documentary. It's not I remember someone breaking his jaw. Oh, wow. Okay. That's very cool.

Krystin Ver Linden 5:18
Yeah. And so, when I graduated, I moved down to his house, it was kind of in the back of my head of like, yeah, that'll be that'll, that's free rent. Um, so I started throwing up movie nights in his house, and they became like a little underground thing. And it was Edgar Wright, who I met who actually was throwing a movie night at his friend's house, and his friend was Clinton. So that's how we met and it was like to Highlanders meeting. Because Edgar said, Oh, she's a she's a cinephile. She loves movies, which is all it takes to start a battle.

Alex Ferrari 5:57
Oh, really?

Krystin Ver Linden 5:58
Arguing about getting smoke and random things at 10 o'clock at night. Um, so yeah, ultimately, that's how I met him. And the first thing we did together was, my job was to write out because he writes freehand. So my job was to type out everything that he wrote. So I knew my job was expendable. So I ultimately had to create value in myself, and, you know, so it was almost like working for Winston Churchill, or someone would paste the room. And you, you know, he's taught you're, you're, you're talking about a scene, and he's talking to himself, or you don't know, he's talking to himself. And then you know, he's, he's questioning, you know, oh, sure. I wonder if you should do that. And then you find yourself interjecting and saying, Well, you know, maybe you don't need all the rains on a reservation for 40 minutes.

Alex Ferrari 7:01
Just as a thing, so what were some if you don't mind me asking what was the first project so your actor you're out there typing as he's writing or translating his his scripts?

Krystin Ver Linden 7:12
Yeah. To be in hand and you type him out

Alex Ferrari 7:14
Right. So I have to ask, what was the first movie that you worked with him on?

Krystin Ver Linden 7:18
Inglorious Basterds

Alex Ferrari 7:19
So when you're reading Inglorious, it's a when you're typing in Inglorious Basterds for the first like, you're one of the first people in the world to see Inglorious Basterds as it's coming out. What the hell is that like?

Krystin Ver Linden 7:33
Daunting, intimidating, but it also, when you're 18, it's a, it kind of throws you right into to the, it throws you right into the mix of everything that would intimidate you later on when you like, made it. If you did it. So yeah, when it got to the point where I was, on my own set making movie, nothing about directing was hard or daunting. It was the COVID aspect that was hard and daunting. So it was almost like God said, Yeah, well, I'll finally give you what you want. But I'm going to make it

Alex Ferrari 8:17
A little bit harder, because you've got this other stuff. So you were on the set, and you basically kind of shadowed Quintin, a lot of times or not?

Krystin Ver Linden 8:23
Yeah, yeah. I learned how to make movies from him. I mean, ultimately, when you love film, and you study Sure, you learn from everybody. But that was like my film school.

Alex Ferrari 8:36
It's not I mean, listen, it's not a bad film, school. If you can get it. I'm just, I'm just throwing that out there. I mean, it's not a bad film school. What is the best advice you got from him? On as a director, as a director and as a writer,

Krystin Ver Linden 8:49
Don't be the filmmaker that sits in intense 10 feet away, staring at a monitor that's not filmmaking, that's not directing. And that's not leadership. So his whole his whole method and his one of the pieces of advice for me, was your camera. Your camera operator is your best friend. So wherever he is, you should be right there. And so your actors can see you because if they know you're right there with them, they'll give you everything they have

Alex Ferrari 9:24
They'll perform perform almost for you as

Krystin Ver Linden 9:27
Yes, exactly. When they know their directors, right. Just within a arm's length. They'll they will give you everything you have because they feel like man, I can see them I can see their reactions there. If it's cold, they're cold with me. We're weathering the storm together. It's a totally different experience.

Alex Ferrari 9:46
And then how about for writing?

Krystin Ver Linden 9:48
Ooh, um, probably what I said earlier, were don't write something as a means to an end write it because you have a story to tell.

Alex Ferrari 9:56
What is things and what is your problem? to writing, is it? You know what, like, when you sit down to write a story like Alice, how did you start this conversation? How did you begin? Do you wake up every morning and wait for the muse to show up, you just show up to the same place and you hope that she or he shows up and gives you a little little magic? What is your process?

Krystin Ver Linden 10:19
Well, when I was writing now, as I was like, in a flow state that summer, I remember, there was like, tons of eclipses. So it was like weird energy anyway. And anyway, but, um, no, I was in the middle of finishing a script. And my mom had sent me a bunch of articles. And she always does, like, you know, with any parent, they're trying to any parent with a kid that's remotely creative. They try to inject their little ideas into your

Alex Ferrari 10:46

Krystin Ver Linden 10:47
There she, she sent me these articles. And they basically were 10 or 12 different articles about different people coming out in the 60s that were enslaved and didn't know slavery had ended in the Deep South. And so the more I dug into it, the more I was like, Oh, my God, this is it wasn't even a it. There was never a moment where I said, I have to write this. In that sense. It was more like, I remember reading the articles. And with in 48 hours, I just opened my own draft. And I was like, what would that even feel like it was more me trying to get a feeling of what that would be like in the best way I could. So I just started writing. I remember I just wrote the first scene. And then from there, within seven days, it was like, it felt like I was channeling. Within seven days, I'd written

Alex Ferrari 11:40
First draft? I always I always love asking writers that because I feel that that I as I write sometimes I look at the page, and like who wrote that? Like, how, how did that item whoever wrote this is fantastic. This is great. Yeah. Or sometimes it's like, This is dog crap. I obviously wrote this part. I heard the best analogy for the creative process for writers ever. When I spoke to the writer of turning red of the Pixar writer, Julia Chow, she said, it's like a surfer. Every day you go out, and you try to catch the waves, the waves come and you have no control over the waves. But you need to have your craft to a place where you can catch a big wave when it comes. Because if you're a newbie, you'll get that wave. It's just too much for you

Krystin Ver Linden 12:33
Daunting. And then you question I should be doing this.

Alex Ferrari 12:36
Right. But but you have to show up every day. And some days, the waves are good, some days, the waves are horrible, but you have to keep showing up. Like wow, like that is amazing. Because it is just waves of inspiration waves of that thing that we tap into as writers. And I was believe

Krystin Ver Linden 12:53
And trust, you know, that was a big thing I've learned now is trusting the process. Whereas five years ago, I would have panicked and said, Oh, that you know, this is the universe saying that I shouldn't be writing this. So you just stop. Now and even you know, Nikola Tesla, this is random. You know, he said creativity comes best at night, energetically. So I actually tripped with the script in writing. Now. I've never been a night writer, but I've been trying it and actually there is something to that. We're interesting. I mean, it's an easier channel.

Alex Ferrari 13:27
It's an easier channel, if you will,

Krystin Ver Linden 13:28
Yeah. Forces it calm down for the day.

Alex Ferrari 13:31
I love working. I like working early morning. So like it's still night. So yeah, it's like all Yeah, I'm getting I'm getting the down the downward spiral. I'm not at the top of the hill. But I'm getting the downwards. But yeah, when everything's quiet, and there's nobody to bother you. There's no phone calls. There's no emails. That is a fantastic. So So you came up with Alice, which is offensive? Can you tell the audience what Alice is about? So in a short sentence or two, just so people understand the genius?

Krystin Ver Linden 14:01
Yeah, should I get well, yeah. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 14:03
Give it give a description. Yeah.

Krystin Ver Linden 14:04
Alice is about a woman on a plantation, who runs away, only to find out that it's 1973.

Alex Ferrari 14:13
So she's a slave on a plantation, very important part she's a slave. That's a whole other movie.

Krystin Ver Linden 14:24
Born into slavery. She only that's the only world experience. She's had her only world. And we get hints and glimpses that there might be something else out there. And when she does finally, make her escape, we realize that this family had been keeping up a tradition for 10 years after slavery was abolished.

Alex Ferrari 14:48
And the first person she meets is common, which is

Krystin Ver Linden 14:51
I would get, I would get in the car of common and that's what I asked myself when I was casting who would I if I were Alice running in To a world I didn't know, who would I get into a car when I would feel safe getting into a car with common.

Alex Ferrari 15:07
You know what, oddly enough, I know he's played some badass as in his day. But he has that face. He has a really kind of calm

Krystin Ver Linden 15:16
Journal about him.

Alex Ferrari 15:17
It's very calm. He has a very calm energy, if you will. Yeah, he's been in John Wick. And yeah, he's been a badass. No question. But when you see when you see his face, you don't it's it's Yeah, I agree with you. 100% It was great casting. Great, great.

Krystin Ver Linden 15:30
Because there's also this thin line between, we don't want the audience for we don't want the audience to want these two to get together.

Alex Ferrari 15:41
Right! You know, I was, I was finding that myself. I was kind of like, while I was watching the film, I'm like, Are they gonna get together? But she's got a guy back at the plantation. You know, so I'm like, is he like, so but there was never an instant that there was a look. Or there or there was a thing that you like, oh, there was never a hint of it. And it was just very, almost transactional. But with love if that makes any sense. Like a brother sister, like a brother sister love that. It wasn't. It was just great. I really enjoyed that. Now I have to ask, okay, so this script gets written? What's the process when you when you send it out? Who How did you get the financing for it? How did you get this film off the ground? I mean, it's not the easiest sell on paper. I mean, is that this is not there's no suit. There's no tapes. Now, if you would have had if Allison had a cape 100 million, but

Krystin Ver Linden 16:37
And, you know, attaching myself as a director first time, it wasn't like I had a short film to say, Yeah, look, I look, I you know, I have vision, I have an eye all I had was the writing. Um, so yeah, so I'd written, I've written probably five or six scripts that had sold at that point. And I was at the stage in my heart where I felt like, Okay, it's time to make the transition into what I really want to do. Writing is beautiful. I love it, it feels so it feels like flying, but I'm only using a percentage of what I'm capable of. And so yeah, you know, you write multiple scripts that you feel like a surrogate mother, you're carrying this child, and then you're handing it off to someone else. So when I wrote Alice, it was a story that felt every story feels cathartic. But this one felt different in the sense that I knew I could shoot it for a certain budget, you know, so it wasn't attaching myself to some big screenplay around saying, Yeah, you know, I'm capable of doing this. I knew it was something I could could do. That was doable and practical. But it was also something that felt very, very personal, just because I grew up in a small town, and didn't feel like I had a voice that was primarily white. And my mom's black, my dad's white, so you kind of feel like the odd person, you know, stuck in this little world. And you know, you have no voice, you feel just completely trapped only to leave. So there was something, something very personal about it. And I just fell in love with Alice. And so I attached myself as a director and my agents went out with it with the intention of if no one wants to do this with me as a director, and they just want to auction it as me as a writer. I will just put it on the show. You know, I'm not gonna I'm just I'm done doing that. So it was kind of like my intention to the universe is like it's either now or, you know, maybe not never

Alex Ferrari 18:54
You pulled the shot. You pulled the Shawshank you pulled the Shawshank . You pull the Shawshank .

Krystin Ver Linden 19:00
And yeah, so I met. Coincidentally, I was having lunch with Greg Silverman. He used to run Morgan brothers. And I had made a deck for Alice. And I, you know, it wasn't out to him. As a producer. I was just casually and I think that's why it worked. Because I was just casually talking about passionately talking about, yeah, there's this thing I want to direct and I was showing him the deck and he, he said, No, I want to help you get this off the ground. I want to help you make this. And so it was Greg's with Greg's help brought me to steel springs with Peter, who was the financier and producer. And it happened really, really fast. Like within probably three or four days. We were talking about casting and had casting agents. And then we cast Johnny Lee Miller first in New York and cast Kiki and then I met common here in town, and we hit it off and recast him. And I was like, wow, this is see this is when everything's when everything aligns. And then COVID hits and then the world shuts down.

Alex Ferrari 20:16
So when was this being shot? When did you start shooting the?

Krystin Ver Linden 20:20
No. So So casting happened at the end, like during November, December, January, February

Alex Ferrari 20:29
Of what year?

Krystin Ver Linden 20:31
2019 so February 2020. We were already like, okay, you know, the line producer, we had scouts out,

Alex Ferrari 20:40

Krystin Ver Linden 20:41
You're enough to go. And then yeah, everything shut down. I remember watching the basketball game where they stopped playing. And I was just like, Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 20:52
It's so that I mean, that feeling must be I can't even imagine. I mean, I can't imagine because I've had I've gone through that not exactly like yours. But when you your whole life has been aiming to one direction and you get there. And then really unheard of the world shuts down yet, because it's not about you. The movie didn't fall apart. The funding didn't go away, the actor didn't leave the world shut down. And you're just like, really?

Krystin Ver Linden 21:24
What it was, I was like, you know, and then I get, I'm super spiritual. So I went to the place where it was like, Well, I attracted this like, this is my this is my version of the world. Another parallel universes The world hasn't shifted.

Alex Ferrari 21:40
So you're fairly powerful as a spiritual being if you alone, Brock COVID. If you think that you brought COVID to stop. This is the insanity of filmmaking. This is the insanity of being a filmmaker. Exactly. Amazing.

Krystin Ver Linden 21:54
But um, but yeah, I mean, I took solace in that short course, of course. But miraculously, we still plugged along, like the producer, like, No, we're going to Georgia on this date. And we did. So in June, we went down there to prep. We prepped for a month, we were one week out from shooting when one of our assistants tested positive. And then it ended up being a false positive, but it was enough. There was there was so much insanity 2020 that we were like, okay, for everyone's safety, we have to be rational. So we shut down. We, we came back in September. And in September, we were like, Okay, we'll just run and gun almost guerilla style, truly, like literally wrapping a scene and getting young go karts and rushing to the next, you know, to the next spot to shoot. Or studying. I remember study of one scene, and getting it going and leaving to direct another actor and another scene. So it was like, we were really just in a hurry to get this movie made. So it's 22 days of just the quickest, longest days of my life. But it was good, because on the next movie to have more days and more time will feel like, Oh, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 23:23
Did you be like, what? 180 days? What am I John Woo, like, how is

Krystin Ver Linden 23:31
40 days don't be like, Whoa, we double A that's amazing.

Alex Ferrari 23:36
The one thing you'll never hear as a director, all you have is time and money. That's the one sentence that will never come. True. So as So as a first time director, you walk on the set, and you've been on multiple sets. And obviously you've been on some fairly big sets with Quinton, and you know, seeing how he dealt with big movie stars and his work. So I don't feel that it correct me if I'm wrong. I don't feel that you were intimidated walking onto a set yourself. But I have to believe that there had to be some sort of butterflies as a first time director coming on with this crew. I know when I was a first time director and when I was a young director, you know, you were afraid of the old 65 year old grip, or gaffer? Who's looking at you like who the hell is this? Pa? No, I'm the director. Oh, and that whole act so I'm imagining and that's from coming from a male perspective. So I can only imagine coming from a female directors perspective. What was that like?

Krystin Ver Linden 24:37
Well, you know, it's interesting. It two things I it wasn't that because every morning I would make a speech.

Alex Ferrari 24:46
So they said they knew you were the PA

Krystin Ver Linden 24:49
The director. And even though I had a mask and we all had masks, so I really never met the crew other than their eyes.

Alex Ferrari 24:57
So that was the kind of the best thing so there was no chance they just have to do do their job and they didn't have time to save

Krystin Ver Linden 25:03
I'm sure in a different world with more exposure, but there was like some weird safety and to see nice, but um, I would make my speech but the first day, there's butterflies, but the butterflies were coming from, oh my God, I want to be excited. But what if we get shut down, those two people are standing really close together, there's like a paranoia with COVID. But there's also the aspects even though I'd been on other sets, I'd never been around a method actor ever before. And John is a method actor. And so before before COVID Will Okay, before we started shooting, Johnny and I became really good friends. Like, you want to build chemistry with your actors. So I was sending him Ken Burns documentaries on the Civil War. Like to get him into like this, you know, the South, you know, the south shall rise again. Energy and, and sin, you know, Night of the Hunter sure, you know, is a movie where, you know, Commons dude or whatever. And so he I was like, Man, he's so cool. And we can talk about anything. We have great chemistry, and he's going to be great actor. And he is, oh, he's amazing. He told me he said, you know, once I get to Georgia, I'm going to be Paul. And I said, yeah, yeah. And he showed up. He wasn't joking. Like, Johnny didn't exist, there was this guy with a southern accent, who, who didn't know me, but was ready to work. And so it was the the, wow, no, my first movie having that experience, because method acting is a whole different beast that I had never encountered in my life, even as a witness. So it was it was interesting. And every day, you know, Kiki and and common common Johnny's days only overlapped ones. But it was just interesting to have Paul on set and never Johnny.

Alex Ferrari 27:09
So which is which is fascinating. Because he is a obviously Paul is, you know, racist. And you know, he's a slave owner and all of these things being directed by a woman of color. Yep. How does that I just have to like, how did like how did he take direction for women of color?

Krystin Ver Linden 27:33
It was insane. Like he you know, you would you would crash down? Or something is here. Yeah, okay. Yeah. I know you like he just, it was just a surreal experience is one of those things where, you know, you feel like Albert Brooks who's writing your life. person that would have come up with this situation.

Alex Ferrari 27:57
Right! That's actually I've never heard I mean, I look, I've heard a lot of stories in Hollywood. I've never heard of that. This specific scenario is so I mean, her Daniel Day, obviously his method. But he he played Lincoln, the opposite of Paul,

Krystin Ver Linden 28:15
I will say this, and I maybe it's because it was like the last few hours of shooting. And before he had to go home, Johnny, I will say Paul disappeared when common showed up because Johnny wanted to meet. There were exceptions to the rule when he broke character. He was like, Hey, man, I love you. You know, so I was like, okay, so

Alex Ferrari 28:38
So I'm common. If I'm common, you will you'll break character.

Krystin Ver Linden 28:41
And I guess you know, Paul can back up so Johnny can meet him.

Alex Ferrari 28:46
That is, that is fascinating. I've never dealt with a method actor in all my career I've been directing. It is I've heard stories. And you know, like Jim Carrey on on the set of Man in the Moon, who literally was channeling Andy Kaufman, for God's sakes on that film. They made a documentary about how crazy it's insane. Now I have to ask, you know, you have some very difficult scenes in the movie that are sensitive for both actors. For Paul and for Kiki. And for Alice. How do you direct scenes that are so difficult, emotionally? Because I mean, obviously, I think for Johnny, it might have I think it might have been a protective thing for him to be Paul, because he wouldn't have to, because Johnny didn't have a say in what was going on. But if he stayed as Paul, it'd be easier to do the job in my head. That's that makes sense to me. Because he's sweet. Right? So like Johnny probably couldn't do that. But Paul could, and how did you direct those scenes with Kiki and him and just the brutality of some of those scenes?

Krystin Ver Linden 30:00
Well, luckily, because we had so much time because of COVID. So we were constantly having a dialogue about how to handle these scenes and how to feel and what it's what it means if we get the right performance across. And so it was just taken very lovingly in every way. So, before we shot those scenes, we actually rehearsed them. So we could, you know, kind of get, you know, not full blown performances, but kind of get into dip your toe in. Yeah, dip your toe in and to kind of absorb and go home that night and think about it and feel it. And for Kiki, I know, it was very, very, very emotionally taxing. And so you know, even the scene where she's tied up, and has the school's bridle on, I was sitting literally sitting right next to her. And we're both crying and I in between takes I was playing music for and like sitting on the ground with her. And you just have to take it like that. Like we're two sisters. And we're going through this experience together. So

Alex Ferrari 31:20
That's, I mean, that's got to be that's that's why I have so much respect for actors, because I mean, to me to put yourself emotionally through that again, and again, I'm assuming you didn't do at takes of those scenes. So you weren't you weren't that director you didn't Cooper,

Krystin Ver Linden 31:32
The weird. The weirdest part was It was also during the presidential election. So in Georgia, there were huge crowds of Magga supporters. Sure, so we would drive to work on it to go to a plantation. And even specifically that day, I remember how many protesters were out so there was an extra layer of emotion of like the frustration of what our country how divided our country is. So it was just it was interesting. The layers that we had to navigate

Alex Ferrari 32:09
My god and just the the irony of what the irony of like, I'm going to a slave plantation to shoot a movie about free bass, basically, someone's you know, releasing them in freedom, while passing through a mag and seeing the separation between it's like oh my god, this is have we not grown since the Civil War? Yes, exactly. It's my God that you have so many layers to the production of this film like it there's so many onion layers like Shrek many layers to the onion. If you like if I if I might, if I may, quote The philosopher donkey. There's so many layers. There's so many layers to, to this. I mean, again, I just, I loved I love the job. By the way, Johnny. So good. I mean, such a bastard in this room. So fantastically wonderful. When you said he was metal. I'm like, okay, that makes all the sense in the world. By the way, the music. Fantastic to score the music in the background. It was so beautifully. Like, I'm like, Oh, I can jam to this whole album. Like it's just like such a beautiful way of doing it. And you know her she did the score. Rishi Coleman really did the whole score.

Krystin Ver Linden 33:28
Yeah, so I so when I, when I was writing the script, I did the needle drops. So the songs I was writing to. That's another Quintin thing.

Alex Ferrari 33:38
But yeah, imagine.

Krystin Ver Linden 33:40
With the score he had said. When we first met. He was like, you know, if you don't if you are open to it later on, you don't have to think think think on it now but no pressure. I would like to do the score. Or, you know,

Alex Ferrari 33:55
You mean, so that you meet the Oscar. The Oscar winning the Oscar winner? Yeah, sure. Sure. Got it.

Krystin Ver Linden 34:03
So, um, yeah, once we got to Georgia, I was sending him music and ideas. And he was sending me music, which is surreal, because he's a little kid common was my hero. Oh, my, it's so cool. And it was nervous because I at first I was like, Is it okay to send them like this idea? Because I'm not calm. You know, I'm not in the music business. But um, he was amazing. And he went above and beyond with scoring this movie and capturing the energy and like, I remember one day when we got back to LA and they were scoring. He called me and he's like, Hey, Chris. Shaka is in the studio. And I want her to do a song for us. What do you think? And it's like, what do you

Alex Ferrari 34:46
No! Absolutely not.

Krystin Ver Linden 34:49
Yeah, no, no, I know. Shocking, con No way. Never. He was pulling off stuff that with our budget we could have never done so Commons an angel.

Alex Ferrari 35:00
Wow That's That's remarkable. Like no no no Chaka Khan. Can you get Kpop though? Can you get a K-Pop band? But not Shaka. Shaka? What? No. That's, that's, that's, you know, it was so beautifully done I just felt when I listened to when I listened to scores from you for movies. A lot of times it's kind of you could just see that they were kind of like kind of like just thrown in. But this was so weaved in to the narrative. It just fits so beautifully and I didn't know calm and did it. And of course the needle drops are all beautiful. I'm like I love that song. love that song. love that song. But the references and when she's you know when she's watching. Was it coffee? Yeah, coffee, and watching Pam Greer and just like, man, that's some good stuff right there. That's just she looks fancy. She looks fantastic. The the production of the costume design. Oh, yeah. So good. So so good. Now on on the on.

Krystin Ver Linden 35:58
The costume designer didn't do shushing. Since you brought she did she did Joshua. Yeah. super talented. Woman I love her.

Alex Ferrari 36:06
Well, Shawshank is one of my favorite. I mean, I always tell people like it's your like Shawshank prize close to perfection. Yeah, as a writing sample as a directing sample. It's just yeah, the audience my audience understands my love for for Shawshank. So I won't go deep into the into the weeds on it. It's just one of those films. Now as a director, we all go through a day on set, where the entire world is coming crashing down around us. Losing the sun, the camera doesn't work. The method actor is having an issue. Something is happening. And you're like, Oh my God, why am I here? How can What was that day for you? If it wasn't every day? What was that for you? But was there a moment in that shoot where you just besides COVID? Yeah, is that something happened? You're like, how am I going to get through this? And how did you get through it?

Krystin Ver Linden 37:02
Yeah, well, they're the even the the first. The first scene in the movie. I remember the camera operators like the dolly isn't working for the opening shot. Just we kind of sat there and she's like, We have no time. Keep going. Just figure it out. So you're sitting there and so I come up with a new way of opening the movie. Um, so that was one experience. I mean, there were so many days like that. Probably the most daunting was when I had to be in two places at once. And this is probably on the fourth day. So you're still kind of getting into the rhythm and you're you're feeling sorry for yourself. Why am I here? Why maybe I don't want to do this. Maybe this isn't my life.

Alex Ferrari 37:59
Every director every director at one point or another had that conversation in their head, every director because it's just you sit there going. It's tough, man. This is tough work. I mean, directing the stress, the pressure, the amount of mental strain the amount of physical, the physical. The people don't think about the physical you can you got to get into shape. Exhausting be on your feet. All day have good shoes.

Krystin Ver Linden 38:22
Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly. But um, yeah, we've been to places at once and having to set up a scene and get it going with a kid, a child actor, and then running across to set up another scene that was a complicated shot, and then having to run literally running back and forth and things just weren't Cooking. Cooking, like just the camera like the just on a technical level things were there were some issues. And so it was it was stressful. And it was like, Oh my God, are we gonna even make this day and if we don't make this we don't have it in the budget to keep for an extra day. So you're there. It was just one of those like,

Alex Ferrari 39:06
Stress, stress. Stress on top of stress. Yeah, directors don't age. Well, I'm just saying directors. You'll be fine. Who?

Krystin Ver Linden 39:18
The women Sofia Coppola has kept her face

Alex Ferrari 39:22
Yes, she has. She has there's no question there the look. Yes. But generally speaking, there's still a couple more gray hairs are gonna pop out.

Krystin Ver Linden 39:34
They also didn't tell me the forces that be when I was shot listing. So during prep, my DP and I would actually go on location to every scene and shot list in real time. And I remember one day, we're shortlisting and I had like this elaborate thing I wanted to do and I was like, you know, Stanley Kubrick use this but it really wasn't his and it was I was going in or thing that he didn't care about and he was like, you know that This isn't the script we're gonna shoot, right? And he said in the sweetest way, and I was like, What do you mean? He's like, no, there, there's gonna there's always that moment before the movie where we have to, you know, you're gonna go over the budget and see what we need to keep and what goes and I was like, that's not gonna What are you talking about? Oh, yeah, long hold, you know you have that production meeting where he the DP and the production line producer and everyone sits down and you realize, okay, you have to cut I remember when that happened. They're like, Okay, you have to lose 20 pages. We're going to make because the COVID budget, doctor on the set

Alex Ferrari 40:42
Oh, yeah. aid into you. Yes.

Krystin Ver Linden 40:43
Testing was expensive. So that was probably the hardest, even though that's not shooting but tans your question. The hardest thing was losing 20 pages.

Alex Ferrari 40:53
And then you have to go through your baby and then just

Krystin Ver Linden 40:57
And have it still make

Alex Ferrari 40:59
Sense for you?

Krystin Ver Linden 41:00
Sense for me. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 41:03
Did you Did you ever suffer with a little bit of imposter syndrome? Um, ever in your life? As a writer,

Krystin Ver Linden 41:16
Probably. Every day in my life.

Alex Ferrari 41:19
I was about to say, I asked that question all the time, because it is something so rampid in as a creative we all go through it. And I've had the pleasure of speaking.

Krystin Ver Linden 41:29
And even talking to you. This morning. I was like, what, you know,

Alex Ferrari 41:34
What? why would why talking to me? Why me? Yeah, exactly. I'm like, that's amazing. That's ridiculous. No, I appreciate that. But, you know, I, I've had the pleasure of, you know, interviewing some really amazing peeper people on the show. And the common thread is imposter syndrome. I'm like, you want an Oscar? Yeah, but I still don't know. You know, what? You want two Oscars? I bet. You know, I'm still hustling. I'm like, how is that? So I always like to bring that up for filmmakers and screenwriters listening to understand that if you if you have imposter syndrome, everyone, everyone has it. Everyone has

Krystin Ver Linden 42:12
I remember in Quintin went out of Django, like went out to the studios. I remember he, at one point, when we met up for lunch, he was like, can you believe like they actually liked it was like, Do you not know who you are? Like, in my head? It's like, do you do not know who you are? Of course, they're gonna like it. Like what's your wife? Like? But he still is amazed when like people react to his, his screenplays.

Alex Ferrari 42:38
And I think the moment he doesn't, that's when the problems will begin. Yeah, I think I think there has to be that level of that level. There has to be something there because at the end of the day, yeah, you've done 10 Amazing things, but 11 could suck. It hasn't worked. I mean, look, you know, hey, there's very few directors who have a bad 1000. That's true. There's very few directors of bat 1000. Quinn, I'd argue is close to 1000. With all of his films, he's, you know, I think James Cameron is probably another one that you just like, Well, yeah, I mean, you know, but but some of the greats, you know, even someone like the rock star, David, lean, and pack and paw and Kubrick. I mean, I think Kubrick bat 1000. But that's just me, but I agree. I mean, generally know, his very first movie, that doesn't count. He doesn't consider that part of his can. And let's geek out for a second. Fear and Desire is not a real Kubrick film. It's not like he's like that was an experiment. It was like my student film. He's

Krystin Ver Linden 43:44
Such an easy thing. Yeah. So if it doesn't work if it's not a good movie. Well, that was that was really my first

Alex Ferrari 43:51
Fair enough. So fair enough. So then he's batting 950 All right, so he's betting he's batting 950. But if it doesn't work, that wasn't, I never meant to do that. It was just practice. But yeah, but that's the other thing too is so you know, when you start meeting and speaking to these people, you you grew up looking at and I mean, they are, they are movie Gods, but they're human. They're just human beings and they're artists trying to figure it out just like you are and and that's the thing I've come to learn from speaking to so many of these amazing filmmakers and screenwriters that just like they're just trying to figure it out. Yeah, there. They've got different levels of problems that you and I don't have. Like Quinn problems are not Kristen and Alex problems. Okay, that's, that's like I can't have Will Smith in my movie. That is a Quinton problem. Not a Christian and Alex.

Krystin Ver Linden 44:50
Do I pick Brad or Leo?

Alex Ferrari 44:52
Oh, let's just put them both in.

Krystin Ver Linden 44:54
Yes. Find a way to work with both budget to pay both

Alex Ferrari 45:00
Yeah, generally when Brad and Leo want to be in the movie, they the the money comes somehow magically, money shows up somehow with that. Now, you also premiered this film at Sundance, which was, I got to ask, I always love asking Sundance filmmakers, what was it like getting the call?

Krystin Ver Linden 45:18
Oh, my God, it was, it was one of the most memorable days in my life because I was my mom was in town. I was I was having that imposter syndrome or, you know, the mental crisis of what is this going to be? What's going to happen? You know, what's going to happen? All of the human worries that, you know, aren't really part of you. But umm

Alex Ferrari 45:44
Also all self constructed crap.

Krystin Ver Linden 45:49
Yeah, just the chatter and monkey brain, the monkey brain, I remember sitting at my computer, and I was literally thinking about, like, what is my life going to look like? And they, I got a call is like, a number I didn't from a state and recognized I thought it was like spam, you know, spam call. And I was like, Why didn't my phone tell me what to say? You know, so I just kind of like, answered it in a bad news, like, hello, is going to be an automated voice.

Alex Ferrari 46:17
It was gonna be like, can I talk to you about your car, extended Car Warranty.

Krystin Ver Linden 46:22
And there was like a silence. He's like, Hi, this is Charlie. And I was like, Okay. And then he was like, Yeah, Charlie, from Sundance, and I thought he was calling just to say, it didn't make it. They don't do that. I just did. Yeah, I just I wasn't, it was, you know, it's like Way of the Samurai logic, expect nothing prepared for everything, which is really bad logic. So I was just kind of bracing myself for that. Look, you know, it's, you know, we're limited year, we're not accepting as many movies blah, blah, blah, any he it was the total opposite. He was like, we loved it. You're amazing, and dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. Um, which, you know, is nice to hear sometimes. Sure. And then again, he told me and I just remember feeling like I floated out of my body and floated around the house for a minute.

Alex Ferrari 47:15
And of course, unfortunately, listless this year, Sundance was not in person. So you didn't get the full Sundance experience. So not this year. I've been to Sundance multiple times. It's so great. I love Sundance.

Krystin Ver Linden 47:28
Yeah, I had the bags ready to fill up.

Alex Ferrari 47:32
Yeah. From the the gifting suites. Oh, god, yeah, the gifting suites and all of yeah, all that stuff. But that's if it's just a very special Sundance is a very special. Park City is a very special Yes. Yeah, no question. Now, when is this? When is the film coming out? And when is it available this Friday, it comes out this Friday, which would be March 18 18th. And it'll be available everywhere, or just in theaters,

Krystin Ver Linden 47:59
In theaters. And then two weeks later on demand streaming,

Alex Ferrari 48:03
Streaming everywhere, anywhere, you can get streaming rentals and all that kind of good stuff. Yeah. And what's next for you?

Krystin Ver Linden 48:10
Oh, um, you know, as a as a master of my own destiny, there are two things. So next would probably most likely be actually a TV series, and I have a film as well called 1968. But on the TV side, it is the rise and fall of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. That sounds nice. Yeah, I did. And, again, bending the genre, and looking at it from a different perspective, from the point of view of a Pinkerton agent that has to get into the game in order to sabotage them. But he ends up feeling closer to the gang then actually the Pinkertons. So

Alex Ferrari 48:57
Really, I mean, if you're hanging out with Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid, I mean, I'm assuming that's a pretty cool hangout. Yeah. So I have a couple questions asked all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker or screenwriter trying to break into the business today?

Krystin Ver Linden 49:14
Follow your heart. Tell a story that isn't dependent on the outcome, but something that feels cathartic and true to you. And if you just want to be a director and not a screenwriter, I would say write a screenplay, because that will help develop your vision and a sense for the kinds of stories you want to tell regardless if you even want to do something with that screenplay. So

Alex Ferrari 49:44
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Krystin Ver Linden 49:51
Trust the process, have patience, trust in the universe.

Alex Ferrari 49:56
Enjoy the flow is get into the flow. Yes. Don't get out and push this river the river flows by itself. Yeah. During now I'm going to ask you to park question three of your favorite films of all time. As of right as of right now, at this moment in time, it could obviously change in the matter of 15 minutes. But at this recording three films,

Krystin Ver Linden 50:21
Uhh, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid by Tim Peckinpah. Um, Jesus Christ. See, then, then I blanked out. I'll do some contemporaries. Okay. Get the roses. Paul Thomas Anderson, there will be blood. Sure. Um, and then I would say Seven Samurai characters.

Alex Ferrari 50:49
Well, I mean, of course, I mean, so. So yeah,

Krystin Ver Linden 50:51
I mean, there's so many. But

Alex Ferrari 50:53
There's 1000s. There's 1000s Of course,

Krystin Ver Linden 50:55
And blink.

Alex Ferrari 50:56
And then three screenplays every screenwriter should read.

Krystin Ver Linden 51:01
Ooh. Um, I would say Goodfellas. I would say anybody out. Maybe I shouldn't eat

Alex Ferrari 51:17
Andy Hall still one of the greatest romantic comedies of all time?

Krystin Ver Linden 51:19
Yeah. Um, I would Yeah, I would say probably a nanny, probably a way any Woody Allen script. Um, and then I would say Kill Bill. Volume One.

Alex Ferrari 51:29
Volume One. Yes. I consider both of them one movie, the whole bloody affair,

Krystin Ver Linden 51:35
They are one movie and the script. I when I said volume on the script is actually one long script

Alex Ferrari 51:40
That he cut up into two. I think they I think he wanted to do one originally, right? Just one long movie, right? It was a studio that's like, no, no, no. We're gonna split this up and make more money. Yeah, exactly. Is he ever gonna do three? Is that ever gonna happen? Do you know?

Krystin Ver Linden 51:57
He plays around. Like, there can be moments where he'll cuz he loves to read what he's writing to his friends. Yeah, there are moments will where you'll be like hanging out and he's like, Hey, you want to read the thing? The next thing I'm doing and it's like, another Western. And then you're like, Oh, that's cool. Okay, and then like three months later, he's like, no, no, I'm not gonna do that. And so you never know.

Alex Ferrari 52:21
So you've listened to like pitches and scripts of his that will never

Krystin Ver Linden 52:25
He read on about post Civil War Western that Titan, like Django and all of them.

Alex Ferrari 52:34
So a part of the the Qt universe of course. Yeah. Yeah. I have to ask you one question. Maybe you'll know Is he serious with this whole 10 movie thing or 11 movie thing that he's like, he's gonna retire kick he can't retire.

Krystin Ver Linden 52:45
I think so. And I'll say why? Because his his life has changed so much. He's

Alex Ferrari 52:53
Sure sure. He was a kid. Yeah,

Krystin Ver Linden 52:56
So he's a father Quintin. So it's a different artists, you know, you can never say this. Yeah, I think he I think he will be equally as happy as a as a writer, as a movie writer.

Alex Ferrari 53:11
That's just a novelist like that. I think once upon a time in Hollywood was his first kind of,

Krystin Ver Linden 53:17
Yeah, and he has a podcast that he loves that fulfills him.

Alex Ferrari 53:22
Got it. So, um, Krystin, thank you so much for being on the show. It was an absolute pleasure talking to you. You're always welcome back. I can't wait to see your career flourish and see what you come up with next. I'm really interested. But thank you again, so much for coming on the show and continued success.

Krystin Ver Linden 53:38
Thank you so much.

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