BPS 119: How I Wrote Ant-Man with Joe Cornish

Have you ever  wondered what it is like screenwriting inside the Marvel and Studio machine? Wonder no further, today we have screenwriter and director Joe Cornish. Joe was one of the writer’s on Marvel’s Ant-ManThe English comedian and filmmaker burst onto the scene in 2011 with his very successful film directorial debut, Attack The Block, starring John Boyega, who played Moses, a low-level crook, teenage gang leader, an orphan looking for respect around the block. The British sci-fi comedy horror film centers on a teenage street gang who have to defend themselves and their block from predatory alien invaders on Guy Fawkes Night. 

Cornish and his comedy partner, Adam Buxton form the successful duo, Adam & Joe an ironic pop culture sketch show which gained a lot of success in the UK alongside Cornish’s long-term work in the UK TV entertainment industry. 

In 2011 he joined iconic directors, Peter Jackson and Steven Spielberg as a writer for the screenplay and story for the 3D animated action-adventure film, The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn — co-written alongside Edgar Wright and Steven Moffat.

Intrepid reporter Tintin and Captain Haddock set off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship commanded by Haddock’s ancestor.

This $135 million budget film grossed $374 million at the box office and received a plethora of nominations including Oscars for Best Original Score, a Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature Film, two BAFTA nominations for Best Animated Film and Best Special Visual Effects.

Cornish co-wrote the screenplay for the Marvel Comic character, Ant-Man, along with Wright, Adam McKay, and Paul Rudd in 2015. 

Rudd, starring as Ant-Man is armed with a super-suit with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, cat burglar Scott Lang must embrace his inner-hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.  Similar to most Marvel Studio movies, the film carried a big budget of $169.3 million and grossed $519.3 million.

His latest film, The Kid Who Would Be King (2019), which was written undirected by Cornish, joins a band of kids who embarks on an epic quest to thwart a medieval menace.

Joe honestly, was extremely forthcoming and transparent about a lot of things; like what really happened behind the scenes on Ant-Man and what it’s like to write inside the Marvel machine, working with filmmaking legends like Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson. And we also discuss his craft, how he approaches screenwriting and directing, and much more.

Enjoy this conversation with Joe Cornish.

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Alex Ferrari 3:39
I like to welcome to the show, Joe Cornish man. How you doing, Joe?

Joe Cornish 3:43
I'm good. Alex, good to be here. Good to see.

Alex Ferrari 3:46
Thank you so much for coming on the show my friend. I really truly appreciate it. You are across the pond, as they say, right now.

Joe Cornish 3:53
Yeah. On the other side of the pond beyond a couple of ducks, and the water feature. And some lily pads. And yeah, it's nice here. We're having a picnic by the pond. But we're allowed out. So that's, that's good.

Alex Ferrari 4:09
It's all good. So um, so how did you start your you're fairly remarkable career. I know you don't, I don't want to make you blush. But you've had a pretty great career. And I just wanted to know, how did you get started? What's your origin story in this business?

Joe Cornish 4:26
But my origin story is weird because I started out when I started out as like a runner in film companies in London. So I went to film school then I was a runner, and then a friend. Like there's a long version and a short version. I'll do the short version. So I started out in TV in British TV comedy in the mid 90s with a TV show called The Adam and Joe Show. I'm the joke from Adam and Joe. And that was a late night comedy show. That was kind of homemade TV was like comedy skits and songs and sketch. Here's an animation. And then that's how I met Edgar Wright because he had a show on on to British TV called spaced. While the Adam and Joe show was on, we were on the same channel. So we became friends. And so Edgar I'd always wanted to make movies. So Edgar. Edgar invited me to write and man with him. And he invited me to write Tintin with him. And then at the same time, I'd been, you know, reading and learning about screenwriting since I was a kid. And so I ended up writing and directing a film called attack the block. Tanya, about 10 years ago. Yeah. And then I made another movie called The kid who would be king a couple of years ago. Yeah, so that's, I've had a wait. And then I did a bunch of radio as well. I had a radio show on the BBC. So I've done all sorts of different stuff. Over my very, very long and very important career.

Alex Ferrari 5:59
Obviously, sir, obviously. Now. I see on your on your IMDb I see a lot of special effects. And you know on like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz and a lot of those projects with Edgar, what did you do you want those projects, because you don't have a specific credit whenever say special things. It could be as much as helping them write the screenplay, or it could just be I was there for the day.

Joe Cornish 6:21
Well, it's kind of I was there for the day, like I was. I was a zombie and Shaun of the Dead so I get hit, I get gunned down. When the military arrive and that big truck drives towards the camera. I'm one of the guys that gets gunned down. So I was there for a day in Hot Fuzz as well. I'm one of the CSI people with Cate Blanchett at the very beginning of that movie. And and then I just hung out a lot with that guy. So I ended up doing some behind the scenes stuff. On Shawn and I and I did some behind the scenes stuff with the UAE the US press tour of Hot Fuzz, there are some videos of me and Nick Frost flushing cakes down the toilet of American hotels on YouTube. So that was that was I was just a friend of Erica and egg is a very collaborative, a friend you know he he always shares drafts and gets notes and and because we were working on Outman all through that period. That's why he's kind enough to give me thanks. Fair enough. Now,

Alex Ferrari 7:30
according to your filmography, you also were a PA on a film called Blue juice. Yes, back in the day. And I always love asking these questions when you're first starting out. What was the biggest lesson you learned? working on that set? As a PA because I know when I was a PA on my first set, I learned it was like so much stuff was coming at me. I was learning lessons like by the minute of what not to do specifically, where not to stand who not to talk to things like that. What did you pick up?

Joe Cornish 8:02
I wish I'd been on the set. I was in the office. I was there to photocopying I was making tea. I was like I was just doing dog's body stuff. And I was never really unset I went to pick up some rushes I flew to the Canary Islands to pick up some rushes one time, bought a couple of cans of film with me on the plane. What did I learn? I don't know. It just made me really really hungry because I felt so close to what I wanted to do but 1000 miles away coat holding in my hands all the faxes from the studio buses and that was a Miramax movie a very like an early 90s Miramax movie, so you can see it all happening. And it just made me like ravenous to do it myself. And also secretly. I was like, I could do it better than this.

Alex Ferrari 9:01
said every pa ever.

Joe Cornish 9:03
Yeah. Terrible. Like it for my films. Like I'm now imagining what's going on in the minds of everybody else on the set. This is a load of old shit. I could do much better than this. Yes. So the other thing I learned was not to lie. Like one time, I told one of the producers that I could assemble the trims. And I basically I'd learn how to do it at film school, but I forgot this was back when trims were physical. And, you know, lace them up and stuff. So I was put in an editing room with a bunch of cans, and the mag that this the magnetic soundtrack, and I had to sync them all up. I didn't know what I was doing. And I had a massive anxiety attack and I had to call up the producer and said I'm sorry, I do not know how to do this. So that was a good lesson.

Alex Ferrari 9:57
That was that's a fantastic lesson.

Joe Cornish 10:00
You've got to have a bit of chutzpah, right? You've got to beat yourself up, and you've got to be confident. But there are limits. When it comes to actually telling people you can do things that you actually can't do. That's not a good line to, to cross.

Alex Ferrari 10:15
No, absolutely. And I remember my first my first pa job was on on a Fox TV show, and I had the exact same experience that you did, which is like, You're, you're there. I was in the office PA. So I had all I was seeing the producers and all that kind of stuff coming in. And you're just like, so close. Yeah. And I could do it better, obviously.

Joe Cornish 10:34
But it's really useful experience extremely,

Alex Ferrari 10:37

Joe Cornish 10:38
variance. But then you also realize that, that you don't necessarily have to climb the ladder that way. And actually, what's more important is to be creating stuff. Because you can, I guess, I mean, there's a traditional old school route of becoming a first ad and, but also there are people that especially in this day and age with technology, so accessible, there are people that just make brilliant stuff. And then you can jump the queue right? You get, right, something brilliant, or make something brilliant. You get maybe to have a go at all the toys without going through the process of graduating, you know?

Alex Ferrari 11:19
Yeah, I mean, I remember when I was when I was a PA and I started going start investigate that route. And like I went to the DGA is like, Okay, so, oh, you need, you know, 1000 hours as a PA or whatever that number was before you can get in the Union. And then you start working as a third assistant director, and I'm like, and they're like, maybe in 10 years, you'll you'll get a first ad job. And I'm like, this, this doesn't, this doesn't make sense. For me. I can't I can't I can't do this. But But there, I agree with you. And that was also the time when the technology was not as cheap as the mid 90s. So it was still it was still film. Yeah,

Joe Cornish 12:03
yeah. But now I think you know, if you if you create something that gets people's attention, there's lots more ways in I think.

Alex Ferrari 12:11
Absolutely, absolutely. Which brings me to your next my next question, which is Attack of the block. How did you come up with this amazing idea, because you were the writer, and the director of this film. And I remember when it came out, it was kind of like, it was like a mini atom bomb going off. People were like talking about and it was like, you know, this year's district nine and all this kind of stuff. How did you come up with that idea? It was brilliant.

Joe Cornish 12:37
Oh, that's kind of you to say. It was based on a bit of personal experience.

Alex Ferrari 12:43
Aliens, aliens attacked you.

Joe Cornish 12:45
invasion happened to me? From my imagination? I guess. So. So the story is that I was carjacked outside my house by a gang of kids who look very much like the kids in the movie. And it Nothing like that ever happened to me before. I think they were local neighborhood kids. And it felt very, very cinematic. They look really cool. Like ninjas. They were the other interesting thing was they were clearly scared, as scared as I was. And it felt like a piece of role playing theater. It felt like any other time of any other day, they could have been playing football in the park, you know, I could have been walking through the park. But for this moment, they were playing that role of being the aggressors, I was playing the role of being the victim. And it just made me think about, okay, what would happen if a meteor came down? And an alien came out? How would my relationship with them change? How would all How would this skill set that they were using for street robbery? How would that switch up and become a skill set? That would it would actually be a potentially positive set of attributes? So yeah, so I thought that was interesting. And then I was kind of fixated on the character of the of the kid, the leader, and what would what would cause basically a child to find themselves in a position where they were doing that, you know, on the street, so it was a combat plus is a long answer, but my favorite movies are combinations of social realism and fantasy. So I felt that it was a it could be my version of the kind of film that I really liked.

Alex Ferrari 14:34
Yeah, and when it came out, I mean it it garnered you a tremendous amount of attention. I'm assuming you became the the the it the it girl you were that you were the the beautiful girl that everybody wanted to dance with. At that at that point, when that came out, how was it What was it like and were you still in England when you were in London when that was still going on it? Did you? Did you come over to the States during that time? Did you do the water bottle tour here in LA

Joe Cornish 15:01
Well, weirdly, I've been, you know, I'm no stranger to LA like I've been visiting since I was a kid. And then I'd actually written, started the process of writing and man, and finished the process of writing Tintin. Before attack, the block came out. So I've worked with Marvel, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, before, attack the blog. You know, kind of incredible, ridiculous, but that is what happened. So it was all a bit bit back to front. And yeah, it was weird. Like, I really didn't know what the reaction to the film would be. And it was kind of what's the right word? befuddling level of response, because it was like, I'd been waiting for doors to open my whole life. And then it felt as if every door opened at once. And that was, in a way kind of paralyzing. Right? Because you don't know which one to go through. And suddenly, all of the shit that you've read, one of your anxieties, paranoia, suspicions, every story about how indie directors, you know, get crushed by big movies, every story about you know, Hollywood, you know, superficial reality or being seduced, and then you know, all those things are suddenly real. As for someone like you or me, who's sort of lived in the dream world, and read magazines, and interviews with our favorite directors, and behind the scenes, books, and making up books, to find yourself with this myriad of opportunities, should you direct your own things. Should you director big franchise, should you write a franchise? So basically, I I met everybody and took refuge without go writing and man. I simultaneously wrote a screenplay for Kennedy Marshall based on a book called Snow Crash. So I basically just stepped away. Really? Yeah, you've got to remember I was 40. I'm 50, early 50s now, and I'd had a career in TV and I'd had a career in radio. Like, I'd been like a minor TV personality in the UK. So I think if I was 20, something, it probably would have been different. I probably would have been ravenous and would have just taken something by the throat. But I was quite cautious. And really, I felt like, well, I don't need to churn out a film every two years. I don't need to make, you know, Godzilla versus Obi Wan Kenobi, or whatever is,

Alex Ferrari 17:48
by the way, I want to see that movie. I want to see that movie. Okay, I'm

Joe Cornish 17:52
working on it. I don't know I To be honest, I'm still conflicted about it, it felt it felt very difficult to navigate. So my reaction was, was to go to ground kind of thing and just just go back into working into writing with with Edgar, and screenwriting is quite a safe place to be you can make good money. Um, you know? Yeah, so I did that for a while,

Alex Ferrari 18:16
but you weren't but you were offered. You know, you offer big studio jobs. You I'm sure you were offering, you know, tentpole films, because that's the way that's the way the Tom works. You got to hit like Attack of the block. All of a sudden, they just give you here's $100 million. And you're like, well, we'll, I was talking, I've talked to so many directors on the show, who've had that, that moment that they had that the indie hit, and then all the doors open. And they just figured out a couple of them went down the road and got destroyed. It literally destroyed and others were like, you know what? We're not ready. We're too young. We've done. We've done four music videos, and one $2 million movie we're not going to take on Batman, like, like, literally. But it's really fascinating to hear. Well, first of all, the key element in that story is that you were 40. And there's a big difference between 40 and 20. And only only the gray hairs that are on my chin. And I'm assuming somewhere on underneath your beautifully shaven face or is is the is that experience that like when you get hit with that kind of opportunity? I mean, I would have been destroyed 2025 Can you imagine? You would have probably been you're just not ready. You're just not ready for that kind of success or opportunity. Even sometimes. Yeah,

Joe Cornish 19:37
but some some people are good at it. You know, some people are. And I'm really, you know, I'd experienced the production of a big, you know, motion capture movie on Tintin. So I understood what happens to screenplays what happens to what the process is and what the machine machinery is. And then I thought, well, well look I'm in for I'm co writing a big Marvel movie by already. And man, you know, with a with a director who's who's a genius and is a good friend of mine. So let's just sit here and observe what, what happens for processes and, and you know, maybe just because of what happened on that man that made me think okay, well is this is this the right way to go and you know, there were there were peers of mine who are friends of mine who had hits around the time of attack the block who who did go and make blockbusters and you know, all we all know each other directors all talk they don't share it, but they, you can, you know, you can call up a friend who's and say, Well what actually happened and no one rightly because it's, they have respect for the industry and the process and the producers and there's massive amounts of money involved and huge creative risk. So it's not, it's not like, it's not really artists making art, you know, on that level. But at the same time, some of the stories you hear are give you pause. And you think, well actually, I'd rather make fewer films, but they those films be exactly what I want them to be, you know, be a small part of the big franchise, you know,

Alex Ferrari 21:33
so, so since you've brought up Batman a couple times, let's jump into Ant Man. You know, I've always wanted to ask somebody who's been inside the machine. You know, what's it like? Because I mean, we've spoken on the show too many directors who've been in, you know, 200 million plus dollar films, and you know, big, you know, blockbusters and things like that, but I've never spoken to anyone who's been said, the Marvel machine. And I know, a Batman has a lurid history, like it is definitely a, you know, there was some issues. Obviously, Edgar left the project for creative differences and things like that. What can you tell us about what's it like without, you know, throwing anybody under the bus, obviously, what's it like working on not just a Marvel movie, but on a franchise like that? Because you're, you're you're playing in some it's like working in Star Wars, like you're, you're walking into an established universe. And arguably one of the more ridiculous characters in the Marvel Universe who I love, by the way, I mean, and that's what I love about the script, too, in the movies, like, they call it out to themselves like Ant Man, that's ridiculous name. But when they make when you guys made Batman work, when I saw it, finally in the theater, I was like, Well, okay, then they made it work. So what was it like? What was it like being in that machine?

Joe Cornish 22:50
Well, I'd have to say like, the, the Marvel Cinematic Universe wasn't what it is now, then. So we started working on that movie in I think I've got that. I dug some stuff out here. So this is a treatment from 2002. For Alabama. Okay. The very first treatment that agar and I wrote. And so we've been working on it since 2002. So attack the block was 2011. Was it came out in 2015. This is on and off, we both made lots of other movies in the interim. But you got to remember back in 2002, like what were the Marvel movies in 2002, like, even

Alex Ferrari 23:41
Iron Man, Iron Man had already come out but they were still fled. Well, you know,

Joe Cornish 23:45
what one of the first meetings we had, we went to Edgar and I went to Lucasfilm in Marin County, and we went and met Jon Favreau and sat watching the final assemble of the first Iron Man. And Jon Favreau had read our draft and he gave notes and Agha gave him some notes on Iron Man, but that was really the first you know, Marvel was still handing it big characters to alter directors in order to fuse that alter perspective with comic they would they were finding the formula, right? So really, the story of us and our man is the story of a studio that changed its agenda. And really, really no longer had the, you know, headroom for a writer director like echo who, who needs to have written every element of his movies. That just wasn't what they would do it by the time we came to make the movie that wasn't what they were doing anymore. And that's why the final movie has elements of the MCU that were not in our draft. So that's just a story of the history. of the evolution of the marketplace. And, you know, the story of, of Kevin finding out what worked, you know. So it's not as dramatic or maybe, you know, as sort of, you know, thrilling as you might think it's just a question of, of times times changing and what Marvel wanted changing and what Edgar wanted not really fitting in. So in the end, it was, you know, a pretty gentlemanly Parting of the Ways. Yeah, and

Alex Ferrari 25:35
but there was a Is there a decent amount of what you and I go wrote is still left in the script. Because I mean, you can you can smell it. You could smell it. It's there. It's not Shaun of the Dead, but you can definitely smell the the energy of you guys without question.

Joe Cornish 25:53
Yeah, there's a there's a bunch of stuff. You know, there's a bunch of stuff that I think people think is a good that isn't there's Peyton Reed. digressions during Louis's speeches that were quite stylistically similar to some of his stuff actually, are weren't in our draft. But yeah, there's a bunch of stuff. I mean, as you know, a lot of the design and previous of action sequences happens while you're writing happens very early. So often, that stuff is pretty much nailed down before other writers came in. So yeah, there's some dialogue, there's a bunch of dialogue a bunch of action sequences. Yeah, I wouldn't want to put a percentage on it. But there's a stuff there.

Alex Ferrari 26:31
So it's so when I've heard this from other directors that when you're working inside inside the MCU, and the machine is like, the the action stuff is kind of just directed and prevented out? Like almost by itself, not like this, this is the screenplay, the lead on that or is someone else to lead on that as far as just building out the action sequences? Because I've heard mixed things from different directors?

Joe Cornish 26:58
Well, I can only speak about my experience in an ad man, it was all it was all on the page. Okay. But on Tintin when we came onto Tintin, and a lot of the action sequences were were previous already, but they can be tweaked. You know? I mean, it's an interesting thing, isn't it? Like Pixar, who, you know, when they have a slam dunk, there's a sort of level of perfection, every element of a good Pixar film, yes. And that, that's because they can test run them. They're working in animation, so they can do rough versions, and they can make the film 1000 times before they release it. And now the movies are so visually visual effects driven, they could they can, they're almost doing the same thing where the movie is made in a previous form, and tested before it shot. So it makes a lot of economic and creative sense. To draw, you know, it's like people used to do with animatics, back in the day, right? storyboard versions and simple animatic. Like, the more you can test something before you shovel money into

Alex Ferrari 28:03
actually hundreds, hundreds of millions of dollars. Yes, of course.

Joe Cornish 28:07
So I don't see it as like this negative thing necessarily. It's just when movies cost that much to make, you got to have proof of concept. In a low cost way as much as you possibly can.

Alex Ferrari 28:21
Yeah, I mean, finishers, finishers, you know, famous for pre visiting, every frame every cut prior to ever shooting the very Hitchcock very Hitchcockian in that way.

Joe Cornish 28:32
Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. But then, like there's stuff in attack the block action sequences that I storyboarded to the nth degree, and I scouted locations before I wrote, so I wrote to particular locations, but then there are scenes, dialogue scenes, dramatic scenes, where I deliberately didn't do that. And I just covered it with handheld cameras. So it depends. And I think often Marvel movies split split up like that, or those big action movies like the action sequences will be done in a more collective fashion. And then the director will come in and deal with the dramatic moments, you know, I don't know but you know, we we left and men before it started shooting. So my experience in terms of the actual production process is

Alex Ferrari 29:17
zero. Got it. So that's just from from that point, from that point on

Joe Cornish 29:22

Alex Ferrari 29:24
Now, let me ask you, when you start, when you write and you beginning to write a story, or script, do you start with character or you start with plot.

Joe Cornish 29:33
I start with the concept. And personally, is it an idea that people can wrap their heads around in a simple way, and then I usually start with I just usually start with cool stuff that I would like to see a series of moments, a sequence an image and build out from there. But yeah, you have to start thinking about character pretty quickly. It depends on the idea. There's something I'm writing at the moment that the character came late. And they wrote a couple of drafts. And then my brilliant script editor said, Look, you got to dig into the lead character, because this is just about moments. So we get a bunch of work and, and there's other stuff that where the character offers itself more, more clearly. But yeah, I don't know. I think that I start with moments.

Alex Ferrari 30:36
So it's kind of like aliens attacking a bunch of street kids.

Joe Cornish 30:40
Yeah, exactly. That moment, that kind of, you know, moment that felt like from it was from a Western, the confrontation on the street feels like aliens climbing up the outside of a tower block. The notion of like putting, finding sci fi in an urban environment, all that kind of stuff. I like to sketch you know, draw images, draw a frame. I like to I like to think of a poster. It never turns out to be the same poster. I'd like to draw a little poster image and just seeing if I've got

Alex Ferrari 31:21
an original sketch

Joe Cornish 31:23
for attack the block I made. This is the attack the block, that's what I made.

Alex Ferrari 31:27
That's a really great sketch. That's a great image reference.

Joe Cornish 31:30
So I do a little pretend poster for myself. Because the night You know, I don't know about your earnings. I'm an 80s. Kid. So I grew our sweat. Post movies were hyped and you just had the Ghostbusters logo or the Batman logo. You didn't know what it was like. I grew up in that period where movies were so marketing lead. And it was a single that came out in the charts with little clips from the movie and the video. Oh, my God,

Alex Ferrari 31:55
those days

Joe Cornish 31:56
over movie in two or three lines, and everything was original. So you had no idea what the fuck it was, you know, it wasn't nothing. It was a franchise. So it's like what Ghostbusters. Ghosts busting or that's Bill Murray. This sounds really good. It sounds it sounds good. That logo is brilliant. I need to learn to sketch the logo should slide by the soundtrack album. I bought the soundtrack album. I said by the time the movie actually came out.

Alex Ferrari 32:21
Oh my god. But but so I'll go back cuz Yeah, you and I are of similar vintage. Similar vintages. I remember when Ghostbusters came out and I did everything you said. I watched it. I'm not exaggerating. I think the record was 23 times in the theater or something like that. I mean, I loved Ghostbusters. It was at a really specific time in my life. I think I was I don't know what grade it was or how old I was. But it was a specific time. I just loved it. I wore out my tape like wore out the tape. But did you ever call the 800 number that's in them?

Joe Cornish 32:59
No, I was in London. I wouldn't. I told him

Alex Ferrari 33:03
so I actually called it it's a fake number. I didn't it was a 555 number but I didn't know but that's how insane I'm like, Can I call the Ghostbusters? I mean let's let's call the Ghostbusters. It was a different it was such a different time. I mean do you remember 89 was such an amazing year for films where lethal weapon to Batman I mean you couldn't walk anywhere anywhere in the world and not see the bat logo like it was it was such an event you know can you tell like what did it feel like for you growing up around that time ticket just kind of tell people who are listening because now everything's an event and there's hundreds of millions of dollars at marketing and and there's the internet and all that stuff but before in 89 man there was that logo that's and then maybe a glimpse of a news and entertainment tonight are an access hollywood like behind the scenes said interviewer something was just nothing. What did you What was it like for you growing up around that time?

Joe Cornish 34:03
What was really exciting I don't know is defined my whole life because they here I am doing what and yours as well. Here we are doing what we're doing because it feels so it just was incredible. I don't know it's hard to put into words like with Batman specific. The other thing you have to remember is there was a six month gap between movies coming out in America and in the UK. That's right. So So friends of mine would go on holiday to the states and they'd see these movies, and they come back and they tell me about them as if they've been to another planet or some mythical country. And then that you had you were like, desperate for this to to wait another six months. So you'd buy the novelization. You buy the pet the photo novel comic book. Yeah. And you'd scour the radio they'd be they'd be like features on TV about the new HitFilm in America. And they'd have like 30 seconds of it that you'd scour I mean for a kid Going to school, those imaginative worlds have that scale with that much hype. just completely all consuming, right? Especially, there was sort of something entrepreneurial about 80s movies, they, they wanted you to be in them. They wanted you to be a Ghostbuster or be Luke's go. Like they really invited them into invited you into their worlds like as a kind of playground. Yeah. Is it different now? I'm not sure that it is. I think modern kids maybe have the same excitement, same level of sense. sensation is definitely more of an industry right.

Alex Ferrari 35:38
But they have act but they have access though. They have access to it like we were Scott like he was like scouring anything, any image, any thing, any poster, whatever, to now you just like it's all out there. It's like it's all set up six months ahead.

Joe Cornish 35:53
There were loads of movie magazines. You could read all Oh, yeah. Every one or two little TV shows. There was still ways you could get your little hit. But no, right. There were fewer of them. Yeah, so it felt more momentous. And there weren't action figures. For every movie. It was very select only the ones that hit big. Yes. So it did feel like there were these momentous moments every year or two, that dwarfed everything else around them. Whether it was like the first Superman movie, or Ghostbusters or Raiders. Or, you know, or Batman, like Batman, for me was actually a disappointment.

Alex Ferrari 36:34
Really? First Batman

Joe Cornish 36:36
really I think I'm a little unique.

Alex Ferrari 36:38
But you but you also built it up probably so much in your head that it could never

Unknown Speaker 36:42
it could never live up to it. It was shot in the UK. So photos in the tabloids helicopter spy photos of the set and of the Gotham City set that were published in the tabloids. But what disappointed me when I sat down to see Batman in Leicester Square in whenever it was, was the the curtains opening and it being 16 by nine. And I was shit. I wanted it to go 235. Yeah. And and I was immediately a little disappointed that it was 16 by nine. And then it just was too. It was too campy for me. I don't know, it didn't what I was becoming a little cynical. You know, I was an older teenager. My inner critic was starting to evolve. I wasn't just like, shoveling junk food down my throat. By that point. I was like, I'm not sure I believe jack nicholson, that Prince song isn't one of his better songs. And

Alex Ferrari 37:39
oh, the pretension of being a teenager.

Joe Cornish 37:43
So I'm sorry, I like this. I like like the first half of the second one I think is fantastic. I actually think is the one of the best bits in like the opening 45 minutes.

Alex Ferrari 37:55
And it's Tim unleashed. That was that was like I think the first time they gave Tim a lot of money and really kind of let him do whatever he basically he could do whatever you want. That's why that one's if you look at the both of them next to each other, you're just like, the kind of in the same universe one's a little bit weirder. What's the question? Which brings me Which brings me to my next question, and arguably your greatest role in the film industry. Resistance resistance trooper and last Jedi.

Joe Cornish 38:27
Thank you.

Alex Ferrari 38:28
Your work there how it did not get an Oscar is beyond me.

Joe Cornish 38:32
I agree.

Alex Ferrari 38:34
So as you can see, I have a life sized Yoda in my background. So I am a Star Wars geek. The audience knows my affection for Star Wars. What was it? Like? How did that come about? I'm assuming you just like called up, called up Ryan and just say can I? Can I just be a stormtrooper?

Joe Cornish 38:54
No, Ryan and Ryan invited us Ryan is a is a is a good friend and a very good guy. And I met him through Edgar. And he invited Edgar and me and his brother Oscar to be in the movie. And he deliberately put me in a shot with john boyega because, you know, john Mayer's movie debut And sure, a lark and JJ saw him and attack the block and cast him in Star Wars because of that, and so Ryan wanted to put a little easter egg for people who would know that connection and put me behind john, so I met new shots. I'm one of the most louche resistance fighters there is I'm holding up my blaster in quite a sort of dandy ish manner. But it was crazy. You know, we went to Pinewood and it was actually the day the Brexit the result of the flat and it was credibly stormy there were massive thunderstorms and this lightning and thunder were booming above the, the big soundstage. So it was Yeah, it was weird and I grew and I sat with Kathy Kennedy and chatted about British politics and what it meant, what the Brexit vote men, and it felt like quite a dark day, weirdly. But it was very exciting. It's an honor to be in that movie. And you're right. Like, what would that film be without me?

Alex Ferrari 40:27
Obviously, I mean, obviously your I mean, your face alone gets at least 100 million overseas automatic by? Yeah, it's true. No, but you're in the inner geek in you. I mean, you must have been geeking out a bit. I mean, did you did you see Mark Hamill was Mark around. Did you like you had to? You had to

Joe Cornish 40:48
take that a bit. It was Oscar Isaac, john. Carrie Fisher was there that day? You know, one of the nice things was the two guys that operate BBA. puppeteers, that, that worked in British TV. And they and a lot of the stuff I did on my comedy show involve puppetry. So I ended up just talking to the BBA guys a lot about you know, the Adam and Joe show and they did a puppet on breakfast TV. So so you know, it's, it's, it's crazy, like being British and, and all these movies being made here. Like since I was a kid, the notion that Superman was shot here, The Empire Strikes Back was shot here and Raiders was shot here. Like that was an incredibly surreal fact for me to learn. Like, it feels so exotic and foreign. But yet, these still shits happening an hour and a half out and away from my house, you know? And it's the same when you go when on the set of the last Jedi, a lot of the crew. I knew a lot of the costume people I knew. So yeah, it was it was it was it was fantastic. Yeah, like, if you told the seven year old me that that was going to happen, my tiny head would have exploded.

Alex Ferrari 42:10
Exactly, exactly. Now, you also brought up Tintin a bunch? I mean, how, how does it work with not only Steven Spielberg, but also Peter Jackson? And what is that process of working in that machine? Like you were saying, that's a completely animated film. So that's a completely different way of working. Then your normal, just traditional live action. So what was two questions? What was it like working with Steven and Peter and being inside of that machine?

Joe Cornish 42:42
Well, I wouldn't have the first thing to say is I would not have been there without Edgar. So Steven Spielberg called up Baker to see whether he was interested in rewriting Steven Moffat's draft because Steven Moffat was leaving to become the showrunner on Doctor Who. And Edgar knew I knew Tintin. So he called me up, said Did I want to do it with him? I said, Yes, I do. Yes, Steven Denton, really?

Alex Ferrari 43:08
Yes, thank you, Edgar. Thank you.

Joe Cornish 43:11
So so I was just kind of incredibly sort of excited and honored to be there. Also a little bits get clinging on to Edgar's coattails in terms of running the authority to be there. And, and it was, it was, you know, a massive, massively educational and they were extremely gracious, really, to invite me as a good friend into right into the middle of that process. And it was fascinating. You know, I was on conference calls between the head of the studio and Peter Jackson and Stephen, sometimes I'm not sure they knew I was on the call. But it was just amazing to listen to how the business operates at that level. Just and what's impressive is how courteous and respectful and how there's not a sense of you know, even though these are you know, incredibly successful you know, like gods to you and me, they behave like with Yeah, with a level of humility and respect for the process and the money and the and then and then with amazing skill you know yeah, I there's no short answer to that. You know, there were there were amazing experiences every day like, like James Cameron walking on and trying out the the motion capture technology.

Alex Ferrari 44:47
This is Tom, this is a this is pre pre avatar, a post avatar.

Joe Cornish 44:52
Well, that's a good question. What year was avatar?

Alex Ferrari 44:55
I think that was Oh, nine.

Joe Cornish 44:59
Yeah, so

it's I was being concurrent.

Alex Ferrari 45:02
Okay, it was oh nine, I think was when it got released. But he had been working on it for a bit, I think it's oh nine, because it was around the time when I moved to LA. So it was like, oh nine, or 10, around that area. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show.

Joe Cornish 45:23
Lots of directors, lots of famous directors came in to look at the technology and to see Steven operating with it. And you know, and he says in interviews, how it kind of made him feel like a kid again, because you could go, you can you can kind of operate in a way maybe you wouldn't, he wouldn't operate in a live action movie. By holding the thing. I forgot what it was cool. Yeah, so so it was Yeah, it was it was it was, I just hesitate to use cliched hyperbolic words like incredible and amazing, but it kind of was in a different respect. And in on all sorts of levels, like the seeing stars and meeting famous people getting to actually hand in script pages to Spielberg and him either liking it or not liking it. You know, yeah, it was.

Alex Ferrari 46:23
Well, let me ask, let me stop you there for a second. What is the note process from Stephen? Like, when you hand in pages and he likes it? I'm assuming he keeps moving forward. But if he doesn't like it, what is that process? You know, I've never I've never heard the story of getting notes from Stephen and working on those notes and getting back what what's that process like for him?

Joe Cornish 46:42
Well, I can only tell you what it was like for me, right? And sometimes they would be written notes. Sometimes there was a phone call. And sometimes I would go into amblin and sit at a big conference table, underneath the sledge from Citizen Kane in a glass case on the wall above me, with Steve sitting across the table, and I would hand the pages and he would we would sit in silence while he read them. And then he would tell me

Alex Ferrari 47:14
that must I mean, seriously, that must be terror. Like that must be just terrifying. You You're a screenwriter, you're handing pages to Steven Spielberg. And then you sit in the room while he reads it. That must be nerve wracking.

Joe Cornish 47:27
Yeah, but nothing's ever going to be good enough. It's so it's so like, so I just resigned myself to like, Okay, I'm going to leave today. Like, I'm going to be gone in a few minutes, because this is fucking Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson and I me every day was a gift. Right? Like the only story I can tell you that sort of succinct is is one time. I handed in some pages, and he and he liked a bunch of stuff. But there was other stuff he didn't like. And he's, he said, Joe, this has gone backwards. And I felt, I felt like really terrible. I'm like, Okay, well, and then we discussed it, and I felt terrible. But then the phone, his assistant came in and said, Steven, there's a call for you. And he went next door. And he was on the phone. And I heard him say to another writer, oh, this has gone backwards. So use the same line. And I won't name names, but then I realized it was quite a high powered writer. He'd said that too. So I felt better. He said that to him as well. Okay, so sure my work had gone much further backwards than the other guys.

Alex Ferrari 48:45
So we're good. So it's not something he just pulls out on. Like the really, really bad writers. He pulls it out for all writers is in the back of your mind. Probably have he got it to that I'm okay. Okay, good, good, I

Joe Cornish 48:56
feel better. The thing to say is about both of those filmmakers is how generous and normal and relaxed and friendly you know, very, very hard workers very businesslike. But they're like you and me if we were extremely, so good at what we did that we were humongously successful, they fucking love movies. And they get as seriously as you would, if you were able to do the thing you love at the highest possible level. But also there's a sense of joy and pleasure in in everything they're doing. You know. I love Tintin. You know, some people People often talk about the uncanny valley pneus of it, and that may or may not be true, but there's so much other amazing craft in that movie from the way he moves that he's unbound from physicality with the camera and his spill both camera placing per se is and blocking as well. Like no one else is excited to see a camera replacing and blocking without the limitations of dollies and create reality in physics is phenomenal, you know? And yeah, so yeah, it was. It was an amazing, incredible experience.

Alex Ferrari 50:19
If you shall be cliche, no and about and by the way, I've spoken to so many different and it's fascinating how many, you know, accomplished filmmakers Stephen has touched in one way, shape or form and I've had, and I've never heard one bad story, off air or on air about Steven, he's everything you just said. It's exactly what everybody else has all these other directors and writers that I've spoken to have said the same thing. He is so gracious, he's humble. He is, like you said, he's a guy he's got he's one of the gods in Mount Hollywood, he comes down from, you know, Mount Olympus, if you will, and comes down and talks and works with us mortals. Not us, you you mortals like yourself. And, and he could be a complete everything that you've heard about from big guys like that. But he's not. He's the complete opposite, which is, in a way makes me feel good.


Joe Cornish 51:22
I think it's done. It's generally the case, because I mean, I'm sure there are exceptions. But certainly all my experiences of being mean that they, you have to work hard, you're expected to work really hard. But people generally want to want to work with people who are not insane.

Alex Ferrari 51:44
Fair, fair enough. Now, you often write by yourself, but you also write with Edgar or other partners as well. What is your process when writing with a partner?

Joe Cornish 51:56
We take all our clothes off. We smear our bodies with butter.

Alex Ferrari 52:01
Is it peanut butter, almond butter, or just straight up butter? unsalted organic butter? Fantastic.

Joe Cornish 52:07
Then we get down to business.

Alex Ferrari 52:08
I need to I need the visual. Okay.

Joe Cornish 52:11
No, we, what do we do? Well, it depends who I'm writing with. Edgar. So Edgar was my first collaborative experience. And he made sort of the dead Hot Fuzz. Maybe Josh Sean's from the dead when we first started writing out, Matt. So he'd made a movie I had. So he was the guy, the boss. And he I was in a position where I was going to follow his lead. And so like, do you want to know actually how we actually go about writing? Is it one of those questions?

Alex Ferrari 52:50
Like actually, like, Yeah, I don't like what I mean, the butter was fairly, very visceral in my mind. And I get that's an image I can't actually get out of my head. So thank you for that. But or not? No, just like, I'm asking the question more for writers who are working with other writers. And just to kind of see what, you know, writing partnership looks like because a lot of people want to get into a writing partnership. And I know as well, as you do, you know, working with another creative. I've heard sometimes, you know, you bump heads, occasionally? Not all the time occasionally. So what is that process? Especially when you're working with you know, someone like an Edgar Edgar Wright? Who is, you know, so creative, and you're also so creative? How does that mix when you get together?

Joe Cornish 53:36
In my experience, what helps is to know, kind of who's in charge? Okay, so, so idea is it? whose vision Are you serving? So, so with admin, I wouldn't have been there without Edgar on 10th. And I wouldn't have been there without agar, but then I go left. So I've worked on it on my own for a while, but then you're serving the books and Stephen and Peter as much as you possibly can. And your job is to offer ideas. And you just then Have you ever for dialogue ideas for character ideas for setups, payoffs, connections, themes, to offer ideas, and to keep them coming. And to listen, and be sensitive to what the other person needs. And then to fill the blank space, you know, with as many ideas and then to be patient and tolerant and available. And you know, because it's writing tough, isn't it? It's like holding your breath and going in the water. It's, and there's so many things to distract you. And it's so much more fun just to go to the movies. I mean, the funny thing about movies is Of all art forms, the the experience of making them is, is so far from the experience of consuming them, it's. So when you concern them, you're completely passive. You're sitting in a comfy chair, you're shoving candy into your mouth, you're just criticizing them and then come on, like, do something wrong, like, please me. Making them especially writing them, you have to shut the whole world and focus on one thing, and be completely completely the other way. Right? spill everything out. Even writing a novel. The difference isn't that great, because reading is, you know, takes effort a

Alex Ferrari 55:47
little bit

Joe Cornish 55:48
takes effort. So what I'm trying to say is that is that to be patient with the other person is quite important. And to you know, sometimes be happy to work around their schedule if they're in charge. Yeah, and on the movie side, like so I I've written something with I'm working with a writer called Brian Duffield at the moment who wrote love and monsters and spontaneous and he's a really great guy. And, and, and it's my idea were working on and what's fantastic about him is he's to me, like I hope I was to Edgar. Just this incredibly, incredibly generous font of ideas. And you know, the bottom line is that just to have another brain somebody has to say stuff out loud to is so helpful. That's a very long answer to your question.

Alex Ferrari 56:44
Fair enough. Fair enough. No, that's a great answer. Your latest film The kid who would be king?

Joe Cornish 56:51

Alex Ferrari 56:51
that was a, you know, a fairly, very, fairly big it looked like a big budget. I'm not sure if it was or not. But there's a lot of visual effects in it and love the story. I love the way it came up. How did you how did that come to life? Because that's that was you you were the writer? And the director of that's it. I'm assuming you can put the story on that.

Joe Cornish 57:09
I did. Yeah. That was that was an idea I have when I was a kid Actually, I had when I was that 80s kid. So I was so obsessed with movies and designing the posters and thinking of the catchphrase and stuff. I just used to do them. As a kid. I used to make up movie titles and pretend to write scripts when I was like 14 1513 years old. That was an idea I had when I was when I was a kid. And really, it connects your question about what I did after attack the block. So after a while, I figured, okay, I've got the opportunity to make a bigger movie, why not make one of my dream projects, you know, come hell or high water? Instead of making someone else's dream project, you know, so? Yeah, but yeah, so that was an idea I had when I was a kid. But it took a while before that got made. I mean, that wasn't it was it did. Yeah. So we finished on our man in about 2014. And I started writing, I started making the kid will be king in 2016. So So yeah, so I took Yeah, so there were two years when I was trying to get another couple of movies off the ground that didn't that didn't make it. But yeah, and yeah, it was pretty big budget not as big as it looks. It looks twice as big as it was. But yeah,

Alex Ferrari 58:33
no and and do you have any tips on directing children because I've directed children and that's, that's, that's the journey.

Joe Cornish 58:42
Well, that my tip on directing children would be get as many takes as you can. And then work really hard in the Edit. And even if you get the most super performance from a child, you're likely to get little bits of good stuff in in lots of different takes interesting scripts. So So use the audio from one taken the picture from another take build the performance from lots of different takes know when to use a reaction rather than beyond them when they're talking. So so so for me, like a performance from a child is more likely to be elevated in the Edit. You can use all the same techniques on adults but but I've really had, you know, attack the block and the kid who would be king of both had kind of young actors in them. And it it just creates a fantastic atmosphere on the set. I don't know whether you agree but there's such as sense of opportunity and happiness going to work and it makes the adults on the crew, not curse and raise their game and behave really well.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:00
The grips, the grips, the grips are a little bit a little less.

Joe Cornish 1:00:03
Yeah, exactly. So I really enjoy it. But yeah, that would be my tip.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:09
Awesome. Now I'm gonna ask you a few questions I ask all of my guests. What are three screenplays every screenwriter should read? Hmm,

Joe Cornish 1:00:18
I would say read something by Walter Hill.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:22
Yeah surf guide. So

Joe Cornish 1:00:24
in terms of minimalism and knowing that you don't have to put everything down on the page, and that sometimes the punchiest description, you know, they're so readable and they're fast to read. So anything by Walter Hill, I would say Die Hard is a really good movie to study. Because Die Hard is a really good example of rewriting. And how often a necessity can be the mother of invention because Bruce was Willis was making moonlighting at the same time he was shooting that movie, so he wasn't available. So different writers came in and beefed up all the subplots, so that they had stuff to shoot and Bruce wasn't available and the way the guy all works and the way the FBI guy works, the way those three lines work, to support the main story is so incredible. And in fact, I, Simon Kimbo the producer gave me a copy of diehard that he had, that's actually annotated with all the different writers and drafts so you can see where, because he'd studied it and pulled it apart. And little stuff just like the fact that one of the one of the last writers to come in spotted that Reitmans character and Willis's character never met. And that was quite the 11th hour and created that incredible scene where they meet on the rooftop. So I think that's a really good example of how rewriting can really enhance a story. Did you want three?

Alex Ferrari 1:01:52
Yeah, a third one, if you have on the wall?

Joe Cornish 1:01:56
Hmm. Well, I must say, I go back to et quite a lot. Because I think if there's a movie, you know, inside out, and is a movie you saw as a child, like if there's a movie you saw as a child where you didn't understand the craft at all. And it had, it felt like you lived it when you were a child to look at it on paper, and realize that that thing that felt real actually came from these particular words on a page. So Melissa Matheson's draft of the you know, the original, you've always got to try and get the pre production draft because often there are drafts that are just crap transcripts of the finished movie versions that have all the shit that they didn't put in, you know, that didn't make the final cut. I think the other fantastic document to study is the that script meeting transcript of Raiders between Lucas Oh,

Alex Ferrari 1:02:52
yeah, yeah.

Joe Cornish 1:02:54
I'd say that's a must. Just to see the amount of ideas and the way that creative people start formulating a story that says, Titans Raiders. You studied that right?

Alex Ferrari 1:03:07
Of course. Yeah, we posted it on the on the website because it's available out there. And I wanted everybody to read it because it's just the You're right, like you're talking about three masters, you know, at you know, so

Joe Cornish 1:03:18
they come up with they come up with ideas that aren't that good.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:21
It happened.

Joe Cornish 1:03:23
That's really liberating as well, you know, you you have to be in a space where there's where there's room to make mistakes, you know, and no one's judging you for saying something you know, that doesn't quite fit. So to see that masterpiece come from to see the meeting that masterpiece came from, you know, it's pretty it's pretty long lasting. This is incredible in it Lucas. You know the ideas Lucas comes up with a phenomenal and how those, like we were saying how you can write from moments how he has just nine or 10 really solid notions in his head for character beats a moment, a piece of costume. And then they're building out from those nuggets. And yeah, so that's four things for you.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:09
I think. And Lucas has done okay for himself. I think he's, he's, he's okay. That would like I would like to see some works. I would love to have seen like, I think Coppola said it that he goes, it's a shame that George got stuck with this whole Star Wars thing, because I would really like to see some more experimental stuff and hope I hope he I know I hear he's doing some experimental stuff that no one's seen. While

Joe Cornish 1:04:33
I was there was me and one other person in the theater in Los Angeles for Red Tails on that opening day. So I will see anything he makes, you know, and yeah, he's Yeah, he's amazing.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:47
Amazing. Amazing. Now, what advice would you give a filmmaker or screenwriter wanting to break into the business today?

Joe Cornish 1:04:54
Oh, well, I think my answer to that is is is Really just to make stuff next to what we were saying earlier about being a PA, and looking at the ladder, you have to climb and feeling it's impossible. And realizing that that that creativity is your way up. So you can like, particularly my generation, like so I made videos on the weekend with my best friend Adam Buxton, we would comedy skits and animation, and that got us our own TV show on on British TV. Around the same time, Trey Parker and Matt Stone were making animations out of cardboard cutouts. That turned into, you know, their incredible career, people that produced my TV show the Adam and Joe show where a company called World of wonder, and they managed a drag queen called RuPaul at the time, who was kind of underground and hadn't broken out and people thought was a bit freaky. And it felt very countercultural. 25 years later, is one of the most famous and successful people in the world. But these are, everyone's creating, they're creating and creating, they're making stuff. Sure they got other other jobs on the side, or, you know, but you're you're producing stuff, even if it was with little bits of cardboard paper, like Matt and Trey, or soft toys, as puppets that me and Adam were doing. When someone says what do you do, you can say, this is what I do. You can give them something, a script, a short film, just make sure. And sometimes even the lo fi stuff is more impressive. But the stuff without the production value, whether it's our puppet movies, or Matt and Trey with like the first thing I saw of theirs was called was this political dispirited spirits in

Alex Ferrari 1:06:56
the spirit of Christmas. That was that was the construction card baby.

Joe Cornish 1:06:59
I was going around bootleg VHS, I saw

Alex Ferrari 1:07:03
it in a comic book store had I walked into a comic book store and the guy's like, you want to see something cool. I'm like, Yeah, yes.

Joe Cornish 1:07:11
And it was cool. Because it was it was it looked kind of crappy, but it was still fucking funny God and the fact that it was crappiness shone a light on their talent more than it would have if it had had superduper production values. So don't sweat the production values. Or just show your show what you do show your rawness and that's what I'd say. Because that's the way to jump the jump the queue, and yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:07:38
amen. Brother, amen. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Joe Cornish 1:07:47
Let me think, what is the lesson that took me longest to man?

That's such a toughy. I don't know. I just think I'm, you know, like, it's, it's a cliche, but it's always true. I'm still learning everything. I don't know. I mean, to to Okay, hit to finish things.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:16

Joe Cornish 1:08:17
Finish it, finish it. Like that's the most important thing, regardless of the quality of what you finish as you perceive it. Finish it, finish the draw. Finish.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:28
finish the project. Don't let it just sit there. unfinished it rather be finished and bad. That unfinished and with potentially could have been a work of art.

Joe Cornish 1:08:38
Yes, finish it. That's what eka taught me.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:43
interested, I

Joe Cornish 1:08:43
had a problem. I had a million half written screenplays. And he taught confidence to push through to the end. He just say keep going, man. Keep going. Don't stop keep going, man. I'd be working on out man. He'd be off shooting. I tell him I had some ideas. I tell them I'm not sure about this. I'm not sure what he said. Just put it down. Just do it. Just do it. Just keep going. Keep going, man. That's great. Keep going. So there you go.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:08
That's awesome. And last question, in the toughest of all three of your favorite films of all time.

Joe Cornish 1:09:16
Okay, well. So it's a toughy I would say. I really love the Black Stallion.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:28
Yes. Look at that beautiful. That was a big that was a big movie in the in the early 80s. I remember when I was a kid when that came out. It was like it was everybody was talking about it. Like it was just like the biggest thing ever back then.

Joe Cornish 1:09:44
Yeah, it's a beautiful film. So I guess I guess to ask this question, I have to go back to like gut like non intellectual stone like, gut stuff that and then I would say Die Hard. Probably

Alex Ferrari 1:10:00
This Christmas movie of all time, right?

Joe Cornish 1:10:02
Yeah, arguably already, but it feels like that was the first movie I saw that made me think about writing and structure and craft. Because it's literally like, design for story structure turned into a building. Do you know what I mean? Like the actual physical art architecture of the movie. And the plot lines. And the positioning of the characters in the space is almost like someone drew a chart about how to build a story

Alex Ferrari 1:10:34
of the hero's journey, like as they're like, going up, and then they got to go back down

Joe Cornish 1:10:38
the model of how to run a story that will be

Alex Ferrari 1:10:42
like, I never thought of it that way. But you're absolutely sure I never I can't believe I've never thought of that. But literally, their positioning in the building where they are is kind of where the hero's journey is.

Joe Cornish 1:10:53
And I saw it in New York. I didn't know nobody when it first came out. Nobody knew like they were like Bruce Willis. And oh, apparently it's really good. It doesn't look good. No, but people say it's really good. And the only the only seats we could find were in a downtown cinema. We were we smoked a bunch of weed and so did everybody else in the cinema. People went insane. Oh, yeah. It was like, it's like that movie picks up your your puppeteering rod and just puppeteers you. And yeah, so that's a really good movie. And then what would I say? And then I'd have to, I'd have to throw in like a European movie cuz like something really like say, Have you heard of a movie called? of all is awful by Louis Mal?

Alex Ferrari 1:11:40
I have not.

Joe Cornish 1:11:43
Okay, well, it's a really good movie about a Jewish kid hiding out in a Catholic boarding school in the Second World War in France. And there's just something about a European movie where none of this screenwriting shit, none of this Hollywood industrial shit is part of it. It's the people aren't even speaking your language. Sometimes, especially in a world of massive franchises, that don't really connect with humanity. Often, those European movies can really just I find them really elevating and nourishing in a way that Hollywood movies are less and less I fear. Yeah. And that was when I saw as a kid and loved

Alex Ferrari 1:12:29
it and it stuck with you apparently still stuck with you. Yeah,

Joe Cornish 1:12:32

Alex Ferrari 1:12:33
Now, I want to thank you, Joe, for being on the show and and helping, hopefully helping some screenwriters and filmmakers out there, get to the next level of what they're trying to do. But I really do appreciate you being so raw and candid about about your journeys and misadventures in in Hollyweird. So thank you so much. Good to see you, Alex.

Joe Cornish 1:12:53
Thanks for having me on.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:55
I want to thank Joe so much for taking the time and dropping his knowledge bombs on the bulletproof screenwriting tribe today. Thank you so, so much, Joe. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, head over to the show notes at bulletproof screenwriting.tv forward slash 119. And if you haven't already, please head over to screenwriting podcast.com. subscribe and leave a good review for the show. It truly helps us out a lot. Thank you so much for listening, guys. As always, keep on writing no matter what. Stay safe out there, and I'll talk to you soon.

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