Today on the show we go through the good, the bad and the ugly of being an indie filmmakers. On the show we have filmmaker Adam White.
We discuss the making of his new film Funny Thing About. We discuss financing, casting, how he got Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) to say yes to a supporting role in a romcom, shooting an ensemble cast during the pandemic, how we were filming the movie without having all of the funding in hand, securing distribution and much more. It’s a pretty insane story.
Samantha Banks is a successful business with a handsome fiancee. But over one crazy Thanksgiving Holiday with her scheming family, her whole world is thrown into a tailspin when they invite her ex-boyfriend, “the one that got away.”
We also discuss how he financed his first feature Inspired Guns and when that was a box office flop he lost everything including his house. It took seven years for him to bounce back and make another feature.
The last thing Elder Fisher expects when he and his brand new companion, Elder Johnson, hit the streets of New York is a couple of seemingly golden prospects. But dimwitted brothers Roger and Larry, low-level Mafioso, think the two Mormon missionaries who approach them have been sent by the “Boss” to deliver their next assignment.
So the brothers are willing to listen to anything the young men in dark suits have to say—including a message of salvation—even if Elder Johnson is the most overconfident and underprepared missionary to ever attempt to preach the word of God. Soon the witless brothers are searching through the Book of Mormon in a quest to find a hidden message.
But as the missionaries and Roger and Larry continue to meet for discussions, both the mafia and the FBI have their sights set on Elders Fisher and Johnson. The mob thinks the missionaries are FBI; and the FBI believes the young men are hitmen on a mission—and both groups want the elders out of the picture. The Elders come to realize they must rely on each other to survive this case of mistaken identity.
Enjoy my conversation with Adam White.
- Bulletproof Script Coverage– Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
- Audible– Get a Free Screenwriting Audiobook
Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome the show Adam White. How you doing, Adam?
Adam White 0:14
I'm doing great thank you.
Alex Ferrari 0:16
So, thank you so much for reaching out, man, it is I get like I told you, I get pitched on a daily basis for filmmakers to come on the show. And I'm always looking for stories that can inspire and teach about the process. And you definitely have a story like that.
Adam White 0:35
Yeah, I hope that I hope that my pain and suffering can be someone else's inspiration. And you know, they can learn from my mistakes, you know, not repeat them.
Alex Ferrari 0:47
Talking, talking from somebody who's gone through a lot of pain and suffering has a lot of shrapnel himself. This is my bread and butter. This is all I do all day, every day is my pain to help other filmmakers. But first, before we get going, Man, how did you get started in the business?
Adam White 1:03
Oh, man, that's a great question. I, you know, I, I, my brother, I had a brother who's five years older than me. And he, my whole childhood, he was like, I'm gonna go be going to film school, UCLA, I'm going to be a screenwriter. And I didn't know what that meant. And I was like, that's the thing you can go to school for that. And he was he had just graduated high school and was getting ready to he was taking a couple classes at junior college getting ready to go to UCLA and end up dying in a car accident. Oh, yeah. And so that just kind of was always on my mind of, you know, just in from his memory, my memory of him, you know, I was 12 he was 17 or 18. And I always was kind of like this, the screenwriter thing was always on my, on my mind. And then and then as I got into high school, I started playing, I wrote an episode of Seinfeld, just for the fun of it, because I thought, you know, I just had an idea, I thought that'd be funny. And, and, you know, and thought this would be cool. I should write movies, you know, and, and then, as I got into college, I was like, You know what, maybe I should go to film school and did that. We went for three weeks, but I already had two kids, and wife, and they were like, you'll never make any money. If you have a family already. Don't do film school. You're crazy. This is my advisors at film school. And so I'm like, Well, I also like entrepreneurship, so maybe I'll go get a business degree instead. And, and, but I was writing scripts at the time and going, I'll come back to this. I'll come back later on when I have when it when I can do it, you know, when things are a little more financially secure when I have kids, and you know, I need to take care of them. So that was kind of a it was kind of a weird way to kind of get, you know, meander through that. But yeah, and so then you decided to make your first film inspired guns, how, how did that come to be? Well, so yeah, so I started a business, I had done multiple online businesses. And what I found is, if you're a writer, and and want to be a filmmaking, like, probably the best crossover is to get into do an internet business that has to do with that kind of uses search engine optimization as like, the main traffic for the for the website, right. And because Google loves content, and I figured that out that I could create content that Google would consume, and I would rank higher in Google and I would get traffic and I could make money. And so over the next, I think it was five or six years, I just built these internet businesses. And then I sold many of them. And I had a big one that I sold, and it was like, Okay, that was big enough to where I can now for the next two years, just do film and and see what happens. Right? So I started volunteering on movie sets, just to learn how a set ran. I started making short films, I did like a short little web series and a couple other short films and got to the point where I'd met enough people in the industry and I was like, Okay, I think at this point, I'm ready to make this film and, and I had I had written it 10 years prior to ever filming it. You know, it was the first one that I wrote, I went I had written other since then. And I went back and really, I accepted some people I trusted and said, right, you guys just rip this thing apart because I don't want you know, if I'm gonna do this, I want to make sure it's a good movie. And, and so that so we went through many revisions, and then I was like, alright, let's let's, let's make this thing. I had a former business partner that I pitched and said, Hey, do you want to be involved? And he, he did a small investment, then his his current business partner also did a small investment. And so we were kind of on our way. And I'm like, you know, what, if I don't do this now, I'll regret it for the rest of my life. I have the funds that I could make this happen. That was the whole point. So I just financed the thing, the rest myself. Yeah, so that was kind of how that came to be.
Alex Ferrari 4:40
Now, from what you told me, the film wasn't a blockbuster hit.
Adam White 4:48
That's an understatement. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 4:50
It wasn't a blockbuster hit. So what actually happened with the release? What? What caused Why do you think it failed? You know, because it was a very kind of niche. You know, it was a mix of two niches it was kind of like spiritual, but yet with the mob, and fun, yeah.
Adam White 5:07
Yeah, yeah, it was, it's probably the worst possible niche you could choose, I assume. But, um, and you know, the title, every time I tell somebody what the name of the movie is inspired guns to secondary, they're like, what was it? I can't remember. I mean, they can never remember the name. So that also didn't help. But yeah, it was, you know, it didn't it didn't go well, I did, we didn't have traditional distribution, right, I essentially became the distributor on the movie. And I had no experience doing that. So. So there was a there was a theatrical consultant. In that niche, it's a very specific niche. And we were I was in Utah at the time. And out of Utah, there's a lot of films that kind of do the same thing where they'll just release locally in Utah, because it's a specific audience there. And so you do a theatrical run throughout Utah, you know, and, you know, and there's been movies that have done, you know, seven figures doing that, right. So it's so it's, you know, it can work. And the film, there was a film that released just three or four months before mine did that was also kind of in the same niche, but not comedy that had done really well. And so so it was, you know, we were, I was hopeful and thought, Okay, this is this can really work if we do this just follow the same model. But yeah, as I as I did that theatrical run, one, the price like doubled in terms of my investment, which I wasn't, I knew I had to make a bit take a big shot if I was going to have a chance to succeed. And unfortunately, that meant I also had to, like, really leveraged my, the money that I had, and my home on that. Wow. But that was the only way to make it work. Right. And I just kind of found myself in a position where if I didn't do that, I knew it wouldn't succeed and it would have been, I would have lost all the money anyways. So
Alex Ferrari 6:47
So then you decided to instead of just lose the money you invested? You actually put your house up as well?
Adam White 6:52
Yeah. So So I basically just did like a because I, at that point, I owned my home because of the business sell, right? And so I just took that money and you know, did a home equity line of credit to pay for all the everything we had to do? And you know, everyone's like, You're crazy. You're stupid, you shouldn't do that. And I'm like, Well, no, this is gonna be a huge hit. What are you talking about? There's no risk here was just the delusion, delusion filmmaker, blinders were like, in full effect, right. So so yeah, so I did that. And as you know, when you do a theatrical release, you have to pay for all of the promotion of everything right? Yeah. Commercials the billboard
Alex Ferrari 7:29
Did you? Did you four waller? Or did you partner with the theaters?
Adam White 7:33
We partnered with the theaters
Alex Ferrari 7:34
Okay, so at least you didn't have to pay for the four walls but you did have to pay for all the marketing so radio play and posters and other things like that
Adam White 7:40
Exactly. All of that and essentially almost doubled the investment right in terms of the amount to make the movie versus to promote the movie is basically the same price. And you know, and we did have we did have distributions set up for DVDs like that was that was all set but they had no interest in doing the theatrical and that's why I kind of fell on me to do that. And then first weekend, the first week of the release our DVD distributor does a press release that the movies coming out in a couple months on DVD and so the theater half of the theaters saw that there was a Cinemark theaters they saw that they said well we're not going to we don't watch a movie anymore because you did that because you just told everyone when the movies on DVD so we're pulling you so after one week they pulled us destroyed any chance we had and you know and half the state to be successful so it was just you know one thing after another that was just you know went bad.
Alex Ferrari 8:34
Wow, man. And is it is it true? You said it did you lose your home for this?
Adam White 8:40
Well yeah, so so we got to the point where I had no income right because I stupidly sold everything off and you know and and then leveraged myself to the hilt essentially and then so it was like well I can try to get a job and but but when I did that I still didn't I still thought when DVDs come out there's a chance this will be successful so we'll sell the home so we can start paying back the loan also we can pay back the loan and we had we still had a little bit of equity leftover not much not not enough to do anything fun with but you know to live off of for a little bit anyway so I was like Well dude we'll sell that will live off the money until the DVS hit and then we can see where we're at right and I thought this can still be successful the DVD sales can still make it work and and then reality set in about two or three months later where I was like yeah, there's no there's no cavalry coming to rescue me. We're we're pretty much in big trouble at this point.
Alex Ferrari 9:35
In your marriage at this point, you have a family at this point.
Adam White 9:38
I had six kids at this point.
Alex Ferrari 9:40
Jesus Christ, man oh yeah.
Adam White 9:43
So my mid 30's had been very successful business wise and I was had to move back home with my parents for eight months. Let's just say my wife was pregnant by the way so she was not happy about the situation although she's been very supportive.
Alex Ferrari 9:58
Oh, She got an angel with you, brother. I mean, I'm sure, trust me, I have one of those myself, who've supported me through all my insanities over the years. It's so funny because when I was starting out in my career, I, the concept of making a feature. When I was in my 20s was just, it was too expensive. There was no digital technology, it was all film still, we're still in like, like mid 90s or so. So it was just too expensive. So what I did was commercials. So I spent 50 grand on a commercial real. And I just borrowed, borrowed, borrowed, and then I started shipping out three quarter inch tapes FedEx overnight, to every production company in. So that's my marketing. So it's 50 grand, plus all my marketing, and I'm just credit card credit card, like one or two jobs, I'm back, I'm back baby, just, I just gotta go want nothing. Crickets. And then then my then the thing happened with the mob, which is the movie that I almost made, which then brought me all the way back down to almost bankruptcy. So I went down a similar path, not as extreme extreme in different ways. But it just goes to show and I hope if there's a young filmmaker listening right now, just listen to two old farts talking about what what the delusions, delusion strong man, the delusion is. The delusion is so strong, it's that lottery ticket mentality I was talking about where you're like, this arm could shoot, you were like, oh, no, I just I'll just mortgaged my house. It'll be fine. It'll be it'll be fine. DVD sales will sale save us or the, it's this and you just start talking yourself into it. And you get deeper, deeper, deeper. And I've seen that happen many times with filmmakers who aren't married don't have families, when you're younger, you can get away with that kind of stuff. Because you're like, Oh, I'll eat ramen. You know, I'll sleep on someone's couch. But when you get six kids didn't think you were rolling. You were taking a huge swing. And it's and and many times you strike out and it's
Adam White 12:05
Frankly, it never crossed my mind that you tell me I'd be like, they don't they're talking about, you know, you haven't been did
Alex Ferrari 12:12
You have no understanding my genius? And, and and and obviously someone's going to see my genius and and it's not going to work out? And that's unfortunately not the reality. It happens for one out of 1,000,001 out of 2 million filmmakers is those stories, the stories that you that we all hold on to the Robert Rodriguez story, the ED Byrne story, these kind of stories of like the lottery tickets. But that is that was an extreme. Your story is extreme. Because I saw the trailer for the film, and it definitely looked professional. It wasn't like a complete mess. It would look awesome. It looked you had the potential for success. There was there was no, it wasn't like you were so delusional, that you didn't even know how to, you know, light a movie because I've worked with those filmmakers, or direct a movie it looked, it's professionally done. It just so happened that the way things the chips fell, that didn't fall on the way it could have very easily gone the other way. If the DVD guy wouldn't have put that out. Maybe you would have had a run at theaters, maybe you would have made some money back. Did you ever see any money from DVD or no?
Adam White 13:21
Um, a little bit? Yeah, one thing I did do, which I which I'll explain later was with the smartest thing I could have done was any money that I got back, I immediately paid back the other two investors with interest, you know, and smart like a penny myself. Because I wanted to make sure that they stayed happy. And plus, I had a real personal relationship with them and want to make sure nothing, even though they're both very wealthy, you know, I'd still didn't want there to be any hard feelings or whatever. So I did that first that I've definitely recouped some for sure. I remember when I first got on Amazon Prime because I owned the digital rights to it. And I put it on Amazon Prime and I think it made like nine grand in the first month it was on or whatever. Back in the day back in the day when you could do that. Yeah, I'm like, I'm back in business. Maybe if I do this every month, I'll be fine. You know, and then of course, it dropped off very quickly.
Alex Ferrari 14:09
The delusions even then you're like look nine grand. So if I do nine grand a month, that means I'm going to make almost 100 G's. I'm going to make 100 back I'll make my money back. I'm back baby. And then of course the universe just goes sit down.
Adam White 14:23
Here's $200 How's that sound? To feed your family of nine.
Alex Ferrari 14:30
She took it so what I always find fascinating as well is and I've talked about this on the show multiple times is the disease of being a filmmaker it's a disease it's it's it's it's this thing that once you get bitten by that bug it just you can't let go. So after this colossal you know, lack of failure, I don't want to I don't want to beat you up on it because we all go through shit. But this failure in the back of your mind most people would lick their wounds and like I'm out of this, I'm gone. Let me just go back to what was making money, I'll go back to being an entrepreneur, build up some more businesses, and move on with my life. Maybe I'll make a short film every once in a while for fun. But yet in the back of your head, you're like, how can I get back? And that's the insanity that we are as filmmakers. You're just like, I just took a beating from Mike Tyson in his prime in the ring. And I'm about I was about to die was on life support and you're like, When can I get back in the ring?
Adam White 15:28
I want to rematch.
Alex Ferrari 15:29
I want a rematch. So then you it takes you how many years before you are able to get back in the ring?
Adam White 15:37
Yeah, I mean, like, it was a dark time. I'll tell you what I I had those thoughts of I mean, you know what the worst fear for me was throughout that whole thing. I mean, other than being financially destitute, which sucked obviously, with with a family of six or seven, right? Exactly like that, that once the money ran out from the equity in the house, that's when it got really, really low. But But even then, it was like, the biggest fear for me was, I may not ever get to make make another movie again.
Alex Ferrari 16:03
Not that you won't eat nothing you won't eat.
Adam White 16:06
Yeah, yeah, exactly. I can get on government assistance and eat, but I couldn't. I was like, I might not make another movie. And this that's, that, to me is like the worst of all of this. Right? So everything from that on became how do I get back to a point where I can make another movie. And so I did do exactly that. I went back to my roots and said, Okay, I know I can build up some more businesses and, and just get to a point where I can breathe again. And then And then, you know, cuz again, taking care of my family is number one, right? And so that's what I did. I started I got back into the internet business stuff. And yeah, and then I just got to a point, I was like, Okay, I'm feeling great, things are going good. Again, it took five, six years to get to that point, though, where it was like, Alright, I'm financially, I've recovered to a point where I can start doing this again, you know, and it was a long, it was a long period. It was it was it was tough. I actually saved probably three years before I really hit that I took me about three years. And then and then the next over the next couple years was like, Alright, now I'm going to start looking into this again. And, you know, without the risk of, you know, financial ruin again,
Alex Ferrari 17:10
Right, so then so you I'm assuming, during this time, you've had a conversation with your wife going, hey, you know, I know things are bad, but we're gonna get back up and, and then what? How did you approach the conversation of like, I'm thinking of making another movie? Yeah. Kevin, Matt, cuz I've seen that I've had these conversations. So I know like, how did it go?
Adam White 17:32
Yeah, she is she is not she is very, very supportive. She she wasn't as supportive the second time around, it wasn't like, Oh, this is gonna be great. I'm so I'm there with you. And that's, you know, but at the same time, you know, my income grew to a point where she's like, alright, yeah, go ahead and do another movie, you know, but I said, Look, I'm going to do it different this time. I'm not going to first of all, I'm not going to pay for it myself. That's the number one thing that I learned. And, you know, and then that that takes away all the risk right? There. There was huge risk, because I it was my own money right now. Frankly, I look at that as my film school. Like that whole experience. It cost me a couple $100,000. Right. But it would that was my film school. Like, you could not have gotten that good of a learning experience. In four years of school, there's no way No, I mean, in 10 years of school, you couldn't have gotten Yeah, you couldn't have Yeah, so So yes, it's if I think of it that way. It's not nearly as painful to swallow the what happened, right. But at the same time, nobody wants to feel like that. Right? Like it's not. It's not fun, you know, living with your parents when you're 35 and have kids is not fun.
Alex Ferrari 18:39
I can't even come from I can't even comprehend that my I feel you I feel your heart. I just go visit my parents. I'm like, yeah, no,
Adam White 18:46
Yeah, eight months. My wife's like, Alright, that's it done. I can't do it another day. And like, Okay, let's get out of here. Let's figure it out.
Alex Ferrari 18:53
And one of the reasons why I wanted you on the show is because I wanted people to really see, this is the real life. This is what this is what they don't show you at film school. This is not what this is not what Hollywood puts out there for filmmakers to see. They only put out the stories of like the Sundance winners and the lottery tickets in Palm Springs sold for 17 point 5 million and that's what they show. They don't show the realities of it. And I mean, on the show, I've had multiple filmmakers go through what you've talked about, not exactly like you, and I've gone through my own headaches as well. So I've got shrapnel just like you. But what I found fascinating about your story is that it is it is truly insane. And we are insane to go I just got my ass beat and I'm going to go back and and then that your thought process was like the worst thing that could happen is I can never make another movie. There's something so primal within the artist that you're like I can if I can't create again, is worse than death. Almost it's it's a weird thing that we have as filmmakers. Unlike writers on Like painters, unlike musicians, there are just cheap. Ours, ours is not.
Adam White 20:06
This is the most expensive hobby in the history of Earth. That's what it was, for me the first time around anyway. I, frankly, and ironically, while I was during the downtime of like the three years of like, trying to recover, I wrote a youth fiction novel, because it was like, the one release I had was very hard to be creative at that time, because, you know, oh, no, I know. I don't want to see I was depressed, you know, oh, super depressed. So I feel hard to be creative when you're depressed. But for some, somehow I was able to write this book. And like, that was like the, the therapy that I needed to just get me through that time. You know, and then until till I get to a point where I'm like, Alright, let's think about making movies again.
Alex Ferrari 20:48
Yeah, it's Yeah, trust me. I was I was hiding in a garage sorting comic books for two years after my my near bankruptcy, and my whole life went downhill with that shooting for the mob scenario. So I feel you bro, I feel I feel that So alright, so So now like the Phoenix, you will not you are rising again. So tell me about your new film. Funny thing about love?
Adam White 21:13
Yeah, so I just, you know, during the, during the pandemic, I Well, my wife loves Hallmark movies, first of all, and and like, I've seen 100 of these things. And oh my gosh, it's like torture for me. Every time I have to watch one with her. There's probably three out of 100 that I was like, Okay, that was all right. Yeah, but But I but I'm a huge fan of like the, the romantic comedies from the 90s. Like, while you were sleeping, or you know, you go, those are like iconic movies. And I'm like, why don't we have any movies like that anymore? Like, they don't make them there. They don't exist. And so I was like, You know what I'm going to, I can do way better than Hallmark. For me personally, like, as a man watching this. And I want to do something that's a throwback to that era, right of like, it's you have these really, you have good romantic comedy, but you have these awesome supporting characters that just make it super funny, right? Like, they're just, that's how all those were kind of modeled. And they're all family friendly, too, which is a good thing. For me. Anyway, so I started writing one, and then the pandemic hit, and I was like, Dude, I have all this extra time on lockdown. I'm just gonna finish this thing. And I busted out really fast. I was writing like five to 10 pages a day. And you know, and then and the characters just kind of came alive. I've written five or six screenplays. And this one was like the easiest to write of all and maybe it's because I'm a family man and or whatever. But, or because I've seen so many Hallmark movies, maybe that's why I don't. But whatever it was, it came with it came really easily. And you know, went through very few revisions. And yeah, and then once I had it done, I'm like, Look, this, this movie can be made for pretty cheap, pretty cheaply, right? We could do this for, you know, less than a million for sure. Probably less than half a million. And so I had some producer, friends, brothers that are producers, and I was like, Hey, let's, let's make this thing. And they're like, Yeah, let's do it. So during during the pandemic, or in the lockdown, we like literally started going and looking for money, you know. And that's kind of that's when me taking care of my investors from the Inspire guns really paid off. Because I went back to those guys. And I'm like, Hey, I'm doing another one, guys. Finally, you want in? And they're both like, Yeah, I'll go again, right? Because they were happy that it was a good return for them. So sure. And they both went in higher than they did the first time. Right. So now I had more money than I did the first time to start. And nobody wants to be first with investors. That's what I found out. Nobody wants to come to the party first or two. Yep. To say Yes. Then it's so much easier to get other people to say yes. And that's what happened. I happen to mention to some friends of mine, some neighbors and like, yeah, I just got our first or two investments in the movie. And then like, two days later, he approached one of them posed to me at the gym, he's like, Hey, tell me more about this movie? How do I get involved? You know, and then he drops, you know, 50 grand, and then another another neighbor's like, what you're doing this movie? What? Tell me more about this. And then they end up investing about 50 grand? Yeah, just like just like a snowball effect. Wow. So then we're like, we got to make this movie. So we just went like the full pre production mode at that point. And so good. So it's like divine providence. I'm like, this is I can't believe how easy this is happening. Compared to the previous experience, right? Just like Porcher
Alex Ferrari 24:14
Yeah, I think the universe was like, okay, okay, we beat them up enough. Let's skim a little bit of an easier, right. So gotta be tough. But you know, let's just give him a couple of
Adam White 24:22
Yeah make it Yeah, there was definitely no doubt in my mind that I should make the movie right at that point, when you have that much money when you have over six figures of you know, for an indie film that it's people have committed, and we had the cast like we immediately we got made people pay, like right away so they wouldn't back out on us. And, you know, it was we're like, let's do this. Now, we got to make this movie.
Alex Ferrari 24:42
So you're in the middle of pandemic, and, you know, I get, I get pitched all the time about like, Hey, man, I made this movie in the pandemic. I'm like, that's nice. I did three shows that I'm good. But your story about not only your inspired gun story, but then you're also shooting during the pandemic which has A very, has a couple of added stresses.
Adam White 25:06
Yeah. Well, we knew we had to do it quickly, right? Because Because if anybody gets COVID, you get shut down. Right? So you can't, and were to shoot it and shot it in Utah. No, no, Arizona. I'm in Arizona. Okay, so, so I wanted to stay close to home. This is my hometown. So so we we shot here in the Phoenix area. But we are we got to shoot this in 12 days is what we said. So we did it in 12 days, which to me is, you know, inspired, I think 20 days, right. And that and that seemed fast. So 12 days to me is insanity. But you know, I know people have done it faster. But it was not enough time but but we were able to do it somehow we finished but even then we're testing everybody three, three times a week we were everyone had to wear masks, except the actors. You know, it wasn't very fun for that that part yet.
Alex Ferrari 25:50
It was it was pretty. It was pretty vaccination. It was pretty everything like you were it was a weird, the world is still coming to an end kind of scenario. Yeah. And again, I always enjoy it. So and on top of that, it's the craziness of, hey, we're in the middle of pandemic, I kind of shoot my movie, like, that's the Saturday that we have is filming.
Adam White 26:10
I better do it quick before the world ends. Otherwise, I won't get to
Alex Ferrari 26:14
Like the you see that? The I really want to just spotlight how insane you're not the only one I'm the same way. We're all we're all the same way. But it's just like, I want to just just stop for a moment and just live in that moment. Like I got to hurry and shoot this before the world.
Adam White 26:33
I will I do not want to die not have a film this thing.
Alex Ferrari 26:36
It's like I need to get this out of me. I don't want to I don't want to die with the music in me. So you're shooting this thing? You shoot it. Let me ask you what was the toughest day on set? And how did you overcome it?
Adam White 26:51
The toughest day was? Well, they're all long days, right? Because, again, they were like 16 hour days every day. But the toughest day was we had we had to outside outdoor shoots, because you know that the movie takes place over the Thanksgiving holiday. And we had so we had an outdoor walk. And we also had a football game, we had to film that that part was difficult because I didn't realize that no one in the cast had ever played football in their lives. They had no idea what the rules were. They didn't know what this mean other
Alex Ferrari 27:21
What is this last thing? What is this ball? What is this? I don't understand.
Adam White 27:25
So then I'm sitting there, like, I didn't factor in time and teach them the rules of football. You know, I didn't. I didn't I was a part of this. So so I'm like, as quickly as I can, like, are you just lined up here and run that way and you line up here and run this way and you stand next to that person and make sure they don't get the ball? Like it was like it was It was chaotic. That's so that that made it go longer than the police showed up and said, Hey, you guys are supposed to be here. Then one of the homeowners associates, the people said you can't be here and we just ignored them. And like we just gotta hurry to finish this, you know, so we just kept filming, and then our our grip truck broke down, and we had one more location to go to. So then we're, we're move over to the other location. We don't have any of our equipment. They're like, what can we bring? What is the essential stuff we need to bring. So we bring that stuff over, we have our DP literally sitting in a wheelchair being wheeled around as our dolly because that was because it was a hospital scene. And we had a wheelchair there. You know, so that was probably the hardest day but but you know, and oh, and there was a choir practicing because it was at a high school. There's a choir practicing and they're super loud. We can hear them through the air vents. As we're trying to films we have to keep waiting on them. And they're they're like, it's like these angelic voices singing but we're like, we can't, that's great. But we can't, we can't use that. So we had to sit there and wait and wait until they would stop seeing and then they hurry and film and then they start singing again. So that was just one of those days where it seemed like everything was going wrong. And you know, if I but you but you made it through obviously you got Yeah, we finished the day. You know, not everyone was happy about it. But you know, I was
Alex Ferrari 28:52
When you like you know, it's always fun when you have perspective, like your first experience with inspired guns that shrapnel does give you a level of, of perspective on where you're at in your career. Like when you're when you're going through like when the when the when the the fittest hitting the Shan as they say, and, you know, you're just there, like, you know, everyone's losing their mind because they haven't had your perspective. Just like, I'm just happy to be here. Like, I'm just
Adam White 29:18
You don't know how lucky we are guys.
Alex Ferrari 29:20
Like, isn't it insane? That as artists, we really only get to practice our art for a short amount of time in our life. You know, unless you're Ridley Scott, who's on set 24 hours a day, seven days a week and has a cot there are some shit, I have no idea. But generally speaking, most filmmakers shoot a movie once a year if they're lucky once every two or three years or four years. So to actually practice our art is so rare. It's most of the time is getting the project up enough off the ground getting it ready casting if getting the money. And then did you get those 12 days or 20 days when you're actually directing? And then you're like, Okay, now I'm gonna post it As part of that process, if you feel that, but then most of the times distribution, how am I going to get my money back and we're gonna do this, it's you, you barely ever get a chance to actually direct and when I'm on set, I'm just like, oh my god, I gotta, it's like, you just want to soak it all in because it's such a rarity to do
Adam White 30:18
It is it's a rarity. But it's like, it's funny, because when I did inspire guns, when I was on set, I thought, I have found the thing that I'm supposed to do for the rest of my life. This is the greatest experience I've ever had, you know, outside of family and marriage and kids, like, this is the greatest experience I've ever had. You know, so that is what pulls you back. It's like, I've experienced that now. That's why the for those three years, I'm like, I might not ever get that feeling again, like I found the thing I'm supposed to do for the rest of my life. And I might not get to do it's been taken away from me, you know, it was like, hard, you know, but so the 12 days, that was like, the big the worst part about the film shoot was that it was only 12 days, because it was like, I just want to keep doing this, I want to I want the next one, I'm going to go for 24 days, at least just so I have 24 days to do it. You know what I mean? Where it's like, you get that feeling for 24 straight days. And then you go into the rest of, you know, into business mode to market the movie, but But yeah, you're right. It's that feeling of when we're actually doing the art form. It's such an amazing feeling you just wanted to last forever.
Alex Ferrari 31:20
And that's what and by the way, that's with as an indie film, as a filmmaker as you can get making a $5,000 movie two guys who are making 30 $50 million dollar movies, 100 million dollar movies, those, those guys, they get on set for a few months. You know, like if you're, if you're shooting a Marvel movie, you're shooting a Marvel movie for two, three months. And you're three years in development. And then post like doing all the visual effects and all this. It just, it's just an it's just so weird. As I always, always tell people, like, I wish I could just be a musician. I wish I could just pick up a guitar and play. Because that's why you just see sometimes you just see a musician, like throwing a guitar, just just playing around like or a jazz player, just like you know, just just, you know, jazzing it up,you know,
Adam White 32:09
It's gonna be doing that. Yeah. And they're, they're getting to do it.
Alex Ferrari 32:13
Right. And we don't get that we you know, as writers writers get to do that. But writers are different. It says a different. Writing a script, writing a book. It's a different feeling than being on set. And when you're on set, there is this energy. There's this magic, especially when you're the director, that you It's addictive. It is a truly addictive process. Even if it's a bad experience. It's still it's like pizza. Like if you have the worst pizza still pizza. Like
Adam White 32:39
I haven't I haven't had a bad experience yet. I mean, like both experiences, I think maybe because they were both comedies like it was. You know, people tell me like the film crew is like, this is such a fun set. Everyone's happy. And I'm like, I don't know any different like I've never been I don't I didn't I've never done a set where if people weren't happy where people weren't having fun, or oh, we're getting you know that. Oh, never. I've only done it twice. But you know, I'm pretty, you know, especially like you said after the first one with the shrapnel I'm like, oh, man, everything's fine. Guys. Just calm down. We're good. Like, it's nothing's bad here. We're so good.
Alex Ferrari 33:10
It's kind of like after Francis Ford Coppola did Apocalypse Now. He just everything else was just like, yes. Like, I spent three years almost killed myself. In a jungle. I'm good. It's all good. It's all good. So it's all it's all perspective. It really really is. Now I have to ask you, man, you have a you have John heater in your movie. For everyone listening. It's a heater, right? It's a heater head. Yeah, heater. So John heater for everyone listening. If you don't know the name doesn't sound familiar. He was Napoleon Dynamite. He he did blaze of glory with with Will Ferrell. And he's been in a ton of like, comedies, you know, big budget comedies. Yeah. I mean, he's done a lot of stuff in his career. I know he does a lot of vO work and stuff like that, as well. But he generally doesn't do supporting roles. So first of all, how did you get him? And then how did you get him to be a supporting role as well?
Adam White 34:08
Yes, he doesn't do romantic comedies either. So So though, that was there were two hurdles we had to climb. It really came down to as we were casting this and we had it fully cast, right. Except one roll. We hadn't called the guy we were going to cast yet. Because I was like, because because the whole time or like, one thing I learned the first time is if you don't have a name in your movie, nobody cares about your movie. They just don't. It's rough. It's rough. Yeah. So so even if it's the greatest movie of all time, then maybe they'll you know, it may find its way. But other than that people don't care. So I was like, alright, we don't have we had Barry Corbin. And he's been you know, he was like the general and more games of stuff. He's been in a ton of things. But even he wasn't a big enough name. I didn't think no. And then so I was like, so we got to like, we're like just a couple weeks out from shooting and I'm like, Alright, we have to get a name in this movie or else Or else we're going to set ourselves up to fail and this is just the business mind me going worse. I don't want to make the same mistakes again. So I literally went through IMDb and Like went through every male actor in that age range, and made a list of like, five to 10 guys that I thought, okay, we might have a chance to get this person for cheap. And he was one on the list now, because like he and I went to the same college right? And so there we have some connection there. And and I happen to we had cast Brooke white, she was an American Idol finalist. And she had she had a supporting role in this. And we reached out to the cast. I said, Hey, does anybody know John heater? And she's like, well, actually, I just shot a music video with him. And so I have his number. And we're like, Okay, well, listen, we need you to just text them and just say, Would you be interested in an a rom com that we're, we're shooting I'll be I'll be playing your wife. They're friends, right? I'll be your wife. It'll be fun. It'll be two weeks shoot during the pandemic, you have nothing else to do. Right. So. So she she texted me. He's like, well send me the script and buy like the script. I'll do it. And so he I sent him the script. And he liked the script, but he's like, I don't want to be in a Hallmark movie. And so I had to convince him that it wasn't a Hallmark movie that it was too much. There was too much comedy for it to be a hallmark. Right, right. You know, they won't want it. So he's like, okay, so yeah, I think it'd be fun. So I think it just was a matter of circumstance, honestly, the timing. And the timing was just perfect, right? He had nothing else to do because of the lockdown. And so he's like, alright, well, you know, and, you know, and we obviously made an offer that was enough to incentivize him to come to come be in the movie and be the kind of the Topfield
Alex Ferrari 36:27
How many days and how many days? Did you shoot him?
Adam White 36:30
Oh, he was there all 12 everybody was there.
Alex Ferrari 36:32
Really? So you didn't it wasn't a shootout thing. You had them all there for 12 days. Wow.
Adam White 36:36
Yeah. Yeah. What really helped that he was friends with with Brooke white though, because they just they had the time. I mean, they had a blast together. And there was a Brooke wife's best friend summer blesses our lead actress. So that was just like a party for them. Right. So they, it didn't feel like you know, it just worked out that way. It was just it was just like, perfect.
Alex Ferrari 36:57
Wow. So so the universe was really truly giving you an Attaboy.
Adam White 37:01
Oh, yeah. Well, that that even like, and the actors don't even know this, but like, we hadn't raised all the money.
Alex Ferrari 37:08
Right. I was gonna ask that was my next question. Like you started shooting without all the money?
Adam White 37:12
Yeah, we did. And I was like, Okay, I, we've raised this much. So far. Everything's worked out everything. The universe is aligned for us. We're just going to go for it. It's I'm just going to take a step into the darkness and hopefully, the light the way he is lighted, you know? Yes, I see now that I mean, even then, like, again, the blinders are on. And I'm like, I will get it fully fine. You know,
Alex Ferrari 37:32
That could have been man that okay, so everyone listening? Don't ever do what Adam did. Don't ever start production without your least at least your production budget, you might have to go find post, that's fine. But don't ever do what he just said he did. Because it's not wise. Because again, and even after your experience, this was a part of that experience that you didn't have the first time you're like, oh, no, everything's working fine. We got John here. We're gonna get going, it's gonna be fine. We'll just keep going. So what happened?
Adam White 38:02
Well, okay. Now to be fair, we had the money for production. But then we had to go through the Screen Actors Guild, right? Because that oh, yeah, of course. And that opened up a whole other world of problems, right. For independent filmmakers, it is not easy to work with the Screen Actors Guild. And so they said, alright, we need you to send us $80,000 of your budget as a bond to make sure that actors get paid. Well, we assumed because we hadn't I had worked with Screen Actors Guild before. I assumed that meant they were going to pay the actress for us, right. But that's not what that meant. They're just gonna hold that money. In case we don't pay the actors, you know, then they'll pay them, right. But we still had to pay the actors, even though they had that 80,000 We were going to use to pay them. So we were like, stuck because they had our money. And we couldn't, we didn't you know, we didn't raise more money. So we were like, What are we going to do? Because they're like, they said, they're going to give her money back, like 120 days after we're done shooting.
Alex Ferrari 38:53
That's it, which is very, very long. Yes. Very convenient. That way, yes. The way this act is very convenient that way.
Adam White 38:59
Yes. It was fantastic. Right? So so that's why we were scrambling it was it was like Alright, well, we could we were going to get through production one way or another because they weren't going to get a check till the end of production anyways, they got the first check the second one, the movie would have been shot. It's just that people would have been mad because they didn't get paid right away. So we were scrambling and we just like basically Big Screen Actors Guild said, hey, look, that's our money to pay people and we can't pay anybody if you don't give us our money back. And we had to escalate it, you know, inside their organization and get them to finally say, Alright, how much do you actually need? And we got the money back.
Alex Ferrari 39:31
But it was like, Okay, I get Yeah, I don't want to get into that conversation with sag in that because they're not it's not a lot of people think it's super easy to work with them for independence. It's not, it's not
Adam White 39:41
It's very hard. It's not a huge disadvantage to because you can't get big actors without using them so. So it's like you have to have one without the other if you want to have a chance to succeed and then they make it harder for you to succeed by doing stuff like that. But meanwhile, my my producers they were really good about they kind of didn't let me know that this was even happening. They did They did a really good job of like, shielding me from any of the external problems that we were filming. So I didn't find out till after but even then they were they were raising money that whole week, you know, like reaching out to people that they had worked with before and going, Hey, we're doing this movie this guy, John heater and that, again, getting a name was so important for that because anytime we started on John hitters name around, everyone's wants to listen like Oh, really? You got Napoleon Dynamite? Okay. Yeah, I'm interested. Right. Like, it's just amazing how, how many doors that has opened, you know, and right now we're on the press phase of this of the film. We have a national PR company working for us, and he's getting booked on some really big shows him as a supporting actor in this movie. He's getting booked on really big shows, because he's John meter. Right. So we're gonna get some amazing national press, frankly, just because we have him in the movie.
Alex Ferrari 40:47
Yeah, that's, that's awesome. And again, I've talked about this so much on the show, man, you if you're listening, getting a name or a face at minimum is so so so important in the process, because you're right, like when you're scanning through. If you're scanning through all those, you know, your cat, your cat, cat was, catalog, whatever it is carousel, going back and forth on Netflix or on Hulu or on wherever you're seeing it. You're gonna stop if you see the familiar face. Right. And John is one of those faces that people are like, oh, yeah, I've seen John because he's been in a billion dollar stuff. And he's, and he's just been in a lot of big shows. So it's super, super helpful to do that, man.
Adam White 41:33
Yeah, it really is, you know, Napoleon Dynamite still, you know, 17 years later, carries so much oh, this analogy. And it's just an iconic movie that people still they love him so much in that movie that everywhere we went, it was like, we had to stop people from taking pictures. In fact, I had to yell at him one time, because he was taking pictures with fans. That didn't work mask, you know, and I'm like, Dude, you can't get COVID Man. Shoot, man, you cannot be talking to anybody until the shoots over, you know, the last day of the shoot? Sure, take all the pictures you want. Because by the time you get tested, we'll be done. But until then, please stay in a bubble. But yeah, he it really has made for an experience that would that would have a chance to succeed. I mean, I feel so much more positive about what can happen with this. I mean, even the distribution deal that we got, which, you know, most I didn't know this, but most people don't get minimum guarantees.
Alex Ferrari 42:27
You had an MG.
Adam White 42:28
Yeah, we did.
Alex Ferrari 42:29
Because of John.
Adam White 42:31
Well, yeah, well, I don't know why you
Alex Ferrari 42:33
Get it's because of John. Because like, this is how it works. This is how it works. You got an MG because the distributor saw John and he goes, I can pre sell that or I already know, I can make money with it because of John's face and name attached to it. And that's what people don't understand who who are listening, or filmmakers might be listening is that no distribution company in today's world is going to give you an MG unless they guarantee no, there's a guarantee of that money. They've already sold it. So if I'm giving you $10,000 I already called up Bob over in the Netherlands. And I already know that Bob's gonna buy this movie for 10 grand. It's a done deal. So that's why that happened without John. Almost positive, you wouldn't got an MG. It's hard. It's just too hard.
Adam White 43:15
Right! I don't I don't even like it was interesting. Because the because it was gravitas ventures who we ended up going with a PR distribution. And they they they emailed us we weren't really because we were going to do the same dumb thing I did last time, which is just do our own distribution theatrically first and then see what we do after that and, and I started getting cold feet on that and didn't feel right about it. And I was like, I don't want to, I don't want to go to that same road again and have it fail, even though this movie has a much wider appeal. Um, and then Gravatars reached out to us and they said, hey, send us a screener. I sent the screener like 11 o'clock at night and 6am The next morning, they're like they offered. We want to distribute this, here's what we'll do. Plus, here's your here's your mg. Like it was like that fast that they are offering an MG to us. And I was like, wow, they must they love this movie. This is great.
Alex Ferrari 43:58
Did the MG is the MG covering. It's not covering your budget, is it? But it's
Adam White 44:01
Oh, no, no, no. Yeah, we were I was able to negotiate more than double what they initially offered on the MG. It you know, it's probably about 20% of the budget, but even then, like, you know, the fact that it was you know, anyone got it. It's something we know they're 100% committed to the success of the movie, right? Because because they put their money there. They're writing us a check right from the beginning. So
Alex Ferrari 44:23
That's awesome, dude, that's that's really I'm glad I'm glad for you. Well, you are a you are a success story in the sense that you were able to bounce back after you got punched in the face hard. And I'm you might have heard this on my show. It's like, no matter who you are in this business, you're always getting punched, you're in a fight constantly. You're getting punched in the face all the time. But many of you don't even know that they're you're in a fight. So when that punch hits you you're out for the count. You got you didn't know it was coming you got knocked out. And then in your days, you're like, I gotta get back in the ring. And we're able to work your way back to that and still be able to do what you love to do and that isn't enough. inspirational story that I think a lot of filmmakers need to hear, because I've hear that I talk to so many filmmakers on a daily basis that it's, I just hear it. I hear all these stories so often. And it usually ends in tragedy, it normally doesn't have an uplifting story. So that's why that's one of the things that caught my eye about your story that you went down. And then you came back up like a phoenix and nothing in the thing is to like you didn't like win the lottery, you didn't like, win an Oscar, you didn't get into Sundance, you didn't like, this is not that story. But you were able to get back to a place where you can practice your art, you could do what you love to do. And hopefully make another one. And that's success enough. Hopefully, your continued success. But as filmmakers, man if you just get to make another one. Get out.You've won.
Adam White 45:48
Yes, I didn't really consider I wouldn't. I was always ashamed to call myself a filmmaker after the first one, right? Because I paid for it myself. And it was only one movie and, you know, they're like, No, anybody could do that if they had the money, right? But But now that I've done to Okay, and and, and I got other people to invest, you know, where I'd have to use my own money, alright, I'm a filmmaker, I did it, you know, like that's, and that's probably just a dumb way for me to classify myself, but just just a maybe my own insecurity of talking about it. But but, you know, it definitely feels a lot better to know, I came back again, and I did it. And I've made a movie that I think people are gonna really enjoy. And you know, it's gonna kind of meet that need of good family entertainment, that that you can wash together and feel good. And that's what we all need is some good feel good stuff.
Alex Ferrari 46:34
Absolutely. Now, if you would have thrown a puppy in there that saved Christmas, then you would really have something. But until I'm sorry, you didn't
Adam White 46:41
Hey there's time for a sequel.
Alex Ferrari 46:44
I always ask people like, what should I make a movie about? I'm like, if you have a puppy who saves Christmas, it's presold
Adam White 46:51
You have a winner.
Alex Ferrari 46:52
You have a winner, Puppy saves Christmas, all day, every day, put Dean Cain in it done. Now, I'm going to ask, I'm gonna ask you a few questions asked all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to make it into the trying to break into the business today?
Unknown Speaker 47:08
I think that it's, first of all, and you know, I can't give any advice that not everyone else's given I'm sure. But, but and people that are a lot smarter than me. But I would say, you have to know that nobody cares about your stuff nearly as much as you do. Right. And most people don't care at all about your stuff, right? So. So it's, it's really a matter of how you can help other people and getting people on board with what you want to do. But having said that, once you get the ball rolling, like just putting it out in the universe, and I'm doing this, it's amazing how people will jump on board, right, want to be a part of something. So you kind of have those two things working against each other. Nobody cares. But once you're doing something, and they and they know you're doing it, then they want to be a part of it. So you know, just like you the great thing about filmmaking is like, I didn't have to go to film school, and I didn't have to get permission, right? Like I could just do it. You know, you can just make a movie. Nobody can stop you. Right. And that's what's so amazing about it. Plus, it's so cheap now that anybody can do it. So So yeah, I mean, just just get out there and do man just just make it happen. You know, just the book. Speaking of Robert Rodriguez, that book was so motivational to me before I did inspire young
Alex Ferrari 48:19
Everybody, everybody, everybody who reads that book is like,
Adam White 48:22
Okay, okay, I can do this, I can make this movie, I only need 10 grand, it'll be fine. You know, that's not true.
Alex Ferrari 48:28
Which is the thing I think is the best and the worst thing I love Rebel Without a crew. Um, anyone who listens to the show knows I am a huge Robert Rodriguez fan. And that book has done I think his story is done more good and bad at the same time, because he made everyone believe that they could do what he did. It wasn't his fault. It was the narrative. It was a story that they got put out to everyone talks about this. They still to this day, talk about El Mariachi, and in from 91. Like everyone's still talking about that movie. Yeah. And the thing that most people don't understand is that you're not Robert Rodriguez. Like, he is a once in a generation kind of talent. Like he's such a talented filmmaker. Whether you like his movies or not is irrelevant. It's how he makes them the amount of talent the amount of skills he has. Not everybody could do that.
Adam White 49:14
Yeah, I think the timing and probably some luck, frankly. I mean, we all need luck. Oh, to be you know, most of those guys are so you know, it's just it won't work for everybody because we don't have those things all working together in our favor.
Alex Ferrari 49:26
Right. No question and I've said this many times on the show before if all mariachi shows up today do we does it doesn't even break through? Do we ever have a robber or do we have a Kevin Smith if Clark shows up today? Yeah, yeah, probably probably wouldn't make it through the noise. But in the 90s At that moment of time, it was it was it was it was destined to be what he would he became. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?
Adam White 49:52
There's probably lots of lessons in terms of business that I could share, but I'm Taking care of the investors was was a really really good one getting a name actor was a really really good one I like I've literally started I made a document where I like said here's all the things I learned from the second film shoot right but I don't think that I want to make sure that I put into practice next time and and there's there's a lot of those things but the biggest one was no matter what cast a name actor no matter what you find whatever you have to do to get a name actor raise more money, whatever it takes, you know, cut in other places so you can afford one because that will make all the difference because they don't care like distribute distributors. And you know, buyers don't care if the movie is good even.
Alex Ferrari 50:44
That's not that's not even that's not even a question that's not even in the equation it so Exactly. It's not even in the equation. That's the thing that filmmakers don't know. So there's that is that just like, oh, but my movies really good. Don't care. I can't sell it without Danny Trejo without John here without some face on the cover that I can sell. And three of your favorite films of all time.
Adam White 51:08
You got these on the back wall? He's probably right. He's probably high on the list I have. The Fellowship of the Rings is probably my number one favorite movie of all time. Nice. Love the Bourne series, but it's probably Bourne identities, the the best of those. And then Toy Story, which I'm not like a big animated guy, but I feel like that might be one of the greatest movies ever made.
Alex Ferrari 51:33
I would agree with him. It is a pitch perfect film. It started story wise, it's
Adam White 51:39
Yeah, and the perfect story for that medium of CG animation. Right. And they did it on the first try. Which to me is like unbelievable. So yeah,
Alex Ferrari 51:51
three Yeah, that's not not not a bad combination Bourne totally story lords. Lord of the Rings, if it's not okay,
Adam White 51:57
Give you give you a variety.
Alex Ferrari 51:58
And where can people see the movie? When is it coming out?
Adam White 52:01
So the movie comes out December 3, it'll be on in select theaters, probably about 10 to 20 cities and then also on demand the same day. So December 3, it'll be everywhere. Essentially.
Alex Ferrari 52:14
Adam and I appreciate you sharing your your story with us and and dropping those knowledge bombs on the tribe. And hopefully, it's some inspiration. And some warnings will be picked up from this this from this conversation, but I appreciate you man. Thank you again.
Adam White 52:30
Alex Ferrari 52:31
Best of luck in the future.
Adam White 52:32
It's has been very therapeutic for me. This is the first time I've really talked about that story publicly. So So now I'll be able to sleep at night again. So let's be good.
Alex Ferrari 52:42
Thank you man. I appreciate you.
Adam White 52:44
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.