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Alex Ferrari 0:08
I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion, Alex Lehmann. How you doing, Alex?
Alex Lehmann 1:45
Thanks for having me back.
Alex Ferrari 1:47
Thanks for coming back. Well, I mean, you're one of you one of the OG's here in the film, also you are in the oldest episode. The first time you were on the show you were promoting a film called Blue Jay. I forgive me, I don't remember the episode, but I think it was in the hundreds. We're now closing in on episode 600. That's huge. It's insane. I appreciate that. It's insane. It's definitely a hustle. As you can tell by the branding.
Alex Lehmann 2:13
You have shirts you have Whoa, live whatever that is. You've got it's everywhere.
Alex Ferrari 2:20
It's part of my life, sir. I don't have a tattoo yet. But that's it. That's next, please. But listen, man, I was telling you before we got on, man, I'm so happy for you, man. You've done. You've done so well. I've had so many things. I've had the pleasure of talking to a lot of filmmakers over the years. And you and I've met we've hung out a little bit. And and it's just remarkable how your career has progressed. Because a lot of people who I've talked to they don't they don't progress that way. So your your your success story. And that's why I wanted to have you back on the show to like, let everybody know, like, you know, he's he's done good. He's doing good. He's moving along. He's telling stories. He's building a career for himself. So it's, it's a pleasure just to be able to witness it from that point from when you like kind of were first beginning, getting your feet off the ground with an amazing film, by the way with Mark Duplass. And Paul and samples and
Alex Lehmann 3:17
But I also talk about all the failures in between?
Alex Ferrari 3:20
Well, yeah, of course, after the first one that look, let's let's, let's keep it real alates after the first movie, Hollywood just brought the dump truck full of cash dumped in front of you. And then anything you wanted to do, they just said, Alex, name it and how much all you have is time and money and any star you want. So that's how it's as been. So yeah, I know, I understand. There's been I'm sure, for every one movie that you get made. There's 30 that get don't get made or really close to getting rid of the money drops out of the actor drops out or, Oh, this doesn't happen. That doesn't happen. So of course a struggle.
Alex Lehmann 3:53
Can I say, good? It's a hustle.
Alex Ferrari 3:57
You owe me 15 cents or so. So for people who didn't listen, I had the pleasure of listening to our other episodes. Can you tell everybody a little bit about yourself and how you got started in the business? Sure. Absolutely.
Alex Lehmann 4:10
Yeah, I was a cameraman and a cinematographer for a solid 10 years more than 10 years. And that was just my source of income and my career path was was being a DP and even though I'd gone to film school thinking I was going to direct a kind of, I want to say got sidetracked but I'd found this passion of cinematography and it also paid the bills and and then I did get a little bit antsy at one point I felt like I needed to make my own stuff. So I was writing some pretty bad scripts and and then I made a documentary called Asperger's or us and I connected with with Mark Duplass on that one. And he helped me get that one, you know, into festivals and get it out in the world. And then he and I started, you know, becoming collaborators on a couple of things like, like Blue Jay and, and Paddington. So that's kind of you know, is I kind of In the chutes and ladders of at all, I feel like you know, being completely honest, I feel like I kind of hit that big ladder. Your audience knows what Chutes and Ladders is right?
Alex Ferrari 5:08
That's not that's an obscure, sir, you are old, sir, you are old. It's not, my audience doesn't know about no joke.
Alex Lehmann 5:18
I got the magic star. I don't know, pick whatever you want
Alex Ferrari 5:24
You won, you won the lottery, you want to scratch off lottery ticket,
Alex Lehmann 5:27
The opportunity that I got was was really big. And you know, I mean, the lesson I share with anybody is like, the opportunities will come and you don't know in what form and sometimes it's a huge opportunity, sometimes a small opportunity, you can't really control them, but you have to be ready for them if they show up. And, you know, I kind of feel like I lucked out as far as the timing of hat being ready and having the right stuff at the right time for for when a guy like Mark Duplass said, you know, I'm going to open the door for you.
Alex Ferrari 5:56
It's interesting for people that don't know the full story, because we're kind of glazing over how you were you were you were a camera on a show, forgot the name of the week, exactly. The league and Mark was on it. And as every independent film any movie about an independent film being made, there's generally the DP or the grip or someone with a script in the back of their pocket that hands it to the star, which you didn't do. But he heard that you had made this documentary. Yeah. And the timing of that. It's exactly what it is. It's luck. Right place, right time LED product. If you made that film Three years later, yeah, it doesn't, it doesn't, it doesn't have that connection. So if those stars aligned, and then Mark said, Hey, let's take your movie out into the world. Oh, and by the way, I love I just liked hanging out with you working with you. Let's collaborate on another project. And then that kind of starts that off. But what is interesting about your story, Alex, and please forgive me for blowing a little bit of smoke up here, but not too much. I'm gonna try to keep it to a minimum, don't worry, we'll bring you back down crashing back down. But the thing that's fascinating is that I know a lot of filmmakers who get those, those kinds of lottery ticket moments with those opportunities with those kind of either big stars or people who open the doors for them. But many of them don't stay in the door. Many of them don't have the chops to stay in the door. Many of them don't have the personalities to stay in the door. Because you can get a shot. You know it you've seen I'm sure you have a lot of friends that get gay possibly out of a lottery ticket situation, get a shot, shot, but they either blow it, their egos get in the way their personalities get in the way something happens. That it's that's the end of that's the peak, but you kept you kept that get that thing going. And people were like, you know, I want to keep working with I want to keep working with Alex, I want to keep doing this. So that's a lesson for everybody listening just because you get if someone opens the door, you're lucky enough for someone to open the door. That's when the work begins. That's not where the work ends. Do you agree with that?
Alex Lehmann 7:52
Yeah, yeah, I would. I would agree with that. And I would say that, for every success, you have you, there'll be some more opportunities that happened. And like, did you get led into the party? To a certain extent? Yes. But I don't know just to mix metaphors. Like I think every party ends and then there's going to be a new party, and then you got to get into that one. And you do have to keep earning your way back. And it's ethics I do. And most of my friends like we find ourselves constantly having to re earn our you know, our worth, so there isn't usually that one thing that changes everything
Alex Ferrari 8:26
Is as the as the incomparable Miss Janet Jackson says, What have you done for me lately? That's basically that's basically the town. It's like, great. You Have you won an Oscar fantastic.
Alex Lehmann 8:39
Not what it should be, though. You know, I, it sucks. Because I'll be honest, that there's, there have been times where I feel like, you know, why, you know, why can't I just get the next thing made? I've just proven that, you know, I'm consistently making movies that are getting good reviews, and that people love and bla bla bla, and yeah, you know, I, I mean, I'd say two things. First of all, the landscape is constantly changing. And I'm sure you've had a bazillion episodes that have talked about, you know, the streaming and the whatever, everything, pandemic, everything has changed. And like what audiences want that's constantly changing. So, a there's that. And so what you might be good at is in for a moment, and then and then it's not, like, you have to reinvent yourself. That's, that's cool. That's fine. And the other thing is, this town is full of such talented people. There's so many there's not enough room for us all to constantly be making all the things and and so the way I look at it is like, you know, I get something made and it's fantastically so you know, it's fantastic for us. The project might not be fantastic, but it is who knows. But But we, we celebrate we feel great and people watch it, and then it's back to square one. You get thrown on this pile of billions of talented filmmakers that's maybe maybe not billions, maybe just Millions I don't know, but so many talented filmmakers and it's back to square one where we're all trying to get something made again. And that's okay. The meritocracy does exist to a certain extent. And, you know, if if we were if we were benefiting from like our past successes too much, that would also be leaving the door closed completely for for that, that filmmaker who's listening right now who hasn't made their first thing. So I like the fact that the door gets to stay open a little bit for them to
Alex Ferrari 10:29
Absolutely, because you need it. I mean, that's, that's the business, the business needs to be refreshed with new blood and, and all that kind of stuff. Now, I want to ask, you know, you've directed a handful of features, what, in your, in your opinion, is the biggest challenge in directing an indie or, you know, non studio or just like, you know, non 100 billion dollar franchise? Kind of film? What are these challenges you the biggest challenge? You think?
Alex Lehmann 10:56
I mean, I think the biggest thing is getting it made, I still think that's harder than then making it. I don't know, if that'll ever change.
Alex Ferrari 11:04
You're right. To a certain extent, I mean, unless you're, unless you're playing a different league, where the movie is gonna get made, regardless if you're on here or not. That's a different conversation. But for most filmmakers, that's not the conversation.
Alex Lehmann 11:18
Well, because I mean, it's pretty messed up. If you think about it, you're trying to convince somebody to make something that doesn't exist that's never existed before exactly in that form. And they're asking you in that room, or on the zoom. So what is this like? And so you're trying to convince them to spend a lot of money to make something that's never existed before, but they don't have the imagination that you have, because they're not you. And so they don't exactly understand what it is you're trying to make. And yet you have to promise them that, you know, it will exist, you don't know exactly what it is, but it's going to be this thing that is just out in the ether right now. It's it's, it's not like building, I can't show you the blueprints of Vegas, I can show you the blueprints. But you know, everybody knows the difference between script to screen. That's why we have reviewers. That's why we don't, you know, we don't finish with reviewing scripts like that, though the work is only getting started. And, and so I think there's a lot of fear and uncertainty. And so trying to convince people that this is the right thing to be made, and it's going to be artistically valid, and probably financially has to be valid as well. Those are those are some pretty serious hurdles.
Alex Ferrari 12:30
Now, since you, you've been around the block a little bit, you've got a little shrapnel in you from the business over the years. Is there something with a limp? You walk? Yeah, we all walk with a limp, or some of us walk with more than just that. But is is there anything you wish? There's that one thing that you wish that someone would have told you at the beginning of this conversation? Have you tried to be a filmmaker to just go hey, man, keep an eye out for this thing.
Alex Lehmann 12:58
I wish somebody had maybe told me that indie financing is fickle, and maybe most people that say they have money don't actually have money. No. I'm naive. I really am. I'm sorry.
Alex Ferrari 13:14
When someone tells you when someone tells you I have I got $100,000 I could put into this. You believe them?
Alex Lehmann 13:19
Yeah, I mean, I'm not gonna go through the details of my latest films because they got made and you know, at the end of the day, I feel very lucky that they did and the rest is is the rest and the more I share the specifics with friends, the more they tell me there's similar stories and I feel like the whole the whole world of indie financing is a very comical place it's a euphemism comical but but but I got lucky because my first couple narrative features were 50 plus right like Mark was instantly market if we're making the movie together he was starring in it he was you know, able to pay for it. And he had a distribution deal with Netflix it was so turnkey and so it wasn't until acid man which I you know specifically set out to make on my own my own it was such a personal story and I felt like I want to produce this myself and you just really just take the full ownership so raising raising finances for that when I wish I'm glad I learned what I learned but I wish somebody maybe had given me a crash course or two before before I headed out into that way it is
Alex Ferrari 14:25
The only two words I can tell you sir verifiable funds. The two magic words and indie finance verifiable funds,
Alex Lehmann 14:34
They wrote it down on a napkin napkin with a crayon and that was good enough for me.
Alex Ferrari 14:44
Yeah, for everybody listening. There are multiple episodes about film financing on the show on the podcast, you can go back into the archives, but two words verifiable funds, but but here's why.
Alex Lehmann 14:56
Maybe that doesn't matter that you have those episodes and why may He doesn't matter that like I wish somebody would have told me is we, we believe so bad or should do, of course you want to believe. And I've got friends in situations where they've come across some shady financing, and then they try to tip off the next person who might get tied into that shady financing say like, don't work with this person, their money's not real. And the response nine times out of 10 is, yeah, but he's our best shot. So we're gonna go with him anyways. It's like, it's like, you're like, don't you know, it's like don't get don't get in the train is heading off a cliff and somebody goes, Oh, I kinda want to go somewhere.
Alex Ferrari 15:38
I you know, and this is this is a deeper conversation because I was having a conversation with this film distributor the other day. And he was asking him straight up, I was like, why are filmmakers always getting taken advantage of and film distribution, and this goes through film financing as well. And he's like, because they want to believe
Alex Lehmann 15:57
Because we're not business majors because we're not even. But not even that, but not even that part.
Alex Ferrari 16:02
Even if you're smart enough, cuz there's a lot of smart people I know in the business school got taken, because they want to believe because either if you're if the beginning of this situation or at the end, so film finances at the beginning, film distribution is at the end, both times there's a lot of pressure on you to make something happen. You want to get your movie made. And then in film distribution, you're so exhausted that you believe anything that anybody tells you like, Oh, someone loves me. Someone loves my work that I've been spending the last two years for sure. There's no mg. I don't need it. I don't need any money upfront. 25 years? Sure. I'll sign that. And okay, great. And oh, 5000 $5 million. Expense cap. Great. That's fantastic. But you want to believe so that's something that it's it's hard. It's even when even if you know this information, when you're in it's kind of like being in a bad relationship? You know, you're just like, I know, she I know she's not good for me. Yeah. But damn, I can't quit her. I could change her. I could change her, I could change it. I can, I can make I can make I can make her better. I could change her. Yeah, that doesn't work out in film financing or in full distribution.
Alex Lehmann 17:07
But don't you think that probably the shady people that are pretending to have money but are really out there to like, you know, whatever, screw us over. Don't you think that they're also saying like, I could change? I could, I could be a better person. I really gotta have that money that I promised the filmmaker?
Alex Ferrari 17:26
Well, I think I think those people are I think there are people who do go out there with malicious intent. I think other people truly believe that they're just they want to play the role of the high roller that I want to be in show business kind of vibe. And they, they might have the intention to get you the money, but they just don't have the capability of doing so. But they just kind of roll the dice and like, Oh, I'm just gonna say I have the money so I can play I can go along this train and have these conversations and pretend that I'm a filmmaker or a producer or finance or so on.
Alex Lehmann 17:59
We're all doing that though. Right? Like, like the very fabric of filmmaking is we're trying to get people to believe in something that's totally made up. And we're taking them on a journey and we're saying this is this is a story worth now gather out everybody this is this is allowed to take two hours of your time and it's gonna be worth it's it's it's there's there's something romantic and that and I do think that I mean, I don't know I think that probably like, like the real scammers are probably another business is because there's there's more money being made Scammon in in
Alex Ferrari 18:32
Medicare. Yeah. scamming Medicare is a lot better, more lucrative and scamming independent filmmakers.
Alex Lehmann 18:40
Yeah, so I think I just I think my heart goes out even to like the the indie film scammers because like at the heart of it, and you touched on this, like they want to be part of making movies and like, it's like I was gonna have to scam somewhere most of all scam here and make movies because as a kid, I always wanted to scan and make movies.
Alex Ferrari 19:00
So just a disclaimer, everybody I do not I do not suggest you scan Medicare or any independent filmmakers. That's not part of what we're saying here. I'm just just using them as an example. Now, I wanted to ask you something else, because you have been a cinematographer for most of your career. And most of the films you've worked on, you've been the DP. Yeah. But this one you did it. So what was it like acid man? What was it like not having the controls of the lighting and the camera? And did you let loose? did you how did that work for you as someone who's done because as for me, I've been editing all my life anytime I've ever worked with an editor. It's an adjustment. It takes a minute.
Alex Lehmann 19:42
Yeah, yeah, for sure. Well, you know how often I also wasn't the cinematographer. So that was the first one but I I'll be honest, I struggled on piloten to let go of those reins and the DP I had. He had he had shot second unit for me on bluejay when I did that myself, so there was you know a little But first there and he also had, he was very patient in, in, in my inability to completely like go on pallets. And I will say that the first day of acid man was still tricky and I was still like kind of gripping onto that hat a little bit. And my cinematographer John Matousek. He, he really got me there, this was a, this was a cool experience for me, because it was the first time that that just and is very early on in the filming process. I just started seeing what he was doing. And I started trusting and you know, I think it became clear to me that we were going to approach things differently, but I loved, you know, the end results, and that I just needed to trust, you know, the process until I would get to see the end result. Because, you know, otherwise, like, instantly just looking at, like, where somebody puts a light and like, well, that's how I put the light. It's totally subjective, but you know, to keep my mouth shut as both a I think a very good collaborator, but also a control freak. And that's, I think you're supposed to have a little bit of both of those to direct. I was really excited to be able to go funny story about John, he literally shot my first short film in college. That's how long I've known him. And we didn't you know, we he went out to Nashville for a while and was shooting commercials and, you know, was raising a family out there. So he didn't come back to LA till just a couple years ago. And we reconnected he was saying, like, I want to get back in the indie feature game, you know, move moving to LA with my family, I really want to make movies again. And that's how I reached out to him for for acid man. And, and, you know, he was fantastic. And and I've you know, I've been using them since. And it's it's so freeing not to have to think like a DP much anymore. We can start the conversations and the shorthand. But yeah,
Alex Ferrari 21:54
I felt the same way as like, when you like, I see a unassembled cut of something I did. I was like, Oh, I didn't have to spend six hours to go to assemble, cut done. Oh, that kind of feels nice. I just would come in and, and tweak, oh, that's feels a little bit better.
Alex Lehmann 22:10
But here's the good thing, whether it's editing or cinematography, photography a little less, because you you only have certain amount of time and resources. Sure. But to say, you know, I've got something in mind. But before I take us down that path, what are you thinking? Let me see where you're thinking. It's like you only have one opportunity to really see how your, your collaborator artists sees things before you. You know, smother them with your vision, and ask them to like, try to understand what it is you want. And there's a curiosity I have when we have the time. It's like, what did you see when you read the script? Or, you know, what are you feeling in this moment, because I know what I'd like to do, but I might be able to learn something from you. And you know, as much time as we have and, you know, as much exploring as we can do, I'd love to do a little discovery before we go down a path. And by the way, I might still say like, that's really interesting. And let's shoot that. But then the shot I really need that's been in my mind's eye. Since the first day I wrote this is the shot over here. And you know, we'll we'll get both of them figured out later. But sometimes I abandoned sometimes I said, That's cool. That's, that's more interesting than what I was going to do. And thank you for challenging me.
Alex Ferrari 23:22
And that takes time to allow yourself to be confident enough in your own skin, comfortable enough in your own skin to allow that the ego starts to pull back a little bit in you and you as you get a little bit older, you've been in around town a little bit longer and doing this, you realize your like, best idea wins man, best.
Alex Lehmann 23:42
You're right. It's all it's all about ego or hopefully lack of ego, for sure.
Alex Ferrari 23:48
Now you've you've had the pleasure of working with some amazing actors, some some some legends, you know, Ray Romano Duplass. Now you've worked with Thomas Haden Church in an acid man. How do you approach working with actors of that those that kind of caliber? Because I can imagine it might be intimidating, working with someone you might have, like with Raman. Or, you know, having him working with him. Ray Romano, not Raymond. But Ray Romano, but like working with someone like that, that you might have been watching him as you grew up, like how do you approach the relationship of a director actor and that's an area
Alex Lehmann 24:29
Where I like to start out, you know, exchanging some really vulnerable information about each other so that we both feel you know, and then I blackmail them.
Alex Ferrari 24:41
For the great technique, guys, great pictures, photos, work, photos, work to get photos.
Alex Lehmann 24:48
You were in their trust, and then you weaponize it against them. No, the first parts true. A, I would say more even more importantly, I mean when you when you ask yourself, especially if it's somebody is a little more legendary who's been doing who's been doing so much, who you know is getting 10 offers a week. You know, Sarah Paulson, Ray Romano, Thomas Haden Church, you have to ask yourself first like, Okay, why? Why are they why did they choose this project? And and I think it's a really fair thing to both ask yourself maybe the reps and ask them, what is it that you're that draws them to the project and really make sure that you're honoring that, like, if there's something that they came here specifically for, as long as it falls within the scope of what you're trying to make with the film, make sure there's there's room for that if, if raise like I always, you know, comedic and I want to make sure that like I have the opportunity to really, you know, show the world my dramatic chops. Don't make them say a bunch of Dick and fart jokes, like let them you know, really build it around those those moments that he wants. And in return, he'll, you know, he'll give you the goods and and as far as Thomas goes, you know, I wanted to understand why he was drawn to this and, and and understand what, you know what, what excites him? Because obviously, the paydays on these smaller films is not what makes these people leave their home when they made all that 90s TV money.
Alex Ferrari 26:12
I mean, listen, listen, Thomas Thomas just got off of Spider Man, the latest Spider Man. So I'm sure he's okay.
Alex Lehmann 26:18
He's okay. But you know, but he the things he did for our film that he you know, he's willing to put up with, you know, the lack of trailers, the limitations that we have, there's obviously something there. And, you know, for him, it's, he was finding the character of acid man really relatable. He was, honestly, you know, he was, he was saying, like, I'm becoming more of an acid man myself all the time, which, you know, for your listeners, I should say, this, this characters, you know, he's a cluesive very intelligent man, but a reclusive guy who lives in the small town and is kind of he just kind of keeps to himself and he tinkerers, you know, he's got some of his own hobbies, and some of his own his own interests and beliefs. And he's maybe not very, he's definitely not understood by by the town or really, by anyone. He's just kind of minding his own business. And, and, you know, Thomas had been, I mean, the pandemic didn't hurt, but Thomas felt like he'd been living in his little ranch house a lot lately, just not not feeling as motivated to connect with people and, and started to like, feel that distance to grow. And he was saying, like, what, what's that about? Why am I comfortable with this? And like, is this going to continue like, like, is this pattern going to continue where like, maybe I stopped returning phone calls completely, at some point, let me explore these feelings with the character of acid man. So you know, making the room for Thomas to explore those those elements, that was really important. And then adapting to his process was really important. And so he loves to find the character, you know, everything that's beneath the page. And so we had so many long phone calls it himself and Diana Aegon, who plays his daughter, the three of us had, like, you know, on the weekly just like maybe two or three phone calls that would last a couple hours each and this went on for months. And we just really dug beneath what was you know, the script and found these characters and that fits my improv process anyways, but it was really about like, this is this is what makes Thomas excited is like building out a character and fleshing him out. I mean, it's, it's easy for me to give that when that's something I want as well. But But yeah, I would say to answer your question in a roundabout way, you figure out what it is they want you make sure that they get to have it. That's why they showed up.
Alex Ferrari 28:41
Now, can you tell me how acidman you knew from SMA came to life?
Alex Lehmann 29:11
Yeah, so that's that script I've had since we were taking blue J on tour promoting blue J. It was, yeah, this is a it's a very personal story. It's something that I started writing, you know, way before Pendleton and I don't really think I was ever going to make it certainly not after paddles. And it just kind of felt like maybe the opportunity had come and gone for for this movie. And the character of acid man, the name acid man, there's actually this guy, you know, in the small town where I grew up his he was probably schizophrenic. But, but you know, like the kids had a nickname for this guy who walked around the town and he lived with his parents. He's probably in his 30s and they would like throw eggs at his house and spray paint stuff and just harass him and call him acid man and mythology was, you know, he gotten a bad acid trip and never came back? And I think a lot of towns have their own acid man, right? Like, I usually like everything, you know, people go like, Oh, yeah, we had Charlie on a lawnmower, we had, you know, our guy dressed up like Abraham Lincoln would walk around. And, and I was always really curious about that, that man when I was young, and about how, what his relationship was with our town, like, you know, we, this is weird to me that like, we could just write somebody off and kind of harassment even the adults call them, the walking man, it's just felt very, I think we fell short of really respecting that person. And and I think probably loneliness and you know, searching for connection or themes that have kind of been throughout all of my films. And and so I was I was always kind of connected to that character. And then the ultimate question of like, what if you're estranged from your parents or your father and you reconnect with your father who used to be this brilliant scientist, really intelligent man does this, you knew him as one person, and then you reconnect with them, and he's become the acid man of his town right there. Good. And so I think some of that's obviously just exploring the aging, you know, our parents and who they become and who will become one day.
Alex Ferrari 31:22
Yeah, that's, that I was telling you earlier, I was, as I was watching it, it was connecting with me on a whole other level. Because, you know, when you're 20, and you watch a film like this, you like, that's kind of and this or that. But when you're, you know, I'm getting close to 50. I'm like, you could say that word, but I have a few years away still. But you know, I'm getting to that age, and you just start thinking about things a lot differently, you start thinking about life differently. Where am I going to be in 20 or 30 years, you definitely have more behind you than you do ahead of you. That's a very strange place to be as a person, I think they do call it a midlife crisis, though. I'm not getting a Corvette anytime soon. But, and I love my wife. But, but it was really interesting, the way I really attached myself to not only the acid man as a character, but the daughter, and seeing her father through his eyes, and I, and I have my parents still so you start looking at them and who they were when they were when you were there, a young man or a young, you know, oh, boy, little boy, a little girl, and who you thought they were and who you who they become later in life. And it's, it's fascinating. And then I started thinking about what my daughters are gonna look at me in 20 or 30 years, like it's crazy podcasting, filmmaking guy who made some movies and hung out with some stars, or did some this and, or did that and like, and then like, and now look at him, just living off all that crazy podcast money. But but it was just very fascinating. It was really, I mean, again, a hit me at the right place. I'm your demographic, sir. So it was it was really touching.
Alex Lehmann 32:59
I appreciate that. Yeah, I think it's interesting to explore those Blurred Lines, because you don't, there's no day that you just say like, alright, you know, I was a child, and you were an adult, you know, to your parents, you know, you don't say there's no day where you say, Okay, you're no longer the parent, and I'm no longer the child because I too, am an adult. You know, and we don't say that to our kids, either. So it just kind of you so at some point, you're a child, and you're a parent. So that's weird, right? Like, how can you be both? But I mean, you are lucky you like you are, you're a dad, but you're, you're a son as well. And, and it's no secret that at some point, we lose a little bit of either either faculty or just, like, some strength in life, you know, as we age, or at least we don't necessarily have the same qualities and strengths that that our society maybe, right, virtue, you know, honor, right, so, so respect as much and so there's this kind of softening of where older people go into and what how do you say that? How do you say, like, at some point, like, well, you're my one point, you know, you said, My, you my parent, I look up to nobody really young, you say like, you're my parent, your got your, there's nothing wrong with you, you could do no wrong. And then there's everything in between. And then we get to a certain age and we're like, Oh, my God, my parent can't, is incapable of anything. And and that's a horrible feeling, you know, to try to somehow tie this same person who is a God to you, as this person who now needs help with everything. And so I think acid man to certain extent is, is an exploration of that and trying not to rush into pity or, you know, write resentment for the things that we don't understand and also just honoring the fact that those connections never never Go like to a certain expense that you'll be your, your parents child, no matter how old you are,
Alex Ferrari 35:06
Oh, my, my kids will always be my kids, I don't care how old they get, I'm gonna feel successful they get, I don't care how big they get, it doesn't matter, I don't care if they have kids themselves, they will always be my little bit like, girls, it's just, you can't look at it differently. Just the same way. My parents say the same thing to me. You know, there's, I'm like, I'm a grown ass man. She's like, you're still a little kid I grew up I raised. And it's you just, you know, until you're a parent, you don't get it. You might intellectually but when you actually see a child, or if you have, you know, children in your life in some way, shape or form, you start to understand that a little bit differently, it's, it was a meditation in, in parenthood, to say the least, this project was really, really cool, brother.
Alex Lehmann 35:49
Thank you. I appreciate that said if there's one other theme that I could share, and I don't think it's a spoiler alert because it happens early in the film that we'll probably have to mention anyways. But but so this character, you know, acid man who is really referred to just as dad in the film, because he's, he's digress, dad, estranged father, his name is Lloyd. And he he has this obsession with UFOs he's got these c's, these blinking lights out in the sky. And, you know, he just really feels connected to them. But he is a believer in this stuff. And you know, I just the other the other thought really in in, in writing this was like, what if you're trying to like reconnect, or just connect with your parents and like, now they're into, you know, Q Anon, or whatever it is that they're into, and you're like, how the hell do I reconcile the differences in beliefs and opinions that I have with this person that I love and respect, but like, I don't know how to talk about that. You know what, I don't want to make a political film and I don't want to like piss anybody off. Like Q Anon, although it kind of feels like it's gone away.
Alex Ferrari 36:53
It's, it's fine. We can we can move on, sir. Okay, um,
Alex Lehmann 36:57
I should have checked with you first. Are we are we good?
Alex Ferrari 36:59
I believe in Q. And any day now? No, I'm joking. Whatever. It is cute. I heard it here first. Listen, whenever people want to believe it's up to them. I can count.
Alex Lehmann 37:12
Yeah. And that, you know, and that's, that's, I guess that's really what what the film is about, to a certain extent is like it whatever you want to believe that doesn't hurt anybody. And that, you know, and that doesn't cause harm, like those those kinds of beliefs. Like, I could just ridicule you. I mean, we have a paint we have opinions of everything and like, you know, extreme opinions of everything. It's all we do. And and so, for me, it's an exercise to show patients with someone who believes in something supernatural that doesn't have any like, you know, evidence.
Alex Ferrari 37:46
Exactly. Well, obviously, but we did see the the congressional hearing so UFOs obviously, large aren't real. They're there. We've seen videos now
Alex Lehmann 37:54
I want them to be real.
Alex Ferrari 37:55
I hope we all do we have seen the filmmaker you out you watch that you want that situation. Listen, regardless of if UFOs I do believe that this is just my personal belief that in this giant universe, there has to be some life somewhere. Have they visited? I don't know. I just don't know. But logic dictates that this billions and billions and billions of planets out there probably something happens something's got to be there. Something's got some some sort of organism somewhere, even if it's something has to be living somewhere else in this universe. But I don't eat cheese
Alex Lehmann 38:31
roasting marshmallows in my backyard tonight. Really, I do.
Alex Ferrari 38:34
Thank you, Steven Spielberg. But it's but it's so true. But it's really fascinating too. Because that concept of not being able to connect and you did it very eloquently, too, because UFOs is just one of those things, you're just like, fine. So it's not a political statement. But being able to connect with someone you love, whose blood who has wildly different views on certain things. And it could be something as Madonna, the Dinah, Madonna can't say the word as a data.
Alex Lehmann 39:07
Yeah, Madonna, Madonna
Alex Ferrari 39:08
Alex Lehmann 39:08
No polarizing these this
Alex Ferrari 39:10
No, no, no. Benign, like, believing in UFOs or not, because that hurts really nobody, generally speaking. But when it's something very deep, either either in the religious world, or in political world, or whatever it is, it's so difficult to connect with someone you love, because you still love them, regardless of their beliefs, and where they work because they weren't there maybe 30 years ago. So I think you you danced that line so eloquently and beautifully in the film, that you said what you needed to say about that idea, without really, really stepping on anyone's toes unless you have our lovers.
Alex Lehmann 39:46
Right. Well, I appreciate I mean, even though you have been, I think at the end of the season, we don't know if that was a US or not. But But or maybe we do I'm not going to tell you exactly. The movies about women that I didn't give anything away. But But I would say that that I think maybe the reason it works in the film is because I wasn't putting it on anybody else. I was really putting it on myself to find more empathy, and compassion and curiosity for the people who have different beliefs than I do. And instead of even just saying, like, well, I don't believe that, but good for you to say like, Well, I mean, what do I know, I'm just another person. And you know, we're all wrong about plenty of things. So let me be a little more curious. And let me respect this. And let me figure out why this is relevant to you. And when you hear someone talk about whether it's their religion, or or, you know, a spiritual belief they have, or ghosts or aliens or anything, you listen to them enough, and they do start talking about something that is like a little bit more grounded and more personal anyways. Like, if you got this great story, when we were when we were scouting for acid, man, we were on this, like, you know, mountain top, overlooking, you know, the Oregon Rogue Valley. And, and this is like, random guy just like walks up on us. And he's like, Oh, you guys making you're the ones making the movie here. It's about UFOs or something, or like I, you know, didn't want to talk too much. But he said, Yeah. And, and he starts telling us about, you know, the UFO sightings that he's had. And, you know, just you could, you could at that point validly say that, Oh, here we go, like, this guy is gonna, you know, be, but but, you know, we just kept listening. And first of all, His stories were really entertaining and made me want to see what he had seen. And the second thing is, I don't know, where he starts talking about the passing of his father who his father had died just a few years ago, and was telling us about how he still talks to his dad every single day, and that he's never really brought that up to anybody. And I'm thinking like, holy shit, he just used UFOs as a conduit to talk about his feelings about his deceased father. And he's the guy who's maybe I don't know him, but he's maybe not as emotionally vulnerable and capable of talking about that stuff all the time. And I don't think UFOs were created in his mind or a substitution for those feelings. But they certainly made it easier to talk about certain things. And so all of a sudden, it was this really generous connection that we had.
Alex Ferrari 42:19
You know, it's interesting that a lot of people get so caught up with everything that's going on right now or in our lives right now, in 100 years, what does it matter? Just be kind to people, and try to help people as best you can. And that's the way I look at things like, at every moment in time, humanity thought they had everything figured out.
Alex Lehmann 42:39
It's not till next week.
Alex Ferrari 42:44
At every moment, there was a moment where the earth was the center of the universe that was flat. Sorry, Flat Earthers. You know, there was there's always everyone's got to figure it out. So yeah, when you understand that, like, yeah, maybe we've got a couple things figured out. Maybe we don't maybe in 100 years, or in 500 years, they're gonna be looking back at us and like, can you believe the barbaric 2000s 20s Oh, my God. Crazy.
Alex Lehmann 43:09
Well, I do think for me get back. I'll just get on the soapbox. For one second, I do think they're probably in 100 years, people are gonna say, the shit that they allowed with homelessness. Oh, it's gonna be the, you know, it's gonna, you know, the, the way we look at at certain things that happened a couple 100 years ago. Today, I think people are gonna look back and say like, wow, they just didn't give a shit about all those people. That's weird. But hey, you know, it was the Dark Ages. It was the it was the early internet ages. Like they didn't know how to be people. They weren't humans. They were.
Alex Ferrari 43:46
They were, they were getting all this information. But it was all bad information. And anyone could write any information they wanted to on the internet.
Alex Lehmann 43:52
Basically, cavemen they were still with podcasts.
Alex Ferrari 43:55
They were cavemen with podcasts, obviously.
Alex Lehmann 43:58
Yeah. But I think, you know, to the, to the point of like, of like, yeah, what does it all matter in 100 years? It? There's obviously there's a lot of fighting going on now. And I mean, it's been going on for a while, but Sure, man, I don't know, I just feels like a lot of people are wanting to feel heard right now. And there's so much noise and I guess we're contributing to it, which, you know, now I'm doing interviews. I'm making more noise. But, um, but I don't know, I just think the practice of listening to people and making them feel heard. We could we could probably all heal each other a little more just by by replacing some of the shouting over with, with listening.
Alex Ferrari 44:43
I agree with you, 100 100%. Now, to get back to the filmmaking side of this, this movie, what they're, you know, I don't know if I've asked you this on any of the other shows, but it's a question I've been asking lately, that we all go through every day. There's always a when we're shooting and we're shooting a movie were on onset. There's always that day that everything goes to hell lost the sun camera breaks, the actor can't make it, something happens where you have to completely compromise. What was the worst day of this? Besides every single day, besides every single day? What was the worst of every single day of that situation? And how did you overcome it?
Alex Lehmann 45:24
Okay, I, there's, of course, there are a couple of moments. And I just got to think about which one I can share the story without publicly, publicly, I will say that the filmmaking experience, and this is either going to piss people off, or they're just not gonna believe me, but it was such a positive experience. And it was just, you know, it was like, May of 21. So people were just starting to get their vaccines and just kind of coming out a little bit, there was such a, everybody was so excited just to be on a set together. And I don't know just the nature of what we're doing, enabled everybody to just be vulnerable and really lean in that. Like, I like to joke that if we had if the shooting schedule had been like a week longer, we probably would have turned into a cult. It was just the vibes were that good on on on that set.
Alex Ferrari 46:14
And that's what happens all the time.
Alex Lehmann 46:16
Have some really positive sets, though. But but this one, you know, really, this one, this one was special. But But sure, there were there were, you know, there was an angry neighbor at one point, because we had to drive through a private road and you know, there's there's Oregon private roads are people move to Oregon to be left alone, usually not. And that's how Portland I'm talking about. Like outskirts that's where we were shooting. It was very apropos for for acid man. And the neighbor was was well known. He was infamous for shooting at cars that drove too fast on the on their private roads. I don't think that anybody got shot at but we we definitely were confronted on a certain day where we're shooting a really emotional scene. And he came, he just came in screaming at at some of us and, you know, you just you just don't know. I mean, and this is honestly, this is scarier than anything else. Because you just don't know like, Does this guy have a gun? Like, is this? Is he mentally stable? Sure. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And so like defusing that situation. And then also recognizing the fact that it's going to emotionally shake everybody, when you're asking not just the actors, but especially the actors to be vulnerable. Because that's, you know, that's what we're doing. We're making a film. I mean, if we'd been making an action film maybe would have like, pumped everybody up. But we weren't, we were making a film where people were trying to shed these layers and not take each other down. But but but like, connect and bring each other. And to do that, you have to put the armor down. And so when a guy comes onto your property and screams, and you think he's got a gun, like everybody wants to put that emotional armor up, like, I wish we'd had real body armor, to be honest, it was a little nervous. But um, but yeah, so I think really just recognizing everybody's feelings and just kind of like emotionally making the transition from stuff like that. Which, yeah, we lost that we lost, you know, a half hour and like, yet for you know, for a second, there's some logistical stuff. And you got to keep the day going for sure. But But I think crew morale and just really making everybody feel safe is so important.
Alex Ferrari 48:34
I agree with you. 100% is a good answer, sir. There's always there's always that day, there's always that thing or is always is always that day, there's always that thing. Now, what are you going to try back obviously, because you're in your this is our Tribeca coverage. So, of course, I always like to ask, what was that phone call, like? Because you haven't been in Tribeca before have you?
Alex Lehmann 48:54
I had a dark series here. A couple years ago, the Asperger's, we made a doc series with the Asperger's troupe, and that's on HBO, and we premiered it at Tribeca. But that was you know, those before the pandemic. It was right before the pandemic. It's like, what, 12 years ago now? 15 years ago. Yeah. So it doesn't really catch. But but this is the first narrative film that I've had at Tribeca and I'm super excited. It's you know, it's talking to my DP about this the other day, he said, Isn't it cool? Like there was like, we were essentially the crew of 15 people like living out like, cabins in these woods making this film because it cool that we're out in the middle of nowhere or again, like just 15 of us like doing this, this thing and our primary and like the, you know, one of the biggest cities in the world, you know, like this is huge, you know?
Alex Ferrari 49:46
No, no, a little birdie told me that you have something else coming up. At the end of the year you shot not just one film, but two back to back. Can you tell me about your next project coming out man?
Alex Lehmann 49:57
Yeah, so So acid man I thought was is going to be my movie last year. This is my coming out of the pandemic, pandemic movie. And this other film that I had been attached to for a little while, all of a sudden kind of pulled all the actors and all the money together and so basically shot these back to back, which was crazy. But there's this film, it's called meet cute, and it's starring Pete Davidson and Kaley Cuoco and super proud of it, and we'll have we'll have more details soon. But I think you know, everybody should be looking forward to seeing it at the end of the year. And it's it's kind of a it presents as a rom com. But it's a really great script by no go no le he was on the blacklist years ago. And it devolves it twists into some other stuff.
Alex Ferrari 50:44
There's UFOs involved obviously there's
Alex Lehmann 50:47
There's close close it gets it gets weird, man, but it's it's funny.
Alex Ferrari 50:53
You're like Michel Gondry weird is like Michel Gondry weird, are we?
Alex Lehmann 50:56
Yeah, it's like Michel Gondry where I saw that one of his films, his most famous film is definitely one that we use as a cop. And I don't know I'm just I'm really excited about what that is. And I think Kaylee does an amazing job and and, and, you know, Pete does an amazing job in it, but I feel like I'm looking at because with acid man, you know, I think Tom Haden Church is an amazing actor. He crushed it, the acid man that, you know, his his us is acting in this film, you know, just everybody keeps telling me. They just they love this side of Thomas that they haven't really gotten to see. And then I think Dianna Agron was fantastic in it. She was a creative collaborator, you know, on it from the very beginning. I mean, I should say that, like, she really helped me put this all together, when, you know, I've been I've been used to, you know, just going to Mark Duplass and say, lucky me, I could just call Mark
Alex Ferrari 51:50
Hey, Mark, I need idea. Let's get this go make this.
Alex Lehmann 51:54
Yeah. And so, you know, basically calling, calling Diane up and saying, like, I've got this movie, and you're perfect for it. And, you know, could you help me? You know, if you signed on, I think we can get a really great actor and some money and you know, I just really need you to be behind this. And she's been behind it from from day one, you know, creatively. And logistically, and you know, someone like that, when they when they give you that confidence, and when they when they stand behind you. They give their stamp of approval. That's a great way to get something that's delivered in every way. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 52:31
Well, I'm looking forward to seeing your new movie at the end of the year. And, and I tell everybody goes the asset man, it's really just really interesting meditation. As I look at this, it was very much as a meditation you sit there and just absorb it cinematography score, just the performances, it just kind of wash over you there. It's beautiful, man. Now, I'm going to ask you a couple questions that I ask all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?
Alex Lehmann 53:00
Yeah, I would say keep, keep doing keep being yourself, keep doing you. I see a lot of filmmakers trying to be another filmmaker Right? Or, you know, trying to make their version of well you make your version of something but make it your version of something don't don't try to make the carbon copy of whatever movie it is you love. And I think that the sooner they discover themselves and don't try to be anybody else, the the more quickly, audiences will be able to see their authentic filmmaker self.
Alex Ferrari 53:33
Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?
Alex Lehmann 53:38
That I don't know? Because I think I'm still learning that every time kind of a cop out answer, but it's kind of not like like, because you you have to know certain things and then every time certainty creeps in, at least for myself, I have to take a step back and say like, alright, dial it back, you know, it can't can't be too certain of anything, because there's a lot of learning left to do.
Alex Ferrari 54:03
Yeah. And three of your favorite films of all time.
Alex Lehmann 54:07
Three of my favorite films of all time. Okay, I'm gonna start with what is I think a cousin to our film that is Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I think we share a lot of the same emotional and thematic DNA, slightly different budget.
Alex Ferrari 54:26
Even even the 70s budget is still slightly different than today.
Alex Lehmann 54:29
Yeah, but you know, there's, there's a, there's a real connection there. And I would say 400 blows is a big one for me. And then, I mean, I could try to like dig deep and be cool, but Jaws I'll just go to jobs because I've never seen anything more than jaws. Like what like, I don't need to impress anybody.
Alex Ferrari 54:50
Just it's it's, I mean, it's a masterpiece and it still holds it still scares the living hell out of you. Even now, like it doesn't mean the shark might look a little janky but even then it doesn't look that janky I mean, just 3d look much worse than just the shark at least
Alex Lehmann 55:10
I'm gonna be you know what I'll be Stan is this I don't know, Stan I think is the I'm gonna be a stand in silver stand and say et as well like it's too many Spielberg movies for a list but like, I don't I don't care at because you say it still holds like that movie. So I if I need to cry watch at
Alex Ferrari 55:29
My, my, my daughters were traumatized when et was found down at the river traumatized, like they watched when they when he was down at the river, and he's like dying. Sorry, guys. Sorry, spoiler alert. If you haven't seen at if you're listening to this MSAT I'm sorry. But when he's down there and they were like five or something, we showed them a five or six traumatized they still talk about that? They love the movie, but they just remember that image of ET because he loved them so much. And like was it was an emotional roller coaster to say the least.
Alex Lehmann 56:01
I I don't know how to explain this because it's gonna sound like I'm pretty dumb. That's okay. Maybe it's right. But but when you said that they found at by the river my mind immediately went to like 80 lives like in a van down by the river now like, that's where his career that's where his career is. Like, we got to start a GoFundMe for Ed. Like I literally went there first. And I'm not stupid. I know. I know. He's fake. I know he's done but I was just like
Alex Ferrari 56:32
No, because I saw I saw that I saw your face when I said it. It took you like like a five or 10 seconds and then I started to click Oh, he means that scene in the movie but I didn't know where you were thinking about thank you for
Alex Lehmann 56:45
My mind went a few places because first it was like oh, maybe maybe you know like there was like a stuffed eat like maybe like the universe or whatever right like that the actual et puppet that they use in the movie somehow got dumped by a river and like kids. Movie Yeah, no, I remember the movie. So my favorite movies. But like my mind, my mind did not choose the path of logic my mind. It chose the path of illogic
Alex Ferrari 57:13
Et lives in a van down by the river. That's amazing. That is, that's
Alex Lehmann 57:21
Alex Ferrari 57:23
Times are tough. He spit Spielberg and him had a falling out because it couldn't get the sequel up and running. He's hanging out there with Roger Rabbit because Roger Rabbit couldn't get to sequel either.
Alex Lehmann 57:33
Elliot as an adult one day drives by and he sees him and he like looks away trying not to make eye contact because he's like, I don't even know how to like help him watch this situation. It's feel too guilty to like
Alex Ferrari 57:46
We should we should listen man, can we get a Kickstarter going right now for a sequel? Well, we'll call up we'll call up Henry Thomas. If you'll come out and do it for us.
Alex Lehmann 57:59
I really know how to take the blockbuster out of a blockbuster.
Alex Ferrari 58:02
Turn it into meditation on stardom.
Alex Lehmann 58:07
Alex Ferrari 58:10
It's a pleasure first of all, you have the best first game ever. But other than that, sir it's a pleasure talking to you. But I always love catching up with you. You're welcome back anytime I look forward to seeing your new movie at the end of the year. Please come back and tell us about how that I'm sure you have insane stories about how that got a different story. And you know in hanging out with some I mean two very big star I mean these are monster stars right now and Pete pizza little well known now
Alex Lehmann 58:38
In the news for something and he's living in a van down by the river Alaska.
Alex Ferrari 58:41
I think we should we should do a GoFundMe for Pete because I think he just got he just left Saturn at live it's me. He's he needs help. Poor guy,
Alex Lehmann 58:48
By the way. So one thing I'll just say really, really quickly that I'm proud of that maybe it's worth sharing with your audiences. You know, the budgets on acid man and then the new one meet cute very different and went from like middle nowhere Oregon crew of 15 people to you know, shooting in Manhattan. I you know, same DP St. I brought it over as much of the same crew as I possibly could anybody that was available. That set had you know, held their own on the smaller film, there was no fu I'm gonna go hire the, the bigger version of you like, I'm not gonna go I'm gonna get whoever I can. You know, whoever did Sandler's last movie, whatever. No, I wanted to work with the same people. And I would say that that's good advice. That that stick with the people that you know that you've been succeeding with, you know, have their back you know, they've had yours for long enough. Agreed, agreed on a person really? Yeah, really proud of the team that they made both of those movies with
Alex Ferrari 59:47
Alex a pleasure as always, my friend continued success and you're welcome back anytime, my friend.
Alex Lehmann 59:53
Congrats to you.
Alex Ferrari 59:54
Thank you my friend!
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