Alexander Dinelaris is an Academy Award and Golden Globe winning screenwriter for “Birdman (or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)”, a co-producer on the three time Academy Award® winning film “The Revenant”, and the book writer for the Broadway musical “On Your Feet! The story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan”, as well as “The Bodyguard Musical” which began on the West End and now performs worldwide.
He is the screenwriter and producer of the upcoming feature film, “Jekyll & Hyde” which he is readapting for the London stage. Alexander also wrote the screenplay for “Carmen” which was directed by Benjamin Millepied and premiered at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.
His film company, Lexicon, is currently developing “State of Motion”, a story by Marco Perego Saldana, written by Alexander. Lexicon is also producing “In The Summers” written by Alessandra Lacorazza and “Consurgo”, which was written by Alexander.
He recently teamed with Grammy winner, Residente, to write a historical film about Puerto Rico. Alexander will be making his directorial debut with a film adaptation of his play, “Still Life” in January of 2024.
Please enjoy my conversation with Alexander Dinelaris.
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Alexander Dinelaris 0:00
The road is the road, you know, and I think people get discouraged. They'll be like, Oh, you do things you submitted. Yeah. But you know, agents aren't reading your shit. And you're not sending them straight to a studio. Like it seems impossible. But it is, like you said about doing the work by having friends read about opening up your circles to people who are more in the business, and your talent, hopefully will naturally float you up, you know, toward the top.
Alex Ferrari 0:28
I'd like to welcome to the show, Alexander Dinelaris. How you doing, Alex?
Alexander Dinelaris 0:31
I'm doing well. How are you?
Alex Ferrari 0:32
I'm doing great, my friend. Well, first off great name. I'd like to first name it. It works.
Alexander Dinelaris 0:40
I think it means leader of men. If you look at that. That's what my mother used to tell me. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 0:46
Of course, your mother would tell you that. You're Latino. And that's what my mother would tell me as well.
Alexander Dinelaris 0:50
That's right. That's right. I tell you, it's a really funny thing right out. So you know, my relationship with my dear friend and my director, I found that it calls me never calls me it always calls me to kaiyo namesake, right. And then I was producing films with two directors that are now developing films to talk about later. Anyway. One of them is Allah, her name was Alex from Chicago. Right now I'm doing a Colombian. I'm producing this Colombian artists film her name is Alessandra and her directors I found that are like here. So every time we're on the call, you're like which Alex three Alex to seven. Alex is we have no idea who's
Alex Ferrari 1:28
Growing up. I couldn't meet one, Alex. But now they're everywhere. I know. They weren't as popular back then. But listen, man, thank you so much for coming on the show. I've been a fan of of your work and what you've been doing outside of obviously, Birdman and other things you've done as well. But my first question to you, sir, is how and why did you want to get into this insane insanity that is the film industry.
Alexander Dinelaris 1:51
I mean, I sort of backed into it a little bit. I grew up in this tiny little town called East Rockaway, Long Island. And I had a movie theater across the street from me one of the big old movie, there's called the criterion. And it was one of those ones back because I'm, I'm a mold now. So I'm talking about like late 70s. And it was one movie theater, big curtain balcony. They played one movie if it was good, they played it for six months if people were coming like it never changed. And my house wasn't the greatest place for me to hang out in. So I used to sneak across the street and just sneak in the movie theater and watch movies all day. And that's when I fell in love with movies. So I was like 10 years old and I was watching movies like Kramer vs Kramer and you know great Santini and justice for all these are all my favorite movie, rocky two and stuff like that. But I was watching anything that was there. So then in high school, I fell in love with theater. And for one second I was going to be a theater actor. And then one second later, I knew I wanted to direct theater so that I studied theater. And I had a weird life man like I had a weird life. I didn't I had some tough times and but I found myself in a little University in North Miami called Barry University.
Alex Ferrari 3:09
No bear very well, you know, Barry, there you go. Very well.
Alexander Dinelaris 3:12
I was a berry for two years. And then I came back to New York because again, I was a total mess. But I was studying theater and I was in the restaurant business because I had to make a living. And one day I wrote a script for a friend and somebody saw it and and liked it. Next thing I knew people wanted me to write instead of do anything else. And it was easier to do when I was working in the restaurant business because you get home at two in the morning right? You couldn't get home at two in the morning and direct anything you know what I mean? I couldn't afford the time off and then my scripts just got a Danny Aiello is actually my fairy godfather. I know if you know Danny recipes, Danny, the unbelievable actor from do the right thing and Moonstruck and Danny got a play of mine and fell in love with it and said, Who the hell are you? I need to work with you. And we did a bunch of readings and he was like my fairy godfather. And then he got me to Johnny Blanco, who's a very famous manager who handled like Lauren Bacall on Peter O'Toole. And he asked Yeah, I mean, more like Anthony Quinn Paul Schrader now, I mean, just amazing. And Johnny, because I was doing a play with Danny who represented said, Do you want to manage? I was like you he said, Yeah, I said, you're the only person I would be the only person on your client list that I didn't know. And he said, nonetheless, I think you're gonna be good. And he signed me. Got me to CAA. CAA got me out of the camera. I like how they're doing I did beautiful together the first Bardem movie I wrote a few more drafts of that before I ease out and then we got back on Birdman and the rest is history for films and then the rest of my film stuff but I've done plays and Broadway and stuff as well. That's how I got there.
Alex Ferrari 4:52
That's how you got there met so it's it's interesting because so many so many people listening right now are still you know, working in the restaurant business, trying to get their skin reps made. But you were also in New York at the time, right? So it was a little different kind of like I always tell people, if you want to get hit by a car, you gotta go where the traffic is. That's fair enough. Yeah. And New York and LA are kind of those two places. Would you agree?
Alexander Dinelaris 5:15
I would agree. I mean, eventually have to find your way there. Because if you're going to creep up into a writers room, or if you're, you know, you could write scripts from anywhere and submit them and but yeah, better that you're mingling meaning somebody sees your stuff, of course, your your your analogies, right.
Alex Ferrari 5:32
Yeah. And it's interesting that it's this this business in general, there's Oh, you always need to have like a Donnie Brasco style person, not an Italian but I'm saying a person who vouches for you to give you some sort of credibility to open a door like Daniela was your was your very God, Father, essentially, he was the one that and when people said, Oh, if Danny's looking at him, he must be so he's just one person to open that creek that door open. And then your town will do what you're telling.
Alexander Dinelaris 6:02
That's an interesting point. Because those those people that you say that might be listening, all of you out there that might be listening that are that are trying to get there. So we're in the restaurant business, which I've been for 24 years, by the way, I wasn't as successful writers as almost 40. So but there's also so we don't jump straight to Danny Aiello because you could be listening to this going like, Yo, how the hell do I meet Danny yellow, that's the problem. But that's not how it happens either. Right? How that happened was I wrote a play. I did that play in a staged reading. Somebody in the reading was a friend of my friend who was an agent, like commercial agent, a guy named Doug Keston. From paradigm, amazing commercial agent, amazing guy goes to the he loved to play. And at the time, the actor that I had in the part was going out, but he loved the play so much is like, Can I help you? You know, find somebody I was like, Oh, my God, that meant at the time, by the way, I'm living in a eight foot by five foot room and Brooklyn eating Chinese food for five days, you know, I mean, like, terrible. And he calls me up a few days later and says, How would you feel about Danny Aiello? I'm like, What are you crazy? Like? Like, right, like, well, let's get it to him. And there's a funny story of about I won't go into it. But my point was, it wasn't just Oh, hi. Here's that Danny Aiello.
Alex Ferrari 7:15
Of course, no, there's always
Alexander Dinelaris 7:17
A little reading of a play in a little place with a bunch of friends. Somebody was there. He said, I liked it. So it's not just, you know, it's about how you build relationships, how you network and this gets back to your go into traffic is, the more people you know, if you're doing good work, somebody notices, tell somebody else. And then you get to Daniella, which gets you through the fence to whatever happens next. So there is a, you know what I mean?
Alex Ferrari 7:39
Yes, absolutely. I agree with you. 110%. The point is that, yeah, you have to just do work because you didn't write. You didn't write that first script, thinking that you were gonna get someone like to Daniella to open a door for you. You were just doing the work. But I have to ask you, man, and this is something I think a lot of people listening would identify with. How did you keep going until you meet all those years? You said 24 years in the restaurant business? What kept you going following the dream of being a writer and a director?
Alexander Dinelaris 8:07
I mean, but I was I, I let it die. It was never a writer. It was always I just wanted to direct theater. You know, I never thought I would be a writer. I didn't plan on it. So I let it die. I was very dysfunctional. I grew up in a house that was no good. I was drinking too much booze. When I was too young. I lived on the street for a couple of months in New York City. Like it was a mess, man, I I couldn't have my lights on. You know, it was bad. But I always loved it. Right? I love theater, I loved stories, I love film, always. And then I got into the restaurant business what happens you sort of get numb because when you have enough to pay your bills, and it just gets you enough, then you've you're so depressed that you're not doing what you love to do that you finish work at the restaurant at one and then you drink your face off till four you know and then you rinse and repeat for about what turns into two days to 10 years, you know, and I did everything there was to do in a restaurant from washing dishes and peeling shrimp to owning one. Which you know, general managing all that stuff but one day I just quit it 2000 Or something I just quit it and ran to Florida and but then I said I'm gonna try it so I wrote the plays and then it worked. So I I didn't keep the dream alive in the middle. I just envied the dream and it was really depressing time for me. And still to this day when I'm you know, I swear to God like this is my house. This is my office is my man cave down here because they have a drum set back there.
Alex Ferrari 9:44
So yeah, I was gonna say there's a very loving drum. Yeah
Alexander Dinelaris 9:49
All my Yankees baseball's are there
Alex Ferrari 9:51
Is that a golden glow back there? Yeah, I think that yeah, of course.
Alexander Dinelaris 9:56
And there's no night there's no night that I don't or morning that Don't wake up and come down here and go, What the hell happened? Like I, I wake up every day like, I mean it, like super grateful like, like that. But it's crazy, you know how I got from there to here and that for anybody listening like that, like there is a road it just takes the road is the road, you know, and I think people get discouraged. Oh you do things you submit it Yeah, but you know agents aren't reading your shit and you're not sending them straight to a studio like it seems impossible but it is, like you said about doing the work by having friends read about opening up your circles to people who are more in their business and your talent hopefully will naturally float you up, you know, toward the top. If you if you network enough and give your stuff enough and have good soul and help other people and, you know, I believe that I'm living proof of the luckiest son of a bitch in the world.
Alex Ferrari 10:54
Yeah, it's it's a beautiful, I love what you're saying. It's actually really beautiful because it's there's so much hardship trying to get into this business. It is it is absolutely brutal. Arguably the most difficult business in the world to crack into really, it's easy as you can be a brain surgeon faster. Honestly.
Alexander Dinelaris 11:12
Yeah. Or more directly. That's true. Absolutely. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 11:15
There's no quit because there is no path. And I love when you said the path is the path. The journey is the journey. And it's different for every single person. No one else is going to write a play who then a friend sees it then UN agencies and then it gets to a Danielle yellow caliber actor who then opens the door for you. They get nobody's going to that. And my biggest mistake growing you know, coming up in the business is I just started seeing everybody else's I was like, oh, that's how Robert Rodriguez did it. Well, maybe that's what I should do. Or that's how Kevin Smith did because that came up in the 90s so it's like yeah, and then ever works.
Alexander Dinelaris 11:46
Yeah, stories about him given blood and raising the money for like,
Alex Ferrari 11:50
Direct filmmakers. I've talked to him like yeah, gave blood to and I'm like, How'd that work out for you? Bro? I'm still hustling man. I'm like, that was his God. That's his path. So you got to find that path for yourself, I think is a big thing. So you finally get to see a you get to to meet Mohandro. But yeah, but at the time, but when you met Alejandro was that 100 other 100 yet, or was he just coming up?
Alexander Dinelaris 12:17
He had just finished No, he had just won the Golden Globe for and was nominated for the Oscars for Babel.
Alex Ferrari 12:24
Oh, that's right. The Babel he did that do that also, he was already on the hunter. He was already on the cattle.
Alexander Dinelaris 12:28
He did his first three movies with a an unbelievably talented writer named Giamatti. Yaga. Who did modeste back at us 21 grams and battle. Right and then those guys parted ways. And he was looking for another writer and this agent in New York from CAA who Johnny, Danny and by introducing me to Johnny Johnny submitted my stuff to CAA. At CAA there was a theater agent named Olivier Sultan, who's still my agent, one of my best friends. And Olivia fell in love with my play still life and crazy. Because Alejandra I think we've just moved from paradigm to CAA I believe, and he was looking at any parted ways with with Guillermo. And he was looking for writers and CAA since he was a new client and he was you know, just on babbling, he's, you know, up and coming as one of the biggest directors and they sent them a pile of scripts and the way Alejandro told me story was like he read through a million scripts and called CAA was like it's not working, I can't find it. Went through the bottom of his pile. And there was my play. Not it's not a movie script with my play still life and he read it. And they called up, you know, his people at CAA and said, Who the hell is that guy? I need to talk to that guy. And they call me in New York City I'll never forget I was in my sweatpants, eating a TV dinner of a trade with my wife watching the Yankees play Toronto Blue Jays, I'll never forget it. And I got a phone call. It's like, is this Alexandre? And I said, Yeah, this is Alexandra Gonzalez. I read your play. Still Life is full of blood. I want to drink your blood. That was literally the first thing that mother ever said to me, ever. That's what he said. And my wife was fooling because she thought he was so gorgeous. She was like, Oh my God. And I'm like, what is happening right now? He's like, can you come to LA tomorrow? I got on a damn plane. That was a Tuesday night. I got on a plane the next day. And the next night he and I were having dinner, discussing what would become the film Beautiful. Two days later, he called me agents. And he's like, I want Alex. He's my writer. And I joined him in Spain and we wrote beautiful, do crazy,
Alex Ferrari 14:29
That's insane. This. These are the kinds of stories that are heard about in the, in the in the back alleys of Hollywood. This is what happened. This is you. It can happen for you too, though. And they'll say these kinds of stories. But that's such an that literally, the universe was guiding you. There's just no question.
Alexander Dinelaris 14:49
There's no other explanation. There's no it makes no sense. It may get a pile of scraps from all these. Imagine the famous writers that were in Ohio. Oh shut up. Play at the bottom, by the way from New York. Yeah, I remember somebody said to me, I forget who it was, but I'm there recalling the stories like, like the Ito like I forget who it was somebody high up it's yeah, one of the you know owner Kevin or Brian or something. And he was like, you know, Alex, I found my writer Alex, they were like, oh my god, that's amazing. Why didn't we think of it as a perfect, you know, marriage. And then they called New York and like who the hell is Alex? And they're like, Oh, he's a playwright. Olivia has like getting on the phone. He needs to get on a plane. And I was like, that's, that's how that's how that went. And did you ever?
Alex Ferrari 15:36
Did you ever see the movie? The big picture with Kevin Bacon? Yeah, it was pets kinda it has a little bit of that vibe to who is who's this guy? Yeah, highest guy.
Alexander Dinelaris 15:50
Nobody knew me. I was brand new.
Alex Ferrari 15:52
So So you fly out? Do you fly out of Spain to meet all the hunters? So
Alexander Dinelaris 15:56
I flew from New York to LA.
Alex Ferrari 15:58
Okay. Oh to LA and then when you start to work with with Alejandro as a collaboration? Well, first of all, when you went to meet him that night, dude, what is that? Like, bro? How do you
Alexander Dinelaris 16:09
I can't even tell you the joy of it. Like I'm, I'm a schmuck. I'm not making any money. But I get out there he picks me up for dinner in his car. We go to this Italian restaurant that we still go to now it's a little outdoor place like not doesn't look super fancy. But it's really good. The food's great. He loves it. And they're letting him smoke out on the patio, which in LA, you can imagine. Oh, good. But we're we immediately hit it off. Right? So we're like three bottles of wine in. And I like that. I don't know if you remember the movie beautiful. But I like I'm, like, gets up from the table. And he's like, No. And then we're on the water. I'm gonna see you look up dead body floating like eyes, look at your dead body. And there's everybody eating right around us in the restaurant. But he gets so passionate. And he just starts doing this that not everybody. I know, all of a sudden, like a graveyard in the water. And I was just I loved every minute. But you could just picture the people nearby going.
La la la is just added we yeah, we fell in love on our first day. Oh, that's amazing.
Alex Ferrari 17:12
And so let me ask you working with someone like Alexander, who's obviously a genius. He's an absolute genius. What are some of the lessons you learned as a writer working with him specifically on that first project? And then we'll get to Birdman.
Alexander Dinelaris 17:25
Well, the first project was amazing, because here I am in this world with that I go to I go to Spain to Barcelona where that movie takes place. And it's about street people. African immigrants who sell the purses and the videotapes, like a big part of the story. And the story is how the out of out of them has two kids and he's dying. And he has no place to leave them. His wife is sort of bipolar, and he doesn't have family and he doesn't have money. And this whole very, so sad. What do I do with this? What do I do with these kids? Um, so we went to Barcelona for a week or two, we did the research, we interviewed, we went through the little apartments of these people and how hard they work and how tough they live, it was really, and then saw sites and you know, you sort of got what we what we needed. And then he said, make it your own, you know, now make it your own. And I went back, I moved to Barcelona for about a month. My wife was my best partner, my wife Nyla. And she was like, just go because I wanted to be there were so about the streets of Barcelona. So I lived there. And I just typed it out. And I handed it to all Hondo and he said to me, like, this is not what I wanted. And I was like, I thought it was kidding at first. And he was like noticed. In all sudden, he sounded sad. And I was like, oh shit. Like, he means this. And we did all the work together. We talked about like I didn't. And he said, I'm gonna go to Mexico and write a few scenes, and then I'll send them to you, you'll see more of the tone. And I was like, oh my god, it's free. And I remember sitting on a couch, I gotta admit, I was I was crying. Like I wanted to be I wouldn't be to my wife was just, you know, I was just so sad. Not only because it was Alejandra, but because like, I felt so strongly about what I had done. No, no the story. Then he sent me some scenes. And I realized, oh, no, I'm not. I liked him. We liked each other so much. And I'm like, I can't write that story. So I talked to Nyla. I talked to my agents. And then finally one night, I got on the phone with Alejandro and I was like, brother, I can't write this. You're a genius. And this movie is going to be amazing. But I'm not your guy. And I'll make it worse because I don't believe that. That isn't my understanding. And I'm too close after a month with these people that I I wrote. But you can use everything I wrote. And I'm sorry. He's like, Well, you know, get him on. I used to hammer it out. And I'm like, yeah, if I thought we were close, but we're not close, and I'm just going to hurt your movie. And it was funny because I love comedy was the only guy that understood that Like I remember the night I think Hillary counted the same way we both were really sad about it. We were like, we knew it was strictly about the work. And he respected that. And I respected him so much. And I and that was it. And I didn't talk to him again until he was going to do the premiere, which I have not a premiere screening at the Seoul house in New York. And he invited me and I was so nervous. I brought my friend Olivier my agent just to hold his leg because I was so nervous, and everybody was there, like Julian's neighbor was there and I had for fun. So is there and I watched the movie and a lot of the stuff for the father and the kid stuff was still had my stuff and spirit in it. And, and so that relieves me a little bit. And then the other stuff was the other stuff. And he was so nice about it. And we have lunch the next day. And he said, What did you think? I was like, What am I supposed to say? I was like, it's a beautiful movie, I still stand where I stood before. I think when its focus is on this thing. It's, I feel more of that. When it doesn't, I sort of don't but and you know, like my reps and people stop talking me for a little while because they thought, here's this. Here's this new guy. And he's vein crazy, difficult. And I was none of those things. But they didn't know that Allah Hamiltonian knew that. And sorry to make the story longer than it should. But so I resigned from the film. I'm the first name on special credits. I remember sitting with my friend Brad, Fryman watching a clip of have you had on the Oscars that year. And I stand on my buddy Brad, who was an actor who's standing right next to me, I'll never forget. And they were showing the clip of how he ended because he was nominated for Best Actor for that. And I said, look at that, Brad, I said, that's the closest I'm ever gonna get to an academy award right there. Like that thing. And Brian was like, get a whiskey like, I was I was buying. Yeah. And then so my agents, you know, were not pleased, and understandably, but they didn't hear the whole story. And then I went to, I used to write in Puerto Rico. I used to write on the West Coast and Isabella whenever I went to go, right. And I was working on a musical of the bodyguard of all things, the Lawrence Kasdan movie, and I was doing a Musical for England. And I got there and I got a call from Alejandro and he said that, he said, I have an idea. It's a comedy dark comedy in one take. And I want you to write it with me. And I said, Man, nothing would make me happier. We have unfinished business and I would love that and he said, Do you mind because the guy who the guys who replaced me were Nico and Armando on beautiful. They're the ones are credited with Alejandro. He's like, do you mind if I bring this guy Nico in with me? And I was like, Miss mother. Yeah, sure. What am I saying? No. But, you know, then I got a call from my agent who was like, Hey, I heard you.
Alex Ferrari 22:51
And I was like, of course, of course. Understand the body pow.
Alexander Dinelaris 22:57
I heard Yeah. All right. You had a kid two years ago. But like I said, I understand it. I really do. So then we flew to New York. I met Nico and it took Nico and I one day to become brothers. And then Nico, and I were writing Birdman. And then Armando came in was do album story. And Alejandro, you know, had the idea. And that's how that happened. In the craziest way. We ended up working on Birdman. And that's how that story went. So I guess I risked everything I didn't mean to I still I don't know if I went back in time. Now I, I probably wouldn't have done it again. And my wife was a champ for standing by my side as well as my age and Olivia. Because you imagine how crazy that sounds?
Alex Ferrari 23:43
Well, you know, I mean, you mad? I read brother, that is a hell of a story. Because you just you get your shot with arguably, you know, one of the greatest directors of his time of his generation. And everyone knew he was going in that direction. Without question, and you decide to have in Hollywood integrity. As I put it out in quotes, integrity for the story, like it sounds insane. This is Hollywood talking this Hollywood thing. Agents looked at it but on the hunt, understood where you were going with it respected and respected it because you're right, because a Hollywood director that would have a Hollywood writer who might have not had the same sensibility as you would have been like, this is my shot. I'm gonna hammer it out with him. And it might have made the film worse, but you outed up you said this is not gonna
Alexander Dinelaris 24:36
I probably should have. But I did. I just respected him so much. And I was like, I'm not going to get in the way of this genius. Like I'm going to write that badly. I'm going to write that badly. And this is my first shot and and, you know, like I said, I don't I don't know if I do the same thing again. today. I'd like to think I would. I was making no money at the time when I quit, you know, is making I two plays off Broadway in New York, which pays you all about 25 $30,000 In total, in some of the biggest off Broadway theaters in New York, by the way, and they still, you know, there's no money in it. And, you know, my wife was making all the money at that time. She calls me her startup now to this day. Oh, that's a great I love that. Yeah, she does. But she stood by me. But yeah, Alejandro knew what I was saying. And I was saying, I'm not gonna get in the way of your vision of this of this film. And nobody else got it. But he got it and then came right back to me. And now we've done four together. We're still doing stuff together. We're brothers. I love him. So it just worked out.
Alex Ferrari 25:41
Man. It definitely worked out the way it's supposed to work out for you. And it's the thing that's great about it is looking in from the inside out from outside in. It's insanity, but from the inside out, it makes all the sense in the world. It looking back. Yes, looking back, looking back at when you're in it not so much. Now, I have to tell you about Birdman. I was that year I, I I heard about Birdman. And obviously, look, it looked really interesting. And I was a fan of Alexandria. And I watched it and I'll never forget my first impression of of Birdman. I turned to my wife and I said, Oh my God, that's what a director is. I haven't seen a director direct, really direct and have such a clear vision and such a long time. And and that that's not a slight on any of the director, just his vision was so vivid for that film. And it just was like he took you by the nose and carried you through the entire movie, and the performances and the one shot and I'm like, What is going on when you're writing that with him? It's an insane story. Yeah. Everything is a little bit like it's insane. The characters are all over the place. Meaning that like there's so many different things going on in that story. How did you keep it all? That's I guess that's why you need it for three to four writers on it. What kind of keep it all in check with Tell me.
Alexander Dinelaris 27:07
Alejandro has strong vision of what it was. Yeah, he had a very strong vision. And Armando is a director as well and a very good one at that. They tend to be story guys. I mean, Alejandro is generating a story. And Nico and I are the sort of writing dyes like how do we make that? How do we put that into, you know, exterior, St. James Theatre in New York City. I think like I said, Nikko and I had became inseparable and we were finishing each other's thoughts and we're two very different kinds of writers like I don't know if you shot Nico has a really quirky great film called John and the whole that was caught it was in the stupid right in the pandemic but he's Nico is a an absurdist at heart. He's a an abstractionist. And I'm a dialogue, action conflict. And together it was that's what Birdman is right? Either you have Michael Keaton and Emma Stone and you're not important, blah, blah, blah, get used to it. Or you have him eating bologna going, Oh, no, no, this play is chasing me around with a tiny arrow hit me and balls are Birdman flying. And that's the guy and the two of us just love each other's styles, even though we don't write in each other's styles. So we would laugh, you know? So we think Speaking for myself, I mean, I know Alejandro, I'm gonna, you know, I'll tell you a million ways why all 100 is a genius. But speaking for myself in this particular style, played right into my strength as a playwright. Right, of course. Yeah. dialogue scenes, clever, keeps moving. It's not elliptical. it for me, it was like going home, you know, to my plays. And I love that. So I focused on that. Nikko focus on the more esoteric, and Alejandro is a master of both. He's a master of the 5050 and two people in a room going at each other. And he's a master of the visual epic sweep move. But I think the best thing I can say about my partner Alejandro is that his guts, just don't lie to him. He knows in a way like when he and Chivo the RDP, course on him and Chivo are standing there and working it out. You just sit back and I don't know what to say. You you you just sit with your mouth shut and watch. It's a stunning thing to see happen. Their instincts are so pure and have adrenaline in them by all by themselves and that's what for me the best Birdman Birdman to you was what Goodfellas was to me when I saw it. Oh, you just pull yanked you into this world. And then you're in this world and you just don't get out of it. It's just strap in and go and I feel like Alejandro outside of the right I'm just talking about his direction. Did that like Birdman? Whether you like it or love and people love it and people hate it. Like I get both? I really do. But for the people who love it, I think it feels like that you got pulled into this ride and it's dark and it moves and you just don't know what's happening. It doesn't feel familiar in a way which is you know, really lovely. I think.
Alex Ferrari 30:34
And think I'm rare and rare these days.
Alexander Dinelaris 30:36
And rare. Yeah, I felt that last year about that about everything everywhere, which wasn't my favorite film, but I certainly loved it. But it felt like oh shit. Yes. Right. To rocks or boulders are speaking to each other. That's perfection like this.
Alex Ferrari 30:49
Are those hot dog hands?
Alexander Dinelaris 30:52
Why we're like get to the Lego we're good.
Alex Ferrari 30:56
No, no, that's Don't even get me started me to have the boys on the Daniels on before they were the Daniels and and just hearing the story of how that I'm like, You guys are insane. It's insane. It's at the moment, that movie since it was so wonderful. It was such a wonderful film as well. In you know, speaking of Chivo I mean, Chivo had a run their three three Oscars in a row, grab and Hunter had revenue. Yeah, not not not a bad run. And then other hundra had back to back. Oscars for Best Director, which I don't know if that has that happened before
Alexander Dinelaris 31:27
It has I think once or twice before I remember
Alex Ferrari 31:30
It's rare. It's a rarity. It's definitely not something that happens often working, when you're saying this, this thing and you're watching Chivo and, and 100 working on set, and they just know that they trust their gut. It sounds to me like they're just that thing that we all all the creatives all of us creatives do when we try to connect to the ether to connect to the source of whatever creativity is, it seems that they have a very strong connection to it. And they trust them implicitly implicitly, like they just because a lot of times as a writer or as a director, you second guess you kind of like oh, maybe maybe not. It sounds like these guys are like people. It's like watching the Beatles writing a song and those documentaries just like just to firing on all cylinders.
Alexander Dinelaris 32:15
Yes. That's that's I've been in the room. I mean, I've been privileged to be in the room. It's crazy. And I I think I want to be clear, because I you know, I know. And I've been friendly with with, you know, Alexandra Alfonso, Guillermo del Toro, GMO. I'll say this, if the world still around in 50 years, there are going to be full chapters in film books about that. These three guys. Oh, I've seen that period of time. And they make very different movies. But they all come from the same place. This one though, they're gonna call Mexican, Mexican cinema of the arts. Is this. Passionate? Like, it's not the genius of Paul Thomas Anderson, or the genius of the Cohens, which are massive geniuses. But the difference in style with the Mexicans, for me, is this lead by the gut. balls out the mistakes are part of the, you know, like I watched Todd's want to be that with Kate tar? No, yeah, it's it's perfection. It's I don't mean the story. I just mean, it's constructed in a way that's so perfect. And it's super wonderful. Our guys aren't like that. They're even when it's choreographed to an inch of its life, the mistakes are part of the joy of it, the the car chase famous car, Chase and city of men. You know, give everyone a sequence and Pan's Labyrinth that keeps cutting back and forth. Like, they just do things. And it's the totality of their instinct. That is what's right, not the perfection of what they're doing. Their stuff is pretty unbelievable. But you know what I mean? And I think that's what that's what this moment and those guys have in common this instinct like you said, this, this, this barometer that just, it just takes them the right way and or takes them somewhere.
Alex Ferrari 34:30
Right! I mean, you look at get on or you get off. Yeah, look again, most stuff. I mean, it's so yermo like there's just no, there's no one else on planet who can make a film now. Like and those are the best kind of filmmakers are you can't see anyone else making the avatar. Regardless, you can't see you can't see anyone else making et. Like you just can't see that. It's not possible. It's the DNA is so mixed. In that, you know, don't make it like, like, Spielberg couldn't make a Goodfellas. But it's not going to be Marty's Goodfellas. No, you know, and Marty could have made jaws. Right? It's just not going to be the same. That's right. I'm working with Alejandro now on so many projects, what is like the biggest lesson you've learned as a writer working with him?
Alexander Dinelaris 35:23
He has a, he has a bullshit meter, where you can write something really, really great. You know, and, you know, writers, we usually hate 90% of what we write, but you'll find something say, oh, that's, that's really great. And he's like, yeah, it's, it's really good. Really good. I'm not going to use it. Because I can do that whole thing you just did. If I just do this, the cameras go there. But it's great. Nice idea. What else do we have in here? Like? I just spent three weeks like what are you talking about? And then you're watching you're like, yep, yep. He was like, they have an amazing way to get past. Alessandra is an amazing, it's again, it's his truth meter. He just he just knows if it feels, you know, right or wrong, or whether it's an image or a line, he just, he has a knack. You know what? He comes from music. Like I like him. It was very much from music. I think he was when I was in the restaurant business. I think he was a DJ. But music means a lot to him. And that's how he I think that's his paradigm. He sees everything as this sort of rhythm and music and whether it's time for a dissonant note or harmony, Hill Hill Hill, no sort of injury. But that's that's what it feels like. And he's taught me to lean more on like, stop being so polished and stop saying everything. Say let's get down to the center of it. And he's made me better. I mean, he made me better instantly with with Birdman and even seen some beautiful. You know that that survived? He just makes me better.
Alex Ferrari 37:05
Now, I always like asking this question from people who've won Oscars. What was it like being in the center of the storm? That was Birdman, the whole pomp and circumstance, you're going to award shopto award show and everyone's You're the best, you're the greatest. This destroys most, most people it does in Hollywood, we've seen it 1000 times. How did you deal with being in the middle of this whole hurricane? Essentially, it's the Eye of the Storm essentially.
Alexander Dinelaris 37:35
Well, I think I think the greatest thing about being a screenwriter is that nobody knows who you are. You have to tell somebody, I was funny. I was at a funeral of my great aunt. She was like 100, and something years old. God bless her. And I was on somebody I hadn't seen in 20 years. My Armenian side of the family came up to me at the funeral was like, Oh my God, you're famous. I said I'm not famous. Like you're famous. We saw you on the Oscar. I'm nothing I'm nothing. I said what's your favorite movie that you ever saw on your whole life? And she said Shawshank Redemption, I said who wrote it I said What's your second favorite movie? Casablanca I was like who wrote it? Like nobody not like only movie people you know? Screenwriters. You get your under the radar plus there was me Nico Armando. Like we were all sneaking on the Alejandro you know, everybody's looking for him as the director as the offshore naturally. So it wasn't that crazy we we had the joy of being able to be part of it and still be able to enjoy it with our wives and like we had a ball of the Golden Globes we were getting drunk at the table we had a we had a ball the whole time we just had a ball because it wasn't it wasn't real it you know, we weren't under any pressure at all right? So it was fine like i i was there I'll show you I don't know if I can go get it for you but it's the start know if you if you go if you go to whatever YouTube wherever you watch the shisha you know Birdman winning Best Picture, whatever. We had one screenplay. Amazing. Alejandro had one director Chivo one. We were hoping Michael would win I am. So that's, that's. Yeah. But so we had done our thing. And then Best Picture. So Best Picture, you win and everybody goes up on stage. So now we're up there with Mr. Ed Norton. And you know, all of it. I'm like, nobody's looking at me like Arnon milchan Jim's constable the great producer. And I'm standing up there and like well, literally nobody at home or in this theater is looking at me. So you can see it in the YouTube video. I reach into my pocket and I take out my phone and I just go like I don't aim I just go like this. And I you know turn that camera really fat one click. I put it right back in my pocket. I'm like, I probably got you know somebody His feet, but I had to try it. Well, the picture that came out iPhone was this why?
Alex Ferrari 40:09
Oh my god that everyone who's listening you got to go onto YouTube and look at this. Well that is amazing.
Alexander Dinelaris 40:18
Holding the Oscar and the god light that's coming right down on it. And there's like Jared Leto and Clint Eastwood and my wife is out here in front of Harvey Weinstein and Anna Wintour in the red dress. Love word when I got that,
Alex Ferrari 40:31
Did you give that to I'm assuming you gave that to Alejandro
Alexander Dinelaris 40:33
I didn't give it to anybody. He asked me for it. I was like, Nope, that's my you want to visit that come to my house. But it was a wonderful moment. An example of like, I was just enjoying it. I was just, and there's. Yeah, it's so amazing. I would show you some other stuff. If this was a if we were on the video because there's a video of my friends who are all gathered in New York City in a basement 50 of my best friends. Yeah, and when we win, that's the only thing that ever made me cry that year. Was they sent me that that night at four in the morning, whatever. Oh, there's a video of them nervous. And then Eddie Murphy says Birdman. And they, overall, I mean, erupt and cry and laugh and they had one and made me so emotional. It's still one of my favorite moments.
Alex Ferrari 41:21
Oh, my God. Brother. That's it's it's fun. It was. It's fun. Now after you win the Oscar, then of course, everybody in town. You're one of the you're an Oscar winner. Now you're Yeah, you're an Oscar winning screenwriter, everybody, how does the town treat you different? Did it to you differently? Did it treat you the same? I mean, you're already You're not a kid. So you're I think you can handle whatever comes your way a bit better than if you were 20 and gotten that. Yeah.
Alexander Dinelaris 41:47
And I also lived through you know, not so great time. So I'm, like I said I I'm generally grateful. Um, yeah, things change, you know, the jobs become different. You make your agents job easier. Because they can go out and say, you know, it wasn't there were four of us credited on the film, so you know, but yeah, offer started cutting differently. And then once I got on zooms with people, they understood who I are or in person means they understood who I was, then it definitely created more work, obviously a little bit more money. And I don't have to pitch stuff as much anymore. I can if it's personal, but the biggest advantage is people come to you and say, Hey, how about this and you know, I tend to want to work with with like, young not young, but new filmmakers makes me happy like I just did Carmen which is out now with Benjamin VPN. That was his first feature he has an amazing I'm doing with resident there with Rene I'm doing the Puerto Rico film. Because I love the still searching for it. And then occasionally I'll do the you know, film Alejandro talking about doing something else now, but I'll do the other ones as well. But I get a now it's more I get to a little more ability to choose what I want to do and not have to hustle as it were. You know, as much as I used to thank God because I'm 55 So I don't know that the energy for it,
Alex Ferrari 43:18
Bro. You're telling me about a man. It's getting tough out here to hustle, keep keep that hustle, go. When when you wake up and you hear things popping and creaking Are you like Oh, hell
Alexander Dinelaris 43:30
Wake up to the bathroom.
Alex Ferrari 43:33
So this so the startup paid off for your wife essentially.
Alexander Dinelaris 43:36
Yeah, yeah, she's smart. She's a smart one.
Alex Ferrari 43:41
Yeah, my my wife was it my wife calls me the not an investment but not an endowment but a some sort of financial instrument that pays off years later. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. It's just like, oh, it's finally starting to pay off. It's like it's all taken. Like yeah, it's a long term investment. This one this was Yeah.
Alexander Dinelaris 44:02
That's your to do. I'm 48 or 48 48
Alex Ferrari 44:09
And you and I walked over the same dead body, sir. Okay, so and our hunter was shooting them and like and then so you worked also as a co producer on the Revenant which is again another man he was just nailing these two things back to back. Yeah, back. I was just like, what is what is this man on? And can I get some? Like it was remarkable. You work as a co producer. I'm assuming you helped a little bit on the back end with the writing or polishing or
Alexander Dinelaris 44:42
I help with the story a little bit and we helped we advised on on that sort of thing and we're close to him when he when he needed us during that period. Would you want that? Nico went to set I was in New York. I was working on my musical and I was working with get them on something at the time. So I didn't get to go. But Nico went. And it was crazy all the stories and I would get the phone calls. But that's just another example of those two. Mainly, I don't think I'll ever do that. That. I mean, he just did Bardot, which was insane. But, like Revenant was like three hours of light. They're using all natural light. It's four degrees, they want to know they gotta go to Patagonia. Leo's going, you know, mething is way like a madman, like, he wanted to live at all like, he ate it up and live that I mean, I'm so glad he won for that. Because
Alex Ferrari 45:36
If he was he literally was going to kill himself until they gave him an Oscar for God's sakes, someone
Alexander Dinelaris 45:42
Tries to kill himself in revenue. I mean, he might as well as it was in the freezing water is eaten buffalo liver, like the guy's a maniac, an incredible actor, and I'm so glad they they rewarded him. But that was everybody just, you know, whatever, risking life and limb to to make a film. And I think you can see it in the in the imagery. I think you can see it in the film.
Alex Ferrari 46:03
I mean, the the the when I heard the stories coming out from the set, and I had a few friends of mine who worked here and I would hear stories. I'm like, This can't be like three hours of natural light. I mean, I know it's Chivo. And I mean, achiever I trust I but she's like, it's crazy. It's crazy. What's the craziest story that you could share publicly that you heard? We'll talk about the nonpublic hard
Alexander Dinelaris 46:29
The hard, right. Yeah. And the hard part is what we can say publicly.
Alex Ferrari 46:36
Because I, what I heard is that the he there was a ringing of a bell or something like that, or a siren once a day, to remind everybody what they were, why they were doing. Let's say we're doing something like that.
Alexander Dinelaris 46:48
It's Alejandroism of I don't know, trying to think of what because there's a lot of really good stories. I don't know if I'm allowed to say it. So. i Yeah, I'm not I'm gonna refrain from that question.
Alex Ferrari 47:01
Okay, well, after it's fine. You could tell it to me offline, but I'm telling you, I'm just started. Sure. It's, yeah, I'm gonna start a show one day and just record the things I get. The best stories ever, man,
Alexander Dinelaris 47:16
Gonna be the end of the year.
Alex Ferrari 47:18
No, no, I'll do that when I'm on like 90 And everyone's dead already.
Alexander Dinelaris 47:21
Yeah, very good.
Alex Ferrari 47:24
No, no, no, of course, of course.
Alexander Dinelaris 47:26
There were a lot of crazy stories. And a lot of it had to do with, you know, jumping into ice cold rivers, people thermal doctors on set. Like how hard they how hard they pressed. There's all you all you have to think about is if we talked about that window of light, if anybody here has ever listening has ever made a film. And you think about how much a setup is and what it takes. And if you think about that sort of opening sequence of The Revenant, even in cuts, that that battle scene, even if you contemplate it in cuts, and try to understand how that was all orchestrated within within windows of time, that would provide light it, it would seem insurmountable. Like how they did it? I'm still not. I have no idea.
Alex Ferrari 48:14
It's it's Yeah, it is. It is a masterpiece, to say the least. Now you have also been directing as well, you've directed features you've directed. Did you have a direct use direct to the future already?
Alexander Dinelaris 48:27
Right. I haven't directed my full insurance. I directed a long short about 35 minutes called in this time, based on a play I wrote. I'm set up to direct to direct my first feature, which is actually the adaptation of the play. I told you all 100 Read to find me in the first place, which is a play called still life. Yeah. We're just trying to tie up the actors. I have the just the genius DP, Luca Bigazzi who did like I've never lets on Young Pope. I mean, he's, he's a monster. And he read it and loved it. And has has told me he wants to do it. I have a really great production designer David Rockwell here in New York, who designs all of New York. It's a very New York piece. And we're just trying to sew up the actors. We have the financing, and God willing, I'll be able to announce something soon. And hopefully, next year, we'll finally we'll finally shoot it.
Alex Ferrari 49:25
Now, from the experience you have had on set as a director, there's always a day that we all feel like the entire world coming crashing down around us. I'm assuming that was every second up revenue. But yeah, yeah. What was that day for you? And how did you overcome it?
Alexander Dinelaris 49:42
I think that was that was my first day. I had some, I had three excellent actors. We had a scene that was in a bar with two terrific actors, an intimate scene. dialogue heavy, hard and I had a DP, who was excellent. Who His name is Barry Markowitz? I'll say it. He's great. He shot Crazy Heart shot. Shot the apostle. Yes. Oh yeah. And he did this job for me for like, you know, $8 in a sandwich. Because he liked the script. And he wanted to work together. He was he's a great guy. But he's big personality. And he was on set. And then I had these producers that were wandering around on set, and I just didn't have control of it. And it was my first day on a, on any sort of feature short or long, short film, but it was my first day, and I didn't know how to stand up and how to take control. And things just spiraled one by one. People started in a vacuum. In my absence, they started making decisions that were contradictory. And I was, you know, it was a whole thing. And we got through it, and we got a good, we got good takes out of it, thank God. But the next day, you know, I thought long and hard about it that night. And the next morning, I got the whole set together. I said, Whatever went wrong yesterday is all on me. But it's not happening again. And this is how it's gonna go. And they responded, my whole crew was amazing. And they were, I think they were grateful to hear it. So it really is a lesson for me. Because when I'm directing theater, I'm entirely comfortable. But I think my self doubt about, you know, I'm not going to talk to you. I don't understand the full ramification of a lens choice, like I understand the basics, but I don't understand the full ramifications of it. And I felt like since I didn't I wanted to do defer, but then when you defer too much, it falls down around you. So I learned right away that you just want to be specific about look, this should feel claustrophobic. This should feel like you can't escape the cage of this table. And then your cinematographer says, Ah, okay, in that case, we're going to use this and we're going to and all sudden, they're lighting and they're like now now now we have so it's really even if you don't know the specifics, as long as you know, the action of the scene, the feeling of the scene what you want from it, and you and you and you have good people and you explain that you find things get better but my first day felt like a landslide getting away from me and I was a horrible helpless feeling. Thank God
Alex Ferrari 52:27
What is it is it is It's brutal. My friend is trying to make your day.
Alexander Dinelaris 52:33
Alex Ferrari 52:34
That that that that dragon is just coming after you every second that comes down lights going down? Yeah. Oh, t you got it. Oh, no, I can't go into it. We can't afford it. No, no, no, no, no, it's yeah, it's brutal, man. Now I have to ask you because I am of Cuban descent, sir. Yes. and a half to ask you what it was like, working with the legendary glorious glory. I mean, I mean, Gloria and Emilio. I grew up in Miami. I remember when Miami Sound Machine hit. Dude, it was a phenomenon. In the 8586.
Alexander Dinelaris 53:10
I tried to explain to people my youngest
Alex Ferrari 53:12
It was just a phenomenon. Yeah, and funny. Funny side note, my first job in Miami as an editor was for the director of all of those early music videos. Oh, really? Rhythms gonna get you get on your feet? I'm not sure if he did. The very I don't think he did. Dr. Bonga. If he didn't document, I don't think he did Ganga, but. But he was there. So he you know, and everybody who works that Kenneth Arrow, Arrow, Arrow, Arrow. Anyway, so I was growing up, man, like when conga hit like it was a phenomenon. It was absolute phenomenon
Alexander Dinelaris 53:54
Every every wedding and Bar Mitzvah in the countries still. It was that was a little crazy for me. Um, alright. So by the way, for the record, you're talking about the Broadway musical I wrote on your feet for them about their life story. And now you'll be happy to know that we're working on the film version now. So that should be really fun. It was amazing. I met them. My friend Nick scan dahlias, who's a producer for the needle and organization on Broadway had seen the scene a reading of the bodyguard that I'd written the other musical for the West End. And I guess, you know, he knew I was Latino or half Latino. And he saw that I had done like what they call jukebox musical with Whitney's music. He said, we come down to Miami and I said, I don't think I'm gonna, you know, I was busy and like, I don't think I'd be able to do it. And so just come down and talk to them. So they need to know what it's what it be like. And I went down I talked to them. And for me, it was something else too. Like, you know, I grew up like, I have a very, I mean, yes. I have a funny story about GLORIA But at all. I can tell that when we've talked about that, sorry, first of all, I love them and they're like family to me like, I love them. Amigo, the whole family Emily and naive as well. So I met her and I'm gonna do and they were talking about I said, Well, if it was me, I would tell the writer who's going to do this. And I would say this, because I did all the research, I read their books, they sent me all the DVDs, I did the bio like, and I said, Oh, and if it was me, I would tell the writer and somehow I got to the end of it. And Gloria is like you keep saying, You're gonna tell the writer, but she's like, I want you to be the writer. And I was like, Gloria, I told Nick, I'm just not sure I was doing Revenant is helping with revenue. And at the time, I was doing some things. I was like, I'm just not. And she's like, well, blah, blah. And by the time we're done, we're in the parking lot. And Gloria is, you know, she's not a very, she's not giant, in a in a height. manner. She's giant in other ways. In other ways in almost every other way. Her heart is giant, and our personality is giant, and her talent is giant, but she's short. And I remember her in the parking lot from their offices in Miami looking up at me. And she's like, your mother's Mark Cuban, right. I was like, yeah, she just looked at me. She didn't. Don't disappoint her. And I was like, going, yo, what do I do now? I like once I got to the airport. I call my agent. I said, I think I'm doing the the Stefan musical and he was like, really? I was like, I think I'm doing it because the minute I told my mother, I would have been done.
Alex Ferrari 56:36
No, no, that that was a very mafioso style. When
Alexander Dinelaris 56:39
She went for me she went for and thank God she did because it turned out to be one of my favorite experiences. We're still friends to this day. She's a beautiful human being. The story I tell which is slightly embarrassing. Oh god, is that I went to her. She's at her house. She has this place she calls the lair. And she
Alex Ferrari 56:59
The one on the one on Star Island. Is this she used to live in?
Alexander Dinelaris 57:01
Yeah. So a side house and has this loft. And that's where all computers and stuff isn't. She was doing this, like vlog this sort of. And she invited me to be on to talk about on your feet. So I went we didn't know each other that well then. And we were just talking and she was like, Oh, we're talking about the musical and doing research. And she's like, No, it's like this video. Which videos did she show me?
Alex Ferrari 57:25
Like a music video that she did?
Alexander Dinelaris 57:26
A music video. It was one of the later ones little ballad but she's in the white shirt with black, you know, with the tight. You had I don't know what I was thinking because I'm 50 right here. But I looked at I was like, oh my god, I had the biggest crush on you. As if I just remembered and then I realized, oh shit, I'm sitting with Gloria Steinem. I don't want to sound like a creep. Like,
Alex Ferrari 57:49
You didn't say that out loud. You just
Alexander Dinelaris 57:51
I said it out loud with my mouth hole. And I immediately must have turned like, brick red. And I was like, I don't mean that in the best. She's like, darling, I will take it anywhere. I could get it. Like I was like, Oh my god. It came right out of my mouth. I was looking at her going, Oh, I remember being like, really attracted to you. Yeah, in my teenage years being really attracted to you.
Alex Ferrari 58:14
You and me both brother though. It's just, there's nothing. There's no shame. There's
Alexander Dinelaris 58:19
Still gorgeous. Now. She's gorgeous. No kidding. We had a ball and got did my mother ever win it all right, because she got to go to the premiere. She I think my mother has seen that show more than me and Gloria I think it's possible. Like my mother has seen that show. Like, it goes to Miami. She sees it too. And they're playing a little little tiny theater up in Jupiter. She wants to go
Alex Ferrari 58:41
Listen, bro, listen, I was listen, I was when I was coming up in Miami. I was an editor and I was editing basic commercials and music videos and things every all the big stuff that was going on down in Miami. And I got to work with I did a lot of stuff for Univision and Telemundo and that kind of stuff too. And I did. I did one with cheat with Don Francisco. I did a commercial with Don Francisco from South Elgin. Bro, if I tell you when I told my parents that I had met somebody I haven't met Don Francisco. I'm editing a commercial with don't know, the entire Cuban family knew that like oh my god, Alex is famous. College is people in Havana knew that. Yeah.
Alexander Dinelaris 59:27
Yeah. Yeah, you can imagine when I brought my family back to you.
Alex Ferrari 59:32
Can you imagine that? Oh my god, that must have been
Alexander Dinelaris 59:36
She's the sweetest like, I can't even explain. I can't even explain it. She's so loving. She's such a good person. It didn't matter who you brought. Because when we were on Broadway that in the marquis theatre there was this little this very funny. There's this little room they put aside to that a little bar and Amelia would just be making, you know, rum and cokes for me and him and like we all like there was a party in that room. Oh, Um, that room that Gloria called the g spot, by the way. That was her name. That was her name for that thing. She's, uh, you know, mostly most men can't find it. So we'll be here on our own. Wow, glorious joke. It was very funny. But we used to stay there. And it didn't matter. Like one time, I had this lady who took care of our kids and she was Caribbean. Lady Doris, and she was just a ginormous Gloria fan. And I was like, I got it. So I brought it. And Gloria has a room full of important people. But she spends 15 minutes of a 30 minute or 20 minute intermission talking to these two, and I'm like this lady. That's how good this lady and they mean, they're just the most approachable, lovely human beings ever want to meet.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:52
My father was telling me like he used to see Gloria and Emilio like, at like malls, trying to get their like playing music before they like Right. Just trying to get themselves up off the ground. Yeah, like yeah, oh, yeah, we know, we've seen we saw them coming up, and then that's when conga hit and
Alexander Dinelaris 1:01:08
They were playing weddings and Bar Mitzvahs in Miami. While they were selling out arenas in South America. It was crazy.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:16
The story because it because they weren't famous here yet.
Alexander Dinelaris 1:01:20
Yeah, you got to see that you got to see the either the show when it comes by or the or I'll take the next time. It's there. It comes around all the time. Oh, my
Alex Ferrari 1:01:27
God. Oh, God. Oh, my God. Are you kidding me? So I'm going to ask you a few questions asked all my guests, my friend. Yeah. What advice would you have for a screenwriter trying to break into the business today?
Alexander Dinelaris 1:01:41
Try to make it worthwhile and not cliched. I think don't, don't try to write for somebody else. Because most people out there are doing that. So if you write with your own personality, like your talent is your talent. Nobody knows how talent you are aren't. Nobody knows, people will make choices on what they think your work is, but they just don't know. So the one thing I say is original voices tend to find their way through the one advantage a screenwriter has that other disciplines of the arts don't have is if you write original good scripts, solidly structured, good characters, solid dialogue, if you write that you're gonna work. If you get anywhere near a door and get through it, you're going to work as opposed to an actor, you're like, Well, you have that mole on your face, you're five, seven, I need 511 you're, you know, writers, it's like, substance wins more than anything else. So be yourself as much as you can. Because the minute you try to write like what you think they want to hear, you have 70 other writers out of 80 doing the same thing. And nobody, you'll never, you can't stand out. And it won't matter because it's that's not your talent, that's you imitating somebody else's talent. So I would say try to be true to yourself, hear your voice. Don't fake it. And don't manipulate your characters. Like don't be objective to them. When when you're writing a scene that was a big thing for me. Well, it is put yourself in their place. Don't. Don't say he says to her, she says to him, don't look at it from out here. Take his point of view, hear her feel what you feel right that take her point of view, feel what you feel, you have to be a little bit of a method actor about it when you're writing scenes and dialogue. And then of course, you know, as much of Aristotle as you can digest is amazing action, conflict, reverse and, you know, surprising inevitability, those things are crucial. And you'd be shocked how many times you don't see them in a scene. When you ask a writer well, who wants what from whom, and who has the action in the scene and they Well, and you're like, well, that's why it's not popping right there. So that's my best advice. Really, I think
Alex Ferrari 1:03:56
If you had a chance to go into a time machine and go back in time, and talk to that little guy at the beginning of your life, what advice would you give him?
Alexander Dinelaris 1:04:04
So I mean, hold on. Hold on, it's, I know how bad it is. I know you can't believe it. But this crazy thing is going to happen if you just keep holding on and and I would have said that to myself as a little kid. And I would have said that to myself as a teenager. And I would have said to myself at age 24 Like when it was dark, just you just just hang on and keep believing and keep being good to people and keep it try to be good to yourself. That's what I would have told them.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:37
And obviously don't walk off a beautiful.
Alexander Dinelaris 1:04:41
Please don't walk off a set with a famous director on your first film and Hollywood pompous idiot. I would have said that to
Alex Ferrari 1:04:49
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?
Alexander Dinelaris 1:04:54
In life, I'm still learning it, which is to forgive myself. You're super hard on myself, my inner monologue is horrifying. Um, I'm trying to fix that, you know, every day I have two little kids now I have an 11 and a 12 and a nine, a Molly and Elena. But I'm, I've been terrible to myself. And I need to I need to not be in the industry. It was be passionate. inspire people don't impress them. Right? Sometimes we try to impress somebody, but you don't want to impress them. Like when I talk about somebody asked me about a film, I say, Well, I would do it this way. I speak the same way. I'm speaking to you. Now. I'm like, I will hear I'm gonna like Alejandro, maybe that's why we got along, because that's how I describe scripts. So inspire people don't don't try to impress them. And then finally, I do have to say it. Those simple Aristotelian principles have carried me so far. The idea of surprising the inevitable conclusions to beat scenes, entire films. Holy shit, I can't believe that happened. Of course that happened, right? That if I was paying attention, I would have known and you think about your favorite sort of narratives, narrative films, and you're going to find that Pan's Labyrinth right? Holy shit, I can't believe she's down. Oh, of course, I wasn't, you know, everything. Usual Suspects the godfather to Birdman when he, of course, holy shit. Of course, if you were paying attention, I would, you would have seen it. That rule carries you a long way. If you can write cleverly into it. The thing I told you about manipulating your scenes about being outside them when they talk, that's a big deal. And an action complex. So I don't think it's one of the behind the, I'm not going to get up again. But there's this is all navy blue, because there's a movie screen in here. But behind the Oscar and it's a navy blue cover is my poetics, my Aristotle's poetics. I keep it right behind the Oscar to remind myself that that thing has nothing to that's nothing but luck and the grace of God and a gift for my family. But what's behind that was what got me a chance at that lottery was that book that's behind it, and it meant it's changed. It changed my life. And I didn't start as a writer I I became one and that was it.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:31
And the hardest question of all my friend three of your favorite films of all time?
Alexander Dinelaris 1:07:35
Oh, God. Today, today, no, they haven't changed in a long time. Okay. Amadeus forms, Amadeus Goodfellas. Which I don't I just remember seeing three times the first day it opened, then I didn't know what the hell was going on. And then it gets a little harder. Godfather is ridiculous. But I love you know, love Moonstruck love just makes my heart explode with envy for John, the writer,
Alex Ferrari 1:08:13
Alexander Dinelaris 1:08:20
The other thing for writers out there as well is is don't not get your stuff out there even when like I'm a mentor in the Writers Guild program. And I'm producing a film right now in New Mexico from a Colombian queer identifying writer director named Alessandra la Carozza. She was my, one of my interesting in the Writers Guild mentors program. I was a mentor. She wasn't my mentee, but she was in the program. And I told them in a group, there was about 20 of them, and I told them, I have a development company. So if you have a script that you're proud of, and you want to send it to me, send it to me, just make sure that it's your last draft, not your first for now, make sure that there's no typos. Like don't do any. Don't send me anything that tells me you were careless. But if you send it, it'll get read. And out of about 15 or 20 of them.
Alex Ferrari 1:09:08
She was the only one
Alexander Dinelaris 1:09:10
Either one or two. That sent it. Well, it turns out she's gonna have a story like my story because right now, they're in pre production in New Mexico. President is starring in her film. Leslie grace is starring in her film. She's directing it, it's a little budget, it's gonna be about 2 million, but it came because she had the balls to to have the script, be proud of it. And then I read it. I was like, I love the script. I showed it to a bunch of people. They love the script, and now we're producing her first feature. That's an awesome, great, so be brave, you know, and don't Don't be cynical, like, be brave. And yeah, you said it before. Surround yourself with other artists. Surround yourself with people. The more people the more you have a chance to climb weird stairways.
Alex Ferrari 1:09:58
Alex, thank you so much for coming on the show. It has been such an honor and privilege and and just hilarious talking to you my friend and I feel like I didn't get myself in trouble. No, I you know those are the best interviews when I when I hear the guests Oh God, I hope I didn't say something I shouldn't have said. That's always the best conversations. Yeah, yeah, that's okay. You want the asker ready? It's fine. I can retire. You're gonna be there. You did. You're good. All you gotta do is take when you rent is due to show them the Oscar and they they don't even charge you. It's the way it works right.
Alexander Dinelaris 1:10:31
Beat him with it. It's really kill them, bury them.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:35
Thank you. Thank you for not only being on the show, brother for being an inspiration to so many writers out there, my friend. I appreciate you man.
Alexander Dinelaris 1:10:41
All right, brother. Thank you.
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