BPS 078: Screenwriting & Hollywood in the Times of COVID with Greg Gertmenian

Today on the show we have Greg Gertmenian, who is the Head of Script Analytics and Film Development at Slated. He is also the co-inventor of the Script Score, the only screenplay evaluation tool proven to accurately predict good films. Helped arrange financing of films like SUPER TROOPERS 2, DEEP MURDER, CRUISE, AT FIRST LIGHT, GOD BLESS THE BROKEN ROAD, BECOMING and WHAT BREAKS THE ICE.

Prior to his time at Slated, produced short format content including the fan-beloved short film, BALROG: BEHIND THE GLORY and the award-winning, AFI Fest film THE HAIRCUT.

I wanted to bring Greg on the show to discuss Hollywood, screenwriters and the COVID pandemic, and what we all can do to survive and thrive during these crazy and uncertain times. Enjoy my conversation with Greg Gertmenian.

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Alex Ferrari 0:01
I like to welcome the show Greg Gertmenian. How you doing my friend?

Greg Gertmenian 3:39
Good, man. How are you? Good. Good.

Alex Ferrari 3:41
Thanks for having thanks for having me on the show. Thank you for you being on the show. I appreciate you coming on and talking all things about the film industry in this crazy time that we're living in right now.

Greg Gertmenian 3:54
Indeed, yeah, it's my pleasure. Thanks for having me. There's lots to talk about.

Alex Ferrari 3:57
Yeah, absolutely. So before we get started, how did you get into the business in the first place?

Greg Gertmenian 4:03
Oh, that's a good question. So. So I did. Bill films, I focused on film and comedy in school when I was in college at USC. And I wasn't a film major, but all my friends were. And so that got me into the business of sketch comedy, directing sketch, comedy writing and performing and doing some stand up. And shortly after, you know, graduating, you realize, no one's gonna make it and invite you, you got to make it yourself. So that started me on the path of making stuff. And I had some success with some short films out of school and then joined my brother's management company, which he started for for new feature screenwriters. And so I sort of cut my teeth at his shingle helping him, discover writers and sign them and then send them out and get options and writing assignments and sales and And that company was sort of the basis for the company that we would later found in 2012 called spec Scout, which was sort of the the path the career path that I'm on today with, you know, discovering new writers the script score and and the underlying technology. They're

Alex Ferrari 5:19
great and then you work now for slated or work with slated?

Greg Gertmenian 5:22
Indeed, yeah. Yeah. Erica, so

Alex Ferrari 5:24
we'll get into slated in a little bit. That's one of the reasons why I want to have you on the show because I'm really curious about slated and what they do, but because of your work with slate and and with set and specs spec Scout, before then, I mean, you have your ear to the grindstone, pretty much about the industry. So you're reading the trades, and you're talking to people, and you have a lot of information that many of us outside of the industry might not have, because you just have access. Obviously COVID has thrown the largest monkey wrench I've ever seen in the history of the industry, which is a fairly large statement to say, I've been in the business for 25 plus years. In my time, I've never seen anything and just being a student of history of our industry. I just never seen anything like this. What I mean, what are you hearing? Like, I mean, obviously, every day, you know, as of this recording, we don't know what's happening right now, as we're recording, we're, quote unquote, opening up as the cases are flying up around the country. And even here in Los Angeles. Nobody knows what's going to happen in a month, in a week. So what are you hearing from executives from finance ears, from distributors from talent? You know, what's, what's the word?

Greg Gertmenian 6:42
Yeah, I think everyone is generally pretty eager to set dates. In the near future, when stuff is going to hopefully resume and get back to normal. I'm much less optimistic than that. Just because we have, you know, so many countries that are ahead of us in the curve. And we've seen that they've opened back up and then had to pull back. So you know, generally we're seeing I think there was an announcement today that movie theaters in Los Angeles in New York are expecting to open back up in mid July. And,

Alex Ferrari 7:16
and I don't I'm not optimistic.

Greg Gertmenian 7:19
Yeah, I think so. I think that, you know, I've spoken to because that's slated, we we work, you know, we're working on 60 films at any given time, and all of them have different production schedules. And they're all trying to make their day, right. So I've heard different filmmakers approach this differently. But I think that the conventional wisdom right now is that we're going to open back up for a little period of time, during which production is going to follow pretty strict guidelines to try to keep sets small to try to keep people in the respective corners of the set during the respective duties. The unions have signed off on certain protocols with regard to that sort of limited COVID mitigated production. But then we know like every other country, that there's probably going to be a resurgence. And from from what I'm hearing, I think the resurgence is expected to be a few months later, maybe perhaps sometime in November or September. And that's obviously not a tested statement. But as far as you know, whispers through the grapevine, I think the senses we're going to get we're going to get in the game for a few months, people are going to try to do their COVID, safe, friendly productions. You know, we certainly have some films that are more contained, that have, you know, could be made with tiny crews that are planning to shoot in that frame of time. And then if and when stuff starts to hit the fan again, then we'll you know, we'll have to pull back and adjust accordingly. But I know that there are some universities out there who are planning to go back just in session on schedule in August and try to rap a little early before the the the resurgence of COVID happen. So I don't know if we're following their lead or what but I think filmmakers are eager to get done what they can while they can. Give me my I'll be back on ice in a period of a few more months. Yeah, I

Alex Ferrari 9:13
mean, I'm even less optimistic than that. I think right now just looking at the numbers and what people are talking about there. You know, it's in a 50% capacity already in LA with ICU beds. And it's growing every day because of the because of the protesting. Because of all that stuff that we didn't that wasn't even a part of the crazy that we have to deal with in 2020. And now all of a sudden, we have that thrown in. So that's a complete new monkey wrench in this normal, somewhat normal, a normal timeline that you even talking about. So um, I don't see theaters opening up in July. I just don't and if I do how, like, if tenant opens up Nolan's tenant opens up July 15. Well, yes, there'll be a handful of people Go out, is it gonna have $150 million opening? I doubt it. I don't think there's enough theaters nor enough people who are willing to go to the theater to go see it. It's unfortunate because I want to see that movie in the theater. I want to see it in IMAX. But how? I, it's such a strange world. Like I'm trying to think like, how, like, we have no blockbuster summer. This is the first since 70, whatever. 75 when jaws came out, this is the first non blockbuster summer. That's right.

Greg Gertmenian 10:29
It is. Yeah. And who who among those filmmakers want to be the first guinea pigs to try out opening in a theater that can only be filled to have capacity or whatever?

Alex Ferrari 10:39
If you're lucky. Yeah, if you're lucky. And then also like, wouldn't it be interesting, like, let's say tenant does open up, and, and it has $100 million opening, a lot of people go see it, then all of a sudden Two weeks later, the tenant wave comes in from people to contract it contracting it from I mean, it's it happened in Memorial Day. So now we're feeling that what happened on Memorial Day, two weeks later, will sir, the revealing the after effects of that, and all this other stuff. So it's it's just, it's fascinating to see. And what we're hearing in the industry in general, what, what opportunities you see for filmmakers and screenwriters post COVID because I think the industry is going to change irreparably, it will never go back to where it was, I don't think sets are going to go back to the way they were any, even in the next two, three years. I think it's gonna it's like certain things are going to just change. Do we would you agree?

Greg Gertmenian 11:36
I'm hearing a lot of that, and I haven't accepted it in my heart. But, but it's it stands to reason I think that makes sense.

Alex Ferrari 11:46
So what are the opportunities for filmmakers and screenwriters in this new post world, and this, you know, opportunities that are presenting themselves now that there might be that I always tell people that there are doors that are opening that would have been closed before? Because of COVID. So COVID is closing other doors that Normally we'd never had access to, but might be opening other opportunities up? Which like any crisis does?

Greg Gertmenian 12:10
Yeah. Well, you know, in the first place, there was an incredible shortage of, of new content, right. So what we saw first, we saw in the first three weeks of this, and it were going on over three months now, which is hard to believe. But in the first few weeks, we saw people go a little bit quiet as they were bracing themselves to figure out like what was the size and scope of this thing. And then at least on our side, because being you know, being an online platform, we deal with people all over the world. And so on our side, we saw business start to resume normally, or projects have been getting a lot of interest. We've been getting offers on projects, we didn't see money fallout of projects, we didn't see distribute distribution, fallout of projects, things seemed normal. And then they seemed almost to increase in intensity, that demand for good projects increased as streamers, distributors, buyers realized, we're not going to be getting any new content for a while. So there was a period of time and I think we're still in it, where if you had a completely film, if you have a film and post, you're, you're you're in demand more than you would have been prior to COVID. And we're definitely seeing some films that are in post that are getting pretty great offers, I don't know would have been as rich before COVID happened. So that's sort of the first opportunity. I think if you're a filmmaker with a film in post, you're you're sitting pretty. Aside from that, I think that people are definitely rethinking how they film things. I think that contained sort of sub genre of stuff is interesting for a whole different reason. And Necessity is the mother of invention. In this case, I think you know, you don't necessarily it doesn't necessarily have to be contained thriller, someone trying to get out of freezer or what have you. You know, there's a lot of we've seen a lot of very interesting sort of high concept stuff that takes place in small space. And if you can do that and make it feel organic, then that can end up being a pretty cool movie. So I think I think figuring out how to shoot those tiny skeleton crew films is an opportunity. I've already seen movies, there'll be movie selling, it can just next week, that are you know, COVID romances, quarantine romances, films that start entirely, you know, on their computer screen over Skype and and through other screen technology. So no, maybe that'll give rise to some of that. I I hear that I hear the groan in response to hyper, you know, hyper topical, you know, it's

Alex Ferrari 14:40
just like, the last thing I want to see is a movie about what I'm dealing with 24 seven I want to escape. So I get sent. I get sent. I mean, do you have any quarantine shorts? I've been sent like, Oh my god, they're just being sent to me left and right because filmmakers You know, think that they're the cool, we're gonna we're gonna be this is the thing that's gonna blow me up. This is the thing that's gonna get me I'm gonna do this. Nobody else in the world is gonna do a quarantine short, because everyone else has stopped shooting. So they're just trying to figure that out and then I get I'm like, Guys, I don't want to watch a shirt about. I just turned on the news and I'm just

Greg Gertmenian 15:18
already too much,

Alex Ferrari 15:21
it's too much. So I'm really curious about this kind of sub, the sub genre, which I think it's going to become a sub genre of filmmaking, which is this kind of quarantine thing. It might be short lived, it might be a short lived movement, maybe a you know, one of these more established filmmakers might go down that would like I would love to see like a Michael Mann quarantine film, or, or Dave or David Fincher quarantine film like that would be very interesting. in hands of masters like that, to see what that genre Yeah, precisely

Greg Gertmenian 15:54
in the hands of masters and non opportunists, for sure. But yeah, I mean, as far as the appetite of buyers, studios, distributors and investors, they're all still looking for the same stuff they were looking for, in my in my from my, from where I said, Okay, still want, you know, cool concepts, they still want visual stories. They still want diverse stories. And so I don't know that we should be changing up our whole game plan. It's more just a matter of, you know, trying to figure out how we can accomplish those same objectives in these circumstances. And if not, then how can we be ready to knock it out of the park, the moment that we are able to go back to work, and I think, you know, one of the unfortunate things is that when it's over, it won't really be over. Because not only will there be production restrictions, but there's going to be a mad dash for all of those tax credits, all of those crews and all of those regions. And it's, you know, I can only imagine how difficult it's going to be to fight for space. As everyone is trying to schedule all of that delayed production,

Alex Ferrari 16:57
it's going to be a mess, it's going to be a mad rush, because there's a limited amount of states that have tax rebates or countries that have tax rebates, and crew, and everyone's just sitting on the sidelines. And like everyone's so everyone wants to play ball at the same time.

Greg Gertmenian 17:11
And talent. Yeah, exactly, exactly. It's like if you're making an offer to an actor right now, they can presume they may be free. But But what happens when the studios make those same demands and production opens back up? Where are they going to prioritize? So? Yeah, it'll be interesting to see.

Alex Ferrari 17:28
It's such a mess. Yeah, it is such a mess. It's, it's, it's very interesting to just sit in the sidelines, and kind of watch what's going on. Because it's like, every day you really don't know. And you just mentioned the Cannes Film market, and the festival. That's different. That's like not it's happening. But it's virtually happening. So I have, you know, I have a bunch of distributor friends of mine who are at the virtual, and with a virtual booth. And I'm dying to hear how that goes. What are you hearing about this? I mean, and I think it's way overdue. Let's just put that in. I think the virtual film market is way overdue. But it needed something like this, it was probably going to take another five to 10 years before can or AFM decided to do something like this. But now they're forced to. So what what are you hearing about that?

Greg Gertmenian 18:21
So I think, on the whole people are generally sort of excited about it. They're there they are, you know, cannas put a put a lot of effort into trying to recreate the experience of the of the physical market as much as they possibly can. And I think everybody really appreciates that really commend them for that. And for the most part, we've seen sales companies that are just looking to proceed with businesses normal, they are building up their slates right now they're grabbing up their final acquisitions, so that they can announce what films are going to be selling. And they're booking the calendar of virtual screenings and virtual meetings, and I have heard some relief and appreciation expressed on the part of some sales companies to say, you know, it's better in a couple of ways. One, you know, I'm not going to get ambushed by somebody just walking into my booth that didn't have an appointment and doesn't have, you know, can't buy a film can't can't buy a film in a given territory. They have more control over their schedule and can be more efficient that way. But number two, also, when they do a screening, yes, it's virtual. But they have the ability to book that sort of virtual theater beyond what that small physical physical screening room can can accommodate. So you could potentially have you know, hundreds of people tuning in for a really exciting screening virtually that would not have been able to to make that same time at the physical market. So there are upsides

Alex Ferrari 19:43
Oh, there's a lot of upsides and have a cost out of the fly that I mean, don't get me wrong, I wouldn't mind going to Cannes Right. I mean it that's one of the nice things about it. It's you know, you go to Ken but but for a lot of these distributors and sales agents and buyers, it's just like it's it's an it's not cheap.

Greg Gertmenian 20:00
Right. Yeah, it's not it's not cheap. And if you're not prepared to turn it into a vacation, then you end up just sort of running around. not appreciating what. The scene around you

Alex Ferrari 20:11
the south of France. Yes,

Greg Gertmenian 20:13
exactly. So, yeah, so I think there's definitely some upsides. And I'm hopeful that the films that we have at the market this year are gonna are going to do to do well, because at the end of the day, the buyers still need content and new content, the levels of new content are getting lower and lower.

Alex Ferrari 20:32
So I heard I heard from through the grapevine that Netflix, because everyone, that's kind of like the the gold standard in streaming at this point, that Netflix, I heard from multiple sources, that they're like, oh, Netflix is we're not and they're just they don't buy anything, because they're buying this and that and I heard two different two different things from about Netflix one, the studio's when this, they happen, they unloaded a ton of content on the movies at a discount, because they needed revenue, because movies stopped like, like a lot of you know, if you don't have Disney plus, or if you don't have HBO Max, the revenue started to slow down. So they started dumping a lot of product on and I started seeing, like, Paramount movies and other big studio movies from like, 1015 years ago on there. So that was one thing. And second, I heard that Netflix basically had enough in the in the pipeline to last for two and a half, three years comfortably without having to buy another piece of content. So what do you hear? I'd love to hear what you're hearing about that and just in the streaming ecosystem in general.

Greg Gertmenian 21:42
As far as insight into Netflix, I don't I don't have any more insight than that. I think all of that makes sense. Generally, they are a company that has telegraphed to the world. Like, look, we we got this.

Alex Ferrari 21:53
We're good. We're,

Greg Gertmenian 21:54
we're doing fine.

Alex Ferrari 21:55
Tiger King is coming, don't worry.

Greg Gertmenian 21:59
That's right. And so that wouldn't surprise me that and I think I mean, just from a consumer standpoint, right? We're all sitting at home, dipping into those television shows and titles that we've been meaning to watch for a long time. I'm not at the bottom of my list. Oh, right. So you know, if that's any indication, then Netflix must be telling the truth. And yet, I think the shiny new titles, with 2020 dates on them are exciting for people. And I also know, and as I'm sure you know, you've seen this as well, that the the number of entrants in the streaming platform space is not decreasing, there are more people that are looking to do, you know, sports centric content, streaming platforms, and comedy centric content, streaming platforms, and all of those platforms still need content. So you know, there's more places than ever to sell stuff to. And if you're a buyer right now, or a distributor right now, you have to be aggressively looking, because not everybody can be Netflix. And it's and so and not everybody can buy studio content at a discount can afford that. So? Yeah, so I think if if there is a net effect of this, even though filmmakers are a little, they're restricted with regard to what they can do right now, I do you think that that it has become much more of a seller's market? Because because of the dearth of of new content?

Alex Ferrari 23:25
Now with packaging of films? How do you? How can an indie filmmaker package of film in today's world, like there was a set way to do it in, you know, January? Now? What are financers? looking for? How do you package it? Do you have any tips on you know, filmmakers trying to get projects off the ground now and scripts off the ground with, you know, attached talent in one way, shape, or form?

Greg Gertmenian 23:55
Yeah, so packaging and I have really appreciated the conversations that you've had on your show about how to approach sales and packaging from an independent film standpoint. I think that that is one thing that independent filmmakers overlook quite often they have a sense of indie film as being this very early model of, you know, Kevin Smith, can I be your friend? Yeah. Right. Right. And, and that is just isn't the case anymore. it you know, in today's market, you really need to build some value for your budget. That's not to say that if you you know, film A, if you make a film on a $25,000 budget, and no one's in it, and your execution is superlative, that you can't find a home for it, but generally speaking, you know, you're going to need to be thinking about what recognizable faces you can put in your film. And that directly impacts how much money you get to make your film to the extent that you're, you're trying to ask other people for investment. So I've appreciated you sort of foregrounding that conversation. Thank you on this show. Because that's, that's, that's one of the things that, you know, when we have 1000s of filmmakers coming to us to the extent they understand that it makes the whole rest of the process a lot easier, and it makes those films a lot easier to help. So I think, you know, first and foremost, I think it's, it's critical to just understand building value for the price of your film for the price of your budget. And, and, you know, I've seen people be successful at it all different kinds of ways. You know, obviously, if you have a personal connection to, to a star who trusts you, that's great. If you have a track record, that makes people feel at ease, even better, that's the best, arguably the best way to go about it. And, you know, we've also seen people to great effect use casting directors if the script is very compelling. If you're a director with a short or a pass film, who's proven that you can really create a good product, then having a reputable casting director send your script out to targeted talent can go a long way. And so those are the ways that we've seen film sort of self packaged up without the aid of a big agency. And then of course, if you you can be an indie film who works with CAA or UTA, or w Emmy. And if they rep you, and they really believe in the project, then of course, they can unleash a whole roster of really valuable talent who can take your film to the next level? So there are many different ways to do it, of course, what you just sort of have to look at, what is your network? What do you have at your disposal? How strong is the script? What's your track record? And then try to calculate, you know, what the best approach would be?

Alex Ferrari 26:40
How do you get one of the three big talent agencies to really like, look at your script, look at your package, look at yourself as a filmmaker and or screenwriter, producer, however, what what are some tips to kind of get in because that means everybody is trying to get to CAA or Wi Fi? And you know, it's kind of like, Oh, well, I'm wrapped by and I've heard that term. So many times. I'm like, Oh, my film is wrapped over at CAA. I'm like, and it's been in development for 10 years, it means nothing. But But if you put if you're serious, and you get momentum, and you actually get in there, how do you do that?

Greg Gertmenian 27:17
Yeah, so I think what I think in those cases, the films are trying to convey that the that that one of the agencies has agreed to sell domestic for them in the event that there's anything to sell, which isn't totally meaning last, but it's not actionable right now. Right?

Alex Ferrari 27:36
Well, no like that. I understand. But what I was referring to is like, I've heard filmmakers, because as you know, filmmakers sometimes stretch the truth not often sometimes stretch the truth when it comes to their projects. Not often, not often, it's very rare when that happens, but when they do stretch it, they're like, Oh, yeah, my film, this project is repped by CAA. So or is wrapped by W me. So yeah, so let's say, let's say 50% of the time, that's real. And then when it is real, is generally like what you're talking about, or that they have, they rep the director, and now they're taking on the whole project. So now they're gonna package the whole film with their talent in there. And that's that's generally the way it is. But sometimes it's, it's a stretch. So how do you if you're not repped by these companies? How would you approach a CAA? Do you come in with financing? Do you come in with maybe attached talent? Or I mean, because I mean, if you just show up with a script, and a dream, it's the lottery ticket at that point, if I'm not mistaken, if with no preparation, right, yeah,

Greg Gertmenian 28:38
I think nobody really wants to read a script.

Alex Ferrari 28:42
Shocking in Hollywood, that nobody wants to read it.

Greg Gertmenian 28:46
They all have so many scripts to read and your scripts not, you know, even if your script is incredible, and I'm sure you had this, you know, you people have sent you scripts, and you're like, this is one of the better scripts I've read this year. And it's still impossible to get anybody to care. You know, I really think that one of the sort of secret weapons that that filmmakers can use, if you want to be, you know, if you want to be making features at a high level, you kind of have to put your money where your mouth is and do a proof of concept or a short. That proves that you are an exceptionally talented director or producer. less true for writers, I think, unfortunately, writers in the position that they're they, you know, a short is not necessarily the best representation of their work. So they have to just write incredible specs that get you on page one. But if your director or producer, you know, I, I don't understand the logic of hoping someone's going to give you $5 million for your first feature. But you haven't tried you know, if you haven't proven you can do it, right. And directors that really do put their money where their mouth is and they go out there and they book a you know, a location for three days or whatever and they they create an event credible, high concept genre short are proof of concept. Those people tend to get traction if the short is good, because it's so easy to send a short out and have somebody click on it if for no other reason, because we're curious to know if you really as good as you say you are. So as far as like batting average getting a good response from agents or from anyone who can help you, based on cold outreach, I think a killer proof of concept of short is is the best way to go,

Alex Ferrari 30:29
would you? And this is a little bit of a disheartening comment. But I've read some amazing, amazing scripts. It's like when you read them, you're just like, how is this not an Oscar winning thing? Like it's and I've read them multiple times, from not unknown screenwriters from very well known screenwriters who have major track records. And yet, they can't get financed, or they can't get a packaged. And it kind of dawned on me This is years ago, when I first came to this game, it's like, oh, it's not about how good it is, unfortunately, it's about a bunch of different things hitting at the right time. So the right script that attracts the right producer, or the right director, or the right talent in the scope of where we are in the Zeitgeist of Hollywood at that moment, that perfect storm is what propels a certain project off the ground where a year earlier wouldn't go or a year later, it wouldn't go Is that a fair statement?

Greg Gertmenian 31:29
Yeah, I think that there are so many movies like that that took 10 years to get made for a reason. You know, there are projects that have come to us years ago that had a different cast, and a different producer, right, and they weren't able to get off the ground. And I don't know that the script was as good as it was, you know, 20 drafts later, I can't say, but it took that project going through multiple permutations before it hit one that really conveyed value to the person reviewing it. So I think that part of it is just the process of you know, there's a there's a glut of content out there. And so to calibrate a film just right, so that it sounds exciting, it feels like the most exciting version of itself. Sometimes, unfortunately, that just takes time. And most of it does have to do with the team and the talent. So, you know, I think at least from you know, we have 2300 investor companies that we're servicing through, slated. And so we have a lot of experience, getting a sense of what they respond to what they don't, package projects are always more interesting. And I think that one of the reasons for that is not only can you run numbers on a package project and figure out like how safe your investment is, relatively speaking. But you can just envision what the film is a little more clearly, when you know who's going to be in it, and who's directing it, and who's producing it, it becomes less of a concept less of a sort of a theory, and more of an actual product.

Alex Ferrari 32:59
So it's kind of like less heavy lifting at that point. Because if you have a script, you've got to start lifting a lot, because you've got to then package it and do it and, and you've got to really put a lot of energy in it. But if someone brings you a package script, like here's the talent, here's the director, here's some finance, like, and that just sets everything, it sets you apart. And it's not the quality of the scripts that setting you apart. It's the whole package that's setting you apart. Is that fair?

Greg Gertmenian 33:26
Totally. And I think that that gets to that actually gets to a distinction that's really important, I think, between independent filmmakers and the studio system, which is that in the studio system, you can write an incredible set spec and sell it for three quarter of a million dollars, right? You know, and then in that case, someone's literally just giving you money for having gotten that far. In independent film, it does, it never works that way. Because the money is usually just the money, their GPS that can sometimes be active. But for the most part, they're going to look at your script and say, What am I writing a check for? And who am I writing it to? And yet, you know, there are still a lot of independent filmmakers that maybe also exist in the studio system, but want to make their own film. And they're hoping that there'll be an investor who comes along and writes them a check so that they can cast and make offers and hire people. But in independent film, it just doesn't work that way, they're really expecting, you know, the money is the capital is really expecting you to build it first. So that it becomes an investable product.

Alex Ferrari 34:27
But even within so then the studio system too. I mean, if you have a package, it helps if you have if you have talent, if you have even some financing, you know from outside sources. That helps as well correct?

Greg Gertmenian 34:41
Absolutely. Absolutely. And we saw that in TV too, you know, with this boom of serialized content, and I'm not a TV agent, so I can only speak to the conversations I've had with them. But what I started to observe is that whereas before you know you might be able to take out a really strong pilot And or a really strong pitch and sell shows more and more and more and more over the past five or six years, you're really having to take out the whole the whole package and pitch the whole package before someone will consider buying your show. So that space has gotten a lot more competitive and a lot more talent driven than it had been before. So you got to your point, Alex, I think, yes, the package matters also in the studio world, as well.

Alex Ferrari 35:25
And now and let's talk about TV and films, because I mean, studios in general, I mean, there has been a massive shift in the studio system. And I consider the studio system basically the top six or seven, you know, majors that are, you know, and then there's some outliers that work within that, you know, the mini majors, if you will, but the majors that have shifted their entire business model, to IP based reboots, you know, franchises, the, you know, the films of the 80s and 90s that they're rebooting wouldn't ever be made today. Like they're not making those films that can you imagine The Goonies being made in a studio system today like that, that wouldn't ever exist? Or Gremlins or any of these amazing 80s and 90s. Ghostbusters, can you imagine Ghostbusters, like as a as an original pitch now would be very interesting. So, you know, so I see that there is also a limited window as far as how many of these films are being produced a year. at the studio level, they're they're not making 30 movies is studios not making 30 movies a year, they're making 10 at the big at the Disney's what made what like 12 movies last year, either at the studio level. And then Warner's is probably around the age of 1012. Before they were making 30 or 40 movies a year. And they were a different budget ranges and everything. So there is a certain limit of funds and opportunity now in the studio, theatrical space. But the television and serialized space, it is wide open and there is so much more opportunity there. And also, now the straight to the made for TV movie market, if you will back if I should date myself, you know, the movie of the week kind of movies which are now direct to Netflix, you know, or direct to HBO match or originals or original Hulu films that are at a much lower budget. Where do you think screenwriters and filmmakers in general should be focusing their energy? Should they be going for that homerun hit of like, I'm going to do the next 50 million 100 million dollar movie? Or should I start trying to get into serialized works trying to get into these lower budget direct originals for Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Max Disney peacock and so on?

Greg Gertmenian 37:41
Yeah, that's a good question. I think that the streamers always want content that feels like it could have been theatrical. So I don't think writing that kind of content, big concepts, you know, high concept. I don't think that's going out of style anytime soon. And if you have and if you have a knack for it, I mean, I ultimately went, you know, a lot of our businesses talking to writers and I think so much of the ancillary screenwriter, industry, fixates on this idea of like writing something marketable. writing something that can sell. And while I think there is some, there is some wisdom to that, generally, my advice to writers is to, to figure out what kind of writer you are, what your brand is, you may want to write every genre, but what genre, you know, in which genres Do you really excel? And in which honors? Does your work feel really authentic? And is it really resonating with people? And if you figure out what that is for you, then you can sort of figure out how to do the slightly more commercial version of that, that maybe puts you in the conversation, you know, for us for sending us back out to studio buyers, etc. But But yeah, I don't know that. I think that's where you kind of have to start and see where that leads you. And some people find themselves in the position of writing, you know, they're really good buddies. And unfortunately, that's not you know, that's not a that's not a firebrand genre

Alex Ferrari 39:12
for what was I'm sorry, you broke up, what was that genre again?

Greg Gertmenian 39:16
Oh, and you know, indie drama knees is like,

Alex Ferrari 39:19
so much

Greg Gertmenian 39:20
is a tough one, it's, you might be really, really good at that. And yet, it's it's really tough without a hook to get anybody excited about that. So, but but you know, I think, you know, you have to figure out what your voice is as a writer, and then try to innovate within that space and figure out what the commercial version of that is.

Alex Ferrari 39:39
But did did they have a better shot at getting in a writers room getting into a series now is that I mean, I think there's just by the math, there's more opportunity, correct?

Greg Gertmenian 39:49
Yeah, I think so. Yeah, I think so. I mean, I don't I don't work as much on the TV side, but I but I definitely have had a lot of friends who are writers and who were you know, Coming out of school or coming out of an MFA programs that have gotten snapped up into some really great writers room rooms, and they're excelling because they were incredibly talented. But I think that, you know, writers rooms are really intent on diversifying right now, I think that's, that's critically important. And there's there's just so much so many more of them. And I've seen all kinds of opportunities open up for my friends who I think prior to that, you know, serialized streaming boom, maybe would have had would have had to wait a little longer before this first forsters opened,

Alex Ferrari 40:31
do you think that this, this mad Gold Rush that's been happening now, probably for the last five years or so in regards to content? So many streaming platforms are opening up so much cotton? I mean, this is I mean, people are buying, I think they bought southpark for $100 billion, or something like 100 million dollars and, and Simpsons, you know, and obviously, Fox was purchased by Disney and friends how much his friends kept $200 million, or something like that $250 million, or something like that. It's um, it's insane that, but they're buying content up just they're just absorbing as much content as they can into creating as much content. Do you feel that there's a bubble here, like I kind of, I kind of see a bubble forming because this is not sustainable. This pace, cannot sustain for 20 years. And our economy right now is definitely not in the greatest space. And I still feel that we're nowhere near the worst of where the economy will eventually drop to. So I know, we all want content, we all want to see this. But there's how many of these streaming services can actually survive? How much money is there? Like? What do you think I just, you know, I don't want to put you in a bed in the corner. But I'm just asking, like, what do you think? Do you think this is gonna end? Or is this gonna pop?

Greg Gertmenian 41:48
Yeah, you know, as long as we're making, you know, as long as I'm allowed to make grand predictions, that could be entirely

Alex Ferrari 41:54
Absolutely, absolutely. That's what we're here, sir. And yes,

Greg Gertmenian 41:58
that in fatica? Lee, yes, we're in a bubble. And no, I think I mean, yes, some extent, I do think we are in a little bit of a bubble, because I think of the phase of growth that we're in as an industry is one in which there's been a new, there's been a new medium, there's a new playing field, that's been, you know, that we're all planning on. And the streamers are just just glad they're battling for dominance right now. So they're spending wildly inflated numbers of amounts for properties that they know are going to draw the most eyes with, you know, under the threat that maybe not all of them will survive into the next phase of this growth. And I think I think that that that, unfortunately, that is a strategy that they have to pursue, because they may damn well, what's that took a beat. Right, right. And so yeah, so I think that the prices will naturally settle. As, as people realize that there's probably room for all of these streaming services, maybe one or two will get knocked off. But, you know, for the most part, I'm seeing people toggle between their Disney pluses and their hulu's and their Amazons and their Netflix's with no problem. So, so I think the prices will naturally settle after this initial sort of elbowing people out of the way. Phase, you know, resolves, but, you know, beyond that, I can't, I couldn't say, I mean,

Alex Ferrari 43:22
I looking at looking at history again, I mean, in the early 90s, there was this indie, the indie boom, where they were buying, I mean, and if you got into Sundance, you got a million dollar deal. It was just like, it was like they were split. And then it felt like almost every month there was a new Kevin Smith, john Singleton, Spike Lee, Robert Rodriguez, Richard Linklater, and superstar broke, there was just every month there almost seemed like this new, this new kind of Cinderella story. And and then the studio's all said, Wait a minute, there's money in Indies, let's all put up in the shingle. So there's Warner, independent and Paramount Vantage, and all this the fire search light. But then it's it popped. It popped towards the end of the decade, it started to pop in, and then it started to fizzle out. And I have a feeling that that's kind of at that's a smaller scale, because what's going on now is massive, comparatively? Right.

Greg Gertmenian 44:13
Right. Yeah, things will certainly settle. And it will be interesting. It will be interesting to see how the curation of content for all those streamers ends up arranging itself, I think, you know, in our company, that's, that's a big part of our business model, right is where we're aggregating independent filmmakers and their projects from all over the world. We're taking the best ones, and then we're helping them get package financing sold, the demand for content has has never been higher. So I think there's going to be more of a demand for companies production companies, you know, talented producers, but also companies like ours who filter out the great projects and can curate those for for the buyers so that they don't have to roll up their sleeves and get in the muck out there and sort through The unsolicited submissions in the film of the film world. So

Alex Ferrari 45:03
God does a lot of that.

Greg Gertmenian 45:07
Yeah. On a completed film level on a script level,

Alex Ferrari 45:12
do you remember the time where it was just like there was too many scripts? Then now there's too many feed finished films out there. Like there's literally finished films that never see the light of day ever. Like true. It's amazing. It's it's pretty remarkable.

Greg Gertmenian 45:28
Yeah. And I think that that's something that we also see quite a bit of is that filmmakers get into this state of paralysis after where they're working on post, you know, for months and months, and sometimes years at a time. And I think they're almost, you can get a little fear of failure, that if I finally say, it's done, and if I take it out, you know, maybe it won't sell or maybe it won't sell for the amount that I hoped. And yet, you know, what, they don't realize it, it sounds hyperbolic to say this. And yet, it's so so so true, is that, you know, as my partner, it's slated, Jay on the finance team always says from the minute that you wrap your film, the clock starts to tick on the value of your movie. And if you're not getting a cut, and if you're not getting in conversations with sales companies, and if you're not getting out to the market, ASAP, then your films value is going to start to die and your phone's gonna get less and less relevant. And in many cases, people just they miss one of the market cycles, they miss a couple of them, and then they're just out of the game entirely. or God forbid, if they don't, if they don't time it right. And say they have a submit to festival because that's what everybody wants to do first is submit to festivals. And then maybe you have a festival premiere, well, then that becomes effectively a release date of sorts, that becomes a date upon which

Alex Ferrari 46:44
now it's really,

Greg Gertmenian 46:46
and now you've accelerated that. So I think, yeah, absolutely. I mean, the piece of advice that I have for filmmakers who do have a film and post is to get a cut that you can share, and then start to think about who's going to sell the movie, whether that's a big agency who's handling domestic and, and maybe International, or whether that is a sales company that you really trust, think about who that partner is going to be before you start willy nilly submitting to festivals, because festivals simply do not have the bandwidth to look at every every submission that they get. So you can have a fantastic film, and they may never find out. And you know, not to throw slinging mud at any festival in particular, but it's simply a numbers problem. So you know, you're much likelier to get a festival premiere festival debut, if you have somebody submitting your film to them. Who has a reputation with that festival, whether that is producer. So yeah, yeah, or a producers rep or a sales company who does a lot of business or an agent, you know that that makes all the difference in the world. So that's my number one piece of advice, when filmmakers come to us with the film and post is like, don't just start submitting to festivals, get a sales strategy in place, get a partner, have that partner make the submissions, you're going to go much further trust me, and then that partner can can use the festival as part as part of an overall strategy to debut your film to the world. And then use the next market as sort of a launch a launch for your film and sales

Alex Ferrari 48:16
don't do which you sent as you brought up festivals, do you? I've been saying this for a while festivals don't have the power that they used to this is not 1992 anymore. There's a handful, that mean anything to the bottom line, we're talking about five, maybe six in the world that mean anything to the bottom line, from your experience working with distribution companies and buyers and you know, other than the look, it's super cool. We all want to get into Sundance, she's the pretty girl that we all want to get it you know, a date with. There's no doubt about that can south by Tribeca, Toronto, we all want to go there. And it's fun. It's a cultural event. It's red carpet and, and there could be some business to be done at those festivals. But generally speaking, it's first of all, it's not a guarantee anymore. Before it was a guaranteed like you, you get in Sundance, it's sold, someone's gonna buy it. But that doesn't mean anything anymore. What are your feelings about festivals as a general statement from the buyers perspective, distributions perspective? Do they really mean anything? I mean, I mean, it cooks Of course, Sundance on a certain kind of film makes all the sense in the world. But even then, it's still not as much as it used to be. I mean, am I wrong? please do let me What do you think?

Greg Gertmenian 49:34
I agree. No, I agree that it's not a guarantee anymore, for sure. I do still feel that the handful of festivals that you named Sundance south by Tribeca can, Toronto, they still do really matter as far as your ability to introduce your film to the world and jumpstart the sales process. So you know, I'm sure they're they're there and then there's another tier festivals below them that still help with sales, they still have some stage, but they may not be, you know, as, as fancy and shiny as those others, but I still think that they make an incredible impact on your ability to, to get the film sold and distributed.

Alex Ferrari 50:15
But there is only a handful, period. Like even even first and second tier, we're talking 2025 film festivals around the world. That really means a lot. And I feel that so many filmmakers lose so much time submitting to all of these.

Greg Gertmenian 50:31
Right? That is so true. That is so true. And then they you know, the film, The filmmakers, then try to use, you know, I'm gonna, I'm gonna accidentally name a real Film Festival by trying to come up with a fictional one.

Alex Ferrari 50:46
So I always I always use I always use Moose Jaw, the International Moose Jaw Film Festival. I don't think that's a real festival. But you could just use the or the Uptown downtown Film Festival. Sure. So the Uptown downtown festival Yes, that is

Greg Gertmenian 50:58
a perfect, perfect, I'm going to use this from now on people are gonna start to think it's real. It's gonna be a life of its own. Yeah, so that that, you know, there's there's 1000s of those. There's I feel like there's a new one every week. And the same thing goes for screenwriting competitions too. And I think maybe that is a misconception that that the that the belief is that if someone has validated your film, then it's more valuable. And yet if that somebody is a an unknown screenplay, competition or Film Festival, it actually does just damage and particularly if you got like third place in the in the Uptown downtown Film Festival, it's like you weren't even good enough for for uptown downtown.

Alex Ferrari 51:43
I want to talk to that guy. I want to talk to that gal. Whoever shot that I want to I want to talk to whoever won uptown downtown. You've got grand jury and uptown downtown.

Greg Gertmenian 51:58
So you know, and of course I I can relate to having been on the creative side. The idea that somebody is saying, look, you did a good job that is that that's all people want to hear when they've finished making something. And like me, like you're still looking at it as a business. You have to be strategic about who you let put their laurels on your poster.

Alex Ferrari 52:18
No. Well, that sounded that sounded kind of dirty. I don't know why it's like you don't let someone else's laurels on your posts.

Greg Gertmenian 52:27
Doctoring COVID

Alex Ferrari 52:29
Absolutely not. Absolutely not. You need to you need to wipe that down with some alcohol. But um, but but so I suggest sometimes when I'm consulting with with filmmakers, I look at the film and I go, look, I think this film might have a chance. And even the might have a chance at any of the 25 film festivals. Sometimes they'll go, why don't you just put some feelers out at real distribution companies and real real buyers and see what happens. Because what's the what's the endgame here is the end game prestige, then go down the festival circuit, have fun, spend two years running the festival circuit. But understand that financially, that is not going to be good for your film. If you run it, I've seen festivals on I've seen films on the festival circuit for two years, just and they play 60 film features, right? And then at that point, I'm like, nobody, like I don't care if you have 60, laurels. Right? They're all uptown downtown. It doesn't matter. But your ego is very well inflated. After all of that, so right. What's the end game being honest?

Greg Gertmenian 53:40
Yeah, I think I think that that can potentially be an approach, you know, if you if you are a filmmaker with relationships at those distributors, then I think that that's well advised. If you're not, then I would encourage you to partner with a producer or sales company. Who does because we've seen cases where films have finished their film, festivals, maybe festivals, maybe they didn't. They then queried a bunch of buyers. And they got sort of de facto passes not because anyone actually ever looked at the film but because they said no go away unsolicited submission, we don't know you. And then that becomes difficult for a sales company that comes on board and tries to sell the film in earnest because right you have to navigate well, Was this an actual past? And anybody actually look at it? Of course, the answer is normally No. But in most cases, that becomes a conversation that you don't want to have to have. So I would say you know, sales companies for all the flack that they get for all the sales companies out there that may or may, you know may be more bottom feeding type companies predatory

Alex Ferrari 54:45
predatory is what I like to call

Greg Gertmenian 54:47
predatory perhaps. But there are still a lot of sales companies out there that they make a living selling movies and being transparent with filmmakers and reputations, and so I really do think that they can be That link that unlocks a distributor taking you seriously a festival taking you seriously. And and making sure that you're you're managing that process carefully and strategically.

Alex Ferrari 55:11
Do you think that from your experience, because I've spoken, spoken at nauseam about this, in regards to distribute the traditional distribution space where we're at right now, I've been yelling from the top of the top of the hill that Rome is burning, especially in the indie space. And that talking studio space, though I do, I do feel that those walls are starting to crumble a bit too, under its own way. But the traditional distribution model is kind of starting to fall apart. Because what was once cash cows are not no longer there. And they literally from month to month, year to year, don't know where their money is going to come from. Like before, it was pretty stable. Like, you know, you had VHS, were good with VHS. We had cable deals, we had pay TV, free TV, then DVD showed up and then just everybody was like The Great Gatsby when the money was flying everywhere. You could just release sniper seven. And it was already you already made 3 million bucks on DVD. But those days are all gone and streaming is not paying what DVD was. So I've and I've spoken to I've been at AFM. I've spoken to multiple distributors that I literally asked him I go, you really don't know where you're gonna get your money, are you and they're like no our main, our main strategy is to acquire as many films as we can, at no money upfront, for as long as we can keep them in our library. So then we can negotiate with a streaming service to sell the library off to them and see if we can make any money with them at all. T VOD is pretty much dying, if not dead. s VOD, is if you can get a deal. Great. And a VOD is where the money is currently. But it's still nowhere near DVD money. So that's at the lowest level of independent film, we're talking, you know, $10,000 movies up to even up to a million dollar to $2 million movies. But some of the movies I'm sure you're working on are at much higher levels, and that that's a whole other ecosystem. What is your feeling about the future of the model in general? And feel free to say, Alex, I take the fifth on this.

Greg Gertmenian 57:17
I'll take a partial fifth. I mean, everything you're saying rings true. I think that, uh, that packaging and bundling these titles together and selling them is definitely a line of business for sales companies. The mg has gone away. And in some ways, that is a good thing. Because, you know, of the whole fallacy that that the MSG was truly a minimum guarantee, which of course it isn't, it's usually a it's a

Alex Ferrari 57:43
maximum.

Greg Gertmenian 57:44
Right? It's a maximum guarantee that No, they didn't, they weren't clear about the asset. Exactly. So you know that and so I'm actually in favor of sales companies, not paying employees to acquire the content themselves, because then they really have to take the film out, and we get to see in a sales cycle or to how well they're able to actually sell sell the movie and their and their, you know, their ability to make money depends on that performance. So yeah, I don't miss the I don't miss the MG from sales companies, I think a no mg model is certainly Okay. And then they really just have to perform.

Alex Ferrari 58:22
If that's if they perform, if they can perform, sometimes even it's not even in their power, if they can or cannot depends on the marketplace.

Greg Gertmenian 58:31
It's, that's true. In their defense, that's true. And yet, I think a good sales company has really strong relationships with buyers, they know exactly what that buyer is looking for in advance at the market, or they at least have a sense of it. And they know what where their cash cows are. I mean, it's it's not a surprise, and I'm sure I know, you've talked about this as well, that there are certain genres that have more inherent sales value irrespective of cast. So you know, we can rely on that to some extent, if you have made an action film and executed it exceedingly well, then there will be some buyers for that. And cast helps a great deal. So So yeah, I think they you know, they don't have full control. But a good sales company is is is going to have a better sense of what they can do with a given film and hopefully get closer to hitting their numbers.

Alex Ferrari 59:21
Now in the in the world that we're living in right now. Something that I never thought would happen has happened, which is the international market has shut off basically, because of COVID. And then the Hollywood system, this is where I said that the weight of the system is kind of falling on against itself. When you make a 200 million plus dollar movie, which is the norm now. And then you spend another 200 or plus more to market it. That kind of movie without an international component can't sustain itself. You know, I mean, obviously the there's the marvels of the But can you make a $200 million movie without the international marketplace? In the way it is now? And I don't know, I'm not sure. In the next year or two, is that marketplace even going to, you know, within this next year or two? How much of that marketplace is even available to us? So can bond survive? Without international? Can Black Widow can wonder woman? Can they? I don't think their model is built on domestic only because now we're not the biggest market China. I think China is am I wrong? Is China is the biggest market? No. Are we still the biggest? I'm not sure we're close. I mean, but that's the other thing. China's China's shut down all their movie theaters when COVID hit so you're like, right, you know, Milan is sitting in limbo. So it's, you know, can the studio's systems business model work without an international component? And how does that adjust these events, style films that are basically the norm now in the studio system?

Greg Gertmenian 1:01:01
I don't see how it can I don't see how you can make a $200 million movie without the ability to sell it outside of the US. I don't see how that that's possible. But I but I don't think international markets are going away. I think they'll be there again, at some point. Right. But yeah, I think that isn't that product is built specifically at that budget level, because they're planning theatrical across the world. And then all of the, you know, all of the ancillary revenue streams that come downstream from that.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:33
Yeah, well, yeah. So so that brings a good point theatrical. We then be touched on theatrical in this conversation. I mean, theatrical is taking a pretty big hit right now. And I'm a fan of the movie theater. I love it. I want I if I could go everyday I would. I grew up in a generation as you did that we the movie theater, you're not a filmmaker, quote, unquote, unless your movies in the theater kind of thing. But this is really taken. I mean, the movie theaters industry has taken a hit not only here in the US, but around the world. And now that people are becoming more accustomed to staying at home and it's absorbing it, I'm sure people are going to want to come back out to the theaters. But are the numbers going to be back to where they were? How long will the numbers be able to get back to the work? And they were going in a downward trajectory? pre COVID. So again, that same question, does this model work without a theatrical component not only theatrically but internationally, but domestically? And because there's no way you're releasing a $200 million movie off a streaming? And I joke with trolls, trolls made 100 million bucks. Yeah, that's nice. That's great. Let's throw bond up there. Let's throw a Marvel movie up there. And let's get some real numbers to see. Are people going to spend $400 million? I think they can because mike tyson fights back in the day, they would gross three $400 million that they did. I mean, it is possible. And that was with cable VOD. You know, and what this is, all those big fights. I mean, they would gross three $400 million in a night. So it is possible. It was great, right? It's insane. That's why like, you know, what's his uncle who's like the greatest undefeated middle eight, kind of can't believe I can't remember the ball, small guy. He beat Pacquiao he beat everybody. So that guy, I can't believe the names forgetting me. people yelling at the podcast right now that gets him. It's him. Like, I'm sorry, please forgive me. But that guy would walk away with 100 million bucks for the night or Tyson back in the day, he would walk away with $100 million a night. But so it is possible. But what do you think? What do you think?

Greg Gertmenian 1:03:37
I think it's possible. I think it's going to continue and I think we'll start building budgets for the ideal scenario of $100 million troll screaming release as opposed to the ideal scenario of a billion dollar you know, global theatrical release. So you make the movie for 25 million instead of 100 million Well, that's you know, it seems we can figure that out especially with you know, technology continuously advancing the cost of CG is imagine getting more and more man and

Alex Ferrari 1:04:05
ultimate the Mandalorian with the with the with the technology that they deal with Amanda Laura. Volume, Oh, God, that I think is one of the futures of the industry to save us from COVID like, have a very condensed but yet a 12 hour sunset. It's insane.

Greg Gertmenian 1:04:23
Yeah, it is very cool. I saw that that promotional video and that behind the scenes video, and I think that's such a good point. I'm sure they're doing all kinds of marketing right now around that technology, because it's, it's those kinds of things that are gonna allow us to to make theatrical type experiences on smaller budgets. But the idea of a $200 million movie to begin with is hard to wrap your mind around. And that's

Alex Ferrari 1:04:49
on the lower end because he started looking at some of these bigger Marvel films that they pushed 300 million, you know that 233 50 you know, I mean, no one I don't even know what avatar back 10 years ago. cost, I can only imagine what it's costing. James Cameron with an open checkbook is very dangerous. But, you know, how does, you know? How does avatar work? Like, you know, coming out these next four is the fourth four avatars that he's making. It's, it's really interesting to see, it's it's gonna be a, it's gonna be a complete shift of the industry. I think you're right, you're gonna have to adjust budgets accordingly. And it's doable, like Mandalorian was much more affordable than it should have been.

Greg Gertmenian 1:05:32
Right, right.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:33
Yeah. It couldn't have been done without that technology.

Greg Gertmenian 1:05:37
I think so. Yeah. It looked fantastic. So hopefully we get to see some more of that.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:43
Now tell me tell me about slate. And we've been talking about slate a little bit here and there. So what is slated what how does it work? How do you help filmmakers and screenwriters? Tell me what you do?

Greg Gertmenian 1:05:52
Sure, yeah. So slate, it is a marketplace, or filmmakers to take the projects and develop them, package them, financed them, sell them get them distribution. So we have 50,000 members. It began as a as an invite only film finance network in 2012. So people had to be vouched for in order to join, all films were personally approved by our team before they could list and we had a small community of investors that had some some oversight in the beginning, which has become much more stringent now that it's an open network. But today, yeah, we're 50,000 members, I think something like 80% of our of Sundance movies last year were made by slated members, two thirds of Oscar nominated movies last year were made by slated members. And we've had films listed on the platform that including, you know, uncut gems or loving Vincent that were sort of living things and was nominated for an Oscar uncut gems should have been,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:53
should have won several Oscars. I mean, come on.

Greg Gertmenian 1:06:56
So So yeah, it's a you know, it is a it is a vibrant marketplace of filmmakers and fantastic projects that are coming from all over the world. And the platform itself serves to evaluate those projects, and then help them get linked up with wherever they whatever they need, based on where they are in their in their process. So that's what that's what our team does that P team that I'm part of,

Alex Ferrari 1:07:18
now the screenwriters submit their, their scripts there, how does that work?

Greg Gertmenian 1:07:22
Yes, yeah. So you can list your project, and not get any evaluation of your script or any financial projections. And then you can hope to match with a producer or a sales company, based on your logline and your poster and the value of you and your track record. That's a thing you can do. Generally speaking, we advise that people make use of the analytics that are available, the script score is critically important. And the financial analysis is also pretty important too. If you're hoping to attract, the investors that we discussed, are looking for projects that you know, have some have some demonstrable value, and, and some clarity there. So. So yeah, so you can list a project and have it not be scored. But what we advise is that you list your project, you submit your script to our team, you have our team review it, and then the analytics that we provide, you give you more of a presence on the site, more exposure on the site, and you're able to match with all those higher end investors, producers, sales companies who have said, Look, I only want to be messaged or matched with people whose projects had been reviewed and who scored above a certain threshold. So we use the analytics to enhance the matching.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:34
So but but you do work with treatments, or is only scripts or do work. It's like, here's the idea of I have this person attached to write the script, I have this director attached. I might even have some talent attached. Can you package a deal like that? And then maybe look for development funds, things like that?

Greg Gertmenian 1:08:50
Totally. Yeah, totally. So there, there's so there's three sort of key metrics, there's the team score. So if you list your film, you don't submit your script, you don't run financial projections, then there's just going to be a score based on who's making the film. So if you're a director, and you've made six, or you'll have a score, and people who are looking for projects with elevated teams will find you. If you choose to submit your screenplay, it should be a completed screenplay. Sure. We are taking completed scripts, we are taking completed movies, and we're going to start taking completed documentaries as well. And when I say completed, I mean a rough cut is fine picture lock cut is fine. And for for that process, it's it's always the same with every project. And we've done it for 10,000 projects to date, which is that we remove the cover page from the script, and we hand it to our development staff and we have three different members of our development staff read the script and respond to a set of questions independently stat returns us 100 point script score on a scale from one to 100. But it's really more on a scale from 60 to 90 because that's where most the scores fall And then that score indicates sort of how far in your development process you are, how close you are to being ready to being matched to a producer, or how close you are to being ready to effectively shoot. So if if the way our system is designed with three readers reviewing every project in one person gives it a recommend that the project will qualify for matching with with almost everybody on the on the platform, even if the other two readers are past,

Alex Ferrari 1:10:27
you know, is it work like so it's a market is kind of like, once you get past that's kind of like a marketplace. So then it goes up on the boards, let's say, and then everyone has access to seeing what that is. And then people contact the producers of that project or the owners of that project.

Greg Gertmenian 1:10:42
Yeah, more or less the the matching is, is really sophisticated in that it's focused on what you as a member, Alex have said you want to see. So if you told slated view your profile, I only want to see projects with script scores above 70. And or I only want to see projects who have an attachment that is x or higher, then those are the only projects are going to match with and every Monday morning you're going to get a digest that shows you the projects that you match with. And for any project that is a match to you, they'll now be allowed to message you because their project matches that criteria. So if at any point, an investor or producer wants to receive fewer matches, they can dial up the script score threshold, or they can dial up their team score threshold and get more targeted matches. Or they can say I only want stuff at this stage at the packaging stage or development stage or something

Alex Ferrari 1:11:33
like that. That's gonna bring it in. Right, very, very interesting. That's a pretty cool, pretty cool situation you got going on.

Greg Gertmenian 1:11:40
I man I love it. I really really love it. Because we you know that the global component of it is probably the most exciting because we have filmmakers that are submitting from Canada, from Egypt, from Mongolia, who have truly come up with these incredible stories, incredible screenplays. And, you know, you may or may not be surprised some of them have a very firm grip on how to build value how to package their movie for their territory. And so we're coming across films that I just never would have conceived up because because none of them are my experience. And but also films that I just never would have known existed that are beautiful, you know, sometimes heartbreaking stories, either at the script stage, or the post stage. So the idea that we can be a portal for those filmmakers and get them straight to the person that they need to be talking to in a matter of weeks or months. That is that is really exciting because the film industry at large is very scattered, very disorganized. You know, people depend on shows like yours to help them make sense of it all. And so we pride ourselves on being another one of those sort of spirit guides that can help assess you where you stand, figure out what you need and get you to the right place.

Alex Ferrari 1:12:51
That's like spirit guide. I think that's good. Hashtag spirit guide. That's very, very nice. Very cool, man. Very cool. All right, so I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker and or screenwriter wanting to break into the business today.

Greg Gertmenian 1:13:09
So first screenwriter Write, write, write, write, write, I think that competitions, if you're focusing on the top three or four are fantastic, you know, obviously, submit your script to slated and get it scored, you're going to get 20 pages of feedback and a script score from people who are working in the industry and have read 1000 scripts each. So that's really high value. And then I'm here to answer your questions about your coverage. So if you have a script, that's where I'd start, but there are also screenplay competitions, like the nickel like page, like the ones that roadmap writers or tracking board does. Those are all great companies. And I recommend that a new writer, try all of those avenues, it cannot hurt. If you get traction with any of them, it can be meaningful and allow you to take take your project to the next step. If you're a new filmmaker, yeah, then you should try to meet somebody who's more experienced than you and not hire people that are less experienced than you to help you pack the film, develop the film, and take that project to the next step. Also, list your plate we will help you

Alex Ferrari 1:14:06
and what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Greg Gertmenian 1:14:13
You ask this to all your guests

Alex Ferrari 1:14:14
every single one. That is the Oprah question. That's the Oprah question. Yeah.

Greg Gertmenian 1:14:21
It's it's the lesson that I learned longest.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:23
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the business or in life?

Greg Gertmenian 1:14:32
That is a tough one. It's hard not to get super existential on that. She's That's intense. I think I'm gonna try to keep it film related. Otherwise,

Alex Ferrari 1:14:42
we'll have a crying session. It'll be a thing. We don't get it there. I do therapy for free on the show all the time. It's fine.

Greg Gertmenian 1:14:50
Yeah. You know, I think I think that, you know, I think that the film industry can be a big scary place. And I think That when you think about agents or investors, you think of these sort of faceless people that are really intimidating and really cutthroat. And the fact is that there is a really healthy heart of the film industry independent or studio system that is here, because they love stories, and they're here for the right reason. So I think, you know, I think authenticity, of focusing on authenticity, and, you know, making stories that really resonate for you, and building around that, you know, not being blind to the business aspect of it. But you know, realizing that if you do make something that is incredibly powerful, or tells a story, that's true for a lot of people, and then you also build value, that there are going to be people who are passionate and excited about that. And yes, it may take time, but I think don't make it a foregone conclusion that everyone is cynical out there. Because I think there are a lot of companies out there that are looking to be part of something meaningful. And, and if you've, if you've created that, then you can be part of that, that dream for everyone.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:02
I you know, if I could tack on to that, because I found that, you know, doing my rounds in Hollywood so much as I've done the years. You know, yes, they're these these gods that we have on Mount Hollywood, you know, the Spielberg's and the Nolan's and these kind of guys, but at the end of the day, they're all human, everyone's human. everyone you meet is human yet some have more egos. Some are, are, you know, are acids, some are not, some are very sweet, some Americans, but they're human beings and you get all sorts, but I found honestly, once you break through that first layer, if you're a professional, and a providing value to the person you're talking to, they're going to reciprocate and they're going to be open to it. It's the what can you do for me? I want you to read my script. I want you to give me money like that energy, of course, you're gonna get you're gonna get like to just back off, right. Um, and the best advice I ever heard from, like, what's the best advice be in the film business? Don't be a dick. Right? Is that the best? Like the best advice ever?

Greg Gertmenian 1:17:03
Right, right. Yeah, I think people have this concept of the film industry is being really cutthroat and cynical, and then they try to adapt a version of themselves that can handle that. And I think that's the exact wrong way to go. I I think you described it. exactly correct. That just don't be a dick. And that there are there are nice people out there who, you know, if you have built something valuable, I'm interested to have a discussion.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:28
That's the key value if you can provide value in whatever way shape or form that's going to open the door much quicker than Pina Dijk. And now the toughest question of all three of your three of your favorite films of all time,

Greg Gertmenian 1:17:44
oh, no, my gosh, okay. Um, okay, recent film. So when I was a kid growing up, and I it's problematic for a number of reasons today, but I loved and people hate this film, but I loved Forrest Gump.

Alex Ferrari 1:17:57
I mean, I love Look, I love Forrest Gump. I think Forrest Gump is fantastic. If it's on a watch it do. I think that it should have beaten Pulp Fiction as the relevance of what it was that it like in the history of cinema. Yeah, but it was fantastic. Yeah, it's so much fun.

Greg Gertmenian 1:18:16
Or scub I love it's hard to choose the top films but in the past few years I've loved films like a loved room I think about room a lot for its structure and what it was able to accomplish with relatively little

Alex Ferrari 1:18:31
not the room not the room, but room not Tommy was so's ring.

Greg Gertmenian 1:18:35
I love them both. I think I think my top three are room, the room. And

Alex Ferrari 1:18:44
I think everyone, everyone who's listened to the show knows my affinity for the room and how genius of the film that is and how there's very few films that can transcend from so bad to Oh my god, I love it. I get to watch cats, though. I haven't heard that from cats are just here. It's just

Greg Gertmenian 1:19:07
yeah, or you can't be self aware when you're making the nothing. You can't. You must have zero self awareness that is the key to success in making the room

Alex Ferrari 1:19:18
quality you know, you can't like if you and I sat down like we're gonna make a room kind of film. It's done. It's dead from the beginning. You have to be completely don't

Greg Gertmenian 1:19:27
kill my dreams, Alex just

Alex Ferrari 1:19:28
like no, but if you have to be completely unaware of how ridiculous or right that is. It's exactly the room showgirls is another one. That's just remember so showgirls is a huge fan base, huge fan base for

Greg Gertmenian 1:19:44
desert Really?

Alex Ferrari 1:19:45
Oh my gosh, they just they're releasing a documentary on it right now of how it's transcended itself now, and you can watch showgirls, it's not the room it nothing's the room, because that's just a whole. I mean, that wasn't a you know, it's not Paul Verhoeven For God's sakes directing it, but you watch you watch, it's so beautifully bad. There's like, beautifully bad and then there's just masterpieces The room is a masterpiece of he uses the same stock footage three times, like,just watch it. But you can't watch. Do you ever watch the room alone? Don't do that. The room has to be watched with a group of people. That's the only way to properly enjoy the room. It's like Rocky Horror. You should not watch it alone.

Greg Gertmenian 1:20:27
That's a great.

Alex Ferrari 1:20:29
Yeah. Now where can people? Where can people find you and slated and the work you do?

Greg Gertmenian 1:20:36
You know, come visit [email protected] sign up. It takes two seconds, it's free. And then you can chat with us via our little chat bubble at the bottom right corner. There's a little orange dot click on that. And you'll be talking to one of us in no time at all. So wherever you are, we'll be able to help you get set up.

Alex Ferrari 1:20:51
Great. It has been an absolute pleasure having you on your show, man. Thank you for dropping all the knowledge bombs and the inside knowledge bombs on the industry today. So thanks, brother.

Greg Gertmenian 1:21:00
Oh, man, not at all. Yeah, really nice to chat with you, Alex. And I hope we get to chat against him.

Alex Ferrari 1:21:06
If we can learn one thing from this episode, it is that you shouldn't watch the room alone. It's just weird, guys. Just don't do it. I want to thank Greg for coming on the show and dropping those knowledge bombs on the bulletproof screenwriting tribe. Thank you so much, Greg. If you want to get links to anything we talked about in this episode, as well as contact information for what he does at slated, head over to the show notes at bulletproofscreenwriting.tv/078. And guys, if you haven't already checked out the new indie film hustle Podcast Network, which is the home of some of the best screenwriting and filmmaking podcasts out there, head over to eye f h podcast network.com. And we have a ton of other podcasts that are not just my podcast, but also other podcasts and we're adding new awesome podcasts every month. So check it out. Thank you for listening, guys. As always, keep on writing no matter what. Stay safe, and I'll talk to you soon.


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BPS 077: Wired for Story – How to Become a Story Genius with Lisa Cron

Do you feel like you have a screenplay inside of you but don’t know how to bring it to life? Today’s guest Lisa Cron might be able to help.

Lisa is story coach and the best-selling author of Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence and Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere).

Lisa has worked in publishing at W.W. Norton, as an agent at the Angela Rinaldi Literary Agency, as a producer on shows for Showtime and CourtTV, and as a story consultant for Warner Brothers and the William Morris Agency.

Since 2006, she’s been an instructor in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and she’s on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts MFA program in visual narrative in New York City.

Some of the things we cover in this conversation are:

  • What your audience’s brain is hardwired to crave in every story they read – and it’s not what you think.
  • Why writing a successful screenplay is not about having the innate “talent” that only a lucky few are born with, but something you can learn!
  • How to become a more confident screenwriter, and make whatever you’re writing now deeper, richer, more compelling, and able to do what all stories are meant to do: change how the audience sees the world, themselves, and what they do in the world.

Enjoy my conversation with Lisa Cron.

Right-click here to download the MP3

LINKS

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Alex Ferrari 0:34
I like to welcome the show, Lisa Cron How are you doing?

Lisa Cron 3:29
I'm doing great, which I probably shouldn't say.

Alex Ferrari 3:33
You know what, whenever we have a great moment, in this time period that we're living in now, just just own it, own it. Because it could last for a second. It could last for a day. Just take it when it comes. You have a point?

Lisa Cron 3:45
Yes, I'm doing great at this particular moment.

Alex Ferrari 3:48
Yes, because it could it could go downhill very quickly, Lisa. And I think we thought about a year ago. So I completely agree. I mean, we were talking OFF AIR a little bit of how crazy Our world is right now. And I you know, like I was I was telling you like, I feel like I was driving around and I saw this testing station. And I just and just you look around the world, and I just literally physically just look around your neighborhood just like, what is what is going on? Like, are we in a dystopian, like, you know, spin off of the Hunger Games slash blog Blade Runner, like, I don't know, it's just such a weird place to be in our world today. I truly believe that we are living in an alternative universe. Like

Lisa Cron 4:33
right I mean, I'll tell you I, you know, I've spent more more decades than I want to admit to reading you know, manuscripts, you know, novels or or scripts or memoir, and especially with scripts and with the with the novels, there will always be that sort of, you know, strange dystopian thing going on, and I would kind of think, a bet that somewhere in the world, this is actually happening. It actually is Reality is almost out just opening dystopian novels and scripts. It's very strange.

Alex Ferrari 5:06
It's a very strange world we live in. And we as storytellers have, I think, a bigger responsibility to help heal the world and help the world through this because it is through story that we process, the everything, the experience, that is life without story, we we really don't have a way to, to process it. It really does help dramatically. Would you agree?

Lisa Cron 5:35
Oh, yeah. I mean, the truth is, we think in story, it's hardwired into our brains. I mean, we don't need a story, to translate it, we automatically translate everything that happens to us into story into narrative, you know, everything we evaluate everything that happens to us, based on you know, one thing and one thing only, and that is, how is this going to affect me, given my agenda. And and I don't mean that just in a, you know, transactional way, but just literally in, I need to feel safe. I've got what I need to do what I want to do, what my agenda is going forward? And is this going to get me there? Or is this going to stop me from getting there. And and that doesn't necessarily, again, mean, my agenda is here to make a million dollars and to you know, to be powerful, but just even, you know, my agenda is to try to make a more equitable world. So is this going to help me do that? Or is this going to hurt me to do that, and everything we make sense of we make sense of in our lives, via story, because that's what contextualizes it, that's what gives it meaning nothing has meaning outside of the meaning that we project onto it, besides be our own individual story. And that's why when we're lost in a story, we're in someone else's head, and we're processing information in the same way that they do if that story is successful.

Alex Ferrari 6:52
We are all the heroes in our in our story.

Lisa Cron 6:55
Oh, absolutely. We have to be. I mean, it's like, it's like that old thing of, you know, back back in the old days, when we would actually fly on actual airplanes. And they'd have that, you know, put your oxygen mask on first. You may remember that back in the olden days. Yeah, that doesn't make us bad. It doesn't make us feel like we're the hero. But it's that in order for us to literally survive to see tomorrow, we have to come first. And we're biologically wired to come first in that way. And I think one of the scary things is that we're wired to live in a world we don't live in and so that sometimes some of that gets in our way.

Alex Ferrari 7:36
Right? I've talked a lot about the the reptilian brain and that kind of that thing in the back of your head that is, is there just to protect you. I've said many times on the show that that your brain doesn't care about your dreams, doesn't care about what you want, or want to have love or anything. It cares about one thing and one thing only protecting you.

Lisa Cron 8:00
That's the only thing i would i would say to that is they've kind of debunked the whole reptilian brain notion. It's one thing, it's not that's the old part. And this is the new part. Is that Is it the way that we're wired? Yeah, is your brain when it's in fact, that's the really sad thing for writers, you know, when you when you read something, and I think we've all had this experience as writers, you know, you're writing it, you think it's great. And then you read it the next morning, and you go, Oh, my God, what am I seeing this? You know? And that is that part of and you think that voice? Right? We've all got that voice? And the ironic thing is, that voice is trying to protect us. It's like, yeah, if you put that out there, but the thing is you and you don't want to be laughed at. So be careful. And that voice is often wrong is the point.

Alex Ferrari 8:51
The point is, as well that that it's all about perspective. So your perspective of writing, this piece that you're writing is either to get it sold, get it move your career forward, tell the story that you always wanted to tell, put it out there help other people with your story. There's multiple different perspectives, or yearnings, if you will of the writer and why they're doing what they're doing. But the brain is there for one thing and one thing only, it's to protect you from not only yourself, but from the danger that it doesn't know about. So I always tell people like well, when when you were wondering back in the day, if you went around that corner, and you've never been around that corner, before you turn that corner, your brain is going to go Don't go down that corner because there could be a tiger there and it could eat you. So we're always avoiding the tiger, that the potential tiger, whatever that Tiger might be, could be, you know, maybe make a fool of people rejecting you. And then if you go into rejection that goes into a whole tribal thing in our brain as well. That's why rejection is so difficult. That's why people think that speaking in public is it's they're more fear of speaking in public and they are of death. Because if you speak in public and you're ousted by the audience, which is almost a tribe, then without the tribe, you couldn't survive alone as a human being back in the day, there's so many different layers of things that our brain is built to do for us. But it's built for an old time, like you said, it's not built for the current world,

Lisa Cron 10:22
right? No, because our biggest fear is, you know, as you're saying, turning that corner, our biggest fears, the unknown and the unexpected. And we're wired to, to have, you know, what they call homeostasis, meaning, it's a biological term. And it means once you feel sick, you know, for any for any, like biological creature, once, once they're safe, you know, the temperatures, right, they've got the food they've got, you know, the space, it's not just that they want to maintain balance, but they want to maintain that balance. So anything that threatens it terrifying. And that's, you know, that the sort of colloquial term we have for that is our comfort zone. But the thing that sort of kills me is that we tend to think of these things as if we have a choice is if, you know, our desire to stay in the comfort zone is because we're kind of weak. And if we were stronger, tougher, or whatever, we would be able to go out there into the unknown. And the truth is, it is our biology that keeps us there. So it isn't to say that we can't overcome it, or we can't see it for what it is. But the fact that it's difficult isn't a feeling or a weakness, it's biology, the same thing, just to go a little bit deeper to what you were just saying about belonging to a tribe, which talk about something that we're seeing,

Alex Ferrari 11:34
you think you think there's some tribalism going on right now.

Lisa Cron 11:38
But the reason is, is that they feel that, you know, when our brains had, you know, last big gross for about 100,000 years ago, and, you know, scientists thought for a long time that that was at the time, and the reason for it was that we, you know, got critical thinking, you know, we can analyze things at a political thought rational thought came in at that point. And what they realized now is that the real reason for that big change is because at that time, we had kind of, you know, obviously a very, very, very minor, you know, basic degree, learned to navigate successfully in the physical world. And now, if we were going to do you know, basically what we've since done, which is, you know, take over the world, we need to learn to work together well with others. And that's where the need to belong to a group became, it's hardwired, you know, people go, I'm a lone wolf, I always want to go, dude, there are no lone wolves, even in the wolf community. In the wolf community is a wolf that's been ostracized from the back and is left to die, wolf traveling pack, there's no such thing as a lone wolf. But at that time, and here's the really interesting thing to go to your point. At that time, because we already had the neural pathways for physical pain, they feel that because to be ostracized from your, you know, your pack your tribe, which at that time was obviously much smaller thinking of Dunbar's number, probably not any bigger than 150. To be ostracized, meant death. So it's isolation. Instead of your brain, like creating other neural pathways for that pain, it just traveled the same pathways as regular pain, travel, meaning physical pain, so that that's why when you come up to someone, and which I think a lot of us are having this experience now, and the facts wrong, and you think I'll just correct them, I'll just tell them what the correct facts are. And then they'll understand that we'll be on the same page, and you, you try to correct them. And often you get a screed back. And you think, Oh my god, what's wrong with you? You're such an idiot. And the truth is, because when you merely question their beliefs, it comes across as fighting words, you've questioned their identity, and you've questioned their place within their tribe. And for them to even consider what you're saying risks that kind of social ostrich never say this word. Austria is a Austria to the asterisks. Essentially, I

Alex Ferrari 13:55
can solve either, but yeah, I get you.

Lisa Cron 13:57
For some reason. But but so. So that comes across as fighting words. So it's really interesting, how deeply hardwired it is, and I think it can, understanding that can help give us empathy for other people, and let us know, okay, they're not they don't believe those ridiculous things they believe. Because they're stubborn or stupid, or, you know, or or just haven't done the work. It's because everything in their life has taught them that those things are true. That's what their tribe believes. So to even consider something else, it takes a massive amount of

Alex Ferrari 14:29
courage. No, absolutely. If you're in, you know, if you're in a family that is super religious, and you come out to be gay, in a community that doesn't like you know, doesn't approve of that, that becomes an issue. And you have to become so strong to break free from that tribe. And just stand on your own two feet. And that could be as simple as, hey, I'm going to go be a writer and you're your parents or a lawyer and a doctor like, no, you're not you're you're going to last Cool. You're like no. And it's like that's, that's another example of it. And to go back to what we were talking about earlier, as far as the unknown, a lot of times people think well around the corner, there's that tiger, that Tiger could be positive or negative, it doesn't have to be danger, it could be something it's not accustomed to. So if you and I've had this experience myself, when you if you have, and this is a great character, by the way, this is a free character trait that you can use for your characters guys listening, when you when you have a character, who meets someone who's obviously, like, if you have a girl who meets the good guy, then that good guy who treats her well and treats her nice, and he's a good looking dude, everything. If she's never been treated, right, or for like, if he has never been treated, right, in a relationship, it will be completely scary to be with someone like that. Either way opposite or or, you know, for someone who takes care of you or abuses you. That's and a lot of times they self sabotage a relationship because things are too good here. I don't like this, this is completely unknown territory. I'm going to sabotage it and it does it. They do it on a subconscious level. It's not like they sit there and go, Oh, I'm going to sabotage this relationship. They just start doing things to know, they know that they'll sabotage Would you agree?

Lisa Cron 16:18
Oh, yeah, I mean, I mean, 100%. That's what people don't realize is that all change is hard and good changes as hard as bad change. And we don't necessarily assume that. And when we stick with our comfort zone, what that really means is the familiar. And you're right, I mean, there are a lot of people who would rather be with someone who is very difficult to be with, because they know how to do that. It's reliably it's

Alex Ferrari 16:40
it's, it's the known, it's the it's like they say the devil, you know,

Lisa Cron 16:44
that's why we stick stick with the devil, you know, but I would say that in a story, if somebody is going to do that, that's a what, you know, any kind of a trait is a what? And what you want to get to in order to earn that trait and give it meaning is the why. In other words, what happened in that person's life probably early on, that caused them to miss read, when you know when someone is is nice to them. For instance, can I give you a quick for instance, sure, of course, sample I use a lot because what I call this, the misbelief, that characters come into a story with a misbelief something that they believe about human nature that they learned when they were very young, that's kept them from getting what they want, probably from an early age, up until the moment we're gonna shove them onto the screen. And now they're going to have to go after what they want, but overcome this misbelief in order to get it. So let's imagine that because I use that example a lot it the example of an i would say i would i would sum up what you said is that somebody's misbelief might be the nicer someone is to me, and the more they want to get to know me, the more they really only want to use and abuse and manipulate me. That's why they're doing it. And so something like that might come in, I'll give you a very quick example. Like imagine that protagonist, let's say is going to be a 29 year old woman. But when she's nine years old, she comes from a very dysfunctional family. I don't know what a functional family is, if there are any,

Alex Ferrari 18:08
but there might be there's a couple I mean, we're all listen, I'm trying to create a functional family. But obviously, in my perspective, I'm the hero, dad. So you know, my daughters will probably tell me something differently in 20 years, I don't know.

Lisa Cron 18:21
There's always something it's always like, I never said that.

Alex Ferrari 18:27
I didn't mean that horse

Lisa Cron 18:29
Exactly. mentioned this girl, she's nine, she's you know, she comes from as a single mom, she has a feral sister. And she's nine years old. And she feels like no one ever pays any attention to her like she's just lost. And so it's school, all the girls have decided to get together and form this club around this little Japanese anime character. And to get into the club, which they're about to form, you have to have a doll of this character. And she thinks, okay, great. I can save up my money, I can save up my allowance, I can get it. These, these girls are my people, I will be able to do it. So she saves her money. And she finally has enough the day before they're about to do it. The next day, she opens her bank. And malls come out with nothing. It's gone. And she's be wrapped. It's like, it's all is lost. There's no way out at all. She's sobbing. And about an hour later, her older sister comes in and says, You know, I know we don't talk but but seeing you so sad. I've asked around I know what's going on. I know about that club at school and you saved all your money. And you know, it's somehow it's gone and it broke my I broke my heart. I couldn't stand to see you sobbing like that. So I took my money. And I went out and got a bigger version of the doll. Now at this point, you know, our protagonist is thinking, like, I don't need those girls anymore. This is great. She saw me. I didn't have to even ask she got to know me. She knew what I wanted. She went and got it for me without asking. And I mean, truly isn't that what we on one level all want more than anything is somebody to anticipate what we need and give it to us? Before we even have to ask. I mean that's just

Alex Ferrari 19:59
yeah Very Genie like,

Lisa Cron 20:01
Yes, exactly. So, so but at that point, the sister goes, but you know, I used all my money to buy it. And I'm going out with Ralph tonight. And if I don't pay, he's gonna dump me and mom hasn't given me my allowance since I crashed the car. And no, that's not my fault. And she's got that $100 bill in her purse. And if you could just distract her. You're so cute. All I want you to do that. I know that the money's for food, but I'm not hungry for you. I'll just take it in. And in that moment, that character has an aha moment, which is, wait. She's thinking, you didn't do that to be kind to me. You probably in fact, stole my money. And you're just doing because you want me to help you steal? You're trying to use me now in that moment. That belief is true. That is probably what she was doing. And in fact, our protagonist could look back to other things earlier and go, Oh, yeah, I know that I'll make. And so that belief, the nicer she is, to me, the more she seems to want to get to know me, the more she's only going to use and abuse me. That was adaptive in that moment, it probably helped her survive in that family. The reason these kind of misbeliefs tend to come in when we're young, is because when we're older, if someone came up and you know, similar thing where you meet someone and they're finishing, you're finishing each other's sentences soon, and you feel like, Oh, this person knows me, we've got such simpatico. And then they go, you know what money you've got? I'm starting this Ponzi scheme, oh, would you like to invest. And at that moment, you go, Oh, my God, this person is a jerk. I know a lot of other nice people, I'm just going to get this person out of my life. When you're nine, it's not my sister's a jerk. It's Oh, this is how people are. I have to be careful. And so that misbelief would have grown escalated and complicated up to the point in exactly to us, it's amazing that you use that example, because it just matches exactly, you know, this the story that I just happen to have on the tip of my tongue, because I use it all the time. But that would explain and so that's why when you're thinking of, you know, what your character might do your protagonist, what kind of, you know, quirk or belief or desire misbelief they've got, it really pays to go back and, and not just get the what, but the why. Because the Y is what your story is, is going to be about your y is about. That's what stories are about. My son actually is a producer, we're talking about a movie that they were that they were giving notes on to the writer about a year or so ago, making movies. And, you know, he said, Yeah, she said, because the the story present is what makes the unconscious conscious. And that's the whole point. By the time the story starts, this misbelief has become the lens through which the character is evaluating everything that's happening, just like we all do does is make me safer, doesn't it? And so what happens in the story, forces that character to reevaluate that brings it back to the surface, not that they're thinking it, you know, like a bumper sticker, but because it's been incorporated into how they're making the decisions that they're making. And that's what we're watching.

Alex Ferrari 23:03
I did an episode A while ago called why we're why screenwriters are programmed to fail. And it was an entire episode, basically discussing similar concepts of what we're talking about now. And I use an example of why why the rich get rich, it's a rich and the poor, stay poor and stay poor. And it's because of, and I've studied this, to my knowledge, I'd love to hear your your thoughts on it. When when how many rich people have you met in your life? You're going peace guys aren't absolute, it's got some idiot? How has he failed up? How is? How is it? How is this possible? How does he keep making money when he has no foreseeable skill? And he's, he's a moron in so many other places, but yet he keeps able to make money. And it's not because daddy or mommy is helping him. It's just because he's kind of programmed to know what to do. And then why is this person who was born into a poor scenario, who's really smart, but yet has blocks where they can't generate more revenue or more money in their life. And I'm using money as an example here. Then, then their parents did. And is because that we as as children, we absorb it like you were just saying, it's not just my sister did that. It's all people did that, right. So when you're a child and you're born into a millionaire family or something or billionaire family, everyone just does what they start absorbing everything that they see their parents do on a subconscious level. So when they get to the, to the age of to generate revenue, they just already kind of know what to do because they've been doing it. It's the same thing for a family who was born into a family of acrobats, or a circus or circus folk or filmmakers. I mean, look how many Bryce Bryce Dallas Howard is becoming a director now. I wonder how that happened. Yeah. I mean, she's Ron Howard's kid. I mean, she was on sets all the time when they were growing up. So they kind of absorbed these things. Do you? Do you feel that, um, and again, going back to character, that's a really interesting kind of way to look at a character as well, because depends on what their what their upbringing is. And based on that upbringing, they have certain blocks that they just can't get through, until they consciously break through. So, you know, like, I've heard poor people mentality, which I've found, fortunately, I'm a card carrying member many times of thinking, like, you got to do this, you got to do that. And, and you got to do this. And that where someone who was, who was raised in a different environment, has completely different beliefs about money, where I might have had beliefs about money, because that's the way my grandpa worked hard all his life. And his his definition of success is getting a job and working hard, as opposed to someone raising another scenario is like, no, it's about money working hard for you, and you're not working that hard. It's, you know, it's different. So I just let them hear what you think about that.

Lisa Cron 26:08
Yeah, I mean, I mean, I the only thing I would say about that particular analogy, and it's close to, you know, creating characters as well, is that, you know, so often, I mean, I guess, you know, part of it, it's like so on all of our minds right now, is that there's also, I mean, if you're, if you're born into a wealthy white family, particular person at the moment, you know, you have when it's not just what your parents, you know, the way that they saw things, but it's also that you're that you're white. Oh, there's privilege. Absolutely. There's provision. Yeah. So So for a lot of people who are poor, it doesn't, it doesn't matter. I mean, I think the best example of that is the fourth season of the wire, I think, more or less a job. Yeah, it was, it was so good. But it did an amazing job of really showing if you're born into poverty, and you're born into, you know, systemic racism, which is what we're talking about a lot. Now, no matter what you do, it is just impossible. Just there are no other options. And I think that, that that's what can make a much more interesting story than somebody just, you know, suddenly finding, you know, rags to riches because they've got the gumption or whatever to do it. But more what happens to people who would have had had that would have no matter what they do the opportunity either slammed in their face or turns for something that you know, is of no fault of their own. But yeah, I completely agree. I mean, I think that's what all stories are about. All stories are about an internal change the big mistake that the big mistake that writers may and screenwriters it kind of in particular? I can tell you when I was reading screenplays, and I spent decades reading screenplays, I guess, it was almost like every screenplay I read, I would think, Okay, wait a minute. No, this is the person who's never seen a movie.

Alex Ferrari 27:57
No, no, it's this person was

Lisa Cron 27:59
other people. But if this one because it looks easy, you know, like 120 pages and all that whitespace How hard could it be?

Alex Ferrari 28:06
Super and I've seen movies so I mean, I should be able to write one that's kind of like I listen to Mozart, I should should be able to write a song

Lisa Cron 28:15
You know, it's so hard but it's not about any story. It's not about the plot. It's not about the things that happen it's about how the things that happen affect someone and affect an internal change that is what stories are about that's what routes us what routes us isn't big giant things blowing up one way or another it's what those things blowing up what how and what that's going to affect someone and not just affect them in general like we have your building blows up in your insight that you're in trouble that's what there's there's that right there is that but it's it's why things matter. It's like to give you a very quick example it's like the movie diehard which which I have

Alex Ferrari 28:56
I did an entire episode Christmas explaining why it's the greatest Christmas we'll move on so we were on the same page there it's it's arguably one of my top five it's on my top five action films of all time.

Lisa Cron 29:09
I agree. I could not agree with you more. But but but but what my heart is about it's not about you know is Bruce Willis going to kill the pseudo bad guys that are terrorists. It's about is Bruce Willis. And it's not even about people go well, it's about is Bruce Willis going to save his wife and it's not about that either. It's about is Bruce Willis gonna be able to win his wife back, she's left him. Is he going to be able to win her now? Of course. I mean, obviously, he's got it. He wants to save her as well because he doesn't want to win her back in a body bag. That would be a Pyrrhic victory if ever there was but that's what and that's why we care. That's what's pulling us all the way through. It's not just you know, is he going to kill Hans Gruber? Which I mean Alan Rickman a moment of silence for his passing

Alex Ferrari 29:51
recipes, my friend Oh what such so he's such a great actor but that character a lot for people listening like you have to understand I heard in the theater when I was a teenager. And can you imagine walking into like, Oh, isn't that that guy from moonlighting? Let me go, let me go watch this. There's something blowing up. Let me go watch and you walk out going, what did I just see? Perfect movie. It's so perfect. But the thing that's amazing for people that don't understand it created a genre of film, it's Die Hard on a boat, Die Hard on train, Die Hard in an arena. That hard everywhere because it was, but the difference between all of those movies and diehard is exactly what you're saying. Is this. It's not about what's on the surface. Yes, that's all cool. And yes, that he's very vulnerable. He's wearing no shoes. You know, he's the every man there's like, there's so many things that make McLane such a wonderful character. But you're right, it's about is there our thinking to get back together? And it's, it's subtle, it's not, it's not heavy handed.

Lisa Cron 30:54
It's subtle. I mean, in the same way that in the same way that the Hunger Games trilogy is about our Katniss and Peeta going to get together? I mean, in the beginning, is she gonna realize he likes her? And is she gonna have to kill him? And that's what really is pulling us through all three books, which I think are fabulous. I think even the movies were good. I, I, I devoured those. But yeah, it's a human story. That's what we care about. We don't care about the other. And we'll help that you just have what what most what most screenplays and most, you know, novel with manuscripts are, is honestly nothing but a bunch of things that happen. That's, that's Damn.

Alex Ferrari 31:35
Yeah, it's very, it's very superficial. Without questions, so like a movie like lethal weapon, which is also on my top five of all time. You know? Do we care? Why'd Why do you care about Murdock and Riggs? It's like, well, his rigs gonna be his he can not kill himself. End of this thing. Like you're you're holding on to, to that and then and then combination of those two together? It's just such a magical thing. What is your What is your What is your take on the the reason why Lethal Weapon if you watch it and chain blacks, a lot of shame black scripts have this have this this kind of underlining emotional tug.

Lisa Cron 32:15
I mean, I can't I saw it. I saw it when it came out so long ago, that I couldn't talk to it other than to agree with you that, you know, any movie we're pulled into, that we care about, it's because we care about the characters, but not just care about them in the situation that they find themselves in. But what being in that situation is going to mean to them, given what they walked onto the, you know, onto into scene one already wanting? I mean, and that goes to what you just said, Yeah. Is he going to kill himself? Well, that was something if he is or isn't, that was something he already wanted to do before he walked on to the screen. So it always I mean, I mean, what I am always saying to writers is, is that all stories begin in media stress. And I don't mean it, it's funny, the first time I heard that term was as a screenwriting term, and it which means it's a lot, it's Latin, and it means in the middle of the thing, and, and in screenwriting, it tended to be meant, you know, if you're going to start a scene start in the middle, right, you start at that moment, where if you wait one more minute, it'll be too late. If you start too early, people are going to get bored. But that's not what it really means. What it really means is all stories beginning this resonating, literally, the first scene of the movie, or the first page of the novel is the first scene or page of the second half of the story. The backstory is the most crucial and important layer of story. Without it, you have no story. And I think the biggest problem that writers have is that they'll start on page one, and think they have to read forward or and I'm going to say something now that probably especially in the film community, who sounds really, really incendiary, and it isn't literally and figuratively, if it was up to me, I would burn every copy of the hero's journey, or the Vogler book or save the cat or any of those books, because they claim to be about story structure. And that's a misnomer. They're about plot structure. And the story is not about the plot and the line in those books besides the fact that things don't always happen in the order that they do. or God forbid, with the hero's journey, which I particularly detest, you know, we have to have the temptress, it just, I just like what is boiling, I've got to take a deep breath. But it's not about the plot. And the line. The book is when they give you examples, they give you examples of movies and books you are familiar with. And so when you think of those plots, you're already supplying that that emotional internal tug of the struggle that the character is going through. So you go Okay, yeah, this has to happen at the end of Act One. And now here's the actual climax. And now, here's the So writers are writing things from the outside in. And story structure is organic, it's inside out story structure is, is the byproduct of a story well told, not something you can plan as you begin to write the story, and I think that's what tanks, so many scripts in so many manuscripts is that they're looking at, well, knowing the character who's going to be the one who's going to mention what the character needs to do. So we put that in there and knowing something really big to happen here, because that's the mid at climax, and then they'll turn and they'll reach into this external grab bag of, of supposedly dramatic things, and throw something in, as opposed to no story is a complete cause and effect trajectory that began usually with what I call the protagonist origin story, the moment where that misbelief was born. And it's cause and effect from beginning to end if you can do one of those, those card things, you know, where the where you go, you know, write these things on cards and move them around, if you round you don't have a story, it's cause and effect, you can't move them around story is, again 100% cause and effect this happened Wait, therefore that this happened, but that

Alex Ferrari 36:09
anyway, so we were talking a little bit by the way, I it's it I love bringing people on the show that have different perspectives, because I've had every one of those people that you've talked that had them on on the show, and they all have different perspectives on story. And

Lisa Cron 36:24
I think I'm gonna interrupt you there one second, and this is where I do not play well with others. I think they're wrong.

Alex Ferrari 36:29
And that's fine. And that's fine and you're completely and there's points that you've made that make absolutely all the sense of the world and nor will I try to debate you on it because I I don't have a strong that I don't have a strong affiliation either way. But I always love bringing different perspectives of story because you never know what what is gonna click with a certain writer. It's, you know, like I, I believe, you know, like, early on in my in my in my writing career, you know, the hero's journey and and that whole process, and then I had john Truby on. And then john Truby goes, you can throw the hero's journey on a detective story, let me know how that works out for you. And my mind exploded. I was like, what, wait a minute, but all stories are the hero's journey. Like No, no, no, not all of them. And you were like, oh, okay, that's, that's okay. All right, then. And then it just starts changing the way you look at things. So I completely I completely understand your point of view, no question about it. Now what the one thing that we were talking about earlier about the, the the the backstory of the character, isn't it interesting that a character who was in cinema for forever, named James Bond, who basically didn't have a true backstory, he was just kind of like, he was very one dimensional, he never changed. He, he was not a character that changed from beginning to end of every story. He was basically James Bond at the beginning at the end. But when Casino Royale showed up, and they gave him backstory, and they gave him all these other things that drove him to be who he is. It became honestly the best Bond film ever made, in my opinion, would you agree?

Lisa Cron 38:12
Yeah. 100% I mean, 100 I think the reason though, yes. 100%. I think without backstory, it's very easy for something to become a bunch of things that happened. I think, things like James Bond, the world was changing, then cinema movie was were changing at that point. And so we were seeing things that were new anyway, so people could get away with other stuff and not go as deep as as they can now not be willing to do it. And I think that with mysteries because people will say the same thing about well, what about Sherlock Holmes? Or, you know, other detectives? What about perot? Or what about? You know, Philip Marlowe? And I think that the answer there is that mysteries themselves are always about not just who done it, but in order to know who you got to know why. And we come to story. I mean, I think I think we come to story for exactly the reasons that in the beginning of Citizen Kane, you know, where you've got the the newsreel director going, Nothing's more interesting than finding out what makes people tick. It's like, yeah, that's what we come for. So if we're going to get a detective isn't going to change. That person is looking at evaluating what's going on based on trying to figure out what made you know the murderer or whatever whoever the person is, do what they do, and then the cleverness of trying to figure out okay, here's a really hard thing. How could you possibly make that happen? And if you notice, and I can't give you an example of this, because we're just I'm just talking off the top of my head, but it's something I say to writers all the time is that it's never just some logistic, cleverness. There must be blood and I'm not talking about the movie must be blood, in other words, whatever is happening, whatever the person believes, whatever Doing, it isn't just a factual thing, it's something that is going to in some very human way, hurt or help someone else, in terms of getting something that they really, really want or are afraid of, it always comes back to that meaning always comes back to how it's going to affect someone emotionally. And I don't mean that in a pejorative sense at all, I think as a, as I was saying to you, before we started, I mean, emotion is such a deeply misunderstood biological system. I think we purposely misunderstand that not just in our culture, but around the world. Because every decision we ever make, is driven by emotion. And that's positive. If we didn't feel emotion, we couldn't make a single rational decision. emotion. It's not just emotion, it's obviously emotion. And, and reason we've been taught that they're their opposite. There's our binary, right? Either emotion or reason. And the truth is, they work together. And the truth is the driver is emotion, not reason. No matter no matter how we always think I'm a master of my own ship, it makes you feel so safe, it makes you feel so secure. But whatever decision you make, you don't make, because it's the rational argument, you make that decision because of how the rational argument makes you feel. It always comes back to feeling and so in a story if there isn't that, in other words, if we're not in the character's skin as they're feeling something, we jump ship. Yeah, no,

Alex Ferrari 41:32
no, I've seen movies as well that I call it kind of intellectual writing versus emotional writing, where you could just see that the writer is trying to be cool. And trying to be it trying to be clever. And look how, look how much promise I have over the craft that I can do this, this and this, but you feel nothing.

Lisa Cron 41:53
And it's annoying to Yes, yes. So what did the writer you think you think you're so full of yourself? It's like hot, you're annoying. Go away? Yeah. Yeah. Right.

Alex Ferrari 42:01
It's like, look how cool I am. Look. It's like kinda like writing. When you have your I'm sure you've read a screenplay that has 75 cent words in it? Oh, yeah. Oh, oh, yeah.

Lisa Cron 42:09
I worked once with a lawyer who was writing a novel. And he said, he's a trial. My career, the bigger the word, the less emotion it conveys. Yeah, correct. Yep. Last thing, you want to use our $25 words, let alone $75 words, the simplest words are usually the most powerful. If there's meaning behind words, in cells or nothing. It's the meaning they're conveying. And that's what comes from the story. And that almost always comes from from backstory, because backstory is what is what is what creates, again, the lens and the meaning that your protagonist is reading into it. It's just one thing really quickly, I just finished reading a book. It literally called your brain as a time machine by a neuroscience. I think he's, I think he's out of LA. And he says, basically, and of course, all of the research, you can find this all over, but he's here, the sole purpose of your brain is to record past memories in order to predict the future. So in other words, if you have no backstory, how can they? What do they have at stake? Well, that's

Alex Ferrari 43:12
powerful. That's what's so powerful.

Lisa Cron 43:15
Yeah, I mean, and again, when you're writing a character, a character is a person, like you or me, and that's what we do. And that's me, I could go into the whole neuroscience behind it, but

Alex Ferrari 43:25
which we might in a second because I'm a neuroscience nerd, as well, but I'm gonna my name and I neuroscience now is already I just lost my train of thought.

Lisa Cron 43:37
All the time. It's so funny when you do it in the middle of talking. I've done that. Where was I going?

Alex Ferrari 43:43
What was that guy's like? No, there's too many ideas flying into my head right now. That I know we're going to talk about something I want to talk about something really quickly that I know is going to divide our audience, which is great. It's the Marvel movies. You were talking about emotion. And you watch a movie like Avengers endgame. And generally what Marvel has done throughout their 10 years of putting what they've done is unprecedented how they've created so much. And by the way, I think those whole all those movies are emotion delivery systems. I don't know if you like them or not. And you could tell me in a second, I'm going to tell you from my point of view, who is a fan have been a comic book fan for a long time. And when you get to endgame, by the way, spoiler alert, guys, if you haven't seen endgame, it's not my fault. Made it made like $3 billion. I'm sorry, if you haven't seen it, you can't blame me. But at the end, when Iron Man does that ultimate sacrifice, and you see him go, there's so much emotion. And if you want and you watch like when they're like at that moment where they're about to the Thanos is about to destroy them, and like it's only like We have them as Iron Man, Thor and, and Captain America. Then everybody starts coming out of those, you know, magical Doctor Strange circles. I've heard the reaction I was in the theater, but I also watched them online, the people lost their mind. And the reason why they lost their mind was because it was 10 years of emotional, emotional context or connection with all of these characters coming out and you're like, all of them are coming out at once together, it was just such an emotional thing for me watching it, and I've seen it, obviously, it hit a chord with somebody, because if it was just blowing stuff up, then you would have the DC Universe, which is the Justice League and how that was a complete failure. We'll see what the Snyder cut says when it comes out on HBO Max, but it was a complete failure because there was no backstory, there was no emotion at all. What do you I don't know how much you know about our into the comic book films, but I think it's that since they are the most popular form of entertainment right now in the Indian in the industry. It's not a bad conversation to have.

Lisa Cron 46:14
Yeah, no. And, and I to be completely honest, I am not a I'm not a fan. So I've seen I've not seen I've not seen any of them. I mean, maybe one or two. But I mean, just comment. I mean, just even when you're invested in characters, like you said, 10 years of them. And and I mean, you know, their backstory at that point, whether, you know, whether it's ever been been stated on the screen or not, because you watched it. You have that. I mean, it's funny, you know, I said before about the fourth season of the wire, the fifth season of the wire, which was I think only a half a season it was dreadful. Didn't matter. They watched every minute of it because I loved the characters. I wouldn't watch anything. You know, at that point, you're so deeply invested that it's like Yes, just keep going. I mean it you know, just just I just want to watch them getting into character I'll watch anything it doesn't matter because

Alex Ferrari 47:05
you love because you love those characters like that and but that's the that's kind of something very interesting with with them with television now because now we binge so much like when I saw that I binge the wire watch the whole series. And once you go down the road, you're in three four seasons unless they do something super crazy. You're pretty much in Yeah, big you know like I was when I watched The Walking Dead probably about six seasons in maybe. And then the when it turned for me I don't know if you've ever watched a walking dead but when it turned to me is they had this one villain that came in and he was so abusive to my characters that I loved. And they never gave those characters a moment of victory. Like there was the whole season. It was just like someone was beating up on my characters constantly. It was never going back and forth kind of fight it was just kind of like a pummeling. And that's the problem with like, when you have a villain it's so overpowering. It's not fun anymore. I don't want to see my characters my favorite characters get beat up. I stopped watching because they just went too far. They could have still had a very powerful protagonist, but yet give give some victories small victories something Yeah. And by the time that victory came it was too late. I was really lost.

Lisa Cron 48:28
Yeah, I agree. I stopped I've watched I think the first three seasons of it. And I can't remember why I think I just failed because I guess it was just I just got tired of watching people eat people or

Alex Ferrari 48:39
if you don't like the eating it's probably not a good thing

Lisa Cron 48:42
to not being either a horror fan either so it was like I am surprised and it's a testament to the show that I lasted that long because it isn't you know usually what I like but for something to be a horror it's got to be something like get out or something that's just so good that you know I'm completely willing to stay to stay hooked and you know, I mean everybody's got their I guess their preference again. Probably comes back to for me. I tell you this literally, I don't understand. I don't understand why people love watching horror movies. Because I can't imagine getting off watching somebody get hurt I have a hard time with things some things I'm never going to watch again. I did not watch Bosh when all this happened it's like I'm never watching another cop show ever again but Bosh

Alex Ferrari 49:27
is so good.

Lisa Cron 49:29
I yeah. Season went You know, when the majority boy died and it's like okay, I'm I've just I couldn't live it's interesting. I literally you know, we watched one one at one episode after it was like I absolute can't do this. I just can't do this.

Alex Ferrari 49:46
I mean, like the canceled cops for God's sakes. And and I started two years and all I mean and how many cop shows are on television like Blue Bloods and, and, you know, law and order. You can kind of it's more of a But yeah, but law and order and SBU unit like there's everything's a cop show.

Lisa Cron 50:05
So, drama, you know, by definition

Alex Ferrari 50:07
it's automatically built in drama so like Chicago PD and all of those things. How is it? How are they going to come back? Like I'm assuming of it? Look, we're gonna see a cop show again. We're gonna see cops on the movies again. I just don't know. Different hopefully it'll be different. Like you can't release Lethal Weapon today. No. Laser, like, you know, the rogue the rogue cop doing it playing by their own rules. That's pretty much the 80s

Lisa Cron 50:33
Yeah. Oh, well, even with I mean, you know, talking about the way things change moving away from cop movies for me. Try watching old john Hughes movies. You can't there's there's massagin is the racist

Alex Ferrari 50:47
like there's there's definitely some rough there's some rough stuff in the old I haven't watched. I haven't watched the jaunty I mean, other than home alone. But like if you watch him I haven't seen Breakfast Club. I

Lisa Cron 50:58
don't remember there being love isn't so bad. Yeah, I

Alex Ferrari 51:01
was gonna say I don't remember Breakfast Club. I know. Like Pretty in Pink. Yeah.

Lisa Cron 51:07
16 candles. Forget it.

Alex Ferrari 51:09
Oh my god. It's that I remember. Like, even then I was like, Dude, that that seems a little it was just it was it's it's a weird, like, Yeah, but and now they were pulling movies off like they pulled off when they pulled off Gone with the Wind, obviously, for obvious reasons. But there was they made a disclaimer on aliens on aliens because of Okay, what's her name isn't Marquez, what's her name? The the actress who played the Latina Marine, but she was but she's not Latina. She's She also played like, you know, an Irish, Irish peasant in Titanic. So. And they were like, they had to warn about that. I was like, Well, you know, at a certain point, like, I don't know, I don't want to stand on one side or the other or something like that. But it's getting to that place now that we're, we're going back and there has to be some social context. Because the things some things do not eat. I hate to say a Birth of a Nation does not age well.

Lisa Cron 52:10
Age. Well, oh, my God, Jesus Christ. You know? Well,

Alex Ferrari 52:15
it was it didn't age well when it came out. But but there's, I mean, remember, john, remember john wayne, you know, what was this famous line? A good Indian is a dead end. Like that's can't say things like that anymore?

Lisa Cron 52:29
And we never should have been? It is hard, though. I mean, I think that we'll have a reckoning going forward. Because I mean, I yes, it is really, really hard. Because I think part of it, part of it. I mean, think about it for one second. I mean, I mean, first of all, as we can see the world has changed in 200 years, massively. So that if this was if we didn't have film, and or social media or the internet, right, it was just even books, whatever was done or written before, would be pretty much forgotten. But because we have film and social media, is gonna pull up anything anybody said 30 years ago, and suddenly, here it is. It old, everything always stays current. And so it's hard. And I'll tell you, I had my own. When I wrote the first book, I wrote wired for story. And I wanted to give an example of, Okay, here's a story, here's going to show a word I would never use, again, theme, I don't believe in theme at all anymore. But theme and plot and I forget what the third thing was. And I wanted to find an example I could give that that I thought, okay, everybody's gonna know this, I can't pick something that I've read, but no one else has. And so I did research. And I picked it on with a wind. And so I talked about Gone with the Wind just solely about, you know, the plot, what's about etc. And about two or three pages. And I've gotten I got an email yesterday from someone saying, you need to pull that out, you know, you're promoting white supremacy, how can you do that? And it's like, I want to go I, if I could, if I pull the whole chapter, I'd actually because I would rewrite it. But what you don't know, it's, it's hard to say it. I'm stuttering right now. Yeah, I didn't think of that. It didn't occur to what

Alex Ferrari 54:17
it wasn't. But it wasn't something that was, you know, no, surely there was no, it wasn't culturally there. And it's,

Lisa Cron 54:25
but it's so hard, but it was, so it never occurred to me and going back to the

Alex Ferrari 54:30
Yeah, you know, hurt anybody. I mean, it's very,

Lisa Cron 54:34
unless you were black, and then it probably did. That's the point.

Alex Ferrari 54:37
Right? Exactly. And that's the problem that, that everyone's protesting and walking the streets about.

Lisa Cron 54:44
I mean, we're all you know, I'm just reading now how to be an anti racist. It's, there's, I mean, again, the same thing is true of the one that I happen to think is the last although we have been talking about in big ways in the past couple years, but the last acceptable bias Which is misogyny? Um, you know, I think I think that that that's,

Alex Ferrari 55:05
um, I had I had, um, Naomi McDougal Jones who wrote this amazing book. She's a female filmmaker, and writer and she wrote this amazing book, I forgot the name of the book cuz I haven't released the episode yet. But it's about how, how Hollywood is completely screwed over women. Basically, in the end, she talks about the entire history of Hollywood. And she lays out like, every female director, who's been who's won an Oscar or been nominated for an Oscar is either and I couldn't believe this is either married or was married to a powerful man, and or was a father was a sibling, a sibling, or child or a child of a powerful male. So we were just talking about Bryce Dallas Howard. Sophia Coppola. Oh, God, what's her name? Oh, God, Director Point Break. Zero Dark 30?

Lisa Cron 56:07
Oh, oh, I can't I can't get it.

Alex Ferrari 56:09
But she was she's, I can't believe I can't read Kathryn Bigelow. Thank you. Kathryn Bigelow was the ex of James Cameron. You know, and, you know, I heard I heard, you know, would have, she would have never been able to get a movie like Point Break off the ground without James Cameron as a co producer back in the late 80s, early 90s. You know, she was more than talented enough to do it. So it was fascinating to watch. And then she starts going into, which is so fascinating. And you start thinking about it, like, how many characters are on screen, a female characters who don't talk about men who don't talk about sex, who don't show themselves as sexual objects, like and you start dwindling down those things to the point where like, it's a it's like, 3% of females talking to other females about things that are other than men and sex.

Lisa Cron 56:57
The big tell rule? I think it's called. Yeah, I

Alex Ferrari 57:00
think she mentioned that. Yeah.

Lisa Cron 57:02
Yeah, yeah. I mean, I'll be honest with you, I think nothing to say here, I suppose. I literally stopped watching most movies, I won't watch a movie. If it's just about men, I just won't. It's like, I don't care that I don't want to see things from the male gaze, I don't want to see I just, I've got I've spent my entire life I'm filled to the brim with it. You know, it's just enough. So,

Alex Ferrari 57:26
you know, I I completely understand. I think that's why it's so important for writers and filmmakers, of different backgrounds of different ethnicities, of different sexes, to come out and tell their stories from their point of view. It's so so so important to have that, because it has been, you know, for lack of a better word has been white dominated white male dominated for the history of Hollywood. And it's not Hollywood that did that. That's just a reflection of society. Right?

Lisa Cron 57:56
Exactly. Yes, no, everything is just a reflection of what there is. That is the whole point, as we were saying before, to take it back to a granular level. Each of us reflects where we came from, and the culture from which we came in. That's our tribe. And we tend to think the problem is, we tend to think, well, that's the way the world is. And that's the way the world's always been without going, No, wait a minute, that's just the way my family is or my world is and then we reflect it back. So it makes total sense. Yeah, it's not Hollywood didn't get together and conspire on that level. That's the way the world was. And they were just presenting it as it was an acting as it was. And there's so many, let's see, one real interesting, just a quick little tidbit, that just goes back to just even technically how it is, wait, I'm gonna Mangle this because the one thing I sort of suck at is getting, like technical details exactly right. But I was listening to a podcast talking about the beginning of radio, like literally when they could first transmit anything in radio, and the pitch that they the bandwidth that they used, was what reflected the male voice. And the female voice, which had a different pitch came across very shrill, and that had a lot to it, it was purposeful, actually, and it had a lot to do with why the male voice once we could hear a male voice or any voice, you know, other than just somebody standing in front of you talking, you know, became the voice of reason and the voice that we that we pay attention to and listen to because we're wired, you know, we're wired to hear a voice and to feel like that voice is talking to us, even if it's talking to everybody. And you know, I mean, it's just it's just fascinating, so many different pieces that went into, you know, that that were put together to create this again, this reality that hopefully now, you know, we're breaking out of a little bit, you know, booked with me too and now with with with black lives matter.

Alex Ferrari 59:52
I mean, it's since you brought up Me too. I mean, I mean, I remember it's something that was a joke as far as like, oh, the casting couch. Right? Yeah, that was that was just a way it was in movies. Yeah, it was it was just a way of doing business that no one ever even thought twice about, like, you know, as I was coming up, you know, I'm a man, but I'm a Latino man. So I have a different perspective. But generally speaking, I heard those stories of the casting couch. I heard about those things. And it's just like, you know, every time I ever do a casting, I was always very, very careful. And always very courteous to everybody who walked in actors just get destroyed on these casting calls. Sometimes. It's horrible. The abuse that they take, not me to abuse, but just verbal abuse as well. But it was just part of the culture was ingrained systemic inside of Hollywood, until finally, the dam broke. Thank God.

Lisa Cron 1:00:53
Right. Well, that's exactly right. I mean, you need somebody as just blatantly awful as Harvey Weinstein to be the one that's gonna. I mean, I mean, there were so many others. I mean, Les Moonves, I mean, we could go, we I'm sure I'll delete this for now. But But it took the same way as a horrible way to put it, but the same way with George Floyd. You know, it just took this moment as Will Smith or who said, it's not like, it's only there's more, it's not like, there's more racism. It's at the more filming of it. You know, it hasn't got Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:24
it's not Yeah, it hasn't gotten worse. It's just this. There's more cameras, there's more eyeballs on it is.

Lisa Cron 1:01:28
I think that that's another words, when something breaks in a big way, that way, it's never that's the thing that that did it by itself. It's that that's the last straw. Right? There were 1000s and millions of other straws. That one's just the last one. Because in both cases, they're so incendiary that, you know, you can't you can't look away. And and I guess, you know, the George Floyd coming. In the midst of the pandemic,

Alex Ferrari 1:01:55
it was a perfect storm.

Lisa Cron 1:01:57
Right, right. I mean, it was a perfect storm. We're all enclosed. And I think also there's a there's a point as well, where we're all in quarantine, and and many, many of many Americans specifically have lost their jobs. And they, a lot of times, we think as a country that we're invincible. But the second that this happened, we realized that we weren't. And they're like, oh, wait a minute, and we're also a couple of paychecks away from being on the street. So that combination with those images of George Floyd, I think it was just this perfect storm of stuff going on in the world that just exploded. And I think you're right, because it put the pandemic, put everything on pause, all the like, we talk about all the different, all the different problems that come together to create something seamlessly like, you know, the way Hollywood was, okay, that's not didn't create it, it's a microcosm of it, and it was created, but all these other things with the radio and the way women, you know, just even their voices and the way women are dressed and the way, you know, politicians come in and away religions are all you know, definitely women are always second class citizens. And they were like, all of that came together. But before the pandemic, to deal with any one of them felt like, Yeah, but I got to do this. And there are so many bright you having things continually coming at us, but nobody could ever as a whole function on any of it. Now, everything's like on pause, and it's right there in front of us. And it's we're going Okay, wait a minute. We're seeing the effects of it, and what can we do about it? And I think if anything, possibly good comes out of this. It will come from that.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:39
Yeah, I agree. I mean, this conversation is definitely taking a turn. And I think it's actually this, this entire episode has been, I had a list of about 20 questions, I've asked two of them. And it's, it's, it's fine. Because I think, you know, we've kind of gone in sections of this interview, we've kind of gone inside the writers brain, and what and what makes characters and what motivates us. So it's a kind of like, it's almost a therapy session, I think. I think this episode is is semi therapy for everyone listening to it to kind of just kind of process their own their own world, but also maybe understand, and hopefully, I'll put a list of books in the show notes of neuro neuroscience books that I've read, that are amazing and really understand why we do what we do. But because writing and storytelling is just a reflection of life, and us trying to process what living is. If you understand more about who you are as a human being, you'll be able to write more engaging characters and be more emotional characters. Would you agree with that?

Lisa Cron 1:04:46
Yeah, I mean, I think that I think that the key thing when you're writing anything, you know, as you were saying before, we want to get a message out and the point of stories isn't just to feel emotion per se, but It's feeling emotion as you're making a particular point. And I think that's what makes storytellers so powerful, whether they're aware of it or not. Because, you know, we're affected by stories every minute of every day, whether we know it or not. And usually we don't stories change us, because stories when you're just talking about this movie, but when you're when you're watching the story, it's like a Vulcan mind meld between you and that protagonist. It's like they're your avatar within the story. And they go through this internal change that we're talking about, in other words, a change in in them seeing what makes people tick, you know, a point you're making about human nature, when they have that big aha moment toward the end, again, that your character characters are protagonists by all characters, but particularly the protagonists will have a small aha moment, every scene because in every scene, they're trying to move that agenda forward. And in every scene, they're going to learn something that's going to change it not just logistically what they have to do, but sort of internally as to why it matters, or why someone's doing what they're doing, perhaps forces them to reevaluate their plan or change it. So they have a small aha moment, a small change in everything. But when they get to that big one at the end, and now suddenly, they look back to the beginning. And they see things differently. Again, like we're saying before, story makes the unconscious conscious. And at the end, you're questioning a misbelief. And at the end, that misbelief comes up, and you realize it for what it is because misbeliefs, we don't think they're misbeliefs, we think they're true, and we were very happy to alert them at a very early age. But at the end of the story, you're realizing Wait a minute, you know, as the end of diehard he realizes how much he means to him, he realizes that you just have to be this macho guy, and you know, wherever you go, there you are, doesn't have to even necessarily stay in New York could have come out to LA with her. And when he realizes that that's what gives him the courage to then go. And, you know, because it's right before that scene where he's talking to Rachel Bill Johnson, I got a bad got a bad feeling, I don't think I'm going to make it you know, he goes, when all this is over, I want you to find my wife. Don't ask me how by then you'll know, tell her, you know, you heard me say I love you 1000 times, you never heard me say I'm sorry. And like, at that moment, we've watched him build to that. And that's what gives him again, the the courage to go forward. And to, you know, to kill all the bad guys, of course, because we're all so excited about that. But it's that change that we come for. And when you're writing, that's where your power is, how do you want to change how your viewer sees the world because you will, whether you want to or not, even if you're writing, you know, and even I don't mean to even bring an action movie, they're gonna come out change, they're gonna commit to seeing the world a little bit differently. And that's what gives you that's, that's why writers are the most powerful people on the planet.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:37
Do you agree with when with villains that have, like, I think all great villains have a particular perspective on on life in the sense that the mustache twisting villain is so one dimensional, and it doesn't, it doesn't work. But when you have a villain who has, he has a point of view, his point of view could be so off Park like, you know, perfect example. And I know you haven't seen the Avengers, but Thanos Thanos is, you know, this monstrous, you know, foe, but just so you know, his perspective is that he wants to when he was younger, there was a lot of famine. And, and he had a lot of issues on his planet, where he didn't have enough. So he came up with the idea of what Well, the only way we're going to survive, this plant is going to survive, is if half of us are killed off. And it's a very scientific way of looking at things just a very pragmatic, like, Look, if this planet can support all of us, so half of us have to go. And because he was ostracized for that, for obvious reasons, he went off, came back did it anyway. And his goal to get the gauntlet of power is to be able to snap his fingers and do it to the entire universe.

Lisa Cron 1:08:59
Yes. 100%.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:01
Yeah, that's his perspective. So it's a horrible perspective. Right. But he's actually trying to do

Lisa Cron 1:09:07
good in some way, even though it's horrible. Exactly, because everybody thinks they're doing something for the good. I mean, and also, also, if you just have a what, and you don't have a why, then the only way you can fight something is just like a zombie. Right? You can just kill it because there's nothing behind the zombie other than it's going to come at you. And either it's killer be killed. villains are not the least bit interesting if they're just snidely whiplash, you know, black and white at the end of the day, if you look even at Darth Vader, you know, I mean, his what he wanted at the end in the, you know, the second movie, I mean, he's standing up to the actual whoever can remember the main bad guy who

Alex Ferrari 1:09:50
rarely saw that would be the Emperor.

Lisa Cron 1:09:53
Right? The Emperor wants him to kill Luke Skywalker, and he's like, No, no, I can convince him not to and the reason he wants to convince him is because he's his son. Sure he can kind of bring him over to the dark side. That's why we care, you know, on that on that level. And also if there isn't some reason why, because we come for what I mean, again, biggest point is, we don't come for what someone does we come for why they do. It doesn't mean what they're doing, like you said is right. But we go, Oh, it's not just that they're an evil person who wants to kill people for the pleasure of killing people. There's, there's a reason behind it. That's really and also, if there's a reason behind it with some villains, it means they're capable of change. They might not be capable of it, but but you could see how you could change them. You could see maybe there is some hope. Because again, with a snidely whiplash, you know, just completely black, you know, I think he's like, completely bad guy. Who's got no, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:10:48
if you just think about the mustache, yeah,

Lisa Cron 1:10:49
yeah, exactly. There's, there's no way that you can, there's nothing there's, you've got no hope. It's just it just killed him. Or, you know, or that's the end of it. Way more interesting. If there's some more if there's some the other good part about that, is that if you give them some humanity, like what you were saying about Santos, you know, if for instance, we'd seen a moment where he, you know, then maybe we did I don't know you can do? You did, but you know when he's a kid, yep. And he and he wants to and he wholeheartedly believes it's good, and he gets slammed, you can have empathy for him. I mean, you're gonna go oh, my God, that poor kid he didn't mean to. He didn't know it was that and look, now he's being treated so horribly. I feel bad too. And well,

Alex Ferrari 1:11:31
yeah, so it's the whole Loki Thor scenario where Loki was the main villain of the first Avengers. And it's he's he just wants his father's love, because Thor took all that love and he was his favorite. So that's why he wants to bring pain to Thor. But yet he still loves Thor because he's his brother in some weird way. But he's always trying to, to kill him or screw him over. But yet, when when the fit hits the Shan he's there for him like, oh, wait a minute, I'm the only one that is allowed to kill my brother, no one else is allowed to kill me.

Lisa Cron 1:12:02
And here's one other thing that writers really think about, which is things only have meaning in life. And life isn't literature. If they cost something? Yes. And what you just outlined was the cost. I want to kill this guy, but he's my brother. I love him. What am I going to do? You know, I mean, when you think about the Godfather, it's exactly that coming in. You're the original. The first Godfather, there's Michael who's like, I want to leave the family business, you know, and meaning he wants to do something good. He's idealistic. It's not like he wants to, you know, leave the Corleone to start the sopranos. He wants to do something like that. But his loyalty to the family, but what's gone on with the family? What's he going to do? And that's the cost you're looking for, as I call it, I don't like using this word cuz it sounds the word being moral. Like the moral Crux, here's what I want. Here's what it's going to cost me. And that's with every character, this is what I want. This is what it's going to cost me. Can I get it? Can I give this thing up in order to get this other thing that I want and want to watch that struggle all the way through? Otherwise, it's flattened cardboard, they're just going to do what they're gonna do. And you don't need to watch anymore, because there's nothing that can surprise you. snidely whiplash is always going to do what he's going to do. So, you know, what difference does it make? You got nothing to learn there?

Alex Ferrari 1:13:13
And yeah, if he's a bad guy who's just doing bad things, for the sake of being the bad guy, then who cares?

Lisa Cron 1:13:20
Anyway, there is no such thing as that. There's always a reason

Alex Ferrari 1:13:24
that you're absolutely right there. If you're a human being and you're doing bad, it's because something happened to you in, in your past that yeah, that is spawned this in one way, shape or form. You know,

Lisa Cron 1:13:37
even psychopaths, in the sense that they say there are a lot of people who are, I guess, you know, if you did a brain scan or whatever, have whatever have it makes you a psychopath, but not all of them turn into, you know, killers, something needs to happen that triggers that part of it.

Alex Ferrari 1:13:53
Right? They're not born, they're not born. You know, you're not there. psychopaths aren't born. They're made.

Lisa Cron 1:13:59
Right. Well, but but there is, yes. psychopathic behavior. I think on that level, yes. Right. But take a psychopath he is a is a you know, is a brain anomaly.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:09
Correct. But there's something that triggers that could I guess you could kind of it's, it's it's the degree of psychopath. So you could I love this conversation. This is fantastic. So if you only kill one person, or you can kill a million people, that's a different level of psychopath.

Lisa Cron 1:14:27
Very true, very true.

Alex Ferrari 1:14:30
This is horrible. Please forgive me everyone listening, but it was just an example. But this at least we can keep talking for at least another two hours, I'm sure. But I'm gonna I'm now going to ask you questions that I asked all my guests. What are three screenplays every screenwriter should read? Oh,

Lisa Cron 1:14:49
tough one. No. I don't know that I could. I'm really bad at answering stuff off the top of my head. I don't think I can could answer because I would have to go back and think, what movies do I love? And then why? And then

Alex Ferrari 1:15:07
three films that just popped into your head.

Lisa Cron 1:15:09
Well, the movies that I love I mean in most of the movies that I love, I think are current off the top of my head. Okay, I love I love the apartment, the, you know, Jackson MacLaine movie, I think that is absolutely positively one of my favorite movies of all time. God and other movies, I'm trying to get movies, I love that I wouldn't really recommend writing the screenplays because they're just weird. movies on one level, um, a screenplay? I can't shoot. It's fine. It's fine. I'll be able to be a part of

Alex Ferrari 1:15:46
the apartment it is. Um, now what advice would you give a screenwriter trying to break into the business today?

Lisa Cron 1:15:55
That's a really hard one. Cuz it's hard. I mean, those sugar coated Lisa? Yeah, it's so hard. I think just just read a lot, write a lot. You know, watch the movies that you like, really dive into I would say do not use the story structure books, like really do not, I think really dive into story. I think any kind of any kind of job you could get. If there's anything you can, at any to know people, because I think that it that, you know, this is a business where to, you know, in a big way, if you can get a job as a reader anywhere, if you can read for anybody, if you can offer to read for someone, I think that really, really helps, because then you'll be able to see what's out there. Um, yeah, I mean, I would think it was that and just, you know, just just just keep writing.

Alex Ferrari 1:16:48
Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the in the industry or in life?

Lisa Cron 1:16:59
Lesson? I don't? I don't know, longest to learn? Hmm. I don't know. I mean, I don't know. Because it sounds like I mean, there are two different ways to answer that question. One would be, like some some personal thing that you've gone through so much experience, and you try and get it. And that might be for me, for me, it might be setting up boundaries. I'm really bad at that. It's not like I'm learning to actual set up time boundaries, and value, what I do. And that's a strange thing, when you do something like what I do, because what I do is I work with writers I spend, it's part of the reason why the you know, being locked down is my normal life, because I literally probably spend somewhere between four and seven hours a day, on the phone with writers. That's what I do, and I love it. But, but it could be it could be hard to go, Okay, you've sent me too much. You've sent me too much for what we've contracted for. So So putting up boundaries like that, or keeping the phone calls to an normal speed, which is my fault, not anybody else's. Because right, love to talk. So it's that both setting up boundaries with other people and, and setting them up for myself, which is way harder.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:16
Fair enough. Fair enough. And you also wrote a couple of great books story genius and wired for story, which I highly recommend for people to to pick up, I'll have those links in the show notes. Where else can people find you and if they want to get in contact with you and and work with you?

Lisa Cron 1:18:35
Yeah, you can find you want to work with me personally, my website which is wired for story.com. I also have several classes on Creative live, which is a an education platform. And I actually also have a class on lynda.com, which I think is now LinkedIn learning. But anyway, I'm all over the place.

Alex Ferrari 1:18:55
Lisa, it has been an absolute pleasure talking to you. I really it took the conversation has gone into directions I did not anticipate, which is always a great, great interview when I am able to not see what's coming. I actually like the unknown when I do interviews

Lisa Cron 1:19:12
Corners and no lions ate us

Alex Ferrari 1:19:14
No lions ate us we are all still here. Thank God. So Lisa, thank you so much for being on the show and dropping those knowledge bombs on the tribe. So thank you.

Lisa Cron 1:19:22
My pleasure, take care.

Alex Ferrari 1:19:24
I want to thank Lisa for coming on the show and dropping those knowledge bombs on the tribe. Thank you so much Lisa, for your insight into the ever complicated and deep subject of story. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, including links to her courses, and her books, head over to the show notes at bulletproofscreenwriting.tv/077. And guys, if you haven't already and you are capable of doing so, I have set up a link to help people struggling with food insecurity due to the Coronavirus at indie film hustle.com forward slash help, and whatever you can give, can help a lot of people out there struggling right now because of this COVID-19 pandemic. And the link goes to feed America. So again once more time that link is indie film, hustle comm forward slash help. Thank you guys for listening. I hope you guys are doing very well hanging in there in this crazy upside down world that we're living in right now. And I hope you're writing a lot. So as always, keep on writing, no matter what, be safe, and I'll talk to you soon.


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