Today on the show we have Oscar® and two-time Emmy® Nominee Simon Kinberg.
He has established himself as one of Hollywood’s most prolific filmmakers, having written and produced projects for some of the most successful franchises in the modern era. His films have earned more than seven billion dollars worldwide.
Kinberg graduated from Brown University and received his MFA from Columbia University Film School, where his thesis project was the original script, “Mr and Mrs Smith.” The film was released in 2005, starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.
Upcoming, Kinberg will premiere his action spy film “The 355”, which will be released theatrically by Universal on January 7, 2022. Directed, co-written and produced by Kinberg, the film was one of the biggest deals out of the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and stars an ensemble of A-list actresses including Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, Penelope Cruz, Diane Kruger and Fan Bingbing.
A dream team of formidable female stars come together in a hard-driving original approach to the globe-trotting espionage genre in The 355.
When a top-secret weapon falls into mercenary hands, wild card CIA agent Mason “Mace” Brown (Oscar®-nominated actress Jessica Chastain) will need to join forces with rival badass German agent Marie (Diane Kruger, In the Fade), former MI6 ally and cutting-edge computer specialist Khadijah (Oscar® winner Lupita Nyong’o), and skilled Colombian psychologist Graciela (Oscar® winner Penélope Cruz) on a lethal, breakneck mission to retrieve it, while also staying one-step ahead of a mysterious woman, Lin Mi Sheng (Bingbing Fan, X-Men: Days of Future Past), who is tracking their every move.
As the action rockets around the globe from the cafes of Paris to the markets of Morocco to the opulent auction houses of Shanghai, the quartet of women will forge a tenuous loyalty that could protect the world—or get them killed. The film also stars Édgar Ramirez (The Girl on the Train) and Sebastian Stan (Avengers: Endgame).
The 355 is directed by genre-defying filmmaker Simon Kinberg (writer-director-producer of Dark Phoenix, producer of Deadpool and The Martian and writer-producer of the X-Men films). The screenplay is by Theresa Rebeck (NBC’s Smash, Trouble) and Kinberg, from a story by Rebeck.
The 355, presented by Universal Pictures in association with FilmNation Entertainment, is produced by Chastain and Kelly Carmichael for Chastain’s Freckle Films and by Kinberg for his Kinberg Genre Films. The film is executive produced by Richard Hewitt (Bohemian Rhapsody), Esmond Ren (Chinese Zodiac) and Wang Rui Huan.
His original series “Invasion” premiered on Apple TV+ on October 22nd. He co-created the show with David Weil, serves as Executive Producer, and wrote or co-wrote 9 of its first 10 episodes. It is considered one of Apple’s most ambitious series to date as it was filmed on 4 different continents. The show has already been renewed for a second season, which Kinberg is show running and Executive Producing again. He is also the Executive Producer of the upcoming show “Moonfall” for Amazon.
Also upcoming, Kinberg produced the sequel to “Murder on the Orient Express,” “Death on The Nile,” directed by Kenneth Branagh and starring Gal Gadot, Armie Hammer, Annette Bening and another all-star cast.
Additionally, he is producing several projects for Netflix including “Lift” starring Kevin Hart with director F. Gary Gray, his original script “Here Comes the Flood” with Jason Bateman directing, “Endurance” with Camille Griffin directing, and “Pyros” with Reese Witherspoon starring and producing. Kinberg’s latest spec “Wayland” will also begin production next year for Lionsgate, with Michael Showalter directing, and Jessica Chastain producing alongside Kinberg
Kinberg will also be producing “The Running Man” at Paramount Pictures to be directed by Edgar Wright, “Artemis” to be directed by Oscar winners Chris Miller and Phil Lord and based on a book by the writer of “The Martian”, the remake of “The Dirty Dozen” at Warner Brothers with David Ayer writing and directing, “Starlight” at 20th Century Studios to be written and directed by Joe Cornish, “Death Notification Agency” at Amazon based on the novel of the same name, “Karma” at Sony Pictures, “Chairman Spaceman” at Fox Searchlight, to be directed by Oscar Winner Andrew Stanton, and an Untitled Action-Romance starring Idris Elba at Apple.
Following almost a decade’s worth of Marvel films, Kinberg will also write and produce “Battlestar Galactica” for Universal which will be his latest franchise universe.
In 2006, he wrote “X-Men: The Last Stand,” which opened on Memorial Day to box office records and began his ongoing relationship with the franchise. In 2008, Kinberg wrote and produced Doug Liman’s film “Jumper” for 20th Century Fox. In 2009, Kinberg co-wrote the film “Sherlock Holmes” starring Robert Downey Jr, directed by Guy Ritchie. The film received a Golden Globe for Best Actor and was nominated for two Academy Awards.
In 2010, Kinberg established his production company Genre Films, with a first look deal at 20th Century Fox. Under this banner, he produced “X-Men: First Class,” executive produced “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” and wrote and produced “This Means War.” In 2013, Kinberg produced “Elysium,” which starred Matt Damon and Jodie Foster, directed by Neill Blomkamp.
On Memorial Day of 2014, Fox released “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” which Kinberg wrote and produced. The film opened number one at the box office, received critical acclaim and went on to gross more than $740 million worldwide.
In 2015, Kinberg had four films in release. He re-teamed with Neill Blomkamp to produce “Chappie,” starring Hugh Jackman and Sharlto Copley. Kinberg produced Disney’s Academy Award-nominated film “Cinderella,” starring Cate Blanchett and directed by Kenneth Branagh.
In addition, Kinberg was the co-writer and producer of “The Fantastic Four.” His final film of the year was “The Martian,” which he produced. The film, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Matt Damon, grossed more than $630 million worldwide, won two Golden Globes (including Best Picture) and was nominated for seven Academy Awards (including Best Picture).
In 2016, Kinberg produced “Deadpool,” starring Ryan Reynolds. The film broke international and domestic records for box office, including becoming the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time globally. It went on to win two Critics Choice Awards (including Best Picture – Comedy) and receive two Golden Globe nominations (including Best Picture), a WGA nomination and a PGA nomination for Best Picture. That year, Kinberg also wrote and produced “X-Men: Apocalypse.”
In 2017, he produced “Logan,” the final installment of the Wolverine franchise with Hugh Jackman. It was selected as the closing film of the Berlin Film Festival and opened #1 at the box office. It was named one of the ten best films of the year from the National Board of Review, garnered three Critics Choice Nominations and an Academy Award Nomination.
Kinberg was also a producer on “Murder on the Orient Express,” directed by Kenneth Branagh, with Branagh starring alongside Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Penelope Cruz, Daisy Ridley, Judi Dench, and others.
In 2018, Kinberg produced “Deadpool 2,” which matched the success of the first film. It was Kinberg’s fourteenth film to open number one at the box office.
In 2019, Kinberg made his directorial debut with “X-Men: Dark Phoenix,” which was released June 7. The film once again starred Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy, Nicholas Hoult, Sophie Turner, with new addition Jessica Chastain.
In television, he was the executive producer of “Designated Survivor,” starring Kiefer Sutherland on ABC and Netflix. He was also the executive producer of “Legion,” “Gifted,” and executive producer and co-creator with Jordan Peele of the remake of “The Twilight Zone” on CBS All Access.
Kinberg has served as a consultant on “Star Wars: Episode VII” and “Rogue One,” and he was the creator and executive producer of the animated show “Star Wars: Rebels” on Disney networks.
You can also watch Simon’s Screenwriting Masterclass on The Dialogue Series on Indie Film Hustle TV.
The Dialogue: Learning From the Masters is a groundbreaking interview series that goes behind the scenes of the fascinating craft of screenwriting. In these 70-90 minute in-depth discussions, more than two-dozen of today’s most successful screenwriters share their work habits, methods, and inspirations, secrets of the trade, business advice, and eye-opening stories from life in the trenches of the film industry. Each screenwriter discusses his or her filmography in great detail and breaks down the mechanics of one favorite scene from their produced work.
Needless to say this is one heck of an episode. Enjoy my conversation with Simon Kinberg.
- Bulletproof Script Coverage– Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
- Audible– Get a Free Screenwriting Audiobook
Alex Ferrari 0:00
First of all, how did you get started in the business in the film industry in general?
Simon Kinberg 0:17
I got started. I was in film school graduate film school at Columbia, in New York. And I wrote a script. In my first year of film school that a professor of mine named Ira Deutschmann, who was the creator of fine line features and produced a lot of movies he read, he liked the option for $1. Nice with the promise that he was sending out to Hollywood, to studio executives and agents and managers and the like, to start my career, and it did, I got my agent CA, where I remain represented, I got my lawyer who's still my lawyer, and a lot of relationships that are still some of the closest professional relationships in my life and those people. I was 23 at the time, and those people were maybe a little older than I am. And those people now run studios. Those people are Scott Stuber, and Donna Langley, and Emma watts. And those are, you know, we all started as kids together, and now we're no longer kids. Um, so that's how I started. And then I continued in film school, even though I was, you know, getting this traction and working in Hollywood. And then my, my thesis project in my second year of film school, was a script called Mr. Mrs. Smith. Um, and that obviously turned into a movie, starring Brad and Angelina. And, and from that point forward, my career really, really catapulted to a different level.
Alex Ferrari 1:45
So one of your first scripts gets picked up and is a big Hollywood, a big Hollywood production with two of the biggest movie stars of all time, out of out of film school, essentially.
Simon Kinberg 1:55
That is that is accurate. And, and was completely absurd, and surreal. And may you know, listen, making that movie would have been surreal. In any circumstance
Alex Ferrari 2:08
At any age, yeah, at any age.
Simon Kinberg 2:10
But when you're 20 something years old, and you're on your first film set, and you're showing up to work every day. And in the morning, you're working with Brad and Angelina onlines. And Vince Vaughn and Kerry Washington and Doug Liman who was about as hot as any director could be, because he'd gone from swingers to go to Bourne Identity to our film. It was a I wouldn't even say a dream come true. Because I wouldn't have dared to dream that big. It was a it was a completely like absurdist fantasy, it felt like I was in a Charlie Kaufman movie,
Alex Ferrari 2:44
Which is and obviously anyone listening. That's generally the way it works for screenwriters. This is the normal role that all screenwriters go through.
Simon Kinberg 2:51
They say what do you what advice do you have to sell a movie and get the biggest movie stars in the world act on it? And then you're golden, you're done?
Alex Ferrari 2:58
Then everything just just the doors opened magically? Of course, of course. Now, what is what is your writing process? Like? Do you do you sit down every day at a certain time? Do you wait for inspiration? The Muse to show up? Do you argue with the muse? Why aren't you here? Things like that.
Simon Kinberg 3:18
I'm the I love these questions. Um, the answer your question is, my writing process is everything you just described. But it starts with I have a set amount of hours each day that I'm going to write because if I don't have that kind of construct, or that kind of discipline, the Muse is never going to show up. I don't think the Muse is magically shows up. Sometimes it magically shows up while you're sleeping or you're in the shower or your subconscious is working, right. But But what it needs is some sort of container. And then within that container of however many hours I'm going to, I'm going to sit down and write per day and I have a goal of how many pages I'm going to get done or how many scenes I'm going to get done. But that goal sometimes surpass it, most times I come short of it. Then you just wrestle all day. The writing is the greatest torture in the world. And it is the greatest pleasure in the world when you get it right when the Muse shows up, and a line comes out of nowhere and you don't know where it came from. And if not for you it would not have existed. And it cracked something open. It's the greatest feeling in the world and the other 99.9% of the time, you are staring at a white page or a white wall and saying why they why did they take this job? Why do they choose this career I could have been a professor I would have been a happier person. That's my writing process. I mean, my my technical or specific writing process, I would not advocate for anyone including myself, but it just happens to be mine which is I write by hand and I write on blank white pieces of paper, front and back. And I don't know what page I'm on when I'm writing the script. I just know a sense of sort of flow and rhythm of storytelling. And what it helps me with is one, I'm just much looser, because it's not on a computer. And I don't feel like there's this sort of finality to what I'm writing. And it's got scribbles and scratches, and you'd never be able to read it anyway. Um, but it also, it keeps me from going backwards, it keeps me from looking at yesterday's work, because I can barely read yesterday's work. I just keep moving forward. And there's a satisfaction of that. If I were to show you a picture, by the time it's done, you know, it's, it's really a lot of pages. And so the satisfaction of building that pile, as I'm writing, and that's better than being able to scroll up and down a screen for me.
Alex Ferrari 5:44
Now, you know, as writers, you know, I know when I'm writing, I feel sometimes that like I'm typing, and then afterwards I read and I go, who wrote that? Like, I don't even remember writing that. Do you have that feeling of almost channeling some other worldly force that that thing that writers, if we're lucky enough to tap into? flows through you? Is that your experience?
Simon Kinberg 6:04
Yeah, I mean, that's the that is the that's the point. Oh, 1% of the time, that's the great. That's the undefeatable joy. You know, when people ask me, What's the what, what, what's my favorite part of my job, and I've done a lot of different aspects of this job between producing and directing and writing. And the greatest pleasure for me, by far in a way are the moments you're describing where as a writer, you do, Discover or channel however you want to describe it, invent whatever the verb is, it is outside of you, and then it is coming through you, and then it is on a page. And if not, for you existing in the world, those lines, that idea would not exist either. And that feeling is the greatest feeling in the entire world. And it is the feeling, you know, there's a there's a joke, and I can only say this joke, because I'm a Jew. Is it? Why did the Jews search in the desert for 40 years? Because they found, I don't know, $1? Why did they search another 40 years? Because they found $1. And, and I think that is very much my writing process and all of our writing process, right, which is like, like, forever, we find something that is invaluable. And then we take another forever because that we're chasing that feeling.
Alex Ferrari 7:21
Oh, that's the film industry in general. I think as film creatives, you're just always searching for that. Hi, that happens. A handful of times, if you're lucky. If you're lucky in your lifetime, whether as a director as a producer, as a writer, you're looking for that Hi, it's we're sick, we're all sick. It's it's a it's a beautiful sickness.
Simon Kinberg 7:41
Listen, you know, I say this to my partner all the time. She's a writer too, but a different kind of rhetoricians poet, and I say, you know, if not for the fact that after six hours, eight hours, 10 hours a day, we came out of our rooms, with pieces of paper that had writing on it, we would be considered, you know, psychiatric, or psychologically, you know, imbalanced and put in a psychiatric hospital because we would just be sitting in our room for 10 hours a day, staring at the wall, communicating with imaginary voices and characters in our head. And if we didn't somehow experience you would be that I'm sure that would be diagnosed. I'm not a psychiatrist, psychologist, but I might my armchair psychology would be that would be schizophrenia. Um, fair enough. But but, you know, we tend we're writers and artists, and so we get away with it.
Alex Ferrari 8:30
Now, one of my favorite films in the X Men series is X Men Days of Future Past. You know, you you wrote that, how did you come up with that storyline like that? That's an insanely complex line, meaning all moving parts?
Simon Kinberg 8:47
Yeah. Um, well, I came up with it, because Chris Claremont came up with it. And, you know, it was it was a comic book. Um, and so the, the notion of it was something that already existed as a comment. But as a comic, it was wildly different than the movie made like as, as a one specific example. It was Kitty Pryde, they went back in time, not worrying. And one of the reasons I made it will vary. And other than obviously, Wolverine, being the leader of the franchise, was because I thought there was something incredibly powerful about this character who had been in some ways teamed by, by Professor Xavier having to go back to a younger broken Professor Xavier and team and teach him the lessons that Xavier had taught him. So there was a there was an inherent complexity. And it was interesting that, but writing that movie, I would say, from a technical standpoint, was the most complicated and difficult film I've ever written because of the time travel element because of the time paradoxes because of the fact that I was playing two different sets of characters who were essentially the older and younger version of the same character, you know, simultaneous and wanting to Giving them all arcs, you know, and wanting to wanting to give Halle Berry interesting things to play and certainly wanting to give all of our younger X Men from X Men first class who were sort of the dominant storyline of that movie, really interesting, surprising twists and turns emotionally in that film while also servicing a storyline that was itself an unbelievable, you know, demon to wrestle to the ground. And
Alex Ferrari 10:27
No, no question and be like, yeah, like, even when you're writing the voices of the same character is so different from the older Xavier to the younger, Xavier, and keeping that all together like did you like just put it all up on a board? Like how do you keep not only the characters, but the timelines? And the paradox is like, that's why I looked at movies like Back to the Future. I'm just like, Jesus, man. How did Bob and Bob do that?
Simon Kinberg 10:51
Yeah, I mean, back to the future was obviously a movie that I looked at a lot. Terminator two did a lot. Although there's not as much back and forth obviously in the character, the same kind of struggle with the characters. I'm a I have a great actual Terminator two story, which is I met James Cameron's one of my shareholders like all of us, and I met him we were on a panel together and sanely while I was writing the as a future past and I said to him, Listen, I'm writing this time travel movie. And I'm, you know, the Terminator films are for me, among the greatest time travel movies of all time, obviously, among the greatest science fiction movies, maybe movies movies of all time. And I said, you know, I had brought this like fan book that I had, I told him to sign and and, and so he was like, okay, buddy, I'm going on a panel with you, but I'm happy to sign your book. So I saw he wrote signed the book we went to the panel I looked at the book afterwards. I need written dear Simon Don't fuck it up. Love James. And I ever met and and and throughout the writing of the process of Days of Future Past, I just kept thinking Don't fuck it up. Don't fucking keep fucking it up with these paradoxes. But I'll be into those words. But, sir, sir, sir. So um, you know, yes, I did have I don't usually use no cardboard when I write. But I did with that, because it was so complex. The luxury I had. The advantage I had in writing the older and the younger versions of these characters is that I had already written the older and younger versions of characters, I'd worked with the older cast X Men three, and did work with the younger cast on days on first class. So I knew the nuances both of the characters and of the actors. And so I could channel that to some extent, or rely on that to some extent. But even within that I was, I was creating new versions of those characters like that. The professor, the young Frederick Xavier, that McAvoy is playing in his future path is very different than the McEvoy of first class, obviously. And so I in the fact that you know that from the very beginning, the movie you introducing the older Xavier and the older Magneto as partners and friends, again, you're just, there's a lot of sort of work you're doing to both honor the voices, and then also innovate on the voices that came before.
Alex Ferrari 13:20
Now you you produce the film, that's one of my favorite comic book films of all time, Deadpool, which must have been I mean, I just suddenly assume it must have been a ball to work on that project. What At what point did you jump on that project? It was it after the film was leaked, by somebody got the green light? How was it? How was it working on that project?
Simon Kinberg 13:44
Um, it was extraordinary work on that project. And it was exactly what you said, which was it was it was great fun to witness. I'm, like, just unbelievably talented people from the writers, Ratan Paul, who really created the voice to Tim Miller, who was directing his first movie, which is incredible about, you know, the multi tonally of that film is really hard. And then most especially Ryan. Ryan Reynolds is not just the actor of those films or any film he works on. He's the producer. He's He reminds me a lot of the way Tom Cruise works. He's also kind of the person who is operating in every category of the film. He's just sort of force of nature of the movie in the best possible way. And when I got involved was after the movie had leaked, but before it got greenlit, it was close to getting greenlit but was not greenlit and Retton Paul, the writers where they can reach the writers emailed me I'd never met them, and they email me saying we need your maybe they said we are we are dead will we need your ass with a bunch of ellipses after it and And then that that was the subject. And then in the body of the email, it continued the word asked into assistance. And, yeah, and they and they, and they made this, this sort of plea to me because I was at that time overseeing their sort of X Men universe at Toys of jury box to help them. And Ryan and Tim get the movie greenlit. And so we all work together a bit on the script, and then quite a bit in the budget. And one of the things that was extraordinary about that film, especially when you go back and rewatch it is, we made that movie for I think, something like $50 million. Now, which is low, it's tiny compared to what your superhero movies are made for, which is usually in the $200 million range. And, and that was part of the deal with Fox because they'd never made and nor had most people ever Marvel hadn't made. They've made blade, but they'd never made a true R rated comic movie before. And the tone was so wildly anarchic and different. And, you know, breaking the fourth wall and all the things that Ruby does. They said, Listen, this is feels like a gamble. But it's a cheap enough gamble that we're going to take it. And they did. And obviously it paid off. incredibly well for everyone involved.
Alex Ferrari 16:22
Now I have to I have to thank you for for making a Logan, which is arguably one of the greatest in my opinion, superhero films of all time. In the genre. It is what it's like dark night, it's up there with dark night. It's just one of those films and it's such a bittersweet film. Because I wish you could stay his age forever. Just continue to play that character. What was it like? Because you've been with that character, and you've been with you playing that character for so long. What was it like putting that film together and finishing off his his swan song, if you will.
Simon Kinberg 16:55
It was all the things you said it was bittersweet because I had lived with Hugh as both a friend and a partner in making these films for probably over a decade. And and it was also really exciting because he his ideas, Jim mangles ideas, who's a genius filmmaker, Scott Frank's ideas, who's clearly a genius writer. You know, Scott wrote, directed all the Queen's gambit episodes, and he just has such incredible, incredible pedigree. We all came together, they all really did the heavy lifting and Hutch Parker, who was another producer on that, and had worked on a bunch of the X Men movies and had been the executive at Fox for a lot of them. We all came together and with a common purpose, which is creating, you know, a truly dramatic, truly emotional, deeply resonant swan song for this, you know, character that had been in the zeitgeist for, you know, again, well over a decade, close to two decades. And so it was it was an extraordinary process with a bunch of, you know, a plus brilliant human beings taking the job incredibly seriously. And just really listening and caring deeply. Yeah, thing when this isn't good enough. And like, really, I remember Jim mangled with that last action sequence. And really the third act of the movie just going over and over and over again. And Scott rewriting it and me taking a pen to it and, and Jim mangled himself, rewriting it and just like working and working and needing it until, until we could create something that was worthy of saying goodbye to you in this part. That would be hard for people.
Alex Ferrari 18:54
Would you I have to ask this. Will we ever see Hugh in a dead movie in a Deadpool movie? As a cameo ever?
Simon Kinberg 19:02
I you know, I'm not a part of that universe anymore. Because Disney bought all the Marvel movies at Fox they bought Fox. So I dancers I have no idea. I know, obviously, like the rest of the world does that you and Brian are friends and have this sort of rival beyond, you know, foam rifle rifle on social media. Um, so I wouldn't be surprised, but I also have no idea.
Alex Ferrari 19:34
Got it! No problem. Now tell me about your new film the 355 which I had a pleasure of watching yesterday. And it was it was wonderful. It was just wonderful to see a group of women just kick all sorts of us throughout the piece. So how did that how did that come to be?
Simon Kinberg 19:50
It came to me because it was actually going back to an excellent movie. When Jessica Chastain and I we'd work together on the Martian. And then we work together on X Men Darlene When we were on the X Men set, Jessica had this idea to do a an all female ensemble spy movie. And she brought that to me and said, I had this idea It might sound crazy, and I said actually sounds really intriguing. Um, and then we just started building it with her producing partner, Kelly Carmichael together, and we got the actresses really on that pitch alone. And Jessica's relationships and Jessica's, you know, sort of pedigree. And we went to the Cannes Film Festival, and we sold it at the Cannes Film Festival to universal for the UK and US rights as our partners, and then to other distributors that other territories around the world. And from there, we really crafted it to the actresses and built the movie,
Alex Ferrari 20:49
You pre sell, but you pre sold it prior to actually going into production.
Simon Kinberg 20:53
We pre sold that way before going into production. So it all happened very fast. I mean, we pre sold that it can in 2018 in May of 2018. And we were shooting by summer of 2019.
Alex Ferrari 21:09
And it's been on hold since then, because of COVID
Simon Kinberg 21:11
Because yeah, we were meant to come out last year, exactly one year ago. Um, and it was a tough time for COVID. And obviously we're in another tough time for COVID. But not a tough time. That's true, I mean, a different tough time for COVID. Because we're in a mime. And sure, strain is not thankfully quite as lethal as what we were dealing with last year. But yeah, we pushed to the year it's been done, it would have could have easily come out last January. And now we finally get to release the film.
Alex Ferrari 21:47
Now, how was directing such remarkable actors? I mean, you've got Oscar winners in there, you've got I mean, they're powerhouses every single one of them. What What how do you approach directing actors like that, as a director?
Simon Kinberg 22:00
Umm, I approach it, the way that I approach kind of directing any actor, which is their partners, um, I have to go into it that way. And especially with actors like this, because they own their characters, more than a director does. Because they're living that part, they're wearing that part, they're thinking of that part. And only that part is the director, there's so many things you're thinking about, right, not just the characters in the story, but also the visuals and all of the technique of making the film. And with these particular actresses, and the actors at your Ramirez and Sebastian, Stan, they just had tons of ideas, and really an immense amount of authorship and ownership over their characters. And that was part of the process going into all of this was we were all partners in making the film. Um, and so that's the way I directed them was, you know, their ideas, my ideas, other people's ideas, and other actors ideas within the scenes with them. We played it felt like kind of, like the lovely thing about it, it felt like being in an actor's workshop with the best doctors in the world.
Alex Ferrari 23:03
Pretty pretty much pretty much now as directors, you know, there's always that day that we're on set, and the entire world comes crashing down around us. And we're the sun is we're losing the sun, the the cranes not working, the actor can't get to the set for some reason. What was that day for you either on this film, or any of the films you've directed? And how did you overcome that moment, as a director?
Simon Kinberg 23:26
You know, I think on this film on 355, the hardest moment to the moment where I felt like, I just want to go home. Because you know, you do that you do have that feeling sometimes, um, you know, you're shooting, you know, 5060 on a huge movie, 90 days of photography, and they're long hours and all that. On this one, it was we were filming the fish market sequence in an actual fish market. And it was right after the fish market closed, but you could still smell the sting of from that day. And it happened to be quite literally the hottest day in the history of the United Kingdom. And so, the smell itself, I think Penelope passed out. I was close to passing out most of the day. Um, it was, you know, sort of before the day of wearing gas masks or surgical masks wherever we went. And, and so it was overwhelming, and the heat was overwhelming as well. And we had stents and we had big crowd sequences. And it just felt like the scale of it plus the simple, you know, Human Reality of you're in the stinkiest place imaginable on the hottest day in the history of a country was a was a lot to manage. And you made it through. I made it through luckily the actors made it through We all kind of bonded together and helped each other get get there.
Alex Ferrari 25:04
Now, is there any advice you could give a filmmaker screenwriter trying to break into the business today?
Simon Kinberg 25:10
You know, it's hard, because, you know, everybody has a different way into the business. So, you know, I get asked this question a lot. And I hear people ask this asked this question a lot. And I don't want to give like a symbol or a singular answer, because again, obviously, my path is very different than other people's paths are going to be and everybody I know who works in the film industry habit has a different story. The thing I would say is, write something you love, direct, something you love, I think the mistake that I see a lot of new filmmakers make or new writers make is they right or make something they think is right for the market. Or for the cycles or for, you know, not for themselves. And the truth is, you can't chase the market, partly because by the time your movie comes out, the market will have changed already. It takes time. And also because people can feel it. There's enough writers out here in Hollywood, there's enough director there in Hollywood, what they want is new, fresh, genuinely original, genuinely unique, bespoke voices. And I want that as a producer, I can feel that when I read new scripts, and, um, you know, we all know how to write the tricks of a script, we all know the structure of a script, it's not enough to just write something that's solid, you have to write something that makes people feel like, Oh, this is a new voice. And so it's trust your voice, trust your vision, don't try to copy other people's voices and visions because they're working.
Alex Ferrari 26:39
And last question, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?
Simon Kinberg 26:46
Wow, um, balance, I think balance is something that took me a very long, 48 years old, and I would say, I just learned that, and I'm still learning it. Um, but I just learned it in the last few years with a two year old baby and God bless you. I know, I hope God does. Um, I'm counting on it. Um, but, uh, um, you know, I think for a very long time, I was so focused on my work. That and I, I felt like, you know, I'll have time when I take a break from my work to take care of my life. And my work just kept rolling. And, you know, I moved from country to country and movie to movie and set to set. And that's wonderful on the one hand, but on the other hand, it hurts two things. One is obviously it hurts your life. Because you know, if you want to be in a real relationship, or a real family, it's harder. It's harder on them. And it's harder on the bonds. But it's also it hurts you as an artist, because you start recycling your old ideas, instead of actually living in the world and coming up with new ideas. And so that balance is something that I'm still learning. But it is the lesson that comes first to mind when you ask that question. It's a good question.
Alex Ferrari 28:14
Thank you, Simon, so much for being on the show. And where can people and when can people see 355?
Simon Kinberg 28:19
This Friday, January 7, it will be in theaters. Um, and I hope people go see it.
Alex Ferrari 28:28
Simon, thank you again for being on the show. And thank you for doing making some amazing films along the way of your career continue doing so, sir. So thank you so much.
Simon Kinberg 28:35
I appreciate I appreciate all your questions and your support. I really do.
Alex Ferrari 28:39
Thank you, my friend.
Simon Kinberg 28:40
Ok take care!
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.