Steve Pink’s career as a writer, producer, and director is inextricably linked to his pal John Cusack. Pink co-wrote the screenplay for the 1997 black comedy “Grosse Pointe Blank,” where Cusack played a deadpan assassin, and also worked on the adaptation of Nick Hornby’s novel “High Fidelity,” which was made into a film for Cusack in 2000.
Pink had co-producer credits on both movies, and, in 2010, he finally directed Cusack in the ’80s flashback comedy “Hot Tub Time Machine.” Pink got his start as an actor in the Cusack movie “The Sure Thing” in ’85; he also appeared in “Grosse Pointe Blank” and played a limo driver in the comedy “America’s Sweethearts,” where Cusack was paired with Julia Roberts and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Fittingly.
Pink has worked as a co-executive producer on the TV series “Entourage,” a tribute to male friendship in show business, and he has stepped up as producer on the Tom Cruise vehicle “Knight and Day.”
His new film is The Wheel.
Albee and Walker, a young couple on the brink of divorce, rent a mountain getaway to save their fledgling marriage. Before long, their personal drama creates tension between their newly engaged AirBnB hosts — Ben & Carly — leaving us to wonder if either couples’ relationships will survive the weekend. Cast: Amber Midthunder, Taylor Gray, Bethany Anne Lind, Nelson Lee, Carly Nykanen, Kevin Pasdon.
Available on DIGITAL and ON DEMAND, July 22nd.
Enjoy my conversation with Steve Pink.
Right-click here to download the MP3
- Bulletproof Script Coverage– Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
- Audible– Get a Free Screenwriting Audiobook
Steve Pink 0:00
You know the thing that you love and inspired by the most? Or is the thing that the thing that you should that you know more about than anyone else like there's this thought that well, you you know you're not in the business so you don't know anything right but what you you know you don't know anything and anything in quotes means all the things that you know are the complexities and nuances of of being in the movie business. But what you do know is what your idea is, you have command of your idea, and you have command over what story you want to tell.
Alex Ferrari 0:31
This episode is brought to you by Bulletproof Script Coverage, where screenwriters go to get their scripts read by Top Hollywood Professionals. Learn more at covermyscreenplay.com I'd like to welcome to the show Steve Pink man. How you doin Steve?
Steve Pink 0:46
Good, man. Thanks for having me.
Alex Ferrari 0:47
Thank you so much for coming on the show man. Like I was telling you earlier. But I've been I've been a fan of yours for a while, you know, watching the insanity that is your filmography.
Steve Pink 0:58
I appreciate that. I do I do
Alex Ferrari 1:00
With all the love the insanity with all the love in the world.
Steve Pink 1:03
Yeah, I mean, for good or ill I willingly engaged in all the madness, you know, that I chose to? So I have no, I can't run from it. I'm responsible.
Alex Ferrari 1:12
So first question, but how and why did you want to get into this insanity that is the film industry?
Steve Pink 1:19
Well, I didn't really know it was going to be that insane. Although I will say I kind of lived a pretty chaotic life growing up. So it didn't actually feel that insane to me. I grew up with a for whatever reason, maybe my social group, maybe my upbringing, a really strong sense of the absurd, like, I thought the world was insane. at a very early age. Maybe because I had jobs really early. I actually I worked at a I worked at a bar in the eighth grade. as a busboy and dishwasher. I worked Wednesday, Friday, Saturday nights, till midnight on Wednesday nights and until one or two in the morning on Friday, Saturday. And then by the time I was a sophomore in high school, I was the short order cook. And at that same restaurant, so I did, there was a pizza side and the restaurant side, and I did you know Italian beef burgers, chicken, you know, whatever, you know, all you know, sandwiches, stuff like that. So you know, maybe just my exposure to the world just made me think everything is crazy. Adults are crazy. And so I felt really comfortable, I guess in the world of chaos. That's, that's the only thing I could really attribute it to. So no, I didn't think it was that that insane when I first started? I mean, I do now of course.
Alex Ferrari 2:38
I love that. I love it. But now of course, I mean, obviously now I understand. But it's gonna be we ran away to the circus. I mean, that's, that's the insanity of what we do is filmmakers we run away.
Steve Pink 2:48
I mean, we're Yeah, I mean, we're engaged in storytelling. I mean, to me when you're engaged in storytelling, and the more I do it, and more I've done it, the, the I realized, I've been telling stories to myself outside the film industry, my whole life, like we tell, like we were, you know, like narrative. It took me a long time to realize that everything was narrative, like it was like, well, there's real life. And then there's, you know, then there's creating dramatic narrative for film and television or theater, whatever. And then I'm like, wait a minute, it's terrifying to of course, realize that there is no difference. You're capturing, you know, moments in time, or characters on journeys to tell stories inside, you know, the dramatic content or comedy or whatever. And then we as an audience all view it right. But to pretend like we go home and be like, oh, yeah, that's just, you know, that's just the movies and and, and now I'm living in reality, separate from that is false, you know. And so once I realized that it actually made me feel both worse and better, if that makes sense. Because that's just what we're engaged in. So if you're engaged in it all the time, it can drive you crazy. Like there are people who just like, Okay, enough, like you're in a narrative, I get it. Just live your life, like enjoy your life and live it. And don't, you know, be so analytical and neurotic all the time about everything, but you know, I can't help it. So what was I saying? So?
Alex Ferrari 4:05
Exactly, exactly, sir. Exactly. Yeah.
Steve Pink 4:08
So I mean, yeah, so I think being you know, in, you know, being engaged in a creative field, your whole life, as you know, is an interesting choice. And I love it. And it's caused me all kinds of terrorists, but I think that's probably true. To be fair of everything anyone does in mind. You know, like, I would never not say that someone who owned a restaurant feels any different.
Alex Ferrari 4:27
Oh, no, absolutely. I mean, I've owned retail before, and it's insane. It's an insanity to do any. There's insanity and all levels. It's just that we are the most one of the most high profile of levels of insanity because everyone sees what we do, and consumes much of what we do as well. Now, is there something that you wish someone would have told you at the beginning of your career? If you could go back in time and talk to yourself? What would be the one thing you might do? Do you know what you really need to look out for it's this
Steve Pink 4:58
Wow, that's a really interesting Good question. You know, if I listened, you know, I said, as I said, before we went on that I listened to a few of your podcasts, and they're really fascinating. Great. And, you know, I should have searched the podcasts, you know, more deeply so that I could have had an answer. I couldn't borrow the answer to that question from one of your other guests. Something someone would have said to me that I wished they had told me. Hmm, that's a really good question.
Alex Ferrari 5:27
Like, for me, or for me, for me, like if it was me, I answered my own question. Patients, man, it's gonna take you a lot longer than you think it's ever going to take you to do what you want to do.
Steve Pink 5:37
Yeah, I think that's true. I mean, I was very, very lucky in the way I got in, but I, so I didn't feel that as much. And maybe that was a curse in and of itself. I think the other thing is, it's way harder. And I heard, as we've talked about this, when maybe that comes to mind, it is way more difficult to actually execute the thing that you want to execute, even when you get the opportunity. So you have these dreams of doing it, right. And then you even get the opportunity to do it, and then you're in front of it, doing it, and then you fail utterly. And you're like, Well, wait, you know, I thought that I would, once I got the moment, I'd be able to, because I think it's tricky, there's so many elements, to doing something that's good and interesting, you know, when you're on the floor, and you have a camera, and you've have a script and all of your actors, you still have to kind of, you know, be open to, you know, this thing, this magic, and I hate using that word, but you know, this magical thing kind of has to happen, even if you have all the elements, you know, under your control, you still have to create it, you know, create an environment and then get lucky, and atmosphere and then get lucky where something cool and interesting happens that that matches what you had in mind when you cast it, and when you you know, built the you know, when you build the set or, or cast the actors and rehearsed and so so it's, so it's a kind of intangible thing. And so, I think I think I took that for granted a little bit. And it's not that I took it for granted, I just was not aware of it. So if someone said to me, Hey, Matt, you know, be aware, you know, it's, it's, it's gonna be so much more difficult, the more you do it not less, better and better. And it's never ending, you know,
Alex Ferrari 7:16
Well, it's compromised, that's all we do as directors is compromised, it's like, every day, no matter how much money you have, no matter who's in front of the camera, you gotta compromise your vision in many ways. And a lot of times, it's better than what you ever thought of, when you hit when you allow that magic to happen. It's when the director wants to control. Every little thing is when if you hold on too tight, it's like trying to hold on to water. Like it just slips right through your fingers.
Steve Pink 7:42
Yeah, I mean, aren't, you know, I'm sure this is probably a cliche, someone wrote down somewhere. But art is limitation, right. So you are limited by whatever you are limited by in any given moment. And you know, money might not be your limitation in that moment, you're the son could be your limitation, you know, your limitations, like there's so many different things. And, you know, that's why, you know, you I used to be really angry when I'd see, you know, movies that had what would would seem seemingly? Well, when you see a movie with seemingly limitless budget, you know, and then it's not good, you have that, you know, you have that besides the shot on Friday, or whatever you have that feeling of, like, Was it because you had a lack of limitation. And so you just went, you know, because of that lack of limitation, you weren't critical in terms of like, what you needed to tell a good story? Or were you limited by things I didn't even you know, that far, you know, beyond me, and those limitations are what kept you from telling a good story, you know, because it's hard to get your head around, you know, when it's 150 or $200 million movie, how it could be how it could, you know, not work, not work. And so, and so I think, yeah, I think it's a constant struggle for all of us at every level. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 8:57
It is frustrating to see a movie that has watched them all the time, you know, you watch something on Netflix, and you're like, who gave them money? Like, why? Like, how did that happen? You know, and then you go, there's
Steve Pink 9:09
Something you know, is the reason right? You can say, Oh, well, because of this, you
Alex Ferrari 9:13
It was the actor was the location. It was the the executives this, you know, the script was they had to rush it to get it out before. There's 1000 things that could happen. But it's still frustrating when you when you see something like that, especially when you're in the business. And you're like, Well, I and then of course in the back of every director's head were like, well, we could have done better.
Steve Pink 9:29
What well, I also think like, Yeah, I mean, I also think like, you know, I would try my damnedest to do better if I had all the resources, right? I mean, I don't really think hey, I could have done that better. As much as I think like, I was like, boy, you know, I would have liked the shot to be on the floor instead of you. Like, I don't know if I could have done it better, but shit, I couldn't have done it worse. Right. Exactly.
Alex Ferrari 9:52
And it's fascinating because I mean, I've had the pleasure of talking to some directors who have worked in those $200 million 100 $50 million budgets. And I was asked I'm like, What's it like, you know, working in that environment where you've got like the biggest movie stars in the world and anything you want, like I remember when I was coming up in high school, True Lies was shooting in Miami. And you know, Jim Cameron was already Jim Cameron at that point. And I went on I went on the set I was, you know, just hanging out not on the set, but like, you know, outskirts of the set. And I just remember seeing the gym had every toy. You can imagine. Sitting there. Techno, steady, helicopter. Everything, just in case you wanted it. Not like I need the techno for the day. No, no, no, no, the techno was there. The entire shoot, in case something eat gets tickled to do a techno shot. That's amazing.
Steve Pink 10:53
Amazing. And you know, looking at his work, you're like, yes, you deserve to have like for sure.
Alex Ferrari 11:01
Every every brush do you want sir, you should have Chris Nolan, David Fincher, these kinds of filmmakers they need what? Give them what they want.
Steve Pink 11:10
Yeah. And I bet they, they I bet they also have I bet they're also very good at planning, you know, like, the more that which they're going to do. You know, the, you know, like, all their shots are so planned. And they're so hard, what they're doing that you know, that you're not just you're not just deciding to, you know, get out and get it going to put a camera in the helicopter like spontaneously in maybe even they have the opportunity to do that. But it's beyond all their planning. For sure. You know,
Alex Ferrari 11:38
Without question. You mentioned that you mentioned that you kind of had a break early on, what was that first big break for you?
Steve Pink 11:47
Well, I was very lucky because I so I met John Cusack in high school because we well, we became friends. But we became friends through a, like a student run comedy variety show that that was kind of like it still runs today. It's like a very famous, like, you know, it's one of those, you know, 50 year running variety shows that they do every year that the student run since Ron and I applied to be the writer director, I've my senior year, and so did John and so to two other guys. And so then we found ourselves, you know, the summer before senior year writing the show together and that's how we became friends. And then
Alex Ferrari 12:23
And but John was already Jami, he was already Yeah, he's acting already. He was already a star. I mean, quote, unquote, a star in the ad star already. He already done better off dead and stuff like that, right?
Steve Pink 12:33
Yeah, it's pretty good. But he had done that or not. I don't know if he had done better off dead actually yet, but you've been working. You've already been working? Oh, yeah. You did the shirt he had done. I think he was just doing the shirt thing he had done class, I believe I think classic come out. But you know, it's interesting. I went to a huge public high school we had like almost 4000 kids. And there were so many really hot, there were so many high fliers and all these different categories that actually, John wasn't, you know, obviously, he was the he was, you know, he was famous and he got a lot of attention for being you know, this young actor who might be a movie star. But, you know, it was just a very competitive public high school. So it never really felt like out of proportion. Like there were plenty like there was like, oh, yeah, Johnson really cool actors like, Oh, there's the guy who's going to the NBA. There's, you know, like, there's, you know, our class valedictorian is going to Harvard, like, and she's, you know, going to do great things like, oh, like one of our closest friends went on to be nominated for a Pulitzer in journalism. She was already running the school newspaper, and then went to the, I think the deal School of Journalism at Northwestern, like, there were just so many from, from our perspective, there's so many people doing so many things.
Alex Ferrari 13:38
So it was one of many very cool people.
Steve Pink 13:40
Yeah, often to balance out, you know, there was like, there was like, 900, I think, in our graduating class, and there's at least, you know, maybe 150 or 20 people that I think was like this community of ours, you know, we were all doing so, you know, really cool. And I feel like everyone was doing really cool things. But in any case, we, you know, full of ourselves, obviously. And so, yeah, so then, over the years through while I was going to college, Johnny started working with Tim Robbins, in a theatre company called the actors game. Then I went and did a show with the, with the actors gang in between, like in the summers between going to school and I actually got replaced by Jack Black for a show in 1980s. I'm dating myself in the late 80s. Because I had to go back to Berkeley and the show extended so then check to cover my part, which I think I only had 12 lines and I moved a lot of scenery, frankly, it's true. And then Johnny and I formed a theatre company with a bunch of other actors called new crime productions. And I was after college I was a social worker, actually. For for the I was an outreach caseworker for the homeless mentally ill, that was my job after college. And Johnny had gone out to LA and I was running the theatre company and working as a social worker and he Um, he had got a producing deal. Brandon Tartikoff, who was a, like a legendary network chief was like, went on to run Paramount Pictures, he gave John a producing deal. Then John asked me to run the company with him. And so that's how I got my start. So I was extremely.
Alex Ferrari 15:19
So it's a story that everyone, everyone goes to that I mean, obvious is the obvious story. I mean, I too, became good friends with Brad Pitt. And I've been working with Brad for years now.
Steve Pink 15:28
Yeah, it's lucky. It's a lucky and ridiculous events have happened to me to walk. It's amazing. The door. It was amazing. And then, you know, you know, the, so I was very, very lucky. And then we were still tasked with doing something good. And that there's that balance? Yeah. Yeah. I mean, we had to actually, you know, and I felt the pressure of that, too, you know, like, we were young men, and it was, I was starting to run his company. And and it was challenging to get to know the business from that vantage point. And then try and create something with John that stood out and would be something that we wanted that, you know, stood out as, as the kind of movie and stories we wanted to tell him to. And that's a challenge, especially since you know, again, it's, you know, we walked to have the opportunity to walk through that door. It's just, it's just beyond extraordinary. So once you start talking about, well, it's hard once we got in, you know, anyone listening is like, Yeah, well, you just had like this golden ticket. So how hard was it? It's hard to so just put, you know, so it's hard to kind of, you know, to, like that is true. But then because you have to do something good. And you have to comply with the industry and actually get movies made and try and do it. You know, I felt like it's square one everywhere.
Alex Ferrari 16:42
Right! Exactly. You know, and because I've been able to talk to so many of these, these filmmakers who have had these kind of lottery ticket moments. I mean, you had kind of a lot of long lottery ticket moment with, you know, meeting just happened to become friends with John Kuzak at the time of his career and what this was all going on. And you guys gelled, and it worked. But then you got people like Kevin Smith, or Robert Rodriguez, or Ed burns, or any of these guys. And the one thing I've always discovered talking to all these guys, is that you might have been lucky getting in the door. Right place, right time, right movie, right situation. There's a lot of those kinds of stories through Hollywood. But staying in the door, is where the work starts. So yeah, you might have had a little bit of an opening. But man, it's not easy staying in that room. You could get invited in that room. But you could have easily just been like and security very easily.
Steve Pink 17:33
Yeah, I mean, the doors, the door opens as you know, the door opens and closes and you have to keep prying it open. You know, I think that you know, there's very few filmmakers, even legendary ones who have like whole palaces of doors open for them. I still wake up in the morning with, you know, a crowbar ready to pry door open. I think that's just what we do. And it's just, it's just the nature of it. And so I That's true. me for sure. And continue to stay. That can be my segue to the wheel.
Alex Ferrari 18:06
Which we'll get to get to your new movie the wheel? Absolutely.
Steve Pink 18:09
Yeah. I mean, well, we talked about that later. But like, that's another just another example of something. And when we get to it, that, that it was like, Oh, I see an opportunity to do something and do explore something that I hadn't had the opportunity that I haven't had the opportunity to do. And you know, when you go down that road, it's just like anything else, you know, you're just continue to want to work and try and make something good. And that's what we do for a living.
Alex Ferrari 18:31
So I mean, you were obviously involved with one of my favorite movies of the 90s Grosse Pointe Blank. It is such an insane idea. You know, a hitman goes back to his high school reunion and he's having issues and it was such a brilliant film. How did you is that something that came from you? From you? And John, how did that whole because it like I tell people that movie would never get made today just wouldn't get me today in the studio system. It'd be very difficult.
Steve Pink 19:01
Yeah, although it'd be made in television. Right. You know, like, I feel like a series Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, I feel like Barry has some you know, is reminiscent in a grand they, they've like taken off and done. Like if I could have made the series if like if there was more stories around that. I mean, but those guys didn't extraordinary. You know, that I love that show so so because of things that reminds me of from my first movie and then all the things that they're that all the things they've done to to explore that concept is so brilliant and so fun, and I love it so much. And so, you know, the I just have to say it sounds horrible that I'm saying this because it sounds like Oh, great. I thought a berry which is not the case like I stole all kinds of things to make Grosse Pointe Blank happen, right like the President's analysts, which is this quirky, weird 70s movie about? I think these bad guys trying to kill the psychiatrist of the President, I believe although it's been so many years, like they were all kinds of movies like that, that I loved and influence me. So by no means am I saying I don't even know if I influenced them in any way, it's just we share a similar idea. So I don't want to be kind of misconstrued as
Alex Ferrari 20:15
No, of course, of course. Alright. So how did that how did that come to be?
Steve Pink 20:20
Oh, so, yeah, so we got this deal at Paramount, and then we would get, you know, submissions in and I didn't even know that you weren't supposed to read unsolicited material. I didn't, I didn't know the distinction. You know, I guess the answer your earlier question, which is, what what do you wish someone would have told me prior to getting into Hollywood? And I guess the answer would have been, well, everything about producing because I didn't know anything, no one told me anything. I was just suddenly sitting in an office in Paramount, I mean, Paramount Pictures, and I was trying to, like figure out, like, what would be the process of thinking of an idea or creating idea, and then, you know, getting made, you know, made to a movie. And so I got this script, it was written by this guy, Tom shanku. It's, it was unsolicited, you know, um, and, you know, that's the other thing, like, you know, companies don't take unsolicited material, because they're afraid they'll be sued if people steal their ideas, etc. And was like, well, they could sue me. I'm a social worker, you know, like, like, six weeks earlier, I was making $70,000 a year. So, you know, you're worse, but but that's just a joke. I wasn't actually even thinking about it in those terms. I simply didn't know. So I read this script. And it's really amazing. It's kind of a straightforward actioner. I mean, with the you know, and it strikes me as is like, a brilliantly and beautifully ironic idea. And funny and, and so I talked to Tom Jake was about it, he, you know, he was okay with DVD of incentives, who became my for longtime, longtime writing partner. And we just had kind of a vision for the movie that Tom didn't necessarily share. He wasn't against it. But he was just kind of like, you know, I wrote the movie I wrote, but if you guys want to revise it, go ahead. So we said, great, so we came out. So we, you know, started figuring out like how to our approach was kind of subvert all the expectations of the movie. So like, for instance, and Tom jank, which is version, there was the bully, he goes back and see, but in the bully version, there's like a big fight, right? And he fights the bully and wins. And we thought to ourselves, Well, you know, the bully isn't your enemy anymore. He's probably as an assassin could have real enemies. And so like, what is the subversion of expectation with the bully, and that is that he's not this scary, terrible person who tormented you in high school. And in this case, he's a sad drunk who writes poetry, right? So, you know, we you know, and then you know, the father who would be angry that he left his you know, that he left his daughter, John's character left his daughter, you know, standing in the doorway, and never having picked her up for prom, he would be angry, right? Well, no, because he's a corporate. He's a corrupt corporate raider of a certain kind. And so he has an affinity with with junkies eyes character, because they're both men of the world who are corrupted by that world and therefore share a bond. And so it was kind of all these little kind of tropes or touchstones that we looked at, and wanted to mess with. And, you know, we were fortunate enough. It was actually a movie. It was originally after we revised it and took it to market. It was first bought by John Kelly, who was a famous filmmaker, or studio boss, who had made, you know, Kubrick's movies. And he was kind of, they were, there was yet another version of the United Artists MGM, like being reconstituted at that time, right. So, so United Artists was becoming an active studio again. And John Kelly was running it, he was the one who originally bought the movie. And that was, you know, just amazing. Movie and saw its potential. And then ended up getting turned around, he ended up not being able to make it and was so gracious about giving it back to us. That's another thing. You know, just it's another piece of luck. Yeah, like you don't, you know, my career is just a series of luck of Lucky moments in which, you know, and maybe that's true of so many of us. But so John Kelly couldn't make the movie and he was really gracious about coming back to this, which is I didn't know not a thing. But my attitude was, oh, yeah, well, great. If you can make the movie, then. Yeah, we get to go make it somewhere else. It was only later that I found out that that's not actually a thing and his generosity was extraordinary. So he gave us the movie back I'm sure. I'm not sure. So Jen, Joe Roth, and Roger Birnbaum, who was two at a kind of mini, they had a huge producing company called caravan. And they ended up taking on the movie and Donna Roth Joe's wife, and soon and Susan Arnold were the producers. And so it was actually done it and Susan, who brought it to Roger and Joe and Roger and Joe agreed to make the move. And so that's how it happened. So it was it kind of series of kind of lucky things that fell All our way.
Alex Ferrari 25:01
After that moving through, if I remember correctly, it was a fairly decent hit and when he wasn't a blockbuster monster hit, but it was a decent hit enough enough that the town would, you know, like, Oh, these guys are doing some cool stuff.
Steve Pink 25:14
Yeah, I think I remember I could be wrong about this, I'd have to ask my colleagues, but I believe that it got really good long lead press. And so they gave it a slightly better release, I think are much better release, I think that it was going to be released, maybe. I mean, I didn't really know anything about these kinds of things. I just remember hearing that there was our release was pushed, and it was because of appalling ly pressed. So I'm not repeating that story. And then 25 years later, but so then it was like, then we knew that maybe we had something, you know, that was maybe good and that maybe people would go see. And so yeah, I think it did well, although it was really funny, because, you know, I think Anaconda came out
Alex Ferrari 25:51
97 so yeah.
Steve Pink 25:53
And, and I think we got crushed. And I remember.
Alex Ferrari 25:58
But it was JLo man
Steve Pink 25:59
Yeah, it was amazing. Yeah, I think I went and saw that. I'm sure I went saw that movie that weekend or the weekend after because it was in the theater and is this across by Anaconda. And I was like, Well, yeah, that movie is awesome.
Alex Ferrari 26:11
I'm thinking is this pre Con Air or post Con Air?
Steve Pink 26:15
Pre this was the first movie corresponding was kind of the first movie that we did together. And it was definitely the first movie that Johnny, John Cusack had a gun in his hand. And that was part of a thing that we discussed actually before. Like before, the the corresponding Grossman grant came along. In this might sound silly, but we did discuss things like well, that so at that time, there were a lot of John had a lot of opportunities to play an FBI agent or play a cop or whatever, basically, you know, all these ideas that would put a gun in his hand. And we just kept saying, we had this line where we were like, well, if you're gonna have a gun in your hand, you just have a cut in your hand, ironically. And we didn't exactly. This, we didn't exactly know what that meant, you know, but we were like, Yeah, because we don't necessarily want you to be a hero with a gun. Like, we were just kind of fundamentally against that we didn't know what that creatively did for him, you know, like, what is that? As an actor and as the kind of characters you play? Like, what how does that work? Exactly. And so, you know, to be an assassin, and a kind of antihero made absolute sense, right? Because then he could be well, he's perfect. Good question. He's very existence and his existence is killing people with gods. And so that was like, Oh, well, that makes perfect sense.
Alex Ferrari 27:33
Right, exactly. Now, after that, you did another movie, another classic 90s film high fidelity, where I mean, it's, you know, the cast and that is, I was looking at the trailer the other day, I was like, Jesus, man, you had everybody that movie was, I mean, it was just, it was it was insane. And then I realized who the director was. Yeah. And I'm like, how am I? How God's green earth did the guy who did Dangerous Liaisons end up doing I fidelity? So what was it like working with Steven fears with his legendary filmmaker? And what were some lessons that you picked up from him?
Steve Pink 28:12
Well, that's a really that's a great question. Well, we got even close because John had made a movie with him. Right. And then so so again, you know, this is going to become an unbearable podcast because it was just another lucky in our lives,
Alex Ferrari 28:28
Let's just let's just state this right now. You are. Did you buy a lottery ticket for the for the Powerball, please? Yes. Buy one. buy just one. You don't? You only need the one.
Steve Pink 28:36
Yeah, I bought the cinema lottery ticket, and it keeps paying off. Yeah, because Joe Roth after ghosts point blank. He became the chairman of Disney, and he had high fidelity under the touchstone banner, and he gave us the book. He said, Hey, you guys, what do you think of this book? And what do you think about it as a movie? And we were, it was extraordinary. And, you know, we wrote a script that he liked Joe, I mean, and he said, Go find a director, and Steven fierce, Johnny called Steven fairs. And Steven fair said that he would do it. So like, okay, is this terrible? We can end this podcast at any point. I mean, I have struggled quite a bit in my career. And so we you know, we have another seven hours, we can talk about the actual you know,
Alex Ferrari 29:23
I'm hitting the highlights here. I'm hitting the highlights if you want I can go into the bombs if you'd like Yeah.
Steve Pink 29:28
That didn't work. We can get into my struggles over the years. Like that would be I think, at least no call to balance out this podcast. But But, Joe case, but just to finish this high point, before it all went south. I. We, we so he we brought Steven for years, and then we went through a script process was with Steven, that was almost probably almost a year in in length, six to nine months and we rewrote the movie a bunch of times. And I learned you know And then watching him work was just extraordinary. He just learned so much, but I learned so many extraordinary things from him. You know, like, he would talk about and I was constantly interviewing him, you know, off the set. And because I just wanted to learn, and he would always endorse my questions, and, you know, I would ask him, you know, really pretentious Film School questions like, what his style, you know, as like, what his style like what like what you know, like you said Scorsese has a style, and Tarantino has a style and you know, and he's done so many styles, which is why I asked him because if you look at prick up, your ears are the hit, or Dangerous Liaisons or the queen or even high fidelity, pretty much every movie, he makes 30 Pretty Things has a different style, you know, he's kind of a master wizard of it. And his, you know, he thinks and, you know, this is just his opinion, and it's just a really interesting perspective, true or not true, or you can evaluate, its, you know, whether, whether it's true or not, or you're, you know what it means, but he says that there is no such thing as style in his mind, he's, like, a director, utilizes what he needs and makes it his disposal, what he needs to tell the story who's telling. So if he needs to fly the camera, you know, through a building, you know, to, you know, like, you know, if he needs to, you know, whatever, use very whatever style he's employing, you know, with the camera, whether it's to lay back and not have the camera be intentional, and you don't really notice the camera, or whether the camera is like this, you know, crazy flying creature, that is part of the storytelling. He's like, that is what the director needed to tell his story. Right? So that because of that, that then you say afterwards, well, the director made a film and it looks like this Edgar Wright or Martin Scorsese, or, or David Fincher. And you go, Well, you know, he this is he's a, you know, T employee, this style is a director to tell the story and Steven fairs would say no, he told T used what he told the story, the way he needed to tell the story to make it work. And the style comes after you look at it and say, Oh, well, that is the style he employed, but Steven careers would say, and maybe he would disagree with the thing that we do, maybe would have a different view this many years later. I haven't talked to Steven, many years. But then he said to me, that's how he views it. That's and so the the instructive thing to me about that was okay, well, then I don't you know, when I'm looking at shooting any given thing, I'm like, Well, how do I tell the story of this moment? Or how to how to tell the story of this? What is this? What is the story of this particular shot? What is the story? Am I telling? What story am I telling in this particular moment? I know that I have all kinds of stylistic choices available to me without getting caught up in saying like, Oh, well, I can employ this style, but not that style. Like what do I need to tell the story most effectively?
Alex Ferrari 32:52
Well, I mean, if you just have to look at someone like Kubrick, who was literally the master of changing genre. I mean, he literally made the movie of every genre. Yeah, I'm gonna make the comedy. I'm gonna make the war movie. I'm gonna make the horror movie, I'm like, and you just look at his style. And there's certain things that kind of there's things as far as flavors that you can kind of see throughout his projects. But the stuff that he employed and Dr. Strangelove is not what he did an Eyes Wide Shut. That's a completely different it's what he needed to do to tell those individual stories. So that's really interesting. That's an interesting I completely agree with Stephen on that one.
Steve Pink 33:29
Yeah, I visually you can see it in their work like you know, I love Jane Campion and when you know, the movie I just love but I also love sweetie and Angel and I table back in the day and the guide forgotten how concerned she is with the interior lives of her characters. You know, she'll stop everything all the time. Like the piano. Oh, yeah. Yeah, yeah, the piano, it's like really just be in a, in a really urgent observational state, which I am just amazed by like that, because it's, it's observational, but it has this urgency, which I find kind of astounding. And that's a wholly different style, because it's not the camera isn't moving, you know, that it's not moving that much. But yeah, he achieves that and it's it's it's really cool.
Alex Ferrari 34:16
So then you you know, so after you've had some successes, you've been doing some stuff and then you get a chance to direct your first feature film with a with a fairly decent budget is a studio budget, you know, where you know, this is not 200 million, but you this is the first time you're on set running a big studio production. So what was it like in the movie, by the way is accepted which I just adored that movie. I thought it was so much fun to watch that film, when it came out. And again, stupid cast, like insane cast that you had back then. What was it like walking on the set the first day on your first studio project? Like, do you have are you waiting for security to take you off?
Steve Pink 34:59
Yeah, I mean, I I got this like, pain in my shoulder that was so so sharp that I had to like take a bath. Like after the shoot day like I was like, I had to figure out how to loosen up my trade. So stressed Oh, yeah, my shoulder was just keep killing. Yeah, I was working so hard to like have a successful day that
Alex Ferrari 35:22
Make your day just make your day in general
Steve Pink 35:24
Make my day do something interesting, you know, make it you know, like, create, you know, creating comedy. I always felt fairly comfortable with actors because I directed a lot of theater. So I was I was always pretty comfortable directing, and directing and rehearsing and blocking, right I can gin up at least something you know, Jennifer enough really interesting and funny stuff. And with great actors, it's not you know, it's it's something that I love. And it's something I feel that I'm I'm halfway decent at. So that part was the part that I understood it, but then capturing it with the with the camera, you know, was just a wholly different thing. Because I was then I had to learn very quickly, you know, how to get what I was just rehearsing in the camera in the same way, I just pictured it in real time, right, which are in like, with the naked eye like, okay, so it's really, really funny to me, but it's not a play. So how do I how do I keep everything that's really funny and spontaneous about that, that I just rehearsed? And how do I shoot it so that it's still feel spontaneous and funny when we shoot it in that that was a learning process that both universal and Tom Shadyac, the producer, were really, really patient with me, in terms of discovering it also was a little bit hard. I will say, after all these years that the movie really wanted to be an R rated movie, you know, it's a guy who starts his own college. Right? So the fact that we could never that there were no that there was no, you know, whatever.
Alex Ferrari 36:44
There was no American high moments, there was no American Pie moment, if
Steve Pink 36:47
There was no sex, no drugs, no outrageousness about, you know, milk in that order. And so I made it a little bit harder. So I was like, Well, how do I create a kind of call it edgy lunacy. Um, you know, given that story there, right. And we did, we found some things like, they let us get away with the fact that the kids since they're trying to whatever, they're gonna renovate a mental hospital, turn it into a college, and they found like, you know, the electroshock therapy machine, you know, so they're, like, chopping each other and drinking what look like, you know, alcoholic drinks, you know, things like that, that I kind of got away with, that seemed funny, because I didn't have anything else at my disposal. But, you know, the actors are also incredibly funny and warm. And that, of course, is what you know, really made it work, you know, most of the time, you know, blow up a car, like it's a totally absurd, it's totally, it's a grounded based film, because the film is has a grounded reality to it, but somehow the very end of the movie, you know, the character whose dream is to be, you know, believes he believes he has like telekinetic powers, you know, blows up in his mind, you know, he succeeds in his life goal at college. And the fact that they let us put that in the movie and keep it in the movie was you know, just funny and ridiculous.
Alex Ferrari 38:01
So, you know, as directors you know, we'll there's always that day on set, if not every day, but there's a one day that really everything is falling apart, whether you losing the sun, your camera, the camera truck crashed along the way, and you lost your camera. Actors won't come out of something, it whatever it is, what was that for you on this project on accepted? And how did you overcome that? That overwhelming thing, that feeling that you feel like the entire world is coming crashing down on you?
Steve Pink 38:31
Let's see what day was that? Every,
Alex Ferrari 38:34
every day? No, every day, like I said, it's every day, but there must have been one day that was really just like cheese. It's a one day that you remember that you were just like, You know what, this day? Oh?
Steve Pink 38:45
Well, there was a day. Yeah, there was a day where we were shooting the scene where the parents show up just as long as parents show up. And they have to kind of pay us to give them a tour. And we were rehearsing. And I realized I didn't have enough jokes, like there weren't there wasn't anything funny going on, per se. Like they kind of walked down the hall. And the dialogue was the dialogue. But I was like, oh, like, this doesn't seem like what? You know, and it was something we probably should have planned for. But I was like, Wait, shouldn't they be hiding something? Shouldn't they? Like, what's the dance that's happening around the parents that the parents are that's just that just ends up out of frame? Or that they don't see when they turn the corner? And like, what are the things they're trying to hide? And what are the things they're trying to present as the real school, and we have to kind of just so that was that panic, because I was looking at a whole day of shooting that was not going to be funny. And it was a really important scene in the movie. And so with the help of producers and the actors, and every department that was one of the first times I was like, Well, what do props have? What does the production designer what you know, what, what do we have in terms of the art department? Like what things can we generate? What things would be funny? I think it's a pretty funny sequence. Have we really, really planned it to, like I would today, it would be, you know, 10 times the size. But so then we managed to, like, you know, of course, because of Justin and him being so funny, and being really, really good at being the kind of like, you know, you know, the, the, you know, he was the one who was like, you know, had all the ball he was talking he got all about he kept the balls up in the air, right. So he's really, really good at playing that tension. And so we made a sequence out of it, and I think it worked out, okay, and it's a funny little sequence. But that was the first day I realized that there will be times when you arrive on set thinking everything's great, and nothing's going to work in terms of like, what you're about to shoot, and almost every day, yeah, and you have to figure out like, you know, and so I never So from that moment, I've never taken for granted that something you think that I tend to worry about the scenes that seemed that, that that I think are gonna go well, like the scenes, when you're planning when I'm planning a shoot the scenes that, you know, seem the big set pieces, and, you know, in the big shoots, whether they're big parties or big or tons that are big high jinks or be what stunts or whatever it is, those clips plan so much and you work on it so much that even though there's you know, whatever a nervousness around executing them well and you know, an attendant amount of worry goes into that I always am now I'm always keep an eye out for the ones that sneak up on you the one that you think, Oh, well, we're gonna shoot this in two hours. It's a really funny scene. Everybody gets it. We know what story were telling me. No, there's no what they're doing. This is gonna be no problem. We're going to be audited by before lunch, and then we'll be getting out the rest of the day. Those are the ones that that I that I worry most about? Or I don't know if I worry is the right word. Those are the ones that I I pay attention to cautious you're cautious about Yeah, I pay attention to them. I spend an extra I spent extra energy around making sure those seem to actually work because those are the ones that if they suddenly don't work surprise you and then you know, you don't want them.
Alex Ferrari 41:57
Now you also add a small producing gig with us small young actor named Tom Cruise. years ago as well. You were one of the producers on his film 90 Day with Cameron and it was camera if you haven't watched Cameron Diaz and M. That's now when you when you were a producer on that that's now you're at a whole other level, budget wise and things. Is there any big lessons you learned from producing a film like that?
Steve Pink 42:25
Well, this would be a no fun story. But I actually didn't work on the film. So what happened was there was an idea that I came up with, with Todd Garner, the producer, and a great friend of mine, Patrick O'Neill, who's a great writer wrote it and we sold it to revolution studios that Joe Roth was running and at that time I was attached to produce with Todd and we were going to make the movie and then it got turned around to Fox. And it had a very, you know, crazy journey, like so many movies due to getting made and this one ended extraordinarily with extraordinarily extraordinarily, with, you know, James Mangold and Tom Cruise, Kennedy is but by that point, even Joe Robin Garner weren't actively producing it, like they honed. You know, I think James Mangold has his producing partner. And then and so we didn't, we weren't active participants in the making of the film. But I was an active participant in having, you know, obviously, coming up with the idea, having it written, and then you know, kind of, you know, trying to get paid for years. So by that time, by the time that came around, it wasn't our film anymore. And yeah, I have extraordinary credits on that movie. Well, the Joe Ross gave me those credits, right, it was a movie that I had thought of that I pitched him that I hadn't had, that, you know, I have a presentation credit, it was going to be my company that produced it, and I was going to be the producer. It's just that it, you know, got away from me and all these different ways. And, you know, I'm, you know, it's, it's so it happened so often, you know, like, oh, I don't know what I would have contributed anyway, like, I would have liked to have been a part of it, but I'm not sure at that point that anyone was interested in my opinion. You know, like, I would have loved to contribute to the movie, but who would have listened to me frankly
Alex Ferrari 44:22
But its the Juggernaut at that point. It's literally just this giant machine that's moving forward. And you know, when you have someone like Tom Cruise and in James Mangold, back then he wasn't James mangled as of today, but he's still a very, very strong director, that that machine is going, it's hard to, it's hard to jump on.
Steve Pink 44:42
They certainly didn't need me. I mean, I shouldn't say this way creatively. I think they needed me. I mean, I've loved the movie, but there are certain like, there's there's some DNA in there that that was that inspired the idea to begin with. I wish they had preserved you know, like, but that's my that's me. Looking at it like that the movie stands on its own. And it's funny and great in its own way. So it doesn't necessarily need the things I think it needed. But of course, I have a desire, you know, like in my, you know, this happens to everyone who's made a film or watches a film get made you think well, oh, well, I wish it did contain these other things. Sure. And I had in mind, you know, but whether they actually needed those things or not, I don't know. You know, but um, but I thought I thought it was really fun. I thought Tom Cruise.
Alex Ferrari 45:29
It was a fun, but it was it was it was it was unlike his normal films.
Steve Pink 45:34
The whole idea was was hero as unreliable nearing zero as unreliable new reality, you know? So, yeah.
Alex Ferrari 45:46
Now, the one thing when I was when, when you came across my desk, to come on the show, the one question I knew it was going to ask you, and I've actually been dying to ask you this before we even knew that you were going to come on the show. Because when this came out into the world, I was like, how on God's green earth did this happen? Hot Tub Time Machine, sir. How did this gave birth into the world?
Steve Pink 46:15
Well, first have to ask Josh healed and you should have him on the show. He's the guy now he's definitely having on the show. He thought of the idea. I he might have even thought of the idea in a hot tub. I'm not sure. I can't bear.
Alex Ferrari 46:30
By the way, he's absolutely brilliant and what they're doing with Cobra Kai, I'm obsessed with Cobra Kai.
Steve Pink 46:36
It's amazing. And he wrote so he wrote the movie, he, he ended up with Luke Ryan, who's an executive at MGM. In Mary parent was running the studio at that time with with an executive named Caleb beuter. And they were just crazy enough to make it like
Alex Ferrari 46:53
I was about to say like, This is the weirdest pitch. It's like so weird. It's, it crosses over like yeah, good. Maybe can work.
Steve Pink 47:02
Yeah, I mean, they were you know, kale and Marian and Luke were game they're great. And they they understood the movie. They were like, this is totally ridiculous and funny and, and, you know, at its core, because there's also smart filmmakers. They understood that it was a midlife crisis movie, right? It's a midlife crisis movie. But instead of like going to a dude ranch, or going on a motorcycle, like tour, they really don't have time machine and have to relive their past right? So that, you know, the thematic ideas are the same. It's just that the, you know, the, the engine, or the journey through you know, that, that they take to explore those same themes is totally bonkers. You know, it's they go through a hot tub
Alex Ferrari 47:45
Instead of City Slickers. Instead of city slickers or old dogs you've got hot tub machine.
Steve Pink 47:49
Yeah. Which and so then it was like all separate then it was very self referential, right they were all we were all the characters, the filmmakers the audience, I think, I think everyone there was something about that movie where everyone, you know, everyone understands that they are self aware about the fact that it's totally bonkers. Like the notion of it itself is so ridiculous that everyone's invited to the party once they acknowledge that's the case and so when you're the filmmaker or you're the audience or even the characters themselves, you're all enjoying the same thing. Right? Right. No one's gonna take this seriously right I mean, it's all hot tub machine. They go back in time and a hot like what Yeah, it's like every just what you even the way you just said it is just makes the whole thing worthwhile. I think
Alex Ferrari 48:39
The thing that's brilliant about it is that it's so absurd that if you can't get past the title, you won't enjoy the movie. But if you can get past the title that you're in on the joke, then you're just out for the ride and that's that's exactly what that's so that's the brilliance of Hot Tub Time. As I say it it sounds
Steve Pink 49:03
Yeah, and I have to say it was really courageous of Mary and kale Yeah. cannot change the title you know like there we got a whole list of titles that wasn't consider it oh yeah, we got a whole list of titles to consider because we exactly what you said was exactly the case like when polled right they do all the market testing or whatever. And when you ask the question, would you ever see a movie called Hot Tub Time Machine? Well, I mean the answer is obviously no. Like you're not going to see a movie called Hot Tub Time Machine but then when they show them how to Time Machine along with the materials the trailer the tone, the fact that it was an ironic title in that sense that people like oh yeah, I will see that because that's ridiculous and funny and in your in on the joke but you're invited to the party called out to a time machine because precisely because it's so dumb. And so once people understood that, you know, then then every you know, then then it then it then it all But so then But then how do you get people to see it? Right? Because no one's going to admit that they're gonna go see a movie called Hot Tub Time Machine. So, you know, so hence they thought, well, maybe we should change the title. So we don't have that barrier to entry. And Mary, I remember, it's, I don't think it's my imagination. But I remember being in a meeting and I just remember her saying that, that she stood by the title that that was what was fun about it. And that, you know, she was going to take the risk to go up go to the market with that title and hope it worked. And I was like, that's super cool. She rolled the dice Yes, you roll the dice and he was just head of the studio and she was like, I'm, you know, I think that is the spirit of the movie. If you change the title, I'm not sure what you got, you know, then I think if there had been an alternative title that had been as compelling then maybe that would be different story, but there wasn't one and she wasn't willing to compromise. You know, for another title that maybe would have attracted more audiences on its face but but would have just hurt the whole enterprise and, and so yeah, so that's, it's, it's hard to be born.
Alex Ferrari 51:01
It's kind of like the weekend of Bernie's of its generation because that's another like we did keyless. I mean, even more ridiculous as the sequel if we can at Bernie's. Because at that point, you're like, how long has it been? Kind of thing.
Steve Pink 51:16
I don't know if you interviewed Clark, Duke. He, he made a really great film recently as the director and he, he actually has a brilliant Weekend at Bernie's pitch, which someday I hope gets made. Oh my god. I won't spoil it. When you can ask him about it. It's one of the most brilliant remake ideas I've ever heard for them
Alex Ferrari 51:35
To remake to go back and remake it?
Steve Pink 51:38
Do another Weekend at Bernie's. But his but his approach to it is so brilliant. It's makes it it's one of those ideas we like, Well, only if you did that, could you do it? Right?
Alex Ferrari 51:48
Like Cobra Kai
Steve Pink 51:49
Has the share sensibilities in terms of how it's approached, if you have to have clarity about it. And you go,
Alex Ferrari 51:55
Well, yeah, we'll definitely see if I can get them on the show. Because, you know, what I find funny about, you know, as we've been talking about all the projects that we you know, you've done a lot of comedy in your, in your, your filmography over the years. And I've worked with a lot of Stand Up comics, I've worked a lot of comedians and things like that. People don't realize how serious the creators of comedies take to work. You know, something like Hot Tub Time Machine, you can kind of just write off like, Oh, it's just a bunch of silly guys doing a bunch of silly stuff. But just as you're explaining it, there's a tone of seriousness behind No, this is a coming and not coming of age, but a midlife crisis film. And it's this and that. And, yes, it's insane. And we understand it's insane. But this is why we're doing so it's even when you're even when you couldn't, you know, go into the absurd, good comedies are sick or taken seriously on the back end behind the scenes. It's fascinating.
Steve Pink 52:49
Yeah, I mean, all the great comedies are really, you know, have have really kind of the emotional journeys of all the characters are central to the story, right, like in every single one like Tootsie bridesmaids, like there are, you know, obviously all Judd Apatow, ZZ work, like, the, you know, all the movies that I've done, like, I know, contrary Contrary to popular belief, comedy, filmmakers are super interested in the story of the characters, you know, the characters and so and the end what they're struggling with emotionally, we have to deal with it. It's just that, you know, the way we deal with it is through these kind of heightened ridiculous, you know, circumstances. So, yeah, we you're, you know, like, as you know, like, you were looking deep into my filmography. From Hogarth filmography, there are movies where I didn't take that into take that to heart in ways I should have in the movies. I was good. Like, there are movies that I've done that I think are far that it's like, okay, well, I'll just say like hot tub too, I think is far funnier, like pound for pound. It's actually a funnier movie, but it's not as good by virtue of the fact that that you're not isn't you don't have as much rooting interest in the characters. What they're going through emotionally isn't as you know, doesn't it doesn't have as much substance. And so after a while, you know, just jokes. You struggle. Yes, it's jokes. And so, I, you know, I have a deep love of that movie, and it's in his lunacy. But if you're just if you're going to evaluate in terms of like, the character journeys, they're not quite as good. And so like, to me that that, that, you know, that's central to every good movie, and comedy is no exception.
Alex Ferrari 54:27
You look at something like you know, 40 Year Old Virgin. I mean, there's a lot of character in there. Yeah, there's lunacy. And there's some fun stuff, and there's great situations. But you're on the journey with this guy. You're in the journey with him. If not, it just jokes get boring after a while. I mean, you could only do so many jokes and so much at a certain point.
Steve Pink 54:46
You can name every single one groundhog days like you learned not to be Yeah, he has to learn not to be a selfish person. Like we don't know why he's repeating the same day ever. And there's no magic device that we're told exists. It just happened. But we but slowly but surely we recognize that until he's not selfish, he's not he's gonna have to repeat every single day of his life and you know, Trading Places, obviously has really is a great, you know, friendship story about class and race.
Alex Ferrari 55:11
So many so many different layers of trading places are coming to America, or any of those. Any of those early Eddie Murphy movies,
Steve Pink 55:20
Wedding Crashers, you know, like, my favorite part of Wedding Crashers is when, you know, Vince was like, Come on, we'll do one more, you know, who cares? It'd be fun, that's what we do. We're Wedding Crashers, you know, we're young, and we're not that young. That was the whole movie for me, you know, I was like, oh, now I'm interested. Because yes, their time is the clock is ticking their, their, their, their lifestyle is, you know, is unsustainable. And so now I'm really in right, they're living a life that is unsustainable, and they have to change and they're either going to be they're going to be forced into a change. Or they're going to, you know, figure out how to make the change for themselves. And so like, that's the movie and that's why I just love it and think it's so brilliant. You know, the bridesmaids again, it was one of my favorites because it's you know, it's you could see the marketing material after hangover, you know, being similar to hangover, but when you see the movie, it's about a woman and a quarter life crisis, who's feels like she's about to lose her best friend to, you know, to, you know, she's about to, you know, her best friend has a new best friend. And what does it feel like to be left behind? Like, that's to me the movie. And so then, you know, hilarity ensues. So, yeah,
Alex Ferrari 56:36
Comedies is a serious business. From working on the myself. I understand. It's like, you know, timing, and that's what makes a great comedy, even something like airplane, which is absurd. It's one of my favorite comedies of all time, there's still a character you still care. I mean, and that's as absurd of a movie as you can pretty much get the original.
Steve Pink 56:59
Yeah. And, and there was a moment. I haven't seen that movie, obviously, in decades. But I think there is there is a moment where if you can be so absurd, that you're also engaged in something else. So then it doesn't have the same depth of character in the same way. But you're again, like, I guess, hot tub, you're invited to this level of absurdity, you're invited to this party, where things are so crazy and so absurd, that it has its own satirical, satirical tone, like you're like, oh, all life is absurd, right? My life is absurd. Like, my life could be airplane, you know, any second, right? Like, I could really be that any second. And so then you become the protagonist in a way to me when I watch those movies, I'm like, Oh, I'm the protagonist. Because all these you know, like, every single ridiculous thing is happening moment to moment, moment after moment after moment, is just reminding me of how absurd life is. And so I think that's a really a kind of comedy in its own right.
Alex Ferrari 57:53
Right. I mean, I picked the wrong day to stop sniffing glue. I mean, I picked the wrong day to start doing okay, like it was just so off jump about bridges, not Jeff Bridges, but Lloyd Bridges Lloyd Bridges are so brilliant. Now with all of this things we've been talking about, which has been a lot of comedies your newest film the wheel, hilarious. So tell me about the wheel. And how and why at this stage in your career. Did you want to tell this kind of story?
Steve Pink 58:26
Yeah, yeah, viewers be worn. There's not a laugh for 1000 miles.
Alex Ferrari 58:32
There's no hot tub time machines. There's no There's no ironic hitman.
Steve Pink 58:36
No, there's nothing of that there's only emotional distress. Right, I you know, it was the opportunity. You know, I always wanted you know, like the one always wants to explore what else is possible. You know what else I think I could do well. And this young producer Josh, Jason, who I work with on a commercial production work within a commercial production company brought me the script and I loved it. And the two actors that we found to play Albion Walker, Amber Mithuna and Taylor gray were extraordinary young people. And you know, Josh had had come up with financing which was you know, very you know, very it's a micro indie I mean, we spent nothing on that movie The the picture vehicles my stepfather's cheap all the furnishings in the Airbnb that the young couple stays in are from my house. You know, we shot the movie with I think there were 20 of us total of 25 of us total with with cast and we shot it in 18 days and and so I you know, to do a story, you know, where, you know, I can I can explore dramatic arcs of characters was just something I wanted to see if I could do and, and then also, you know, have the freedom to try in and create a visual world that was super small, but super resonant. And it was COVID We were one of the first COVID movies, we wrote, I think our COVID plan, like ended up in the white papers or whatever, because we were one of the first people, we were some of the first little crew to write it. And I could have never made that movie in any other time. You know, we went up to the summer camp, which was closed because of COVID. And we all quarantined, and then we, you know, we're just the sort of family up in the forest making this small and intimate little movie. And I was working with this young cinematographer Bella Gonzalez, who was extraordinary. And we just, you know, it was just a wholly different kind of experience, maybe one that I lost out on not having been a traditional film student, because I came out of theater, I didn't come out of film, so it felt very much like theater theater, or like doing a play, but I knew what to do with the camera. Now, after all these years, or at least I think I did. And so it was an extraordinary experience. And I was so super happy to make that movie.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:05
Now when when is the movie coming up?
Steve Pink 1:01:08
Movie just came out just this weekend. And so you can get in on all the platforms. It seems like it's getting good placement, you know, part of you part of you agreed to do this podcast, I'm sure it helps will help us a great deal. Oh, least all those all those listening, please go and see the movie
Alex Ferrari 1:01:29
It's in theaters it's in theaters or is going to?
Steve Pink 1:01:31
It's on streaming platforms. Okay. So Apple and Amazon and all the streaming platforms, you can go, you can go and watch it. Critics have been very nice to us. And that always feels good. To me, especially since it's obviously commented often that, you know, in the reviews that I'm a comedy director in like you had no idea that I could do that. You know, I don't know that. I knew I could do it either. I just wanted to try to do it. That's part of what we're supposed to be doing. As filmmakers. And so,
Alex Ferrari 1:02:03
But I think as filmmakers too, I mean, we, you know, things that got you know, got our juices flowing in our 20s is not what gets our juices flowing in our 40s. And you know, you want to kind of you know, you've been there done that and some things you want to like, you know what I want to kind of challenge myself, you know, I went off and made my I made a feature in like four days, and stole the entire movie at Sundance, while the while the festival was going on, about filmmakers trying to sell their movie at Sundance. I'm like, I just want to go do this for fun. And if it fails, it fails because it cost $3,000 There's no big deal.
Steve Pink 1:02:34
That's amazing. What's it called?
Alex Ferrari 1:02:36
It's called on the corner of ego and desire. And and we shot it because it's That's exactly it. And it's the most absurd. Anything you've ever heard filmmakers saying is in this movie, like the lunacy, the insanity, the delusion, I wanted to kind of make a love letter to two independent filmmakers of how crazy we are, and trying to get it so I kind of just threw it all together and shot it. And it was scary, um, to the point where my actors at the end, were like, do you have anything? I'm like, I don't know. I haven't had time to look at anything. I've been transferring stuff. But I just don't know, do you have a movie? Like, I think I have 77 minutes. Let's hope and we were lucky enough to fix 73 minutes the whole movie.
Steve Pink 1:03:19
But where can I see it?
Alex Ferrari 1:03:21
Yeah, you can see it on Amazon. It's on Amazon right now. It's on free TV, a self review on Amazon and you could rent it and all that stuff. I'll tell you about it after but, but I just use that as an example. It's kind of like you just want to go out there and see what happens. And you could do it at that budget range. Like you couldn't do that at a 40 or $50 million budget range. With big stars. It's a little bit more pressure. So I'm imagining doing at this indie level really micro budget, you get to go play, which must have been a lot a lot of fun.
Steve Pink 1:03:47
Yeah, it was a lot of fun. It was really freeing and it was cool. And you know, we had all the same problems, you know?
Alex Ferrari 1:03:54
Exactly. But you you have no money hose?
Steve Pink 1:03:58
Right! We had no money. And so yes, we just had to figure it out. Like what like, you know, like because it was COVID We had no background right so we had to I had to create frames for when there weren't people and things like that there were all there was a whole bunch of challenges but they all the challenges felt really familiar. You know, and I you know to have Amber and Taylor you know and Bethany and Nelson Lee the other two actors in the piece be so game you know, because it was so tiny and we're you know, trying to create a world where these these two couples clash and you know, are you know, transformed by their interactions in ways that transform their lives and do it in all in this very kind of, you know, intimate way was a great was great challenge and was great fun. I'd like to do more of it.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:49
Now, I'm gonna ask you a few questions as well my guess. What advice would you give a filmmaker or screenwriter trying to break into the business today?
Steve Pink 1:04:59
I I would say that, and this is true of me even despite my lucky entrance, you know, the thing that you love and inspired by the most or the is the thing that the thing that you should, that you know more about than anyone else, like, there's this thought that well, you know, you're not in the business, so you don't know anything, right. But what you, you know, you don't know anything, anything in quotes means all the things that, you know, are the complexities and nuances of, of being in the movie business. But what you do know is what your idea is, you have command of your idea, and you have command over what story you want to tell. And you have, and if you have the passion for it, and the relentless, you know, energy to fight to make it happen. That's, that's what your strength is like, you are as important a filmmaker, frankly, and in terms of being the author of your own story is anyone else's like so that's what you have to offer. You have to offer your creative sensibility and your perspective, right? I mean, I felt very, maybe over I'm sure, I was massively overconfident. But I felt very strongly about my, my perspective, you know, even gross point blank, which we had a great which we had, you know, this glide path to making, I still had a very specific point of view, I was like, you know, this is a world in which, you know, if you like, my kind of fundamental idea for that was like, for John is like, well, if you can be all that you could be in America, you become an assassin, like because then you're you can be morally ambiguous, right? You can be amoral, you make a ton of money, you're your own boss, like what does America churn out as people like? Well, they turn out assassins who end up really lonely and isolated, like, that's what but you know, I'm not saying that's my perspective, then my perspective was like, that is one version of what kind of human being comes out of American culture, right? And that very specific point of view. And so all that, and so then all the ridiculous hypocrisy is of that, and all the funny things that flow from that, like a really erotic character, and all those things, that was just something that I could I could express, you know, simply present to you today. And at that time, it was just a funny way to approach an antihero, right. So, you know, and I was convicted. So then when people said, Oh, well, you know, he can only killed is a good example, I think, you know, he can only kill good, you can only kill bad people. But that was like a rule that was trying to be imposed upon us. And we resisted it, because we're like, no, that's, like, only failing that people that's a American hero. Like, he is a murderer, he doesn't kill the bad people, he's he's a freelancer, he gets paid on people, he, he in fact, is deliberately taking a position that he doesn't care. What kind of person he's killing is it's his job to kill them. And so, you know, that was something that we felt strongly about, that we fought for constantly. And that helped shape but the tone of the movie was so. So I think that, you know, I would tell young filmmaker to have confidence that that thing that is, you know, waking you up every day and driving you to go and get made is the thing that you are the authority of and that you and that's what you'd have to offer. And that's a strength that's not you know, you know, you know, I think when you walk into rooms, you know, it's not you sure you're you're asking people to pay attention and you're asking people to, to look at your work and embrace you, but at the same time, you're the one who has something to offer something that we haven't seen before. And that's what keeps you know, our creative industry happening
Alex Ferrari 1:08:46
Steve Pink 1:08:47
That would be my that would be my rant. Um, if they make it this far in the podcast, they'll get it maybe you want to put that as a side clip. Never get to this point in the podcasts.
Alex Ferrari 1:08:59
I've done three and a half the record is three and a half hours so you're still way you're good, you're good. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?
Steve Pink 1:09:12
Lesson that took me longest to learn patience, you know, I am patients with myself, you know, patients, even with my ideas, patients with everything, you know, and I'm even try to be patient when I'm shooting, you know, like, I'll you know, the first frame of any particular day I'm shooting, you know, that in the very first setup of any given day, I have to remind myself to be patient, like it's not going to happen instantly, you know, be patient I have to see what happens in the frame. You know, we have to we have to create the thing that we are here to create, and it's not just going to happen and you can't be impatient, so I feel like even so you have to have patience on every level, whether it's shooting, whether it's a day shoot or hoping your movie gets financed or being patient that, you know, your that a good idea is going to come to you, you know, and you're not a complete failure who has no good ideas and should have never been in the movie business. Like you need so that I would say that's what I that I need to learn in life. And certainly in my career and I'm, I'm, I'm getting better at
Alex Ferrari 1:10:19
And three of your favorite films of all time.
Steve Pink 1:10:22
I mean, you know, that's the question. Everyone's like, what I mean, I'll just keep rattling off
Alex Ferrari 1:10:27
Three, just three that comes to mind right now at this moment.
Steve Pink 1:10:31
They Shoot Horses, Don't They? Sydney Pollack's first film. Herald in law Maude. Mal asked me and wow, I mean, cuz I only get three huh? Pulp Fiction.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:50
That's all very good choices, sir. Steve man, it's been a pleasure talking to you, brother. Congrats on all your success. And I wish you the best with your new film the wheel. And thank you for making us laugh over these over these years, man. I appreciate you man. Thanks again.
Steve Pink 1:11:04
Yeah, man. Thanks. My pleasure and Congratulations. This is a great podcast and I'm glad that you're doing it.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.
Please subscribe and leave a rating or review by going to BPS Podcast
Want to advertise on this show? Visit Bulletproofscreenwriting.tv/Sponsors