Thomas Jane is a prolific actor, director, and producer, with extensive credits including the series The Expanse and Hung, and the features The Punisher, 61, The Predator and Boogie Nights. Jane recently starred in in the hit thriller The Vanished, and his film Run Hide Fight world premiered at the 77th Venice Film Festival. Jane will next be seen in the anticipated drama series Troppo for IMDb TV/Amazon, based on the bestselling novel by Candice Fox, which he is also executive producing via his Renegade Entertainment banner.
Jane founded the production company Renegade Entertainment with Courtney Lauren Penn in 2019. Since its inception, Renegade has produced the soon to be released features Murder at Yellowstone City, starring Jane, Gabriel Byrne, and Isaiah Mustafa; Dig, starring Jane, Emile Hirsch, and Harlow Jane; The Last Son, starring Jane, Sam Worthington and Colson Baker; and Slayers, starring Jane, Abigail Breslin and Malin Akerman.
Among their projects in development, Renegade is producing a comic series The Lycan, continuing the Malone franchise with a sequel to the cult fan favorite Give ‘em Hell Malone, and producing an adaptation of Stephen King’s From a Buick 8, marking the fourth collaboration between Jane and King, following 1922, Dreamcatcher, and The Mist.
Jane is a writer and director, directing one of the first-ever natively shot films in 3D, the noir thriller Dark Country, as well as the celebrated season 5 episode “Mother” of his hit series The Expanse. He founded the graphic novel company RAW Studios in 2011.
Thomas recently opened up his new production company Renegade Entertainment.
Thomas Jane and Courtney Lauren Penn’s Renegade Entertainment has been prolific since launching late in 2019. Since the start of the pandemic the company has completed production on Murder at Emigrant Gulch, starring Gabriel Byrne, Isaiah Mustafa, and Thomas Jane; Dig, starring Thomas Jane, Harlow Jane, and Emile Hirsch; The Last Son, starring Thomas Jane, Sam Worthington, and Colson Baker; and Slayers, starring Abigail Breslin, Thomas Jane, and Malin Akerman.
Renegade is in production on their first scripted series Troppo, based on the bestselling novel by Candice Fox. Among their projects in development, Renegade is producing a comic series The Lycan, continuing the Malone franchise with a sequel to the cult fan favorite Give ‘em Hell Malone, and producing an adaptation of Stephen King’s From a Buick 8, marking the fourth collaboration between Jane and King, following 1922, The Mist, and Dreamcatcher.
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Thomas Jane 0:00
I started on my first experience on set was as an extra. In Oh, Renzo llamas movie, we're talking about like the 1980s 80, something like that.
Alex Ferrari 0:14
This episode is brought to you by Indie Film Hustle TV, the world's first streaming service dedicated to filmmakers, screenwriters, and content creators. Learn more at indiefilmhustle.tv. I'd like to welcome to the show, Thomas Jane how you doin Thomas?
Thomas Jane 0:29
Hey, good to see ya!
Alex Ferrari 0:33
Good to see you too, my friend. I'm excited to have you on the show. I've been a fan of yours, my friend from back back back back in the day. So I appreciate you coming on. And I'm excited to talk to you about your new projects and the new stuff that you're doing in the world. But before we get into all of that, yeah, why in God's green earth? Did you want to get into this insane business?
Thomas Jane 0:53
Wow, there's a question. Why did I want to? I think it's a kind of businesses sort of like, you don't really have a choice. I mean, I think if you could do anything else, coming up as a young actor, anybody in my acting classes that had a plan B, you know, whether it was managing a restaurant or going to night school to be an accountant, that's what they ended up doing. So one of the first things I learned was no plan B. Gosh,
Alex Ferrari 1:25
You burn that you burn the ships, you burn the ships at the shore.
Thomas Jane 1:29
You got to I mean, otherwise, you're gonna there are nights when you lay awake in bed at night, staring at the ceiling and going, Why the hell am I here? And what the hell did I think I was doing? There are those nights, you know? And if you've got that, you know, escape hatch sooner or later, you're gonna get weak and take it. So yes, you gotta burn the ships, man. There's no way out.
Alex Ferrari 1:52
So let me ask you a question that I mean, look, as an actor, I'm always fascinated by, you know, when I'm when I'm directing, and I'm doing a casting, I try to be as kind as I can to actors, but they get rejected 99% of the time, especially when they're coming up, if not 100% of the time when they're coming up. How did you deal with rejection coming up? And yeah, how did you just keep going and grinding every day? When there there was nothing on the horizon that said, if you stick with this, you're gonna make it.
Thomas Jane 2:22
Yeah, you know, how did you do? There's only one way to do it. And that's to love what you do. I started a little theatre company here in Los Angeles and the bad part of town on heliotrope and Melrose, we rent it out in literally a store space. And we called it the space and we built our own, we got our, our seats from some abandoned theater, and we built the tears and I think it sat 49 people. And we built our stage and put up some lights. And we started directing, acting, writing, even I did a one act play there that I wrote. And you get a group of guys together that just really love it, you know, and we of course, we're all doing it for free, you know, tickets were negligible, if not free, you know, and you get all your buddies to come on one weekend, and the second weekend, there'll be three people and one of them will be asleep. And the audience sorry. I've had I've had I've been there. Yeah. But if you love what you do, and it's like, Well, where can I do this and even if I have to invent my own place to do it, and that leads to friends and some other guys got to another theater and really that's I did a lot of theater in LA and you don't want to don't think of La as a theater town. But there's, there's a little bit going on. There's a great theater called the Odyssey down in Laguna Beach. That's a union theater, I did a I did a play there with Sherry North who used to be called the Smart Marilyn Monroe back in the day. And and I just kept I kept that up. I haven't done theater in a long time because I've been busy doing this but I'd love to get back to it. So the question and the answer is love what you do and if you love what you do, you'll find a way to do it and it doesn't really matter. And you know, I ultimately said to myself, you know, it doesn't really matter if I never get paid for this. I love to do it. You got to I love what it does and I love to watch it you know I love to go to theI I became an usher at a theater in Century City just so I could go and watch the play every night you know and watch the different changes and how it was the same but different every night. I was a bad Usher because I was kept watching the play instead of showing people to their seats, but
Alex Ferrari 4:47
Other than ushering so so you when you get your first gig as a paid actor on a movie or a TV show, what was that like just going on the set for the first time I'm knowing that you're gonna remember some lines and even it could have been just one line, but just be just being there. What was that like for you and and did you throw up? Did you have impostor syndrome, all that kind of stuff.
Thomas Jane 5:13
All of the above it's a new experience for sure. But you know, I started on my first experience on set was as an extra. In a Lorenzo Lamas movie, we're talking about like the 1980s. It was late 80s, something like that. And I played soccer in the background of some scene that they were shooting, right? And watch watching Lorenzo Lamas do is he had this towel and he would puff up his biceps before each shot, you know, and I was like, well, that's interesting. And just watching the crew watching the people is all new to me, I had no idea what anybody's job was, but they sure were busy. And then at the end of the day, you line up to the, at the, at this makeshift table where they would hand out your paycheck. And when I when I got over there, they packed up and gone. So you know, I was I was only supposed to get like 40 bucks or something. But that 40 bucks meant a lot that pissed me off. So I like doing productions where people actually pay the people that work and respect the different jobs that people do. You know, then I started getting I guess, maybe it was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, where it was like a real movie. And I and I had a few I had a scene with Luke, Luke Perry. And I played this garage mechanic and he's kind of crazy. And that was really my first experience of getting into the makeup trailer. And you being thrown through the works and the process and the onset and doing your scene and the coverage and all that and yeah, it's it's exhilarating and terrifying and fascinating and everything you'd think it would be I remember, Luke was in his makeup trailer and he was talking to his agents on the phone. And they were arguing because he had this what do you call it jazz button. He had this little
Alex Ferrari 7:21
Flavor savor the flavor savor
Thomas Jane 7:24
That it was clean shaven except for that. And he was who was arguing with the producers and the agent about whether or not he was going to keep it or shave it off the horse. They wanted him to shave it off. He ended up keeping.
Alex Ferrari 7:38
Yeah, it was funny because I because I knew the I knew Fran the director of Buffy years ago, I hung out with her and she would tell me stories about what it was like being on that set and running. And I think it was their second movie or something like that. And it was a studio movie and people Oh, and Luke Perry was like, at the height of his power. I think he was the star of that, you know, even though was Christie's you know, she was the Buffy but I mean, people don't understand. Yeah, you mean I lived in Orlando. I mean, actually, I lived in Florida. When that mall that he went to go visit there was a riot. And like people oh my gosh, yeah, I was I drove by that that they were like what's going on over here? I was living in Fort Lauderdale at the time. And it was, so people didn't understand how big of a start it was back then. So that must have been a hell of an experience just being around that.
Thomas Jane 8:29
I met a lot of people on that set, David Arquette. Paul Reubens go friends today.
Alex Ferrari 8:38
It was a great day. It was a great group of people that film. Now speaking of some films, I mean, you've worked with a couple of good directors just a couple over the years. You've had the pleasure of working with like Terrence Malick and BT Anderson and John Woo. Did you learn any lessons from a filmmaking that you brought into your directing into your producing years later? Or just as an actor? What are some lessons you learned from some of these great filmmakers?
Thomas Jane 9:03
Always, you know, they all got different styles, I learned that I learned that there is no one one way to do it. And I always paying attention because I do love directing and producing and, and I've always been headed in that direction. Once you get a little experience, you know, I feel like I have something to offer and avoid some of the some of the pitfalls that I've fallen into in the past and I've seen people fall into it's really nice. It's neat to it's an oral tradition, you know that there is no you can read some books, but there's only one way to really learn how how it happens and that is to do it and you're in your learning hand to mouth you're learning sorry, mouth to ear. It's people teaching other people how to do it and that process for acting has gone back 2000 years for filming. Thinking it's gone back 100 years more. But you've got an it's technicians and artists teaching other technicians and artists. And so I love that. That tradition, you know, there's no other way to learn it except for to be there and to learn it from people who learned it from somebody else. From as far as those guys, you know, I love Terry Malik's style, it was very open, he was very open to the environment and to what the actors were doing and, and, and he would be able to shift he was fluid. He was extremely fluid in the way that he what he wanted, he would change his mind. I was I had this scene on a hill. It was one scene and he'd asked me to be in the movies three times before and I was busy doing other stuff. And they finally I was free. And so I flew all the way over there. I flew with Mickey work. And we had to take like three planes. He kept getting lost. And I felt like I was kind of babysit. He hate he hates flying, apparently. So I was kind of taking care of Mickey and then I went over and I got to watch Mickey. So of course, I wasn't working. But Mickey was doing his stuff one day, and I showed up and all day long. Watch Terry. And Mickey and Mickey was doing improv at improv all day beautiful monologue. Gorgeous work didn't end up in the film. But my scene did. And I tell you, we started at dawn. And we shot the scene. And then throughout the day, there'd be cloud cover, and he'd shoot the scene. And then there'd be sunshine. And he'd shoot the scene. I knew just enough at that time to be able to ask him like, how are you going to cut this together? You've you were shooting in the sun. We're shooting in the shade. You've got us at dawn, how is any of this going to match and he said, You know what? I'm shooting I'm covering the scene so that I can take all of the cloud cover shots and put the scene together. And I'll have or I can take all the sunset sun shine sunshine shots and put those together. Or I can have a shot at dusk and dawn, I can have a magic hour scene because that way I can put the scene anywhere in the film that I like because it's a kind of a standalone, standalone little scene, so it's not really connected to any other part of the story. I thought that okay, that's kind of brilliant. And then halfway through the day, he disappeared for like three hours. It him and John told just ran off. And we're so he's sitting around for three hours. He finally comes strolling back, I go, Hey, where are you been? And, and he said, Oh, I saw some beautiful butterflies. Over there. And we were we were cats. We were filming them. Anyway, we're we're we?
Alex Ferrari 13:04
He literally just went off to chase some some butterflies. Oh my god. That's literally literally literally, it's it's
Thomas Jane 13:15
Yeah, I've learned a lot from different folks. John Liu John Liu. He actually he had a funny way because this was a movie he was shooting in America yet American Crew he was out of his element. He wasn't with his normal guys doing a John Woo movie, he was doing a Hollywood movie hired because he's John Woo. John, who was very smart, he speaks fluent English. But during the show, he pretended that he didn't speak any English. So when the producers are trying to talk to him, he'd be like, Ah, what's his what are they say? And then you have this interpreter, and the interpreter would be trying to explain. And so he had this out, he built this out for himself where he just did whatever the hell he wanted. And if the producers got upset, be like, sorry, he was just a misunderstanding. John doesn't speak English. You know, we're doing the best we can. And I thought, That's pretty clever.
Alex Ferrari 14:12
Did you know but did you know on set that he didn't speak English?
Thomas Jane 14:16
I know, I watched him and I watched all the interpreting and all this stuff and and he had his little Chinese group around him that were very protective. And, and it was I was able to, to, somebody told me, somebody told me at the end of the day, I was made friends with somebody who's on John's team, and he told me the straight the real deal.
Alex Ferrari 14:39
Oh my god. That's that's, that's because John I mean, watching to him. It's a famous face off if I'm not mistaken. Correct. So yeah, a classic John Woo film, and then need to make a sequel of it as soon as humanly possible. There was a lot of I mean, he's just one of those directors. You know, he he rewrote how action movies were made after he came.
Thomas Jane 14:59
That's right we sure did everything is everything's never the same after the bullet ballet.
Alex Ferrari 15:06
Oh my god after hard boiled and hard boiled and the other one he did the killer. Just
Thomas Jane 15:13
Alex Ferrari 15:14
Oh, he was
Thomas Jane 15:18
What a face. You know, we didn't have to do anything. It was just one of those faces. It's like to share a Mfume, you know, you just get fascinated by this guy. I'm watching. I've watched all the current salad stuff, but it turns out, buffoon. I did more movies with this Japanese director called a Naki. I think it's called an Aki. And he did more movies with this guy in Japan. But those movies never really made it outside of Japan. They were very Japanese. And his work with this, this guy is just as good as Curacao in a different in a different way. But have you seen the samurai trilogy?
Alex Ferrari 16:04
Yeah, I remember the samurai trilogy. Yeah. Oh, it's amazing.
Thomas Jane 16:07
I just watched that recently. I hadn't seen it. That is it's like a six hour movie divided up into three films. It's on criterion is Criterion Collection. Yeah. And you've got it's the story of Musashi, who was this the most famous samurai. And it's sort of his journey from being this ruffian this kid is Wild Child kid to being a real samurai. And then his journey along the way, and it took six hours to tell the story it, it's now up in my top five, I love the way he shouldn't so simply done. And I love those older films where they just hang on a shot, you know, it's they're not doing all these cuts. And when they cut into a close up, it's me, it means something, you're like, Whoa, they would let a whole scene play out just in just in the Master, you know, and the actors would be choreograph. So they'd be moving, I love that kind of work. And I'm just hoping that, that I can do some of that kind of work and that people don't get bored. You know, I think that we need, I think it's desensitizing all of the all of the television cutting that's sort of permeating our world right now, and has been for years and years. But now it's now it's been sort of sunk into, it's like, everything has become it. You know, there used to be a difference between television editing and movie editing. Now, yeah. And now you've got pretty much everything's TV. And I think somebody maybe me is going to is going to turn that on its head again, where we just let it play. Because the actors are damn interesting. The story is interesting, I can see everybody, I see what they're doing. You know, if you got a wide shot or a medium shot, I see all the expressions on your face, I pick it up. And I think that we need as an audience. And as we move through time and society, we need things to kind of wake us up a little bit, you know, you have to break out of the pattern a little bit in order to wake people back up to the power and the glory of cinematic storytelling.
Alex Ferrari 18:14
Now, when you're working as an actor, what do you look for in a director? You know, how do you like to be directed? What is that? Those elements that when you're thinking about doing a project, you're like, This is not going to work out because we're not going to mix here. I really am looking, this guy doesn't know what he's doing. This girl doesn't know what she's like. You could say, I'm assuming at this point, you can sense this as a third, as a sixth sense. Now, it's a what is that thing that you're looking for in a director?
Thomas Jane 18:39
Oh, you know, I can take care of myself now. So I used to want a director who could really who was going to get the best performance out of me, I found that those are few and far between. It's just sort of becoming a lost art. We're directors really understand there's a few of them out there. But as far as working with actors, I got that covered. I can take care of my performance. What I'm what I'm hoping and looking for is can you take care of your directing. So I like if somebody comes to me with storyboards and says, This is how I'm going to shoot this, this is my vision for this thing. And if they don't say anything, you're like, well, you're just going to show up and make it up on the day, which unfortunately, I have, you know, work we've all worked with. And so I'll figure it out. And by the way that can work. That's
Alex Ferrari 19:32
If Ridley Scott shows up and says, Hey, we're just going to figure it out on the day.
Thomas Jane 19:36
Right, you trust that but and then that can work but I like an I like a director to be prepared and to have a point of view and to involve me in that story. You know, how are we going to tell that? How can I help you tell the story that you want to tell? So but I'm being folded into a grander picture. not just showing up and you know, we'll make it up on the day, it's it's what you're looking for is a vision, you're also looking for a sensitivity to the acting, you know, you don't have to direct it most some of the best directors I've worked with don't say anything, they don't direct you. Their direction is extremely minimal, you know, things like a little bit faster can mean the world in a scene. Generally, directors want to say as little as possible to their actors, but to know that you're being taken care of means to be know that you're being watched to your, they're paying attention, they're intently focused on what you're doing, and they see everything. So a director comes up after a taking goes, that pause you took before you picked up that that fork. Fantastic, and then walk away. So I'm being able to piece together what's working and what's not working with little comments like that.
Alex Ferrari 21:07
Yeah, cuz when you get it because I've, I've been on set with very insecure directors and insecure directors are yellers. And, and they're trying to, you know, boast their ego and all this kind of stuff. And I've always found that the quieter the director, the more secure they are, it's the quiet ones that you really, yeah, they just with one word faster, more intense than those couple words. That's
Thomas Jane 21:31
If a good director has done his job. By the time you get to set the movies already made. You're just executing the motions and all the all the crew knows what to do. Everybody, there's little adjustments to make throughout the day. But they've there's been production meetings that have been very thorough, and everybody knows exactly what's required on that day. And what the scene is about, you know, like Lumet said, is like, I sit everybody down, and we all have to be making the same movie, you know, and that's the conversation during production meetings is what kind of movie are we making, because you can make any kind of movie you can take a script and turn it into, you can take the darkest film and turn it into a comedy or vice versa. It's the page is really is a skeleton, you know, no matter how good the script is, you're looking at a skeleton that can be interpreted and built in many different ways. So if you've got a group of 20, artists, you know, they're all going to kind of have their own proclivities and ideas and stuff. And if you just let them run, you're gonna get 20 You're gonna get a Frankenstein movie. But if you're able to coalesce and everybody's making the same film, and then when they come to set, and they have a question, you can remind them and say, No, that's not the movie. And so you're now you're just nudging people onto the path, as opposed to just, you know, running well, there's 20 different ways we could get to town, you know?
Alex Ferrari 23:04
Exactly now you know, being an actor of your caliber, and, and being in the business for as long as you have, I'm imagining that you get pitched projects all the time, from filmmakers from producers, who want you to be a part of their show, or be part of their movie or something along those lines, knock on wood, knock on wood that keeps happening, right, and you deserve it. Because you are you've have you've built a hell of a career for yourself and done some amazing work. But, you know, being in the indie space, and you know, now you're you're working a lot independent projects as well, that are, you know, outside of the $300 million studio system, though you do those every once in a while as well.
Thomas Jane 23:42
I really enjoy the indie space, I really do.
Alex Ferrari 23:45
What is what is the proper way that someone could put a package together to entice an actor of your caliber? Like what elements should be in place? What elements shouldn't be placed? Don't do this, do this. Because there's so many, like, I consult constantly independent filmmakers, and they'll just do the, you know, ignorant things that they just don't understand. Like, you can't reach out to Thomas without some money in place. That's step one. I don't care how beautiful the script might be. His agents are not going to even look at it unless there's verifiable funds, things like that. So So yeah, what are some of the things, some tips you can give some filmmakers out there?
Thomas Jane 24:27
Well, it all starts with the script. You know, obviously, you've got to have a script that's going to be attractive. For and there's a number of different ways. There's an endless amount of ways you can pull that off, but you got to have a script that's attractive. You got to have a script that's meaningful to actors. The most important things like you said is that the film is set up or there's financing that is ready to be in place. You know, most financiers will say, Okay, I'll commit to making this movie if you bring me Thomas Jane. So you know, so you can you there's a meeting in the middle where you know, so you don't. So you don't necessarily have to be fully financed, but you have to have the means to be financed, you have to so it really is a director, you're always you're starting with the money, you know, you need your producers and you need your money. And in that way, you can start to build your package, you know, I think everything's becoming a package these days, you it's, it's about who you're pairing with. So when you're crafting your script, make sure you have more than one good part. Because the guys who are able to get a whole movie financed, they've got old scripts lined up around the block of waiting, waiting for them, they can pick any movie they want, you know, and so those, that's, that's not a good route, I mean, you're going to get in line, it's going to be three blocks down that way. But if you put a pack, if you have a film and a script, you put it together, and you've got a number of different neat parts. And they could be just a two day part, you know, a really fun part that's, that works for two days, those work really well. And that's how you're, you're able to attract an actor I won't read, it's there's just too much stuff, you know, I just don't have time to read stuff that doesn't have any financing, or nobody's looked at it. However, as a producer, now we've started a company called Renegade, and troppo, our TV show for Amazon is our first as our first projects really exciting. And that we do read scripts, you know, we read script, we're looking for great scripts, so that we can then take it out to the financiers and, and start to put that together. So that's sort of your first stop, the first step would be Renegade.
Alex Ferrari 27:01
Obviously send it into my production company, which is Yeah, which is, which is, which is very, very cool of you to like, you've launched this new company, and you're doing some really cool projects with the, with the company as well. And you're taking kind of more control as an actor over the work that you're doing. So you're not just you know, gun for hire, you're actually trying to put this out there.
Thomas Jane 27:22
And I'm also and also not everything that we do have to be starring Thomas Jane, you know, so it's not a Thomas Jane production company. It's a real production company, we started in 2019. So we're just getting started, because then the pandemic hit right away, right, one of the first things we grabbed was Stephen King's from a Buick eight. I know, I saw that really exciting. So many people have tried to crack it as a film, John Carpenter can't remember the other names, but a lot of people have come on and tried to nail that down as a, but it's really it's too long form, it needs to be a mini series. So we've got some really good partners in place to create, turn that into a mini series. And that's one of the things we've gotten then in the trapo book came across our desks, that was one of the first things that come around. So looking for books, looking for projects, looking for material, that's the fun, that's really fun, you know, like, oh, this could be and then shepherding that material in a way that so that it doesn't get compromised or damaged along the way, which, which is probably the toughest job in Hollywood, you know, besides writing, writing, the script is the toughest job. second toughest job is being able to take a decent piece of material and shepherded from A to Z, without completely altering it so that it's unrecognizable. Or, you know, twisting it in a way that it turns into something that is not what you intended, or what you fell in love with at the beginning.
Alex Ferrari 28:53
But as you as a you know, someone who's shepherding a project like that You are the protector of the material. That's right, You are the protector of the material, and you have to be a strong guardian. And a lot of times filmmakers get you know, producers will come in or the studio will come in or someone else will start pushing it around to the point where you've lost control of it. And now you've you've not You're not protecting it anymore.
Thomas Jane 29:18
There's so many different ways that things can go off the rails and you need to make decisions that do change things a bit, especially if you're going from a book to the screen From Page to Screen, you need to make adjustments you know, and the adjustments that you make. You have to always keep in the forefront of your mind, does this serve the core of this project? Or is it compromising it in some way? And then there will be compromises, you know,
Alex Ferrari 29:48
Every day, every day of every second there's a compromise. The whole the whole filmmaking process is compromised.
Thomas Jane 29:54
It's making the right compromises and then it's it's making compromises that In turn, protect the thing that you love the best about it, right? So identifying that and being able to, when you make those compromises, make sure that they're still serving what you love about the project in some way, you know, so you can you can, there are certain things that you can lose, and still not compromise your project, there are certain things that you can change, and you've ruined it.
Alex Ferrari 30:27
Oh, one little one little thing, you lifting that fork a little too fast, the whole gone off the rails? Well,
Thomas Jane 30:33
I mean, the scene might go off the rails?
Alex Ferrari 30:36
No, no, but you know, it's like a butterfly flaps its wings. And there's, there's, you know, an avalanche somewhere.
Thomas Jane 30:42
The thing we're getting as a reverberation and you know, comes from experience, knowing what kind of compromises you can make and how and what and what and what you're protecting what you can't compromise.
Alex Ferrari 30:55
Now, as far as that package you were talking about before, I mean, verifiable funds, or at least being able to verify those funds. How important to you is the creative packaging team, like the producers involved? The director, if it's a first time director, you know, because I know a lot of a lot of actors who just won't work with first time directors, because they just don't have the time to to take that risk on their either their career or their time or any of that stuff. So how born? How important is that team? And also, I mean, obviously, your co stars, who you're going to be working with, and so on. And I'm asking these questions, because a lot of filmmakers out there listening, don't understand the realities of what it really takes to get a film off the ground, especially in today's world. So I want to, I wanted to come straight from the horse's mouth, if you will,
Thomas Jane 31:36
Well, if you're a first time director, I would start small, find a project that you can make that your calling card, you know, don't go try to get a bunch of big actors in your first time move, it's getting rarer and rarer. And for a reason, you're right, we don't have the time, and we just don't want to take the risk. I mean, the chances are, your movie is gonna be pretty flawed, if you're a first time director, you know. And that's, that's just the way it is. But if you're making a film, that you can't now it's so easy, you know, if that you can put together that that's your calling card. And if somebody shows me that and goes, Hey, check this out. Hopefully not a short but a short, you can't, you can still get an idea of of, of what a director is capable of through a short. And you know, there might be some tight if I had a really fantastic script, and I had a great short, and the part was great, then then I might take that risk. But if one of those three isn't there, I just don't have time, you know, starting small as a director, you know, so that you can create something that's exciting. And for you, and then you know, and then the producers will be able to go around town and say, Look, man, this guy made this in six days, imagine what it'll do if we give him 18. Know, and that becomes a selling point. But as far as what, what would you like to know?
Alex Ferrari 33:09
So I mean, what you just said like those three elements like great script, great part, great short film is an anomaly. It happens once in a blue moon. And then also there's personalities aspects, the the almost the, like, can I sit in a room with this? Or can I be on a set with this person? For 1218 hours, sometimes depending on the project? Yeah. And yeah, those are those elements as well about what entices an actor like yourself to be part of a project. And again, I'm just trying to really hammer home to filmmakers who are listening that this is this is the reality, because I hear it every day, Thomas every day, I hear filmmakers who like hey, you know who's going to be perfect for this? It's going to be Thomas J. And I'm like, okay, great. What do you have? And they're like, I've got this script. What have you done? Nothing? What do you have any money? Almost, I almost money's gonna drop a minute. Do you have verifiable funds? Do you have a qualified investor now? Okay, do you have an agent? I don't have an agent yet. Do you have a lawyer? We're looking for one. But you see, but this is the delusion of a lot of independent filmmakers because they're ignorant to the process. And that's what my show is all about is trying to really guide them through the process so I can at least cut a couple years off of their their learning lessons. And that wastes two years trying to get to your agent trying to get a script to your agent and then getting angry. I'm like, oh, Hollywood doesn't understand my genius.
Thomas Jane 34:32
That script you want to put that in a drawer and then you want to make the one that's going to get you in the door? You know? We really is you know it's Show and Tell around here there's you know, people talk bullshit all day long and peep some people are really good at it. Some people may have been career at it.
Alex Ferrari 34:51
I've met the same people sir.
Thomas Jane 34:53
So but if you you know if you can do it, if you can do it once you can do it again. You you can make it, you start with a financing, you know, start with. And that I guess, you know, in a lot of ways, the producing part really is tough. Because finding somebody who can recognize what a good script is, or recognize what a talented director is, and I think that's one of the frustrations of people starting out, it's, you know, it's like, if only they knew how, how brilliant I am. It's show us show us, show us, you know, it's show and tell. And, and that can be a short film. But you know, if you could, if you can put together an, you know, in in what's great about its doing something like that is, it could be a half hour long, it could be 45 minutes long, an hour, an hour and five minutes, you know, you're not beholden to any kind of rules, except for making something really damn interesting. Now holding somebody's attention on a really low budget thing for an hour is miraculous. No, no, there's no question for half an hour, it's miraculous, if you're gonna make sure keep it under 10 minutes, you know, and those rules are made to be broken. But, you know, if I see a short, you know, and it's 45 minutes long, Oh, watch some of it. But the chances are really small that I'll get through the whole thing.
Alex Ferrari 36:22
Right, exactly. Because 45 minutes short, I'm like, Just keep going.
Thomas Jane 36:26
But you need a combination. You can't just make a brilliant short film and show it you got to have you need that combination, you know, and yeah, and I think building your team early is good, you know, find ways to hook up with really talented writers young, because the young writers when I was coming up, I was fortunate enough to find some really talented writers who are now making livings a screenplay, but we were living hand to mouth. But we love what we did. So we would get together at night after our day jobs, and we'd spend three, four hours writing together, you know, developing stuff, and that really, those scripts, if I look back at them today, they're not very good. But they're, but there's moments of brilliance in them, you know, and that, and that's how you kind of cut your teeth. That's how I cut my teeth was, and I did short films, I gotta tell you, I wish somebody would dig these up, I did film for UCLA, USC, I would go and I would audition and you know, these graduate filmmakers, directors, they needed to make their thesis film. And it was usually a short. And I did like four or five of them. And had a great time, you know, and met met all kinds of wonderful people. And, and but really, you know, we were cutting our teeth. So I did short films I wrote with young writers who they're not expecting to get paid. You know, they, they're, they love it to their learning to they want to do it. And then, you know, if you're lucky enough, you'll find you'll meet some really interesting young producers. And then making those connections is great, but cutting your teeth on an actual project that everybody's just doing because they need to do it, I think is the most important thing.
Alex Ferrari 38:19
Yeah, you've got to you actually, it's one of those. This is an art form that needs to be up. If you've got a paint paint, you want to play music, play music, you can't just talk about it so much or intellectualize it into
Thomas Jane 38:33
Its mouth to its mouth to ear, man. That's the only way to do it.
Alex Ferrari 38:37
Yeah, until you're on set and trapnell is being tossed at you literally and figuratively, sometimes. Yeah, you learn you'll learn on the first day when you're directing and you're losing the light. And you've got three pages left. And
Thomas Jane 38:54
Nobody's coming back tomorrow.
Alex Ferrari 38:57
And we lose the location at six. That's right. That's the stuff they don't teach you at school
Thomas Jane 39:03
Thinking on your feet.
Alex Ferrari 39:04
Then you're like, Okay, how can I cover this? In the next 15 minutes? I'm not going to lose the scene. And I can say.
Thomas Jane 39:09
Or how can how can I rewrite it so that I get the grasp of what's being done. And then a lot of times, that'll turn out better than your three minutes seeing?
Alex Ferrari 39:17
Right! I always love I always love going on set, especially with when I'm working with the first ad the first time I come in, and I'll have a shot list of like 100 shots for the day. And he's like, you know, we're not going to get them like absolutely no, we're not gonna get to this, but I want them there. In case things are going well. Or maybe I can switch here, but I'd like to have that there. So just in that experience, because because the first time I went on set with that list, I expected to do all of it
Thomas Jane 39:41
And knew Oh, yeah, you're like, Well, why not?
Alex Ferrari 39:44
Why can't we do 200 setups and eight so this behind the scenes documentary of Tarantino, I think it worked out fine.
Thomas Jane 39:58
Are your guys just starting out, Are they young professionals and they're trying to the ground there, it's a bunch of different people?
Alex Ferrari 40:06
It's from the it's from the newbie who doesn't understand that the things we've discussed all the way to the experienced directors who have worked and worked on projects been in the business for 1520 years, but still might not understand the producing side of things and how to package how to package a project.
Thomas Jane 40:24
If there's like a secret language to producing even I am still learning about the ins and outs of this secret language that they've got, you know, obviously, they've got little lists, you know, and if the actors aren't on the list, and they're every actor is worth a certain amount of money this week, and there'll be worth a certain amount of money next week, and that kind of fluctuates. And then if you put certain actors in combination together, then that gets you it really, it's a financial puzzle that the producers put together so that they don't take a bath, when they make your movie, you know, since they want to have us a floor, they want to have a concrete floor, that they're not going to fall beneath and just disappear forever. They need they need that insurance. And that comes through who you got in your movie. And, you know, I think one of the big hurdles, like I said, is finding a producer who really understands what the potential of your project is. Because those producers are the guys that are going to be able to go out there and talk to the financiers, and figure out different models. And there's several different ways to skin the cat. Which way is best at this time and place with this script with this cast. So there's a lot of different elements, and it takes years to figure out this producing stuff. But But beyond but that anybody can figure that out, that's math, what the magic sauce is, is being able to recognize a really good script, you know that that has the potential to make a really good film in a way that we haven't seen 99 times people why they make all these sequels and why or what's all these remakes, because it's already been proven to work. Nobody wants to take a step outside the formula. Because then you're in no man's land, you're in the unknown, you know, you're like you don't you can't pull up the list of numbers and say, well, this movie did this. And this movie did that this was released on Labor Day, and it did this. So there's all kinds of numbers surrounding that what's not surrounding is when you come up with something unique enough that it becomes an unknown, then, you know, you really you need to fall back on you're these are the actors I've got, these are the parts that are that are available. You know, generally men mean more than women in this crazy business, you know that I still don't understand that one. But somehow it's still a thing, you know, where a male movie star will bring more financing to a project than a female movie star. In most cases. That's strange to me, but part of the bit, it's just math, it's like insurance companies. And other like, we don't care, it's you know, there's been this many people die in car accidents on this road. Therefore, if you want, you know, if you want to drive on it, this is what you got to pay. So,
Alex Ferrari 43:16
And those those rules, by the way, change daily, they change daily, these little,
Thomas Jane 43:20
Not constantly fluid, in the end, the producers who are tuned in, are monitoring those fluctuations all the time, you know, and then where you can shoot monitors, then you get your rebates, you know, everybody would go to Louisiana because you'd get this great rebate. You go to Georgia, that's why Walking Dead and all these other things shoot in Georgia, they get a tax rebate, but that's when I was shooting hunting for HBO. We go to Detroit for a couple of weeks. We got this great rebate, but then you know they they've played fast and loose with their eBay money and it dried up. So now you don't go to Detroit anymore. Now you go to New Jersey. It's always fluctuate.
Alex Ferrari 44:03
No, it's and you know, another thing I discovered, I worked on a project where there was a name actor who they brought on, and then But then the filmmaker was working with them. And it's in the finance the project. But then by the time the movie came out, that actor had diluted his value for the year. And there was 12 other movie viewing too many movies. He did 12 other movies that year. That's a lot. That's a lot of movies. And then he went out to the district and he completely valued his name. So then then the filmmaker who that was was his that was his game. He went to distributors and like I really got three of his movies this year. I'm like,
Thomas Jane 44:42
You don't want to do that.
Alex Ferrari 44:44
As an actor, you I'm assuming you think about this as well as an actor. You're like, I can't be everything because
Thomas Jane 44:50
You can't flood the market with too much product. It's supply and demand. But some years are different than others. You know, one year you know, you're like I've got pay off this this debt, you know, I've got so I've got to do it and that but you know that then you're probably going to not work the next year for a while you want to keep that supply and demand going, you also want to be you can't work too little. Because then you know, then you're like, well, we don't know what your value is, because the last movie you had came out five years ago, it's a totally different business. Now, I don't know, you, then you're a wildcard and people don't really want to invest in that. But I think as an actor, one of the things that I've think that I hope that I've found some success in is choosing projects, you know, if what, what I like, what I hope for is that the projects that I do are at least going to be interesting, there's going to be it's not going to be some shady script, you know, and by the way, I've done it. But hopefully not a lot, you know, like maybe once or twice, I've done a script where I was like God, I really, I really need to pay the rent, you know, this month, I don't go do it. But and this is the only thing that's come across the table. And by the way, thank God that it did come across the table so I can hang on to my house, that's great. But you want to have the taste, to be able to choose good projects, at least they're good on page, they have a great script, they have an interesting director, some cool people are in it, who knows what it's going to turn into. But I choose projects based on the script and the people involved. But it's got to be something that's going to be fun for me to play and for you to watch. Because that I can take control of for the most part. I can have fun in a part that I'm having fun playing and I can make it enjoyable for you to watch. Everything else might suck. But that I can pretty much get get across the line. You know, the editor might fuck it up, the director might be up there becomes unrecognizable, but at least it starts out where that was a fun part and fun to watch.
Alex Ferrari 47:12
Yeah, and there was a good friend of mine who's an actor. He's like, Alex, sometimes I gotta take alimony movies. I called alimony movies is like I know they suck. They're horrible. I leave town when they get released. But I got to do what I
Thomas Jane 47:26
Got to do many of those you know exactly. What as Robert Duvall said, you know, he said one for the art, one for the condo.
Alex Ferrari 47:35
Great quote. That's amazing. Now I do have to ask you about a little short film you made called The Punisher dirty laundry. Which I mean, by the way, I loved your Punisher. I loved the way you play the character I you know, you are so amazing in that film. And when I saw the the short come out, I'm like, well, the cool level of Thomas Jane just went up because he made a just a short film a fan film almost. How did that come out? How did you get involved with that? How did that even get made?
Thomas Jane 48:07
I wasn't fully satisfied with the Punisher film that I did. Only because I had a vision, the vision that I had of the Punisher was slightly different than the slightly comic book version that we ended up doing. And I'm proud of that film. And it's got a lot of fans. And so I'm not taking anything away from the movie. And Jonathan Hensley did a great job. You know, it was I think it was his first directing was really successful writer of blockbuster films. And he wrote this and they gave him the chance to direct it. He gave it everything I had, I gave it everything I had. So there's a lot to be said for the film, but it is more of the character. I felt there was more to that character. There was an I wanted. So I was laying around one day, and I came up with that story. I was like, God, you know, and somebody had said something to me at a lunch or something, you know, they said, you know, you just need something to dine out on, you know, you need something that people are talking about this week. And you down out on it. Somebody call it hey, let me take you to lunch, you know, and I thought, all right, well, if I did a short film, and I came up with a story, I thought it was great. I had I was Chad St. John's a wonderful writer was a buddy of mine at the time, went to his wedding. And we were trying to get different projects off the ground at the time. And he had this terse, wonderful Walter Hill kind of style of writing, absolutely loved. So I called him up and I said, Hey, I've got this outline. You know, this is my, my thing. I want to make it a 10 minutes. And he wrote it. He wrote it in a weekend. And then I went to Phil's ronto who I would who I had worked with on a on a He Blumhouse movie. And I said, I asked him because Phil did a lot of commercials probably still does a lot of commercials. So he had any shot in town a lot. So he had crew that depended on him to for their livelihood. So, and Phil, of course, fantech state of grace. I mean, he's just a fantastic talent. And I thought that's a great combination. And then I put and then I went into another buddy, and who was a producer, and I said, you know, this, this won't cost us very much, because Phil is going to pull in a favor from his crew, you know, on a weekend, he's going to pull in favors for him, we got our crew together, we got our special effects together, we got the whole damn thing together, it all came together. And, and you know, and I put it, that was sort of my first foray into producing and making projects happen. And from that led to renegade my company. So I'm proud of that one. Very proud of it.
Alex Ferrari 51:09
It's it was such a fun, fun, fun short to watch. Now, tell me about your new project troppo.
Thomas Jane 51:16
Troppo. So troppo means it's an Australian slang word for going crazy in the tropical heat. Like, when you go up North Australia north, the more North it gets, the hotter it gets in Australia, because it's upside down. And then northern most you go, the hotter it gets, just until it just gets tough humidity. And so people literally lose their mind up there. And so they've got a word for it. It's called going troppo. You know, when you tear your clothes off and run down in the middle of the street yelling like Tarzan, you've gotten trapo. And I thought was a great title. It's not the title of the book, the title of the book is called Crimson lake. And it's by Candice Fox. She's a fantastic writer out of Sydney. James Patterson tapped her to co write some books. So that's how good she is. If you if you're into the mystery novels, Candice Fox is what definitely one to look up. The the second one is called redemption point, those two and then there's a third one, too. Those are great, great mystery books really nicely done. Why? Because they're all about character. Anybody can sort of put together a kind of a mystery. Well, not anybody. But mysteries are one thing that you can engineer. The thing that I think separates a good mystery from a great one is the characters. And that the mystery is ultimately about solving some mystery within yourself. You know, those are the kind of character driven material that I'm looking for, especially with Renegade. So we've got this. We've got this great book. And we this is about two years ago. And we went through the process of developing it. And you know, this, this was brought to us by a company, an Australian company, and they were interested in doing a CO production. And so those building pieces, building blocks were already in place, we came on more of the creative end, working with the showrunner working with the creative producers, protecting the material, making sure that that what I loved and what we loved about the novel actually made it onto the screen. And for the most part, we were successful. The show opened in Australia two months ago and did very well. And the most gratifying thing is that the fans of Candice Fox in Australia, love the show. So we didn't fuck it up. That that was good. That was really good to hear. And now it's a matter of how the American audiences will respond to it. The only one of the changes we made was she wrote, she's an Australian writer writing out of Sydney. And all of her characters in the novel were Australian, and the lead character is this guy, Ted Caffee. He's a disgraced cop. He's, he's a good detective accused of a horrible crime. And I was interested in what does the detective do he he seeks the truth. He's a truth seeker. If he's good at it, he needs to seek the truth. Right? He's passionate about it the way I'm passionate about acting the way you're passionate about directing. This guy is passionate about seeking the truth. And that passion, that truth seeking thing, that inability to leave something alone that you have to sneak in there and find out what's going on is what led to him getting accused of this horrible crime. You know, if he had just left well enough alone, it would have just been another day, but because he He's a truth seeker. It ruined his life. So the core of that is, you know, what happens when the thing that I do best the thing that I am, ruins my life. You know, that was fascinating to me. And I add in the other lead character is Amanda. So they've got these two leads, and they couldn't be she is this young 20 Something shaved head tattooed, badass, crazy person who just got out of prison, she spent a decade in prison for killing her best friend in high school. So she's, you know, this, these are not two people that were going to be hanging out together in a bar at all. But because and she got out of prison, and then went back to the town where she committed the murder and open up a detective agency. But she doesn't know how to be a detective. She hasn't done the first fucking thing about it. So she figures she sees me and knows that I am an ex detective. And she figures Well, this this guy, this is what I need. And they start this uneasy relationship, you know, and the only reason Ted takes the gig if he doesn't take the gig. Don't get me wrong. He's like, alright, I'll do this once. I'll go ask these quick, but that's it. He's constantly trying to get out of it. But the thing that keeps pulling him back in is that glimmer of hope you know that because he's a truth seeker. He says that glimmer of being able to do what he does best. So really neat story, great characters.
Alex Ferrari 56:37
And where's it going to be in it's going to be played on for is a freebie, Amazon?
Thomas Jane 56:40
Yeah, if you go to Amazon, and then I think there'll be a banner for free D free, which used to be the IMDB TV app. Okay. And now they changed the name to free anyway, there'll be a banner on top of Amazon troppo. find on Amazon.
Alex Ferrari 56:58
Now I'm gonna ask you a few questions. Ask all of my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?
Thomas Jane 57:06
Alex Ferrari 57:09
You know what, that advice has been said on the show many times.
Thomas Jane 57:14
Not too far from the truth. You want to be a filmmaker? Well, what you do is you make films. Don't wait around for somebody to hand you a bunch of money. A lot of folks out there are waiting around for somebody to handle a bunch of money a lot. I would even say maybe most great. If you want to put the pedal to the metal put your money where your mouth is, you know, you got an Coppola said this years ago I remember Coppola giving a great speech about in this was right at the dawn of cell phones. You know, right at the dawn, I think I think it was the iPhone one that just come out. And he goes, you got one of these. You got no excuses. I mean, he was blown away by the technology. And he's right. I mean, there's a great film called tangerine all shot on the jungle. Shaun Baker Soderbergh shot on the iPhone. Look, you got no excuse you want to make if you're a filmmaker, where's your film? Where's your film?
Alex Ferrari 58:16
If you're a painter, where's your painting?
Thomas Jane 58:18
There it is. And, and it doesn't even have you know, you don't even need actors. I mean, one of the greatest movies I've seen in a long time was called the bear.
Alex Ferrari 58:28
Oh, it was oh my god, the 89. I remember very well. Oh,
Thomas Jane 58:33
It's a French film. It is it is a bear. It's about a bear and a baby bear. And it's their adventures through the wild. It's absolutely gorgeous. You know, you should be able to tell a story with rocks with smiley faces on it. You know, I'm not kidding. It's great. To be able to tell a compelling story with the motion and everything you want to get across using sock puppets. Okay, so there's no excuse. There's there's never never an excuse, you know, and it's fun. The challenge of it is amazing. And then you know, and then you got the puzzle. How am I going to come up with something that people want to watch and that people maybe haven't seen before? Or how am I going to come up with something that they have seen before but I'm gonna do it better than anybody else. It's just a potpourri of Delights out there right now and you can all you can do it with just whatever's in your house, you know, the computer, the phone races and it's fun. There's a really neat lens that came out a couple of years ago that say 235 it's so it's so and you've slipped You slip it onto your iPhone Have you seen that?
Alex Ferrari 59:49
Oh, it's amazing.
Thomas Jane 59:51
It's really well done it's it's not cheap. And it's well grabbed the lens is really well ground and I'll give you that widescreen form Add on your phone. That's amazing. Yeah, I had fun playing with that for a long time.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:05
And two last questions. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?
Thomas Jane 1:00:11
Oh my god. What are hard lessons to learn? You know? I guess one of the hardest lessons to learn is that I'm good enough.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:23
That's been that the exact answer has been said multiple times on this on the show.
Thomas Jane 1:00:27
Well, it's true. You know, and, as an actor, I gotta tell you, it took me a long time to become an actor that that I would want to watch. You know, that I had problems, I had problems. Being in front of the camera, I had problems being on set, I was nervous. I was, I had the imposter syndrome, I had a real difficulty calming down enough so that I could concentrate enough and relax so that I could do what I wanted to do. Because I be great in my bathroom. And rehearse and yeah, a lot, you know, and I knew the character that I wanted to bring the life and if it wasn't, wasn't coming out, you know, it's like, that is not what I saw when I was laying on my couch daydreaming about what this part was, you know, or doing my research. And it took me a long time to be able to relax. And, and, you know, and part of that is sort of a you know what, this is what I got, you know, and that is liberating.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:35
And last question three of your favorite films of all time.
Thomas Jane 1:01:40
Oh, my gosh, three of my favorite films
Alex Ferrari 1:01:43
That come to mind today.
Thomas Jane 1:01:45
Oh, come on, right. come to mind today. Well, I've got to mention the samurai films right now. So that counts is why samurai one, two and three. There you go. I call that one movie. No. Now you're gonna have me kicking myself later on. Okay, here's a great film you should check out last of silence. heard of that one?
Alex Ferrari 1:02:08
No, I've not.
Thomas Jane 1:02:09
It's an old I'm a real big fan of Noir. This is a late Noir. Who the low budget low budget if you guys are if you guys are all filmmakers out there, you gotta check out blast to silence. I don't I think this guy maybe directed one or two things. And I can't remember his name, unfortunately. But black and white, early 60s. So late noir period, crime movie, called the blast of cyber just blast of silence. I think even criterion might have put that out. We'll look for it. All right, there's there's two, right? And let's see number three. You know, I mean, the movie that has stayed with me and changed my life, and made me want to change my life was alien. Alien changed. I was eight years old. Right? And I always say I think I've said this in 100 interviews. But but but people ask me and so that's the truth. But I was eight years old, my folks, you know, they didn't have money for babysitters. So they drag us kids. My sister was only five. But that movie made a huge impression on me. I got the booklet. My dad made my dad by me, the guy used to hand sell these books, and it was full of information and pictures. I took that to school and I told all my buddies, we're not going to see alien, you know, their parents, we're not taking them the alien. I acted out the whole movie for all my friends over and over again. And that was the beginning.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:50
Thomas, it's been an absolute honor and privilege talking to you, my friend. Thank you so much for entertaining us for all these years. And I'm so looking forward to seeing all the new projects you do with Renegade and the stuff that you're doing in the future. My friend, thank you again. And thank you for being so honest and raw, and forthcoming about all this information. Hopefully, it's gonna help some filmmakers out there. So I appreciate you my friend.
Thomas Jane 1:04:09
So buddy, it was great talking to you. Thank you. Thanks for having me.
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