I can’t be more excited about the conversation I’m about to share with you. Today on the show we have filmmaker and indie film legend Albert Hughes. Albert, along with his brother Allen began making movies at age 12, but their formal film education began their freshman year of high school when Allen took a TV production class. They soon made the short film The Drive-By and people began to take notice.
After high school Albert began taking classes at LACC Film School: two shorts established the twins’ reputation as innovative filmmakers. Albert and his brother then began directing music videos for a little-known rapper named Tupac Shakur.
These videos lead to directing their breakout hit Menace II Society (1993), which made its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival and grossed nearly 10 times as much as its $3 million budget.
Albert followed up that success with Dead Presidents (1995).
On the streets, they call cash dead presidents. And that’s just what a Vietnam veteran (Larenz Tate) is after when he returns home from the war only to find himself drawn into a life of crime. With the aid of his fellow vets, he plans the ultimate heist — a daring robbery of an armored car filled with unmarked U.S. currency!
Albert continued displaying his highly stylized and visual filmmaking with From Hell (2001) starring Johnny Depp and The Book of Eli (2010) starring Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Gary Olman.
The Book of Eli has the distinction of being the first studio feature film shot on the RED Camera. In the example below, you can see how Albert pushed the camera to its limits with the ground-breaking color grade he gave the film.
Most recently Albert brought to the screen the epic film Alpha (2018). The project was shot on the Arri ALEXA 65 for a truly larger-than-life experience.
An epic coming-of-age adventure set in the last Ice Age. A young boy becomes unlikely allies with a lone wolf, enduring countless dangers and overwhelming odds to survive the harsh wilderness and find their way home before the deadly winter arrives.
My conversation with Albert was EPIC. We began the episode aiming for our standard 60-90 min run time but we were having such a good time talking shop we just kept going. The final episode clocks in around 3 hours and it was, by far, one of the best times I have ever had on the Indie Film Hustle Podcast.
Two filmmakers talking shop and telling stories. We discuss his public beef with Tupac, his rise after the breakout success of Menace II Society, how he navigated the shark-infested waters of Hollywood, working on big-budget studio films, his creative process and Albert even throws in a story about how he stood up to Harvey Weinstein while the disgusting predator was still a power-player in the business.
Do yourself a favor and listen to the entire episode. There are knowledge bombs drop throughout!
Enjoy my EPIC conversation with Albert Hughes.
Right-click here to download the MP3
- Albert Hughes – IMDB
- From Hell
- The Book of Eli
- Dead Presidents
- Menace II Society
- Alpha (4K UHD)
- Criterion Collection – Man Bites Dog
- Bulletproof Script Coverage– Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
- Audible– Get a Free Screenwriting Audiobook
Alex Ferrari 0:00
I would like to welcome Albert Hughes to the show. Thank you so much for being on the show, brother.
Albert Hughes 0:20
Oh, you're welcome. Um, thank you for having me this excuse my Corona beard if you're doing a video. Dude, everybody's got one now even the ladies,
Alex Ferrari 0:29
The ladies, my my Corona haircut. That's why That's why I have my COVID haircut. That's why I have my hat on all the time. Man, thank you so much for being on the show. I've been a fan of yours, man since since the since the 90s. Man since you came out with menace to society. You know, you were in that group of, you know, I'm a 90s. Kid, you and I are pretty much the same vintage as far as age is concerned. So you know, what I want to get into how you started and everything. But there was that moment in time man that early 90s. I call it the like the Sundance time. And like every the independent independent film as we know it today started in the 90s. Not the 80s Independence or the 70. But the 90s independent film, as we know it today started in the 90s. And you were in that crew. You were in that Rodriguez and, and Spike and singleton and Ed burns and you know, Linkletter and Kevin Smith, that whole group, there was like every week, it almost felt like there was a new million dollar deal,
Albert Hughes 1:28
Tarantino, came out then
Alex Ferrari 1:29
Yeah, who's that I never heard of him?. But yeah, all those guys came out around that time. And it was it was such a magical time for filmmakers. Because men it literally felt like every month, there was like an El Mariachi story or a minister society or a Boys in the Hood, or you know, or clerks. It was a crazy time, man. So you know, well, let's, before we get into them, how did you get into the business? How did you get started? Because you start off young. You started off young.
Albert Hughes 1:57
Yeah, I mean, in hindsight, looking back on it, you know, how old are you? Actually?
Alex Ferrari 2:01
I'm 46. So you're 48? Right. Okay.
Albert Hughes 2:04
Yeah. 48 about to turn 49
Alex Ferrari 2:06
Were similar vintage.
Albert Hughes 2:10
Yeah, exactly. The wine is released the same five years. It's, it's weird. When you look back in your, your 40s you look back at your early years, and you go, wow, you know, it could seem like a struggle. I could see like, it happened quick, or whatever you may think but we literally had like, overnight success. Looking back on it, you know, I mean, at 18 doing music videos, at 19 doing music videos, and then a 20 doing a movie, you know, and we were we were so anxious to like, prove ourselves. And our mother would constantly you know, be on us about like, Why do you keep comparing? Why do you guys keep comparing yourself to someone like Martin Scorsese? Don't you realize that man, it's 50 years old. He's had a life. And you know, you can't put that pressure on yourself. Right? So when I look back at how it all began, it basically was like, you know, it started with our mother giving us a video camera, which is a, you know, well known story about us at age 12. And we were just fooling around with it and making shows for ourselves. And then eventually, when we got in high school, we were doing public access kind of stuff, you know, it was mostly comedy. You know, and we did kind of like an in a living color before and limit color was out of like a comedy sketch show. I'd play a wine on my brother would play this or that you know, and then and then somewhere around the 11th grade I don't know if you want the longer short answer I can give you you know, it all started
Alex Ferrari 3:36
However you would like sir.
Albert Hughes 3:38
Okay. Oh, you can cut me off when you want. You're the host oh, by the way, you get that Yoda in the background. I got a baby Yoda up there on my TV.
Alex Ferrari 3:47
Nice. Well played, sir. Well, I have a game all the way in the back. I got my baby. My baby Yoda like underneath the hulk and the wolverine. He's very little I haven't I can't bring myself to bring like the the life size Yoda in the house because I already got the baby. Oh, no, because I already got a life size. Yo,
Albert Hughes 4:06
I'm good. Yeah, that's the life size Yoda. Yeah, that's a cool, cool space. You got there. Thank you, brother. Anyways, um, we were we were in the 11th grade. And, you know, we both got girls knocked up and pregnant. You know, our high school years were kind of whatever. And I decided to drop out and go to film school. LA City College, basically. Right. And I had this master plan of like going to UCLA or USC film school, and all I had to do was a couple years in a community college. Good See, see average and then I can transfer I have this weird plan. Anyways, by the time I got to film school, my brother had joined me because he was in love with the mother of his kid. And I was 18 surrounded by like, you know, 15 year old people, 30 year old people 40 year old people because it's community college right and and they had a pretty good film film program and I will just pumping out these like Super Eight short But by then I was so advanced, I didn't know the technology the term or you know, bow. But I do remember the day that the first project was the teacher said, go out and shoot a wide shot a close up a Dutch till. So I took my cam camera, I borrowed from a friend's father's super a camera, the black and white roll of film and went out with my brother and shot this process that came back and projected it to to my brother, and you know, halfway through it, he goes, What the fuck is this? I go, What do you mean, he goes, this look that we've been after our whole life. What is this, I said, this is filmed. It's a chemical process. That shit we've been doing is video. That's why we were doing comedy. And from that day forward, we basically were doing drama, right. So I did, I did one short, my first show was called menace to society to society. But it wasn't the movie that eventually it became it was like a chasing, you know about a guy coming out of the bank with money and getting shot and chasing the guy that shot him. And that was my brother. And then I did another film called The drive by, right. And at that time, maybe getting too much into the weeds here. You know, digital editing ever, wasn't even, there's nothing around flatbed still nothing. No flatbed and Herbig Spicers, like the little Super Eight film and reel to reel stuff. And I was frustrated in my first project that it was so slow, because I was used to doing tape to tape at the Public Access place, you know? So I told my teacher, you know, this was frustrating that basically was saying the future is not this. This is 100 year old technology. He's like, Well, Albert, you know, you can you can edit it at your public access place, tape the tape if you want. But if it's considered one of the better films of the year, we're not guaranteeing we're going to screen it at the end of the year because we project so it Okay, so I wouldn't get it on video. It ended up being the best film of the year. And that in that class, and they rolled in the TV set, sure enough, showed that
Alex Ferrari 6:59
Lesson to all the children out there just do you do it. Do you?
Albert Hughes 7:04
Do you? Exactly. There's a lot of stuff detailed and get into there. But what happened was those films were integral to getting us into the business basically. Right. So it first first was music videos, which we never wanted to do. Really, we love music video, but we wanted to be filmmakers, right. So at this key moment, I had my second film called The drive by one of my older friends in class, he was 45 years old, you know, right around your age. His name was Roberto, I think he was Cuban, too, by the way. And he said, Albert, you should come bring your film to my film party this weekend. Um, you know, it's one of the better phones. You know, I was so shy back then I'm like, whatever. Meanwhile, my brother and me show up to this party, show the film. And there's a crowd of people around and one of my classmates is a woman named Kelly was dating a guy who was the brother of Tamra Davis, who was a director at the time of music videos of hip hop music videos, eventually did see before and Happy Gilmore and stuff like that, right? This white one. So he was there, the brother camera day was was there because he was in a relationship with Kelly, who was in my my school. And they both came up to me and said, hey, you know, his sister, so and so you guys should hook up with her. She she can help you, you know, get into the business. I'm so shy at the time. I'm trying I'm just backing away from the conversation, right? My brother grabbed the guy Tom and puts him in a corner and just like give me your information now. Right? Has my brother not done that? I don't know that we would be in the business today. Had I not gone to that party and had my brother not done that. Right. But that was all very the kind of aha moment that that sparked everything basically. Right. So skip to a week later. Tamra Davis wants to meet us at Astro burger on parent you know, right right next to Paramount on Melrose. Yeah, we go there, you know, blonde lady, very kind of quiet, and she's there with this guy who must be her boyfriend. And he's not talking he just eaten french fries and ketchup is falling off his face. And she's telling us how to build a real and we should send it to these record companies and how to write a treatment all this stuff whose gaming given us game and we're so distracted by the guy because he's just ketchup is dropping everywhere. Like who the fuck is this guy? Right? Turns out that was Mike D from the Beastie Boys. And then they shortly married after they're after but we knew the Beastie Boys Well, we didn't recognize that as being Mikey would like who's this weirdo with cut to she has come over our house and she shows us how to make you know like the reels on VHS. And we start dropping them off at like delicious vinyl who you know they weren't paying anyone to us. You know Hollywood Records on the Disney lot. And that was another crucial story right there was at the time we were driving to the Disney lot and memorable Got to one of the biggest arguments in our in our lives. And I was saying this is a waste of time. Like, fuck this. I was so introverted and shy and not social that I didn't realize my brother was. He was a producer type. He was a hustler, right? He was like, No, we got to do this. And we're fighting. We're fighting. We drop off that tape at the Disney a lot on dopey line, right? The record company called wreck. And meanwhile at home, we're I think we're 18 years old, our mother's like, Yeah, but five applications at jobs every day, you got to get out of bed, when I come home, you got to be doing chores and all this crazy shit. And we were just be laying in bed all day. If a car pulled up, we jump up and act like we're doing something right. So one day, we're both in our separate bedrooms like napping, and I hear the phone ring a week or two after we dropped off the tape at Hollywood Records. And when the phone rang, and I heard my brother's voice, his disposition and how it went past five minutes. I said, that's our first job. I know it, I feel it. And it was it was basically like a spin off group from digital underground called Raw fusion. We had $30,000 to go up to Oakland and shoot this music video. Um, and that begin the career right there. Right. And then, you know, minutes came, we were developing that along and there's more kind of details on that. But that's the long and short of how we kind of crack in.
Alex Ferrari 11:21
So then, so then you're working with, you know, digital underground and that crew of people and anyone who doesn't know digital underground is please google it. But there was a unique there was a specific dude that was hanging around carrying some crates for digital underground back then. His name is to pack I think two pack knobs or two pack obviously.
Albert Hughes 11:44
He helped us and we helped him it was weird. It was like my brother tells the story much better than I do. But we were up there and you know, money b is the rapper and raw fusion. And he had his DJ named Dave a white guy. And our first day up there was let's go to they wanted to go to Waffle House. So we go to Waffle House. And you know some of the guys from digital and Agron are there, and there's Tupac. Tupac is not known at the time he doesn't have he has juice in the can, but it hasn't come out. Right. He has a record deal with Interscope but it hasn't come out. We just know that this guy's hilarious because he just cracking on everybody at the table playing that doesn't like just destroying people with his mouth, you know, and you know, from hit him up and records like that season. He's up. He's a master shit talker, right? He was like, Who is this dude? And we're just laughing at them. And then my brother tells the group like we're shooting tomorrow have him come? Because we don't want to put them in the intro the video. And if you look at the video, now it's on YouTube. It's called a rock fusion is the group. The track is called throw your hands in the air. The group come down the staircase, the duo in two pockets that sitting next to what's his name? Shachi. Right. And so he was in the video and and he's magnetic, you can see already leading to start, right. So we were on a break in the video. He says hey, here's brothers because that's what everybody call this, you know, he's both come over here. He's hanging out the front of this, this car. And he said listen to this track and he starts playing this track. He goes that's on my album. It's coming out on Interscope in a few months. And I would like y'all to do the music video. You know, we're in our first music video. And this guy's telling us he's gonna give us some music video. We didn't believe him like yeah, okay, cool. Whatever, right? Three weeks later, sure enough, we're doing his first music video. And we do his following music video and we do a third music video for him. And, and at the time. We did his first music video. Yeah, the first music video he we were all staying in a hotel in West Hollywood. And I may get this wrong because my brother disagrees with me. I remember we got invited me and my brother got invited to a an early screening of Jews on the Paramount lot. Right. Right. And, and and we invite you to park to come with us. Right? So we take him to see his own movie that he hasn't seen yet. And we watch this movie. And we're like, oh my god, this guy's incredible. Like his acting the way the camera loves him. And we'd already figured out some of that stuff. Right? We take it back to the hotel, he goes into this jealous rage about some other famous girl he was messing with. And he found out some other famous guy was messing with her. And he calls us down to his room and we go down to his room. And it was the first time that we've seen he shaved his hair in a drunken rage because he had stress marks, you know, clumps of hair missing. And that was also the first time we saw his dark side. You know, the jealousy, you know, the rage, the pettiness kind of stuff. But what happened after he saw juice was he transformed into that character up on the screen. And we slowly started see that happening over the course of our working relationship with him right.
Alex Ferrari 14:55
But he wasn't but he was I don't mean to drop you but he when he before that Before he saw that, he saw that image of himself. He was not. He was just just a smart
Albert Hughes 15:07
It was more along the lines of like a Chuck D or Charisse one, a very conscious rapper, and even if you see his early digital underground stuff, it was all Afro centric, right? Black Panther background, very well read and very intelligent, right? You can string together like words, you know, you'd have to look up at the source basically right? In what he did with the thug life stuff that most people don't know is that he created a persona. And he dumbed himself down just to go into the kind of gangster I wrote where he was just as fascinated with Eazy E as me and my brother work and NWA, who we were very close to easy at the time, he knew us before we made it. And he took us under his arm for like three months during the summer of 9091. And he knew we had a relationship with easy and he wanted easy to be in his first music video on easy kind of bullshit at us, didn't show up. But you could tell the early seeds of like he was fascinated more by gangsta rap. You know, he was fascinated by the conscious stuff, but he was really drawn to the game in the trigger was juice. You just saw that character. And he goes, I got it. You know, he didn't say that to us. That is our theory.
Alex Ferrari 16:17
Right right now, so So you guys do these music videos and you're getting some obviously you're starting to get a little heat. And for everybody listening, you know, it was the late 80s, early 90s That was a whole different world. Like if you were doing music videos, there wasn't a lot of people doing music videos, you know, there was nothing compared to today. Like what anybody with an iPhone is doing the music labels figure them out. Yeah, exactly. Now they're spitting them out. Like I remember when I was in Miami during those years, you know, I remember budgets of like 150 $200,000 for like, B and C level x, not like not like top level top level you talk a half mil mil now
Albert Hughes 16:58
Oh, David Fincher is lame. Oh yeah, I mean, he was he was he was he was like we you see a show you're like I'm on the gloves you know? Like
Alex Ferrari 17:08
Oh no Janie's Got a Gun. Oh my god. Yeah, me the keys making full epic movie. Oh,
Albert Hughes 17:15
Express yourself like all the Macdonald stuff all of George Michael stuff like, it was insane.
Alex Ferrari 17:20
No, no, if everyone listened and Fincher, man, I mean, like, I mean, that time I my buddy worked the propaganda and he used to send me Yeah, Fincher demo reels just before the internet. So I would just watch all of Fincher and Spike Jones and and Fuqua and all those guys. And it was both interviewed. He was Yeah, so I could imagine like, you're making Brenda's got a baby, which is an amazing music video. But then you got Fincher doing express yourself and like, how much like he he's built metropolis like,
Albert Hughes 17:48
Yeah, exactly. Robin was a bad, it's still going on with me nowadays, I always have an eye on him. Because I'm very technical. I like editing, I like shooting, you know, I do a lot of this in my off time. And I see what he's, he's doing. And I always keep my eye on him. Because he's a, he's a very, very, you know, extremely technical director, you know, and, for anybody that's trying to get into this business, trying to be a director or a filmmaker, it's like, you got to go the, you know, take, take a cue from Hitchcock or David Lean is like, the first thing is, get into the editing, learn how to edit, because if you learn how to edit, you're going to be a better filmmaker. You know, it's like sparring in boxing, you know, we don't spar, you're going to be shitting the ring, it's a bad analogy. But you know, if you don't do that one thing, you're never going to develop as quickly, you know, agreed, agreed. 100% Ventures mind is an editor. He's not really a physical editor, but he has the mind of an amateur.
Alex Ferrari 18:49
No question, no question at all. So So you now so you're doing these music videos, and now you're getting a little heat on you because it's the 90s and you're doing and there's a smaller pool of people. So you're getting attention lower? Yeah, there's no internet. There's like an A such weird thing to say. But like, there's no internet. There's no YouTube, there's no like, MTV is still MTV. And then you start getting some heat on you guys are developing Minister society. So then you for my understanding you, you got to set up over a new line. How did that whole? How did Minister society even come about?
Albert Hughes 19:21
What was interesting, it was like, my brother and I had an idea, you know, 15 that we wanted to do this kind of Hood story. But our perspective is we wanted to, you know, have it be told from the point of view of this, this kid that this got corrupted by you know, nature versus nurture, and he got corrupted by both, basically right. At the time that we we got to the age where we're about to start doing music videos. We were at a production company that we were assigned to called underdog film, which is a black owned film company in LA. And they were doing a music video for the Boys in the Hood soundtrack. We had some Boys in the Hood trailer and we're like, Oh, it's over. Somebody already beat us to it right? Um, we were in the production company at the time they, you know, they insert the clips into the music videos from the movie back then, you know, and and we they had two three quarter inch tapes, you know, the movie was split in two, and his closet room with a with a TV and a playback thing. And we decided after work one day, let's just go watch this thing to see what we're, before we give up on our dream, you know. So we watch it and halfway, we're just looking at each other going. This is really spoon fed, you know, this is kind of its weak compared to what we want to do, like stylistically and thematically it's not as potent as but we want to do. And at the same time we had saw James almost American meme, which blew our minds. Yes. And that actually made them actually made menace to society a harder movie, because we saw that we're like, oh, shit, we gotta, we gotta at least be we're that movie. So my brother took the lead in developing the script, while we were 18 Doing these music videos. And he would show me like 10 pages or 20 pages, you know, from our friend, Tiger Williams. And at the time, it was called rampage. Right? The script was called rampage. Nice. And there was no liquor liquor store opening, there was no video tape that was going throughout the movie. And at the time, I started experimenting with with marijuana, you know, we were late to marijuana, like we're 18 or 19. Again, I was really introverted, shy and socially awkward. So I started reading the script as more and more pages came in. And then I spoken when I went to my room, and I came back to my brother and tiger said, we need to have an opening scene that knocks people's socks off. Like they need to know when they see this opening scene, the rest of the movie. This is what you're in for, basically, right. And so I pitched them, the opening scene, not knowing that that would be a through line throughout the script, because I was the last thing we added, you know, before the script was complete. Now once we complete the script, we had two line producer friends from music videos. One guy was Ruben Mendoza. The other guy was Darren, who's our who ended up being the producer, I forget his last name, though. They're in Scott, who produced one of our two POC videos. Okay, so we hand them both my brother hands on both the script and so it's whoever can get it set up. You could be the producer, you know, naively thinking that that's producing works, it doesn't. We get an agent who then moves to CAA. We still haven't done anything yet, except for a few music videos. And she says, you know, new line, read your script. But they don't want to do that. I want you to go in and meet with them. They want to talk to you about last dragon part two. So on the way over to new line on our first meeting with an executive. My brother pulls up the car to a parking meter. He says, Listen, fuck that. We're not doing last right. In part two. We're gonna go out there and pick repitch menace. So we go into the office and do just that. Not knowing that an East Coast exec had read the script and loved it, which put pressure on the West Coast rep. Exec, right. And Bob Shea, who is the owner and founder of New Line, found out about the script. People were excited about it, and the wheels are starting to roll. And they he wanted he wanted to repeat the script on weekend read. And I think it was a Thursday or Friday, we got a call that you know, Bob Shea and everybody gonna read it this weekend. But he hears you guys did an episode of America's Most Wanted. And he saw your music videos, but he wants to see that episode of America's Most Wanted. And we're like, Fuck Korea is already over because we did his episode. And it was horribly acted, you know, some janky direction. And it was something that me and my friends, we would all just clown and we'd say line from it like it was it you know, it was we spooked it it was so bad. Right? Right, right. We just wow that daily, and we buried it deep inside our like, conscious like, whatever. Now Bob Shea wants to see this. Like we're at the kind of apex of us maybe making this business like it's over. So, come Monday, we said read it and he cried. And he wants to make the movie in obvious already sold on America's Most Wanted. So we got over that hump. And that's how that's how it started.
Alex Ferrari 24:21
That's awesome. And then I know, I know, from my research, I found out that you guys were gonna have to pocket it at one point. Right? And then it kind of
Albert Hughes 24:28
Yeah, he was he was actually casting in it. He was actually cast in it
Alex Ferrari 24:31
And then it kind of fell part.
Albert Hughes 24:33
Yeah, he was disruptive and casting no excuse me, um, rehearsal. And my brother had had, you know, a few confrontations over it. And you know, you know, this is before you know, the thing about Tupac to be fair is that he never He would never threatening when he was by himself. You know, he was a buck 50 We were about 200 at the time, right? And you know, contrary to popular You know, opinion of what happened between us. He buried a hatchet with us, you know, shortly before he died, but it never there would have never There was never a beat down by him or nothing like it was 15 Guys, you know. But my brother, my brother was ballsy with him, my brothers stood up to him. And you know, at a certain point when you confronted them, you said, you know, it looks like you, you want to know a lot. And my brother always gets a smile on his face when he knows something about to go down. And my brother has also confronted each and every one of our bullies in childhood at one point or another, he just stands up to him. So let's stop, right? So you saw some bullying going down? And he just like, oh, you tried to knuckle up. And my brother stood up, and two pops, like now call my manager. So my brother called his manager and said, I don't know what to do. You know, he's been very disruptive. We think part of the reason was disruptive is because he wasn't in a starring role at the time and he just come up with juice and he was doing Johnson he finished John Singleton's a poetic justice. And he just wasn't happy with the role that he accepted that he was was due, which was the Muslim role, which is a very small role, right? Bob Shea Numana told us that, you know, we need platinum rappers in the movie, Tupac wasn't necessarily a platinum rapper at the time, but we had too short and other people in the movie. So we were scared of losing a movie if we had a problem with Tupac in one way. But my brother knew that it was like a situation that could be resolved because he was so disruptive, partially because he didn't know his lines. Partially because he wanted all the attention on himself. Which a true star. That's how they are. And he's a true star. It deny that. So my brother had to go tell Bob Shea at Glengarry Glen Ross premiere. Wow, he goes to this premiere, Bob, we got a problem. And he tells him about this fire. And I was like, really? Will you allow us do that? He said, Yeah, probably call up the manager, yo, it's over. We got it. We got we got a movie to make. We can't be fucking around with this shit, right? It broken MTV News. And you know, it just became this wild story. But it wasn't it was It wasn't anything we would we would have done differently. The way my brother handled it, because again, he was more of a producer's social type back then he couldn't have handled it better. You know, the way to park responded to it was was not a good thing. You know. And we to this day, we make a project and we see something disruptive. You know, it's one thing I always tell young filmmakers, it's like, don't let the cancer grow. Whether it's a crew member, whether it's a cast member, a man, whether it's you, you know, if you let that cancer grow, it will fester in. Everything is perfect. In fact, everything, feel it in the crib.
Alex Ferrari 27:46
No, without question. And it could be something as simple as a first ad camera up and all the way to the left lower even I've even had me having had sound guys who just had such a bad attitude.
Albert Hughes 28:00
You know, I've had that I've had, I've had operators. Yeah, well, when I didn't know how to deal with it, like me and my brother both he was more vocal, but we would both bury it and basically let it fester. And then it would explode in a different way that's not healthy, you know? Right. And as I older up, and, you know, you'd learn how to be a leader of 150 people, you know, if you're paying attention, you learn how to be better at that, right. And, and what I've learned is like you you got a ball, you know, grow a pair of balls or fallopian tubes, whichever, and go corner, that person is go yo, what's up? Because if you fuck around, you're gone. Yeah. And then the person, you know, they're real dicks. They're gonna keep backing it up. And then you gotta make an example.
Alex Ferrari 28:45
I had a first day demon. Day one, he was older than me, obviously, a frustrated director started giving me crap. And I was paying him. I was the production company that's doing the TV show. And I'm like, after day one, I'm like, dude, I'll do this without you. Like I can. I can run my own set. I don't need you. And then after that,
Albert Hughes 29:05
You're talking about the age thing is something we ran into a lot.
Alex Ferrari 29:09
Oh, I'm sure yeah, of course, because you were like, especially back then, like nowadays, it's even a little bit more accepted. Because not every like, you know, if you're 20 something you could be directing Black Panther, you know, or, or something like that. Were back in the night and in that old school mentality, man was if you had a 45 year old or 50 year old and had 22 I'm working for a 21 year old director. Oh, man.
Albert Hughes 29:34
I mean, we there will be several occasions when we walk into setting grip to go here kid put that sandbag over there. Not knowing we were the director. Right and then that much of like, we're so sorry, we sit down like man, whatever we like young punks. Meaning movie. They were they were actors talking shit to us in our fourth movie, like this movie and shit. And they're gonna be shit. You guys aren't shit. Like we're like, fuck it.
Alex Ferrari 29:57
This is rough. I just want to tell stories.
Albert Hughes 30:00
Yeah, this is Rob. But the one thing we had was each other.
Alex Ferrari 30:05
Yeah, man, that must be awesome.
Albert Hughes 30:08
If it was just one of us, and you can pick that like that, and you don't have a partner to say, you know, compare notes, it would have been wrong, you know, and my brother was really grateful back, you know, for me, you know, because I was quite sensitive and, you know, inward and all that other stuff, you know, and it took me a while to grow into expressing myself and learning how to lead a crew and in doing the right thing, you know, and, you know, we also don't like screamers and yellers and tension. Yeah, we just don't We don't deal with that, you know, you know, we've had our little outbursts every once in a while, but we were usually going against other dickheads. You know, like, if there's a ticket, we can pull our dickhead card out to you know, and we also learned, we learned about ego in this business too, which is, you know, you hear stories about like, directors having an ego or an actor having an ego, and then you may meet that person that the story is out about, and you're like, oh, this person is actually a cool motherfucker, right? He's not the traditional horror story that you've heard about. And then we realize that that person probably use their ego to suppress another ego. So the horror story about them was about suppressing another ego that was out of control. Right? Which you you have to do sometimes, like, and I think that's the only time it's healthy to, in a collaborative sense. Use your ego is, you know, mine only comes out when I feel like somebody's acting out. And their talent level is not at the same level as their ego. You know, the skills of talent justice as a way of balance, and I'm like, this, my father right here, and he's good. Verbally smack, you know, and then my ego comes out, like, why are you wasting my time? You know, and that's a healthy way to use it, you know? I don't know. They're just all these little tricks you learn, you know, people and groups and, you know, group group think too, it's like, you know, a production is like an organism. It thinks in this one way, right? And it doesn't matter if you're Tom Cruise, or Tom Hanks, if they hate you, they hate you. Oh, yeah, they're not going to go they're not going to bend over backwards for you and go an extra hour for you. If they if they as a group think don't like you. You're done.
Alex Ferrari 32:22
Just as George Lucas in the original Star Wars, like they, they're like, Nope, it's t time. We don't care about your damn big gorilla thing over there.
Albert Hughes 32:33
And they always every all the American filmmakers are always quick to talk shit about the British. Yeah, those are some of the hardest workers on the planet. Give them their tea time. They don't one thing that don't do those Brett's it's they don't come to you pushing scripts on you and shit like that. They're like, well, you want the cabinet camera. gov, you know, and they, they're, they're specialists at their job. And I take pride in you know, the grip is going to be a grip, the operator company operator, right? They don't have ambition, delusions of ambitions beyond, you know, they're just they're professionals,
Alex Ferrari 33:01
Also yet another words. So you mean to tell me that occasionally, the grip will bust out a script that go, Hey, listen, man, I know I'm here to scripting.
Albert Hughes 33:08
Or, you know, the American one, the American way, of course,
Alex Ferrari 33:12
It's like that great movie Living in Oblivion, where the, where the DP is always walking around with a script in his back pocket, trying to try to cast the star of this.
Albert Hughes 33:22
Or the, I mean, the difference being an American actor, and a British actor who was an American actor will come up to you and say, you know, might be a bit player, he might just go or she may go, you know, I'm standing here on the street corner, and I'm looking at that window, whether I think, I think you should get a shot at a window, and then turn around and get a close up on me. And absolute mountain. Alright, and just walk away. Right? A British actor would never do that feature, say they know their lane. You know, it's one thing to be collaborative. And like, you know, my character, I think needs this or whatever, right? You're telling me which way to put my camera, we get a prop.
Alex Ferrari 33:58
It you trust me? I know that. But isn't it? Isn't it funny that everything we just talked about this is not a chapter in, in film school. Like this is not something that's talked about ever about the politics, it should be a course called the politics of the year. So right, you know, the politics of the set. Like, you know, being a younger being a younger director. I mean, I've had experiences where I've had older DPS. I'm sure you've had this two older DPS who come in and you're like, I want to move this camera over here. They're like, Nah, you know, you don't understand like, I'm gonna, and they'll fight you or Oh, yeah, or an established production designer. And they don't collaborate. They just push their egos out because they're 25 years in the business more than you. They don't talk about that stuff.
Albert Hughes 34:41
I've heard. It's interesting. Yeah. I think we should wallow in this for a second.
Alex Ferrari 34:45
Sure. Absolutely. This is gold Oh, yeah.
Albert Hughes 34:49
I wont name name's but there's a DP we work with the very experience. He's a dear friend of mine now, but we had a rough go on one movie, right? A guy a white man. I mean, you can go through the catalog and figure it out.
Alex Ferrari 35:00
I think I know who it is. I think I know who it is. I won't say that, but I think he would.
Albert Hughes 35:05
And he's a dear friend of mine. No, I love them. But we had a rough go. And it was, it was a territorial thing. It was a white man thing, you know, you know, hate to bring the race thing into it, right. And then I want to talk about something that backside about what you said, the politics of a crew. That's very important. And I would say, Okay, I want this wide shot. And by this time, I'm well established as firmly, you know, entrenched in the visual style of my movie with my brother, right? I design them top to bottom, I draw every shot right? There, there is no mistaking that I'm not handing off that baton. And I said, you know, I need this shot, because it will get me excited for the rest of the day. And he's like, No, I think it should be over here. So I let them have it the first day, right? And then he does something in front of a really big actor. We remember the resetting shot, and he kind of pushed aside he goes, that's what you guys think, well, here's what I think. And he puts his hands out and starts in the big, big accurate, take a step back and just watch us wait for what we do. And my brother is so bold, sometimes he just goes, that's what you're gonna do. Well, here's what we're gonna do. And steps out does that right? Meanwhile, I'm having like my costume designer, my production designer and a few other crew members come up to me like the second weekend, say, you those guys being very condescending to you. You realize that Albert said, Yeah, my chair. Another person comes up like, you know, you've been very nice. Yep, yep. So I go up to the guy. I said, come here. And this is when I learned to really check someone really, right away. I said, I have I ever brought ego to you, and said, No. I said, Have I have ever disrespected you? He said, No. I said, Well, why the fuck are you doing it to me? And he goes, Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't realize that I'll work and and I said, Yeah, you do that. And I walked away, right. And that day moving forward, you know, we had this weird relationship. And I understand, you know, part of it, you got to understand where they're coming from, and you know, and their insecurities or their egos or whatever it is, right. But what I learned in that particular movie, which started on from Hell was you got to get the crew on your side, forget about the DP for a second, right? I'm talking about the collective organism I was talking about. And the way you get them on your side is partly through. You know, it sounds manipulative, you know, it's not meant to be is that you have to be kind to them, you know, and you have too many eyes. And the biggest thing is, you actually literally have to touch them, you have to pat them on the shoulder, make contact with them, you know, let them know that you feel them. Right. Watch out for them. Make sure they're not being abused. Make sure they're not going over an hour's, which I don't like doing anyways. Right? And it's, it's, it's crazy what can happen if you just do a few things to make your crew like you. If they love you, that will do anything for you. You know, if you need that 16 They will do it for you. If they don't forget about it, but it was easy for me because I was drawing also into being more vulnerable and being more extroverted because of the job. And I love and I thrived off of like taking care of my crew. Because I knew if I took care of them, they would take care of me and they're in the end. They're taking care of your baby. And you don't want your babysitter just disgruntled.
Alex Ferrari 38:18
New do that. Imagine, imagine you piss off your babysitter's taking care of your babies as you walk out for dinner with your with your wife. Listen, bitch, I need you. And like and then take care of my kids by like,
Albert Hughes 38:32
You'd be like Hannah walk the cradle. Next thing you know your babysitter is breastfeeding your baby.
Alex Ferrari 38:37
Oh, kickin it old school at Hand That Rocks the Cradle reference. I like it. Y'all, yeah. Rebecca de Mornay I forgot who the guy was. But that was 1990 because I was working in a video store in 90 and that was one of the films I've learned through my my perfu there's like always so which one
Albert Hughes 39:01
Was your was it somebody else was the other who was the
Alex Ferrari 39:03
Albert Hughes 39:05
Okay, it was working tonight.
Alex Ferrari 39:07
Yeah, yeah, it is. Yeah, it was. Good movie. Man. That was a lot of fun. That was a good does a nice 90's movie.
Albert Hughes 39:13
Hey that was a Hollywood pictures movie.
Alex Ferrari 39:14
It was a Hollywood. It was a Hollywood pictures movie, man. She's like, like I said, there's like a certain frame like 87 And like, 93. I go toe to toe with anybody on on studio direct. When it came out?
Albert Hughes 39:30
Yeah, I mean, look at what Goodfellas was 90. Yeah, but developers 90 Yeah. Warner Brothers. 90. Yeah, yeah.
Alex Ferrari 39:37
Yeah. And that that that movie had a real big influence on you guys, right?
Albert Hughes 39:42
Yeah, I was in film school when it came out. And I strangely enough, you know, the girl I brought up earlier whose girlfriend boyfriend girlfriend with Tamra Davis. I went with her and a few other classmates. And I hated the movie at first like I was like, What the fuck is Scorsese doing because I was such a Scorsese fan from like all older stuff. Like this was unwieldy the cameras and I didn't realize what I was saying, until like a year later, I got on a video. And me and my brother and our friends, we were just like, you know, like everybody, you know, it was like, the second Scarface. We, we knew everything, and I learned and we learned so much from that movie. And you know, there would be no voiceover and menace. If it wasn't for Goodfellas. You know, that the the kind of techniques that we were using were directly grabbed from from that movie. And it was interesting. There was a I mean, it's always nice when you're coming up and you see like two of your favorite filmmakers talking about you. And there was a New Yorker piece between Woody Allen in Scorsese, in the early 90s. Like after we did menace and they're talking about us, and Woody Allen's like, the black kids, those black kids in LA, you know, those black kids. And Scorsese was like, Oh, you mean the Hughes brothers? He's like, Yeah, yeah. Well, you know, they did that movie. And you know, I think they were really influenced by you know, your movie, Goodfellas. And you can see it, it was all in the movie and what he was absolutely right, right. And Scorsese says, no, no, I don't see it at all. I think they did their own thing, basically, right? In Scorsese was wrong. He was just being modest.
Alex Ferrari 41:12
That's, that must be an amazing experience having Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese having a conversation about your film.
Albert Hughes 41:19
Oh, yeah. No, it was it was mind blowing. It was almost like, you know, my hero was always Scorsese coming up, you know, you know, from age 13 through 18, or 20. Like he was God, he still is, you know, yeah, um, but to see Woody Allen, who you love referring to you as the black guys out now laying like, you know, fuck off. We'll go further with your daughter. Keep your mouth shut, though.
Alex Ferrari 41:43
Exactly, exactly. So now minister, society comes out. And it's a hit. And people and it's critically acclaimed and makes money in the box office? How? Why don't you tell people in the 90s like we were talking about earlier, you were in that crop? You were you were in the early crop of the early 90s of all of these, you know, directors that came out during that time. How did the town treat you after that came out like it because I always love asking people when they have like a big hit. You know how the town reacts to them. So I'd love to hear those stories.
Albert Hughes 42:15
It's crazy. It's like, it's one thing you know, you're Cuban. I'm biracial. You know, you run into racism in Hollywood, right. But what we learned off of a successful movie, whether it's critical or financial, is that Hollywood actually doesn't see color. You making money. Only green only colors green. Oh, yeah. And then, you know, they'll see black after that. But if you put green in front of it, we were getting offered, like, you know, Batman and Superman, all the big studios are offering us like crazy movies that we knew we weren't capable of making. Like, at that time, we didn't have the skill set. We weren't really pop filmmakers, you know. And we never accepted those those kind of offers. We got generous offers, you know, so much so that we were like, it made us blush. Like, we just, I mean, we just did a move like one movie, like, they were keeping, you know, everything in us, you know, like, the label about tour, you know, all this stuff that
Alex Ferrari 43:10
It was the 90s to mid 90s. They were doing that stuff, man, like anybody had it was a little bit remote success. Like, you're like, Oh, I just made like a how much was how much was minus the budget?
Albert Hughes 43:22
Alex Ferrari 43:23
Right! So So 3.4 $3.5 million. Right? So oh, here, here's 100 million. Go do Batman like, That's insanity?
Albert Hughes 43:30
Yeah. No, we knew that. It would be the end of us. If we did it. I mean, I want to tell you about the Cisco neighbor moment. But first, I want to tell you about this agent who, who pulled us in a room one day. I think we're at ICM, and he was a big agent of time. He's like, Steven Seagal was big at the time. And you know, back then find me out paydays for directors weren't weren't that common. No. Steven Seagal wants to meet with you guys about his next movie. And we're like, no, absolutely not. No, no, you guys gotta take this seriously. Like, absolutely not. We're not We're not making a Steven Seagal movie. He's like, Well, what if I told you that we can pay you by me and my brother? And I'm like, no, because Are you guys crazy? You're gonna turn up I mean, like, yeah, we'll turn out 5 million because that will be the last 5 million we ever make. So we have to live off that for the rest of our life or our career will be over. We cannot we're not capable of making movie right? So those kind of things. And then if you roll back to before the movie came out, we are third day in shooting we said our career was over. We just didn't understand the nuance of a film day and how you know, ebbs and flows. And sometimes you win. Sometimes you lose, you know, it's a battle. If you win enough battles, if you want enough balance, you might have a good movie, right? When we thought the movie was was shit, we thought it was terrible when we get down with it, right? And then these early press screenings that are happening where they give you the blurbs from the press, and they're watching these dirty dupes and it was glowing with it. Fuck it's going on here. Like we think this is terrible. And next thing No, we're in Cannes Film Festival. We're walking down the promenade. And our publicist gives us a transcript of Siskel and Ebert. And they're going about the movie saying it's top 10 of the year. And we're reading the transcript as we're reading the transcript and we're our minds are blown because we remember them reviewing Scarface Oh, no, we watch this religiously, right? As we're reading it, there's a tap on our shoulder. And we turn around this Roger Ebert. He's like, Hey, you guys, I just wanted to meet you. It's okay. If I take a picture. And we're like, Yeah, sure. Let's go, you know, our minds are blown. Because the the, the thing that we haven't talked about it much when we do interviews, it's like, thinking that you have something that's not great. And then the response is, what you would hope for, is if you did something that you intended to do, basically, right, and, and how it took almost five years for it to sink in with us. Like what actually happened in that movie? What is it people are seeing, and I remember, I think three years after it was released, or four years after it was released, I had a new house and laserdisc collection and, you know, 35 inch screen back when they'll go popular. And that's let me just watch this and try to understand what happened. And then I put it in, and I was getting, like chills, and the only thing I could come away with as I go, Oh, it was a certain energy. Because that movie, you know, it was directed by 20 year olds acting 20 year olds acting in it, it was, you know, 20 something year old writing it. It was a youth Movie made by us, but you know, it, they were in it there behind the scenes, and there was just this weird, wild kind of naive energy, you know, not that that's what other people seeing it. But that's what I saw on it. And I said it was a an undeniable, you know, youthful exuberance, danger. You know, when you're young, you take stupid chances, you know, like those kids in the movie, the same thing as a filmmaker, you know, it's like, you're, you were talking about it earlier, before we got on it's like, you know, you don't know what you don't know. Oh, no. So you're like, Okay, we could do this, we could do that. And then, and partially, that's a really great thing. And then, as you said earlier, it's like, you know, you see these kids coming in, like, Ah,
Alex Ferrari 47:15
No, and this is the thing, and this is where the balance is with, with, you know, filmmakers who've been around for a bit is, you know, especially if you live in this town, you become cynical, and you're like, Oh, that can't be done, or that can't be done, or this can't be done. So you've got to balance reality with that complete naivete of the film, still, because I remember walking in film school for the first time, and going, Oh, I'm gonna do this Scorsese shot, I'm gonna do this Fincher shot, I'm like, and you but you don't even know how you're even going to get there. Where you can't see you can't be all the way over there. But you can't be all the way to that would never work, you'll never be able to get anything like you. You've got to balance that out. And that's really hard to do. But my job is I see my mission in life is to let filmmakers know, you're going to get punched in the face. Everyone gets punched in the face, you're not going to dodge it. We all everybody from Scorsese to Spielberg to Kubrick to lean everyone got punched, and you're going to get punched a lot. It's how you prepare yourself, how you take the punch and how you keep going. And maybe, maybe occasionally, you'll dodge a punch here there because that's experience. Is that fair.
Albert Hughes 48:22
So you're you're you're saying getting punched in the face. And it's like, you know, my analogy always to people I talk to about filmmaking is like, it's, it's a love hate relationship that I've always had with it right. And you wanted to get it to more love love, right. And if you use the example of being in relationship with a woman or a woman, being in a relationship with a man is like, you're gonna get your heart broken, of course, you are right, you're gonna have really, really low days, you're gonna have really, really high days to write. But if you learn how to take care of that partner, and you learn more about her, if you're a man, and you can do the vice versa for the female, what she needs what she requires to be taken care of, if she's a healthy person you're in a relationship with right, she will give back to you, right? You can't go into this as a mass mass but a masturbator filmmaker, a masturbatory that's what's the word masturbatory. I can say
Alex Ferrari 49:14
Yes it's not one we use every day.
Albert Hughes 49:16
Yeah, if you're, if you're like self pleasuring, and there's some filmmakers out there that do it. You see them all the time. Oh, my very Popper, makers, right? And you're like, This person doesn't give a shit about the audience. The audience is also your lover of filmmaking is your lover, right? And they're all kind of one in the same right? You have to please the audience. Okay? And you have to please the filmmaking gods or goddesses basically, right? In the Lord, the more you learn about your audience, and the more you learn about filmmaking, the more happy she will be. And you know, as they say, this old like, it's probably not a sexist statement, you know, happy wife happy life. Right? That that's my bad analogy. Basically, it's like you know, you there are Certain things you can do to get yourself off, you know, in any relationship, even when you're making love, like, you know, of course, there are days you want that, that that pleases you, right. But ultimately, you have to please her, you know, and yeah, even if you have the best relationship, you're going to get punched in the nose, you know, you're gonna get your heart broken, right? You just have to get to the point where you're, you're giving of yourself, and you're also open to listening, you know, and that's the one thing I've learned over the years, too, is like, especially editing. And you know, this too, I'm sure it's like, if there's a certain point, when a project comes in, it starts telling you what it wants, you know, when the Edit kind of settles down, and it's like, no, don't like this scene, don't like it don't like it. And it's kicking something out that you love, right? But no, I don't want it. And it's telling you something else, like, I but I do need this. So go pick up this shot, go pick up this line of dialogue, or go get this insert shot, right? And then you sprinkle these little things, these macro or skinny micro nuance things in, and the complexion of the whole thing changes. Because you listened to her, you know, and there if you're not listening to her, it's not going to work.
Alex Ferrari 51:10
Now, I know I have a feeling that you've had this happen, I think I think it's true that so many times I've seen filmmakers, and I'm guilty of this as well. And maybe you would you might have been guilty about this in your career as well at one point or another with a project. Whereas you walk in with that analogy of the of the relationship, which is great. You walk in going, what can you do for me? So what can this movie do? For me? It's all about me. I don't care about the audience. I don't care about like, what can this do for me for my career for what I'm doing. And I walked in a lot of times doing that. And I noticed that the projects I walked in doing that with generally didn't do what I wanted them to do. But the ones that I walked in being more of service, not only to the project, but to the audience that I was trying to serve. Man that opened up a whole lot more doors. Is that Is that also fair?
Albert Hughes 52:00
No. I mean, completely. It's like, you know, I still suffer from what you're talking about, or nowadays, but you know, there's also like, this is where you have to have a long talk to yourself about what you're capable of, you know, and the Oh, Clint Eastwood mind of a man's got to know his limitations, right? What you're capable of, and what your ambitions are. And there's wrapped up in the head and ego and all that stuff, right. And then there's also the personal kind of inward ego, which is like, I just want to flex on this, tell myself, I can do this. You know, like you said earlier, the Scorsese shot of the Fincher shot, I just want to let myself know, I can do this shit, right? No, no, no, it's not gonna, it's not gonna, it's not gonna work out. But everyone, every project, whether you're talking about the exterior thing, which you're which is a bigger point, like, if you're coming to something for the wrong reason, that's a massive thing, right? Then once you're in it, even if you're in it for the right reasons, right, trying to impose your certain desires that have nothing to do with every single thing I've done has that in it there, there are moments and everything single movie, or music, video or short film, or I've imposed something that that shouldn't be in there. And so it's still a process for me of trying trying to work on that, you know, the kind of selfishness and some of the stuff I do, you know, or the self consciousness of some of the trickery I'm involved in, right. And, and the style has changed because I've gotten older, which, which means that I've become a little bit more conservative. And, to use a boxing analogy, like, you know, there's, there's filmmakers out there who are just coming out with a right hand non stop and uppercuts and they're not setting you up with the jab. The jab is, is key to setting up a knockout, you know, you're lowering your opponent to sleep, you know, you setting them up, and that's a light punch. It's not really meant for a knock on then you hit them with the right hand, or the right uppercut or right hook to the body. Right? Those are your explosive filmmaking storytelling moments, right? Whether they're visual audio or acting, right? If you just come out of box like this, some filmmakers You see, I mean, these big budget movies, they're just like, right hand at the right hand, upper right hand and you're getting desensitized, you know, and they're, you know, they're using 10 shots in 10 seconds when they can be using one or two, you know, and conserving their energy. The other analogy is, you know, as you get older, you're, you know, we talk about we're in the same generation, it's like, you look at early Muhammad Ali, you look really Michael Jordan, lamb dunking in for like a butterfly sting like a bee. as they got older, they are harder, they work smarter, which is okay, now I'm going to rope a dope you because I can't go around the ring as much right? And I'm gonna, I'm gonna use you against yourself, right? And then Jordan was more like, I can't slam like I used to fadeaway jumper, same points, right? Just as effective. Kind of pretty, you know? In filmmaking, it's the same thing. It's like you're when you're young, you're doing all that goofy shit. You're like, it might be effective. Even our first movie, we did a lot of goofy shit, right? It might be effective and it worked. But you You could do the same thing with more efficiency. And, you know, you know what I'm saying? It's easy. No, no. Thank you said the thing you brought up earlier about that, you know, it's like, you do have to have some that youthful ignorance a little bit. I think that's a little bit, but it can't go into that point you were talking about?
Alex Ferrari 55:17
No, absolutely. And it's so so true. And this is this is from you know, two guys who are, you know, knocking on the door 50. Soon, that it's very different than 20 Something guys, and you from this, this point of view this, this point in our lives, you look back, and now like when I walk on set, before, it was just like, I got a, I had the energy, or I had the strength, or I had the force to do a lot of stuff where now you just got to be like, You know what, man, if I do that, I'm gonna burn myself out in two hours, I got to be much smarter about how I approach everything. And I'm actually doing that right now with a bunch of my projects that I'm working on right now. I'm like, you know, I have a natural, like, hurricane wind force, is why I do so much what I do with all my with all my websites and companies and podcasts. And now I just gotta go, You know what, man, I can't keep this up, man. I gotta, I gotta be smarter about this, I got to like, know, you know, let's do this. And let's do that and build this over here. And you systems and all that kind of stuff. And that's that what young young filmmaker just is like, Ah, it's just like, it's like, you know, it's like Tyson. Tyson at 21. And Tyson it, what he what we just saw.
Albert Hughes 56:28
But I mean, it's also like, when you're in your 20s you notice too, it's like, you can get by and three hours of sleep or five hours or months on end, show up and still do the job quite effectively, right? No, not not no more. But one thing I didn't I didn't learn was the cancer that is video village and sitting in a chair. You know, I learned my last movie, before my last movie I actually started doing it's like, do not sit down. Do not camp near that monitor, go stand next to the camera up in half and bring a handheld to you and engage on on every aspect of that frame. Or that performance. Or however you direct right you know if it means you're picking up a sandbagging putting it next to a dolly to stop it from rolling. If it means you're moving something on the table, the more you hand over of yourself to that frame or that performance in the more engaged you stay. You may be exhausted by the end of day because you're standing to write. But your mind plays a trick on your on yourself. It's telling you that you're you're in this kind of days, because you're not disengaged from the process now zone zone back in a modern? Yeah, you're definitely in a zone. And I realized in my last movie, I was doing it and I loved it. I really loved that. I would just up there like constantly active never went to my trailer to don't ever go to your trailer and my ship and pee. Right. And you know, these bad habits you pick up from you know, our elders, you know, like people that showed us the way we're like, you know, you see like a nice shot up Coco Scorsese at the monitor, you know, nice big Italians, you know, you know, they've enjoyed their pasta and are watching a performance. They're doing their thing behind a monitor like, I'm gonna be like that. No, no, I'm old school shit, man.
Alex Ferrari 58:18
No, look, you gotta work you gotta if you're going to study Coppola study him on hearts of darkness, the documentary about Apocalypse Now. That's the key. He didn't stop. He was thin as hell in that movie. You can see him he was like, just
Albert Hughes 58:31
It was a bipolar episode the whole time.
Alex Ferrari 58:34
And isn't it true, though, like, when you because I do that too. Like I generally always walk in always moving. But the moment you sit down, the body shuts down to like, oh, I can rest now. I'm like, Oh, I can't get it. But if you just keep going,
Albert Hughes 58:46
What? Yeah, at our age, at our age, it's like, it's like an old car in the winter. You know, once you sit down, you get up, you start hearing all the cracking and, you know, you gotta rev your engine back up, you know, like, you can't, you know, I grew up in Detroit, where you have to go out and scrape the window, you know, shovel the driveway, you know, start the car a few times, you know, like, you don't want to restart this old car, you're gonna keep it moving.
Alex Ferrari 59:11
Keep motion is momentum is built up by emotion. It's funny, and everyone listening is like, these are just two old fucks just talking.
Albert Hughes 59:20
People can use it too. It's like, you know, if you're 20 or 25, and you're hearing this, it's like, yeah, engaging in the process by standing. It's a big deal. And now you're not going to your trailer. There's a lot of nuance about this meaning that we were talking about the crew earlier. It's like the crew knowing you're there and you're not checked out in the trailer. Well, yes, he called on set. Oh, man, it does wonders. unset thing and like we got to get this moving. Basically, it's just like, especially bears on our DP who takes on the role of, you know, this is why DPS have tremendous egos I've noticed is that they stop it. I didn't know that I didn't. I didn't know that too late in my career. I'm like, Oh my God, these monsters have awesome egos like Jesus Christ voices come from. It's the control. They were the controlling factor on the set when the director was in his trailer. And also they had the power of magic. Back when there was film like people didn't know they're like Houdini like how did they do that? You know, right? It's a mystery. How it's not a mystery where you see that show on HD monitor. It's like, dude, the jig is up. You got you got your 2.8 spot, but go quick. I should tell the television.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:30
We'll do that in color. Great, man. Let's move it a lot. Let's move it a lug.
Albert Hughes 1:00:34
It was an old reference. There you go.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:36
Yeah, I remember to Oh, geez. Man, I'm actually I'm transferring some old 35 I shot back in the day now to 6k just to play around with it again. And it's all it's cross river is I shot it. Reversal stock.
Albert Hughes 1:00:51
Yeah, I love working with that back
Alex Ferrari 1:00:53
Old school reversal stock and then cross processing like you know what spike did and and what MC G did back in the day. That's where I was like, MC G back and then those those like, big mouth music videos and big mouth, Smash Mouth, Smash Mouth music videos, and yeah, they were like super colorful and all that stuff.
Albert Hughes 1:01:12
Ektachrome Kodachrome, yeah, yeah, you know, yeah,
Alex Ferrari 1:01:15
There's some fascinating stage in that. Yeah. And there's something to be said still, man, like, and I don't want to get into the weeds of film, man. But Film, film, you could do stuff in film that is still very difficult to do digitally. And it's there as its place without question. But that instant gratification, man, it's like,
Albert Hughes 1:01:36
Well, I mean, you know, like, I can't I, you know, there was a debate, you know, rage, this debate is pretty important. But really, it's like, you know, you have five these big directors that swear by film, and I was one that was very, you know, dogmatic in that too, you know, I'll never leave film. And then Book of Eli was shot in the first red one, because I did all these tests. And then I got to the point where, you know, I love control of the image, you know, and I also really believe, I also realized that, um, I can emulate film, you know, you'll never come up with that magical thing right out of the gate, you can emulate it, right. And there's a lot of cool stuff you can do with in digital games to the point right now, where you if you really, really want to push it, you can get pros in the same room, and they won't know the difference, right? Oh, yeah. If you really know what you're okay. My thing is, I don't want to wait overnight to see if we fucked up the exposures, you know, and I don't want any of that bad stuff. Also, like, people forget that, you know, you got guys like, Christopher Nolan talk, you know, he's hardcore in the film thing. And it's like, Dude, you're going to a DI anyways, even though he doesn't really do a DI he actually just, you know, it's going through that process to be, you know, delivered digitally, basically. Right. So it's already in a in a digital form, you know, in the final outcome, and I want to go see, all that warm over, he did Dunkirk and IMAX it a proper IMAX theater, right. And the first five minutes and like us pretty cool. You know, it's two stories, you know, and you know, the images like, long I'm pretty cool, whatever. And I start seeing like, this looks like to be a bird in the sky or plane. And it No, it was lint, it was here in the gate lint. It was sticking in there for two scenes. And then I saw talking scene between Kenneth brown on somebody else. And he shot with blue and the close up his shot was pink, he shot was corrected, you know, it's back and forth, all the color grading was going all over the place, right? Because this is a print, and the print is very unstable. And it depends on the light in the theater, how many showings are going sure the power is being grabbed, if the theater owner is not, you know, putting a lower wattage stuff in there. You know, the, the back that it went through at that particular time at the lab, you know, it's such an unstable, a medium, and it's, it's so archaic. It's like, even when I was in film school, we were taught that earlier, I would go shoots at almost 120 years old, maybe more. Where we were literally using technology, every other film that you're in whether you're building a car, or building a computer has advanced. For some reason Hollywood is using this tool that came from 35 millimeter still film photography, right? Which a lot of people don't realize. And they turned it the other way or whatever they were doing it we're still using it right. And we've not modernized it. Right? And the control that comes with modernizing, I've completely let go of film. I don't even have like, I don't even daydream about it. I don't have a nostalgia about it at all. I'm like, it's it's dead to me. I never want to go back. Right? I like the when you talk about the finished product, you know, I always add green and do stuff like that to give you the I want to emulate film. And there's a few things that filmmakers should know that gets you to that, you know, it's not just green. It's The 24 frames it's the stop you use whether using shallow focus or dropping the focus in the background right it's the shutter you know there's three or four things that you're that are going on that create that feeling of with it with the audience considers film because the audience natural caught up like we are the technicals. Like you look at like an episode of Handmaid's Tale, you know, that shot digitally. It's very filming because they want to look filmic, you know, and their, their their use of shallow focus is like incredible night show, you know, the depression fucking show, but
Alex Ferrari 1:05:34
I can't, I can't, I can't watch it anymore, but I can't like it's too. He was maybe maybe now I'll go back to it. But I just like it's like it was a very difficult like, we're going through enough stuff in our world right now. I can't I can't go into
Albert Hughes 1:05:47
This now. Okay.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:49
We are living in a dystopian world with the pandemic and politics and craziness. I don't need to go watch TV about it, though. It's amazing. But I got to a certain point in that series. I was like, I'll go back but I can't. No, no, no, I started I stopped second sits. Basically when she escaped. Spoiler alert. When she escaped that she was like running around in that like news news. factory or whatever, that the newspaper factory. And they got her again in the airplane. I'm like, I'm done. I can't go back. I can't I can't. I can't go back.
Albert Hughes 1:06:24
You know what? You know what that speaks to though. You know, I love the show. But what it speaks to is something we said earlier, it's like, that really isn't satisfying the audience to me. It is satisfying critics and you know, filmmaking people as far as to technique they're using Sheesh, it's a self flagellating show. It's basically like your your dish, there is no hope there like you want it. You want it to if you want some Dubs, you want some wins. And she's not getting enough wins for me, you know, to make me feel good about this whole thing. If I want to live in this dystopian society, in this show you it's depressing that I had to sit through all this shit. Like, you know the stuff. They're doing a women in there. It's a very depressing show.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:01
It's a rough show. And look, I left walking dead because of it. Because the second that Neguin showed up. He just started like, there was a whole season that there was no wins. There's just no wins your character. The characters I love were just getting killed and beaten. And it was just like, No, that's not good drama. Like you need to have the you got to go like you got to give them a shot. It's like when that when the when the bad guy is so overpowering that they're just barely, like barely can get anything in. It's just like, well, let's
Albert Hughes 1:07:30
It's oppressive. It's theIt's like there's boom, there's some great films that are really oppressive, right? And make no doubt but even we're talking about this thing filmmaking in the audience and the analogy of you know, being in a relationship, it's like, you got to give us some dose. Got to feel good about this relationship.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:50
Just just a little bit. Not man. I've been always while I was on Valentine's Day. Now always wanted to ask you, man, your second film dead dead presidents, you know, which I absolutely loved. And, you know, was a really kind of ballsy second film, like you were saying you were getting Batman's and superhero movies and, and things like that. But you guys want to tell this story. And the cast was great. It looked great. But man, the visual of the ghost mask was so powerful man. Where did that come from? Because that was like all over the marketing. Like it was just like, I can't believe no one had ever done that in a bank robbery before. You know, like, or in a heist situation before and
Albert Hughes 1:08:28
You see it in Halloween every Halloween it still comes out.
Alex Ferrari 1:08:31
Right like so. So what So what So what
Albert Hughes 1:08:34
It was simple, it was simple. It was like it was based on this book called Bloods. And it was short stories from from Vietnam from different bets. And in the kind of like, large story points in depth presidents were based off of this in a certain point in that story. He was talking about the face pain. And I had, I forgot how you described it, whether it was white or black or whatever. But I've been doing all this research in the Vietnam era. And I also noticed that there were protesters that were using this skeleton face, you know, they do this skeleton thing. So I combine that with what the guy was saying in the book and protests paint and in this kind of disguise. And, and we came up with that. And then the marketing. It was Disney at the time, through Hollywood pictures, they glommed on to it. The first stuff they were showing us was like, oh, yeah, that's it, right? They knew what to do with it right off the bat. But that movie in particular is not my proudest moments, like the thing I'm most embarrassed about, because they rushed us into it. Because we got this great new deal. And this goes to something you were saying earlier about, you know, kind of, you know, for lack of a better description, like imposing your wants on a movie right? Or even sometimes imposing your insecurities is that we knew that it was a Disney movie, right? It was being financed by Disney. So we were doing stuff like awkward up ask you if it's okay to curse on your show.
Alex Ferrari 1:09:56
We've been cursing quite some time so it's okay.
Albert Hughes 1:10:00
We were so we were 22 years old or 21 making that movie. And we were so insecure about Disney funding us that we, you know, we did the thing with the guts hanging out and a dig in the mouth and, you know, the pistol weapon of the guy and you know, you know, those guards. In hindsight, those guards that were guarding that Federal Reserve did did not deserve the beatdown that they got. Okay. And if I had all the do over again that a lot of first of all, I would have gotten the script, right. I don't think the script was ready, right? We we were ready to make movie just barely. I'm talking about capable to clean directing to make that movie just barely. We got we got by. But it goes to show it's like one of my hardest lessons is that movie, like don't run into anything just because you're hot. And they want you to put this movie out. And they're just like, go go go and nobody's questioning the script. You know? You know, when people come up to me and talk to me about the film, it's it's, it's strangely in Europe that movies above menace like more, more people. And my friends or whoever extended friends, they talk about that movie, you know, I don't know why. But I'm almost embarrassed to engage over that movie. You know, interesting, as I say, the sophomore, sophomore Jinx, right? The sophomore Jinx was gonna hit us no matter what, okay? Because we came out so high flying. And if you look at that presence now, and some unknown filmmaker did it, they would be he prays would be heaped on them. But the standard for us was so high, that there was no way we were going to meet it. And, and deservedly so we shouldn't have met it, you know. But it shows you like, the dynamic you have as a new filmmaker is like, if you're unknown, and you do something halfway decent, you're going to get wrecked. If it's done with skill, you're going to get recognition, you know, and that's my only thing about like, the face paint thing, it's probably only highlight for me.
Alex Ferrari 1:11:57
Is the movie poster. Really? I mean, that's it. That's basically it's a movie.
Albert Hughes 1:12:01
Yeah, we're seeing like Floyd Mayweather, a Puff Daddy dressed up on Instagram, every Halloween like, oh, that's kind of fun. You know, the thing that
Alex Ferrari 1:12:10
Now as an artist, man, as directors, we are very unique. And artists, because as artists, because we rarely spend time actually doing our art. directors don't spend a tremendous amount of time directing. Unless you're Ridley Scott. That's a different conversation, because he directs before he did his first movie.
Albert Hughes 1:12:32
Oh, this question about that. Because really, I know where you're headed. But
Alex Ferrari 1:12:35
So so, so. So you know, we're always trying to prep and get the money and get the financing and get the script, right, and then gather the actors. And this takes gears, but then we get, we get 40. If we're lucky days, you know, if you're in a big studio, maybe 60 or 90 days if you're a big, big studio, but generally, you know, independent filmmakers get three weeks, four weeks if you're if you're fat. Yeah. How do you deal with the time in between because like a guitar, like a musician, just picks up a guitar? A writer just starts writing, but we need hundreds of people. Lots of money to do art man, how do you do that? Man?
Albert Hughes 1:13:13
I think this is the one of the most important questions right here. And it's something I take the most pride in answering. Because since I was 12, it's been my hobby, right? I've always been doing it in my off time. Right? In Prague, I have my camera, I have my editing system. In fact, it's behind the computer. I'm one with you right now. The new cheese grater Mac right. Now, I've always liked Final Cut. I've always had Premiere Pro. I've always had an avid around me since the mid 90s, right? And I go to work on these experimental films by myself or with a few friends or I take my camera on shoot. And I'm constantly exercising that muscle, that muscle does not mean exercises dealing with 150 people or a studio or whatever, right? But the technical muscle is constantly being worked on. And this is why this question you said is so important to me. It's like, yes, you're 95% accurate in that description. There's a 5% of filmmakers probably out there working filmmakers that actually love to do in their off time. You know, you can use your guitar analogy. Like it's like, if you're a guitar player, you're going on stage every night right but if you're a great guitar player, you're actually practicing at home right? So why should it be any different for a filmmaker right? And my brother me this is where we diverge you know, I would sit you know, years back go he doesn't have the same kind of thing in his off time. He doesn't do it in his off time. And I would say let's just go out and I've been doing this for years. Let's go make a really quick short you get your note off. Now man, I only do for the Big Spring. I only do for the big screen I go but how do you work out what you want to only do for the big screen? Okay, right. So for me it's like you know those moments we were talking about earlier were the kind of masturbation moments of the filmmakers selfish moments. For filmmaker, the time to do that is your off time. Okay? So I'll create a short that may be completely experimental could be two minutes could be five minutes long. And, and I'm building basically a sweater, right? But I want to actually focus on how to make those buttons, right, but I got to build the sweater, which is a short, right. But I'm really focusing on buttons, which might be transitions, it might be a camera move, it might be an editorial flourish, right? It might be a color thing. It might be anything, right? Shallow focus, practice, you know, insert, practice, wide shot, practice, close up practice, right. And I'll develop, I'll make this too short, that if I show to you, like I can send it to you after like a couple of me, like, none of it makes any sense to me. Like, hey, nobody's looking over my shoulder, I don't got a studio, I've got a background finance or nobody, right. So I'm able to get my nut off, right in my own private time. And I'm also exercising this muscle because here's the other thing about filming that nobody ever really talks about, right? Is the only art form that ever existed. That is the umbrella over every other art form. Every other art form is inside of filmmaking, you know, writing, you know, photography, sculpture, construction, texture, everything struction. You know, there's the traditional seven arts in France, like there's they're shooting the original seven arts definition that, like photography is not included in the original seven arts photography is an art form. Right? Music, okay, like, there's no, there's no other only thing that comes closest stage with stage doesn't have cinematography or photography, right. But it could have a photo on the wall. Right?
Alex Ferrari 1:16:46
No, you're right. Oh, yeah, you're right.
Albert Hughes 1:16:48
So inside of this V seven, RG, you're only going to be you know, if you're lucky, good at it, there's 10 points, you're only going to be good. I mean, like Fincher is probably, you know, the seven arrange at a 10. You know, he knows how to do this, this, this this, right? That's very high, basically. Right? But in your off time, why not practice these, you know, editing, photography, lighting, you know, writing, you know, these are things you can do without money. You know, that's the other thing that's going on said here is that we couldn't do this. Back in the 90s. It was too expensive. I tried. You know, I had a 16 millimeter camera, even though I had money. It costs $150 For a little film, like 16. Right? That's another 150 The processing costs another 150 an hour to transfer it right? Did
Alex Ferrari 1:17:35
You tell him to transfer the tape? Or to dissipate the
Albert Hughes 1:17:38
Ton of money Yeah, it costs a ton of money to have those three gig drives on my Avid, you know, like, it was an expensive proposition. Now it's not. So why do we have to wait to get to the next movie? Like, since I was 12, I've never stopped.
Alex Ferrari 1:17:53
And so so then you so that was so I wanted to go into Book of Eli now because you didn't you read I remember when I was I was here in LA when Red one hit. And it was like I got here in 2008 around. And I remember, I remember walking into photochem with a red drive. And and they just like what is this? Like, they had no idea how to work flow it like at all like I was one of the few freelance editors in Los Angeles, who could get the workflow from red to Final Cut to color Apple Color and get it outputted Wow. And I started doing music videos like constantly because I was like I would they would bring me all that because it was you remember when the workflow for Russia was horrendous?
Albert Hughes 1:18:40
Nobody had a we had a DI T before there was called a DI T at the time, you know? Oh, dude, it was it was it was I it was crazy. But by the way, they didn't help themselves like you know, as a company they just weren't really you know, Hollywood savvy, you know? No, and then on top they were very because they kicked off they kick the ass of the other companies like you know parent evasion and airports had to step their game up now.
Alex Ferrari 1:19:00
Right now we have to get away from this film thing we have to do 4k. We got like, you know, you have to we have to you have to go to another another place. Technically no, I used to get projects that were mastered in the master output was proxies. And they're like, can you color grade this? I'm like, No, man, I can't call the create proxies. There's no color information in there. Why is it pixely? Cuz you use in proxies, bro? Like, like, and I was like, Okay, how do I how do we gonna recut this? How are we going to like and I would try to reconnect I'm like, Look, dude, I'm gonna have to do an over cut. Literally go in and I go do you have burnin All right frame by frame shot by shot over cut it. I'm like it's gonna it's gonna cost you 15 grand, really?
Albert Hughes 1:19:40
The Wild Wild West was a wild wild west
Alex Ferrari 1:19:42
It was it was insane and I but I'd figured out a system I got it to technically able to do it and I was working non stop. So when I remember when Book of Eli showed up was like a revelation because that was one of the first early read movies because they promoted that like that was the CHE che was another The moment Steven Soderbergh
Albert Hughes 1:20:01
Well, the book of Eli was the first full fledged studio release that was shot on red. Right. Che was a few art house theaters. Right? There was a Nick, Nick, Nick, Nick Cage movie that came out that was shot.
Alex Ferrari 1:20:12
Oh, The following the following.
Albert Hughes 1:20:14
I think so
Alex Ferrari 1:20:15
i think yeah, yeah. Alex on the show. Yeah.
Albert Hughes 1:20:17
But that, again, those weren't major studio releases. So what happened with us was the bond company wouldn't bond us unless we can prove that this was a stable system. You know, with those flashcards, it's compact flashcards. And yeah, and and Don Burgess, who was a DPN Book of Eli was tasked with doing a side by side film versus red. So we went up to the New Mexico desert and did all these shots with actors faces. We come back to it was technical or Deluxe, the time I forgot the one that's near the universal building. And she also was in the room, the Warner Bros. People in the room, the bond companies in a room they all kind of guys in a room, my brothers and my brother don't know, his elbows. So when it comes to this test, like I know what's going on. I'm on the right side with film and on the left side was red. rejecting this thing is like five minutes. And Joel so we keep nudging me, like tell me which ones don't tell me which ones do just watch it. You know, halfway through the five minutes our brother goes, you know, film sides, the right side, my brother goes well, the one on the right side is a little more grainy here, which should have been to tell right? We get to the end and we say okay, we show of hands, which which is film right side or left side. It was unanimous they went for the red side as being felt. They didn't know one pick the film side. No one picked it. Right each side. I go I go I get I guess it's a wrap on that conversation. Moving on now, like we crossed that barrier. Then when we were shooting, we did this long scene with Denzel in the house. And we wanted to use their red dry that early version of
Alex Ferrari 1:21:51
That thing. Like if you if you bumped it, it skipped. Oh, no. Yeah, yeah. To get the shock absorbers.
Albert Hughes 1:21:58
Yeah. Like we're gonna roll this camera for 20 minutes. So 30 minutes, whatever. We have the other I'm rolling two other cameras. I'm operating one with a compact questions. I know. We get we get to the end of the scene. That thing just conked out. It didn't capture anything. That's it? Well, there goes that experiment. We're not fucking with those drives. Right? Now, the interesting thing is that Don Burgess tested the slow motion back then, which was a went down to 3k or some 2k. Yeah, yeah. He's like, this is not ready. This is not any projected for me. I'm like, it looks good to me. You know, it's like not that we got to bring in the film cameras. So on the slow motion days, bringing the film cameras, and I gotta tell you, man, we have more profitable film cameras than we ever had with a RED camera. Registration problems, or issues? Oh, yeah. You know, all kinds of stuff. You know, it's not
Alex Ferrari 1:22:49
I didn't interrupt you. But you learned that film so fast. You've written that film, like, that sound. Scary.
Albert Hughes 1:22:57
Tell you like money's on the line, you gotta get this right, you got to get this right, the pressure of slow motion basically back in the day, you know, but what it showed me was, you know, the whole Nolan Dunkirk thing today is that film was completely unstable. It is the most unstable thing. I mean, in fact, it goes back to the days of what you know, nitrate, and you know, you can burn a whole building down behind film. That's how dangerous and unstable film used to be. But yeah, that movie movie was an eye opening experience for me, because it changed my game again, in a way, which was like, you get real time results, which you know, about, you know, and you're able to play with it on your system. Now. It's the onset onset, onset onset. And, and you know, you've got this whole DLSR game going down. And the crazy thing about the DLSR game, and in these young filmmakers is like, they had something we never had, they're able to deal with similar lenses, depth of field, everything you're dealing with in film is in that DLSR. And in that you said 2008, right? So red came out 2009 or 10. It was when canon came with that first five d right? From that moment. So now I learned more about photography, in the technical side of filmmaking, because I was able to access it quickly. I learned more on that 10 years, the first five years of that than I did the previous 20 You know what the turnaround of you being able to do something, you know, speaks to your earlier question about you know, waiting for a film to do your your art or whatever it is right. You know, your turnaround now is like Dude, if you're inspired to go shoot some shit, that just looks pretty. You can do it now. Yeah, and the other thing I tell these young filmmakers, too, they don't have no money. It's a little old filmmaking trick for me. It's like if you have no budget, no budget, just make sure you photograph in one scene or two scenes or three scenes, a large body of water and the sunset view of a sunset and a large body water and if you have them both at the same time your money because it tricks to the minor thing oh my god, that's pretty that's expensive. Expensive.
Alex Ferrari 1:25:00
I get I get you, I get you 100% Man, I gotta ask you though, man, the color grading on Book of Eli that blew my mind when it came out like the colors. And the way the DI was on that man. How did you guys come up with that look, because that was I mean for a studio Denzel movie. That was a pretty ballsy creative choice.
Albert Hughes 1:25:23
Yeah, and I look back on it now and I go, I'm proud of it. But there's some things I went too far on. And that's a partnership between me and my colorist Maxine's your bay who works at Technicolor now, which now got bought out by another company. And I was influenced by this Czech photographer out here named goddam Yan Sadek, where he d saturated color and he'd add color where you wanted, right? The veins of a woman's breast, you know, the rouge on our lips or cheeks. And, and he would do this thing with clouds, you know, like he would offset the color. So we did all these tests on it. And I knew the look I wanted from the get go, because I had all these references, basically. Right. And when I, you remember, like, that movie came out when D eyes were in full bloom, right? The Book of Eli did write our movie previous to that from Hell was 2001, the AI started coming into being around 2000 to 2003. And then it kind of took off, right. So we were doing a photochemical coloring process, which is, you know, I don't know. Yeah, it's crazy hard to get it. Okay. And then I'm, for the first time in this room with Maxine during the DI for the, for this movie. And I'm depressed the first two weeks because I don't understand what it is. And I'm not even using my mind like this is basically tell us any from the 90s Right. I'm not understanding what it is. And I'm just moaning every day a moaning and moaning and then she starts to show me these tools, you know, the power windows and taking that red dot and bringing this over here. And we're not using traditional vignettes. We were sculpting our vignette, we're doing all this crazy shit. And I go, Oh, this is Photoshop for movies. And then it just opened up everything for me. And now me and her. We spend like my last movie alpha, which has some similar stuff in it you know, the this bison Hunt was it looks a lot like some of the ELI stuff. We spent hours and hours and we had to record a time for Eli where that record hours in town right and then and then somebody came and knocked it off. It was like in your ear to come and knock it off with with the what is it called that? That miserable slog for the snow?
Alex Ferrari 1:27:35
Oh, yeah, Reverend
Albert Hughes 1:27:38
Revenant revenant hours. And then I and then I took it back. I took it back with alpha. Let me spend more hours on that more months. And then and then I'll fonts Alfonso came with, with that Roma that he beat my hours, right? But now that's become like a source of pride. For me. It's like the time that I spent in a DI because it's almost like it's almost like editing or directing. It's like, you know, or painting a photo when somebody says how do you know you're done? How do you know when you're done? You know, when you edit? How do you know you're done? I go when I have no more thoughts left on it. When I have no more left to know notes. Like you know, I have all these around my desk. Like little notes. I just watch it. Note it up. No, no, when I'm done with I can't do any more to this space. Right, right. Right. So same thing, di it's like we wash over we wash over it. We start doing it we start doing the headroom check because I shoot now with a tutorial with top bottom space outside of the frame. So I repot all the frames and posts I stabilize everything in post. And then my final thing is making sure all the head the head room is the same. We have a ruler screen and I go through every close up and do that. And it's driving her crazy. She goes like Albert, this is not creative. I go no actually it is because if you don't have a pretty stage, you're not gonna have a good show. And yeah, this little aesthetic, this little aesthetic. You know, totally you'll fill it overall subconsciously, you know, because she does think she's she's like this really spunky French Quebec and woman right, Montreal, wherever, with thick accent. And She's feisty as hell. And I'll say okay, we need to dissolve. We do like a 96 frame dissolve from from that scene to that scene because it's been built for this kind of match this match edit, you know, and she'll go I thought you wanted something more creative. Fuck you. What are you gonna talk more? Because we would do these power window dissolves? Yeah. It comes up first. And we started it on Eli and, and she's really into doing those kind of painterly kind of dissolves like custom dissolves, right? And when I tell her to do a strict dissolve, she gets offended. And in the end, that's the kind of person I want to work with is like yes, she she's, she's special like this. This woman is an artist and that form that new medium of digital intermediates, right? She's an artist. You know, and she taught me so much. And I'm sure I've taught her a few things, but not nearly as much as I thought it she's given to me, you know, like opening my world to the possibility, like we were talking about control, controlling the image, right? And what that can do to an audience how you focus on audiences. I, you know, as I get older you start, there's just shit you don't know in your 20s or 30s. Man, you know, about imaging?
Alex Ferrari 1:30:25
Oh, my God.
Albert Hughes 1:30:27
Like, go on talk for hours about that.
Alex Ferrari 1:30:29
I mean, I have to ask you, man, because by the time you did Book of Eli, you know, Denzel was Denzel. So how, like, how was it working with a legend like that man? Like you just like, how do you direct a legend like that? Because I love always asking people who work with this caliber of actor, like, how do you do that?
Albert Hughes 1:30:49
Well, you have, you have two guys on the move that work in two different ways. You got one of the greatest Gary Oldman. And they have two different ways of working like, first of all, Denzel is almost undetectable. Okay? He, he, he knows what he's doing. He's, he's one of the smartest people I've ever met and prep. He's, he's great in posts, he's great. But he's an accurate mode. Sometimes you don't want to be around me, you know, he's in, he's in a different, there's a different animal there, right? And there's a contrarian there, you know, which I'm a contrarian to who he won't do something. Because you want him to do it. He wants to know why. And, you know, even if he agrees with it, he sometimes might not do it. He knows his lane. And he's kind of, you know, he sweating and he's sticking in his lane. And he can be difficult, it can be very, very difficult, right? But again, once you get the camera on him, you look at them and go, Oh, my God, he just loves them. And he's wonderful at performing. So, you know, you got to deal with the 800 pound gorilla, you know, and a lot of these guys that are on his level, are 800 pound gorillas, and they kind of want it their way and you got to compromise and, you know, find ways to kind of work with that and not get your ego bruised too much. And you know, it's a dance, you know, it's to find us now PCC can walk over you. It's over.
Alex Ferrari 1:32:12
Oh, yeah, I was gonna say, because, look, and I was gonna ask you this, too, when you're a young director, or even if you're not a young director, if you're just you know, if you got an 800 pound gorilla, they are going to test you day one, to see if they're sick. And the way I always tell them, you tell me what you think. But I always say is like, they're going to test you to see if they're safe with you. If you're going to protect them. If you're going to guide them. If they feel unsafe, their defenses will go up. They're like, Oh, this guy's not gonna He's not going to protect me. So I'm gonna have to protect myself. And that's when the ego comes out. That's when,
Albert Hughes 1:32:43
Right that's it. You're absolutely right. That's what the smart 800 pound gorillas do. Yes, you know, and then there's the ones that are not smart, like Enzo, who just are just shitting all over the place and peeing on the tree. On the other hand, because the thing with Enzo is he has one foot in method and he has one foot out of method, which is a contradiction in terms. Right, right. Gary comes from method but he's shed it. Somewhere along the way. Shut it. And Gary, it just, I just love, love, love the way he works. You know, he said to us one day, we're like, this line is not working. It's badly written. He goes, No, listen. It's my job to make that line work. I don't care how badly written it is. That's my job. Right? And you know, we're shooting the first week of shooting before we shoot weed here and walk around the soundstage repeating one line like it's up the Bible it's a weapon. It's a weapon he dude, I think different octaves different ranges are doing right. He was finding the voice of his character, right? Didn't once he got into it, he found his like, he did this skin stuff like that skin and found his glasses in the wardrobe. And he would never direct his anger towards the director or the crew. He would if he got frustrated, he would scream at the clouds. And this is from years of him being you know, you know, an alcohol abuser, you know, method guy, you know, sleeping at the grave of James, would you call it the JFK shooter? The assassinator? Oh, yeah. What's the name of that?
Alex Ferrari 1:34:13
Asking God, how's he clean? No, no, no, no, I know who you're talking about the assassin?
Albert Hughes 1:34:18
Oh, yeah, I forgot his name. But anyways, you know, back then he was sleeping at the guy's grave to soak up the character. Like he was crazy into the method stuff. Right? Um, so by the time we work with him, he was just lovely, you know, and they had two different styles of working, you know, Denzel and Gary. Now Denzel is a true star star, you know, which is a question you're asking about. And character. Gary's considered a character actor who is a star, but not a movie star, basically, right? He's a very hardworking, constantly working actor. Whereas Denzel made just one movie a year, you know, kind of thing, right? And there was like growing pains and learning how to you know, we dealt with Johnny that, you know, yeah, I was gonna go who was Star and he was he was he was a dream, that sweetest man, you know, he cared about his crew, you know cared about you don't he didn't like bullies you know he'd go out of his way to fucking hunt down a bully and make a lesson out of a bully, you know, he was he trusted us inherently from the start and you know, he had some back issues and we'd have to do a scene where he followed up a chair. And my brother was like, Okay, that's enough, Johnny. It's take too. That's enough. He was like, no, no, did you get it? Did you get it? And we're like, Johnny, you know, we're gonna look out for you. He's like, no, no, no, I want you guys happy. Let's do another take until you get it until you feel like you've gotten it. We're not We're not moving on. You know, Gary's like that. But But Johnny's he just completely handed himself over. You know, he would have questions and stuff like that. But he was a sweet, sweet, sweet white giving man.
Alex Ferrari 1:35:53
Yeah. And that was from the movie from hell for people who don't know the movie from hell with him and Heather Graham based on the Jack the Ripper. The theology when mythology actually happened, but off the the graphic novel by Alan Moore. How did you guys approach from hell? Are you taking a really popular graphic novel, and then taking those esthetics and trying to bring it into the screen? Because that's, that was a very visual movie, if I remember correctly, it has been it's been a minute since and watch from hell. But it was a very kind of graphic visual movie. And this was Johnny. Is this pre pirates or post pirates?
Albert Hughes 1:36:29
Right. A year before he did pirates. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 1:36:31
So it was just like, right fresh like it was right before he explode. Because Johnny was still Johnny in 2001. He still star. Yeah, but he wasn't pirates, though. Yeah, he wasn't Jack Sparrow just yet.
Albert Hughes 1:36:44
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. No, the, you know that that's a case where a studio kind of meddled with the movie too much. You know, the graphic novel was very dense, it was a lot of issues of how many comic books were in the graphic novel. And we had a lot of keyframes I copied, you know, it wasn't black and white, it wasn't in color. So I had to make up the color palette, you know, and our whole thing on that was more Hitchcock thing is, like, let's use the color red as a replacement for showing a lot of blood. And a lot of people that came away from them, we thought it was graphic, it really wasn't there's only one or two moments and move, they're very graphic, it was the use of in learning how to use color, that was the first time I actually used or learned how to use color effectively, you know, and also phallic symbols. And, you know, we started really getting to that, like, you know, every movie has to have, like, you know, a decayed, or a vagina and in a symbolic way. And we did in the Book of Eli, I didn't alpha, you know, it just a running kind of gag. But it started on January because it was sexualized, you know, this whole the, you know, the press and what they made of it prostitutes and whatnot. But we did have the original panels from the comic, and they're huge like this, right? The unfortunate thing about the movies that the grittiness and grime Enos of the graphic novel was hindered by the studio, you know, they wanted kind of a love story. We weren't really into that, you know, they wanted, you know, certain number of actresses were only allowed to play the role, you know. And that's the regret of that movie. Outside of that, I'm proud of it by way of like my relationship with Peter damming a DP, who works with David Lynch a lot. I found Peter damning by watching loss highway a couple years before that, and, you know, brought him on three years before we shot because we thought we were going to shoot it that year, and then with another studio with another studio. And by time we shot me and Peter had this groove. And, you know, we were using tricks that he had learned with with Lynch. And, you know, that was shot anamorphic with film, you know, we did some reversal stuff in the dream sequence. Yeah, I remember I remember. Yeah, yeah, we had a lot of fun. It was like, that was my time as a filmmaker to learn about color. Because I'd always been scared of color. And in the early music video days, if you look at the catalogue of the stuff that my brother and I did, a lot of it was black and white, because I was petrified of color. Because I came from art like skin, like drawing, my mother was grooming me to be like the so called artist, and I never use color. I would sketch with pencils. And when what I lean towards filmmaking, I still had the same insecurity. So that's what that film did for me.
Alex Ferrari 1:39:24
That was is awesome. And I remember I remember when I came out, man, I was like, that's pretty damn cool, man. It was just a quick note.
Albert Hughes 1:39:30
I'm still stuck. I'm still stuck on what's the name of the assassin of JFK? Isn't it? He? It's not Hinckley. No, it's not Hinckley. That was a John Lennon or somebody. Oh, that's right. Yeah, no, that was that was that. That could have been a Reagan. Yeah, it is James in the name.
Alex Ferrari 1:39:50
Hold on. Okay, hold on.
Albert Hughes 1:39:51
It bothers me.
Alex Ferrari 1:39:52
Hold on everyone. Stand. Well, thank you. We are Thank you. I'm sure people were in there like it's Lee Harvey Oswalt It's like listening on the podcast
Albert Hughes 1:40:02
Drives me crazy. Talking about Gary Oldman sleeping on the man's grave and I can't even his name right now.
Alex Ferrari 1:40:09
Um, one other thing I wanted to ask you man, your your fight sequences are really interesting in like Book of Eli. Like I noticed that you love doing these kinds of a circle like half circle or like surrounding moving that camera around a set you did it in menace. You did it in, you've done it a bunch, but I remember in those fights, especially in the bar sequence in Book of Eli. Yeah, you're cutting from this beautiful like half circle or actually I think you probably did a full circle. And you're intercutting which is difficult to do
Albert Hughes 1:40:40
That well that that shot in particular was weird because the studio and Denzel interfered with the the original vision of that shot, their original vision of that shot, as was the the fight in the underpass with Enzo and silhouette, right? It was all meant to be done in one because I got tired of Hollywood doing these like action movies, this handheld stuff where you can see the guy fighting, right. And you know, Paul Greengrass is a little guilty of doing this, like you think something's going on that you're actually seeing, because we're using sound effects and shaky camera. And I'm like, let's just see what they're actually doing. So we started on that underpass fighting silhouette. And then I brought an aside, there's some salon or saloon. And we did we put a motion control circle track up for that bike. And we did a pass of people for the foreground, we did a pass for tables, we did a pass for the fight. And we had a lot if you look really closely, those heads been lopped off in that in that shot, right? By VFX. Okay, now Danzo in the studio were a little precious about like, well, he's done all this training, and we want to see his moves. And I was running a, b and c camera just for safety. And it was a hard lesson. And unless you have complete control of your film, do not run to B and C camera, because they will use it okay. And that was one of the few times in my career where the studio and the actor interfered in broke into a shot. And it's one of my biggest regrets of that scene is because it was meant to play out as one, it didn't matter the intricacy of his handwork and how long it took to train it. Again, that's an exterior motivation coming into the shot. I was seeing the overall picture was like, real time violence for an audience of consciously, if you don't break it up with edits, and you play it at 24 frames, it feels real to them. The minute you hit an edit you they do not engage in the same way unless you're like masterful at what you're doing. You know, cuts are beautiful. Don't get me wrong. But when it comes to violence, that's one thing I learned over time to from menace till now. It's like, as much as possible don't use slow motion like I used to do go 24 frames and played out all in one. Because what it does to the audience's make them feel it, you know? And so what happened on that shot, even though a lot of people pointed out, you know, cinematography circles, right. It was a disappointment to me because I should have stood my ground and said no, like, don't cut into that shot. It's this has been playing for a year, you know, and that one got sacrificed.
Alex Ferrari 1:43:08
Albert Hughes 1:43:09
Punch on the nose. There you go.
Alex Ferrari 1:43:10
You got it, look, and listen. And listen, for all the kids listening right now you at that point had done a couple of movies, you were working with one of the biggest stars in the world. And you a lot of people think the myth is like once you arrive at a studio movie with Denzel and Gary Oldman, and Mila Kunis and all like this big, big thing that you have, like complete a tour control and you could do anything. No, you get punched in the face even then.
Albert Hughes 1:43:40
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And I mean, there's there's lessons to be learned on both sides. Because there were some times I would have like, with Denzel would play this mind game with me where I storyboard the shot of a scene, he show up. He was like, Where do you want me? I go, we're there. And he goes, Okay, well, I'll be over there. And you go all the way across room like Fuck, man, like he just threw up 15 shots by just, you know, standing 10 feet away from where I won, this constant game would be going on with me and him, right. Three weeks in, he learned to trust me. He said, What do you want me? I said, I want you to be there. But you're gonna go there he goes, well tell him to go there. And I go here. I said, Do y'all got time for I don't got time for Mind Games, man. Just tell me what you want to hear. He's like, okay, cool. And he did it. Right. But on this one particular scene, it was him on the mercy killed and the underpass. Yeah, silhouette bite, right? We cut the guy's arm off. I had like 10 shots planned. And he got on the ground and just started like, you know, hugging the guy and putting the knife into him. And once he knew he threw out 10 of my shots because I had a whole moment plan. And I was crazy. Because at that point in my career, also, I wasn't a jazz player. Every shot had to be designed,
Alex Ferrari 1:44:49
Right! Hitchcoking. Yeah.
Albert Hughes 1:44:53
But this is also with the lesson of doing it on my off time. I go out without a shot list that just ideas. I've learned to play jazz right? At that time, I didn't really know how to play jazz, I didn't think I did. Um, so he made me create another shot. And all I did was simply put the camera lower to where he was, and do a slow push on them. At the same time, there's a windstorm coming towards us. It wasn't like an effect. It was like a real windstorm coming towards towards camera. And imposed, I realized, you know, that was better than what I had planned. And it was all by accident. You know, I just had to think on my feet and adjusted themselves, kind of, you know, he went, he went into this blocking that I had no idea who would do you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:45:36
Right, exactly, yeah, that's dumb. Sometimes you just gotta roll with it, man. You gotta you just gotta roll with it. Now, what is honestly, man, what is the most frustrating part of this film business for you, man?
Albert Hughes 1:45:50
Out of all, your you said earlier, that thing you said earlier? You know, keep going back to that, like the waiting between the projects. Got it, you know, and then not knowing, you know, they say you're greenlit, you're not, you know, if they say you're not greenlit and to go on camera, you know, you know, the casting battles, you know, the, you know, the people you have to worry about that want to pee on the tree, you know, executives that just want to make a name for themselves inside the business and the puffery that goes on around the project that has nothing to do with the project, you know, sometimes dealing with with actors in our agents, and, you know, there's cool actors, there's not so collectors, there's cool producers, everybody, you know, director there, we're all on this scale of like, you know, the the asshole school school Hill chart, and you want you want that number to be closer to zero than to 10. Right. Right. And, you know, it's like, you know, you're dealing like you said, again, you know, the personality things, you're dealing with all these personalities. And, and that's sometimes frustrating for me, because in my off time, I'm not dealing with personalities. And then you get thrown into this, this chaos, because productions chaos. And you're you're required to focus in chaos. And you know, one bad apple whether it's an actor or crew member, producer, or Studio can really make life miserable. Now, outside of that, the most frustrating thing is like the weight.
Alex Ferrari 1:47:17
Yeah, the way the weight is it's It's brutal. It's absolutely brutal. It can I talk a little quickly about Alpha Man, cuz I think that's that was that that's, that's cool, man. Like, I love alpha. And the story you guys were trying to tell, or you were trying to tell him that it was an event kind of film, like the visuals. It's a grand movie. It's a grand visual, the visual effects were very big. But again, it was a small story. So it was really interesting, like, what you were trying to do. So he talked a little bit about how that came to life and, and your experience directing that.
Albert Hughes 1:47:51
Like the apple thing is interesting, because it's actually like a cautionary tale. It's everything you're talking about these young filmmakers, though getting punched in the nose, heartbreak, compromise, underhanded kind of stuff, everything bad about Hollywood happened to me on that movie. And yet, it was my script that I had in my mind for 1015 years. And I developed with this, this guy who never wrote a script, and I didn't expect it to get made at the time it got made. And, and this guy started a studio with Chinese money. And I'm not gonna mention his name, because he's not worth it. And I've known for a long time, it used to be my agent used to run Warner Brothers. And I didn't realize at the time that he was a complete sociopath. And he got ousted from Warner Brothers years ago, over some internal stuff. And he finally got some money together. And he wanted this to be one of his first movies. Meanwhile, I hadn't shown it to anybody my agents that even seen the script, right. And the simple thing I wanted from this film, it's something you talked about earlier to what you're saying. You're bringing in this external reason for wanting to make a film. And the external reason was, I wanted to make a film that appeal to everybody in the world. Right? And it wasn't meant to even be subtitled. It was going to be like a quest for fire. If you remember that movie.
Alex Ferrari 1:49:14
Yeah. Oh, yeah. Back in the day. Yeah. Hey, yo,
Albert Hughes 1:49:17
Yeah John's Raka. No movie, there was no subtitle, but it was made up language, a prehistoric movie. And, um, so long story short on that is that this guy bought it. Wine and Dine me made me feel great about my creation, and slowly went about fucking with me in the script. You know, after he said he loved it. Eventually, it all settled down. I got to make the movie. I did three things you're not supposed to do in cinema, which is work with a kid and animal and weather or water, right? All in the same movie.
Alex Ferrari 1:49:51
At the same time, at the same time, yeah.
Albert Hughes 1:49:54
And one of those animals was like a hybrid Wolf and you can't train them like a normal dog. Okay. I have A great time doing it because it was the first time I've done a movie form by myself, you know, outside of film school and some YouTube videos, right? And it exponentially made me grow. Right. And visually what I wanted to do with it was tell a simple story of parable. Right. And image was first in my mind, you know, because I get tired of, you know, because you, you've got a podcast and you're in the film business, and you're, you're, you're kind of a sinner, like, kind of a cinephile. You are?
Alex Ferrari 1:50:29
Albert Hughes 1:50:31
You read these articles, and you heard at film school that people say, you know, the edits are supposed to be invisible, nobody should know, it was beautifully shot. Nobody, you know, this is that I don't subscribe to that at all. I feel like it is an audio visual medium. And somehow, throughout history started out as a visual medium, completely a visual medium, right, there was no audio, there was an orchestra at the bottom right. And somewhere along the way, they came with these stupid rules where they said, you know, you can't focus on visuals, or, you know, it's all about acting and story, which it is, there's no doubt, you know, but I disagree that you can't tell a story with just pure visual, you know, and that was my my thing in that movie is like, again, your external want it there was a few external ones. One was to tell a story visually, a simple story visually, without the use of subtitles or dialogue. The subtitles later came in dialogue later came and we made up this language, and to also position myself in another area in the business. So again, that's another external want that I'm putting on a film, you're putting too much pressure on this film already, you know, in the end, there was some there was some bad decisions made by marketing. It was Sony marketing, and God bless them for doing normal Hollywood shit, right. But they they were so scared that it wasn't an English that they started chopping up these Disney like fucked up family trailers, you know, with, you know, a narrator in English and in the trailer doesn't reflect the movie. And now there's also a director's cut, as opposed to with the studio put up, which I've never had before, I've had director's cut, but it wasn't because of disagreement in the studio was more like, a little bit more bloodletting in because it's more marketing angle, you know, whatever. This was like the movie started out differently. Then what my script was in the movie ended differently than what my intention was. And it was as long protracted battle with this guy that's fighting cancer. And what bothered me so much about it as a filmmaker was, you know, if it's your material that you created, and you still got treated like this after being in the business for 2726 years, and you still get treated like this, like, this is a problem. You know, I just had a moral issue with that guy fucking with it because he was scared. It's like, Dude, you you took on this project, you know, you knew it was in a made up language. You know, I compromised by giving you subtitles and making these made up. Language makes sense in the dialogue since I compromised by doing this stuff, I compromised by doing that, like, now in the end, you want to put this bison hop out front, and you want to make this happy ending with the dog, which I understand. I understand happy ending, right? Mine was more my ending was more European and vague. Like if you look at my version of that movie. Some people think the dog died. Some people think the dog live No, the dog died in my version. Okay, if you really pay attention right now it's on iTunes, my version and it's on Blu ray and all that stuff. But you know, it's not first of all, but it was a bitter, bitter experience. And and because I had to do battle with some guy who was off his rocker, who didn't morally do the right thing and do right by the filmmaker. And, you know, it's his choice. He's bought the property, he owns it, like, legally, he's, he can do whatever the fuck he wants to do. Right? It was a moral question for me. In the end, I don't regret doing it. There's some days I wake up, say, I wish I hadn't done it for him. You know, but you know what it did? It actually killed his his he tried to get back into business and it fucking back. You know, it got really well reviewed. It didn't, you know, made 150 worldwide, which is not, you know, gangbusters nowadays, right? Um, it didn't set me back, you know, it partially did what I want it which is, you know, if you look at my brother and I, it's like, you know, this kind of urban violence, you know, whether even if it's 1800s in England, you know, it's urban violence. It's underclass, it's this is that's like now, let me just flex something different over here. Because I think I know I'm capable of doing this. And I want to be now over here. Well, and it wasn't the thing you brought up earlier with an optics decision, you know, now I wasn't ready for the optics decision at that time. Like that wasn't in my plan of going up the ladder to where I want to eventually be be. I thought that I was ready to make that movie. Five years from now. came out whenever. Because after Book of Eli, I said, I don't want to do another VFX movie. Like, I can't stand ish, you know? And here I am, you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:55:10
A few more visual effects. And
Albert Hughes 1:55:14
Yeah, that's also the lesson of like, you know, when you talk about, you said something earlier about, like, you got to wait to your next project or something like that right? Waiting thing. My plan was to make it five years from now, somebody came and said, I want to give you some money to make it now what are you gonna do say, no,
Alex Ferrari 1:55:31
No, you gotta roll you roll. Did you know that as well as I do, man, someone shows up with a check. He was like, Well, do I want to sign the damage of devil?
Albert Hughes 1:55:42
Yeah, and he showed up with a big check. He was like, you know, more money than that, than any other student would give that kind of movie.
Alex Ferrari 1:55:48
Right! In today's world.
Albert Hughes 1:55:50
The risky movies like no star, no English, you know, kind of esoteric, you know, culture from 20,000 years ago. And had they had they marketed it more as a mystery. I think they would have had they leaned into it. That's part of the problem of Hollywood was like, you gotta lean into your weakness. If you think that's a weakness that there's no dialogue in this movie. Why don't you lean in to cut a trailer that's fucking interesting. Like Baraka, you know that movie? 90. Yeah. Okay, that's not even a regular movie. It's like, that's an experience, right? Why don't you guys cut some shit like that? Okay, and let people know, they're going to experience something differently. You guys are cutting a Disney trailer trying to fool people and think this is a Disney movie. It's not a Disney movie. You know, it just got to a boy and a dog in it. It's not, you know, so it was like they were doing this, they were changing the kind of DNA you know, optically of the movie in a marketing sense, you know, right. And people's preconceived ideas of what this movie is supposed to be, you know, it looked like a Disney movie, you know, from it does marketing materials. And it's not a Disney movie.
Alex Ferrari 1:56:55
First of all, I'm, I'm I am shocked in that, do you had dealt with a sociopath in Hollywood? That's very unheard of. I've never, I've never heard of a story of an egocentric.
Albert Hughes 1:57:08
What is the difference in this sociopath, because he comes off as a mild mannered, they always, you know, meet volken Because I was I was doing research and inside, some of them are gregarious, they can win you over with their personality, you know, like that. He was a complete opposite. He was just doing stuff that didn't make any, you know, rational sense, right. And then it became a big addict waving contest, you know, and, you know, once you get into a big way contest with somebody, all bets are off on anything making sense at that point, you know, especially if you think you're in a moral, moral morally right place, you undefined
Alex Ferrari 1:57:43
And you know, that's and this is the funny thing about that, because I've had, I've had very interesting experiences in Hollywood, coming up, and I've been close, and I've had deals and I've had studio deals and coming off and on. And when you're starting out, Dick waving is hard. Because not to be crass. But it's not that large. You don't have a lot of weight behind. You don't have a lot of weight behind you to do it. But yet someone like yourself, who has a heck of a filmography you've worked on, you've had hits and things like that. And having to deal with it at that at this point in your career is sad, but it's the truth. And I want people to understand that that is the raw truth. And you're not the only director. Look, Mack Spielberg couldn't get financing for Lincoln. Scorsese couldn't get financing for that other. I forgot that that that last one we did, with Liam and Liam Nelson, Liam Neeson, and somebody I forgot to thank the priest movie. I forgot that one he could have run away. So the one that nobody saw because it was like a $200 million movie that was basically an experimental film that he'd been wanting to tell for 30 years. And Marty, I love you, brother. But you know, you know, I understand.
Albert Hughes 1:58:51
I saw the first five minutes I'm I'm good. I'm good.
Alex Ferrari 1:58:53
Yeah, exactly. But it happens to everybody. So I just want people to really understand that. Again, this is a wonderful, beautiful business, man. It really is. It's crazy. What works, when it works, but when it doesn't.
Albert Hughes 1:59:10
And then more times than not, it's not gonna work. You know, so we're trying to everything, everything is clicking, you know, and, or you might have to pick up the slack for somebody else, and that's bringing you down, right? And you know, what that battle did to me and we didn't get into the details of it. It's not even worth it. It's like, that was one of the most devastating wars I was ever in this business. Right. And it took a lot from, you know, took a lot from me. It was like being in an abusive relationship. Once you get out of it, you just go Wow, man was it was all that really worth it? The fact that he's not really in the business like he used to be? Yeah. I'm almost vindictive in that way. Because at a certain point in you know, this is a shocking part of that stories. Like he was editing the movie behind my back. Oh, like, listen, we've dealt with new line 20th Century Fox. For others, you know, aka Disney, they never would dream to do something like that. Unless it was a really extreme case of something going on. They always want the filmmaker on their side getting to the finish line, right? And the filmmaker wants them on your side, basically, right? This guy was starting wars everywhere, you know, with marketing with 20th Century Fox with me. And I'm like, Whoa, did not learn a lesson from history. Like you can't fight a battle on two fronts like Hitler. You can't you got the allies come up for you and the Russians come before you and Lord knows who else coming for you. Like you got to put out one of these fires. And one of the fires that could have put up with me, but what he did is when he edited behind my back, you know, this is the most devastating feeling if you're creating something, it's like, it's like someone literally took the kid out of your house your kid random street, right? And you get a phone call to go on the go, yo, we got your kid. We're not gonna tell you what we're doing your kid, right? We know where the kids get molested, fed, right? What views you don't know. Right? But we're gonna return your kid to you in a week and we want to know what you think about your kid. So then they return the kid to you my brother's got some Oshkosh shit on some hush puppies, you know, backwards as had an ill fitting shirt. His arm is lopped off his ears all the form got teeth missing is shaky. Like what the fuck did they do to him? Like I don't recognize my own kid. I gotta get his teeth bitches Airfix clothes. It's easy thing, right? So part of that battle was I had I had almost gone to arbitration. Yeah, with the DGA? Sure, no. And that gets into like, you know, the student employee? Oh, that's a really messy Yeah, yeah, no, no, I get it. Yeah, that's really devastating, you get to that point. And slowly, I started to see what power I did have and power I didn't have, you know, in dealing with a sociopath. And it was a slow drip drip process of restoring my kid back to what I intended, even under the compromise of the beginning being different in the end being different, which I wouldn't do, you know, I didn't want to do you know, so that that was the lesson for me. It's like, Oh, my God. And then there's this underlying racial thing. And I want to say, I know probably a lot of white white white listeners don't want to hear this. Even liberal white listeners probably don't want to hear this is like the stuff that we all have to deal with. And tomato code, people of color. It's like, you know, there's a finite number of directors around town that have Final Cut, we headed at one time, you know, after madness, right. And they were quick to take that shit away. Right? There's this, there's this rarefied air that only white men are allowed into. Right? That, you know, Steve McQueen belongs in, you know, I'm sure he's partially there. You know, Alphonse Caronia is kind of there. He's a person of color. He's there. He has
Alex Ferrari 2:02:49
Guielmmo Del Torro, Robert Rodriguez
Albert Hughes 2:02:53
There, you know, rare occasions, right? But it's something you know, at this stage of my career, I'm like, I shouldn't have to deal with this shit. Right? You know, I it's not ego talking. It's like, you know, even when I go into a film and you know, one of the producers wants call me and like, we want to hear in detail what you're going to do with this movie visually. And who are you hiring? Or should DP? And I'm like, at this stage. You can fuck with me about story you can fuck with me about actors? Don't fuck with me when it comes to this visual shit. Like, yo, I don't want to hear it. I'm not having it. You know? Yeah, this day
Alex Ferrari 2:03:28
At this stage in your life in this career. They're asking you from hell, dead presidents, you know, you know, I'm Book of Eli.
Albert Hughes 2:03:39
Like up the gate. We didn't we never had a problem with the visual side, right? So on book a beat, like they call me up and they said, I'm not gonna mention a DP I wanted to use. They're like, we're not cool with you using that DP. I'm like, What are you talking about? They go, here's a list of five names. You can pick from these, these five names. I'm like, Excuse me. Like, you guys have bigger concerns. Like, I got this over here. Like, even if the movie sucked. It's not gonna look bad. Okay. Just what are we doing, man? No, I had that. Yeah. Head
Alex Ferrari 2:04:10
In anyway, it's I can only imagine how frustrating that is. Because, you know, I had that I had to deal with that. Coming up. And and now I work at budget levels that I don't have to deal with that anymore. But I'm assuming when you're at that lows, larger budgets, but like, I mean, I know someone like Robert Rodriguez. You know, he just built he built his whole little, his little industry himself. And he's like, I don't care what you guys do. I'm gonna do my thing over here in Austin. And that's it. Don't worry about it. Don't worry about the DP cuz I'm gonna be the DP.
Albert Hughes 2:04:41
I'm gonna start to I'm gonna score and I'm gonna do this.
Alex Ferrari 2:04:45
He has control. He controls. Yeah, he does. And he controls the whole process. But he's written him he's a an anomaly in the in the industry.
Albert Hughes 2:04:52
The movies also pay for it, though, to be honest, his movies pay for the fact that he's taken on all those hats. Because I think it's a classic To thing and you do need an outsider, like an editor looking at it, you do need, you know, you could be your own cemetery. Sure you can. And sometimes it could work out. You don't wonderfully like Roma even though I don't think as a movie, it's mind blowing as a story, right? He did a great job as a cinematographer. And then we but more times than not you want someone who has perspective, you're not wearing all those hats, even David Fincher, who's completely capable of shooting his own movie, and everybody knows that
Alex Ferrari 2:05:27
Everybody so well, Kubrick too Kubrick was the same way.
Albert Hughes 2:05:29
Yeah, yeah. Oh, they hired a cinematographer for a reason. You know, and if those guys are doing it, that's that's what I get. Oh, Robert, does some amazing things are sequences in that first would said city what's that thing called City? Oh, city. There's the Mickey work stuff. It's like fucking awesome. Okay. Like there's there's the El Mariachi has some amazing stuff, right? But you can't score your movie, edit your movie and shoot your movie and expect to have the movie. Hold up. It just you know, I wouldn't suggest that for a filmmaker, but not mine.
Alex Ferrari 2:06:04
No, no. And I agree, but that works for him. And it's just the way he likes to do things. And that's, you know, you know, same thing. Look, same thing with them. I've talked to a bunch of people work with Fincher over the years. And, you know, I talked to he was a he was, um, UPM on on a seven. And that was Fincher second film. So Spicher wasn't Fincher, yeah, I mean, he, he was but he wasn't. And they told he told me stories is like, oh, Fincher lit that movie. Like he he was on every like he. Oh, nothing crazy stories about him. Yeah, like nothing. I'm not taking anything away from a friend. It was a kanji. Who was it? Was it gone? I think was kanji. Right. The DP? I think so on that one. Yeah. And that one was not taking anything away from him. He goes, but David was all up in his business telling him exactly what
Albert Hughes 2:06:54
He was up to heritabilities business too. You know, it's like, the thing about David Fincher, you know, his, his look, his his look, period, he can put the guy he put another DP in there, he's going to get his look, you know, and that's the lesson of David Fincher. And also the fact that he's, he's so meticulous in the craftsmanship. And the technical side is like, yes, he can literally do that job. And you can probably be the gaffer, you can probably be the grip, you can be the VFX supervisor. He could do a lot of other jobs, probably, you know,
Alex Ferrari 2:07:25
It's like, same thing with Cameron.Cameron is one of those guys who could arguably do every job and do it better.
Albert Hughes 2:07:35
But they know like, the smart thing is like, I gotta delegate this shit. You got a bigger picture. I gotta pick a picture look at and he still is a you know, I think pinchers very smart in in one way. It's like, if he was in the weeds, with the cinematographer, as a cinematographer, he can't take that step back. And he's now in the weeds from a step pack position. You know, he's able to like orchestrator.
Alex Ferrari 2:07:59
Yeah. I mean, I DP in my first feature, and I said, No, I'm good. I want to do this again. I want to give it I'd rather be
Albert Hughes 2:08:05
Part of me want to know what to do it and part of me that doesn't want to do it. And then I always fall on the side of not doing it. I did one or American pepper documentary. Yeah. Which is a documentary and I can get away with mistakes, you know, right. And I do my own personal projects, and I'm very happy with the work I do. Personally, you know, in my off time, right? I then I go on a movie. Now I'm good.
Alex Ferrari 2:08:26
Now that I did that for and I've been a colorist for, like 15 years. So I was like, what all I got to do is get it down. I just got to hit Get the ball down the street, just throw the ball right down the street. I'll fix it in post and trust me, I spent like six weeks, eight weeks just color grading, everything power windowing? Like, I was doing digital lighting. But after that, I was like, Yeah, I just, I watch and I'll be that one step back, like you say, and I'll get into the weeds because I know I could do it. But I rather have somebody else doing it without without question. Yeah.
Albert Hughes 2:08:54
What's amazing is that there's sometimes like, I would see with Peter damming or, or Don Burgess like they liked something. And there was one little note I had, you know, on the lighting, and sometimes I was too shy in my early career to tell a DP like, you know, can you just change that one thing, and then change that one thing changed the complexion of the scene for me, you know, not that they had done a great job watching it. And already they had. But there was one thing irk me. And that comes from like this, this thing that we didn't talk about what's like his aesthetic, you know, as a filmmaker, what's your aesthetic? And you know, that can be an external thing that you talked about earlier, where you're imposing your aesthetic. But to me, it's more like oh, what you hope your aesthetic to be because of your influences, right? But to me, it's more of an internal thing as you get older. It's almost like a sifter of gold. You know, there's only certain things that fit through that hole. And the stuff that remains in the top is you know, you're editing out stuff you don't like, and the stuff that remains on the top is your aesthetic, right? So when you're looking at a frame, you're looking at the performance, and you're thinking about it from your gut and your heart You got some bothered me there, that's your aesthetic talking to you. Something bothers me about that frame. It's not like your influences that are talking to you. It's your gutsy, move it two inches to the, to the right, drop that light, move that actor over there, boom, boom. And it's, it's all coming together because you're not intellectualizing it, basically. Right. So that's something that you have yet to learn.
Alex Ferrari 2:10:24
Yeah. And then that's the other thing that they don't tell you is like, when you hire a DP, a production designer, a composer, an actor, you're looking for taste and taste is something you can't teach. And that's what like, we talked about Fincher, you're gonna die, but you can't, you can buy tastes, but you can't teach it. And there's something about it. Like, if you've got good taste, and no money to make a movie, your movie is gonna come out I it's, it's, it's gonna get I, you know, it's gonna be I, it's gonna be solid, but you can give someone $50 million with bad taste. And we've seen those movies. You know, it's just, you've totally agree.
Albert Hughes 2:11:09
It's not, that's something I was dealing with. On my last movie, I have constantly had this problem, because there were certain departments that weren't up to snuff, or one department in particular, I'm not going to bring up that wasn't up to snuff. We were able to Band Aid over it. So nobody realized what it was. But halfway through the shoot me and my was it, me and my crew, you know, camera man and whatnot. And producers, we realized that this person didn't have taste, you know, and when it's true, it's got a prop or halfway through this movie, and this person doesn't have taste. So that means you guys all got to step up. And I got to step up, we got to level up that makes sure that the audience doesn't see that this person's non taste is coming through. You know, and that was a lot about by the way, it cost us it cost us dearly. You know, it takes a year to cover up that mistake, basically. Right. And you're looking at a guy like Robert Richardson. Yeah, yeah, sure. That mob taste up the wazoo. Okay, you set up. You set him free to do his thing you can put on with a you can put him on the director that's not visual. He's gonna get you that. He's gonna like Deakins. Yeah, like the big it's gonna get you where you can get you there. Right, right. There's other DPS that I'm on that mentioned the name. There's a couple of DPS. I've worked with pincher when they don't work with them. You don't see it. Right? When they when they do work on them. You're like, interesting how this guy looks dope as fuck when he works with Fincher. Then he goes and does another movie. It's like, it looks like a one. What do you call it a one light past the one light past?
Alex Ferrari 2:12:46
Oh my god on one light fast. For the kids listening, a one light pass is what uh, tell us any artist will just throw the film up and just basically get whatever image they can get that you can visually see it and they just run it without anyone supervising it. That is a one light
Albert Hughes 2:13:02
No corrections, no correction, correction. It's whether the sun is out or whether you're in the shade, it's gonna be the same look.
Alex Ferrari 2:13:11
Now, looking back, man at your career, brother, if you had if you had one thing to tell your 20 year old self about great questions. Thanks, man. Then, so if you have if you could tell yourself one thing, your 20 year old self go back and go, You know what, man? You're gonna go you I'm not even going to tell you the adventure you're going to go on for the next 25 years. It's gonna be a ride and a half. But man, just this is the one thing you really got to keep in mind.
Albert Hughes 2:13:41
Jesus, man, that's a tough one. Because I actually came up with the answer a year ago, because I asked myself that same question, and I forgot what the I forgot what the answer was. But Jesus. Man, you you you stumped me. Because that's a question I've been asked before in my career, and I've been you see, it's easily easy to rattle it off, like dismissible. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 2:14:10
But But, but if you want something deep, like I mean, I've asked myself the question and like, when I look back, I'm just gonna go under the biggest the biggest lesson for me is you got to be patient, because it's not going to go as fast is not going to go as fast as you think it's going to go. And I don't care how big you are, how much money you make, how big your budgets are, who you're working with, it's not going to go as fast as you want it to go.
Albert Hughes 2:14:34
Well, that's that's a really important thing, because I'm my brother's this way too. We're extremely impatient people. And I did learn to become more patient on the set. And well, here's one thing I would tell myself and I learned a lot of things I would tell myself already learned the hard way, right. And this thing that I told you about earlier, but editing, you learn your hard lessons, your most punches are going to take in the face of probably going to be in the Edit to me, okay. because you learn, like, got a call cut too early, I got lazy that day, I only did two, two shots instead of five shots, I should have stayed that fifth shot that I really wanted, you know, and the result as a person is always something your cutscenes they do this extra shot, more state and this extra thing. Yeah. And you know, I'm guilty of being lazy, right? Sometimes, you know, but I've been burned so many times from my own fuck ups in the edit, that I learned this thing about being patient on the set, meaning like, you fucking absolutely get what you need to get before you leave, okay? Because you're going to pay for it, and it's going to be burned and film is going to be on your catalogue. And it's going to be embarrassing to you for the rest of your fucking life. So why not deal with a little uncomfortable day to get it right, rather than a lifetime of embarrassment that you got it wrong. Right. And that made me patient. So I guess I would say to my younger self, it's like, it's tied to the editing thing. It's, it's, you know, practice your craft. One one right in your off time, and learn how to edit. You know, which I already kind of did. But you need these experiences of falling in your face. No, of fucking up a scene. You know, because every movie has fucked up every movie it's ever been made head fuck ups and I've had several movies, I've been lucky enough to be able to cut them out some of them right? Or to glaze over with another creative fix. But there were times even on my last one we awful it's like I fucked up a whole day. You know, like, I blew a day but you're not doing it right? You know, and it's gonna happen. It's always gonna happen. And not to get frustrated by that. But here it is. And I'm not sure I said I found the answer. The answer to my younger self is embrace the scars of battle. Because we'll start those scars are gonna teach you more than the victories that you went unscathed.
Alex Ferrari 2:16:53
Yeah, like preach. Preach. Preach My friend. I feel like testify right now. Dude.
Albert Hughes 2:17:01
It's like It's like PTSD. It's like you you know this when you run into another project. There's something back in mind like don't do that fucking thing. You did a fucking you fucked up like a year ago you do this thing? Don't do it. Right. You really paid a price for doing that right so all my scars are right up like a crown like a thorn crown of Jesus around my head right? Just dripping in my everyday like blood reminded me not to do it. Every year. There's another thorn added to that crown. You know that it's a painful reminder every day I woke up and said, Now what a hump because you get to a point as a filmmaker. If you're not careful, you gotta start filming yourself here and there. You know you
Alex Ferrari 2:17:37
Oh yeah. I can't write right bro. Listen, man, you you guys had like a hit a studio movie at 20 or 2020 20 years old. 2021. Dude. I was I was out of control at 2324 and done crap. I had done like some commercials. I was editing making some money as an editor like I was really high paid editor back in Florida back in the day. And my ego look, I would have self I would have completely imploded if I would had your kind of success. I was just not prepared for I did not have
Albert Hughes 2:18:11
What brought back down though. What brought you back now?
Alex Ferrari 2:18:14
Oh, I'll tell you the story. The story is I almost made this is real, real quick. I wrote a whole book about it. My first book I wrote was about me almost making a movie for the mob. And I was hired to do I had to do the title itself. Wait a minute. It's called shooting for the mob. It's the book. And that the story this I'm not joking. This is a story. I'll tell you real quick. Everybody who's listening knows the story. Because if I follow my podcast, so this is a story. I was hired by an ex gangster, real dude who spent time in prison. I checked them out Italian guy. I was hired to do a $20 million movie about his life. And I was 26. And I was just like I you know, I was I was green. But I wasn't that green. So I was like, this still sounds a little fishy. I was in Florida at the time. And it's like it's a little grid systems a little fishy. But it kept going. And he offered it to me and I got stuck. And this is something you didn't have to deal with. But I did my generation did. My generation of filmmakers who didn't have your success dealt with what I call the lottery ticket mentality of Robert story of your story of Kevin Smith's story, like all I need is no guarantee no story in all those stories that came out in the early 90s. We all kind of wrapped up into this. When's my shot? When's my mariachi when's my clerks and when this guy showed up? He fed into that and I was like, Oh, this is my mariachi maybe I should take advantage of this. So he hires me on then we we open up our production offices in a racetrack from the 50s. So our production offices are in a racetrack in the 50s No, it gets better. So then he's like, you know, I shoot a sizzle reel shot in 35. It's all this kind of you know Great stuff we, I pay for half of it he pays for half of it. It's all kumbaya then you know Joe Pesci shows up. I'm not talking about it, he turns into Joe Pesci from Goodfellas. If you remember Joe Pesci from Goodfellas he, when he's fun, man, do I want to party with Joe like he is the best. But in a split second, I'm going to kill you and throw you in a ditch. I dealt with that daily for a year. So that so then, so that's a story of the filmmaking of with a gangster is not cool enough. Hollywood took him seriously. And I was flown out to LA I met the head of CAA. I met billion dollar producers and they're freaking out. I'm at the chef. I'm getting I'm at the Chateau Marmont. I'm at the ivy taking meetings with stars. I even went to go meet Batman and I met one of the actors went Batman. So I went with Batman's house for a day. Like, dude, I'm 26 from Florida, bro. Like I hadn't like never had anything like this happened to me before. And that beating have a year of being so close. Like, dude, when you're sitting and you know this, when you're sitting three feet away from a movie star, like the you grew up with watching. And he's like, I want to be in your movie. And I want you to be my director. And then a few days later, because of the agent, because it's something else happened. Because it's scheduled. It's gone. That happened to me probably four or five times in that year meeting these kind of, it's kind of like that Boondock Saints story. On the same project. Same project I was doing it was like the hot project in town because everyone's like, oh, where's the money coming from? Is it the mob money? I had actors meet with us because he was attached to my hip. Because he was the gangster had to be there because he wanted all that action. They just met with us because they just wanted to see him. They wanted to have a story of talking to a gangster. So that was that popped my bubble and gave me a lot of shrapnel. A lot of shrapnel took me 3 years
Albert Hughes 2:21:53
Like how long did it take you? How long did it take you to decompress back down to earth?
Alex Ferrari 2:21:58
Oh, no. Oh, no. I was I was deflated within a few months of working with this guy. I had no dude, I was not. Dude, I was I had no tools. I had no armor. I had no no weapons to defeat mice. I'd never met anyone like that in my life. So I couldn't I couldn't defend myself. So I was just I just I just like I was just holding on for dear life during that process.
Albert Hughes 2:22:22
And what did you did you did you come out of it lower than you were when you came in, and you're the backup baseline
Alex Ferrari 2:22:27
Three years, three years before I did anything else. I never I almost went bankrupt. I almost file bankruptcy. I lost my girl. I almost lost my house because I wasn't paid. He owed me $1,000 loss meant my dog came in later. You know, it was like it was a really bad thing. I couldn't even look at a movie like thinking about shooting. I didn't shoot for two and a half three years. I just couldn't. Couldn't I was destroyed. Imagine getting this is hard for you. Because you you had early success. I had been chasing this since I was in my video store days when I was 1516. When I decided I wanted to be a filmmaker. I was chasing it. And then these stories of like, you know mariachi clerks and she's gotta have it and all these stories you hear
Albert Hughes 2:23:13
You bringing that up I don't I don't even like that's a fascinating angle. Right! Because with the lottery,
Alex Ferrari 2:23:19
No, it's a lottery ticket. No, it's complete lottery ticket and have been talking about the lottery ticket mentality for such a long time because filmmakers get caught up with like, why I need my Reservoir Dogs. I need you know, I need to do this. And they they throw They gamble everything on. On the one shot you got. And this is the thing I always talk about, like filmmaking is the only you like, I think you've said it in other interviews. Like, you don't need any degree to do this. Like you don't need any permission to do this. So that brings in all sorts of crazies into this not like a doctor, like surgery is surgery. Like if you're there with a scalpel, you have to pass through some stuff to get to that point, filmmaker, like you can literally be off the street, you just sold cookies. And now you're on a set like directing an actor like that's, that's the craziness of this film of this business.
Albert Hughes 2:24:06
Alex Ferrari 2:24:07
It's somewhat, so I lost my train of thought because I was going all over the place. But know that in a lottery ticket mentality, so then you you constantly are rolling the dice on that one shot. And that's the only place where I've see filmmakers go, I'm going to take my shot and I'm going to spend $100,000 or $500,000. I'm going to mortgage my house, I'm going to risk my relationship I'm going to risk for the one lottery ticket shot as opposed to it's the equivalent of going into Yankee Stadium, come up the plate against a major league hitter and expecting to hit a homerun on the first swing of your first bat ever. You should focus on you should not focus on homeruns you should focus on first Netflix, dude Foul ball. Foul balls. Let's start off like let's just let's kiss wood to ball man just let's just let's connect then start working on singles then start working on doubles but that
Albert Hughes 2:25:03
Goes through but that goes to the point of like maybe you should be working this shit on your off time and you know they all rap like go back to the studio and get your shit tighter man. Go back to the lab.
Alex Ferrari 2:25:12
But but that's the thing and that's what I try to break that falsehood in the myth that has been created and filmmakers because you hear it like and every year or every few years you hear a story you hear like Shaun Baker with tangerine. Oh, we shot a film on an iPhone. You know, I had Sean on the show I talked to shot it's Dude dude had shot like three films on 35 prior to doing iPhone film
Albert Hughes 2:25:34
I love project I love the project's amazing.
Alex Ferrari 2:25:37
He's in a very accomplished, but people all they hear is he shot a film on iPhone that got Sundance, so if I grab an iPhone to shoot, I'm gonna get a Sundance. No, that's not that's not the way it works. And I tried to break that myth down
Albert Hughes 2:25:50
Your perspective there is interesting because I've never heard that before. That what happened in the early 90s and even trickles out to now you know what tangerine is like how it affects filmmakers coming up. Okay, never saw it from that angle like Jesus Christ that's that it's fucking weird because I didn't feel that because you did back then was like Spike Lee came out, you know, Hollywood shuffle with Robert Townsend, you know, talking about like people of color. You know, like, because when we were doing it at age 1213 1415 Before we had a conception that it would be a profession. Subconsciously, we're thinking there's no fucking way we're black. Subconsciously, we're thinking always see Spielberg and Lucas and Coppola and Scorsese. Dude, I don't look like us.
Alex Ferrari 2:26:32
I didn't see any Latinos but Robert, Robert showed up
Albert Hughes 2:26:37
Now you guys are running. You guys are running the game now. Okay, but he fucking won so much over one three Oscars back to back. Okay. Back to it's never gonna happen again in life. Then you got fucking Alfonso. I think it's a fucking Rockstar. Okay. Yeah, no Mexican game is front gear. Full front, right? Yeah. Full last on it. You know, there's no disputing them. Right? Yeah. Right now. They were around when you were in they were but they weren't to this degree. You know, Robert Robert Frost was not
Alex Ferrari 2:27:11
Mariachi, was it?
Albert Hughes 2:27:14
This and he would for us to that story was big for us were like this dude did what $7,000 Like, so we didn't think it was possible. You know, it was a hobby. And then and then we saw Hollywood shuffle. Oh. Oh, I love that movie. I love it. Love it. Okay. And then, and then she's got to have it was in our video store. And we took it home. And you know, first few minutes, we're like, it's black and white. We're too young. You know, like, like, fuck this movie right? Later. We appreciate it. And we got older, but it told us something. It's like, oh, we can actually do this as a profession. We can actually do that. And then it was like the the power of ignorance to the, you know, power of naiveness. You know, the, the thing that you have when you're young is brashness, this kind of the stuff that me my brother did when we were young, like just the bulk of showing up somewhere and just almost demanding that we were going to be heard, you know,
Alex Ferrari 2:28:07
It's stupidity, ignorance and stupidity. Yeah.
Albert Hughes 2:28:10
Oh, like, we knew that there was without it. There was no doubt in our mind, once we put our mind to the filmmaking thing. Yeah, that not only were we going to a film that everybody would see, but that we would be known filmmakers, we knew that there was no, there was no question because our whole life had been groomed to that point, meaning that we were these oddball biracial twins that were going to Detroit that were always looked at as outsiders and our life was built for Hollywood in a way because people were looking at us already because we were twins. So we already got that salt. Like it's not weird that people are looking at us anymore, right? Or somebody wants to talk to us or come up and because we're a freak show on wheels, you know, two twins biracial twins. Then you add in like we're 18 years old directing then we're 20 years old directed so there's no whole nother freak show element coming to play here. Right. And and the the most important thing and this is me talking to the young man out there is that we weren't distracted by Plessy never like the I've seen, you know, the distraction of sex Throw, throw away so many careers. And men sometimes are like in this in this mode of like, you know that Scarface line first you get the power then you get to proceed then you get to them. And they and they feel like once they get the women they've made it basically right like no, that's not what making it is about is if you truly love this game, you're not in it for the awards, you know in it for the sex you're not in it for the five star hotels. That's why I actually disagree with award shows. I don't think that there should be any awards given to anything having to do with film at all. I think it's it's so ridiculous that this industry is awarding itself for for this art form. Okay if it's considered an art form first because it's not 100 yard dash we all start out the same, you know, same muscles, and we're running the same race. No, we're not running to say how are you who's to say that after it's better than after this year or that director is better than this director? It's it's silliness, right? That five star hotels you got for Damn. You get you get to have sex with people you have no business having sex with, right? That you want to fry one or five, you've got your own motherfucker, you can treat it special. You're a rarefied air. Even if you're in a lower end of the business, you're in a very privileged, entitled, position. Okay. So why would you be entitled to a fucking award for doing that? No, I'm sorry.
Alex Ferrari 2:30:39
And I just want to go back to one thing you said, Man, can we just sit for a moment and appreciate Robert Townsend? I mean, oh, man, can I just I because and I've said this a bunch on the show, because because Hollywood Shuffle was the first credit card independent film. It was before it was before it was before Kevin and clerks and all that stuff. And people don't know about it, because they don't take it seriously because it was a comedy. But what Robert said in that movie, talking about how African Americans were being treated and actors, it was so biting man, it was so perfect. It was such a such a well crafted film. And
Albert Hughes 2:31:19
By the way, Peter Demmick shot most of that, that no videos that Peter Deming shot that he shot both of it. And like you know me about the process was like you'd shoot for a weekend, and then you wouldn't be wouldn't you to give her another six months, because you have to get the whole thing together.
Alex Ferrari 2:31:33
Right And he puts everything together. And he did I mean for and I understand he did very, very well because it cost like, I don't know, like 50,000 or 100,000, whatever it costs. It didn't cost a whole heck of a lot back then. But it was on credit 100 100 And somebody's credit card, but he did very, very well was a big hit at the time
Albert Hughes 2:31:49
People that were in the movie. I mean, the actors that were in the movie went on to have careers like Kenan there was a couple actresses that broke out of that thing, you know, like, and I remember seeing it in the theater, which is me, my brother and our friend and we were laughing hysterically. It was because it was just so like, it was fighting.
Alex Ferrari 2:32:06
It was so it was such a satire and so beautifully crafted, and he doesn't get the credit. He should get
Albert Hughes 2:32:14
No he doesn't from independent because I bring up sometimes I bring him up sometimes the people like huh, like they said, somebody will say like, oh, that we're gonna debate about like, what's a hood classic or like what's, uh, you know, that somebody will say, oh, like Friday or this or that, you know, some of the smaller films that kind of became became cold classes like no Hollywood, I'll pick Hollywood shuffle over Friday any day of the week. Because of also eclectic. It was like, you know, I wanted that whole like detective story in black and white for a moment right?
Alex Ferrari 2:32:43
It was all over
Albert Hughes 2:32:45
It was all Siskel and Ebert spoof right you know the Winky dinky dog. Like I love to like
Alex Ferrari 2:32:53
I love the part what he's what he's the classically trained British actor and he's trying to like tell the truth and then the white guy is trying to teach them how to talk good Nah, man you gotta put more bass in
Albert Hughes 2:33:07
One more phonic you know, more Murphy like more more phonic. But anybody? What's what's what's goes back to the story about Denzel. It's like, the story of benzyl is in that movie. And I want to tell you that this stuff I've heard it's, it's like Denzel was going to auditions being told to be like Eddie Murphy. And he grew a chip on his shoulder from years and years and years of being told how to be black. You know, even if we go back to carbon, copy the whole movies about that basically, right? If you remember carbon copy, and he still hasn't let that go. Denzel that era in Hollywood of what he had to go through. And and that's some of the reason why he he moves the way he does on the set, you know, is that he has those battle scars that we talked about earlier as an actor being rejected, because he wasn't Murphy like. So I'm telling you my Harvey Weinstein story, because you were just telling me off the record about your book and one director that we won't name. But this is this goes to your overall point about getting punched in the face in your career. Right, right. And we're doing American pant, and we decided to do this documentary about pimps. And we start by shooting I shot some super footage on a couple of pimps and edited together like 10 minutes of it, right. And we started showing it to like, distributors like, you know, we have Miramax and a couple other companies out there and people are biting they love this little 10 minute take we have that right? And they're offering us like, you know, two or $3 million at a time and back, you know, when documentaries weren't big, you know, only Michael Moore was big, right? And we go into this hotel room and we had met Harvey and Bob before but we didn't know them that well. Right. And you know, Harvey's in their chain smoking we show the pimp thing they're over the moon about oh my god, we're gonna have this we gotta have this. It's hard we got I had this will give you 2.5 for it right now. Oh my god. And then just hold off, hold off, right? We eventually finished American Pam, with our own money. At one point, you know, Jimmy IV, and it helped us because it was originally supposed to be a showcase for Dr. Dre given the soundtrack. And Jimmy Ising had my brother Dr. Dre in American camp was involved in it. So we finished this thing. And we have these, you know, illusions or delusions of Granger, that we're gonna do what everybody else does with Sundance, and we're gonna go sell our dock at Sundance, right. The day they put the the thing on the market for screening, which was that they put it in shitty theaters in the outskirts of town. It stopped out at the time, right? We get there, and we're in a hotel room, you know, almost counting our money, you know, like, we did it. You know, we did what you're supposed to come to Sundance for. So your movie, right? We didn't realize at the time, the backlash that we take. They were writing pieces about us real time that week about like, how dare they think they come and sell a movie at Sundance. I mean, literally, like the white boys could do it.
Alex Ferrari 2:36:05
Because you arrived. Because you already arrived, you shouldn't be there.
Albert Hughes 2:36:10
I didn't realize what the Animus was, there was a few things going on. Okay. One thing was, they were saying how dare they do that? And how dare they even make a documentary. Like they just thought we shouldn't even be fucking in a dock space, right? It's crazy. The dock space, right. And then there was this other element, which was this unsaid kind of racialized thing where they were just destroying us over the kind of content and we realize halfway through what was going on, they didn't like the fact that black men were pimping white girls, right? Even the liberal mind couldn't take that you're slapping white ass everything. It just, it was too much for them. They can watch a KKK documentary, they can watch a monster documentary with 1000 people get murdered. They just couldn't take the content as one right? Even though it came because our plan was in that movie was let's go in the front door 500 700 screens and make just pop eventually would happen with that movie. And I'll get back to the Harvey thing. What happened with that movie was it came up from the underground and seeped its way into the hip hop culture on our records and stuff like that and became a college thing. And you know, it hit the culture. But if it went to the back door, our dream and the way we saw it, we got punched in the nose by Sundance, we went there riding high thing, we're gonna sell this thing for like five, six $7 million. And what happened is that they have the screening, all these distributors went in with our Fast Pass. Got it the people that had actually bought tickets or got tickets early, and the whole screening room was filled with distributors, and they were snickering the whole time and they were kind of like you know, we had reports of people that were with us like you know, they're like Yeah, fuck these guys. We're not gonna we're not gonna bid on this one again, but and they stuck it to us right? Meanwhile, we're like thinking Harvey Bob we're gonna watch this thing. They will return our agents called they won't say anything we hear a rumor that they set a print themselves watched it and not one person fit Okay, we got this like the lowly distribution distribution Bill MGM eventually came in for video. And it was in the low points of our career because we're coming in and thinking we're gonna, you know, be gold. And they they hated us for a lot of reasons. One was, we did sell it to him a year earlier. How dare you held off?
Alex Ferrari 2:38:18
How dare you?
Albert Hughes 2:38:19
How dare you? How dare you? And they were so offended but so that was the first low point in our career we got punched in the mouth right? Meanwhile, we're like whatever the Harvey like. This is fucked up. Like at least call us up and tell us you don't want to do it right call our agent call up somebody. Cut to we we make from hell. We're at the Venice Film Festival premiering it. And we're with Johnny. We're doing a red carpet. It's a big rollout. And Harvey's there at the premiere. He's sitting with a member of the royal family from offshoot who's sneaking out from hell because it's through the whole string and you snickering because it's the royal theory in the movie right? About the jack Ripper is actually a royal royal doctor. The movie ends. Harvey looks at those. Oh my god. Fantastic. I got something great for you. You guys. Show up. We're gonna have this get together with Johnny we're having dinner. We're celebrating the movie. You know, they didn't have a party for you guys. So we're gonna hold a party just come over to this place. We're gonna have guys come. We go there. The big 10 dinner table set up everybody has see Johnny has a seat. His agent has a seat. 20 Other people have a seat. We don't have a seat. And our own so called party that Harvey throwing for our movie, right? And he comes up to us and he pulls out his wallet goes here take my wallet. Wanted to have it. Move. It's gonna take you all the way to the Oscars. That's gonna take you all the way to the Oscars. Right? So really, that's interesting. Are we I mean yeah, Harvey that's really interesting. Um, what happened on American pimp? Do we have a movie for you? You never call us back? Did it? I just went off right? And he started sweating profusely to start beat sweat going on to it. Well, you got to understand, we could release an NC 17 film, motherfucker who said it was nc 17 It was a rated R movie talking about man. said my piece, turned my back, walked away. My brother walked away to right next to him. I see him as literally I think it may be the screening of Stanley Kubrick so eyes wide shot at the academy. Right. I'm walking in the Brett Ratner wall people, okay. And he goes up the harpy starts hobnobbing with them. I'm standing there, Harvey won't even look at me. doesn't acknowledge them. There's only three of us, right? Those are the breaks man. Right? Leave that situation. Knowing that Harvey's gonna get his one day that we all heard the story. We didn't know they were as bad as what they were. But proud of the fact that I actually stood up to him and shit, right. Good for you. Bullshit. It's not a great story. But it's a punch in the nose story, you know, and it also involves, you know, arguably, to the biggest douche it's in the business. Sorry, I'll say it.
Alex Ferrari 2:41:08
I think that's, uh, I think I think that's safe to say, sir. I think that's safe to say. on both counts, so I don't think anyone's gonna argue too hard on defending.
Albert Hughes 2:41:18
There's a huge gray area, you know, like when I'm lowering the grayscale one? completely black?
Alex Ferrari 2:41:24
Yeah, it gets on, but on both of their parts. Thank you for that additional story, sir. All right. Jesus, man, well, listen, man, I'm going to ask you a last few questions. They're going to rapid fire that I asked all my guests. What advice would you be free? If you were a tree? What kind of tree? What advice? Would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?
Albert Hughes 2:41:54
That's something I expected that question. And what's weird about the answer is like, you're talking about how you came up. And I was talking about how I came up. And when we came up, there was no Instagram. There was no Vimeo there was no YouTube, there was no Twitter. Right? It was no this. It's, it would almost be presumptuous for me to know how to answer that question for somebody because me and you didn't come up in this climate, right? And the question is, how do you break through all that noise? Right, you know, like, like, I always do believe that the cream rises to the top, it eventually does. And even if you're in your basement, doing some genius video, you're gonna have someone like I had my brother who was like, no, let me get your number. And, you know, someone's gonna help you get seen or heard. And I remember talking to a film school about a year ago, and I had to have the hard conversation about this. It's like, figure out if you have talent or not figure that out really quickly. Because it once you figure out if you have talent or not, you can move on to more realistic goals. If you don't have talent, you can be a grip, you can be a gaffer, and even some of those are talented people. They grow into talented grips, or gaffers, but it's not the same required talent. As a filmmaker. A lot of these people are under illusions, delusions, and everything in between, that they got something that they don't have. They have to find out first and foremost, do they have talent? And if you have talent, are you willing to nurture and go through with that talent and fucking fully go full ass? You know, put the blinders on and keep your head down and go, right,
Alex Ferrari 2:43:32
Put the work in,
Albert Hughes 2:43:33
If you don't put the work and if you don't have to get the fuck out the way man.
Alex Ferrari 2:43:38
Amen. Amen, brother. Amen. I'm gonna put that on a t shirt. Find out if you got talented if you don't get the fuck out the way.
Albert Hughes 2:43:49
Oh, wait, man, you're just wasting space man. Like, you're just, you're just waiting. You're just Potter your potter now.
Alex Ferrari 2:43:55
Right? And I would add to that find out you have talent and taste. And I think they go hand in hand. But taste. Yeah. Yeah. But that tasting is a big.
Albert Hughes 2:44:06
It's a massive thing. It's definitely a massive thing you can get by with talent and no taste. You can't get by with tasting no talent.
Alex Ferrari 2:44:12
That's right. Like, I can paint a beautiful picture. I just don't know how to paint.
Albert Hughes 2:44:22
All right, yo.
Alex Ferrari 2:44:23
So what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?
Albert Hughes 2:44:33
The thing you brought up, I think the patient's thing, right? And too often, what I've learned recently is don't engage and get you, you know, putting your stick and everybody's peanut butter. Meaning that when you're making something and you think that you need to get involved in a DP and a production designer talking about some intricacy of something, or there's some little battle going over here between two crew members and you think that you're your master diplomat and you're going to show up in salt Every you gotta be set Captain save a ho, you're not okay. When when you're when you're older you learn in a room full of 20 people when you're in a board, boardroom table, yeah, you got it, you got to zone out. And let let let them do what they got to do, it'll fall where it may. And you may need to step step in and start start upon, right. But don't engage in every battle, you're exhausted, ah,
Alex Ferrari 2:45:23
You'll you'll be exhausted.
Albert Hughes 2:45:26
Because in the end, you can win those battles. If you just take yourself out of those battles, let them let them eat at each other, you know, whatever things going on between them and you think it's affecting your movie, it may be is, but let them exhaust themselves. And then you step in if you have to, you know, that took me a long time to learn that because I was wasting a lot of energy, but my stick and other people peanut butter, it was my jar peanut butter. But, you know, within that jar with a bunch of little jars that I shouldn't have been even engaging it.
Alex Ferrari 2:45:54
I agree with you sometimes. That takes time. And that takes time as a director to learn that because at the beginning you just like well, why is the PA not happy? Why are these two PA is fighting? Like maybe I should get into that? Nah, man, that's you got bigger fish to fry and
Albert Hughes 2:46:09
You know, you don't have the energy and you're stuck in a room with the with the crew, and I just find myself with someone like a daze like a daydream. I just like it's almost I hear a buzz. It's like, I hear the noise of them talking. And I think I know what they're saying and everything like that, but I'm like, I'm actively engaged. It cerebrally like it's a river away. I'm like, no move.
Alex Ferrari 2:46:30
You know? Not good enough. Nope.
Albert Hughes 2:46:34
Nope. Should there it smile? It was it was an old thing I read. And you know, this is a terrible example. terawatt, you know, I'll preface it by saying I was reading some books on Hitler. And he basically in Donald Trump did the same thing. But I don't think knowingly, he encouraged infighting amongst his his men, you know,
Alex Ferrari 2:46:54
Amongst his own his own men. Yeah.
Albert Hughes 2:46:57
That's his own man. Yeah. He liked the competitive nature because he felt like in the end, the best thing was going to come from a lot of creative people do that. That's why I hate bringing up the Hitler thing because he doesn't deserve credit for for this technique, right. It's a leadership thing. It's like, a lot of infighting can be useful. You know, if it's healthy infighting, and the best idea can come from it. But sometimes you got to know like, stay out of that fight. Because survival of the fittest goes on inside that organism called the crew. And sometimes as the VFX supervisor is fighting with the DP over something, you know, the best will come out of that, you know, hopefully it won't be like an overbearing personality. That's that's winning a battle. He shouldn't she shouldn't win. But yeah,
Alex Ferrari 2:47:42
But that's your job to keep an eye on that.
Albert Hughes 2:47:44
Really fucked up. I brought up a Hitler reference for that. But
Alex Ferrari 2:47:47
No, but if that's any, any, you know, I'm sure Attila the Hun probably did a little bit of that as well.
Albert Hughes 2:47:52
Yeah. Oh, yeah. Reference game.
Alex Ferrari 2:47:59
What was the biggest fear you had to overcome when you made your first feature?
Albert Hughes 2:48:06
That imposter? Yeah, the imposter syndrome, the imposter syndrome. You know, my mom has this, this thing you heard before was like, fake it till you make it. And I never understood she probably met, right? You know, there's those classic books or movies where the person doesn't think they're a superhero, or they don't think they're King Arthur. And, and all of a sudden, they find out they grown to this position of like, like, I deserve to be here. And you shed the imposter syndrome. So when you're involved in imposter syndrome, and everybody is unless you're a fucking sociopath, right? Everybody in the world we did very early on is that, because everybody doubted us, my brother and I would walk over part of the set and we start putting our hands up like this, like we're designing a shot, we weren't doing shit, we were just like, let's act like we're, we're directors. So that they're think we're really mowing this shit over, we're really not mowing, I was super prepared and still have the imposter syndrome. And slowly through acting, like being a director, you know, or what I thought a director did, I became one, you know, and I shed all that, you know, you know, the fake stuff. Basically, it wasn't nothing to do with ego or, you know, my personality was off the charts or anything like that was like going through the motions of acting like a leader until I learned how to be a leader, basically, right. And then you know, you're going to always feel, you know, even today, I gotta say, sometimes when you're in a low end of getting punched in the nose in this business, the imposter stuff starts to rise up. Yeah, you know, I like but I want to know, your darkest hours when your heads against the headboard. You're just like, Do I really have what it takes?
Alex Ferrari 2:49:53
And I want everyone listening. You know, you Albert Hughes, who's done as many things as you've done your career still Deal with it. And I've talked to a lot a lot of people on my show, and every single one of them thinks at any moment, they're like, is Spielberg gonna just come in here and go, What are you doing here, get out of here.
Albert Hughes 2:50:13
But you got to also know that if you deal with depression, which, you know, the situational depression or clinical depression, both suffer from the same thing, just be it because everybody can deal with depression in one way or another, you know, meaning, you know, it might be a small case, you know, it's very human thing to deal with the depression spurs on that insecurity. So, while you're depressed, you have to tell yourself, because you may have lost the project, you know, you may have gone through what you told me what that gangster film right on the backside, that you may have been in a funk, you couldn't believe right? And that will make you more insecure. Oh, and you're not gonna look at that like reality. Like that's not reality. That's not baseline. You're not at baseline right there. Don't judge yourself off. And you depression is another big lesson, you know? And don't judge yourself often when you're feeling yourself either. Because sometimes when I was feeling myself, after I've been through all those battles, I kept in mind like, dude, nigga, stop fooling yourself, because you're gonna get punched in the mouth tomorrow.
Alex Ferrari 2:51:09
But it was, I think George Clooney said it best is like, when they write the best things about you in the press, don't believe it. And the same thing goes when they write the worst things about you don't believe it? Is?
Albert Hughes 2:51:18
Yeah, the thing I totally believe in is like, what I was another thing people have been warned when I get in this business, if they start getting written about, you know, having to deal with that. And this new world, right, is I'll read, let's say 10 reviews. And seven of them are positive, two are mixed, and one is negative, right? Those seven positive can't make up for that one negative, that one negative is hanging with me, right? And that one negative, especially if it's something I believe is true, if I believe it to be true, oh my god, like, why don't working on my hair, but why?
Alex Ferrari 2:51:53
Like I you know, I have books out and I've had my movies out and now you it's not just like critics like anybody, any time Harry can write a comment about something. Anyway, keyboard, right? So you get like 100 positive reviews, you got four and a half, four 4.9 stars on something, right? And there's that one dude is like, this is a shit. This is crap. And you just like and you only remember that one you don't remember the 100 before
Albert Hughes 2:52:22
The two step the two things you have to separate with a negative review is if you believe it or not, it used to be even if I didn't believe what they were saying it affected me it doesn't affect me anymore. If I don't believe it, like I'm dead presidents a review came out it was really interesting. It was like we had an actor in a movie who was staccato and his performance to say the least. And he had to be sculpted in editing. And you know, my brother would pay close attention and underline every party got before we wrap that actor out. So in this review, they said basically me my brother was shit. And this actor is marvelous and should have never been in the movie not realizing the filmmaking that went into making that actor. Marvelous. Okay. They also said that last firefight in Vietnam looked like it was shot in my backyard. Now that one particularly hit me hard, because I remember it was one of those times I was being lazy. And we were shooting in the swamp and they had to put these floorboards down of wood. And, you know, I just don't want to, you know, we want to move in camera just like you are right. Like, I don't want to move this fucking camera does I got a slug for that fucking swamp. Like, it affected the look of this scene. It was very static, right? So that piece of criticizing, or critical analysis of that scene was spot on. Okay, and it was the only person that ever picked it out. And that one hurt me for years. Still hurts. Talking about it. It still hurts. It's like, do not fucking settle. It doesn't matter if you're in a fucking swamp. Get your fucking shot, man. Like nobody cares that you had to trust with goddamn swamp. Who cares? They don't give a fuck man didn't see what was going on. It was tough, man. It was tough. Like that. Yeah, that that was one lesson that was one lesson and content condensing my laziness over time, because it took many years to get rid of some of the laziness.
Alex Ferrari 2:54:11
And last question, sir, arguably the toughest question of all three of your favorite films of all time.
Albert Hughes 2:54:19
They changed but Midnight Cowboy is my number one nice because Scorsese you slept with top three but as you get older you know you change. Yeah, so Mina Calloway just excellent movie. I just love it to death. Man bites dog. Movie.
Alex Ferrari 2:54:36
Dude, you you're the first person that knows about man bites dog, dude.
Albert Hughes 2:54:41
That's number two on my list. Dude. Man bites dog
Alex Ferrari 2:54:43
Criterion Collection. LaserDisc
Albert Hughes 2:54:47
Came out the same year with menace.
Alex Ferrari 2:54:49
It was so good. Oh my god. It was so good.
Albert Hughes 2:54:54
Listen, I guess pause and just let me talk about that real quick. And I'll give you my third one is the reason why I love it. only because it has a lot of insight filmmaking stuff going on in the movie, right? Yeah, but halfway through it, I drew the line and solid limb Lee's and sunset vibe or whatever, with my brother in the 90s. And I walked out and that's particularly seeing the rape scene. You know, the movie? Yeah. And I went home. I'm like, Why did I walk on that movie? Like, I got laid off later on LaserDisc and finished it right. Um, I said, that movie says more about me than it saying about anything because I didn't have no problem killing midgets a lady you know, women, you know, children. Like I didn't I didn't draw the line on that I was fine and laughing my ass off because it's such a dark comedy right? But I drew the line at the rate and and it made me question myself. So that's that's one of the reasons why I love the movie right? really made me question myself. You know? Am I my own moral kind of compass? Can I think it's fine?
Alex Ferrari 2:55:48
Can I and can we just for anyone listening there it's basically the movies about a documentary crew following a serial killer. And then they the bat my favorite part of the whole damn it's it's and he's a lovable serial killer. And he's killing people like it's he's a lovable serial killer. And these guys are following with the film camera. My favorite part in the entire movie is when they run into the another department
Albert Hughes 2:56:16
When they run into the killer thing cameras, you know,
Alex Ferrari 2:56:20
They were shooting on video. And it was like they were shooting a video like video.
Albert Hughes 2:56:27
Camera like you the killer says, look, he takes the camera from the other crew says Look, he has a camera like he goes. No, that's video. So he drops the camera on the ground and shoots the guy in the belly. Like that's such an insight film thing right?
Alex Ferrari 2:56:39
Oh my God, it was so poor when I saw that it was fell out of my chair. That movie doesn't get the respect it deserves everyone listening man bites dog is still available on criteria collection.
Albert Hughes 2:56:48
If the other reason why you should get credited because those guys showed how lack of money created a an atmosphere for the movie that is part of a story that they didn't they're the small budget documentary film crew following a killer because they couldn't shoot like a normal movie, right? And then they add into the story that the serial killer is helping them fund their movie. And then there's the and then the crews complicit in some of these crimes. charged him like why do people want to go to a rich neighborhood right? Like, it's almost like a snake eating its own tail. The movie is what it is. It's so it's incredible. It's my third, the third one. So used to be taxi driver, Raging Bull, you know kind of those are my Goodfellas. Goodfellas. Goodfellas came later though for me because you know, I'd been on taxi driver and Raging Bull for years. But I got a slot Scorsese I got to give them love. I got to put them there. And I don't know which of the out I would put there. I would say I'm leaning towards taxi driver. Yeah, because of how personal the movie is and how intricately designed it is even though it doesn't feel that way. It's it's subversively, like it's subversively intricate the way you design that movie, although it doesn't feel like that. Like this is what's great about Alfonso Corona is Alfonso Quran, God style and taste right. The average audience member doesn't realize what his style is the average audience member right? We know he has style. He has a loose style that if you're a filming starter, you go oh my god, that mafia style is crazy. Oh, right. But if you're the average reader, like I don't feel the camera. I don't feel any style at all. Right. Right. Right. That's how good how good
Alex Ferrari 2:58:32
Without, without question, and can you imagine taxi driver coming out today, man? Like if it was fresh today, what would? What do you think would be the response today? First of all, I don't think unless a studio first of all studio would make it so major studio wouldn't make a film like that. So that's the environment we're in. I doubt I doubt that it will be.
Albert Hughes 2:58:54
The Joker knew they basically stole taxi driver,
Alex Ferrari 2:58:57
Which is right. And Marty was supposed to produce that as well. But he Yeah, so. But that's different. You couldn't tell Joker without Joker? Like, the studio would not have financed that without a property and IPO
Albert Hughes 2:59:09
You know that. You know what that movie is? That movie is uh, you were never really here with Joaquin Phoenix a year before. Joker without the Joker.
Alex Ferrari 2:59:17
Right. Exactly. Movie. Exactly. A little different. But another great film.
Albert Hughes 2:59:21
She's a great domain.
Alex Ferrari 2:59:22
Amazing, amazing film. So then you so i What do I think will happen? I think it's so difficult man. Because I think taxi driver when it came out. No one had ever seen anything like that before. And it kind of really pushed the envelope where in today's world it would be more blase. Even though it's still still bite, it still bites. Taxi drivers still bites. That taxi driver so like I watched clockwork, I watched Clockwork Orange the other day. Dude, that's one of my favorites. Dude. First 20 minutes of Clockwork Orange. Today is unacceptable. It's unacceptable. like no way it would ever be seen, like, when I watched that one, because I hadn't seen him forever since like prior to film school, I was like, let me I went, I went through a Kubrick phase. So I just watched everything and I went deep dive into Kubrick. And I watched I was sitting there watching, I'm like, I was in awe of the imagery. What he was saying it hold to date offends me to day, in a great way.
Albert Hughes 3:00:23
I love that film. It's it's just changes as you get older to it's like, it's like that film. Like, you know, sometimes you can like the back half depending on age or you like the front half, right? It's like, jackets like that you'd like to start, we'd like to Vietnam section or you know, or you like it or whatever. Right? The The amazing thing about Clockwork Orange is like, you know, he was living in a time where he was able to you know, exercise his fetish is some of his fetishes. If you look at his catalogue, now, there's a particular type of women when they're nude, particular type of breast, particular type of pubic hair. Okay. Particular phallic images, right, that he's into, okay. And in today's environment, like, it's like, do do a pervert, you know, but back then, you know, a lot of filmmakers, I think filmmakers should be able to put their own personal kind of fetishes in like even Tarantino's use of that nowadays, you put finishes which, which I didn't pick up on on a big time in Hollywood, that Hollywood film, like, I didn't see it, you know, like everybody else sees it basically right now. And then you got like, like Casper? No. And you know, Nick rep. And these are kind of fetish filmmakers, you know. And I think it's cool. But you know, you also get a insight into the man or woman it's particularly men, and how men look at women. You know, because you're able as a director to play God in a way so of course, I want this particular look out of a woman like Hitchcock and a blonde. Like even Spielberg as a Jewish man, he went for the waspy blonde woman and every one of his movies, right? He had a particular type of woman he liked in his movies, right? Which, which says a lot about the filmmaker sometimes not if you look at Scorsese. What's interesting about him and I'm sorry, deviate like this. Yeah. His women, his women come and go, they flow. They're just they just different types. brunettes, blondes, you know, not ugly, but you know, not as attractive. Attractive. You know, he's a different he's a different animal. Yeah, no, he don't. He goes, he's not
Alex Ferrari 3:02:20
Jodie Foster. Yeah, he's finished his move. Yeah. 12 Yeah. 12 year old prostitute, a 12 year old prostitute and then you got Sharon Stone Casino. And then you got Lauren brocco and Ellen
Albert Hughes 3:02:31
Burstyn Ellen Burstyn and what was the name of that movie? Um, oh doesn't live here anymore.
Alex Ferrari 3:02:36
Yeah, it just it just all over the place all over the place. I have to ask you one last thing because No, because because I love talking Kubrick. Eyes Wide Shut. That's my favorite Kubrick movie. Yeah, I love it.
Albert Hughes 3:02:47
Oh my god. I've never met a person
Alex Ferrari 3:02:49
I love. Eyes Wide Shut. Alright. You hated it. Did you hate it? Did you really hate it? Alright, so here's what I hated. Alright, I'm gonna say this is if anyone's still listening. This is now just to film geeks. geeking out about about Kubrick now. Alright, so I'm like, Alright, so this is my thing. I went I went in 99 saw with my with my buddies. I was what? 20 Whatever, at that time. Mid 20s. I think I was at that time when it came out. And I walked out and my buddies were like, So what'd you think? I'm like, I don't know. I didn't understand it. But I'm gonna understand in about 10 years. And that's generally all Kubrick's films. Like you watch it. And you really people, the critics, society doesn't catch up to it for about about 10 years is generally I've noticed, like 2001 10 years Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove, you know, full metal, like all of those. They it took a minute for people to figure it out. And as my show was, was even to the nth degree that and by the way, Ybor said that as my show was Kubrick's favorite, his favorite Kubrick film as well, so I'm not I'm in good comprendre I'm in good company. So when I saw it again,
Albert Hughes 3:03:58
I didn't. I didn't mean for that. Second, okay.
Alex Ferrari 3:04:02
So I, I saw it again after I was married 1015 years later, and I was like, oh my god, I get, again, a lot of what he's talking about. And it's not the flashiest, and it's not the coolest film of his. I mean, the Clockwork Orange the first 20 minutes is just genius. Yeah, but there's just such nuance and depth. That opening shot of Nicole Kidman in Eyes Wide Shut. Just that opening shot of her just taking her clothes off and then cut to the title Eyes Wide Shut arguably in my it's one of my favorite shots in cinema history, because it just it said volumes about what the damn what what journey we're about to go in. Now you want to talk about fetishes? Yeah, that movie that movie he he goes deep into those fetishes. And you can go
Albert Hughes 3:04:54
You look at the women in those scenes and you compare that woman the women in the orgies. seen to the women on stage with Alex and Clockwork Orange, it she's a spitting image. Absolutely. He had a particular look, the thing, you're right, and one way it's like, you know, a lot of people pointed out about the relationship thing, like, you know, if you're in a relationship, which I had been at the time, but not like, you know, a lengthier relationship. The problem I had was more like, you know, sometimes we make a movie, like, who does this movie appeal to? Like, what is this? What's all this money for? You know, and then and then I started seeing some dissolves in the middle of the movie. And this goes back to thing you were talking about earlier. It's like, what are these guys doing their off time? You know, what do us guys doing off time? Are we only making movies when we make movies? Are we making in an off time? Now he was such a brain that he's making movies in his head all day, but he wasn't necessarily exercising his talent and in a real filmic way in these 10 5 7 20 year gaps between making all these films, right. So the this was the biggest gap between this movie and
Alex Ferrari 3:06:04
It got longer and longer was 13 years. Yeah. 30 Well, actually, what 15 years beginning of production Yeah, was it it was a full metal jacket right? So metal jacket was 87 and then 99 is when it was shot, but that was also in production probably for about two years because the world record holder
Albert Hughes 3:06:20
Every one of it but yeah, but if you look at one thing in the film it there's a few dissolves he does in the film that earth the shit out of me right and this is not me. I'm not trying to be sacrilegious. I don't want any fucking feedback and comments where he said this book. Like you'll fuck you guys. Like, we're having an open honest discussion about what we like. Even if we love these, these filmmakers, they're not flawless. You know, nobody's flawless. It's I saw two dissolves in that movie, I go Ouch. That's a 16th dissolve. That's a dissolve from a 60s movie. Meaning that those two images were not meant to go together. When I see a dissolve randomly used in a movie or TV show, you know, less capable directors, I let it go by right. But when it's a capable director, that's a juggernaut. And I see a data dissolve like that. I go, Ooh, he's starting to show signs of his age. You know, he's, he's not a young man anymore. His taste is not you know, the word taste okay. His taste is that of an older gentleman. Okay. And I don't know. And even though I'm fixating on a dissolve, it's a fucking dissolve. It's not gonna change the tone of the movie. But it just made me perk up in the womb. Like he didn't have to do that. You know why? And I didn't I didn't care for the movie. I thought it was indulgent. I thought the fact that they were in a relationship was indulgent. I thought the fact that Tom Cruise and it wasn't it was indulgent. I thought, the whole thing the fact that you know, the New York City streets didn't like New York City streets at all. They had dead ends and Washington, some pine, whatever the fuck they shot that like he got away with it full metal jacket, it was great. The way they designed the Vietnam sequence in that it just was a full, you know, man, you know, at that stage doing the full jerk off.
Alex Ferrari 3:07:59
So Monty he was doing he was doing the full monty.
Albert Hughes 3:08:03
Oh, audience of one.
Alex Ferrari 3:08:06
Yeah. And you know what? That's basically Kubrick did a lot of that he but he was, but he was smart enough to keep up with. And God bless him for doing it. But he also was smart enough to always cast like the biggest stars generally speaking, like, like, like Jack and, and, and Tom and in his films, he he used to do stuff like that. But anyway,
Albert Hughes 3:08:30
Dude, well, the last laugh is that you look at Spielberg who doesn't like doing that? Right? From time to time. He does do that. And then you look at Scorsese, whose career revival is insane. Because he latched on to, you know, Lille, like he was really smart about it. Like, like he has this relationship with his heart after been hot for a while one of the biggest movie stars in the world. And it was a very good strategic move as a filmmaker at his age is like, this guy's going to get my movies made, because even Scorsese, to your point earlier about the shit, I go through my levels, like, scores. Nobody was wanting to make a movie with him. They know it should cost money. And you know, he's gonna go over and days and, you know, he's precious as a filmmaker in a good way, right? Leo gives you that cover. It's very smart of him to do that. Not to say that Leo doesn't deserve the piano scores like he does. But you know,
Alex Ferrari 3:09:18
No, no, no question. No, no, no question. And then I always and I think Tarantino said this is like as old as directors get older. He says they lose the lead in their pencil. You know, and you start seeing and you can I get that I get that. But Scorsese he hasn't man like when I saw the party that was he was like, How old was he in there?
Albert Hughes 3:09:39
But that was that was him phoning it in to by the way, right? That's Scorsese phoning it in right? Then you look at Wolf of Wall Street you see a 70 mid 70 year old man the same year or around the same year is George Miller doing that fucking Oh, Mad Max Mad Max. Okay, here I got these two guys that are like just shitting on young directors like this The Energy of these movies and like the pure kind of audacity and irreverence, and both these movies like just a plan boasting like just crazy filmmaking flex, right? Yeah, these guys are in the 70s doing this, right? Like, Wolf of Wall Street impressed me more as a Scorsese fan than the departed, departed. I was like, yeah, he's fun to do. And he's got his Oscar right? You know? Yeah, good movie, great performances here and there, but I'm not I'm not feeling that Scorsese because if you look at it visually, it's not a Scorsese movie.
Alex Ferrari 3:10:27
Yeah, shooting that. But when you watch Wolf of Wall Street is like is like, man.
Albert Hughes 3:10:34
Cheese. So it's, it's like, like, and there's something to be said for even though I can't fully vouch for this last thing he did for Netflix, Irish musical Irishman, Irishman, there was some really cool slow burn Old Man game and that shit, right? Like, he did some shit. Like he was basically like, these dudes are old. My style is gonna reflect that right? And, you know, some stuff I didn't care for. But the one thing that really tickled me pink was the way De Niro did it. VO was like an old man. He was like, he would throw out food like, you know, and then we went to the cafe and you know, I'm like, Oh my God, that's genius. But even the VO is old. Look at an old man. You know?
Alex Ferrari 3:11:16
Brother, man, listen, I appreciate you taking this obscene amount of time talking to me, man, we could keep jamming.
Albert Hughes 3:11:23
It's pandemic you know, we all have time.
Alex Ferrari 3:11:26
Exactly right. I appreciate you taking the time. Man. This has been an amazing conversation. I hope it helps a lot of filmmakers out there. It's inspired me and I'm in the conversation. So it's been it's been it's been very cool, man. So thank you so much for being on the show. And also doing what you do man and, and and just just being an artist, man, and just fighting the good fight out there with the films that you have made in Hollywood, bro.
Albert Hughes 3:11:51
Well Thank you, and thank you for having me. You know, and I enjoyed this kind of talk. And I'm glad you have the show. Because even the questions you were asking, um, you know, they're they're really, you know, you hit me with three or four I've never been asked before. That's it. Wow, that's humbling. No, no, there's some great, great questions in here. And some of them stumped me, you know. So thanks for I love talking film, even if it's like separating what I do in film. Because I think the one thing I'd say before I go, that's important for people to realize before they get in a car or keyboard and start bashing me for saying some of the things I say is that you have to separate what I do from me as a fan. You know, I'm sure one influences the other. Sure. But I like to talk about movies as a fan too. And like, I want to be exempt from being picked on just because I make film. You know, just because I make film doesn't mean I think that my shits great No, I you can shoot on my stuff all day long. Like, you know, I'm not pumping my, you know, puffing my chest up over my own work, but I would I love a show like this because I like to go into like uncharted territory of like, Yo, this is why I didn't like that cool Kubrick movie even though I love his catalogue, you know, and, and for people to be more honest, I think nowadays, these podcasts are great for one reason and a lot of reasons but yours in particular is like podcasts at least are more honest. That's wrong traditional like entertainment show so hopefully you know hopefully it helps you know part of what you what you do on what I do. I don't I just don't I don't think it's cool that the times we live in right now people are just quick to like, pick on opinions. They're a fucking opinions. Keep it moving. I'm like assholes. Everybody has one.
Alex Ferrari 3:13:37
Amen, brother. Amen. Thanks again for being on the show, bro. I appreciate it.
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