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BPS 209: Confessions of a Hollywood Writer & Actor with John Leguizamo

Fast-talking and feisty-looking John Leguizamo has continued to impress movie audiences with his versatility: he can play sensitive and naïve young men, such as Johnny in Hangin’ with the Homeboys; cold-blooded killers like Benny Blanco in Carlito’s Way; a heroic Army Green Beret, stopping aerial terrorists in Executive Decision; and drag queen Chi-Chi Rodriguez in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar.

Arguably, not since ill-fated actor and comedian Freddie Prinze starred in the smash TV series Chico and the Man had a youthful Latino personality had such a powerful impact on critics and fans alike. John Alberto Leguizamo Peláez was born July 22, 1960, in Bogotá, Colombia, to Luz Marina Peláez and Alberto Rudolfo Leguizamo.

He was a child when his family emigrated to the United States. He was raised in Queens, New York, attended New York University and studied under legendary acting coach Lee Strasberg for only one day before Strasberg passed away.

The extroverted Leguizamo started working the comedy club circuit in New York and first appeared in front of the cameras in an episode of Miami Vice. His first film appearance was a small part in Mixed Blood, and he had minor roles in Casualties of War and Die Hard 2 before playing a liquor store thief who shoots Harrison Ford in Regarding Henry.

His career really started to soar after his first-rate performance in the independent film Hangin’ with the Homeboys as a nervous young teenager from the Bronx out for a night in brightly lit Manhattan with his buddies, facing the career choice of staying in a supermarket or heading off to college and finding out that the girl he loves from afar isn’t quite what he thought she was.

The year 1991 was also memorable for other reasons, as he hit the stage with his show John Leguizamo: Mambo Mouth, in which he portrayed seven different Latino characters. The witty and incisive show was a smash hit and won the Obie and Outer Circle Critics Award, and later was filmed for HBO, where it picked up a CableACE Award.

He returned to the stage two years later with another satirical production poking fun at Latino stereotypes titled John Leguizamo: Spic-O-Rama. It played in Chicago and New York, and won the Drama Desk Award and four CableACE Awards. In 1995 he created and starred in the short-lived TV series House of Buggin’, an all-Latino-cast comedy variety show featuring hilarious sketches and comedic routines.

The show scored two Emmy nominations and received positive reviews from critics, but it was canceled after only one season. The gifted Leguizamo was still keeping busy in films, with key appearances in Super Mario Bros., Romeo + Juliet and Spawn. In 1998 he made his Broadway debut in John Leguizamo: Freak, a “demi-semi-quasi-pseudo-autobiographical” one-man show, which was filmed for HBO by Spike Lee.

Utilizing his distinctive vocal talents, he next voiced a pesky rat in Doctor Dolittle before appearing in the dynamic Spike Lee-directed Summer of Sam as a guilt-ridden womanizer, as the Genie of The Lamp in the exciting Arabian Nights and as Henri DE Toulouse Lautrec in the visually spectacular Moulin Rouge!.

He also voiced Sid in the animated Ice Age, co-starred alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger in Collateral Damage and directed and starred in the boxing film Undefeated. Subsequently, Leguizamo starred in the remake of the John Carpenter hit Assault on Precinct 13 and George A. Romero’s long-awaited fourth “Dead” film, Land of the Dead.

There can be no doubt that the remarkably talented Leguizamo has been a breakthrough performer for the Latino community in mainstream Hollywood, in much the same way that Sidney Poitier crashed through celluloid barriers for African-Americans in the early 1960s.

Among his many strengths lies his ability to not take his ethnic background too seriously but also to take pride in his Latino heritage.

His new project is The Green Veil premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival:

It’s 1955 and Gordon Rodgers has a dream. It’s the American Dream. And he almost has it made. He lives in the suburbs with his wife and daughter. He goes to church, he works for the government. A respected job for a respectable family man.

Gordon also has a mission. A nefarious secretive mission on behalf of the US government. It’s going well except for one final plot: The Sutton Farm. Owned by Native Americans Glennie and Gilberto Sutton, they refuse to be bought out. So Gordon must force them out by any means necessary. Maybe even abduct them. And it almost works, until the Suttons escape…

At home, Mabel Rodgers is losing her mind. Playing housewife is taking its toll. How she wound up here from a military aviator career, she still doesn’t know. When she discovers Gordon’s’ work folder marked CLASSIFIED she is drawn to the file. When she recognizes wartime friend Glennie Sutton as the mission’s subject, she has no choice but to explore the case herself. And Gordon can never find out.

Gordon’s dream is slipping away. His mission at work is failing. He’s losing control of his family. At what lengths will he go to hold it all together? At what cost to himself and others will he preserve his American Dream? Is this dream even meant for him…or is it all a conspiracy?

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John Leguizamo 0:00
Because I didn't know I was going to be a filmmaker and I thought I was just going to be an actor or writer. And then when I started directing it was like oh wow, I have this Rolodex as How old am I use the word Rolodex I have a rolodex of all this information from Baz Lurman, to Spike Lee to Tony Scott, you know, all their techniques and their problem solving is is all in here, my computer.

Alex Ferrari 0:24
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John Leguizamo 1:41
Good. Good. Thanks for having me on.

Alex Ferrari 1:43
Thank you so much for coming on the show, brother. I appreciate it man, as a fellow Latino filmmaker, you have been an inspiration for many years for me, my friend. So thank you for all the work you've done over the years and all the doors you've opened for all of us, man.

John Leguizamo 1:56
I you know, it has been easy, but it's been. It's been interesting. That's for sure.

Alex Ferrari 2:02
The Hustle is hard.

John Leguizamo 2:03
The Hustle is real man. The Hustle is no joke. I mean, you gotta hustle. It's so crazy that we're like the largest ethnic group in America, the oldest ethnic group after Native Americans and you know, we're all part Native American, at least I am. And, and just our lack of inclusion is so not so naughty.

Alex Ferrari 2:24
It is pretty, it's pretty sad. But I think things are changing. And I think people like yourself are opening some doors for so many people over the years. Now first question, man, how and why in God's green earth did you want to get into this insanity called the film industry?

John Leguizamo 2:37
You know, I don't I don't think it's a thing that you wish upon anybody.

Alex Ferrari 2:44
Only, your enemies, only your enemies not your friends.

John Leguizamo 2:46
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you know, it's I never knew, you know, I was naive young man from the hood and, and I knew there was no opportunities. So I didn't do it for fame, money, or, or profit. I just did it because it was my it was the thing that made me feel alive. The thing that made me feel whole that brought me sanity get I mean, and I had 17 I found acting classes, you know, and it was like, Oh, my God, this is incredible. And I started reading plays. And I was a play reading maniac addict, I read so many plays. And I just found it so beautiful that you could capture human behavior in the human condition in dialogue and, and have an experience about life and reveal life to other people.

Alex Ferrari 3:35
Now, was there a film a specific film that kind of lit your fuse?

John Leguizamo 3:40
Yeah, I mean, I loved Streetcar Named Desire. You know, that was really powerful to me. That performance was electric, or anything Pacino and De Niro. Did you know

Alex Ferrari 3:51
Anything Marty did pretty much.

John Leguizamo 3:53
Yeah, yeah, pretty much anything Marty did was was, you know, like, Oh my god. This is like Latin people. You know, like how we behave. And you know, as a Latin person being so invisible. You always try to find links to other cultures to feel seen. You know? Like, for me, Richard Pryor was everything and Scorsese.

Alex Ferrari 4:12
I mean, yeah, you look at I mean, for the longest time, I'm Cuban. So the longest time the only guy I had was Al Pacino in Scarface, I mean, that was it. And Ricky Ricardo, obviously, those are, you know, that's your and so so those are the people I had,

John Leguizamo 4:23
Of course, Desi Arnaz is a beast. I mean, they didn't even show that in that movie that that that sort of sad and Lucy movie was like, what? He's he is the bomb. He invented three camera comedies, like having a live audience and a sitcom of residual. I mean, he created all that. And he created Star Trek, you know, he was the one that was a pioneer and having he was like the first studio independent studio owner and the first Latin guy to own a studio.

Alex Ferrari 4:55
It was no it was it was insane. It was insane. But there wasn't a lot of there wasn't a lot of Latino was coming up. That's why when I always say it on the show is the first time I ever saw I could even direct was watching Robert Rodriguez. When I saw mariachi come out, I was like, oh, oh, so we can do this.

John Leguizamo 5:11
I know, I know. It's crazy. Like, you know why, why aren't we allowed? Why weren't we allowed to do this? I mean, it's so crazy. It's like, I saw so many talented actors growing up that, you know, unfortunately, couldn't this industry just didn't sustain them, you know, and they had to give up and it was sad to see all this wasted talent and all these dreams evaporate. You know.

Alex Ferrari 5:36
Now, early in your career, you had the pleasure of working with Mr. Brian De Palma on a film called casualties of war. Yes, man. What was that? Like? I've heard nothing but epic stories of the insanity on that set, and the brilliance of what they were trying to do and, and Sean and Michael and what was it like being nude?

John Leguizamo 5:56
It was crazy. It was crazy. I mean, I know we're here to talk about greenbelts.

Alex Ferrari 6:00
We will, we will, we'll get to it. We will get to talk a little bit about we're gonna go going down the road.

John Leguizamo 6:05
You know, I love casualties of war. To me, it was it was a such an important film. Because I didn't know Brandon and I are in a bind department. And I sort of started to get to know each other and trust each other. I think that there has to be a trust between a director and an actor. And therefore when I got to Carlitos way, he had this confidence in me. And he brought this incredible performance out of me by allowing me to fail on a Carlitos way, like I did like 30 takes he wasn't letting anybody do that. He let me do 30 takes on film of just my entrance as Benny Blanco. And he would laugh and I will do crazy. I would knock the waiters tray off in one takeout. I would push people out of the way. I flicked what he loved it loved that he was and that love gave me my freedom. That was my freedom. But that was probably his way. Couches was just crazy. It was crazy. Like you were he's a rehearsing kind of direct, you know, they're not too many of those. And he storyboards everything but we drove it himself. I don't even know how he reads it. I saw those hieroglyphics. I don't know how. But he maps it all out. That's the genius you're dealing with. And a lot of people got fired, you know, the rehearsals. Really, I don't know if I should say who but whatever. A lot of a lot of names got fired, and other people took their parts and became bigger actors for it. You know, it was difficult, really difficult. And then the content was, you know, he was our God at that moment, the best actor of the generation. And he was, he was married to Madonna. He was at, yeah, he left the set. We closed for three days while he went to America to see the Sphinx. Tyson fight was lasted 91 seconds. You know, like the shortest fight ever the longest flight or the shortest fight, you know, imagine getting on a plane to Thailand. That was like a 2425 20 hour flight back then another 28 hours back?

Alex Ferrari 8:08
And was Was there a filmmaker or actor that you kind of looked up to as you were coming up like you just like, that really inspired you to do what you do?

John Leguizamo 8:19
I looked at everybody. Everybody was above me. I was down here and everybody was up here and I looked to everybody, man. I mean, I gotta say Richard Pryor to me was was a big inspiration. Lenny Bruce, when I discovered him Flip Wilson Lippmann Yeah, yeah, that was that was gonna say, but I think I can't curse, right? Yeah, because it's okay. I'm gonna fucking was a big inspiration to me, you know? And then, you know, of course there was, you know, I say with Lee Strasberg. I started at HP studios. So these teachers, I work with some of the great teachers in American acting, you know, the greatest teachers. And then when Hamlin you know, who taught Denzel Washington, Alec Baldwin, you know. And then they took me under their wing and I was a big I was a big student. I love learning. It was a place that could act because they there wasn't a lot of opportunity for Latin man. So my opportunities were an acting class. You know, that's where I can do all the big plays and all the big scenes from everything you know.

Alex Ferrari 9:27
Now, there's one part man that I just want to get one of your my favorite parts that you've ever done was clown. On Dude, that was so hypnotic. I remember sitting in the theater watching that performance, and you couldn't recognize you because you know, that insane suit everyone's afterward like who was calling John Leguizamo was that holy crap that was amazing. What did you do to get in the mind of such a psychotic character?

John Leguizamo 9:58
To it it was it wasn't easy. I'm not gonna lie. And, you know, it's funny you say I was unrecognizable because the whole director was like, no, no, we're, we're doing it so we can recognize the principle. But yeah, I'm unrecognizable. I mean, I had teeth prosthetics, I had ginormous contacts, and my whole face was glued with this press. My whole, you know, after the after, like a couple of weeks, I had blisters all over my face, pause. My face is rah, rah. And I didn't know what I was gonna do. And I was kind of Flim Flam and the director was a sweetheart. And he was like, Hey, can we just get a taste of what you gonna do? I go do it, do it. It'll come when we get on that set. And we say, action, but I had no idea what was going to come out of me. And I was panicked, right, bro. And I took cloud lessons. I was doing everything that to help me

Alex Ferrari 10:58
So you were trying to figure so you were trying to you didn't know you didn't know when you accepted the role. You didn't know how you were going to do it. You were just trying to.

John Leguizamo 11:04
I knew I was gonna say some crazy shit that I knew. I knew I was gonna say some crazy stuff. And they knew I was going to ad lib. And we had, you know, I had prepared them that I was going to outlive a lot of stuff. So I was they were cool with that. This was the voice and how are you going to? I had no idea and then the day and they they kept saying please give us a taste of gold. Dude. You're interfering my process because like bullshit, because I had no idea. Action. This voice came out this weird, you know, whatever. But you know, I started and that was that was it just came out. You didn't?

Alex Ferrari 11:41
You didn't practice that prior?

John Leguizamo 11:43
No. No, what I was gonna do. I had no idea. I was like, I don't know.

Alex Ferrari 11:47
So you mean to tell me that you had all the makeup on? You never practiced the word and you're like, okay, something's gonna just come through me the same section. They say action.

John Leguizamo 11:56
Well, I was praying. I wasn't really sure. It was right, but yeah, wow. But sometimes it's moments where you gotta pray.

Alex Ferrari 12:05
Know Exactly. You just gotta like, something has to come through me because

John Leguizamo 12:08
Something better come through because he's in a lot of money. And we're disappointed a lot of people.

Alex Ferrari 12:13
I'm all dressed up. I gotta get I gotta get some I got Yeah.

John Leguizamo 12:19
Go to your wedding. And you know, that haven't made up the mind, in your mind in your head that you gotta say yes.

Alex Ferrari 12:26
Do you do take her? I'm like,

John Leguizamo 12:27
Ah, oh, I never thought about it.

Alex Ferrari 12:32
I knew what I was gonna say maybe when I got up here.

John Leguizamo 12:35
But now that I'm up here, I don't know. I'm having my doubts.

Alex Ferrari 12:38
I mean, so when you approach roles, do you? I mean, do you often do that? Or was that? No, no, no, never. Never. Never. That was just that it was such an insane scene roll. It's a character.

John Leguizamo 12:48
Yeah, just never like I'm gonna add rehearsed i I thought so. I rehearsed, the more rehearse the better I am. I mean, the roll had lived in me for a couple months, you know, I did. I wasn't doing any other job at the time. I was really just living with it subconsciously. And, you know, a lot of actors talk about that. And, and my teachers say that, you know, sometimes, like Meryl Streep will fall asleep with a script and just let her sit there. Let it take her subconscious. So, you know, I do a lot of that too. And I've always done that. It's a strange thing. But you do you, you fall asleep. And somehow you're in this meditative state, and then the character starts taking over you. And so but I was just stating with this character, not wanting to test did not want to try for some weird reason. And then it popped out like that.

Alex Ferrari 13:35
That's awesome, man. That's awesome. I always love.

John Leguizamo 13:38
So I appreciate I appreciate this. I've never shared this information with anybody.

Alex Ferrari 13:41
So I appreciate I appreciate this. Exclusive. I appreciate that.

John Leguizamo 13:43
No, that was embarrassed by that.

Alex Ferrari 13:47
You're good. You've done okay. So for yourself, sir. It's okay. Yeah, you can admit these things now? No, because I always wondered what because I've saw that performance. I was like, Man, that's he I always thought you didn't get enough credit because that was such a rockstar frickin performance, man. And the more you know, blowing smoke up your ass, it was just such like, I remember it so vividly. Doing I haven't seen spawn, since it probably came out. And I still remember the damn performance. And I've seen 1000s of movies since. So it stuck with me. So it was just one of those things just like wow, man, how I just always wondered how we got in there. Because, you know, I would I would ask Joaquin how he helped me to get into the Joker. Like, when you get into psychology and economics.

John Leguizamo 14:28
Oh, my God, that was one of the most beautiful performing. I just got chills talking about that performance. I watched that movie three times because I loved the movie. I love the script. I love the soundtrack. Oh, he is the motherfucking Mac Daddy Daddy Mac of all time.

Alex Ferrari 14:44
I mean, he's he's the goat. There's no question. No question whatsoever. And I always like asking actors this. What do you look for in a director? Because there's a lot of filmmakers who listen to the show and I want them to understand what actors are really looking for in a collaborator.

John Leguizamo 14:58
Well, you know As you get older, I mean, you understand what, what helps you be your best, and helps you. You know, I like to direct your who lets me feel safe that I can fail, allows me to fail allows me to play. And then I'll give you, you know, some horrible shit and some amazing shit. But if you give me the space to, to fail and let me try and experiment before you start giving me your input and before you start shaping me, Nick Multiset, it's so beautifully. And it stuck with me for life, he was with this director and started giving line readings and telling them how to do it. And he said, My talent, my talent is like this feather he had a feather in his hat on the way he carried it from but he said it was like this feather. And when they give me a line reading, this is what happens to my ability. Gone. And I was like, Yeah, that's what happens when, if a director steps in too early and you're experimenting, all you can hear is their choices. You can no longer hear your own impulses or your own intuition. You can't hear it anymore. So yeah, I mean, I love when directors come when I'm dried up, or I'm blind, please come with something. Somebody saved my ass. I'm more than welcome. But let me allow me allow me to do my thing first, and then come and shape it.

Alex Ferrari 16:16
You know, you gotta you gotta run around the room a little bit. You got to bump into some walls, but I saw it and have the freedom to do so as opposed to like, no, no, don't run into that wall. Like let me run into the wall so I could drive it out and hang out there.

John Leguizamo 16:28
That's you know, Spike Lee gave me that Brian De Palma and casualties in Carlitos way gave me that brat feminine the take gave me all that space like that. And Spike Lee on in summer, Sam, you know, he has had so much fun together.

Alex Ferrari 16:47
Is there anything you've worked with so many legendary directors over your over your career, my friend? What is there anything you brought in into your own filmmaking into your own producing into your own writing, that you've been able to bring in from some of these masters that you've worked with?

John Leguizamo 17:02
Absolutely, man, I had no idea, you know, that theory influence would live with me for the rest of my life. Because I didn't know I was going to be a filmmaker, you know, I thought I was just going to be an actor or writer. And then when I started directing, it was like, Oh, wow, I have this Rolodex as How old am I use the word Rolodex have a role that picks up all this information from Baz Lurman to Spike Lee to Tony Scott, you know, all their techniques, and their problem solving is is all in here, my computer, and I can have access to it. And when I did critical thinking, I was like I had all these problems at a tiny budget. I had these great actors, but we had all these problems with shooting shooting in the real hood. And they tried to, you know, put guns at us to get us out, you know, and people were being shot around. It was a madness was happening. You know, it happens in every film. It's like, and but I had the solutions and I had all these techniques and it was great to have all that information from these masters.

Alex Ferrari 18:03
Is there ever a day I have to believe there is as either a filmmaker or as an actor that it was like kind of the whole world was coming crashing down around you you thought at least and you know whatever that might be whatever it was that day was happened to you. How did you overcome those obstacles of that moment of that day? Whether acting or filmmaking?

John Leguizamo 18:44
I mean, critical thinking had that, but I gotta say the take with Brad Furman, that was his first film. And we became buds for life. You know, We're bros for the rest of our lives. I'm doing a movie with him right now called Tin Soldier with Bobby De Niro and Jamie Foxx and Clint, uh, Scott Eastwood. And my daughter actually, nice, but but the take man, everything that could go wrong in an independent film went wrong on this movie. But it made us a force. You know, I stopped by my director and then Rosie jumped in the three of us. We muscled and willed this movie into happening, and you're not protecting the director because because everything was going wrong. The first time we started shooting the chef's that way, because we were in the hood in Boyle Heights, and these these gang members came up and they wanted to eat our craft service. And it's like, Yo, when their hood let them eat the food who gives a fuck? It's like, well, how much does that chicken cost you? Let me let me buy that for you and give it to them anyway, they wanted the food. And he said no, and the kid grabbed it and he choked the dish chef tried to choke the kid kid pulls out a gun. So now we got guns. way, police come immediately shoot a shut down our set. There are helicopters flying around the director. Brad was brilliant. He was like Filming Filming. That's our opening credits.

Alex Ferrari 20:12
Because you got all that extra, all the extra production value and

John Leguizamo 20:15
Amazing production value up the ass. That was day one, day two hair makeup quit, because they can't work in this dangerous set. And Rosie like I got Caribbean hair. I need somebody to do my hair. So you know her hair for the rest of the movies like here and there. Because he's doing it herself. Right right. Now is day two.

Alex Ferrari 20:37
I love I love the idea that you said that I protected my director because on a film like that. That was his first it was his first feature, right? Yeah. So he was his first feature. And I'm sure there was money, people and producers and everything. Oh, yeah. They're looking for a reason to get rid of the director. Especially if they're falling behind or shifts happening,

John Leguizamo 20:54
I think, yeah, they turn the director easily. Yeah, right. Exactly. You know, I'm, I'm old school man, you know, I don't know, I don't know where that comes from, from being grown up in the hood. And you always taught to loyalty is the most important thing. Or being a Latin person, your your loyalty is everything, you know that we do that. That's all we care about. So anyway, all that, you know, I I'm gonna take care of this kid, this kid has hard, he's got talent. And I'm not gonna let nobody take him down. You know, so I just stopped by him and I go, shoot, we're gonna go, I'm going to the hood every day. I don't care. And we're gonna gorilla you know, I still shots and buses. Really? Were still shots everywhere, you know? Yeah. Because the third day, I gotta tell you the third day, the sag comes in and takes away. The kid who was my play my son, he shot three days with him the third day, they said he had forged his a, it was an F, and he had made it look like a and they had to take him out. So we had to reshoot with a new kid. That was it was doing every day. 28 days of madness like that. And he just kept going, yeah, just kept going.

Alex Ferrari 22:05
It's amazing. And that's something that so many filmmakers coming up don't understand the insanity of what it is to make an independent film and, and having

John Leguizamo 22:14
You gotta love it.

Alex Ferrari 22:18
You love the creative and

John Leguizamo 22:19
You're more creative, because you're being pushed against the wall. And you have to solve these problems. And you have to get through your film and you have to get you want to get creative work. You don't want to just shoot something that's average.

Alex Ferrari 22:31
So what I love about your career is that you've worked on indie films, obviously, like a really low budget world. And you've also worked on some of the biggest budget films and with the biggest directors and the biggest diehard every die hard to make every resource that you're described, right. How does, let's say a Baz Luhrmann on Moulin Rouge, which obviously was not an indie film, indie film was such a big subject.

John Leguizamo 22:57
And there was not there's nothing like that or nothing ever will be like that.

Alex Ferrari 23:02
It's one of my favorite films of all time.

John Leguizamo 23:03
Oh my god, it was a game changer. Love, I mean, 27 angles on certain scenes, bro, we would do B takes on certain stuff.

Alex Ferrari 23:14
How many cameras was shooting? How many cameras was shooting?

John Leguizamo 23:16
No, no, yeah, he had like three or four. So you'd move them all around. So it was like, you know, hours and days

Alex Ferrari 23:23
On once it so they need to just to be at the core here.

John Leguizamo 23:28
Then they move into the other section. Then they incrementally not like all the way to the other side. Just incrementally moving it around, up here down. I mean, he got every angle, you know, through you know, the Moulin Rouge I think was very disconcerting for a lot of old school filmmakers and people because it moves so fast. And it was cutting the cutting was so quick and so it made people dizzy, but it was for the rest of us who were young, we loved it. It was groundbreaking groundbreaking,

Alex Ferrari 23:56
And the music the way he was able to incorporate old music and new music and,

John Leguizamo 24:01
He was the first to do that to us all music and then they became like, such an annoying trick that everybody's using now in too much, you know?

Alex Ferrari 24:08
But so so when you're working with someone like like bass or like on Romeo Juliet cheeses, like what was it like reciting Shakespeare, and that is beautiful insanity that he had built for you.

John Leguizamo 24:20
Well, you know, I love Shakespeare, but I don't love doing it. I didn't think I'd love it. I love it. Now, as I'm older, you know, I'm not you know, like, like musicians are either classic classical or jazz. That was more of a jazz instrument. You know, that's what I fancied myself and what I liked. So I was moving towards that. But when I got into the Shakespeare, I was like, Oh, I can I can groove with this. And we did a two week workshop. And, you know, I was tickled and I was tickled too much. I was getting into fights in the street. Had my tongue broken by getting into fights. I mean, it was the character sometimes overtakes you and it makes you stupid. But it was amazing. I mean, He was so specific about his vision, you know, he had a vision. And and, you know, he told me he wanted to be a flamenco dancer and a bullfighter. So I studied that. And I started taking, I took flamenco classes and all that, to give them that, that way of moving, because they are much more much more street and he wanted me to be, you know, very elegant. thing. Yeah, mad,

Alex Ferrari 25:32
Mad. But like, so working with someone like that, who had such a specific vision. I mean, I remember watching Romeo and Juliet when I went to the theaters to see it. And my first thought was like, how did this get financed? How did this get approved? How did this sneak through?

John Leguizamo 25:48
Not easy? I mean, Moulin Rouge was not easy. I saw what that brother had to struggle to get that money out of the studios, you know, it's not just Latin people and black people who struggle to get films of a white folk struggled to a different way. But, you know, he had to prove he had to prove that, that Romeo and Juliet was viable. They don't want to do period stuff. They don't want to do Shakespeare, they don't want to do arty stuff. They don't think it has commercial value. So he did a whole audition with Leo DiCaprio and, and locations and he had lookbooks. And he had the music, he had the had the whole vision. And he had to convince the studio to cough up the cash so that he could shoot this film. And then he has his massive hit. Huge, then he's got to convince them again, that he can do a musical because musicals the last successful musical was Greece in 1972. And we're shooting now in 1999 2000. Yet, so we had to do a do it again. So we had to do you know, visual visuals with Ewan McGregor and, and Nicole Kidman, auditioning and you know, it was wild.

Alex Ferrari 26:55
So that I didn't think about that you're right and wasn't a musical since Greece before Milan was and then after

John Leguizamo 27:01
They all failed. They all fail. So it was like the musical was dead on film. Right. But then after Moulin Rouge, then Chicago ended all he opened it up. He proved that it can be successful. Right, right. That's remarkable, man. No, no, he's brilliant. Man. You can't you can't underestimate his genius. He's, he's one of the one of the one of a kind.

Alex Ferrari 27:20
Yeah, yeah, that's what I'm dying to see Elvis.

John Leguizamo 27:22
I can't wait. Oh, yeah, no, I know, everything he touches.

Alex Ferrari 27:25
It's, it's absolutely remarkable. Is there something man that you wish someone would have told you at the beginning of your career, like, go back and be like, Man, you know, watch out for this.

John Leguizamo 27:36
I mean, I feel like I struggled with not the acting part. I mean, I didn't realize that the racism, that talent in Trump race, racism, I really thought that I really believed that I was naive, or a dreamer, whatever you just believe you can, you can change the world. But I didn't realize that there was a glass ceiling, I didn't, I didn't understand that I didn't really believe it, I didn't want to believe it, I think it would have disillusion me, but there was a glass ceiling, you just would never going to get you thought I did this role I worked with these great directors. Now I'm going to get those leads, I want to get those important leads that leads you to Oscars that lead you to, to the same equal status as as your white peers, you know, but they weren't, they weren't coming and, and you vie for them. And they don't consider you because your Latin dude or the other was there was a lot of stuff going on that, you know, kept in denial in the writing was the same way too. Like I always had all these great scripts, and I would go around from studios and they were like, all we love it. Well, and then they had no reason why they didn't want to do it. They just were never gonna do a Latin project. Written white scripts boom, there was that I would have been a famous screenwriter, but it was so difficult to get. It's still difficult to get Latin content out there. I mean, I hear the conversations that that they're having, you know, they'll be okay with two Latin people, maybe three. But if it's like, two they want the lead. The two leads to be Latin not so not not so much the money folk that the money's conversation is still like that.

Alex Ferrari 29:13
Really? I think nowadays it's I mean, considering from the 80s and 90s. Were just miles different than we were then. Yeah, as far as that kind of just inclusion in general. And other they tried.

John Leguizamo 29:25
They tried. They definitely they definitely tried but there's still like roadblocks and and yeah, yeah. And silent. You know, unspoken quotas? Definitely. I'm not gonna I'm not gonna lie. I'm being straight up with you.

Alex Ferrari 29:38
I appreciate that. No, I appreciate that. And it's so fascinating because I was like asking, you know, actors of yours, like someone of your statute has done so many things. Hasn't named people know who you are. You still have problems getting projects made, and I want people to understand. It's not like, Oh, you're John Leguizamo. You could just you know, just make a phone call and you can have 5 million and make your own movie.

John Leguizamo 29:57
No, no, I could. I could, but but I don't Want to water down? I'm an artist, I see myself as an artist and as a pioneer. Right? And I don't want to ward down my things. I don't want to have to whitewash everything I do.

Alex Ferrari 30:12
I understand what you're saying, right? So to maintain the integrity of your project, right,

John Leguizamo 30:16
I mean, you know, everything could be you know, one Latin dude and one white dude, you know, like, you know, do the do the thing that they always want. They want to just want to nepotistic Bill business in terms of wanting white actors to be in your projects, because that's what they they still old school mentality. And they think that that's going to sell. But you know, I mean, well, there was a time that Will Smith couldn't get an action film then and then he proved to the world that yeah, black people are box office gold internationally. You know, there was that whole conversation that that era.

Alex Ferrari 30:47
Yep. Yeah, I remember. Yeah. Like I remember you're like, oh, it's African American. You can't can't put them in it. Dude.

John Leguizamo 30:53
Isaac's look at Oscar Isaac, if things were fair, and non racist, he'd be Oscar Isaac Hernandez, but he can't. He is still in this modern day, he has to go by Oscar Isaac, because if he had the Hernandez still on his on his resume, he might not get those rolls those leads, because that's what is going on. That's, that's, that's a sign of the times. That's really fun. And I'm being straight up with you. I mean, most people won't talk about these things because it's ugly, and they don't want to talk about it. But But I want some things to change.

Alex Ferrari 31:24
Yeah, agreed. And that's why, you know, that's one of the reasons why I do the show is I want to educate people about what's, what the realities of this business are. And you can't look at, you can't look at life, you know, especially walking into this business with started. I'm like, I have a dream. Just because I watch movies. It's all beautiful. I watch the Oscars. It's like nice, but I always I always tell people, you want a great analogy for Hollywood. Look at Oscar night. Oscar night. Looks gorgeous. The night after the Oscars. I wouldn't go down to where the Oscars were at night. Right Hollywood, Hollywood Boulevard eat pretty pleased. Except for that one week is great. But that's true. They sell the sizzle, but they don't sell the steak. They're not good at selling that statement. They sell that sizzle. Great, though. Don't they

John Leguizamo 32:08
That's true. It's true. I mean, they I mean, the people don't like to talk about what what is really going on. I mean, and you know, you if you blow up, what's going on, people aren't happy about it either. And they don't usually like that. And you become a little bit of, you know, of a lightning rod. Careful.

Alex Ferrari 32:27
Exactly. But you know, what things are changing. And I think people aren't. They are moving forward. There's things look, like I said before it like in 91 Robert Rodriguez, the first Latin director I'd ever seen in my life, right, though there were others, but he was the first one I saw. And I was like, oh, and he's 23. And oh, I could go on.

John Leguizamo 32:46
Well, you know, you thought that was gonna blow the damn open. You thought Oh, my God. Now every lap director has a chance. And it didn't happen. Which is crazy. And then now you but you got your camera Toros. And you got your Oh, yeah, of course. I mean, of course, they have to like work, you know, white. But you know,

Alex Ferrari 33:06
To a certain extent, yeah. But like, I remember coming up as a commercial director. I couldn't do I was in Miami, and I couldn't do Latino spots and put them on my reel for the Spanish, right? Absolutely. Because Because if I did that, then I would be pigeonholed as a right Spanish director, I put it then do general market.

John Leguizamo 33:25
I was told when I begin, don't change your name, you can almost pass free Italian. If they don't know, then you'll be okay. Stay out of the sun. You know, all these things. You know, work on your accent and stuff like that. And you know,

Alex Ferrari 33:38
It's insane. But look, things are changing. And hopefully they'll continue to go down that path without question. Now let's talk about your new project, the green film and I absolutely love what you're doing with it, that the idea about it? Can you tell everybody what it's about?

John Leguizamo 33:52
Yeah, well, this is another pioneering young director that I'm backing that I believe in. I think he's a great, great new talent. And he's trying this new thing. It's never been done before. It's usually what you do with independent films doing negative pickup. And this is kind of like that old school system of, you know, you shoot your film, because you believe in that you wanted to have artistic integrity, then you sell it, you know, at a film festival. So we did this with a TV series, six episodes. And so we shot that first, raise the money, shot it. And now we got into the Tribeca Film Festival, which is incredible, that they gave us this space, because they love the project. And it's about in the 1950s. And before that the government and the FBI and come in oil companies wanted Native American land. And they started in the I think late 1800s, or the 1900s was taking their kids away from them. So if they took away their culture and their identity, they wouldn't go back to the reservation. And they could take the land from it because it wouldn't inherit If so, and then in this 50s 60s and 70s, they started taking the children from them with excuses and giving them up for adoption. So they could end the reservation, take the land and get the oil. So this takes place in 1950. And I play an FBI guy, a self hating, you know, Latin guy who's taking these native kids from their homes and putting them up for adoption is true story based on Tuesday to events.

Alex Ferrari 35:27
When I was watching it, I was like, I've heard this story. So the 60 Minutes story about it. They did a whole bit. Oh, yeah. Yeah, they did a 60 minute story I thought it was so in saying that they literally just kidnapped kids and kind of put them in like these brainwashing scenarios like, like, just trying to strip the culture out of them. And then the abuse that happened and all the dads Yeah, that they were killed. They were dying, and they were being treated inhumanely,

John Leguizamo 35:53
But it wasn't to get the land it was to get the land

Alex Ferrari 35:55
I did'nt know about the land part. That's pretty

John Leguizamo 35:57
Yeah, he that. Yeah. That the reason was, yeah, it wasn't. Oh, it wasn't like, oh, we want to help them. No, it was to take their land. Because if they if they weren't tied to the land, they would move to cities, they would move away. And they were moving them away into white families that would adopt them that were born nearby.

Alex Ferrari 36:15
Now, Has this gotten bought yet? Or are you now hoping.

John Leguizamo 36:19
No no the first day is, the first day is coming up June. I think it's June 15. So first?

Alex Ferrari 36:25
Yeah. Oh, night and then hopefully, you're you're looking for someone to come in? And yeah, doing XPO or Showtime? Netflix or somewhere like that? Yeah. Yeah.

John Leguizamo 36:36
That's never been done before. So this is, hopefully this, this is a new thing that can be done. You know, like, Epic is sort of the new the new independent film would be like a four part or six part series.

Alex Ferrari 36:47
I mean, I think in generally on the business side of things, there's more value in a series than there isn't a film nowadays. Now nowadays. It's correct. Not artistically talking business wise. Because I you know, in distribution world, like you got more content, it's better. It's a bigger

John Leguizamo 37:04
1 4 5 night experience. Yes, six, nine. They want the quick. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 37:09
They want the Queen's gambit. That's like, yeah, Mini Series or Series that can continue. But no, when I saw what it was about, I was like, man, God bless, John for, for getting this out there, man. Because it's a story that it's just in the mainstream would come out. It just wouldn't.

John Leguizamo 37:25
Exactly. Yeah. And you know, and we have the, the the approval of, of a Native American nation. And we have a few Native American actors in it as well, you know, to keep representing themselves. Sure in lead roles. Yep.

Alex Ferrari 37:43
That's awesome, man. That's awesome. Now, I'm gonna ask you a couple questions. I asked all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

John Leguizamo 37:54
Well, I mean, definitely go to the grade schools. You know, you got you got that's the best place to try and, you know, try to shoot as much as you can, you know, and work with everybody and work with your friends and create a community I think. I think I saw that. We all saw that with Spielberg, and Coppola,

Alex Ferrari 38:18
Marty,

John Leguizamo 38:19
Oh, yeah. Yeah, they all hung together. They read each other's scripts, they helped each other. And then gamla Toro era to enough was grown, had a company, and then they were producing Latin content, they were helping each other out. I mean, that's the thing is create a community. Don't make other directors, your enemy. Make them do your brothers and your sisters, and create those communities that you help each other. You make each other's scripts better, and you make each other's projects better, and you help them make their projects that's you help each other you piggyback and you create better and more content.

Alex Ferrari 38:51
I always love that story of when when George Lucas played Star Wars for that gang of all Yeah. And everyone's like, Oh, I'm sorry, George. This sucks. That's not gonna work. It's not gonna work man at all. And the only one was Steven Spielberg. He was like, You got something here? I think

John Leguizamo 39:07
You got you got dipalma and Coppola.

Alex Ferrari 39:12
School of Film aliens. Yeah, millions, millions. For God's sakes. I mean, can you imagine? What is the biggest lesson you learn from your biggest failure?

John Leguizamo 39:23
That you can't? You can't plan for that shit. You can't You can't go around your whole life full of fear and going, Oh, I got to make the right choice. No, I think you have to take risks. And you got to live. You got to go with your gut. Even if it fails, you got in the failures. They may hurt you a little bit, but you got to keep going and don't let the failures define you. You know, that's what I learned from that. I'm not gonna let you know. Luckily, I grew up in a tough neighborhood. I knew the business was never for me. So I never really embraced it. So I don't really accept their opinion of me. You know, I mean, I just Keep going and do my thing. I'm not gonna let them define me in any kind of way because they've always tried to find me in the negative

Alex Ferrari 40:07
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

John Leguizamo 40:13
Oh shit that's that's a good question. Um well that you know that that writing takes a lot of rewriting that's that's the biggest lesson that writing is just crazy amounts of rewriting and you so you better love your rewriting because that's, that's the better be joyful because it's going to be every you're gonna spend all your hours because I'm a writer, right

Alex Ferrari 40:37
Now, when three of your favorite films of all time.

John Leguizamo 40:40
No, I mean, godfather of course, Annie Hall. And Raging Bull. I guess those are my favorite three films.

Alex Ferrari 40:48
That's a good that's my friend. That's good. True, brother. Man. You obviously have so much passion for what you do. He just it's falls off the screen as I'm talking to you. And after all the years you've been doing this man, you still are so passionate about your project you're still so passionate about what you're doing and about helping people about opening doors about creating opportunities for people man I got to thank you man for doing that and continuing to do it and being a champion for not only Latino filmmakers but for artists man and and get things out there that

John Leguizamo 41:20
I love my artists man. Yeah, I love I love

Alex Ferrari 41:22
I love and I love that you just like you are a risk taker. You have been since the beginning of when you were first on Miami Weissman back Yeah. Yay.

John Leguizamo 41:30
19, looked like such a punk. Yeah

Alex Ferrari 41:33
You know what, but everybody went through Miami Vice brother, everybody.

John Leguizamo 41:36
Everybody did everybody. That was I was like every Latin person that they gave us work. It was the time that it online people were all every actor you ever met that was Latin was working?

Alex Ferrari 41:49
Absolutely. Because it was all going to Miami Vice. I had it almost on a while ago. And he would tell me stories dude. Oh my god, the stories of him and Don Johnson battling it out and his his method and he like owned his character. So like, he just told everybody what to do about his character. And like everybody was pissed off about it. But anytime they had a problem they call Michael man up. And Michael man is like, it's Eddie. Let him do whatever he wants to do.

John Leguizamo 42:12
Oh, wow. How beautiful is that?

Alex Ferrari 42:14
It was like I was I was like, how did you get that? And he's like, I just asked for it at the beginning of my career, and I never let go of it. And I'm like,

John Leguizamo 42:20
Amazing, amazing such a great spirit to I love that dude

Alex Ferrari 42:24
God. So listen brother. Thank you again, man for everything you do. Congrats on your new project. And I hope it sells man. I hope this is the beginning of a new thing.

John Leguizamo 42:31
I know. We'll know soon it is coming up.

Alex Ferrari 42:35
I appreciate you brother. Thanks again, man.

John Leguizamo 42:37
Thank you for having me, man.

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BPS 207: Adventures in Making My 1st Indie Film with Kyra Sedgwick

Kyra Sedgwick is an award-winning actress, producer and director. She is best known for her Emmy and Golden Globe-winning role as Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson on the TNT crime drama “The Closer” and most recently starred on the ABC comedy “Call Your Mother.” She recently directed the feature film SPACE ODDITY, which stars Kyle Allen and Alexandra Shipp.

In 2018, Sedgwick received a DGA nomination for her directorial debut with the feature STORY OF A GIRL. She then helmed the short film GIRLS WEEKEND, which premiered at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. She has directed episodes of “Grace & Frankie,” “City on a Hill”, “Ray Donovan,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” (on which she also had a recurring role) and many others.

Her film roles include THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN, THE POSSESSION, THE GAME PLAN, SECONDHAND LIONS, WHAT’S COOKING, PHENOMENON, HEART AND SOULS, SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT, BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY and SINGLES.

Planets and lives collide in this Kyra Sedgwick-directed feature. Alex (Kyle Allen) longs to travel to outer space and finally gets the opportunity to do so thanks to a privately-funded Mars colonization program. In the midst of his rigorous preparation, he meets Daisy (Alexandra Shipp), the new girl in town who’s trying to start over. The two wayward souls connect in unexpected ways, both of them harboring secrets that they’re desperately trying to overcome. However, when questions about the legitimacy of the program and the future of his parents’ flower farm begin to crop up, Alex finds himself questioning whether it’s easier to confront his past or fly away into the stars.

In a time where nihilism about the Earth’s future is rampant, it can be difficult to find optimism about what comes next. However, Space Oddity is a heartwarming film that encourages living life to the fullest with those you love the most

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Kyra Sedgwick 0:00
The difference between a director who has really prepared and really has a point of view and really has a vision, and also can communicate it. That's an awful lot to ask.

Alex Ferrari 0:10
Today's show is sponsored by Enigma Elements. As filmmakers, we're always looking for ways to level up production value of our projects, and speed up our workflow. This is why I created Enigma Elements. Your one stop shop for film grains, color grading lots vintage analog textures like BH s, and CRT images, smoke fog, textures, DaVinci Resolve presets, and much more. After working as an editor colorist post and VFX supervisor for almost 30 years I know what film creatives need to level up their projects, check out enigmaelements.com and use the coupon code IFH10. To get 10% off your order. I'll be adding new elements all the time. Again, that's enigmaelements.com. Well guys, today we are starting our coverage of the Tribeca Film Festival and our first guest is amazing. We have the legendary Kyra Sedgwick, who you might know from the television show The closer and starring in phenomenon with John Travolta and many, many, many other films and television shows over the years. Now in this episode, we sit down and talk about how Kyra was able to jump from from front of the camera to behind the camera as a producer, director, and we talk about her adventures trying to make her new independent film Space Oddity. So let's dive in. I'd like to welcome to the show Kyra Sedgwick how you doing Kyra?

Kyra Sedgwick 1:43
I'm great. Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to talk to you.

Alex Ferrari 1:47
Thank you so much for coming on the show. I've been a fan of yours since my days of the video store where I was where I was moving pirates around.

Kyra Sedgwick 1:58
Yes, pirates was amazing.

Alex Ferrari 2:05
So you've had an amazing career, and you've worked with some remarkable people. But before we get into all of that, and especially your new film, which I got a chance to see which I loved Space Odyssey up Space Oddity. How did you get started? And why did you want to get started in this insane business?

Kyra Sedgwick 2:23
Oh, as an actor? Yes. Yeah, you know what I fell in love at 12. I did a play in eighth grade. Fiddler on the Roof. And I played sidle, and matchmaker much less. I mean, forget it. I was that was it. I mean, truly, like, I was not a happy kid, I had a very challenging childhood and home life. And that was like, swish. I mean, that was it. Like I knew this was where I felt I didn't even have the words for it at the time. But I remember saying, I feel like my soul has left my body and it's dancing around the stage. And then like, to this day, I feel like that is such a great, that's such a great explanation of the way that I description of the way that I felt and how it's so interesting to think that as it as I kept acting, you know, forever, and it became a vocation, and it became something I have to be good at. And then after success, and I was supposed to be good. And then I was supposed to be better. And then and then that it sort of lost that initial, like love story that brought me in it in the beginning. And then subsequently, like, falling in love with directing in that same way. It's like, oh my god, this is what I'm supposed to be doing. Like, this is what I've been supposed to be, you know, I've been training for since I was 16, you know, because I started working professionally when I was 16. So I knew I wanted to be an actor. 12 I worked really hard up until 16. And then I, you know, got my first gig and that was really it.

Alex Ferrari 4:02
Now what was it like your first day walking on the set of your first professional? I'm gonna get paid to act day.

Kyra Sedgwick 4:09
Oh, on the day that I was gonna get paid to act. I'm good God, you know, I had like, that stupid beginner's like, ego about it. Like, I mean, I knew, I knew, like, it's very clear that being an actor, because I was trained well is a service position. Because it really is, you know, I mean, it may later become something else when you become more powerful and have actually people actually care about what you think. But initially, like you're there to serve, you know, you're there, serve the writer most of all, and then serve the director. And so I think I felt incredibly stoked, but I also felt like, of course, I'm doing this this is what I this is what I'm supposed to be doing. And I really didn't know that at 12. I mean, like, I wasn't going to take no for an answer. Although I guess I think I thought If I if I try this for six years try to get a job for six years and it doesn't pan out. I'm gonna have to do something else, but I was gonna give it a good six years,

Alex Ferrari 5:08
Six years that's not a bad amount of time. Some people get the Hollywood I'm gonna give it a good year. I'm like, man, yeah, no, no, no. It's gonna take a little longer than that. Now was one of my favorite films of yours. You have so many that I've loved of yours from singles and so many others. But phenomenon. Absolutely. I mean, when you were on that set, and you were working with John Travolta and there's a magic about that movie, and you're in your performance opposite of John was so riveting you balanced his performance as a character. So well. What did what was it like on set when you when you were when you when you read that story for the first time?

Kyra Sedgwick 5:48
Yeah, I really liked the story. It was funny. I remember I really liked the story. And I also got offered simultaneously like a big horror movie. I can't tell you what it was. So I don't remember. But I remember John turtle Taub you know, being like, but I want you to be in my movie. And, and, you know, and I mean, I love the movie, and I loved the part. You know, the other one was sort of my movie, albeit it was a horror movie. But you know, of course, I was going to do phenomenon. You know, I knew it was something special. When I when I went to meet with John Travolta for the first time and he's just heart is just so big, like, his heart is so big. I know, you know, maybe you don't know him or people don't know that about him. But it's like, he's so and he's so porous. And he's so vulnerable. And like, his strength isn't his vulnerability, I there was just something and he was so in love with this story. And so, so attached, so committed to making it, you know, real and, and having it you know, have so much integrity has so much integrity and and it's about this sort of fantastical thing that happens. But he was so committed to making it, making it grounded. Also, John turtle Tao is like the one of the funniest people on the planet. And he also has a big heart and loves really big. And so I just thought I felt like I'd really be taken care of. And I also felt the story would be taken care of. And I loved it. I absolutely loved working on that piece. And my daughter was two at the time. And my Kevin had Travis and I had sosi. And she would come to the satellite, John Travolta was so in love with her. I don't know, it was just like a very loving place and a family. Yeah, it really was. And that doesn't always happen. Especially not with a monumental star like that. I mean, that was insane. But also, we all really were committed. We knew we had something special and we wanted to like, you know, we wanted to make it great. And he did. They did we did.

Alex Ferrari 7:55
There was a phenomenal No pun intended. Wonderful, really, really fun movie now after working on on set for so many years and during your career. What made you say, you know, I think I think I want to get behind the camera. I want to get behind the lens.

Kyra Sedgwick 8:14
Yeah. Well, you know, it's funny, I, I, I've always, I always have an opinion. So I think that you know, it really it was my husband's my beloved husband, who was like, you know, honey, you really should think about directing, you really should think about directing. And I was always like, you know, I was terrified of the concept because I thought I wouldn't be you know, I'd work with great, great directors, and then I'd work with not great directors who will never be great, you know what I mean? And it's very clear, you know, the vast cavernous, you know, difference between the two, two things, you know, and, and so I was afraid I was going to be, you know, the ladder and and I didn't want that crushing blow to my ego, frankly, and, and I so I and I also I didn't see it a lot, you know, I mean, here's the truth of it, right is like as a woman started in, you know, acting professionally 1984 81 1981 Like, I didn't see a lot of women, right? People with a vagina directing, you know, and it was like, when you don't see it, you don't know that you can dream it or be it right. So, but having said that, it was my husband who was like, you know, kind of boosting me along and then you know, I had I had been producing since I was 27. I did my first movie, you know, in 2010 when I was 27, but I produced and we got Helen Mirren and I was in it and Sandra Bullock was in an in Marisa toma It was amazing. And it was Oh no, that was Loverboy that was my second thing. My first thing was losing chase with Helen. And in any case, so I had like balls around that like I had chutzpah about, you know I'm going to produce because I know this is a good script, and I know actors are gonna like it. And I think I'll get a good director. But, you know, a directing just seems so terrifying to me and so much responsibility. But then I had this book that I had bought in 2007, called story of a girl. And we had hired a female writer director to write the script. And we tried to get it made for like, 10 years. And you know, to quote Glenn Close, I wonder why it didn't get made. Maybe it be, because it has girl in the title. But you know, it took a really long time to get it Raven was finally time to get it made, I actually walked into lifetime to talk to them about something else. And you know, they said, you have a passion project. And I was like, Yeah, I have a passion project called story of a girl and I want to direct it. And then I was like, Who says?

I mean, literally, I was like, say, what did that just come out of my mouth. And then they read it. And like, the next day, we're like, we absolutely love this, and we'll make it for a little bit of money, not a lot of money. And I was like, I'm up for that. So, you know, it was beyond my wildest dreams. You know, I I, like I said, I felt like I was in my element. I didn't know until the first day of directing have actually being on set that I was in my element prep was terrifying for me, even though I had been in my head really prepping for this movie for 10 years. I was terrified, rightly so I think, like, Can I do it? You know, I got my husband, they're going, of course, you can do it. I got these actors were looking at me like, of course, I think you can do it, can you but I you know. And then literally the first take of the first rehearsal of the first scene, the first blocking the first thing and I was like, I got this, you know, and it was this very, like, you know, not, you know, just this ease. And this flow, I felt very in the flow, it felt very easy. You know, subsequently, I think it's become harder as again, like that sort of that little girl who's like, My soul is, you know, dancing around. It's like, after a while your ego does come in and start going, like, I don't really know what you're doing. And I know I'm doing and starts to doubt you and compare and despair and all that stuff. But like in that, that that show, I was like, I've got this. And then we were like, I mean, I can remember one day we showed up on set. There was one day that we had all outside stuff on location, and it couldn't rain. And of course, it was Vancouver, and it was pouring. And I remember everyone was freaking out. And I was like, it's going to be fine. It's going to be fine. I don't know where I got that kind of, like trust and confidence and faith that like no matter what we're gonna figure something out. It was amazing. It was an amazing day, we did figure a lot of stuff out. But but the thing is, is that being so much having, you know, I mean, I've spent so many times on set so much time on set, I know what it's like when it feels like a director has the reins and when they don't, and how awful and scary it feels like when you they don't have the reins and they don't have control. And so that was something that I wanted to emulate, but it came pretty easily for me. And also, I had been prepping this movie in my head for 10 years and had been prepping it on location for you know, six weeks. So anyway, I don't know if I even don't know

Alex Ferrari 13:21
You answered you answered the question. And I love the imposter syndrome that came in because of course every every everybody has it. And I always like bringing that up on the show because a lot of young filmmakers and young screenwriters, even young actors are listening. They think that you know, you're you've made it a certain point, you don't have that anymore. Henry Fonda was throwing up right before he went on stage every night. Yeah. And he said he was Henry Fonda. So you said you said that you've worked with great directors and you know what great directors are and you've worked with not so great directors and and you know, what is the difference from an actor's perspective?

Kyra Sedgwick 13:53
Oh, boy, that that's really hard. Because because the director can come over and give you a good note and still like, the it doesn't come together? Well, it doesn't cut together.

Alex Ferrari 14:03
Well, you know, because there could be there could be a performance director who doesn't understand the craft of telling a visual story, or visuals was all visuals. And you're just movable props at that point.

Kyra Sedgwick 14:15
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I don't I think it's really, but But I can tell you the difference between a director who has really prepared and really has a point of view and really has a vision, and also can communicate it that's an awful lot to ask and one, but it feels so good, then we're all like making the same movie. And we're all you know, again in the flow and in the you know, serving the peace as a whole that has a very strong idea and a very strong vision. Like to me that's a good director.

Alex Ferrari 14:50
Now, what is some of the biggest lessons you took away from working with some of the legendary directors have you worked with over the years?

Kyra Sedgwick 14:57
Oh, you know, is that everybody does it Finally, it's very, it's really interesting, you know, on, some people are, you know, super, super hyper focused on detail. And some people are like, just do it again, just do it again. And you know, like Kelly Fremont, Craig on edge of 17 just to pick someone really recent and some a female, like, was very specific, very, very, very specific. Whereas, like, Oliver Stone was like, do it again, or James ivory, you know, it was like, it was already painted the painting, the movie was painted. You were just the brushstrokes, and he was the hand doing the brushstrokes. So it's like, if you had no, it was so interesting, because he you know, he had it so much in his head that like, no matter what you brought to the table, he would always direct you back into that, that version that he had in his head, you know, it's so it was so and I remember looking at at Richard, what God death rate actor, I'm forgetting his name. It wasn't. It wasn't Paul Newman, obviously. And just going like, is it just me or is he already painted the picture? And the guys already painted the picture? Robert, Sean Leonard, he's already painted the picture. And I was like, So what are we even doing here? He's amazing.

Alex Ferrari 16:16
You know, it's really interesting, because I understand what you mean by that, because his movies are so crafted. And they were like, move, they were literally moving works of art. Like, it looks like you could hang a frame every frame, you could hang somewhere in a museum. But I never, I was always wondering about how he worked with actors. Because, you know, some actors like I've had Oliver on the show. And he's an Oliver's. He's Oliver. He's Oliver. And I, and he seems to like just do it again, kind of like any flows with it. But when you when you have a director that flows with it like that, there's such confidence, and they just understand the craft so much, that they're not afraid of what you might bring, that might be different. And I'm not saying that James is like that, but James just had, it seemed that he just had such a clear idea that anything that varied out of that box, he just like, No, this is what I'm doing. And you're just a paintbrush. It's fascinating to me as an actor, that must have been extremely frustrating, because you'd like to bring obviously, you bring something to the table, right?

Kyra Sedgwick 17:18
It wasn't that I saw the movie, and it was so fucking amazing that I know nothing, but that he cast really well. Like he knew he I mean, you know, and I was just listening to Paul, Thomas Anderson talking about casting really well, you know, and it's like, you cast really well, you really have to trust your actors to bring to bring something special. And, you know, and I don't know, you know, I can, I can really see it from both sides. Again, being an actor, I can totally see it from both sides. Because it's like, on the one hand, you know, he cast the perfect people. But he also like, kept them in a in a very strange, very like, like, tight little box. But then someone like Paul Thomas Anderson, like cast really well. And then just goes like, do it again, and try it again and try something different. It really, I think it also it's so much depends upon how much time you have. It's like, you can go like, let's do it again. I don't think I have it yet. But like, let's do it again, I won't get any direction. But if you only have like, four takes that, you know, until you have to move on. Like you have to know people more, you know, and it might make people feel more uptight. But the truth is like, then you hope the director has a plan of like, I know, I got this piece and this scene, this piece, you know, this piece in this beginning of the scene, I just need the middle and now I got the end, let's just do that little, you know,

Alex Ferrari 18:40
Or you could or you could do the Kubrick and just shoot. But he but he also a lot of people don't understand that Kubrick shot with like, you know, 13 crew members. So he had days and days, weeks and months and Eyes Wide Shut. How long do you have like almost a year? That's the longest, longest shooting movie in history? I think it was a quarter because he just locked up Tom Cruise and the cocaine and

Kyra Sedgwick 19:07
I know, it's so funny. It's like I was thinking, you know, I made my movie in 21 days. And, and, you know, I and I heard Paul Thomas Anderson, who I think like made one of the greatest moves. I mean, he's beyond, you know, buddy, but and I was so in love with licorice Risa, and he was like, I have 65 days to shoot and I was like, 65 Anyone can make a good movie and 60 I actually heard myself saying that. I can't believe I said it. But no. Anyway, but it's true. It's like I think it's more fun to the actress when you have more time you can be more Lucy. I think it is more fun for the actors.

Alex Ferrari 19:45
Know how do you approach directing actors as being one for so long?

Kyra Sedgwick 19:49
Yeah. Hmm. How do I you know, everyone's different. I think first of all, you know, making actors are holding a space that feels safe. for them is so key like, and that starts from, like, the first conversation you have with them of like, you know, what do you need, like, what can I do, but also just just making a safe place because actors there's, we are so vulnerable, it is so terrifying, you know, having a giant piece of machinery looking at you. I mean, I don't know, I just think that every actor is, you know, ripping themselves open and like, you know, leaving a piece of their soul on the on the floor for you. So like, you better honor what that is. And I feel like I know that intrinsically. That's not something I had to learn. That's something that I, you know, really, really deeply understand. So I think that's, like, first and foremost, super important because people, I think that they'll feel more people give you better if they feel safe. And and, and I think that, you know, I, I've worked with a lot of green actors in my time. And I think that it's about specificity. And, you know, using all the tools in your toolbox as director, and you know, and trying not to, you know, to give on actionable notes, you know, like, just be faster, just be funnier, you know, that kind of shit is like not I mean, I, I really try not to do that, unless an actor's just like, You mean faster, right? And I'm like, yeah, actually,

Alex Ferrari 21:28
That's what I meant faster, more intense.

Kyra Sedgwick 21:30
Do like pace or whatever. But like, people need different things. Some people like, you know, we're gonna nail it on the first or second take, like Kevin's gonna nail on the first or second take, it's not going to be a warm up, we better be ready, you know, whereas some of the younger actors, it's like, they need you to warm up. And some of them needed a warm up in the beginning of the movie, but not towards the end of the movie. Towards the end of the shoot, like I've been in a great I've been, I've had like a front row seat to see actors grow within a movie. Like it's incredible. You know, and then, so everyone needs something different. Some people and sometimes, you know, you need to be pushed and pushed, just do it again, do it again. And then they start like questioning themselves to death. And it's like, no more questions, you've got to trust me, like, go again, just do it again. You just started watching yourself, because a lot of time the actors are watching themselves. And it's like, I'm watching you. Try not to watch yourself, like, keep going.

Alex Ferrari 22:23
So when actors are in the scene, I when I've worked with actors before, sometimes they get into their own head. And then once they're in their own head, they're out of the moment, and they're thinking about their acting. And then now that's a bad performance. You're not, you're not reacting, you're not in the moment. What do you do to knock them out of that? Because it happens all the times,

Kyra Sedgwick 22:42
I slapped them really hard across the face.

Alex Ferrari 22:44
No, not so much. In these days, seven days, you might have gotten away with that not so much now,

Kyra Sedgwick 22:48
Honestly, you know, I, you know, I think honestly, sometimes you take them aside and like, hey, you know, what do you need or and be like that loving, like mama bear. And sometimes it's like, stop doing that, you know, and you've got to trust me Stop it. Like, you know, I think one of Alex's, you know, one of Kyle's greatest performances was when he was feeling the most self loathing and like, I could see it in him, you know, because I know that feeling like, I suck so bad. And it's like, you know, I just made him do it again, and again, and again. And it's like, it's some of the stuff that we use the most in the movie. And it's, it's the most vulnerable and, and, you know, I just, I just tried to, like, not give him time to be in his head, because we didn't have the time. So in a way, that was a gift, right? Like, I can't, we all can't indulge this, like, I'm not going to let you indulge it because I don't think it's good for you. But we all can't indulge this. So let's just keep going. And again, again, again, and I don't, he never, he never told me he hated me for it. But really, truly, it's the it's the stuff that's like interstitially in the movie. It's the stuff when he's looking in the mirror, and we use it over and over and over again, in the movie, because because it helped it did something for us that we didn't even know we needed. Moments where we were just quiet and landing with Alex and seeing him make a decision to do something different. But for those of us who haven't seen the movie won't mean anything but but but the point being that, you know, when he was at least trusting, and I think that's also the thing that I can speak to as an actor and tell actors, sometimes when it feels the worst, it's the best. And we don't know as actors, we think we know. It wasn't good. I always know but we really don't. We really don't. And I can reflect that back to them. You know, it was good for you doesn't mean it was good for the audience. Just because you really cried doesn't mean that you made the audience cry.

Alex Ferrari 25:15
It's interesting because when you start listening to stories of like David Fincher or Stanley Kubrick where he just they do 70 80 90

Kyra Sedgwick 25:22
Yeah, not that I don't think I'll ever be that person even if it had time.

Alex Ferrari 25:26
Right, exactly. But I understand I kind of understand the mentality behind it, because you're breaking down the actors mind to the point where they can't think anymore because they've done it so much. And they just, that's where the magic happens in their, their process. Yeah. But I believe if you hire good actor, they should get there faster.

Kyra Sedgwick 25:44
Exactly. You know, so funny, because I worked with Cameron Crowe, obviously, yeah, like him. And dude, that guy did like 45 tapes of everything. And every single actor at one point, you know, looked at themselves and went, I must be the worst actor on the planet. And it was so funny, because we all felt like, I talked to Bridget Fonda. And I was like, I know, he probably doesn't do it to you. But he makes me do like 40 takes, like, Are you kidding? He always makes you do 40 takes, but she didn't have that, like, self loathing that I was born with. So, you know, so she didn't take it so personally. But you know, it's so funny because he would come the next day. I remember this vividly. I don't know if you remember the movie, but there's her first scene. I think it's the beginning of the movie. And she's doing the garage door clicker. And he has a little like for like a couple of paragraphs. And then she clicks the garage. He honestly 38 takes and the other thing is that as I'm doing more and more takes, I can feel Cameron spiraling too and being scared that it's terrible, you know, so like, I didn't think it wasn't just me making that up. Like he actually and then he would come back the next day and go dude, do had it on like, the third day.

Alex Ferrari 26:59
But that was like a second movie. That was like a second off.

Kyra Sedgwick 27:01
But then the next day, I'd be like, okay, cool. So he's not gonna make us do so many tastes. Same thing. And then he'd be like, dude, dude, or thick, Jack and Jake. Oh, it's just like, oh, and then it never changed. So I just think that's him, you know, but and he's a great, amazing director. His movies are incredible.

Alex Ferrari 27:19
And that was during the film where that cost every single time it wasn't hard.

Kyra Sedgwick 27:26
Oh, my God. Oh, my God.

Alex Ferrari 27:28
Yeah, I mean, I mean, I remember that very, because again, that's the the, the time of my video store days, like 87 to 90 to 93 hours in the video working, administer. So singles, save, say anything pirates. All that time was during those I'm deadly interested in Trivial Pursuit in that time period.

Kyra Sedgwick 27:51
Awesome.

Alex Ferrari 27:54
So I wanted to ask you to as an actor, what is the biggest misconception that people have about the process because actors from from the outside, you know, especially young directors, it looks like a, an alien. You know, like how you work on the process. And every actor is different, every method and all that stuff. But generally speaking, what do you think is the biggest misconception that directors or just people in general have about the process of being an actor?

Kyra Sedgwick 28:18
And so that's a really good question. I mean, off the top of my head, that it's easy, that people think it's easy.

Alex Ferrari 28:26
Just do it. This is he moved the light. Why can't you just hit the mark and do it?

Kyra Sedgwick 28:30
Yeah, I mean, my, my brother in law's is an eye surgeon. And he's like, what you do is so hard. Are you freaking kidding me and bless his heart. Like he does, you know, big work, and it's amazing. And it's incredible. If I stuck a camera in front of him, he would be like, he would understand very quickly how hard it is, you know, so I think that it's hard is is a misconception. I think that a lot of people and also understandably, it's like, you know, you know, actors are sort of treated like gods sometimes eventually. And that's like really, you're not curing cancer. And it's really hard. You know, so I think that that's one of the things and again, I just keep coming back to this concept of like, it's really vulnerable. It's really it is so vulnerable, it's like most of us walk around with like, we've got a shield on all the time. I mean, you know, one way or the other, it's like there's a front there's a there's there's something going on that like makes me safe in the world. And and you're taught you're really stripping that away. Ultimately, I think when you're in front of a camera for me or in front of an audience,

Alex Ferrari 29:41
But if you only feel comfortable, because if you don't feel comfortable from what I from my experience when you're when you're an actor and you don't feel comfortable, you'll protect yourself and that's when problems occur. On on set. So that's what happens. So when you that's why safe space is so so important for our director to come to come in and out as as I see He's an actor like yourself, you can pretty much smell it on day one. How long does it take you before? You know? Oh, God, this this character has no idea what they're doing. What did I sign up for? I'm gonna have to I'm gonna have to carry this myself. Okay.

Kyra Sedgwick 30:13
Yeah. Oh, yeah, I think you know, really early on Yeah, for sure, especially at this age,

Alex Ferrari 30:20
I mean, God, you know, they want to go.

Kyra Sedgwick 30:23
Yeah. But I also give people a lot of room, you know, I mean, you know, I'm like, okay, you know, this is a new set, like, everyone's getting their sea legs, especially on a movie, like on a TV show, it's a little bit different, because three quarters of the people already hired and we're doing all the work all over the, you know, at the same time, but like, a movie or the beginning of a series or something like that everyone is figuring it out and figuring out the flow. And crews are on unmerged. And, you know, and so I think that, you know, that is, uh, you know, I definitely try to give people the benefit of the doubt for a while, you know, I may have a spidey sense, you know, quickly and go like, Oh, that's a little red flag, but that's okay, I can tuck that into the back of my head for, you know, a minute a minute, you know, and then and then if days go by, and it's just like, it's just a clusterfuck, then it's just a clusterfuck. And, you know, and you're like, Okay, I just have to protect me, you know, in my performance as much as possible.

Alex Ferrari 31:24
Yeah. And I've seen that happen with and you can kind of see when when you see a movie and you see a performances come out, and you're like, wow, she's always good, so good and bad, or he's always so good. What happened here? And then you hear the stories of behind the scenes, you're like, oh, they were just protecting themselves. They were just trying to survive the shoot as such.

Kyra Sedgwick 31:41
Yeah, exactly.

Alex Ferrari 31:43
Now, is there something that you wish someone would have told you at the beginning of your career about like, hey, you know, can I offer this or? This is not the way it is?

Kyra Sedgwick 31:54
I don't know. You know, I was born and raised in New York. So I had a lot of streets.

Alex Ferrari 31:58
I could tell, I could tell.

Kyra Sedgwick 32:01
You know, I had two older brothers, so I wasn't going to take a whole lot of shit. Like, I'd take some you know, but like, I remember, you were prepped, ya know, like, I remember auditioning for Adrian Lyon, for line for Flashdance, believe it or not, yeah. And I and I had to, you know, I go in there, and I started the scene, and the phone rang, and he went to go pick it up. And I was like, You're not going to pick that up, are you? And I literally was, like, you know, a baby actor, you know, I was like, I don't know, 17 or something like that. And I was like, You're not gonna pick that up? And he looked at me like, wow, like he couldn't believe, you know, that I have, you know, just like, I think that, um, I think that, I think that you have value, I think telling, you know, telling an actor, you know, it's interesting, because I think that on the one hand, you want to say to young actors, like you have value, your opinion matters. But I also think it's so important that our actors know, and I somehow knew this intrinsically, that you are there to be of service, you know, you really are there, you know, I studied with, with teachers who were like, the plays the thing, you know, they mean, like, you're not the thing, the play is the thing. So I think that that's important for actors to know, and you have value, right? Like both of those things at the same time.

Alex Ferrari 33:23
It's so interesting, because you seem, we're, as we're talking, you've obviously had a fantastic career thus far. You haven't it doesn't seem from the outside, that you fall into any of these traps, these ego traps that you actually mentioned, like, oh, this or that, or you become or people think you're a god, and how did you avoid that? Is it just your upbringing in your being a New Yorker, because I'm an east coaster, as well. So I feel you, we could smell our own. So what is it about that, that, that you didn't fall into those traps? And also, your husband to Kevin didn't seem to fall into him either.

Kyra Sedgwick 33:58
You know, I think that, um, you know, I think in some ways, we have always been and always, you know, valued being a workhorse actor, and not like a star. You know, what I mean? I think that we, you know, I think that there's part of me that wished it had been easier for me, I know that one would look at me on the outside and go, God, you've had such a great career, but like, it's been hard, like many times hard and like many years, you know, not working, sometimes between jobs, like two years, three years. So like, I think that while I would have liked a softer, easier way, in a way I feel like because it's been challenging, it has made me respect and value. You know, being a workhorse actor, that's like somebody who never had it too easy. I also will say that like I feel like I'm For whatever reason, I'm like a good citizen. And I feel like it's important to be a good citizen in the world and to be a good citizen on a set and to like, treat people well and treat people the way you want to be treated. And like that kind of diva mentality or thinking that you're better than anybody else. Anybody, including the freakin, you know, crafty man, if you think you're better than them than like your, I just, I just think that that'll end up biting you in the ass, you know, and I and it's certainly not fun to be around. And it also there's humility to being an actor, you have to be willing and open to learning about human beings. And I think that if you think you're somehow better than any human being, then you're not going to be you don't you don't have that humility to observe and to, and to become that person and to represent that person on screen. Does that make sense?

Alex Ferrari 35:57
It makes it makes all the sense in the world. And your what you're saying is the what everyone should strive for. Not everyone gets there, but everyone should strive for that, just that I'm here, I'm here for the for the work. I'm here. I'm glad to be working. I had the pleasure of working with Robert forester years ago. And and not to drop a name. But the reason I'm bringing my friend, the reason. The reason I'm the reason I'm bringing it up is that when I spoke to him after we work together, he said, actors need to remember that there's this many actors in this many jobs, right? And you should be lucky, if you're working to get up and be appreciative and grateful that you get to do what you love to do. And that's what a lot of actors don't understand. And I was like, wow, it was just such a, he was like a sage. And when I when I worked with him was like a sage working. Talking to me about acting, I was just like, ah, and also by the way, when he walked on set, he was prepared in a way that he was so prepared in a way that I wasn't used to work because actors I've worked with the good actors and everything but such an I was like, Oh, my God, he's he's walking in like, I'm putting Tarantino This is amazing. So it's so wonderful when you get to work with really great actors, because then you understand what really great actor can do and bring to your project. Where like you're saying green actors. They haven't gotten there yet. It takes them a little bit of time to get there. Yeah. Now tell me about space audit. oddity. How did that come to life? By the way, I watched it, I loved it. I thought it was wonderful. What an amazing cast by the way.

Kyra Sedgwick 37:39
Thank you so much. Yeah, yeah, we really, we really got lucky. So Space Oddity is a script that was given to me, I think it was 2017 Maybe even. And I loved it. And, and my company, my company, big swing, we, Valerie Sadler, and I worked with the writer for about a year about a year and a half. And, um, and then, you know, the, the little pandemic happened and so we had to push a year. But we, you know, I love the movie, I thought I had something to say I thought it's everything that I love, you know, it's about this family and, and it's romantic. And it's funny, and it's sad. And it also has like some climate stuff in it, you know, which I think is so critical right now and important for us as artists and storytellers to to talk about. And, you know, we got the money together literally, like we were in prep when the last money came in. I mean, it was not easy. There was nothing easy about this, you know, we had someone cast as Alex he fell out like three weeks before we were sparked start supposed to start prep, and then the great gift of Kyle Allen who's like, going to be a huge star, you know, came into our lives. And we had Madeline Brewer really early on the year before in like 2018 I guess we had her 19 I'm getting my I'm not good with dates. But and a lot of people cast and then, you know, lots of people came in at the last minute. And, um, you know, I was one of those things where, you know, I was bound and we were bound and determined, like you were like, not taking no for an answer. I'm making this movie, like, I will do everything I can to and I become the engine of everything that I do, I find and that's like a gift and a power of mine. But also it's like sort of the only way I know how to do it. Like literally, in the middle of pandemic I was doing a sitcom I was starring in a sitcom that only went one season called Call your mother. And by the way, call your mother. Call your mother always call your mother And, and I was like, I felt so hopeless like helpless like I couldn't like I wasn't doing I was in LA you know, I couldn't do anything here and this was what before we even had our money you know, this was the summer before we ended up shooting it. But I was like, I knew I wanted to shoot in Rhode Island because right before March 5 2019 We went on to scout in Rhode Island, I knew they had a 30% tax incentive and I went on a scout with my producing partner with Valerie and we were like, This is the place I found the town I knew with for Rhode Island was gonna be where I wanted to shoot the town and Tallinn is an important part in character in the movie. And then I was like I have to find a flower farm. We didn't find one on that scout and of course the world shut down. So I was in LA and I started looking up you know, farm flower farms on the computer. Didn't realize that it was the day before Valentine's Day cold called you know, robbing Hollow Farm, which was this, you know, I looked I found their website, I looked at their plate, it looked beautiful. So I cold called them and said Hi my name is Kyra Sedgwick. I'm gonna make a movie in Rhode Island this summer didn't have the money didn't have the all the cat. You know, I was like, but you know, saying all this stuff and, and I really loved the look of your flower farm and any chance you might want to let us shoot on it. She goes and the wife who picks up the phone who on the flower farm with her husband, Mike said, Well, you are calling a flower farm the day before Valentine's Day and then I was like, oh my god, I'm so sorry. Hey, Valentine's Day, I always thought it was like stupid holiday and then they start going to this like thing about Valentine's Day. I was sweating. I was so scared to call but but it was it was like magical. It was so magical. Because literally the next day Mike Hutchinson who owns Robin Harlow got on the phone with me and my production designer, Michael. Michael, we got I'm forgetting his last name, but I'll remember it. And we called him and he was like, I did a show for I did a gardening show with Martha Stewart. And so I know filmmaking we were like, we couldn't believe how lucky we were. And he sent us a whole bunch of pictures of what the place looks like, you know, when it's in full bloom and we were like, oh my god, I can't believe it. And this sucker actually, I mean, this really nice guy wants to let us shoot there. And you know, and you know, we turned we ended up shooting there. So it was like, you know, it was it was amazing. A lot of luck. A lot of perseverance and you know, great people supporting us. I mean, you know, it takes a village it takes more than a village it takes like God it takes a takes a planet

Alex Ferrari 42:37
Miracle it takes a miracle.

Kyra Sedgwick 42:39
It really takes a miracle the the idea that anything ever gets to me. We got turned down by so many financiers Do you have no Michael Michael Fitzgerald I'm so sorry. I had to look that up. Oh, my God, the brilliant the brilliant microfiche show but there was a lot on that far from that is that flower farm I mean, you could spend millions of dollars trying to get that look and there was like when a camera and there was me there was a lot of work that Michael did a lot of work but it was a beautiful place to shoot.

Alex Ferrari 43:08
Now what you've directed a ton of television a ton of television over the years what lessons did you bring from television to your and this is your first feature your direct if I'm not mistaken Correct? Is the what were those lessons because television is a whole different beast. A narrative a feature so what lessons did you bring onto your Indie film?

Kyra Sedgwick 43:30
Well, I mean, I think that you learned so much doing television and different kinds of TV shows like going from like Grayson, Frankie to Ray Donovan and sitting on a hill and then you know, in the dark and I mean, you know, I got to play in everyone else's playground and use everybody else's toys. And you know, I know it's only the beginning and and I have so much more to learn but I knew so much more than I did when I did my first movie. So a lot about how to shoot things about equipment a better coverage right exactly or not coverage on or no I'm kind of fast and loose with the coverage we'll take a talk about that another time. But you know, trusting that you know when you've got it you're moving on like that is something that really came so easily from to me from the beginning but I think it's because of my acting background and knowing like especially all those years on a closure like we have this scene we have this this side anyway or you know, and so that I think is such a huge and also being under the gun timelines is super important being responsible for Budget Day all that stuff? You know, I know that some people never had that problem, you know, but frankly, I love that problem. You know, I mean, I'd love to have more days don't get me wrong universe like many more days and all that but like there's something to momentum on us on a chronic crew, and on a day that serves everybody, you know, a serves cast, it serves crew and it serves, you know, producer, I mean, it just serves the piece. So, so learning how to know when I got it. Also being spending a lot of time, on all the shows I did, I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time on location blocking. And being an actor, it's great because I can do all the parts, but also I could bring in pas, and you know, other people to come in and be those actors for me, so I could set shots and stuff like that, like, all that stuff. And also like being open to ideas and knowing when to go like, Okay, no more ideas. Like now it's me in my head. And the other thing I've really learned about myself as director, which I've learned through time, is that I have to hear my own voice first, without hearing other people's input first. So that's why I like to go on the on the onset on location onset. Early on, I did it on everything from the first TV show I did. And usually they'll let you like walk the sets and stuff like that, and, and going on to the set and thinking, okay, oh, this is how the scene should be. This is why it should be, you know, it comes at this time in the show or the or the movie, it should be this kind of thing. I'm cutting from this to this. So I want you know, I want to make sure that that works and spending a lot of time with my own voice so that I can hear the input of other people because it feels good for other people to feel seen and heard. That's also really important. And the other thing I know as an actor, specially on my show, the closer people like to hear you say, thank you so much for moving up, like really appreciate your hustle, you know, when you fix that sound thing for us. Thanks. You know, all that stuff is like so it's so key to you know, just give people their due man and they'll and they will kill and die for you. Am I right? crew that you appreciate them and accurately you appreciate them. They're like, that's it. I'll do anything for you now.

Alex Ferrari 47:08
I mean, because that is feeding them well, and that are feeding them well,

Kyra Sedgwick 47:13
Eating them well. craft service is not above you know,

Alex Ferrari 47:19
No crafty is the craft that could kill you. You put a bunch of sugary, buttery sugary stuff on that table. And it's an 18 hour day about 12 hours in everyone's like sugar high fights breakout. I've seen it happen.

Kyra Sedgwick 47:33
It's, it's

Alex Ferrari 47:35
Now as a director, we all go through that, you know, we all understand that the battle of making your day making, you know, cat making sure your film gets done. Project gets finished on time. But there's always that one day, there's that thing. Camera breaks actor, car car broke down. I'm losing the light. What was that day for you? What was the worst day? And how did you overcome that obstacle as a director?

Kyra Sedgwick 48:03
Shit. I know that we had a bunch of days where we were supposed to shoot something and the lightning would start. Everything would stop for 30 minutes. And we'd had to come back. You know. And I think that I think that the thing to do is to Oh, I remember oh, this was a this was a really good day to talk about because me and the actors weren't gelling. It was like they were mad at me which which foreign actor director is like, what do you mean you don't like reorder? Drive? I mean, seriously, it's so and I remember at first with with an actor and I wish I could say his name. But I'm not going to ungraceful, Frankie, because all the actors were like, We love you care. We love you. And I was like, they all love me because, you know, I'm an actor. And of course they love me. And this one actor was like, I don't love you. I don't love you at all. In fact, I think you're annoying. That was just like, say what broke my heart. And I but you know, I was telling him to do something you didn't want to do or whatever, you know. But that day, not only did that happen, where I felt like I was asking for something. I can be very exacting, like a very exacting director like I because I feel like I really know what I want and if I'm not getting it, and I'm losing the light, I'm sure I know I can get you know, I think I'm covering but I'm not that good an actor sometimes. Hard to believe I know. I'm only kidding. But anyway, so this day, it wasn't a good day anyway, we had so much to do and it was this big emotional is that big emotional scene in the fire for the fireflies where he's like talking about brother and it's like it's such a huge scene. It was such an important scene and it was such a beautiful location and I and I was so it just nothing was happening right you losing light before we could ever make this day. It was an insane day. We never could have made it anyway. But then thank God the heavens opened up and the lightning came and the rain we had to shut down. And I remember going, You know what, every time we hit those moments, it always ended up being a gift in the end. And so I had to start learning to just trust that, even though that was so hard for me, because I really do I like to stick to a plan, you know, but of course, you know, you have to let go of that plan. But, but and also there is, I mean, you always think like, there's no way we're going to be ever be able to come back to this location, and then something happens, you are labeled able to go back like, you know, again, it's like about right sizing things like, you know, it's I know, it feels like a movie, but it is just the movie, like you're gonna figure it out, like, you know, and no one needs to get hit by lightning and like, your knowing needs my bad attitude on that day, or like my forcing a solution when like, there's no solution to be had, the person is just not in the mood to take my direction today. You know what I mean? So it ended up being a blessing.

Alex Ferrari 50:53
But it was hard to go there during it because I mean, as a director, directing this compromise, every day, every every moment, it's it's just compromised constantly.

Kyra Sedgwick 51:03
For David Fincher. I really feel like that never open when you hear him talk, because like, I would never do that. I'm just an asshole. And I know it. Like I'm just really Tony's II so open about it. It's like amazing, and I've never worked them. And we'd love to know, I just said, no, no compromises.

Alex Ferrari 51:23
No, I think it was it was No, I agree with you. 100%. I think David compromises at all. I don't think Nolan compromises. But they're playing in such different sandboxes. I mean, you're talking to me, Kubrick never compromised.

Kyra Sedgwick 51:37
By the way, just three men just want to mention, but anyway, go on.

Alex Ferrari 51:39
Right, right. But they don't generally compromise because they are who they are. And that's the way they but they've built that thing about them that they can do things like that. I promise you that. David did compromise on alien three, his first feature, which he had taken away by by his studio, and then after, oh, yeah, there's a whole long story. I mean, I could go on and on about oh, yeah, he was he was he never wanted to direct it. He wanted to say, I'm not gonna go to features anymore. I'm just gonna go back to commercials. And then seven came around. And then he said, if you're gonna, I'm gonna do it my way. And, and then after that, then he start writing his ticket. Same thing for Nolan. And Kubrick, Kubrick wrote a ticket that nobody's ever written before. It's remarkable. Now I had to I do have to ask you, because this is this is, this is a story I heard that you told. And I think the audience would get a big kick out of because I couldn't stop laughing. It's your Tom Cruise story. Please tell the audience that Tom Cruise. It's absolutely.

Kyra Sedgwick 52:43
So you know, Tom and I did Born on the Fourth of July together. So we kind of knew each other. And then Kevin did a few good men with him. And I was seven months pregnant on a few good men. And, um, and back then they didn't have nice looking maternity clothes. This has nothing to do with the story, but just just as a vision of what I look like. And so we got in, we would keep getting invited to like events with like Tom and Nicole, who he was with at the time, and Demi Moore was in the movie. And so Bruce came, and then like, and then Kevin, remind me, What's his last name? Kevin Pollak, thank you. And then like, you know, throwing for a good measure, like Billy Crystal would come and then Rob Reiner, you know, and it was like, We got invited to cool things we got invited over to to Tom Cruise's house for dinner. It was a lovely meal. After dinner, we all retired to the library, where the men smoked cigars, and the women chatted, and I do what

Alex Ferrari 53:44
It's like Titanic.

Kyra Sedgwick 53:47
Well, what I tend to do is and I couldn't drink, I couldn't smoke, you know, because I was pregnant. So I was like, looking at stuff. You know, I looked at like, a, like a photo album of Tom and Nicole skydiving and I was like, Wow, that's amazing. And then like looking at the mantelpiece, there was like a little, you know, a fireplace and I was looking at the mantelpiece. The pictures. Then underneath the mantelpiece, weirdly, like oddly placed was this little button. And I was like, I wonder what that is. And, you know, maybe if I pressed it, like the door, like the thing would shift and like, we'd go into some secret place. And so I just pressed the button, and nothing happened. And I thought, huh, that's a little unsettling that nothing happened to me. You know, I'm just going to mention it to time. So I tapped on, on Tom on the shoulder. He was like mid story, you know, on something and he turns around, and I go, I just press that button under there. And he goes, you press that button? And I said, Oh, yeah, I did. I press up on he goes, that's the panic button. And I was like, Oh my God, and he goes, Why did you press that button? Now? I was like, I don't know. It was there. It was just there, you know, and the cops came, like 12 cop cars came, we were supposed to watch the Godfather one and two, we had to postpone the screening. Because at first he just told his assistants to tell them he was fine. They wouldn't leave, understandably until they saw Tom Cruise, like in one piece. So it's like, oh, yeah, sorry, I have to go upstairs because someone press the cops are upstairs, they won't leave. So we got to hold on the movie. I mean, it was mortifying, and we didn't get invited back.

Alex Ferrari 55:35
What? And finally, what did Kevin do during this time?

Kyra Sedgwick 55:39
Like, what did you do? Why would you do? I don't know. And he was like, it's just I can't believe you did that. What were you thinking? You know, he was just completely like, on one hand mortified and shocked. But on the other hand, like that's so you, you just do that kind of shit. Like, just, there's a button. I'm just gonna press it. You know?

Alex Ferrari 56:00
I think you're a victim of your industry, which is the movie industry. And you've seen way too many movies. And when you hit that button, cool stuff happens in movies, right? Of course, there's just not a panic button that something opens you go into secret passage, you find the Ark of the Covenant. There's things that happen, so I'm waiting.

Kyra Sedgwick 56:19
I'm waiting. I am completely with you.

Alex Ferrari 56:22
I probably, I'm not sure if I would have touched the button. But boy, whatever got close. Like curious. People. I just want you right now. But imagine if you hit the button and a door open and you'd be like, oh, hell, what would you have done? You're like, Tom, Tom. The dungeon is visible for everybody. Where are you? Oh my god. But Kira, where can people uh, when is this coming out? I know you're at Tribeca right now.

And what? What was it like? What was it like getting that call?

Kyra Sedgwick 56:56
It was great. It was so so so great. Actually, it was kind of a kind of anticlimactic because I call Jean because I hadn't heard and I know Jane Rosenthal. And, you know, I was like, This isn't right. You shouldn't call her and I was like, You know what, no stone unturned, like, you got to do it. And I just want to just tell her how passionate I was about, you know, my hometown of New York and what I felt about the Tribeca Film Festival, just the way I feel like it's a it's like a you know, I mean, it was it was conceived as like New York coming back from 911. And I kind of feel like I'm reinventing myself. And like, I don't know, I just like I had this whole spiel to give her you know, and then I was like, hi, Jean. Thank you so much for taking my call. You know, I just wanted to just one more, you know, just once again, tell you how pass it's just like, Oh, sweetie, you know, you just such a great job. We absolutely want to have you I'm so sorry. It's taken us so long. And I was like, Yeah, but I got a spiel, I got a hold about the phoenix rising from the ashes. But anyway, no, I mean, I'm so grateful. Because the truth is, like, I think this can play in the theater, I think it should play in the theater. And it probably won't, or may not do to, like the world that we live in. It'll, you know, I mean, I would love to have a window of theatrical anyway, no matter what. So, but I think that people seeing it in an audience, it's a joyful, meaningful movie about love and loss at a time and fighting for like, what's here at a time when I feel like we're all feeling loss and wanting to fight for something, you know, better and different. And, and, and within our means and within our grasp to fight for. So I think that I think it's an important movie, it feels like and it's fun, and it's entertaining. And it's, and it's romantic. And it's about love and like fighting the good fight, and you know, and grief. And I just think that who can't relate to that.

Alex Ferrari 58:50
Absolutely. Well, I am. I am so happy that you made the film. It's a fantastic film. I hope everyone goes out there and sees it. Kyra, thank you so much for coming on the show. It's been an absolute pleasure talking to you. So it's so entertaining. It's so much fun. Thank you and best of luck, continued success and go out there and tell some more great stories. So I appreciate you.

Kyra Sedgwick 59:08
Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

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BPS 206: Lessons Learned: Being a First-Time Writer/Director with Sarah Elizabeth Mintz

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz received her BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she completed her thesis film Transit, starring Dakota Johnson. After graduating she mentored with filmmakers Cary Fukunaga on True Detective, Joachim Trier on Louder Than Bombs, and worked with Alejandro Inarritu on The Revenant.

Sarah was a Sundance Fellow in the 2017 Writer’s Intensive and 2018 Sundance Strategic Financing Intensive with her project Good Girl Jane. She completed a short film of the same name starring Rachelle Vinberg (Skate Kitchen, HBO’s Betty) and Travis Tope (American Vandal), with cinematography by Jake Saner (Ghosts of Sugar Land).

The short premiered at the Raindance Film Festival in London. Good Girl Jane recently wrapped principal photography in Los Angeles starring Rain Spencer, Patrick Gibson and Andie MacDowell. Good Girl Jane is inspired by events in Sarah’s own life.

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Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 0:00
I think I was like, Okay, I'm not making any progress, but it's not. But I can write a little. And then and I was like, okay, the script needs to be better. Like how do I make it better? And yeah, kept redrafting and I kept sending up pieces and finally and it's funny because like it wasn't getting anywhere but then it got into the Sundance of writers and pensive. And I was like, Okay, if it's gonna get in nowhere and then get in here like, I'll take it, you know?

Alex Ferrari 0:29
This episode is brought to you by Bulletproof Script Coverage. We're screenwriters go to get their scripts read by Top Hollywood Professionals. Learn more at covermyscreenplay.com. Now today on the show, we have writer director Sarah Elizabeth Mintz. Now Sarah's new film, good girl, Jane is premiering at this year's Tribeca Film Festival. Now her journey and how she got to this point is pretty remarkable. She had the opportunity to work with Oscar winning writer director Alejandro Ruutu on the set of The Revenant the stories alone are remarkable. So without any further ado, let's dive in. I'd like to welcome to the show Sarah Elizabeth Mintz how you doin Sarah?

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 1:10
I'm good. Hi Alex thank you so much for having me.

Alex Ferrari 1:13
Thank you so much for coming on the show. I'm excited to talk to you about your your new film Good Girl Jane and, and your your adventures in the film industry which have have been you've got some shrapnel along the way.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 1:27
Yeah. Yeah, sure. This is not my first rodeo. It is my first feature that I've written and directed.

Alex Ferrari 1:35
But you've been you've been you've been in some battlegrounds over the year. So we're gonna get into that. So before we get started, how did you and why God's green earth did you want to get into this insanity called the film industry?

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 1:46
I'm just jumping right in, right. So it's like, I don't know if I really had a choice in the matter. Exactly. I actually, I thought I just loved movies. And when I was in high school, I would you know, do the thing where you like, buy a PG to get and sneak into the movies. I think it was like 2002 2003 I really started sneaking into all the movies. I remember I was it was like the dreamers came out to the club where Lucci like that's so cool, like 13 and ghosts, were all like Hedwig and the Angry Inch like I was, I was a teenager and I was like, I would have spent all my time watching like the weird movies that that are at the Lemley, which was like the art house theater by my house. And so at first, I just thought it was like a fan. And it was kind of shy. I was pretty shy, actually. So I spent all my time watching movies, like all night, I didn't sleep and would go to class and super tired. But I was like, Well, I spent all night hanging with my friends, you know, on the screen. So I think that I thought I was chip in. And I also didn't really know that women directed like, there were very, there were very few female directors that I was aware of. I was aware of like Kathryn Bigelow and Sofia Coppola. And truly, I think that was it. Like, luckily, later I was like, oh, Andrea Arnold. Like slowly, people started trickling in. But I didn't know that was an option at all. I did grow up in LA. I did grow up, you know, around people that wanted to act or like people's parents were in Hollywood. But my family wasn't at all and in the film business at all, in the film business at all. No, my mom's a therapist. My dad was he was in entertainment. He was in talent manager for musicians, but not, not different.

Alex Ferrari 3:46
Different worlds. Different crazy, but similar worlds. Different crazy, but similar worlds.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 3:52
Definitely crazy. Around the crazy, but not quite the film crazy. And then I went to college, I went to UW Madison for a year and a half, and I studied Russian language and political science. And I woke up one morning, sophomore year, and I was taking off film classes it like happened really slowly, sort of overnight. And I was like, I'm not going to be able to graduate. Like, I'm not this isn't my major. I can't like figure this out. So I transferred to NYU. And once I was at NYU. I was like, Okay, I'm going to direct but it didn't happen overnight. I didn't feel like it was an active choice in that it just sort of like it was always where it was headed. It was

Alex Ferrari 4:39
You were being pulled into that into that world regardless of whether you want it it was like a vortex like a black hole. Yeah, just sucking you in. That. That is the feeling that many filmmakers have. It's just like I worked in a video store back in the day so I just you know, surrounded by and that one day, I said What am I gonna do Hey, I just looked, I said, I guess I'm gonna direct movies. And that's literally how I got my start as well. It's just something that and then once you're in you wouldn't you get bitten by that bug? I call it the beautiful illness, you can't get rid of it. You can't get rid of this the feeling of wanting to as much as you might want to leave.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 5:19
Yeah, it's so hard to get rid of this. Please give me a call. You now have my number.

Alex Ferrari 5:29
No, no, it's true. And I've talked to I mean, I've talked to so many filmmakers over the years, and everyone suffers from the same illness, all of us, all of us suffer the same thing. And there's no way out and many of us have tried to leave. And many of us wanted to leave. I've tried to leave. I've been doing this for almost 30 years now. And I've wanted to lead multiple times, because it's just so hard. It's just so brutally hard over the years. And it's that insanity. That keeps you going. That makes you think that you like yeah, can make this happen. Yeah, I can get the financing. Yeah. can cast that actor. Yeah, I can get it to this festival. It's it's insane.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 6:07
It really is. And I'm not trying to pivot prematurely, but service, the movie that I the good girl, Jane, is it tackles substance abuse and drug addiction. And I definitely think there's a lot of that, in pursuing a career like this, like that sort of, I mean, the highs and lows. It's just it really mirrors. Like any addiction. It really does. It's not

Alex Ferrari 6:33
You're not wrong, you're not wrong. I mean, I mean, I have been around the block a couple more times than you have. But I've seen it as well with young and old. It is that kind of addiction to it. You just have to kind of keep going you wake up in the morning thinking about it, you get to sleep at night thinking about it. It is it is it's all encompassing, but that is art that is an artist's life. And for better or worse. That's why we were put here. We have to we have to walk this way. We have to walk this path without question. Now it was you was talking about a few film? Was there a movie that specifically lit your fuse?

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 7:10
Some of those movies that I listed earlier for sure. You know, hmm, outside again, I probably that's probably the movie that I watched, like on a loop. Freshman year, like when I was like 1415. Just the the youthful energy and like that the very tight the Verity vibe, and that film that was new to me. I like hadn't really seen anything like that before. There's also sexy and I was like, you know, a teenager. I just loved that movie so much. And that yeah, probably that one, but also Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I'd say that movie really did change my life. Because it was the first time that I saw a film where it felt like anything was possible. Like you can tell any vulnerable story you want. Like there are no restrictions. Just tell your truth. Like get it out there. And that that movie changed my life like John Kerr Mitchell was my favorite director for a long time when I was when I was younger because of his bravery. And that's inspiring to me.

Alex Ferrari 8:14
Oh, no, there's no question. Once you see that movie. You go. Yeah. Oh, yeah. You could tell them your story. Today. If this has been if this has been put into the world, the doors swung wide open. Anyone can walk through?

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 8:28
Absolutely. So even if it's not, even if that film didn't look exactly like the films, I mean, I knew I wanted to make it. Yeah, it changed my whole life. It was like, Oh, you could do anything telling it.

Alex Ferrari 8:42
So while you were at NYU, you made a short film called transit. And it starred a young Dakota Johnson, who was still a seasoned actor at that point. She cheated. She hadn't hit fifth. What is the gray? 50 Shades of Grey yet

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 8:58
No, no, she was on Ben and Kate, which was a Fox sitcom at the time,

Alex Ferrari 9:02
Right. But she was wearing a working actress. So yeah, you know, for a young director like yourself at the time. What was it like? Working with a seasoned actor? How did you approach that process? Because I know a lot of filmmakers, young filmmakers listening, that they get an opportunity to work with a seasoned actor. And I remember when I most of the actors I worked with growing up, were not seasoned. They were young kids like me trying to make it happen. But when you get in a room or get on a set with a real, a real actor who's got some jobs, where he got some chops, it can be intimidating with filmmaker, or it could be exhilarating. How was it for you? And how did you approach working with her?

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 9:41
Well, I have to be completely honest. So I made that film, like about a decade ago. And this is really the first conversation. This is the first press I've ever done for it. Because that film, it did jumpstart my career in a lot of ways. And I did work with, you know, some really talented actors to code included, I did that movie with her. And that was, like, gigantic for me. But it didn't do a big festival run I do didn't do a big press tour. So it's like, whoa, a transit like, takes it back. Working with the coda, I mean, so I went to high school with Dakota. And, and we were, we were close. And I knew her and her family. And she had seen me go through a lot of becoming age, that coming of age that I was trying to, like capture in that film. And you're, and she was one of the only actresses that I knew that I that I could ask to do it. Like I was like, Okay, this is a close friend of mine. She is clearly like, I had a hunch about her, you know, when I was little, she wanted to act. And I was like, okay, this person is so talented, and they're going to act and like, I got to get in there and work with her. And we just cared about each other, we crafted a story that was again, very personal. And it was it was a little intimidating, even like asking him to do it, even though we were friendly. Because I remember I took her to the Greenwich hotel. And I had like $4 to my name is through the Grand Hotel. And I was like, let's get like a drink. And, and even just in that meeting, I remember thinking to myself, like she's been in so many more of these meetings than I have. And I was really trying to put like some shoulder pads on and like pitch the film to her and professional way. And anyway grateful to her, she decided to do with me, she trusted me. And it was a really fruitful like that movie, even though, you know, it's definitely a student film. It's not like my finest work yet. Sure, of course, really. It's something that I'm very proud of. And I'm proud of what she gave in that film. And it was, it was a really, it was very, it was dramatic and personal for her to like there was a lot of stuff that I think she hadn't quite put on screen yet at the time. And it was moving to dig that deep with her into that.

Alex Ferrari 12:07
Now I wanted to bring that up, because so many filmmakers, you know, it's all great and dandy when you're making getting you're in Tribeca, and you're at Sundance, but to go back to those first days, you know, working on those first short films, that's when a lot of these lessons the foundation, the bricks of the foundation are starting to be poured, or the cement is starting to be poured in that foundation. During those early short films and getting an opportunity to work with Dakota someone like of her caliber for talent is a blessing. And also, I'm sure a learning experience as a director.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 12:37
It absolutely was. And I I really I did study her on that set, because she grew up on set, and I did it. And her and you know she, she was always on time, she was always so friendly to the casting crew really collaborative. But it was also just like, I felt like I really needed to, to I keep saying this. But like I really need to do my homework in order to like have conversation with her on set. I couldn't just wing it because she had done the homework. And I did my first I directed my first love scene on that short, it was like very quick, and it wasn't really graphic. But I had to really make a safe space and a safe set for everyone. And it's actually I worked with the same cinematographer on that short as I did on the Belgian feature.

Alex Ferrari 13:29
Nice. So you brought so you brought him along? You brought everyone Yeah.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 13:33
And like that idea of safety. Yeah, no, no, absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 13:37
I mean, anytime I've ever had to shoot a love scene. It is horrible. It's horrible. for everybody involved. It's not sexy at all. It's just about trying to keep a safe space for the actors. And but it's just like it's uncomfortable. Like as a director, you're like, Alright, can you caress the back of the neck more here? Like it's just weird. It's a weird, unsexy, awkward scenario to do.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 14:00
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I had no idea. And I remember both actors I was working with Steve had done love skins prior. And they were definitely like, oh, like, they knew how it went. But I really had to go in there and be like, Okay, I need to choreograph this ahead of time and be very clear on what I need, but they're not just like, uh, you know, and you're right. It's not really a sexy time. The whole point is just that you need to make sure these people feel comfortable and safe and really be clear about what it is that you want. And now we have these intimacy coordinators that are on all this. Gotta say that's profoundly helpful. Very, very profound with the awkwardness with it.

Alex Ferrari 14:44
Yes, absolutely. Just having a middle person to just kind of talk to somebody and go, please help. I don't know. What do I do here?

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 14:56
No yeah, but go I want to you want to make sure that doesn't look like they are you know, playing Twister like the angles really matter and these people have to give you that insight. Sorry, that's not very important, but funny.

Alex Ferrari 15:11
It is. It's funny. It's kind of the lunacy of the Carnival that is filmmaking. You know, we are carnies. We're just carnies. You know, without question. Now, you you have, you've had the opportunity to work with some very interesting people over the years. As you were coming up as a director specifically, you got to assist Alejandro Ruutu on the Revenant. What the hell was that? Like? Because all I've heard is, I've heard I've worked with I've talked to some people who worked on the movie. I've seen the documentary, I've heard stories. It was an insanity from what I heard on set in a good way, but just the nature of the kind of storytelling. You were there assisting him at that point. Were you on set? Did you were you did you watch? What was going on? What did you learn? Tell me tell me everything.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 16:01
Wow. So I was on my job in total, I think like three months, so I was not there as long as any anyone else I like I came in near the end. There was quite a, there were quite a few assistants, there was a large team of them, some had, you know, come on earlier and left. And I had, I got that job because I was in high school intern at anonymous content for Steve Golan. And he, he was producing the Revenant. And he and I had stayed in touch. He really been a mentor to me for a long time. And, and he thought it would be good for that job. Given how tricky it seemed like it was going. And so I flew out there and I was in Calgary, so yes, I was on set. I was in Calgary, during all of those like crazy snowstorms we've seen in the pictures you've heard about. And I had directed, I sorry, I guess to sit a few directors prior to that. So I did kind of know the drill. But this was a unique experience. For sure. It was I had to wear essentially like a spacesuit on set. It was that cold I had, I remember just buying out the I landed and then I had to get to set in the morning. And I didn't know how I could get to set and be on set. Like in the clothing I brought. I didn't have like a spacesuit yet. So remember showing up but I just like looked like a dodo. You know, like I was like wearing everything I owned. And everyone else just looked like they really had it down. And I just didn't have it down yet. And I'm carrying like all under his lunch and like all his bags, and I'm I just didn't look cool and like, didn't look ready. So it took me a minute to kind of get into the swing of things. But But I got to see Chivo do all those winners and I got to see natural light being shooting and after late. The day's shooting very short, very little light. Because of the winter, and it's just like the conditions we really only had a few hours to shoot each day. And it would take like two hours to get set. So it was it was a different type of thing than I ever done. It was also the biggest movie I'd ever worked on. It was like $200 million. I have no idea it was in the hundreds of millions of dollars. And the most stress I've ever seen at like for them in the produce. I saw some producers like actually just go gray like in front of like, you know, I read a sure I like I probably aged quite a bit in just that short amount of time. But it was also truly inspiring. You know, so ambitious, but really, it's an art film and it's It's gigantic. And that's rare, a rare breed. It's insane did what was like the biggest lesson you learned watching him direct. Did you get a chance to watch him direct? Yeah, and I would say that's probably about all of the directors that I've worked for. But I mean, specifically all 100 Just an uncompromising creative vision. Like there. I mean, you've probably heard there was a really big challenge there wasn't enough snow on the ground for a lot of the toward the end of student was enough snow on the ground. And it wasn't like okay, you know, we'll we'll we'll create some fake snow put on the ground and like that's that you know, the texture of the snow in the way it read on camera. Like if that wasn't as authentic as possible if that wasn't reading correctly, like we would you know, be flew somewhere else. Simple as that. Yeah. Just fly through. And it's not and by the way, it's not just like you know, you you're dp and a couple of other people on the crew you're talking about 100 people plus, plus all the gear in the most insane environment ever tried. I mean, yeah, Leo almost died for God's sakes. I mean, yeah, I also remember seeing all of the mock ups of that horse carcass and and just the artistry in there's yeah so many people building such a universe and I just had never been on set like that. Like it was really stunning the amount of crops people and the amount of talent that was that was on that project.

Alex Ferrari 20:43
Same same kind of setup. Good girl, Jane, right. Obviously, just, you know, hundreds of people on set

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 20:51
Shooting for months on end

Alex Ferrari 20:53
Months on, if you didn't like the way the garbage was landing in the back alley, you would just go to a rally?

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 20:59
Yeah, yeah, definitely. No, I would personally move the garbage.

Alex Ferrari 21:05
You know, it's so fun. It when you're when you have the ability or the opportunity to be on a set like that. It's just so remarkable, because you're right, it's an art film at a level that no one gets to play. And that's a that's a that's a sandbox that a handful of directors in the world get to play and literally a handful of directors in the world because,

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 21:26
Like, let go like I yeah, I mean, it was that was so cool. Because I had really I had worked on arthouse films, like that's what I had done for the most part. And this was that it was just giant. Yeah, it was just on such a bigger scale. And, you know, it's like, yeah, I'm working with see one. You know that there is a producer that does big movies, like, Yeah, but yeah, but like, but also like Michelle gone refill. And it's so it was, it was a really unique experience. And it is the last movie I assisted on. So I really did. Like, I was like, Okay, I've seen it all I've seen it all is nothing more than can be seen. Usually,

Alex Ferrari 22:15
I need to move on. Now. This is this is the next this is the next step. No, it's pretty. It's pretty remarkable. Now, how did Good Girl Jane come to life?

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 22:25
Like, from like, day one?

Alex Ferrari 22:29
Well, I mean, I'm assuming I'm assuming they just throw money at you, right? Because this is obviously

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 22:33
Oh, yeah. Like I'm gonna make I'm gonna make a movie out of it directly one before and I'm just gonna find a million bucks. And then Oh, and there it is.

Alex Ferrari 22:42
Right. Right. And there's like God just just showed up. Right? And then you could just start working at the next day.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 22:47
Yeah, yeah.

Alex Ferrari 22:51
That's the story. And that's the story. And that's the story I'm sticking to.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 22:55
Yes, exactly. So, um, so I'm talking to you, I'm in this living room, this apartment that I'm submitting, and it's, um, I'm in I'm in Brooklyn. And I started this whole process in Brooklyn, seven years ago, sorry, in Manhattan seven years ago. So I, I was, like I said, assistant directors, and I finished the Revenant. And I was like, Okay, I'm going to write, I'm going to write a movie. What do I know? You know, that's, that's, they tell you to start there. That, so it's, I had one option. And I was like, so I sit down and start writing and I'm in living York, and I'm like, Oh, I can't, I can't actually write this. Without going home. Like took place in LA. It's like about my childhood. I have to go home. So I moved to LA. I didn't want to live in LA, I wanted to live in New York. But I moved to LA. And I wrote the whole thing in my mom's backyard in like a little truly like a good like, storage closet like thing in her backyard. And I wrote it and then I took me a while. And then I sent it to a bunch of like labs and screenwriting competitions and whatnot. And got a bunch of rejections. Like how it goes, nobody wanted it. But but people liked it. I think I was like, Okay, I'm not making any progress, but it's not but I can write a little. And then. And I was like, okay, the script needs to be better. Like, how do I make it better? And yeah, kept redrafting and I kept sending up pieces. And finally, and it's funny because like, it wasn't getting anywhere, but then it got into the Sundance writers intensive. And I was like, Okay, if it's gonna get in nowhere and then get in here, like, I'll take it, you know? I'll take it so, so I had a feature script. I brought it there. It was called Junk food diary at the time, it was like very kind of like punchy and like completely different had voiceover like top to bottom. And I got a bunch of notes from the finance advisors and throughout the script entirely. And they gave me a little bit of grant money for being the program and I went and made that short film. But the proof of concept short film. And I guess we're like three years in at this point, I make the short film I, I partner to make the short with this producer and Lauren Pratt. It was her first movie, but I had met her while I was assisting directors and I was like, I think she's gonna be the killer producer. I'm a partner with this girl. And so we partnered together, she helps me develop the project into the short and then much bigger. And then Sheikh senior who shot transit with me, I brought him on shoot the short and, and then after the short was made, again, still seeing this transit. It got me some attention. Like I got a manager off of it. And it played three months but had no life on the festival circuit. Like I would get emails back from programmers like good job. Like it didn't play anywhere.

Alex Ferrari 26:17
The most. The nicest of us ever.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 26:21
Totally, like people were engaging to tell me that it was really like affecting or like it really shut them or something. And I'm like, nobody's playing this thing. Like, literally nobody's buying it. So although no budge put it in like a little like a showcase it in Brooklyn. And I remember that was a fun thing. Because I was like, okay, playing in the theater, like, it's good. I got it. But took the short film, to Sundance with just like, brought it with me to say my backpack, you know, and Lauren and Jake and I, we we paired with a sales agency at the time. And they put us on a bunch of like, speed dating, basically with financiers and one of the financiers. Just money.

Alex Ferrari 27:10
So back up the speed dating with financers. I've never heard of this. Where can I sign up? Where's the speed dating for five dancers? I've heard of this is fantastic. What is that?

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 27:25
It's a really, it's a really, really good question. Well, I'll back up two steps. One is that Sundance for me. And one other program, which is called like the, forgive me, it's like the women and film strategy and financing and tax of something. And so they put me into that program with my producer. And that was the first finance your speed dating. You did. So we did two. This. We did two. And this first one. It was I mean, Lauren, and I prepared. Like, as if it was the bar. It was instant. And that sounds probably like really crazy of me to say. But it's we studied for so long. We had this whole pitch memorized. We were like, it was a whole thing. We it was a whole show that we were. So we went and we pitched him on to people. And we got a bunch of meetings where we didn't get the money. But we did take a bunch of meetings, a bunch of places because of it. And we got sort of out of that a sales agent. And that sales agent, we, Lauren and Jake and I that percentage, Harman producer and I, we were like we're gonna go to Sundance, we want to make this we want to get this movie put together and the sales agent was like, Okay, we know some financiers will set you on, like two days of meetings. And that was what the speaking like,

Alex Ferrari 28:44
That's amazing. I've never heard of that called investor speed dating. That is,

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 28:49
I probably shouldn't call it that, then.

Alex Ferrari 28:51
It's fantastic. It's actually awesome. I've never heard of it that way. And it should be. There should be more of it. I think we should all have access to speed dating for investors. I think that would be a great company.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 29:04
Yeah, I mean, and it's not to say that, like again, at this point. I'm what it's like four years in like it's not overnight overnight is what you're saying overnight? Yeah, overnight. But once we sat down with a student films, which is the company that ended up financing the film, we sat down, I think on day two of the meetings, and I pitched them the movie and Lauren and I were talking about it, and they just agreed to finance it within a few moments of talking. Really? Yeah. They were kidding. They were kidding. And I thought I was going to like be physically ill because I was so I was like I don't want to get excited you know I didn't want Oh yeah. And I was like no I only here knows this like can't actually be real. And remember they took us I met with Dominica remember like to the producers over there. And they needed to take us to Fredbear and see who was the one that was gonna, like sign the check. And they're like, Yeah, we're gonna go over to talk to Fred. So it's like, I like had it. Like, I just had it prepared. I didn't know who this person was. I was so nervous. I was like pinching myself. Like, as I was walking over there, like, please just don't like fall over just stupid. Anyway, it was totally fine. He, he wanted to make a movie, too.

Alex Ferrari 30:27
It's, it's fascinating that we as filmmakers constantly are getting nose most 99% of the time we get nose most nose the most. Other than actors, actors get more nose than filmmakers do. That's true. That's a fair. That's a fair statement. That's a fair statement. But it just in the whole process of filmmaking. There's nose all the time. No, no, no, no. When someone says yes. And in the way that you just stated it like so quickly. So like, oh, yeah, let's just let's go out and you're just this cat. This was

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 30:58
Absolutely not. Like, now I'm now I'm skeptical of you.

Alex Ferrari 31:08
I was pitching myself to you. But now that you actually liked me and want to make my project, I don't trust you.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 31:15
And it's not just like, I knew I was gonna make this movie, because I was going to keep trying to make it till I actually die. You know, I was like, I'm gonna make this movie. I'm gonna figure it out. But, but it was just Yeah. I was getting a little numb from the nose at that moment.

Alex Ferrari 31:33
And at that point, and you're at this point four years in, at least Yeah, at least four years at this point. Yeah. Now, one thing about this project that when I was when I was pitched to me, it was based on on true life events. So I've seen the movie. And I was telling you earlier, like, I hope it was very loosely based on real life events, because it's a pretty, it's a heavy film. It's a heavy film, and it was based on true events of your own life. So how much of that? And how much did you want, want to expose about your own life in your storytelling? I've done something similar. I wrote a book about a horrible experience I had with making a movie for the mafia, when I was 26. And that's a whole other conversation.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 32:16
Be easy go right? Writing about

Alex Ferrari 32:18
Route your own life. Yeah. So like, you find like, I for me, I always found that, like, I got to put it all in, I can't hide anything. And I just let it all out and let it let it hit where it hits. Because if I start editing it, it's just it becomes on on authentic. So what was your experience with it?

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 32:38
I'll tweak the language slightly in that it is inspired by my freshman year in high school, essentially. So my freshman year in high school, I did fall in love with a drug dealer, and I was addicted to meth. And I did have, like this sort of trajectory that we see happen in this film. But I, it was, it was not too challenging to fictionalize the narrative, really, because even though there's, you know, many, many drafts and stuff, but it was like, Okay, well, how can I? What am I trying to say, with this film, what I'm trying to do is kind of like I was talking about earlier with them, like in 2002, when I was sneaking into all those movies. I just wanted to offer that. That kind of that feeling of being seen. I wanted to offer that to the to the Jains out there, if there are any, because I was, you know, one of them. And so I was like, Okay, it's not so much about, like, what is the essence of my experience? Is it like the monotony of the day to day or is it the feelings of isolation, and the feeling a lack of intimacy, and the loneliness and the shame? And the desperation like, those are the things really that are the truth. And so the people like the characters that you see in the film, like they're definitely amalgamations of people that I was around that year. But it's all kind of like, like a new puzzle that like this stuff, that's that's really Jane is is like those, those struggles. And that love story is it tracks pretty closely.

Alex Ferrari 34:36
Very, very, I mean, applause for being so honest and authentic with your storytelling. And I think honestly, that's probably why I got the attention I got is because there is authenticity behind it. And, you know, from someone who's been in the business for a bit, you start getting jaded by stories, by movies by scripts you read, but when you find something that is off Benteke pops, for whatever reason is, you know, you want to get metaphysical on it, the energy coming off the screen off the pages. There's something about it that you just, there's something there. And I saw that in the film. I was like, There's something here. I just was like, praying. God, I hope it wasn't all this. God bless her.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 35:22
I mean, yeah, like, it's the the timeline of the film is probably it's about a year, and this moment in my life was probably was a little longer than that. So everything's kind of condensed Of course. Yeah, condense. You know, I'm alive.

Alex Ferrari 35:42
Hey, you know what, what doesn't kill us? makes us stronger. No question about it. Now, as a director, we all go through this. We all understand the insanity that is a set, especially your first movie is even more insane. And like I said, we didn't have revenant money. So there wasn't an endless amount. Not quite. When we didn't have craft certain revenants craft service budget. We didn't even have their travel budget.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 36:14
Hobbit in plain sight somewhere else.

Alex Ferrari 36:17
Yeah, there's Where's there snow, Antarctica, let's go. So, so there's always that one day, if not every day, but there's generally one day that's even more extreme that you feel like the entire world is coming down crashing around you that you're gonna lose the light, you're gonna lose your camera, financing drops, the actor can't show up for whatever reason. There's that one day, what was that one day for you? And how did you overcome it?

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 36:41
So we had to, okay. First one is so, so that so I've done this. So this movie shot over the course of a year. We shot we started shooting, I'm gonna mess this data, but it was like March 3 2020. Which is like the best week in the history.

Alex Ferrari 37:03
Absolutely. shoot films. Absolutely. is the best time to start a movie. Yeah, absolutely.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 37:07
Right. Like so like seven years into this process. We like get greenlit, I like on the set, you know, 10 days in the film was supposed to be 20 days shoot already, like very quick. No 10 days in. And they're like, whispers of an issue, like a virus. I may go home after Friday. I think it was like Friday, maybe Friday the 13th emergencies, obviously. Yeah, I go home anyway, wake up on Saturday. And they're like, we're gonna furnish that back. Right. And I was like, okay, yeah, yeah. Just make sense. We're gonna shut down. Yeah, I think that makes sense. Totally. That tracks with the struggle of all of this. And like, let's do it. I mean, we had to keep everyone safe. But like, of course, that's the choice you're gonna make. But it was crazy. And it felt like we might not come back up. Definitely.

Alex Ferrari 38:05
Right. No, I've had, by the way, I've had multiple filmmakers, on all levels of budgets. Come on the show that started in March, April, May have their movie was made. And then it's gone. And they just like, I don't know, if we're in a year later, they come back. Yeah. How long did it take you to come back?

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 38:24
We started shooting the second round of production March 3 2021.

Alex Ferrari 38:30
So literally a whole year, a whole year of you sitting on half your movie. Yeah. I'm assuming you're editing, maybe some scenes, maybe you're rewriting some of the script. You're reworking stuff. You just that's all you could do. But as a filmmaker psychologically, I can't even imagine just the brutality of that year for you.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 38:50
So a lot of compartmentalizing and like, like a lot of what is it like cognitive dissonance, I was just like, we're going back and that is its denial. That's what it is. I was in denial. I was just like, planning my return. And I Yes, I was editing the film. I was shortlisting with Jake. Constantly, constantly, we reworked to our shots. I rewrote the end of the film. I was texting with my actors being like billbergia You know, like,

Alex Ferrari 39:24
I'm still here. We're making this

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 39:27
And I was like, don't get a face tattoo. Literally. That's a lot of what I was doing. I was just

Alex Ferrari 39:33
Don't change you're haircut

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 39:36
Because I had like, you know, 10 20 year olds that I was like, for a year

Alex Ferrari 39:45
Like, like herding cats like herding wet cats.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 39:48
Yeah, it was a tough like, yeah,

Alex Ferrari 39:50
So that was the first day. So that was the first thing what was the second day?

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 39:53
Oh, yeah, right, the second day. So then the second day, and you've seen the film. So there are chip shots in, in a car. The whole half third film was in the car. But there's there's some shots in the car that were processed trailer shots. And man if I knew some stills and send them to, but we had, like revenant style day One day, like it was a massive rigging team and Jake was strapped to the top of the vehicle. We had like six cop cars circling. We had we were on like, I don't know, it was extended Sunday or Wiltshire like a thoroughfare in LA, with like six kids in the car. And we end the rigging took so long. We have like an hour to hour to get the all the shots.

Alex Ferrari 40:53
It takes nine hours to rig and an hour to ship.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 40:58
And then there was a lightning storm. Of course it was. And so my ad came up to me like sweetest, sweetest man, I was just like, insurance day like go home. We go home, right? And of course like we're not going to shoot anything. If it's unsafe as a processor. There is metal like it's all metal.

Alex Ferrari 41:18
No one can be done to China Denna.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 41:21
Yeah, so we had to track the weather, like to the second get people in the car, shoot for you know, two minutes, get them out of the car, wait till the rain stop, get them back in the car. And we already didn't have enough time. That was a day where I was like, huh,

Alex Ferrari 41:40
I don't think I'm gonna make. Yeah, but you made it through. And that thing, that's the thing with these kinds of things is generally speaking, it works out in some way, shape, or form, but definitely didn't work out the way you want it to do.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 41:51
Works out better. It works out better.

Alex Ferrari 41:53
It always does. I always does. It's just so weird. But those when things happen, I just, I now just go okay. This is obviously where the universe wants to take us right now. Yes. Let's see what happens.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 42:04
That's true. It's woowoo. But it's true. Like there are so many. We like when we shut down. We had one false start. We tried to put the production back together. And I got a call from our lead actors team. And they were like, he just got booked for six months on a job in I don't remember where it was like in Europe. And it was like, Okay, well, so never getting him back. You know, it's like, there's just there have been so many, so many times where I've thought okay, this is the worst day ever. This is the worst case scenario, like shutting down for a year. And you know what, it really benefited the movie? It really did.

Alex Ferrari 42:48
It's a painful way of doing it's a painful way of doing it. But it does. It does do it absolutely. Every time there's ever been a complete disaster and anything I've ever done. It's generally works out better, generally, almost always works out better. Now, after after this whole experience, you've you've made your movie now you've you've been around the block, you've, you know, on the Revenant and on True Detective and all these others and all this stuff that you've done over the last decade at this point. Is there something you wish someone would have told you at the beginning of this journey?

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 43:23
Well, I wish someone had told me sooner that women can have this job I like it didn't. I wasted a lot of time thinking that because I was an introvert. And I say that like in a very literal way. People say that all the time. But I just like, I'm not a very social person. I'm very shy. I was a like, I mean, you'll see them. I mean, it's like I was Jane, I was like really hard to hit off like most. But I was like, okay, that person can still have this job. I did not know that. And obviously someone can't give you permission to like live your destiny. But you can go and add information. But I wish I could see you know what, it's not so much. I wish someone had told me this is changing. But I wish I'd seen women just directing seen female directors seen directors that didn't all just looked like one day. And that would have changed the game a little sooner for me.

Alex Ferrari 44:17
I was lucky enough that I'm a Latino man. And I had not seen any Latino directors growing up. This was just I just didn't know anyone. Where are they? Where are they? And then all of a sudden, Robert Rodriguez showed up in El Mariachi showed up the year that I was in high school thinking about being a director and I said oh oh there's there's the one dude he he did it and he did it in an insane way. Okay, this can be done. So you do need to see you need to see you need to see other people like yourself doing what you are doing just to give you the confidence to go if they could do it. Then I have a Shot to do it as well. And that is so, so important to be represented out in the world. And then sometimes you see these directors who, who were just breaking down doors to get to be the first to do something is so what's the word? You know, so amazing that they were able to do that and have the grit and hustle to be able to do when they didn't have anywhere at all. But I agree with you 100%. Now, um, and this is coming out on Tribeca, right, you got into Tribeca, and that was what was that phone call light.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 45:40
So it was an email. And it was was really funny. I remember what, okay, so we got an email from them. Again, after you know, some rejections get email from them. And they asked if we were still available for a world premiere, if they hadn't, like often, they're like, this was a very long time ago. It was like, it was in December, I was like, not not thinking about this festival. Yet. It was so far away, and read an email. And they're like, is goodwill Jane still available? And so I talked to my producers, and I was like, Yeah, we're still available. And then I had, like I said, I'd been in the Sundance intensive. So I spoke with the lab people at Sundance, and I was like, you know, I think like, Tribeca might want this film. And we were just like talking about the festival rent the lab, people are different from the festival, they just sort of like, they just give advice, and they're just like, really, the loveliest anyway, I was on a call with them just being like, Help me God guide me, like, how does this work? And my producer called me was like, actually, we got in and we're going, you know, like, we just got invited. I mean, she didn't say we're going, but she was like, we just got officially invited and like, congrats. This is happening. This is actually happening. They're not just like, a little interested. I think what I was asking the Sundance people is I was like, How do I convince them to take me or like, I never just like if they reached out to you, they say like it, you know, like, festivals. Yeah, I was like, oh, like, do they mean it? I'm just clearly a little skeptical. I was like, do they mean is this real? But know that they Yeah, but evil. That's the artist the spot. And then the second I spoke with the programmers, I was just, like, changed everything. They They are the perfect home for this movie, like New York is the perfect home for this movie festival is the perfect home for this movie. This is my favorite city in the world. Like, there, my whole family can come to the screenings, my producers rarely come to screening. But like a lot of the cast was here. It just it ended up just like it's one of those divine things that we were talking about before. Like, I didn't know what the future was gonna look like this movie, or where it was gonna play. And I knew it, it really needed to play somewhere. And then it's playing in the right place.

Alex Ferrari 48:08
That's fantastic. That's fantastic. Well, I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 48:18
If you can do anything else, then you're probably trying to do the wrong thing. Like, if you're like, I want to make movies, and if it doesn't work out in a few years, like, I'll go do like social media direction or so I don't like creative, a doctor, whatever. Anything else, then, like, I don't know, it was real. I don't know. I mean, I'm not to discourage anyone. But I think that's actually like a fun thing to think about. It's like, if you know, this is like, everything, and this is 100% What you're you have to do, then you're gonna figure it out, because you just won't stop. That kind of passion and that kind of like true. Like that type of dream. That's, that's rare. And if you have it, you have it.

Alex Ferrari 49:10
Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 49:16
Still learning. So I spoke like, briefly about how this this movie is about a moment of time in my life that was like, very shameful. And I had it felt that yeah, I felt a lot of shame at the time of like, when I was younger, and when I was pitching this movie a lot. I had to kind of show up in those meetings and pretend that I had no shame or like, you know, act very loving of myself. And it's actually just really okay. To be whoever you are, like, this process making this film has taught me that I don't know if I knew that going into making it. I was faking it. And then making it making the film has been like, cheese, it really is fine to be exactly who you are like, you don't need to put on all these errors or like pretend to be someone else, or it's going to work out if you're exactly who you are. So

Alex Ferrari 50:27
I'd argue that the key to making it work out is to be yourself. It's the only thing that makes you stand apart.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 50:34
100% it's Yeah, I mean, all you have is you you're not going to be like a great version of someone else. You're gonna be only a great version of who you exactly are. But I didn't I that took me a long time to figure out

Alex Ferrari 50:48
Oh, yeah, agreed. I know I, I, you know, I I'll never be a great invitation of Tarantino or Rodriguez or Fincher or Nolan or Spielberg. Because they're good at what they do. And they're pretty much the best at being them. Yeah. So but you can only be the best version of yourself. And that's a key and when and I think any, anybody who has any success in any avenue of this, in this life, is true to themselves. Generally speaking,

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 51:16
It's true. And, and this, like, this moment of my life that is very dark, has been the inspiration for the thing that is the most stunning and the most beautiful thing in my life, like, like this, this experience that I had, and the struggle that I had is, like, you know, I wrote this movie about it. And now, I'm here, like, I'm so happy that happened. I'm so happy that that I'm that I made it out of it, for sure. But I don't wish I could like carve some pieces out of me and take some of my history away. And it's like, what's the use of that? It's not at all.

Alex Ferrari 52:00
Agreed you are, who you are. And whatever happened to you and your past is what made you who you are today. And I've, I came to grips with that a long, long, long time, though, just like, if I had to do it over again, I would go the same way. Because that's who I am. And if you take that away, you take a big chunk of who you are away, and you wouldn't have been able to make this movie you wouldn't have, you wouldn't have done any of this stuff. So where would you have gone in might have been a different world might have been better? Might have been worse? Who knows? But this is the path that you would put on and embrace it without question. And last question. three of your favorite films of all time.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 52:34
Should have prepared for that one. Well, I eat a lot. I mean, it's definitely one of them. I would say fish tank entry Arnold. And there's so many but I'm gonna say reprise your country or the I worked with yo Keem on louder than bombs. And he is brilliant, brilliant director. So yeah. Really, really anything.

Alex Ferrari 53:04
Sarah I appreciate you coming on the show. It's been an absolute joy talking to you. It's your energy is infectious for what you're doing. So thank you for coming on the show. And congrats on all your success so far. And I know you're gonna do a lot of amazing things and tell some really remarkable stories in the future. So continued success, and hopefully, there's a little girl out there who's gonna see this and go if she could do it, and if he could do it, I mean, I got a shot.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 53:37
Oh, man, that's, that's what this is all about. That's what this all about for me, for sure.

Alex Ferrari 53:42
But I appreciate you my dear . Continued success.

Sarah Elizabeth Mintz 53:45
Thank you so much.

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