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How Do You REALLY Break Into Hollywood?


David F Sandberg [a

ka Ponysmasher on Youtube] and Filmmaker: It was only always my dream to make movies and it was always my dream to be a Hollywood director Erik Bork, Screenwriter/Author: I pursued being a film major in my undergraduate in Ohio which is my home state and got a four-year degree BFA and motion picture production which of course guarantees you a job in the industry immediately when you show up with that Rhys Thomas, Writer/Director: Where I grew up was about as far from the film industry as as could be, well no as can be, I'm sure I could have grown up in Siberia too but I grew up in a small village in South Wales and really had zero idea of you know how you might penetrate the film industry or television

Todd Berger, Writer/Director: I was you know living in Austin I was delivering pizza I was gonna move to Chicago and do Second City and then you go to New York because you know I grew up thinking like LA like Hollywood like sell out? What am I gonna sell out? Corey Mantel, Screenwriter/Instructor: Maybe she was thinking do I really want to put my career on the line with this guy like I was a nobody I was in film school I had I was a was like 23 and green as they came Dr Ken Atchity, Author/Producer: And I realized that I wasn't 18 years old in the mailroom at William Morris and I wasn't you know infinitely wealthy and I didn't have relatives in the film business those are like the three main ways to get into the business normally Markus Redmond, Screenwriter/Actor/Director: What am i doing I'm sitting here and staring at a phone that doesn't ring you know phone's not going anywhere I'm not going anywhere I could be sitting here a year from now and me and my phone can be hanging out together or I can be sitting here here from now me and my phone could be hanging out with the script that I wrote Danny Strong, Screenwriter/Producer: Would I do this for the rest of my life if I got nothing in return and I thought yeah I would

Robin Riker, Actress/Author: I was crushed I mean it it was the hardest I couldn't believe that this is what had happened again in this year and I literally went on my face on the rug and I just wept and wept and wept Lakeith Stanfield: And I missed a lot of auditions cuz I couldn't make it but uh you know and that that was a hard time cuz I hated missing them I rather get rejected and then to miss it Alex Sol, Actor: If there is a moment in where you you you feel some kind of unbelievable good fortune or a dream come true I guess would be the word it was only always my dream to make movies and it was always my dream to be a Hollywood director but that was kind of like a secret because I'm you know I'm from Sweden and it's like the other side of the world like I don't have any like family members who are in show biz or anything like that so I might like you can say to friends and family like yeah I'm gonna be a hold of director cuz people are gonna be like yeah sure like I'm gonna be the king of Spain whatever you know but that was always the goal and then it's been you know a lot of times that goal has felt really far away and I've been very depressed and it felt like well this is never gonna happen of course but that was always the goal like that was what I wanted to do with my life so in a way it's been you know you can't say that it's been expected but it's always been the goal so it's always been like yeah that's what I really want so so it's more of like you know the feeling is not that surprised well it is a feeling of surprise that wow it actually happened what I want you know my dream actually came true but the dream has always been there if that makes sense I think video store was my first job which was sort of under the table not really official but but it was it was kinda cool I loved it because yeah I had access to movies I could rent all these free movies and sometimes you get screeners so you could see movies before they came out on video and things like that but I've never been much of a people person what so I mean it's a you know you have to talk to people a lot which is that was the downside of it about all the movies that was the great part and then I worked a little bit in like grocery stores and things like that and I hated that even more because that's you know the downsides of working in a video store but without the movies so and then I was unemployed for quite a while it's really depressed I was you know still living with my mom in my 20s and eventually yeah I started making animation because I've always wanted to make movies I was making movies with friends but then as we started getting older you know your friends are getting jobs and lives and suddenly it's like there's not as much time – and willingness to make little dumb shorts so that's when I started doing animation because it was something I could do all by myself I didn't have to rely on other people's schedules or money or whatever it was just like I've always liked drawing so I could do that on my computer all by myself I'll just record the voices and didn't even need an expensive camera for it and I was lucky in that this was in 2005 2006 when YouTube was a new thing so you know I signed up to that didn't really know what it was but it's like okay I can upload videos here and I uploaded a little animated short I made and got a really good response like people really seem to like it so was i well this is great so I made another one one that was a little bit more ambitious than the first one the first one was almost like a slideshow I mean I hesitate to call it animation because it was it's an actual slideshow but then the second one I got more ambitious with and I made this story that was very personal about sort of the the thoughts in your head that put you down and like tell you that you're shit and you know basically an angel and the devil on your shoulder and that one really took off on line got all these views and then really went viral but it was in Swedish so it didn't go outside of Scandinavia but like Norway Denmark and people it's Finland and that got me a lot of attention I got like to go on TV and like what's it like to have a viral hit and it also led me led to me getting some jobs like companies or like we want to make a little funny video about our product or whatever and we loved your funny video can you do something for us and I would do that and often it's kind of fun because the shorts I made were very crude I think they had a lot of bad language and like being penises and and things like that and of course when companies want to do something it's like yeah we want that but not that you know so you kind of have to do yeah it's something that's not as fun but now was actually getting some money getting paid which was great and so I could move out and didn't have to live with my mom anymore and this also led to me meeting my wife I mean that we actually dated when we were 11 Oh she was into acting I was already into making movies and then when this short went viral she saw it and you know we dated when we were 11 then had a 14-year break and she saw this movie and was like recognized my voice and contacted me to reconnect and we did and got back together and now you know when we now were dating you know she was an actress you know I had a video camera it's like oh we can make things together and we tried getting money from the Swedish Film Institute because in Sweden you know you apply for grants from the Film Institute for your short or even for your features that's basically how all movies are made there but we didn't have any look because they weren't as interested in sort of the John Rose stuff that we wanted to do and I think I've always had sort of four always had sort of a commercial bent for movies like that's kind of my taste you know American fun popcorn movies and things like that in Sweden especially when you have that grant based system and it's taxpayer money and they have to be really responsible what they do with that money it often goes to films that are more sort of important and take up sort of issues with society and things like that nothing wrong with that I I mean it's led to some great movies but yeah it didn't really work out for us so we were turned down and then we felt like well screw it I mean you're an actress I have a camera we let's just do something you know we don't need money we can do a little shorts ourselves so we did a little short called chem closer that was a horror short about like a phone that sees the future I put that up on my youtube channel that now had a few thousand followers from my animated work and they were kind of surprised a lot of the followers because they expected sort of humorous animated things and how son leads this terrifying little horror short but people still seem to like it even though they were surprised and we really enjoyed doing it and then we saw this there was an online contest by these horror collective in the UK called bloody cuts like make a under three minute horror film and you can win prizes and things so we were like well that's what we're doing now we just did camp closer let's do something for this and that's when we did lights out again just me and looked in our apartment trying to like figure out okay what can we do that's scary and we're like you know I think everyone's I had that feeling of you know in our house it was a coat rack that you walk out in the middle of the night like ooh looks like someone standing there and you turn on the light so it's nothing there and that's sort of how it you know playing around with the light give us this idea of okay there's there's something that actually is there every time you turn off the lights so we did that uploaded it to the contest and then we found out that we didn't win the contest but then a little while later they also had secondary prizes so I won Best Director looks like oh that's awesome but we didn't think that anything else would happen with that we were like oh you know fun let's make more movies but then a few months after that this was in March 2014 I saw him ready that someone had linked to our short and it's like oh that's awesome I show look tie and then I go in to see the stats and it was like 17,000 years since I called it's so much that's awesome and then just minutes later it was like 70,000 views and then it was up over a hundred and forty thousand views and it just kept going and going it's like what's happening but I think that I mean it was just two and a half minutes short and there's no dialogue in it I think that really helped it to spread I mean partly because you know people don't have an attention span anymore so it's like if they see it's only two and a half minutes I can watch that and because there's no dialogue it can spread everywhere so we've really sort of lucked into something that was really nuna versal and yeah I was just a few days after that I actually said to look that you know I've heard of people getting representation in Hollywood from Shores like for managers and agents and things like that and like the day after I said that I woke up to an email from a management firm here in Hall and I showed love those like I told you it's like it's starting and then it was just like open the floodgates because we got emails from agents and managers and producers and studios and like sometimes actors and then people live as well a makeup artist and all these things like what is this and you know these managers and agents that want to represent us and you know I had to get like an IMDB Pro account just to find out who these people are and eventually I you know I picked a manager who could then help us navigate this whole thing we're getting an agent and then who can we trust with producers and all of that and yeah we've this producer the Lawrence Gray seemed really good and he was really into it you know cuz a lot of them were just wanted to know who we were and what our plans were you know and you don't know like they didn't explicitly say we want to make this movie or we want to represent you so and I kind of need that because I'm Swedish and kind of introverted like I'm not good with sort of interpreting subtle signs like so so I went with like the producers like yes I want to make this movie we should make this movie boom all right let's go we went with with Lawrence Gray who and you know it was kind of a weird situation because once this happened it was about a year before the movie happened which is actually pretty quick but it feels strange in that situation to sort of wait for all of these things and not knowing if it's real if it's actually going to happen or not because during this year it was you know signing with a management firm and an agency and all of that and then finding a writer working with the writer to develop a script and making a deal for all this with you know getting a lawyer and all that so during this year left and I we didn't know if this was actually real or if it was all bullshit so we were like well we can't stop going so we kept making shorts um you know around our house where we could come up with little new ideas we made one in the attic one of the basement and just try and come up with new stuff and you know for each of these shorts I would make these a little behind the scenes videos that was that turned out to be very appreciated by people who saw this like other up-and-coming filmmakers and it was something I did just because I loved that's what I wanted to see I wanted to see you know I've always loved seeing behind the scenes and making of x' and all these because you know just to learn as much as possible and see what it's like on a film set and how do you create these things and all that so we just kept doing that and we even had this idea that we would make a feature just her and I if this didn't pan out but then in March something like that of 2015 they basically saw yeah movies is happening we need you here like next week or whatever so look uh basically had to quit her job because you were working in a group home you know I was a freelance animator so I didn't have anything steady going so we basically you know locked our apartment got on a plane and this was you've paid for about the studio because we were broke like when we first got a manager you know they were like can you get out here because we want you to meet all these people and go like on this you know tour of Hollywood's like oh hey this is this guy and whatever but we didn't have any money so it's like yeah we can't do that but then they pay for us to have to fly out here and yeah it was very strange we we had to find a place to live here and it's everything is super expensive in LA but we found on it and Airbnb this half a garage in Burbank it was sort of part of into – so this mother and her daughter were our neighbors in this garage it was like I mean for us was like two and a half grand or something my mother for us that is insane yeah I I mean it was a pretty nice garage I mean it wasn't bad or anything but it was quite a shock to find out how expensive it was and we still didn't have any money and when we got over here you have a studio paid for the flight over and everything and they were gonna pay for living expenses but not until it was greenlit and it wasn't actually greenlit until quite late so we had to I mean first of all we borrowed from everyone we knew back home in Sweden and then that money went out it's like I do what we do now so we had to borrow from the producer and there like a manager and it was kind of dicey because it was like was this doesn't happen we're in deep shit because we're like all borrowed out when it comes to money but then thankfully it did happen in the movie but yeah it was all pretty crazy because I had never been on a movie set before so the first time I actually stepped foot on a real movie set it was asked the director oh it's pretty crazy I mean especially because I mean everyone there had more experience than me and every assistant your PA and like they've all done worked on real movies and I you know and and part of me think you know I think they kind of thought I was more experienced than I was and you know I wasn't gonna correct them it's a psychiatric one want me to make your movie oh well but you know they would ask me of oh do you have a DP you usually work with or an editor or a storyboard artist and it was just know I've done all these things myself because I've had to you know actually the year before it went viral was the first time we were in LA because we we had I made a little animated documentary that it got into a film festival in San Jose and so we got a little bit of money from the Swedish Film Institute to actually go to that Film Festival and then was like well let's go to LA as well and we have we the the producer who we worked with to make that whole animated documentary he was like well let's go pitch the studios in Hollywood and it's like what are you insane like well what do you mean pitch the studios have been Hollywood like how are we going to get in or we're gonna do but he actually he was like no my brother actually works at Fox in Sweden so he can probably get us into Fox in LA I was like okay and it was like all right let's pitch like a horror movie or something I actually wrote a little horror movie and which was my first like script in English and everything and we actually got to go there and and pitch this thing we had to sign all these disclaimers because we weren't represent or anything and you know it was an interesting experience but it was clearly just like oh he's a friend of him just you know just just listen to it you know I mean nothing came of it or anything but it was still a cool experience like yeah got to walk on the Fox lot you know and actually sit there and talk to movies so yeah we've been here before but and even got into a studio but but that was it it was in 2014 March I I mean at the time it was like four million I remember that I mean it landed on like 10 million or something or 11 million but I mean then it's it's it's kept going and because other people have uploaded as well and we didn't like be like oh we they have to take that down that's our movie or whatever I mean it's like they didn't change anything of just like yeah upload we just want people to see it you know so I saw an upload on Facebook I don't trust Facebook's number though because it was like what was that like 70 80 90 million or something I was like I don't know what Facebook does but I yeah sure but a lot of people seem to have seen it yes and the one the link that was put on reddit was at Vimeo or YouTube that was Vimeo actually so they then went viral on Vimeo first which seems you know kind of unique in a way because it seems that it's mostly YouTube but then since it was on YouTube as well that exploded too but it started on on Vimeo I just got out of high school trying to figure out what I want to do and what kind of knew what I wanted to do I knew I wanted to act in some capacity so I started really just googling acting schools acting stuff anything that encompassed acting trying to find a sort of channel in and so I just googled everything and pages and pages of things popped up and I just filled everything out and then eventually you know people started answering and a lot of those were scams and things that I would ultimately end up wasting my time on and so I ended up going back and forth from LA to Victorville scrambling up changing one time it was a school for modeling and career center modeling careers and so they I just get up on the runway tell us to walk the runway and taught us all the names of the brands and fin de prata all these different things that would be of no use to me really but at the time I realized every other week they had agents come in for the people that went in to aspire to get into acting so I wanted to get in front of these agents and when one of those agents came through I said I want to go in this is audition day was like every Thursday or something like that and they said well do you have anything prepared I said yes I didn't went in anyway and I just did the first thing that came to my mind which was basically just to jump up up up woman chair be like totally and do some random stuff and the guy saw something in me that he liked and he signed me to his commercial agency from there I began to do auditions and fail and learn what it meant to be rejected but be in the room and sort of build my comfortability over time so it would prove to be a very important chapter although at the time I just thought it was like I was wasting my time but I proved to be very important once I got out there really started auditioning I felt comfortable because I had been rejected and I've been through all of it already so there's nothing left to fear so yeah that was what came of the internet and I understand you didn't have a car while you were in Victorville no and I from what I know I don't think the bus really runs does it run no there's a train that goes you got though some change and take the train okay but that's quite and that's a fit that sounds like it's several stops so how are you going on auditions and or or or even to this modeling class school and then coming back and that sounds like a lot half of it was just trying to hustle up money to get down and get up on the train and some of it was my parents they were helping me every now and again take me whenever you know whatever my bit my bugging them sort of hit it's pretty like fine again for what because when you're auditioning you begin you don't realize how much rejections involved in it so you get rejected twenty thirty times you're like what am I still doing this for obviously it's not gonna work and it was so much work for us to get down there that they were just like this is becoming more of an expense than anything and so I had to figure out ways to get them to get down there on my own after a while and I missed a lot of auditions because I couldn't make it but uh you know and that sucked that was a hard time cuz I hated missing them I rather get rejected and then to miss it you know now there's probably there was probably nine hundred pages on Google probably nine million now so there's much more to weed from much more opportunity to get caught up in different things I would just say I would say stay in school stay diligent go through high school go through college and try to look through opportunities after having sort of learned all you can learn and situate yourself and be comfortable before you get into acting know that you're doing there's something else that you could be doing you know you have a back-up plan because it's a very difficult tough game to get into and and it's tough to maintain even once you're in so it's not like once just because you booked something means you're gonna be working forever so you have to always keep that hustle up and continue to look for new avenues and know that if this doesn't work I got something else in the back if that don't worry I got something else have other alternatives as well and don't focus all your energy on acting would be one thing everybody's got their of a particular route but the thing I think is important to be an actor is always keep an open mind always be willing to learn and don't reach a point where you feel like I've learned enough and now I don't need to know anything else because as you know your talent will take you so far but you need to be constantly trying to develop skills and learning how to access these characters and analyze these stories and tell them in the most authentic light and while your talent will take you a long way and will take you to the high since you want to go because there's a cap a moment where you're like well this is this is just my talent so you need to constantly stretch yourself travel meet new people engage in new experiences fearlessly and sort of download that information into sort of creating what you want to create every role is different so what may work for one role may not work for another and vice versa sometimes your talent would be great for a certain role and then for another role you have to reach outside the sort of boundaries of your natural talent in order to tap into it those are things that I find the most rewarding and the most difficult and they caused me to have to get studious and learn all these things you know and get into these different life styles and understanding so always keep an open mind and I think you can explore and do whatever you need to do and realize remember this game is not a competition it seems like a competition but it's not the only person you're a competition with is yourself and if you think you can't do a certain thing you can't if you think you can you can't just got pushes up characters are realizations from people's imaginations so naturally some are going to fit with your imagination and some are and some are based off of real people in our accurate depictions and some are so you have to use discernment and figure out what speaks to you what's real to you and everything is not going to be I think when you first start acting you're gonna take anything that comes at you can juggle work that's understandable that's what I did that's what I think most actors did when they first started out because you need to work it is a job but at the same time once you start to develop your craft and you can sort of weed out what speaks to you and what's important because it's also important to do things that correlate with your frequency that go with how you're attempting to move because if it doesn't you're portraying something that isn't genuine and then your performance is good people are going to see and be like this something that isn't genuine about that so just make sure it connects to you this is why it's important I think to expand your horizons and awareness so way more things have the ability to sort of click with you because the the broad the more broaden your horizon is the more chance yeah I know what that is rather than living in a sort of vacuum and then something coming into your awareness you – that's true for and I don't know what that is and never judge the characters and that was like 20 years ago is when I made this movie kissing Jessica Stein and I think it was just there are all kinds of watershed moments that you have when you look back at a career and and sometimes you obviously it's easier to look back at them and as opposed to when they're happening that year was monumental simply because I was doing camera assisting and I was sort of going back and forth between shooting and assisting and I made a real effort that year to stop doing any assisting and really cut that tie off and just hanging the wind with whatever I could get my hands on and it was just it was tough going cuz it's early in your career and you you interview for a lot of stuff but you don't necessarily get it and kissing Jessica Stein was near the end of the year and I remember just thinking wow that was a tough year it was like a year of struggle and yet that movie then served to be at the time was like the first movie of mine that sort of went to festivals and made some money and gave me a profile that allowed me to get Garden State and Garden State then allowed me to get you know Dukes of Hazzard which allowed me to get studio movies like Dan in real life or you know or hangover and those kind of things so each of those things ends up serving as a stepping stone to the next thing so you know I've had successes with movies where like the hangover franchise obviously gave a profile to me and and Todd and allowed us to make more movies and gave me some other opportunities but I think between Godzilla this year and Joker both being released in the in the same year and being not necessarily comedies or in that genre it's felt like a a really positive year because I've just been able to sort of show a little different gear of myself photographically and and and just show muscles that I think other people hadn't necessary to see things that I've always wanted to experience which hopefully will lead to future projects that will continue to show that side of myself and allow me to do stuff that's challenging but also a little bit artistic as well every movie I ever do I literally try to say this has to be the best thing I've ever done every movie and and so I always set out for that to be the goal and certainly was the you know one of the last movies I've done so so I feel like it's just some extent I accomplished that for myself what's the the biggest lesson I took from joke or making Joker that I would pass on to filmmakers I think that there's two things I think one to to really push yourself and take chances and to just not take the conservative route so I think one I can't the movie very simple in a lot of ways but every day and every every time we set to do a scene I just made a conscious effort to like not hold back and to you know it's easy you take some risks when you're young and then you get opportunities in which the movies get bigger and sometimes you're under time constraints in which you have to go back to like a thing you've done before in a way that can be somewhat repetitive but also conservative and I think if you can find opportunities to to just be as risky as you can be and to take chances I think the payoff will be great and I think that's something I take away for sure and also when you you know when you think about what yeah it also will the movie also was an experience for me where I have a lot of conversations between me Todd and Joaquin about which direction we should go sometimes it was like photographically sometimes was with the character sometimes it was with the story and because I've worked with Todd six times I was involved in some of those more intimately than perhaps some cinematographers would be and I think what I came across was was sometimes I was right in my opinion and sometimes I was wrong same thing with Todd and Joaquin there were some times right and so I think between the three of us I recognize that all those conversations and sometimes there were arguments and sometimes they were heated I recognized that like you're gonna be right sometimes and you're not gonna be right sometimes and so it's really important to have a point of view and fight for that point of view but also recognize that that you may not be right and that the and that that that's always a no and and so just don't be so arrogant or self just like don't don't don't feel that that if you're shot down in your opinion or whatever direction you think that suddenly it's not the right thing for the movie because it may well be and and and you just can't see it yet so I think it was like just a little bit of an experience to recognize that you know that there are a lot of different choices you can make in a movie and and the collaboration I think is the most important thing and that each opinion has its own has really valid sort of pros and cons you know I had an idea for a movie and I pitched it to my agent and she goes out I think this is great let's take it up to the marketplace and then she said let's make a list of our dream places that we want to sell it so she goes if you could sell anyone who would it be and it was so heavy I thought like oh yeah who would I sell it to and I said Ridley Scott you can't laugh like okay yeah we'll take it there and then when they come we'll go down and let's then we'll go to places that actually could so I go into really Scott and I pitched with sue Williams who is a development executive smart nicest woman and you know this is really important when you're pitching is you're trying to get as much information so I was pitching her this project and at some point I saw her body language shift and I go it was it's something off about that and she goes really doesn't like these kind of things I don't think I think this is really exciting for him but not if it's going down that road and like what kind of things is really like and so she started sharing things was so helpful so we could kind of retool the pitch together and so she was instrumental so when you go someone you're pitching you know you're trying to get as much information from that person and it's a real sometimes writers have ego and they're like yeah I'm going in this place and I'm pitching the little lowest person on the totem pole oh that's great because you get information about the decision-maker okay so sue Williams help me reformulate the pitch in a way that would be a better fit for Ridley so that was amazing and that was I will forever be grateful for her then I got brought in to pitch to Mimi who was at the time Ruth Lee's producing partner and this is a long pitch this is a almost an hour pitch it's like a 50-minute pitch this is not a short pitch I always hate when people say your pictures have to be this amount of time there's no rules like first of all when someone says you have you have to do your pitch in 10 minutes people think that people will listen to you for 10 minutes they'll listen to you as long as they're interested and if they're not interested 30 seconds they tune you out and most pitches that sell are longer pitches because people want to have the confidence that this has been worked out and what they're buying is legit anyway it says a long pitch so I'm pitching the Mimi and it can't be going worse she's sitting back like this she's not making an eye contact she looks in pain she looks like this pitch is so bad that it is making her go crazy and the only reason I have a career is at the time I wanted to be doing stand-up or improv so I was pursuing that and an improv I was learning that one of my problems my weaknesses is when I thought things were going well I was alive and animated but when I thought things weren't going about anybody ins was into it my fear of rejection runs through this I would sort of back off and sort of tune out of the scene I kind of let you guys take it I would just sort of drop out of the scene which is you don't do that as an improviser so what I was being taught is when you think things are going terrible walk to the center of the stage take focus and say something and just stay in there stay alive don't worry about people's judgments follow your process so I'm pitching an after seven minutes I'm like she hates me she hates this pitch she's never gonna buy it she's in pain and that voice says just do the short version and get out of here this is painful for her it's painful for you Ridley was never gonna buy this pitch just get out of here just wrap it up and go which I would do is a stand-up terrible habit but another voice that okay look you're never gonna be a writer as evidenced by the pain you're causing this woman maybe you could be a performer so use this as a way of practicing your improv skills stay engaged stay engaged that that voice went through my head so I stay engaged and I I just did the pitch with gusto and focus and try not to look too much at me and see how much pain she was in and I finished and then there was just silence I mean silence and then she stands up and she goes hmm I don't get it and then sue Williams said well what don't you get she goes all of it and she looked at me and she was like something like maybe we'll be in touch or just something and walked out and Sue didn't know what to say I didn't have to say and then I left and I drove home and I called my agent and I'm like well you were right Ridley's not gonna buy this then sue calls me and I pick up the phone you know and she's like hey when you pitch with me you were really good but when you pitched for me me and I know where this was going she said you were on fire Mimi I loved it now there's a lesson in this which is don't try to read the room because I've pitched two people I pitched the heads of Studios that laughed and loved it because they when someone's hearing a pitch they're trying to decide am I gonna buy this am I gonna take this to my boss that's could be stressful and I pitched to a studio once where he knew right away he wasn't gonna buy it because they had a similar idea in development so he just relaxed and had fun with me we had a great time but he already knew he wasn't gonna buy it I found out Mimi Lake only takes one or two pitches to Ridley a year and when she was hearing this pitch she was like internally going oh my god this is something really would really love and I can't speak for her but I'm guessing that maybe she was nervous because maybe she was thinking do I really want to put my career on the line with this guy like I was a nobody I was in film school I had I was a was like 23 and green as they came and I think that she probably hearing the pitch was having an internal debate you know again I can't speak forever that's my guess so Seuss she was like yeah I probably should have told you she could be a little like that sort of her way she listens so don't read people's like I've been in rooms where people seem like they hated it and sometimes they do sometimes they don't stay committed have integrity do the pitch okay so to your question sorry for the long wind-up so I was told that really wouldn't be back in town for a month Mimi did have one big concern that she wanted changed it was a hard creative thing to figure out but I'm like I have a month to figure it out few days later I told you I got a phone call here's what I didn't tell you I don't drink much alcohol I'm just a lightweight I'm the cheapest date ever and the night before I was at some party and I drank more than I've ever drink in my life and it doesn't take much to get me drunk I think that morning might have been my first ever hangover or was the worst ever hangover so when the phone rang I hadn't showered it was I hadn't shaven I was hungover it was my agent and she said Ridley's in town and you'd like to hear the pitch he has an hour here's a slot in an hour can you hear the pitch and it takes 45 minutes to get there to Beverly Hills for more I was and so I said and it's not a good idea but I said oh that's exciting can we bump it up till 2:00 and there was this long pause and I know my agent was thinking why did I sign this guy and she said so Cory Ridley's in town he has a slot he'd like to hear your pitch in an hour and at least then I was like of course I will be there in an hour this kind of works out to my favor so I quickly shave and shower and on the dry drink coffee on the drive over I'm just figuring out how to solve that creative problem what happened is I got there with a second to spare and they dripped me into the room with him I never had the chance to get nervous I never had a chance to psych myself out I was just on pure adrenaline and Ridley was the sweetest person ever he came in the room you know and I started to like you know it's an honor and it was like Blade Runner and alien like I it was a literal honor to be in a room with him let alone the fact that he was gonna listen to me he pitched a project and he just immediately said like I you know were just too creative people I want to hear your idea you don't have to be great at performing my staff loves it I just want to hear like he went out of his way to make me feel comfortable and that I belong there because I did not feel like I belong to in a room pitching to really Scott and I was just on adrenaline with no prep ourselves out and so I just started talking and he was just he listened any and he nodded and he was so receptive and he was so loving and gentle I'll I'll never forget that and he was just amazing and then at the end he asked the question you always want to hear which is he said so who else has heard this pitch and I said nobody you're the first pitch your first play well who else is going to hear this pitch and I gave some of the places that we had meetings set up and he looked at his staff and then he turned to me and he said who's your agent and I told him Dan Karen's I see him and he called my agent and he said I want to take this off the market so that was just like I I really thought I was dreaming and then I remember I was driving home in my like cruddy little car and I little in the Doug's car called it because you had to use your feet to stop it thumbskull no money car and I was driving on the 405 and I started shaking I just was shaking I had a pullover and the thought that went through my head wasn't that I just launched my career it wasn't that I just sold the thought that went through my head was I just met Ridley Scott who's so nerdy and not only that once the deal was consummated they said we want you on the next plane to London so that Ridley and his team will develop the structure with you and they meant the literal next plane to London so my wife and I my girlfriend at the time now wife Rebecca we were like she's like I'll help you pack because I don't know how to pack and I'm like great and she's getting all my clothes where's your suitcase I'm like what I don't have oh so we ran to like Target and bought a suitcase and everything and then they flew me first-class and I didn't know first-class exists I didn't know what first-class was I did grew up with no money so they kept bringing me like food and wine and I was like no no no like I was thinking I can't afford this you know like I can't afford I don't want to pay for all this when I land and then in some point in London someone said no in first-class it's all included so no way back I was like more food but yes Ridley just I mean he treated me throughout the entire process and he called me when they weren't gonna make it and he explained why which he didn't have to do feel what the entire process he treated me like a like a writer who belonged to be there and someone that he wanted he wanted to hear my opinions he didn't want me just to defer to him I mean it was amazing forever be grateful for that he spoiled me because at some point I was like well I thought everyone now that's how the way I'd worked for some of the best people in the business that's how they treat writers and I've worked with people who don't treat writers that way so when you pulled over on the 405 do you remember was there a song playing on the radio or I don't I just write think I remember I was gonna crash that's a good question I don't remember I just kept thinking I thought I came home and my girlfriend was like so and I'm like I meant really Scott and she's like I know you meant Ridley Scott though oh yeah he bought he bought it I was just I was just a little film school nerd who was excited to me Ridley Scott the best piece of advice I got during that time was from my girlfriend at the time and she said you should just write a movie and then sell it to a studio and then you can find out how it all really works and that's why I wrote my first script and that was a really great piece of advice and I guess because of me thinking of it that simply I was able to sell my first grass like maybe that's why I don't know I mean it's not it's obviously not that easy but in my head it was and so I wrote this thing and got it out and done that was probably the best piece worst piece well no no I mean there were there were there there were bad begging said to me weren't necessarily advice like nobody ever said you know he can go home kid you bother me but I don't know if I got a piece of bad advice but I did get that I did get that advice and I decided to write and we said we sold that script to Columbia from the time that she told you that how did how much time went by when you started writing that script next day next day wow this is before Starbucks or no was around there probably was Starbucks but I don't drink coffee oh you know okay I can't I'm one of those weirdos it doesn't sir so so you where did you start writing the script because there I had a friend who was an aspiring writer he had final draft so I went to him and I said hey man I want to write a script and he was like you want to what I said just give me the final draft show me how it worked he's like doesn't know how final Drive works with dude whatever just you know I just just show me how it works so he taught me how it work he's like you just do that and hit the tab key and then write the things like all right it's way you're gonna write uh-oh that's one ranked script I'm writing script well you didn't have an idea no it's like floating around no no it's like I'm just gonna write one read them all my life can't be that hard hard but I figured just write a script just start like what am i doing I'm sitting here and staring at a phone that doesn't ring you know phone's not going anywhere I'm not going anywhere I could be sitting here a year from now and me and my phone can be hanging out together or I can be sitting here here from now me and my phone gonna be hanging out with a script that I wrote so I started writing and then I was like I just want to figure out something that work and at the time it was like you had all these like it was like the team stuff was hot so this is like post screen this is like Cruel Intentions and you know i know what you did last summer when the lights went off in Georgia or whatever so I was like all right so they're making this stuff and everything was in high school so I was like okay I'll put something in college all right what's the story they all seem to be horrors and thrillers okay yeah so I started looking at films that were really really popular like in the 80s take that story that basic idea said it in college now then I got a thing that's a proven track-record that works but then I got this other thing and it's new when it's fresh and it's different and that became the first script that became I would die for you it was about a guy going to Santa Barbara UC Santa Barbara and had a girlfriend and life was good and but he his in his hometown was getting married so he goes back to his home town for the wedding without his girlfriend because she was off to learn whatever and he runs into his ex-girlfriend from high school and she and he end up you know and he leaves he says you know it's a mistake whatever was good to see you goes back to his life and you see Santa Barbara turns around there's the ex-girlfriend hey how are you what's up this your girlfriend oh my god she's so great now the girlfriend loves the ex-girlfriend and he's in hell and that became that became I would die for you and Coloma you bought that out well he had a good time with it was fun how long did it take you to write it no it's good it's good it's good uh three weeks three weeks Wow how many drafts did you do before I sold it three maybe four well it wasn't it wasn't a lot and into a lot of drafts how did you get access to pitch Columbia oh oh oh yeah okay sorry oh no then yes I was still sort of making a living as an actor you know and you know yeah they were by that time I had done murder one and NYPD Blue so they were like really healthy residuals floating around I had residual from murder one one-year night of years like one day I just went as a residual was like $15,000 from her tomorrow I bought a car it was great so that was where that was at that time and I had a friend who was a comedian and he had a buddy who was a manager a literary manager and I called my comedian friend up his name's a mad I met him ed and he says hey man I said I got the script man I'm I think it's really good I want to sell it he's like you should call Brian dude Brian's a manager now you should call him up give me your script see what you can do I was like okay so I sent it to Brian and Brian was like so what do you want to do is like dude I don't care like I don't care if they want to turn into pigs on the moon it'll be pigs on the moon I don't care I just want to sell things I won't find out how it works cuz nobody will tell me how it works this whole thing so I could find out how everything works he's like all right cool so he sat he read it gave me some notes went back and forth through the notes and so then once he was happy with it he decided to do like a soft what do they call it not pitch when the agents and managers they send it out I don't know soft send out I don't know that they have a name for it I can't remember but he sent it out to a few people as opposed to like a blanket thing you know cuz usually you know you go wide with it you send it out to all the studios and all the production companies and you see who bites so he's like I'm gonna send that to people I know first see what they think see how it plays and then we'll go bigger I was like all right cool so at the time there was a production company cannot remember the name and production company they had a deal at Warner Brothers and the executive at the production company was chanting Dungey and Channing is actually now I believe she's the head of drama at ABC now but she read it and she was like oh good I like this I wanna go out with it and she did the same thing Bryan did she was like I'm gonna go why I'm just gonna guy guy friend I'm gonna see how a place so she sent it to a woman named Carrie Richman and Carrie was an executive at Columbia at Sony so she took it to carry and carry ready and Carrie was like I like it it was good has anybody else seen it she's like no no I seen it I yet tell you what we're gonna make a pre-emptive thing we don't make an option yeah let's do it and we did it and that's how the first one happened see I didn't want to be vague about it that's how it actually happened that's how it actually happened so it wasn't like you know there wasn't like a big sort of well they call it dos machina it wasn't like a big thing that just sort of like landed you know CAA didn't just show up and go oh that didn't happen it was the manager and he knew some folks though they knew some folks and then everybody loved the script it all came back to me like this script and as I've continued I've realized now it comes down to that it all comes down to the words on these pieces of paper we dig those so let's see what we can do that's what it's always come down to in my experience I had just come off of my first television series it was the very first television series ever on cable it was called brothers it was on Showtime it ran for five years and I had come off of that show and now I had one year and so this day that you're asking about occurred I had gone through one calendar year of going of having deals made for 12 new shows okay so I went out on my auditions it was me and a couple of other people you know signed my contracts everything was ready and I didn't get one of the shows not one of them so this isn't auditions that I didn't get these are deals that were made for me that if I had walked out of the room with the job I would have had another television series and I went one calendar year twelve of those events and didn't get one it was down to me and two other women and most discouraged okay one of the episodes was down to one of the pilots was down to me and nobody else and I still didn't get it because the producer writer decided that she wanted to play the role now none of those shows ever went on to become serious but that didn't mitigate my feelings on this particular day and I was crushed I mean it it was the hardest I couldn't believe that this is what had happened again in this year and I literally went on my face on the rug and I just wept and wept and wept and I and then I said God you know if this I just want peace I want to be happy if you think that I'm supposed to move to Kansas raised chickens that have babies I'll do it I just want a sign I have to know I have to know something I can't take this any longer this this amount of continual rejection after getting so close to so many things and uh and I stopped crying because I really liked the rug and I was getting schmutz on it so I had to quit but so after right after I said the thing I need a sign I have to have something that is unequivocal the phone rang it was my agent I was an audition for a movie with the then very old and ailing I believe Robert Mitchum but it was still Robert Mitchum and it was an old movie star and I'd watched him when I was a little girl and and I was really excited about the audition and and oh and then I had been something about I had this feeling I often will open a book you know with a metaphysical or spiritual or just and just see what I see right and I opened up I think it was the Bible and it was something about returning home as ecco desert Zephyr returning you home and I got this so I need a sign the phone rings I have this audition than I do the thing I get the reading about the Zephyr that feeling to go home I got this overwhelming desire to return to Aspen Colorado which is where my parents owned their own legitimate theater when I was a child and I so I said I'm gonna do it and I made reservations and the name of the plane the train that went there was the Zephyr and and I went on the audition I didn't get it but I had my sign interest you know it was if this is all I said if this is just my vanity let me know because I don't want to do this any longer and if it's not if I it's not I felt like this is what I was supposed to do all the signs when I came here I got work right away I got my sag card right away I got an agent right away and and and then I didn't work for a while you know and then I got jobs here and got jobs there and and you know waited tape would did waited cocktails at the improv and at the Comedy Store and all that in between gigs and and and so so I got in all these signs so I really believed that this and I grew up onstage and this is what I love and so I thought well you know I've had all these other signs that things are right that's what I thought I was supposed to be doing but you let me know if I'm not and so when that call came I felt well that is definitely a sign you know so and then I think oh and then I went away on the trip and I came back home and on my deck outside my door was a script for Murder She Wrote and an offer to come and do it no audition Wow just on the basis of the work of mine that they'd seen before they offered me the job and I thought well that's my debt that's my exclamation point on the signed that I asked for but that day Karen that day I rung me out I ran into a very inspiring man whose name was Norman Cousins who was the editor of Saturday Review world in those days and he came to speak in a class of mine at Occidental College and it turned out we shared a motto that no one else in the world had ever heard of and that motto was a was a single sentence by the philosopher Nash philosopher or take a guess a that said I think the only immoral thing is for a being not to use every instant of its existence with the utmost intensity and I had never heard anyone else quote that but after after his taught in my class I asked him to come to my office and showed him that it was framed above my desk and so needless to say we bonded and long story short I asked him you know what I should do when I grow up which I asked male authority figures all my life basically and he he told me after we got to know each other that I should consider the entertainment business because it was much broader than the academic world and people can basically do whatever you know it anything creative you're encouraged to do basically you could find your own way there are no rules and schedules and all of those kinds of things that we find in academia and I love academic you know the world and the ideas that are exchanged and all of that but it was restricting and it was you know for me suffocating which is a word that as means a lot to me personally it's my most ancient nightmare is being suffocated and I've never been suffocated and you know in the entertainment world I've been terrified a lot but not suffocated and so he encouraged me and I thought well I don't know anything about the entertainment world other than movies that it seemed that's it and he showed me a passage from a book by William Goldman that I hope everyone knows called adventures in the screen trade and the passage was that the only important rule in Hollywood is that nobody knows anything and I thought well that's that's good means it's a level playing field so I set out to learn as much as I could and I realized that I wasn't 18 years old in the mailroom at William Morris and I wasn't you know infinitely wealthy and I didn't have relatives in the film business those are like the three main ways to get into the business normally so I thought I just have to be smarter so I started writing reading contracts I remember a producer he'll never forget I asked if I could read a distribution contract and he said yeah I can let you read it but I can't let you take it out of my office you can go up in the other room and have a cappuccino and but you know do that so I read it and I came back an hour later and I said I'm confused about some things I read here can I ask you a couple questions and he said sure and he I said this paragraph number 48 in the fine print section at the end says that accounting terms used in this Agreement shall be redefined by the 20th century-fox accounting department at such time if any that litigation is entered into among the parties I said what does that mean and he said that is not in there I go yes it is let me show you how I showed it true and he said I can't believe that that's still in there mate my attorney should have crossed that out he had just signed the agreement and I said well they didn't so I started learning that's how I started learning reading contracts was I think whatever kind of thing you're trying to do if it's successful ends up with being a bunch of contracts so you might as well start backwards with the contracts and long story short while I was preparing myself that way over a six-month period I I came up with an idea that I sold basically on a wing and a prayer not knowing how to do it but it ended up being within the next 12 months 16 movies that I was completely in charge of and raised half the money from Warner Brothers and half the money from from a company in Canada went up to Montreal and shot them all back to back meaning one movie ended on Friday and the next one began on Monday and it was a series of romantic comedies and it came out of my teaching romantic literature and also teaching publishing because a publisher was talking in one up in my publishing class the visiting publisher was talking to my class and he was telling me he was telling us what goes on the cover of a romance novel and I realized as he listed the things that were on the cover that he was basically reciting the rules of courtly love that I was teaching in another class that were written in the 12th century by andreas capital honesty the Chaplin of Marie de France and and I thought so maybe romance novels that everyone makes fun of are just an extension of these ancient courtly stories these love stories and I came up with the idea of doing a series of movies that imitated these love stories and were marketing friendly because they all had colors so you could have put all the DVDs on the you know on the shelf and they would form a rainbow so they were all called things like The Rose cafe sunset court indigo autumn etc and we did sixteen of them and by that time I was was fully in the business because I was in charge of production as a creative production and within three movies my assistant I were you know we knew we were doing whereas we did not have any idea what we were doing before the first movie started shooting and then I came back to Los Angeles and became a literary manager because I didn't have resources to option properties but as a literary manager you can produce properties by managing the property and that's what got me going and ever since then so it was that was how the transition occurred and it was just because I thought of an idea and I didn't know better if I known now what you know what if I'd known then what I know now I would never have sold it the way I sold it I simply went out with the concept and convinced several Studios to look at it seriously and none of them had looked at a script or anything like that and one of them Warner Brothers wanted to see a script and I wouldn't show it to them until they'd signed an agreement and they ended up signing an agreement in three days and then I showed them they manufactured the scripts over the weekend by putting out a call to the romance novel community and getting back you know ideas for the script and so on so it was a fluke and one of the hardest things about being in the business when you're been in it for a while is the there grows up this huge accumulation of experience that you have that makes you know that you shouldn't just pick up the phone and call the head of a studio and and I have to overcome that I just reached out to the head of a studio this morning but every time I do it it's like having a 500-pound weight in your hand to pick up the phone because you know that's wrong but somebody like me back then I didn't know what was wrong so I you know it was light as the light motion to pick up the phone and call call somebody and so whenever I get a new partner who's not involved I always say don't be afraid to tell me your craziest ideas because this is a world in which crazy ideas work and you know it's it's the traditional ideas that have our harder time working so it is a completely wild and entrepreneurial frontier it's probably the last frontier of American culture though the movie business and it's been changing ever since I've been in it it constantly changes from a world in which video cassettes dominated and you could find them everywhere and to a world in which we're down streaming from Netflix and Hulu and so on and the delivery methods have always changed and what doesn't change and this is the encouraging thing for writers is that the need for stories has only gotten greater and greater with the proliferation of hundreds of channels they all have one thing in common they need programming they need content and writers are the ones who create the content the intellectual property so they should be hugely encouraged you don't have to understand all the distribution methods you just need to know how to tell a story and and you're in good shape just keep telling stories I pursued being a film major in my undergraduate in Ohio which is my home state and got a four-year degree BFA and motion picture production which of course guarantees you a job in the industry immediately when you show up with that and then I just thought I was gonna move to Los Angeles and become an assistant because I kind of knew you know that whole starting the William Morris mailroom kind of thing that I knew that that was a thing you could do there were people that had moved out to LA from Dayton Ohio where I was from before me who'd gone to my film school before me who had these kind of jobs working as assistants at the studios and stuff so I decided that's gonna be my path I'm gonna get it my day job will be one of those kind of jobs where I'll be like a secretary and I'll just be writing on the side and so that's what I pursued and was lucky enough to get into the Fox Studios kind of in-house temp pool where somebody in the human resources department had all these temps that every day they would assign to these different jobs throughout the studio where they needed somebody to fill in for a day or a week or a month or whatever because some assistant was on maternity leave or out sick or had just left and they hadn't replaced them yet so I got my taste of all these different kinds of jobs throughout 20th Century Fox and the Fox Network you know everything from like legal department to accounting and Finance like very corporate departments but also some of the eventually the more creative side where you're working on a TV show or working for a production company which is of course what you really want if you're an aspiring writer and so I did that for a number of years and eventually got assigned to Tom Hanks his production company just as a temp which turned into a full-time assistant job working there where it was basically him and his his main assistant who went with him on location and had been with him for years and me I was like the guy in the office like answering the phone and opening the mail he was off shooting Forrest Gump for like five months at one point you know on the East Coast and I was the only one there in the office kind of holding down the fort so to speak at his little production company that was based at Fox at that time so while I was doing that I was writing scripts on the side and I had worked as a writer's assistant on the show picket fences right before I worked for Tom Hanks and got to know other people at my level other assistants which is a really helpful thing to do you know they say do you have to move to Los Angeles to be a screenwriter you don't have to it helps and but one of the main reasons it can help is if you're the kind of person that gets a job in the business like that where you're around people doing what you want to be doing and you meet people at your level who are also trying to do the kinds of things you want to do and you can sort of help each other and that certainly worked out for me because I switched from writing features on spec to I took a class at UCLA extensions writers program where I have taught now in recent years myself on sitcom writing I started writing a spec script for the show Fraser in that class and then when it was done I showed it to this friend I'd worked with on picket fences who was a fellow assistant but also an aspiring writer who had just gotten an agent and she liked the Fraser and was willing to show it to her agent and the agent like the Fraser enough to want to sign me so I got this agent while I was still working as an assistant for Tom Hank and this agent function kind of like managers do now managers weren't such a thing back then where she was giving me notes you know she signed me off it but then she immediately wanted me to rewrite it with all these notes she gave me before she would send it to anyone and so then she had me after that was done she had me start my next one which was a mad about you and after that of friends so I was like pumping out these sitcom spec scripts because in those days when you wanted to work on staff on a show in the 90s they more valued specs of existing shows whereas nowadays it's its original pilots that writers tend to use for the writing samples to get into TV writing you know a staff job like that which is normally how you get in is you know you get hired as like a staff writer on a show if you're one of the lucky few fortunate few so that's the direction I was headed but I still had the the Tom Hanks really great sort of assistant day job but I was really starting to think eventually I'm gonna be a professional writer now I mean I have an agent she's sending my stuff out I got some meetings here and there but then things took a funny turn an amazing turn which is that one day Tom Hanks read one or two of those scripts because his assistant who I worked kind of under I think recommended oh you should have Tom read your you know it'd be fun whatever I don't know I was never gonna ask him to read my stuff or help me in any way cuz I knew this is my job this is he's not there to help me do that and he apparently liked the one or two scripts he read and decided that I had Talent and he told me my talents are being wasted and he offered me this like amazing life-changing promotion the week of my 30th birthday I had a wife and a kid and she was a teacher and I was making seven hundred hours a week I think or something like that so it was a really a good time to get a promotion where I was gonna help him basically help him develop this miniseries he had sold to HBO as an executive producer which was from the earth to the moon which was about the Apollo space program he had done the movie Apollo 13 and was a life long space junkie and at this point was the biggest star in Hollywood he had gotten to that point by then and so he was able to sell this idea for a miniseries of very expensive 12 hour miniseries where we would dramatize and recreate the I are Apollo program right all these other missions you know so I then helped him kind of figure out the sort of outline for that and like find writers to write the episodes you know professional screenwriters that were already established unlike me but eventually I got to write one of the scripts and then eventually that script became a decent script because it took a long time and then I got asked to help rewrite some of the other scripts so by the end of that production from the earths of the moon I had kind of been an apprentice producer on the whole thing so I got a co-producer credit on the whole thing and I had writing credit or pieces of writing credit on several episodes and I just like learned all this stuff from just being on it from beginning to end and being able to be kind of in the middle of it because I worked for Tom and he was the executive producer so I was on the set in the editing room and did everything or watched everything and so when it won the Emmy for Best miniseries and all the other big awards I got to share in those awards because I was one of the producers so that was really how I got my start I was very fortunate and that the first thing I wrote professionally not only got produced which you know most things the writers get paid to write still don't get produced right you can make a whole career writing things that don't get produced not only did it get produced but I was a producer on it and one these major awards for being that so it was kind of a fairy tale beginning of a career that hat that I owe to Tom Hanks and to you know this is a combining which you wouldn't think translates into historical drama about the space program but I somehow managed to figure out how to how to write for that series even though it wasn't the kind of stuff I was doing on my own and then an interesting sort of audition story that I tell a lot again this is something I learned when The Fast and the Furious audition came my way again where I was at in my time at that time in my life I didn't realize what I had I was off in my own sort of thinking about what I thought about the business I got the audition and it was called red line action at the time and I I remember passing on the audition and why because I just didn't wanna I had in my mind I wanted to do something completely different with my life at the time again maybe 23 years old you know so I got the audition I passed got the audition twice I passed right my agent at the time calls me up and says what are you doing like you really want to pass on this and I said yeah I mean I was just being a little punk just like fine hung up the phone on me I'm like yeah right my mom making decision decisions another agent from the same agency called me up and he said you know come on go in and I'm like okay I'll go in I was being a brat I was being a brat and I Wayne Isham and I met the director Rob Cohen he's very friendly and so nice and the caching director who I love and so I auditioned and and they liked what I did and then they called me back or they want me to come back and read with a couple of the other actors and so I'm like and then you start sad life sort of play in your mind like oh oh you like me okay you know all right yeah yeah I'll go back yeah sure so I go in and I'd read with whether he was Matt Schulze at the time and I'm Johnny strong I believe and they were trying to fit like the guys that you know cuz they already had you know Paul and VIN and everybody and I ain't it up booking this movie I got the part and and I'm like wow this is really cool and we're gonna do all these cars and then we got on set and it became you know this crazy thing and everyone's gonna be like oh it's gonna be it's gonna be huge it's gonna be this big moving I'm like no I just don't I don't I don't think so I was just so locked into this into this brain of mine and then lo and behold it became like a huge phenomenon and it changed my life instantly and it taught me I can that you never never never no don't don't turn down an audition don't don't be silly you know and I was really silly and I tell this story and not that I was so appreciative that I went in and I was given that opportunity and it changed my life forever forever so I learned a valuable lesson then you know just you know keep your mind open you know appreciate what you have if it comes when you're 19 if it comes when you're 40 just appreciate that moment so how long before then you get your next job which is the wedding scene so meanwhile Adam was having his career was going in a really good way and I was determined not to come to LA without a movie because I knew everybody was a director and and Adam had seen the movie and loved it and I remember he had his agent see it and they're like I was cool you know and the fact that they did a movie Gavin couldn't wait for me to direct his movies he had done I think Billy Madison by then he called me up and said I'm working on a comedy album he already made you movie come to LA come for two weeks and help me with the comedy album and it was an album called what the hell happened to me so I wrote it on a bunch of skits I acted on some of them and then I did a music video for one of the songs it was T polychron appleĆ­s it's kind of a precursor to the wedding singer because it was an 80s bully but it was all about 80's wardrobe Stone wash pants and and the bi-level haircut and I shot this video and I didn't realize like all eyes because Adam was just starting to really excel every bigwig in town came to see who's this Frank Karachi guide direct in the video and I'm just loving it because I'm getting like real equipment and you know and and it had like all the comedians that were friends with David Spade Rob Schneider so many interesting cameos it was like David Arquette Garry Shandling was in it so it's this really fun crazy silly video and then I on the album we did a twenty-three city tour the album went double platinum it was like one of the biggest Sandler album so it was a good little run where I literally came for two weeks and a bag of clothes for two weeks and I didn't stop working I got an editing system in our house you know we had the house and Beverly Hills and I was like editing all the videos myself I'm like this is great like film school again I'm like this got me 20:28 something like that and I'm like I can't believe I'm getting to like live with my friends shoot stuff people really seeing it edit I'm like this is a dream come true and then we did the 23 city tour like it was a rock and roll tour with a bunch of Adams comedy songs so like the Hanukkah song he did a bunch of other songs like the Halloween song piece-of-shit car a lot of ones you know though like the turkey song for Thanksgiving and I did sort of very inexpensive I came up with the stage design it was an outdoor drive-in movie in the summer and it was like beach balls and all this stuff and and and I had the set designer from his movies do the sadness and I had a screen and on the screen I would do things like there was a song about grandmothers so I got a bunch of grandmothers shot him on green screen dancing with spatulas and then I took like contact paper from like you know like Grandma contact paper that you'd put in the kitchen oh yeah like really corny powdery and I green-screen them again I just think it was like this weird it would be inspired by like a Pink Floyd drug video but it was just silly comedy for stoners and then the other thing is we had a skit that like it was a superstone or skids ever loved there was a talking goat and the talking goat these for stoners come across his talking goat in van nuys tied to the back of the truck and they're like oh she the talking go Adam two divorces ago like hey guys that was your time yeah I'm kind of more deer and I played the old man who used to beat the goat and and and so that skit was just the most popular one and that's like all I got if someone goat for the concert because the kids love it and I say kids they're like 20 year olds and were 30 at the time and so the goat opens up this show and people go nuts and then I bring them back a few times and new line had seen the show and they were like we want to do a talking goat movie and and and we're like oh that's cool but like we were thinking of doing another movie though and then we pitched them I wanted to do a movie that was an 80s movie and Adam and Tim had to come up an idea for a wedding singer who gets jilted and has to perform weddings after he has his heart broken and then I said Adam let's make that 80s because then you can sing songs and won't look like you're trying to be cool it'll be a little retro it'll take the curse off and he's a great and then we pitched that and it's funny because there was 1995-96 we're pitching an 80s movie and people like 80s that was six years ago and I know trust me like we just different like I have the same clothes from six years ago like trust me no no and then like sure enough I made I learned my first miss my first thing not to do in Hollywood when I was pitching the producer I go think of how in Dazed & Confused the 70s was a personality and then the producer was like Dazed and Confused made like ten million dollars why would you reference that movie and I'm like no no just how cool it was and I'm like oh I get it you just got to when you want to get money you have the reference it didn't translate I was like no it's how cool all right it's like the Titanic no that was that okay so anyway so we pitched that and they loved the idea and then we had we kind of worked on a script and then Carrie Fisher new line hired her to spend time on the script because she was such the the script doctor for romantic movies and I got to spend just got to LA you know what my gym bag I'd only been there for a few months and next thing you know I'm at Carrie Fisher's house I'd have to go to her house every day when she was writing she would literally lay in bed and write it she would watch TV she'd go let's watch old movies and then I'd literally be laying in bed when Carrie Fisher you and I can't believe I'm in bed with Princess Leia not you right just working not nothing and and yeah we watched these old movies and she showed me all these great oh you know we're all romantic comedies Roman holiday like he named him breasts Breakfast at Tiffany's and then we would write and and it was great and we got to make this amazing story and then drew signed on and and before you know it I'm like awesome – Mike Wow I came I still have not gone home ice loved this bag of clothes and I'm directing the wedding singer and uh and I remember the first day pulling up on Sunset the house we shot was with the old lady with the meatballs Rosie and its first time driving the set right I'm driving my will rental Honda Civic and I'm like why are these trucks here I'm like I'm used to making a student phone we had one truck there was like truck after truck and it's a low-budget movie is like a ten million dollar movie I was so intimidated by the time I walked to said that there was all this equipment I'm like I need some valley track in the camera I didn't know you need all this and then yeah but I jumped right in and and I just did what I knew how to do and I rose oh now I have a lot of crew when you change things that just happens fast and yeah and when we made that movie we had no idea it was gonna hit like it was a little low budget movie and I just blew up in a whole different way and then I thought now I'm fucked because now I can't make all those little weird movies okay why because you thought now you're gonna be pigeonholed yeah yeah and I was like and then actually the finding was we I was like come on we're on a roll let's do the waterboy so the wedding singer didn't even open we made the waterboy and so in the middle of doing the waterboy the wedding singer opened we flew home for the premiere and it was like wow it was great knowing now there's no pressure on the waterboy like they gave us more money in time we didn't feel like you know when you're making a movie of a gun to your head with budget and yeah but I did find it for a long time I was pigeon-holed I had so many little movies I wanted to do and I'd be willing to do it for no money and it was once they put you in that box in Hollywood it's hard to and I didn't know enough about how the business works to figure out how to make the little movie Lily took me 10 movies till I got to make another little indie you know and I've all along I didn't want to you know and the movie I just made know how they're ticking like seven years to get that together the little ones are really hard to get going just cuz yeah it's always talent driven you know so you have to find a piece of talent they want to do it I went to the University of Texas and they used to do this thing called The Hollywood showcase where they would take an hour's worth of student films and they would show it out here in LA at the DGA theater and they would invite a alumni alumni alumni of the university just to come and see the short film just to see like what are the kids doing back at school and so the year I graduated I had written I'd written a short film that played and I had written and directed another one side too including a puppet short that ended up becoming the inspiration for the happy time earners but so I was you know living in Austin I was delivering pizza I was gonna move to Chicago and do second city in the new to New York because you know I grew up thinking like LA like Hollywood like sella what am I going to sell out and and so they picked two of my short films to play at this thing and I graduated like on Saturday a couple days later like I came to LA just to go to the screening just cuz I'd never been LA before and I just graduated I was like I'll go to the Hollywood Walk of Fame I'll go to the beach and so I go to the screening and there was an agent at the screening who just happened to go to my college and he was just there to see the shorts and he liked my short film so much that he walked up to me at the reception afterwards and said hey I loved your short film have you written any features before cuz I'm a literary agent I represent writers and I said well I wrote one for class like I took a screenwriting class and he's like oh we'll send it to me I'd love to read it and I was like sure so I got his card and I went back to Austin and I mailed it to him this is Beck back in the day were you mailed people things and I just kept delivering pizza saving up money to move to Chicago and then a couple months later he called me and he just said hey we've read your script and we love it we want to sign you and represent you as a writer but you have to move to Los Angeles you can't move to Chicago because we want to be able to send you to meetings and I was like okay so I was like out delivering pizza and I went back and I was like I'm out I'm moving Hollywood and just from this short these short films that I had done that got someone's attention and you know and I know if the story is ridiculous and then I was 22 years old and I was plucked from obscurity but also part of the story is you know I had these short films that somebody saw and when he came to me and said what else do you have I was able to say well I have this script that I wrote you know when I gave it to him and he read that he liked it and so you know I have a lot of friends who make short films or you know who as a calling card which is an amazing calling card is a short film to get people's attention and I always tell them like you have to be prepared for if someone's cheat your short film and likes it and then they say what else do you have what do you have any features like do you have something you have to be able to say yes like here is the other thing because I have a lot of friends who have this short that they've worked really hard on and they'll go play a festival or something and then they'll meet an agent or a producer and then the agent will say what else do you have and they're like well no I've got some ideas like of stuff I want to try to start working on but nothing right now like you can't do that you have to have something ready to go that's my piece of advice so this is actually a really funny story so I was I graduated and I was living in Austin and I was I was moving out of my apartment because for I was going to spend six months living with a friend of mine in her spare bedroom saving up money over the summer and into just like I graduated in May when you and then I was gonna move in January so I had like seven months where I was just gonna deliver a pizza and make money and so I had to move out of my apartment so I moved everything out of my apartment except my answering machine the only thing that was still in my apartment is this is before I don't even got a cell phone yet this 2001 so I had an answering machine and when I gave that agent a business card by the way still my agent so my last day here we are sixteen years later when I gave him a Mike card in Los Angeles the only number that was on it was my apartment in Austin because I have a cell phone so the only way he had of contacting me was to call my apartment so I hadn't heard from him for like two or three months or whatever I was like oh I guess he never got my scare after didn't read my script so the only thing left in my apartment was my answering machine so I went and I moved to everything over the new place and then I had to go back clean and then take the answering machine away so I go back to clean and there's a red light blinking on the answering machine and I was like oh I have a message and a beep there's like hey Todd it's a Steven from the counter agency rule II read your script give me a call had I had I gotten to my apartment like an hour earlier and unplug the machine I just never would have gotten a call from him who knows if he would have tried to track me down by some other means but um but but that message was waiting for me and they were only thing left in my apartment was that answering machine so knocking on wood that was really lucky but I then got a cell phone and I stayed in Austin for like three months delivering pizza because I still needed to save up money to move to LA it's just cousin I had an agent didn't mean I was like a rich or something I still needed to afford to move to LA so delivering pizzas saving up money I bought a cell phone and I gave it to my agent my agent my new cell phone number and he took my scripts that I wrote for class and he gave me some notes on it and I did a new draft and then he sent it around town as a spec script and he showed it to a bunch of producers and like I didn't know what that meant and so I'm I'm out on a delivery in Austin and my phone rings and it's my Hollywood agent and he's like Todd hey we went out with your script and we just set it up at Paramount at the it was kelsey Grammer's company at the time Graham net and I was like oh oh cool like I don't know what that means what does that mean and he's like well it's $10,000 option plus you're gonna get writers guild minimum of 27,000 to do the guaranteed rewrite and I was just like I'm sorry what what he's like yeah so it's a guaranteed $37,000 and I was just like I was like that's more money than I've ever even heard of imagining because I'm making like $7 an hour at this piece of place so I was it was like a dream I was like I couldn't believe it and I went back to the double Dave's pizza where I worked and I walked in and I was like I'm out I quit I'm Hollywood now but then I'm a nice guy so I actually finished my shift oh that's good I think I even finished work one more shift but then I but then I quit and then I moved to LA but that being said I did there and learn the harsh realities of like I then it's not like everything I wrote got sold or I got jobs that easy like I thought that's how it works because my first script out the gate like I got optioned and got it rewrite so I was just like oh every script I ever write now it's gonna get optioned and set up but no it took it took a while for it to happen again the second time I hit lightning in a bottle that first time and I moved out to LA thinking like I'm a wunderkind I'm an awesome young hotshot 22 year old and then the harsh realities of being a working writer actually set in and I got I got how soon after that oh pretty soon pretty soon pretty soon like I wrote another script you know I moved out I wrote another script and I'm like cool let's show this one I'm sure I'm gonna set this one up and no one cared feel really nuff now what else I was like oh and then years I mean years went by before I actually set up another one of my own scripts because you know I learned very quickly that when you want to be a working writer it's not like you write scripts and then go sell them to people most jobs you're ever gonna work are you writing scripts for other people based on their ideas or pre-existing material so it's not like people are looking for original scripts as much it is hey we need a writer to rewrite that draft of the Ninja Turtles movie or you know we bought the IP for some 80s cartoon and we need a writer to write a script for it and so I very quickly realized like oh I actually have to work really hard now to go to meetings and meet producers and try to get an assignment that's what it's called – in order to get paid it's so like right stuff and for years that's all I did I mean today it's at this day that's my primary source of income is I just do assignment work which is a hard job like you spend half your time trying to get the next assignment and then the little free time you do have you try to work on an original script that you hopefully can sell to someone someday early success wasn't really success I would say hi I wouldn't really call it early success I it was I don't even view it that way I view it as six years of no one wanting my stuff and it was you know some random person who was very kind was interested in a script but it wasn't as if it was all of a sudden I made it and I it's happening now so it really was a six seven year journey to selling my first project which was recount and why I didn't give up I think is because I had something to say and I loved writing these scripts and they were important to me and I I loved working on stories and it just was artists equally extremely fulfilling where my acting career was very frustrating and sometimes I and I worked I didn't really seem worked on some terrific shows that I'm really proud of but I wasn't actually getting to act very much so even when you're working you know I would do episodes of Gilmore Girls and I would do four episodes of season and I would work on it a day or two and that would be one of my only jobs for six months so it's really about seven days on set over a six month period so what am i doing the rest of the time I'm auditioning and trying to get new jobs but that's a hour a day maybe so really it was it was a creative outlet for me of taking my creative energy and putting it into something where I could actually just go do it whereas an actor you have to be picked to go do it and then you rarely get picked so I just found it fulfilling but I also was getting rejected and left and right script after script and agents managers production company everyone didn't want my work for six seven years and I think I got to a point where I asked myself well this is not going well what are you what do you want from this what what are you doing and I sort of I asked myself would I and it's one of the key questions in the movie would I do this for the rest of my life if I got nothing in return and I thought yeah I would and then I just kept writing and then eventually it wasn't as if six months later crack the champagne it was maybe three years later that I sold recount as a pitch to HBO and then just kind of went on from there but there was a certain peace in knowing that it wasn't about it wasn't about selling something or success even though I really wanted it I wasn't and what you know wasn't a kumbaya moment but there was a peace in knowing that well whatever happens you just keep writing so just keep writing and that's what I did yeah and I saw that you willed that I think did two parts of the movie that that premise yeah which I think is a big eye-opener to a lot of people that's something that most people not be ready for yeah and look at what JD Salinger did right he stopped publishing at the height of his fame and then continued writing for 45 years for nothing in return and he wrote every day and he just did it because he just wanted to write and I think to me that's what makes this story a profound story is the journey of the artist and he goes from being a young man who all he wants his success to being an older writer which all he wants is to just create his art and nothing else and that's that's the journey that's the the Aesop fable of this movie where I grew up was as bad as far from the film industry as as could be well not as give me I'm sure I could have grown up in Siberia too but I grew up in a small village in South Wales and really had zero idea of you know how you might penetrate the film industry or television and yeah it was sort of just through lucky I mean again I think me taking some risks and some Gamble's and then and then some happy accidents that I sort of found my way eventually to SNL there's a so long story in-between obviously but yeah I essentially I came I went to New York alright knowing again I wanted to work in film television no idea what to do New York seems like the direction to head LA fell like too much of a cultural leap at the time and and yeah I you know I just I had about five jobs it's sort of my first six months there I was sort of catering and and we're working in stores and all that stuff and then luckily I've got a job in a post-production facility that edited commercials and I was working as a receptionist I did that was there for about two weeks I think when Jim Signorelli who is the longtime film director at SNL so it came in to work on something and I just saw I mean we ended up chatting and at at lunch time and randomly about two weeks after that he called up and just said that his assistant was leaving and did I want to come and work for him so that was kind of my beginning because I didn't go to film school I studied theater so it was a real weirdly for choosers place to land because the film unit and now is this sort of machine in film production where we're producing films you know from start to finish in three days every week and and when I started they were still shooting on film as well so it was a really amazing you know place to land and you know suddenly be unset and so yeah that's why I kind of went there and then worked my way up very slowly and yeah and Here I am well that's fascinating so I guess the lesson to from that is you never know who you'll run into you don't exactly be polite to strangers and yeah I mean again it was it's there's definitely moments when I've sort of made a choice to you know maybe be more aggressive or two but you know you kind of you do have to assert yourself and and and you know I take chances good I don't think you'll ever have the right amount of experience that someone's looking for so you know at SNL for example my sort of my trajectory sort of follow the pattern the first few years of me like the SNL season is like a school yeah yes it goes September to May and then you have the summer off you know and you can you know obviously go to other things or not work but I usually would go and work on something else and and and then each you know September would roll around and then my first few years I never knew if I was gonna get hired again the next season but you know I'd in every a phone call would come with with Jim and you know I'd usually sort of just maybe embellish a little bit about what I'd done that summer to sort of elevate my my experience so I quickly sort of went from being a PA to a production coordinator the following season and then and then I was his line producer so the my third year at SNL I was lime producing the film unit and completely fine I might see in my pants I had no idea what I was doing and it was weighing over my head but you know week by week got through it and and then I did that for about I was I was the line producer that for about five or six years before I I made the move to directing and that's a whole other thing too I don't think it's something you google you can only again I think some people's personalities are made for it I don't think I was I sort of managed to do it for all those years and again for me it was an amazing learning experience cuz you can you you know by becoming responsibility for everybody you inevitably had to learn about every you know position on set because you obviously its troubleshoot at any time anyone had an issue so you get to know you know the grip department and their equipment needs and what they do and the electrician's and the art department so it was a really good way just for me to really live my way all the way around and then the same through post-production again I just got really like a sorta landed in this weird film school as a know and you know it was on on the job training so yeah what's with the stress of knowing that you may not come back exactly that's yeah ya know exactly so you always kind of again you never rest on your laurels you so take everything as I well you know I'm gonna keep going as far as I can and you know cuz who knows like I might be looking for another job soon you know like not that they encourage an environment of insecurity but you know it I think it helps keep moving forward you know not to get complacent every film at been associated with has taught me a lot and by the way and truth be told probably learned more from the films that didn't get me thinking back on why they didn't get made what could I have done different but the films that got made which had the ones people know a bit more hopefully I would say the moth Mothman Prophecies which was another Richard Gere film was and there was one moment one seminal and again that was a film that that had been shocked all over town every company independent medium big studio all passed on it I wasn't involved at the time the agent shop didn't the writer I hadn't produced before I was the I actually got to produce his first film and he came to me and said would you read this and I fell in love with it and his and and then I learned it had been passed on and I found there was one company and only one company that hadn't seen it that was Lake Shore wonderful company so I said you know what I will I will invest time in this and I will take it to lakeshore and and I knew it was that was it there was literally one buyer in the whole world I can sell this to so I went to them and they read it as three eggs a q-tips and they called me the following Monday morning typical Monday morning call right brilliant story we loved the craft it was intriguing based on a true story oh my god fascinating beautiful beautiful beautiful responses from all of them at which point one of them said so thanks so much for sending it over it's gonna be passed only in Hollywood and I thought that wait a minute I'm sorry did you just say it's gonna be past all this all the hall that you're you know all this laudatory language and then you're dead and there was a long pause cuz I knew this was it this was the last man standing there was no other option and that was the company I mentioned this earlier that was the company at the moment when I said I respectfully pass on your past and it was too nervous laughter I said look of course you can pass but based on our relationship and our respect for one another I would ask before you make a final final final decision let me just come in and talk to you so I I went to this meeting I told these three executives the story of my relationship with my dad why because the script when I read it initially was so moving to me because the character played by Richard Gere is so lost in grief after his beloved young wife and a lot of what the texture of it was reminiscent to me of what I felt after my dad's death he was my best friend and and to me this film was a great film in its own right it deserved to get made and more importantly it would be a private amage to my dad and so I care deeply about it so I went into this meeting with three people who'd read it and said nice things about it but passed on it and so I felt the door was open just a little bit and I never referenced the script I never talked about the title I just simply told the story of my dad I told who my dad was I told him about our friendship and her relationship and and the love that we had and what it was like when unexpectedly never having been sick he just passed away what that was to my family and to me and I just spent not long 12 minutes 10 minutes telling this story at the end of which I simply said I cannot imagine anyone don't make her actor audience doesn't matter who will not be moved or why or whether we lost someone or not were wired to understand the tragedy and and despair of losing someone so close to you and they cuddled and they changed their mind bottom line they changed their mind and we got to make this film and it's a great film it wasn't as big as pretty woman but but it was well received in acts I become more popular over over over the years and I'm very proud of the film but in a way as a learning lesson is like you know we talked earlier about never take no for an and I think what I came away from that was if you are you know if you're ballsy enough if you're bold and courageous enough just it's like get naked in public if you're willing to get naked in public people are impressed right because we all know about vibration and frequency and what if you're like you know when you're deeply moved and you're in that very deeply authentic place and and there's no BS we know it it's real that's very attractive to us and that's what we want to put on a big screen and that's what they got they got why this is gonna move the audience and Airport potentially be a success and the film was successful as a business matter but I that's no you know I don't measure it in those terms I just think how do I get a yes from these people so I can do what I so desperately want to do as a creative person and and the only thing I could do is tell the truth and it worked I was broke I had no no no no money no driver's license I was living in mid-wilshire I was in a very bad spot I had been acting now about five or five years at this point five or six years I had not had any auditions for film yet I had only gone to do things in like the theater things through the drama-logue backstage West and whatnot subsequently my friend my very best friend in the world at that time was an actor who's become rather you know prominently known as his name is Thomas Jane we were very very close he auditioned wait I got into the audition now is that is that okay now okay all right he again this is a little bit new for me so ya know so he he he told me you know I met this I auditioned for this movie about an angry skinhead or whatever and there was this British director and he was very eccentric and he was in the room and he didn't seem to respond to my audition he was referring to the the you know the director of Tony Kaye who directed American history acts he said I think this director would like you I don't know why he just got that sense that somehow Tony Kaye was going to connect with me somehow or respond to me I guess or my my and my acting or whatever yeah anyway so that's what life was like that it was okay to answer your question in short life was very difficult broke no car no driver's license no job and trying to get auditions it was it was pretty tough yeah so you take Tom's advice you walk in that door for the auditions no what happened is is tom said had there dis this keys in trying to figure out at that time they had not confirmed that Edward Norton was you know playing the lead part in the movie and he was doing these cattle calls if they I guess apparently if that did not happen or what direction they were going with the lead role I don't know what they had not figured that out yet apparently so he said they're gonna do a cattle call they're gonna be doing these cattle calls between New York and Los Angeles and he was doing one there and then doing one here and it was on this day and I got the information and he told me where it was gonna be and he said you know I haven't had the script because you know I auditioned and I said well and he said I'll drop it off at your house so I was in following morning I he came in the middle of the night I was sleeping I lived on the first floor he put it in between my window and left it on my TV the top of my TV set and I woke up in the morning and I went and I started making my coffee or whatever and I look and there is a script on the the top of my television set and it was just a weird moment where I went I didn't know what that was and why it was there it was some kind of like Lord of the Rings moment or something really we like I really like it was surreal because where I was in my life at that time and what that script wound up meaning for the totality of my life was insurmountable I mean because essentially what ended up transpiring from reading that story to the audition to then the relationship that I had with tony kaye four or five well for many you know for multiple years working and since then just keeping in touch here and there but uh we have had a relationship that has gone for years as a result of that I just covered a lot of ground there really fast I'm loving I'm assuring this this yes in this apartment you I'm gonna keep going with that please I want to know yeah how it all went down I actually you know I had said earlier I did not have a job done I actually had a job answering phones that was like I got a job way out and like Santa Monica somewhere it where I had to get up and take the bus at five o'clock in the morning for minimum wage to answer the phone for this Farsi speaking computer company and I was the only American speaking but there were wonderful people and they were very religious and they were they were amazing people and this was a you know you have to understand being 20 24 at the time with no money absolutely broke I you know every dollar I made it the student in this silly little job was going to every amount of living expense I had so there was no spare it was just a difficult time meeting friends to help me out and whatnot so when this audition came up I thought this is unbelievable because so first so let me get back to the story the first second of reading that script my I had had a very long difficult complicated you know childhood in and out of the juvenile hall systems and all this kind of stuff my brother's name is Daniel Danny the when I opened the script and I had gone through a very similar cathartic emotional experience in my life dramatic in nature very much similar to the dramatic nature of the spiritual shift in the carrot in the story so when I read the script it was overwhelming the emotion that came over me that was not only what was going on in my life personally at the time but also the fact that my brother and I meant that a lot of stuff after I became a moved here and found the new way to live right so it was it was a powerful experience so I could not wait for the opportunity to express whatever you know these feelings were at this audition so I had no idea what the audition was going to be so I asked the Iranian computer the Iranian family that ran the company if they would allow me to leave work because I explained to them you know and I said and I talked the man he's a very religious man so you can imagine this was a like you know with a very long you know with the beard and the whole thing and I went into his office and said sir you know if I could go out do this things I'm an actor I've been trying to do this he got the woman that worked there to give me a ride he permitted me and drove me there when I get there there's a line going it's a it's a building on Wilshire Boulevard near San Vicente in that area over there where there's a pavilions right nearby and it was on the it was I believe on the third floor there's a line going out the door and everyone is getting a number and when you walk through the building you're greeted by the casting director that says okay listen this is directors you know he's a little bit you know does things a little differently he's got a camera set up up there he's gonna you're gonna when your number is called you're gonna walk in front of the camera and you're going to you're gonna do whatever you know whatever you do whatever you I guess whatever you're you know gonna show Tony or whatever so now I knew this was going to be improvisational in nature and I had already read the script so I knew one key pivotal point in the story that is that there was this scene that the lead character does to the news cameras when he discovers that his father's been killed his father was a firefighter and his father died so the media is reporting him and he has this huge emotional outburst and he's you know he's and he's right into the camera and he's pointing into the camera and I knew that was in the material so what was happening inside of the audition room was Tony was calling people up and he would say how do you feel about white power go and the actor would start talking you know I this that the other and cut next and it was going literally like a firing squad like that one and of course you can imagine sitting there aware that you're about to go up there there's the room it's full everybody's watching everybody's audition so you can understand there's a hundred people in the room and everybody's watching you get just wiped out and I said you know I was had everything nothing to lose I figure you know anyway he called me up I looked at him I saw him when he walked in the room and I thought that's about what I thought a director looked like real tall scary bald and intimidating presence very interesting this man walked into the room and I thought that's that's a director I go up and you know I came from a school and a man that taught acting that was very very very intense and he you know he pushed it to the limit and it was about risk and you put it all and sort of leave it all on the field so to speak right and the idea was that you have to commit all the way all the way no no hesitation make your choice and you go launch no fear you face whatever fears there and you spring anyway and take it all the way as far as you can within your choices so when it was my turn to be called up I thought I don't know what's about to happen here but my heart was pounding very very fast and I don't know what question he was going to ask me I had had an experience the day prior where I was sitting on the bus and a young a young a mother and her son were he was like two and a half and she was I would say abusing him hitting him and I had witnessed the whole thing and he fell and he was crying and he was in need and she wasn't really helping him and then the bus came up and I was about to say something and I didn't and I wanted to say and I had all of these feelings about that right so I plugged into that that feeling from that experience and I said I'm going to vent the anger rage whatever if if need be I'll use that in this in this audition so Tony walks up and he doesn't look at me he gets behind the camera and he he's looking at changing the film thing or something and my heart was beating and I was so nervous and I I couldn't and I'll I just looked at him and I said how you doing man and he I go and and he looks up and he goes fine or whatever and he kind of looks down and I go I cuz I was this point kind of my nerves were overwhelming me so I just said and I don't know how this just got a flew out of my mouth I just in a real intense sort of way I said do you have something that you need to ask me you got and I knew that got his sort of attention there because he looked up from the camera with a real intense look on his face and he got real excited and he goes how do you feel about white power and got all excited and then I I just well I guess I used all that and I just you know I did the audition or whatever and I just went for it and just I guess I guess it went very well because you know I mean subsequently everything that happened after that changed my life because I went on to work with him from point forward I was cast in the movie well I should tell you the whole story right the whole of the whole the whole progression of it right so I'm assuming you booked the role right there Alex no no no no what happened was he was very you know I got very intense the audition was going very well in the sense that I connected that emotion to that anger I had to that mother and the rage having my own issues with some of that stuff as a child and putting that all in that moment I just used that to talk to imagine that I was talking to the media reporter that was asking me about the dead father in the script so I took the opportunity to make Tony talking to me being a news reporter as if I'm doing now the audition here into the camera because I was talking to the camera man that my father and and I was just using that sort of to express the rage that this movement of neo-nazism or whatever is coming and were justified and all this ignorant that I was you know having to portray and that's how I did that and then when he kissed kept filming it and it didn't stop I just had to keep going I didn't even I at some point I was I was like it's a what is this going to stop as I have to keep you know generating this improvisation so it was just like I and then he just and I said he stumbled because he was holding the tripod and then you're getting you know he said no no keep going getting the light getting the light because I stopped I said you need me they said no no no get in the light get in the light and I just kept going and going and then he said great I got it and I said great I walked away and he said hey I see said thank you and that was I looked at him and I said you're welcome and I floated out of there and I did at that point I didn't care that I had gotten the part or not I I knew I did something do you understand I'm saying you think yeah no I know I knew I did something of which I could be proud and that is vitally important especially having ongoing understanding of how to be an actor in this business you have to understand the difference between obtaining the success whether you book the part and what you actually can be proud of what you did in the room are actually two different things the results will come out of for many circumstances that are way out of our hands but that one thing that you can do which is a performance to be proud of or an audition to be proud of I felt that happened and there was a pretty neat feeling did you take the bus back to work or did the people come no I took the bus back home just really floating I didn't even get on the bus right away I walked to the pavilions and I just sat down because you have to understand at this point life was beating me right I mean I I lived in this cubical tiny 300 square foot apartment I was just got a hold of that little job I was just I it was just life was very very challenging at this particular point you have all of the insecurities you know my friends had started to work which I was very happy about but subsequently you start feeling those feelings of insecurity of what you know what what's gonna happen here where does this go and yeah so it was a very cathartic it was an unbelievable moment and then you had to fill out your name card and this whole thing and I forgot to write my phone number so I left the audition and I thought well that's too bad a week went by and I I didn't hear anything and I knew something happened in there and so anyway I had left my mind my information three weeks has gone by now and I have heard nothing and now at this point I let it go but that's still that sense that I did something well still remain with me so I wasn't like disappoint or anything because I had no real expectations then I get a phone call from Thomas Jane anyway see Louie wakes me up and he and he says hey man where where what do you do wait wait what the hell are you doing what are you doing I said what are you talking about he said what do you mean what am I talking about he's they're calling – trying to find you you didn't put your phone number on the audition card you idiot he said that but they've been trying to get a hold of you the director really liked your audition and he wants to bring you in to read for further role the lead role at that time I guess they had not officially signed Edward Norton or a name actor so I guess that was still in play for a moment there so it was an unbelievable moment that phone call and then like you got to get a script there you're going in next week you're going in the directors in New York he's gonna come in you're going in to read and it was just crazy cuz I had never really auditioned for anything I mean they had to do with the movie I just at that point just done all plays so I didn't know what that meant so I got anyway I got I got to say and I just worked on a day a ninth day and night and day and night day and night day and night and when I went in I went in it was it was that same scene with the firemen that they're talking to the news reporters and it was an extremely III got there and when I went in to read I took a breath and and again I was there I was in the right right you know place emotionally and it was the audition was fantastic when well was you know I was very emotional and then then the Edward Norton subsequently signs on to the movie but they got they call now Tom's manager who's not yet my manager but who then became my manager after that audition because you know success has more fathers and failure has none right so when you start succeeding suddenly you start acquiring here that's another thing you must prepare yourself for – anyway that's a whole nother conversation but keep yourself keep yourself in line here and keep yourself and your craft close to your heart and don't weigh your value upon the light whether others approve of you must be proud of who you are and your work to survive in this business I believe in the long term anyway moving forward so you booked the role that's no so I did the audition then then they said hey Edward signed on as a movie Edward Norton signed on in this movie the I had I wasn't in SAG yet I had done nothing nothing no credits zero so this was all for me like a dream or something you understand it was like I said what meaning being in this process at this point for me was unbelievable like a dream who was coming true you know from nothing literally nothing I can't even get on a bus on time to now I'm in a studio auditioning for a role it was overwhelmingly amazing feeling and yeah so I did that and then they said they really really responded she signed me as a client so she orchestrated then the next callback which they said they're bringing you back in so actually now I had someone to talk to about acting it was really bizarre I went from nothing to now I have like a manager and like whoa this is really weird right it was really weird um so then I went then I went two weeks later I I went I to Stacy Keach is part I had auditioned they were auditioning me for that I walk in the room and this was definitively for my whole entire career will be the defining most joyous moment that I have ever experienced in my whole artistic life was that moment when I went to the final callback to do the scene that Stacy Keach does with Edward Norton in the at his house there after Edward Norton's come out of prison or whatever in the movie no so I was being such a intense young actor that acting was everything I was so prepared and so involved in that final callback because I knew that I was very very close to being having my first opportunity to be a professional actor if you will you know that this was an opportunity and it was close and I had so as an intense actor and I was so nervous that when they called my name I had on a trench coat I was dressed like the character I had my combat boots on my green skinhead trench coat you know my wife beater I was working out every single day and I couldn't handle the idea of walking in the room and talking because I knew I wasn't gonna be able to do that I wasn't gonna be able to walk in there and just start chit-chatting and then get into it I was too too there if you will so what ends up happening is I storm in the room now looking back in hindsight it was a bit theatrical but how do people know how they process it really but I I storm I walk in the room and I declare and I start taking off my trench coat and I look to the casting director and I said Who am I reading with tell me who I'm reading with come on I want you to tell me right now who I'm worried who-who am i reading with and my hand is shaking a little like that and and she immediately gets very serious it says yeah you ready with him you leave he'll be taking an audition I said okay are you ready you ready okay you guys ready and and I just took over this sort of all being driven by my terror obviously my absolute fear but no it was amazing and and then and then yeah and then they taped it I put my feet up on the on the desk and began the scene and then yeah and then it went really well and when it was over I felt like I had done what I needed to do like whatever it happened I trusted I breathed and I allowed that audition to sort of flow and I I I flip over my I flip my paper like that and I said huh that's that's that and they said great job Alex although all the people tend to be a great job great job I said great great thank you John Morrissey or the one of the two producers I forgot the other one's name how terrible of me one of those two gentlemen that produced the movie one of them said looks to me and says do you have a girlfriend I said no no I don't have a girlfriend and I was still you have to understanding with the character and just had done the audition he says well do you have any friends and I said yeah yeah I've got it got a lot of friends and my friend had actually driven me to the audition so I could focus and he said well he said why don't you go now you gotta understand the backdrop to this I had had five years of it had been very difficult so he looks he looks at me and he says well why don't you go call your friends tonight because we're putting you in this movie and if there is a moment in life where you you you feel some kind of unbelievable good fortune or a dream come true I guess would be the word considering the the amount of uphill fight it is to become an actor right to have that moment for anyone and I don't think that ever changes for any actor as long as they go I think every time you get that you got that part there is just nothing better and more gratifying than that moment and yeah it was pretty incredible

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