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‘Beetlejuice: The Musical,’ Indie Film, and Life on the Road

March 9, 2024
Notes
Transcript
This week I’m pleased to be joined by Abe Goldfarb, who is currently playing Otho for the touring company of Beetlejuice: The Musical and both starred in and co-directed First Time Caller (which I reviewed here). You may remember a few months back that Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert got kicked out of a showing of Beetlejuice: The Musical; well, Abe happened to be onstage when all that went down. After having a few laughs about that, we get into the world of indie filmmaking and his recently released project, First Time Caller. Turns out that one of the best ways to make money on a project like this is to make it and release it on an ad-supported streaming channel, yet more evidence that we’ve torn down the whole system just to reinvent cable. If you enjoyed this episode, make sure to check out First Time Caller and Beetlejuice: The Musical, on tour now. And make sure to share this with a friend!
This transcript was generated automatically and may contain errors and omissions. Ironically, the transcription service has particular problems with the word “bulwark,” so you may see it mangled as “Bullard,” “Boulart,” or even “bull word.” Enjoy!
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:06

    One of the back to the Bullwork, goes to Hollywood. My name is Sunny Von from Culture Editor at the Bulwark, and I’m very pleased to be joined today by Abe Goldfarb. Now Abeb, you’ve got a new movie out. We’re gonna talk about that in a minute here. You are also currently on tour with the Beatles Juice, the musical show.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:23

    You’re actually in Dallas. We’re doing this from a people will notice. There’s an echo in this room. We’re doing it in a different room because I I I have for the first time brought somebody to my lair to to be to to do the last game. Dap their their life discussed.
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:38

    Thanks for being on the show, Abe. Oh
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:40

    my gosh. Thank you so much for having me. Thrilled to be in Dallas, thrilled to be here with you. And, yeah, man, let’s get into
  • Speaker 1
    0:00:46

    So, alright. Let’s start at the beginning, or at least as far back as you wanna go. How did you how did you yourself in the world of musical theater, where was, what was the start for you?
  • Speaker 2
    0:00:58

    Well, I mean, gosh, I guess that summer camp at high school, it’s where it started. You know, bucks Rock summer camp. And then, the Putney school up in Vermont, which is on a farm. And I was always kind of a theater kid, but there was this derelict Barn that a bunch of us, renovated with the school’s help into being their theater. They didn’t have a theater.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:18

    They had an assembly hall. But we all just sort of went to work and, and turned this thing into a a makeshift theater, and it was amazing. Now they have an actual, like, full on arts complex. But back then, that was sort of, that was the most exciting thing. But then I went to Theater School in the UK, the Bristol Old Vic, for three years, which was an intensive program, eight forty five to seven, five days a week.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:43

    And when I came back, I just got after it. Twenty’s were a dead loss. Thirties were, thirties. I started doing my, like, commercial work, voice over and a little bit more musical theater.
  • Speaker 1
    0:01:55

    Mhmm.
  • Speaker 2
    0:01:55

    And I’ve always been doing burlesque hosting, which is so much sort of Vaudeville music hall. Style. And that I think, perhaps me in really major ways for doing, big stage musical theater, working with these giant rooms full of unruly drunks. And having to be, heard and understood and chorale them. But, yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:15

    The
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:16

    well, we’ll get to we’ll get to one of those in a bit. Folks may remember. There was some drama running a beetlejuice musical performance. So, alright. So you, you do all this.
  • Speaker 1
    0:02:26

    And then, you are, you’re on the you’re in the ensemble.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:31

    For, and the and the winter garden when we opened in twenty nineteen. And then, I was understudying every single male role Beetle juice Charlie Sykes Maxianotho. And then, you know, the show shut down at the top of the pandemic. It came back to the Marriott Marquis and, that production, they slammed the ensemble down, so my part didn’t exist. But then not long after that, they were like, well, we’re doing a tour.
  • Speaker 2
    0:02:57

    And they had me in to see me for oathos. And I’ve got this lovely featured role, that I get to goof around in every single night.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:03

    And folks will remember, folks who have seen the movie will remember so as the kind of, how would you describe him? The,
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:10

    It’s quite different in the film than he is in the show. Okay. In the film, he’s dealing as interior designer.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:15

    Mhmm. And
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:15

    he’s played by the great Glen Shadex. Mhmm. An amazing character actor, gone far too soon. Also out out and proud a long time before that was really the norm. But a regular in Tim Burton’s work.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:30

    Great portrait photographer as well. If you ever wanna look up his photos, he took a bunch of amazing pictures on the set of bead juice. Mhmm. Catherine O’Hara Boelch. All these these great people, beautiful Bulwark and white shawls.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:43

    But in the film, he’s this kind of snippy droll deadpan interior designer. And in the show, which is very vastly rewritten from the film. He’s delia’s sort of new age guru.
  • Speaker 1
    0:03:55

    Okay.
  • Speaker 2
    0:03:55

    And in effect, a bit of a cult leader. And, and a bit more of a flamboyant character. It’s kind of good that we’re not doing same thing as the film. The film is canonical. It’s an acknowledged classic.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:09

    You’re never gonna do that better. So I think when you’re adapting, it’s important to be like, the original is always gonna be there. Let that be that. Yeah. Let’s actually do some rethinking and thing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:19

    Alright. Well, what stuff they didn’t do? Yeah. In the original that we could take this core concept and, and kind of boost it and do some off center stuff. And I think they’ve done it really, really the show.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:29

    Well, run run folks through
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:31

    it then.
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:31

    So I’ll be on I have not seen it. I’ve not seen it. I’ve not been able to make it. But you’ve
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:35

    seen the film, but
  • Speaker 1
    0:04:35

    I’ve seen the film. Sure. So I know I know the movie. I know So what would what what are some of the differences? What are which folks be expecting if they they come?
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:43

    Well, in the film, you get fifteen minutes of Beatlesju. He’s he’s very much a kind of, he’s seasoning in the film. You know, he he gooses it. In the show, he’s front and center. He’s your narrator.
  • Speaker 2
    0:04:53

    He’s basically breaking the fourth wall, talking with the audience, ragging on audience members, you know, commenting on the action, very much a bugs bunny kind of character. But the central thrust of it in the musical is that at the beginning, Lydia, the teenage girl, her mother has just died. And it opens at the funeral of Emily deeds. And beetlejuice then sort of arrives disrupts the funeral and he’s he has his, like, Disney I want moment of, like, I just wanna be seen. And Lydia is the same wife.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:24

    She feels invisible. Her father is trying to carry on with his life. He’s into this new woman, Delia, who’s an employee and secretly his lover. And the Maitlands are this happy family that live in this house. They die in a horrifying little accident, which is very different on stage.
  • Speaker 2
    0:05:42

    And it’s all about essentially Lydia being caught between these three groups, you know, like, Lydia’s dad, who she feels is uncared and distant. The Maitlands who are well meaning and milk toast and can’t really do the ghoulish things she wants them to do in beetlejuice. Who is a dangerous, chaotic agent and very much her opposite number. And the show becomes a better bit of a frenemy chip between the two of them.
  • Speaker 1
    0:06:09

    Yeah. That’s interesting. So the, so I the let me ask, do do you ever get audience members who are annoyed that it is different from the they they showed up expecting. I want the I want the beat for beat retelling of the beetlejuice myth and all this deviation. First of all,
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:27

    get outside, touch grass, grow up. But, we we have had very few very few people like that. I had a friend whose dad came and saw the show who was like, he was really pissed because he loves the movie. Well, I love the movie too, and I’ve seen it. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:06:43

    You know, for the most part, the fans of this show and the audience for it are younger people whose relationship with beetlejuice has been formed by this show A lot of them came to the movie after the musical. I haven’t even seen the film. You know, so we have people coming in cosplay from the show.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:00

    Yeah. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:01

    Rather than the film. Older audience members tend to come dressed up a little bit closer to the film. Yeah. Yeah. But no, for the most part people are really, really thrilled about what it is rather than what it isn’t, which I think is very encouraging, especially for the future of of musicals that are being adapted from films.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:17

    It’s never gonna stop happening. But let’s not do the thing where we just give you the stuff you like and throw some songs in.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:25

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:07:25

    Let’s actually have a creative interpretation of the material. And Scott, Scott, Scott, Scott Brown, and Anthony King, our book writers, and Eddie Perfect, our or composer and lyricist have done a beautiful job. They capture the vibe, but it’s not a direct an immediate retelling of the film.
  • Speaker 1
    0:07:44

    Yeah. That’s great. The the I I’m curious, to get your take on Broadway before and after the pandemic, because I do feel like there’s been, you know, there’s been a lot of talk about the recovery and getting people back and, you know, what has, what has changed, what hasn’t, you know, as as somebody who was there before, during and after, what what’s the, what’s the vibe like right now? Well, I mean, it it’s sort
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:09

    of a steroidal version of the question about cinemas, isn’t it?
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:13

    Mhmm. You
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:13

    know? Because as much as keeping movie theaters open was tough and bringing people back was tough. It’s much harder when your average seat costs like, you know, a hundred bucks.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:25

    Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:26

    It’s a luxury item. And one thing that the pandemic did was essentially be like, yeah, don’t worry about the luxury items. Like, leave that. Leave that. Broadway, I think, is still adapting.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:39

    And still finding a way to bring people back. You know, it was already a nightmare putting a show up on Broadway. You don’t do it if you wanna make money.
  • Speaker 1
    0:08:46

    Right. Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:08:47

    You know, you do it, either for prestige or, you know, you’re a prospector. You’re like, maybe there’s gold there, you know. But it’s very much a business of patronage. And I don’t know, man. I think what’s changed is people are definitely a little bit less likely to buy a ticket.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:05

    You have to do a lot more leg Bulwark to bring people back.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:08

    Mhmm.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:08

    You know, to get them into that theater. And there’s plenty of shows that were sure things that just didn’t do the business. And the stuff that is doing the business, very surprising. The show post pandemic that has been the biggest, to my mind’s success story. Was Kimberly Akimbo, which is an intimate small scale, very human scale musical.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:28

    Based on a play from, like, twenty years ago by day Lindsey a bear. It’s a gorgeous show, but it’s nobody’s idea of a spectacle. It’s not based on an IP that people are very familiar with. Yeah. So again, I mean, maybe it’s just plus Sashan, you know, plus SelMM shows, you know, now more than ever, nobody knows what’s gonna work.
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:46

    But nobody knows what’s gonna work before.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:48

    Yeah. Yeah. Well, that’s the
  • Speaker 2
    0:09:49

    Nobody knows anything.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:50

    Exactly. Exactly. You know, what, as you say, what what is true for Hollywood is almost doubly true for for Broadway. And that’s that’s it. Alright.
  • Speaker 1
    0:09:58

    So now you guys are on tour. What is what is tour life like for a big Broadway production. You know, I I wanna know what you what is your, weekly schedule? Like, your biweekly schedule. You know, you roll into town, you get all set up at the hotel.
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:15

    Yeah. You know, how does that how does that work?
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:18

    Well, usually we’re in for one week.
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:20

    Okay.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:20

    So we don’t really get a day off.
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:22

    Mhmm.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:23

    Monday is a travel day. And we roll in and we’re just exhausted. Tuesday, you know, you go in for mic checks and just, you know, they have to load everything into the theater and Tuesday night yours up. And the rest of the week, you know, I mean, we’re doing eight shows. We did nine shows this week in Dallas.
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:41

    Because we threw in an eleven am student matinee, and they were fucking raucous. But, but, yeah, it’s, Audly enough, the only thing that doesn’t change is the show.
  • Speaker 1
    0:10:55

    You know
  • Speaker 2
    0:10:55

    what I mean? You’re in there, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday night, Saturday afternoon, Saturday night, Sunday afternoon, Sunday night, The rest of it, you know, there are people who like, they go antiquing, they go to museums, they go and see the sites, you know, and and I a lot of walking around. You know, I I I like to scope things out, check out drinking the local culture, but I mean, also a lot of my time is spent writing. And, going to the movies. That’s kind of my church is the movie theater.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:21

    That’s the closest I’ve got to a place of worship. It’s just at least once a week. I don’t wanna lose my mind, I’ve gotta go to the movies. Yeah. And we I’ve got an Alamo draft house, season pass.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:31

    Good.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:32

    So in Texas, I’ve gotten to really, really give that a solid workout.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:35

    You definitely there’s there’s plenty of places. If I know I I think I know basically where you guys are staying and you are you’re kind of equidistant from two different ones. There’s actually one right up here, Lake Highlands. Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:46

    We’re right by the cedars. We’re like
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:48

    two miles.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:48

    Three miles from the cedars. Yep.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:50

    Yeah. That’s a nice one.
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:51

    Is very, very nice.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:52

    I like cedars. Yeah. But the
  • Speaker 2
    0:11:54

    They changed their projector bulbs. It’s amazing.
  • Speaker 1
    0:11:56

    Oh, that’s it’s it’s I went to so I went to I won’t name the chain, but I went to see driveway dolls, last week. And it was it was like I I was sitting I I made a foolish choice. I sat all the way in the back despite the fact that it’s, was a mostly empty theater. She was sat closer up. But it was it was like it was like watching it through a through a cloud.
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:20

    Which is insane because it’s a colorful pop movie. You know, it’s got visuals that really, really just Yeah. And the idea of, like, seeing that through a film of what I like, you know, mosquito netting. It’s just yeah. And that’s a movie that to, like, such a big part of why I enjoyed it was seeing it on a screen where, like, the color is just leapt out.
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:41

    It’s almost, you know, psychedelic three-dimensional.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:44

    Yeah. Yeah. That’s a
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:44

    damn shame.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:45

    It was. It was too bad. I’m excited to check it out again whenever it, hits hit home video.
  • Speaker 2
    0:12:50

    It’s certainly the most pussy eating I’ve seen in a wide release movie ever.
  • Speaker 1
    0:12:53

    I would say it’s it’s for you you the Cohen Brothers aren’t exactly stayed. They’re not exactly but but they’re but it’s never been quite like this. I mean, even there’s more there’s more sex in this than even in, the big Labowski will certainly partly about the porn business.
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:10

    Well, this is, you know, Ethan Cohen, it’s it’s his solo venture with his his wife, Tricia Cook, and it’s very much on her experiences in queer bars, like in the late nineties, early two thousands. There’s a reason it’s set Yeah. In the year that it is. But I found it so interesting to watch Joel Cohen’s McBeth and Ethan Cohen’s driveway dolls and just be like, the division of labor could not be clearer. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:34

    You definitely see it’s it’s suddenly you’ve got like, okay. Well, we
  • Speaker 2
    0:13:36

    know who’s composing these immaculate frames and we know who’s writing this deranged curly cute kind of dialogue.
  • Speaker 1
    0:13:43

    It’s it’s very funny to watch both of those, you know, movies separately and then go back and watch something like no country for Old man or Fargo or, you know, the big Lavowski or just like, there’s like, oh, yeah. I can see. You you just start doing this weird cultural anthropology, and you don’t wanna put too much stock in it because But
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:02

    their skill sets are on very stark display Yes. In these different films. And if you wanna play that game, yes, you can absolutely. I haven’t seen Ethan Cohen’s documentary about Jerry Lewis, though, and I’m
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:12

    very curious.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:13

    It’s all archival footage. I hear it’s wonderful.
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:16

    Alright. So, you go to the theaters. That’s great. Yeah. So when you’re when you’re rolling into, a new a new Stage, just what is the actual, like, physical production like?
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:28

    I mean, is it, is it just the same everywhere? Because stages are stages or
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:32

    Yeah. Essentially.
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:33

    Yep.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:33

    I mean, weirdly enough. The big thing that changes is what’s the floor made of. That affects, the movement entirely So, well, depending on the sort of, like, the constitution of the floor, what’s coding it, you know, like, it’s it’s level of hardness or yield. You’ve got people doing crazy dancing all over that stage. And so it really does matter what’s underfoot.
  • Speaker 1
    0:14:54

    Mhmm.
  • Speaker 2
    0:14:55

    You know, that that’s the big chaotic factor. Know, other than that, there’s obviously like local crews and what, you know, their workflow. But for the most part, the show is, it’s pretty modular. You kinda just put it in wherever. It’s always the same width.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:08

    It’s always the same height. Yeah. You know, and so far it’s fit really beautifully into all these theaters.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:13

    Yeah. No. That’s fun. Alright. So, where you’re in Dallas right now, but by the time this goes up, you guys are gonna be out of Dallas.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:20

    So where where where are you We’re
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:22

    doing anti promotion. Where where
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:25

    if you live in Dallas, you’re screwed. But, mostly, this is a this is a national show. So, where where are you guys at? Next?
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:31

    After this, we’re going to Houston. And then Nashville, Tennessee. And, that’s the next two weeks of the tour.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:37

    And then I think Atlanta.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:38

    Atlanta. Yes. That’s correct. George, it’s gonna be an incredible, incredible ride, I think.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:43

    Fun fun swing through, the big, the big southern states.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:46

    And for cities. For Brooklyn hipster. I mean, this is all very illuminating. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:50

    Have you ever have you been to down down here before?
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:54

    I have. Well, you know, the first time I rolled through was over twenty years ago.
  • Speaker 1
    0:15:59

    Mhmm.
  • Speaker 2
    0:15:59

    I was in a really terrible musical of the little prince and it was partially in French. And I didn’t speak any, so they gave me the most ridiculously. I had one line French. I played the aviator, sort of the narrator of the show. And, the only line I had to say in French was, oh, yes, the biolbabs.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:18

    And, it was a terrible, terrible show, filled with misadventure, very cheaply mounted. And, so much drinking. And so my memories of the southlands are actually fairly fuzzy.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:32

    Yeah. That’s fair.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:33

    Yeah. But, no, but this is this is the first time I suppose it’s like a it’s a grown ass adult that I’ve gotten to come through and really soak it up and enjoy it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:42

    It’s, it’s fun. There’s there’s plenty of places to eat
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:44

    there’s so much music. There’s so much food. It’s gorgeous and so much local art. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:49

    You know? Dallas has some great museums.
  • Speaker 2
    0:16:50

    I mean, yes, it does.
  • Speaker 1
    0:16:51

    Like Dallas and Fort Worth both. If you’re, you’re not, you’re not going out to Fort Worth. There’s no reason to go out to Fort Worth, but if you if you did, they have good museums as well. Alright. So, one thing we have to discuss, this was this became news.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:06

    This was, this was, you know, a huge, a big story. So I’m I’m sitting there just looking at Twitter one day and I see that Lauren, Bobert, the Congresswoman from Colorado. Has been has been kicked out of a musical. And I’m like, got kicked out of a musical. Who gets kicked out of a musical?
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:26

    Then we saw why. And then I was like, oh, wait, I know some I know one person in one musical in this country, and it’s this one. How did that how did that happen? Alright. So, So tell it, give the give us the background here.
  • Speaker 1
    0:17:39

    What happened?
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:39

    Okay. So the first we heard about it was after the show. We we had no idea it was happening during the show. Mhmm. Because, you know, I mean, the crowds are anywhere from two thousand to three thousand five hundred people.
  • Speaker 2
    0:17:49

    It’s you don’t see them, you know, and you can barely hear Yep. Unless they’re laughing in unison or clapping. So we had a party celebrating our five hundred show then. I mean, we all go to this bowling alley. And the merch people come in.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:03

    We got these amazing people who travel with us selling the merch. And if you really want the shit, like the straight dope, you talk to people who work March or front of house, they know everything. And so they they they come in just smiling uncontrollably. I’m like, hey, what’s up with you guys? And they’re like, not gonna believe this.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:21

    I was like, wait, what? And I was like, you know, alarm over it. And I was like, yeah. For regrettably, I do. I’m like, yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:28

    She she goes a huge servants and got kicked out. And they were like, they said, you know, well, she was, she was brought out in the lobby. She was fuming at the management. At the front of house. And she had, boyfriend there.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:40

    He looked really tired. And she gets escorted out. She’s saying that she’s gonna call the police about this horrible situation. This terrible, unjust mistreatment. And as the doors close on her, she says, You can’t do this to me.
  • Speaker 2
    0:18:59

    I’m a United States Congress person. So it’s the ultimate. Do you know who I am? The genius thing is the details start coming in at what she actually did. Which is to say she was getting handsy with her boyfriend in, in the seat.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:16

    She was vaping. Right next to a pregnant woman who asked her to stop, and she then yelled at this pregnant woman. She was singing along to the tunes, which, you know, if you’re at a concert, sure, but if you’re at a musical, by and large, you wanna hear the people on stage doing it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:31

    Right. Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:32

    And she was she was asked to leave. She and she got escorted out and she livid about it. And the genius thing is she denied every slow drip of information about what she had done, what she did not perhaps realize is that the theater, that we were playing in was federal building. Which means every bit of video from those cameras is subject to a freedom of information request.
  • Speaker 1
    0:19:56

    So every time
  • Speaker 2
    0:19:56

    she said, well, that’s not true. Someone, like, click, click, click, click, click, they put in an application. They got the video. And they’re like, you did though. It’s right here.
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:07

    And somehow, our show was National News for a week. It was deranged. And I’ll tell you, I mean, it didn’t hurt the sales.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:17

    I imagine. But we did get
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:18

    our our, our producers were like, it’s okay to link to the story. Do not do any commentary on it, please. I think a big part of that was a lot of her supporters are very vitriolic and have a lot of guns.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:31

    Well, you know what I mean? Look, and and you don’t wanna to turn into a political football, nobody wants that. No. Because in here’s and this is I I wanna I wanna make a very explicit point here. This is not This isn’t out of partisan issue.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:44

    No. This is not this is a behavioral issue. That’s right. You you a few are
  • Speaker 2
    0:20:48

    This is how you were raised. God damn it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:49

    This is a this is a thing I very believe. And it’s we discussed the Alamo draft house. That’s why I like going to the draft house because they have very strict rules. Yes. That’s right.
  • Speaker 1
    0:20:57

    The theater. And if you are just out there causing causing a rock you’re messing it up for everybody. Get out. Get out.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:05

    No. Listen. If acting like a total Jagoff is not a partisan issue. I will say that happily. Oh.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:13

    But yeah. No. I it’s weird. Theater is one of those sort of bastions where you’re like, well, people understand that there are coats of conduct. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:21

    Apparently not. I think she was under the misapprehension that this was like a concert. Or she was insanely shwasted.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:29

    It’s, I mean, you know, vaping in public. Can’t be. That’s never.
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:33

    And in a closed space, don’t
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:34

    get dicked. Yeah. I I’ve I the thing I was the the little tidbit, I was most surprised. Well, one of the tidbits I was most surprised by. A lot of bit.
  • Speaker 1
    0:21:45

    Was the, was the, singing along? Yes. Which suggests to me that she is a big fan. That’s the insane thing. Is it showing up here and singing along and, you know,
  • Speaker 2
    0:21:55

    clearly she knew the song. She’s got the album. Like, that’s wild to me. That Lauren Bovert, this show I mean, if listen. Obviously, we’re not talking about the political football aspect of just, you know, who did this, what part they were from.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:08

    But this somebody who is, in a lot of her public speaking, pretty anti queer, this shows gay as hell. Mhmm. There is so much dude on dude making out in this show and innuendo and and so much sort of filth and vulgarity. And it’s like, you’re one of those people who’s like, our children need to be detected from this kind of shit, and you’re in a theater, you know, massaging a guy’s junk in front of a pregnant like, I’m sorry, dude. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:37

    You know, come on. I’m not I’m not asking you to be the world’s greatest Samaritan, but I’m saying maybe exhibit a trifle of distancing. It’s just it’s very funny. The whole thing the whole thing was very funny.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:48

    And again, it was like, wait, I know I know exactly. One musical theater person.
  • Speaker 2
    0:22:52

    And it happens to be me.
  • Speaker 1
    0:22:54

    And this play, so I’m I’m glad we could dish you on the show when you’re here. And Dallas. No. That’s so it’s so And
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:01

    I assure you we’re in a Democrat behaving like this. I would be similarly a use.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:06

    I would hope so. I would say because it’s just it’s just bad behavior. That’s that’s, you know, we have norms for a reason that they transcend partisan boundaries.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:15

    Like, grow up. It’s not heartbreak point. You’re not out there.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:17

    This is one thing I very firmly believe. Alright. So let’s let’s shift from musical theater Sure. To the world of independent cinema. Yes.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:26

    First time caller. I wrote about it in my newsletter.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:28

    Thank you for that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:30

    You know, and I wanna I wanna talk about I wanna talk about the making, the genesis, and all that. And also again, shooting during the pandemic, Sure. Which is, which is a hold, a whole another kettle of fish and everything else. But how did you get involved with? First time caller.
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:46

    Hey. Tell tell tell people what first time caller is.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:48

    Okay. If they haven’t if
  • Speaker 1
    0:23:49

    they haven’t read my newsletter or seen seen the movie.
  • Speaker 2
    0:23:51

    First time caller and its simplest pitch is a science fiction disaster movie set entirely in an asshole’s basement. It is about a sort of an internet radio host who’s kind of an alpha dog, you know, pickup artist, provocateur, you know, libertarian Both sides are ready. It’s only I know what’s right kind of guy. And he receives a call from someone who makes a terrifying prediction. And this prediction start coming true.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:24

    And the film is about ninety five percent real time of just this guy in his home studio on the phone with someone who is delivering terrifying news. The Genesis came at the beginning of the pandemic. It was, I think May of twenty twenty, and I got a friend, Mac Rogers, brilliant writer. He wrote my first, directorial feature, the Harrah Gallery K. Which was so commercial.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:50

    It was a black and white lesbian romantic horror fantasy.
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:53

    Sure.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:53

    You know, it
  • Speaker 1
    0:24:54

    was big bucks. It was right at the top of box office motor.
  • Speaker 2
    0:24:57

    Exactly. What for that? We made dozens dozens. But, yeah, now this is by comparison, a Michael Bay picture. But I had an anxiety dream.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:11

    Yeah, in May. I was having tons of them at the time, and it was about a guy who was alone in a house doing his sort of live stream, receiving a call from someone made a terrible prediction. And I I immediately texted Mac, who’s an audio a supremo. He’s like one of the guys. Like, he just wrote the witness mini series for paramount.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:30

    Mhmm. Brilliant writer. And I said, this feels to me like a great idea for a war of the worlds style audio drama. And he was like, yes, absolutely. He bashed out an hour long, like two episode thing for his company, Gidi and Media.
  • Speaker 2
    0:25:46

    And We recorded it later that year, me and my friend Brian Solomon played the two roles. And I was immediately seized with this thought of like, well, I mean, god, what would it mean to make this be cinematic? Guy in a room. You know, how do you make this compelling? And I want and that for me was a challenge that that excited me.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:05

    And my friend Patrick Terry, who is a, a great producer and a magician. He runs a, and a magician. He runs a company called Cinedata. With JD Brent, who’s the co director of the film, and they were looking for fiction stuff to to make. They usually make documentaries.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:21

    And I said, well, have I got a pitch for you? Disaster movie in a guy’s basement. JD pitched it much cleaner than that, which is to say a Du Plass Brothers movie wrapped in a roland emory picture, which I think is very smart. But Patrick was so thrilled, and this was September of twenty twenty one I think when we talked. And by January of twenty twenty two, we were shooting.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:45

    And this was at the height of Omaha. You know, Broadway shows were shutting down.
  • Speaker 1
    0:26:53

    Mhmm.
  • Speaker 2
    0:26:53

    And so the amount of people we had on set was very, very small. It was me, my co director, JD, our cinematographer, Kevin Chu, our producer, Patrick, and James Colby, who was just the guy who did everything. He built us an entire fake internet that we could use for the film. He built us an audio interface so that we didn’t have to composite in. Any screens because you can always tell when you’re watching a movie and you’re like, they pasted that screen at.
  • Speaker 1
    0:27:18

    Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:18

    And they wanted me to have something to react to. Screen. Like, I need a scene partner. In this case, it’s sort of the waveform in the EQ of this other voice or like, you know, the the gauge that shows how many people are listening and the the rolling scroll of phone numbers of people calling in. It was a it was an amazing aid, to actually act in the thing.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:37

    But, yeah, it was five of us. Shooting and essentially quarantining together for about eight days. This place called the Mountain House up in Beacon, New York in the middle of in the middle of winter. You know, we had lighting equipment outside that had icicles on it. It was really, really fun.
  • Speaker 2
    0:27:53

    And, yeah, I mean, the only thing that we shot that wasn’t really in the house was like a small exterior in the forest by there. We had some drone footage, that we incorporated and some stock footage And we shot a little bit of my mother, Priscilla Goldfarb who appears in some snippets and flashbacks that has my as the main character’s mother. Mhmm. She now has an IMDB page. She’s thrilled about She said, should I get an agent?
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:16

    I said, well, not know. She’s very good. And she got to see it on a big screen. That’s one thing I really And as they showed at the Bowery film festival in New York, and she got to go to the, the, the regal Essex Delancy and see it on a big screen with big sound. And that, that for me, was that was the prize.
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:33

    My mom getting to see her. That’s,
  • Speaker 1
    0:28:35

    the wrong big screen. Well, that’s great. I so, I mean, getting this movie out there is look, getting any indie picture out there is, is a enormous challenge. So walk us through the process of that. Like, where we so you you’re you’re at the Bowery phone festival.
  • Speaker 1
    0:28:50

    Bulwark there others you applied to? You know, like Oh, yeah. Like, what was how did that whole process go?
  • Speaker 2
    0:28:55

    Trouble is we’ve we’ve democratized the means to create a film. We have narrowed the means to distribute it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:01

    Mhmm.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:01

    I think. That’s of where we’ve gone. You know, the algorithm varies everything. But we, we started out our festival journey at the end of twenty twenty two. We had a cut of the film.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:13

    It wasn’t fully color corrected or or fully properly mixed, but it got to the Seattle film festival, and we took three awards. We took director, actor, and, the grand jury prize. And then we we got kind of emboldened by that. We’re like, oh, great. Let’s apply to some more stuff.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:31

    Here’s the Vancouver Independent Film Festival. There was the, Brookland science fiction fantasy film festival, Bowery film festival. There were a couple of others. We were winning awards. And we thought maybe there’s a future for this picture.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:45

    And in the summer of twenty twenty two, Alex Snowway of the blood sweat and honey took an interest in being our sales agent. And I was expecting maybe two offers to distribute this thing.
  • Speaker 1
    0:29:56

    Mhmm.
  • Speaker 2
    0:29:56

    But we were feeling about a dozen. And that was incredibly gratifying. And we went with a distributor called Buffalo Eight. Okay. And they’re they’re really great people, and they’ve done a lot in terms of,
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:08

    you
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:08

    know, scheduling it properly, getting it out there in the right channels, quality proofing it. You know, thanks to them. You know, we have we have closed captions on the thing. And they’re really, you know, we, we all sort of proved them and worked on them. And, you know, their their QC is is pretty tight.
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:25

    So, yeah, it’s it’s it was actually a remarkably straight line. For this thing. And now the trick is just getting eyes on it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:32

    Right. You
  • Speaker 2
    0:30:32

    know, and that’s tough. And and I will say like what you wrote, in that article. It was incredibly generous and kind and and helped us maybe get seen by a lot of people who wouldn’t otherwise watch a film like this.
  • Speaker 1
    0:30:45

    So this is this is, another another kind of question and difficulty, right, is how do you get how do you get things out there to be seen by people? I mean, it it’s one thing to make it It’s another thing to sell it to a distributor. It’s another thing to get it on Amazon, you know, and iTunes wherever else, you know, and wherever wherever it is. But then, you know, people people there’s an infinite amount of stuff out there. The scroll goes forever.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:12

    It’s too much. How do you how
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:14

    do you get folks to actually down and watch it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:16

    I mean, beg plead, just like get out there and like see, how many influential surrogates you have talking about the thing and, you know, You just keep talking about it. And you hope that you can make a dent. Listen, we’re not doing crazy numbers. You know, I’ve seen sort of the first month figures and people are watching it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:36

    Mhmm.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:37

    You know, we got a long way to go before breakeven.
  • Speaker 1
    0:31:40

    Sure.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:40

    Of course. Sure. Sure. But we have a very good deal with Buffalo eight in terms of, you know, the, the revenue split. So the hope is that this is a, this is a grower.
  • Speaker 2
    0:31:49

    You know, a big thing that I learned in speaking with Buffalo eight about distribution tactics is you’ve got you’ve got these three these three tiers, right? You’ve got, Piva and Tiva and Mavod. Premium video on demand, transactional video on demand, advertised video on demand. Now premium video on demand is stuff like Hulu Netflix, you know, you’re, you’ve essentially been sold to it, to a service. And that’s a lot of money up front.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:16

    And they’re not doing those deals anymore because it’s almost impossible to turn a profit with a streaming company as as sorry.
  • Speaker 1
    0:32:24

    Are you saying are you saying the distributors aren’t doing those deals anymore?
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:27

    Oh, no. The streamers aren’t doing the deal. Yeah. They’re they’re doing pickups for, you know, they’ll do a twenty million dollar pickup for a prestige picture. Sure.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:35

    You know, with with a name cast at a festival. What they’re not doing anymore is shelling out for no name stuff. I mean, you know, as much as I would love to pretend that I’m a grand celebrity. You know, Abe Goldfarb is not a brand name. Sure.
  • Speaker 2
    0:32:47

    Sure. But So PVod was sort of never really on the table, I think. You know, we we certainly were thinking like, well, maybe shutter. You know, maybe that would be fun. But I think everyone’s tightening their belts.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:00

    Yep.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:01

    So then you have like, okay, well, T. Vod, we’ve got it on prime for rent or sale. We’ve got it on of Voodoo. We’ve got it on Comcast, Cox, Vubiquity, I think, are the services. But then eventually, we’re gonna make our way to Avod.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:15

    And Avod is stuff like freebie Pluto, you know. And increasingly, that’s how people are watching.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:20

    Right. Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:22

    There are independent filmmakers who were like, I’ll tell you something. You’re never gonna hit break even on TVOD. On Avod, that’s where the money is. Because it’s like going into a video store. It’s a lot less like This kind of, algorithmically generated, you should watch this
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:37

    Mhmm.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:37

    That you see on a Netflix or a Hulu on On Avod, by and large, it’s just a random motley assortment of stuff. People will be like, sure. Click. And, you know, they’ve got ads in them. They’re not necessarily ideally placed because they’re not built for ad breaks.
  • Speaker 1
    0:33:52

    Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:33:54

    But The funniest thing in the world to me is that the most immediately remunerative distribution channel is the one where they’ve rediscovered network television.
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:03

    Right. For cable or it’s T and T, you know, late night T and T or whatever.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:07

    Exactly. And there’s money there. Yep. And I know people who made films that I’ve never heard of who were like, yeah, we did we did numbers on there. And I think that’s really extraordinary.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:19

    And I think it speaks to the evolving attitude people have towards the streamers, which is to say, I do not actually care about the mode of conveyance here. And whatever you’re doing to sort of monkey around with the the user interface or, you know, how how sort of catered this is to my theoretical interest, It doesn’t matter. I want to go into a video store, AKA, one of these AVOD sites, find something I’ve never heard of, and then watch
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:48

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:34:48

    And that’s really exciting to me because that means tastes are once again diversifying because it’s been a while since we had a mono culture. Right? What’s the last monoculture event for you?
  • Speaker 1
    0:34:59

    Oh, I I mean, new eve. You could, make the argument that super bowl every year. Sure. It’s the monoculture. Right?
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:08

    That’s like that is like the big Right. Big thing. But that’s a that’s a thing. Right? Right.
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:13

    In terms of movies, I don’t know, like the Spider man? Probably way home? Probably is the last big probably? Art Barberheimer. Robinheimer.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:21

    But even then, what a fluke that was? Like, that’s deranged. Yeah. That the big double feature of the summer was the very smart sort of, feminist doll picture and the r rated, you know, let’s talk for three hours. We’ll be about a nuclear three hour pilot.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:39

    Yeah. It’s such they’re both great. I watched Oppenheimer again recently and I was just blown away by the fact that it feels about ten minutes long. Yeah. But yeah, I think like even that, it was a fluke.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:52

    It came out of nowhere. Whereas in the past, Let’s say the Harry Potter pictures.
  • Speaker 1
    0:35:56

    Mhmm.
  • Speaker 2
    0:35:56

    Star Wars for a good long time. Lord of the Rings was a monoculture event. Everybody went to see those. But now everything is so atomized. Now everything is catered to the specific interests of Well, you watched this.
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:08

    Let’s narrow this down even more into a niche. And it’s quite culturally isolating. And there was nothing more wonderful when I was a kid than going into a video store and seeing what seeing what they had looking at the covers and being like, that looks cool.
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:21

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:22

    And sometimes you’d sometimes you’d end up on a dog, but like, you know, by and large, it was a great experience. Discovering.
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:28

    And the other and, you know, look, this is so I’ve heard the exact same thing about, AvOD streaming, the advertising based streamers are, a, doing an enormous it’s really like the dark matter of the streaming universe. Like, people don’t really pay attention to, like, oh, what what’s John Tuoby, you know. Sure. But it’s like that is that’s what’s doing tons
  • Speaker 2
    0:36:47

    of numbers. It’s a huge sector.
  • Speaker 1
    0:36:48

    It’s huge. Huge. And and the because there is advertising within the thing itself because you can, like, track, like, okay, this person, you know, a thousand people have watched this show. They’ve all seen ten advertisements, you know, there’s a here’s here’s a check for whatever. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:04

    You can’t fuck with the money when it’s advertising based. Like the metric is right there. I mean, the the economics of most of these streaming services are gonna be cloudy and mysterious, you know, till the end of fucking time. But Avod, it’s like, yeah, they watched, they watched this much Right. Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:20

    And this many ads. And as a result, here’s the know.
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:24

    Yeah. I mean, it’s a little bit like YouTube in that way where YouTube has Mhmm. It’s like the you get so many views, so many ads on them. That’s right. Whatever.
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:31

    Like, that’s that’s what it is. And it is it is interesting because I’m, like, look, I’m, I am a rabid anti advertising person in the sense that I pay for the higher tier on just about everything. Yeah. Because I was, like, I don’t want, I don’t want,
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:45

    I don’t I don’t like ads. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:46

    I don’t
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:47

    like ads. Nobody likes ads.
  • Speaker 1
    0:37:48

    But but is like that is as you say, we are rediscovering that this is actually how oh, yeah. That’s right. There’s a reason they did this for a hundred years. Isn’t that thing though. Before streaming.
  • Speaker 2
    0:37:59

    Isn’t that amazing? The fact that, like, everything we’re getting back to now, like the the endpoint of all of these, like, big technological innovations is we didn’t really need that. The, you know, you’re like you were polishing doorknobs, you know, titanic or whatever. Like, what people want ultimately boils down to the stuff that always works. You know, we’re always talking about the death of movie theaters or whatever.
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:24

    Well, guess what? Anyone but you, twenty five million dollar Comcom with two people who’ve never opened a movie on their own and are now, I think officially stars. I think Glen Powell and Sydney Sweeny? That is, I Listen, whatever you think of the picture. Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:41

    That’s huge. It’s made over two hundred million dollars world wide. Yep. And it’s been playing since Christmas. And people are eager to see movies.
  • Speaker 2
    0:38:52

    Yep. They don’t need to be spectacle. They don’t need to be appointment viewing. Sometimes it can just be here’s a durable genre with attractive in it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:00

    Right. Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:01

    And we’ll pay the twenty dollars for a ticket.
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:03

    Yeah. No. It is. It’s it’s it is Well, you know, it’s it’s wild. However, everybody has to relearn the same lessons over and over again.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:12

    The question is, when do we loop back on physical media? Because, you know, I think Matt Damon was on hot ones, and he made this very good point about it. I don’t know if you’ve seen
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:18

    the clips. Yeah. Where he’s
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:20

    just like you had two opening weekends. You had theatrical and then you had DVD. Streaming wipe that out, basically. Well, I guess my question is at what point especially now that with licensing vagaries, stuff that you buy could just be taken away.
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:34

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:39:35

    At what point do we see a resurgence there and just Listen, I’m not a reject modernity, embrace tradition kind of guy, but, well, I’m I’m But those models were sustainable.
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:45

    Yeah. Well, look, I’m I’m told with you on that. I do think that the the customers have decided, like, here’s what you you know what we want? We want something like to be where we can go and we watch something. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:54

    We don’t. We watch a little bit of it. It’s free. There are the ads. Yeah.
  • Speaker 1
    0:39:57

    Whatever. And I, I do think there is a there is a market for physical media, but it does feel it is evolving much more into a collector’s medium. It is. Basically, like, basically what vinyl was.
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:11

    Yeah. Like how Chino Lorber is putting out, you know, on four k shit you’ve well, we’ve heard of, but no one else has.
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:17

    Right. Right. You know, like, vinegar syndrome with vinegar syndrome, you know, severin, you know, I, like, It’s funny. I have I have basically taken them to limiting myself to, like, I can buy, like, four or five of these collector sets a year, and that’s That’s we gotta wait for everything else to come down in in price a bit. But I do I it’s a huge problem for the industry because everybody shifted so hard to relying on that home video revenue
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:42

    Yep.
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:42

    From from the box office. They’re like, well, you know, if it doesn’t make a hundred million dollars the box office, that’s fine because it’ll make forty or fifty million dollars on. Sure. DVD. We get more of that, you know.
  • Speaker 1
    0:40:52

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:40:52

    I mean, because you’re not splitting it with the theaters. Know, I think a lot of people don’t really understand. It’s so funny when people talk about the economics of filmmaking, what they don’t people who are not intimately involved with it generally don’t understand where the money goes. They don’t understand that a studio is keeping about fifty percent. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:11

    So fifty percent give or
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:13

    take
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:13

    goes to distributors. Half give or take goes to the people who actually put the picture out.
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:18

    Right.
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:20

    Or the exhibitors around
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:21

    the distributors.
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:21

    The exhibitors, the exhibitors and the distributors. Right. But then there’s, you know, marketing costs and there’s back end deals. There’s first dollar deals, you know. And, you know, you kind it’s so hard to explain to people that a hundred million dollar movie making a hundred and fifty million dollars lost money.
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:38

    Yeah. Yeah. It’s very difficult to explain it.
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:41

    Yes. I I bear this cross. I know. Frequently. Explaining that if I have a I actually
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:46

    Your sacrifices.
  • Speaker 1
    0:41:47

    I have a rule. I have a rule that if you have not spent, if you didn’t go to box moder, like, five times a day. Yeah. During during the the before times back when it was good before.
  • Speaker 2
    0:41:57

    Oh, god. Yeah. When they had, like Before. Well, you had the budget listed. You had the it’s a
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:01

    it’s a it’s a it’s a it’s
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:01

    a it’s a it’s a it’s a it’s a it’s a it’s a it’s a it’s a not a great site now. Yeah. But it was great.
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:04

    Well, let me
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:05

    they don’t list the budget anymore, which to me is such a fascinating thing to see next to the collection.
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:09

    It is I understand why they stopped doing it because the numbers are very unreliable, and you don’t wanna, like well, there’s reported budgets and there’s people versus social security. Alright. So alright. Let me let me ask. And if you can’t answer this, don’t don’t answer.
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:21

    Don’t answer. Please. But let’s say, alright. So the you you we’ve got we’ve got first time caller on Amazon.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:28

    Let’s just Sure.
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:29

    Amazon. It’s on VOD on Amazon. Right. It generates a thousand dollars in sales. Sure.
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:34

    Just as a number. Let’s a thousand dollars What percentage of that goes to Amazon? What percentage of that goes to the distributors? What percentage of that comes back to You guys.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:45

    I actually don’t know how much of this I’m able to talk about. Okay. I, you know, just in a legal sense. I do know that we we get a very good cut of
  • Speaker 1
    0:42:54

    it. Mhmm.
  • Speaker 2
    0:42:55

    You know, we haven’t gotten our first check yet because we’ve only been out for about a month and a half. But, no, my understanding is it’s it’s favorable. Know, it’s different if you’re on prime, you know. Right. Because if you’re if you’re actually like on prime, then the it’s sort of minutes watched and like it’s all divvied down to the microscent and, you know, it’s very difficult to say.
  • Speaker 1
    0:43:14

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:14

    But that business end of it, I don’t I I, a, have an incomplete amount of information Sure. B. Sure. I’m not sure how much I can share.
  • Speaker 1
    0:43:23

    Okay. But the the point is, yes, people need to consider the various cuts everybody takes. Absolutely. Before you. One hundred percent.
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:31

    No. The economics of this all are just deeply mysterious to most people. Yeah. Now, it’s, you know, I wanna, I do wanna get back to the film because we were talking about atomized culture.
  • Speaker 1
    0:43:40

    Yes.
  • Speaker 2
    0:43:41

    And first time caller is so much you, you really nailed it in what you wrote about it, that it’s really about loneliness in this deeply interconnected age and the ways that we reach out to each other for abuse when that’s the only kind of connection we can find. You’re also the only person who nailed down Brent’s ideology, the main character’s ideology. Because in a lot of reviews, we’ve had people being like, well, Brent’s obviously a right winger. And then other people were like, clearly a left winger. And I’m like, are you watching the movie?
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:13

    Because you nailed it. He’s basically just about clicks engagement money.
  • Speaker 1
    0:44:18

    Mhmm.
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:19

    That’s it, you know. And I was thinking about this as we, we had a little watch party the picture last night on Instagram live. We had a lovely bunch of people watching asking questions. And it reminded me that, you know, in many ways, you can only really understand the art you make after you’ve gotten it out of your system. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:44:36

    You know, there’s the impulse that drives it an image concept that drives the actual making of the thing. But the reason every bit of art is a piece of, like, psychic autobiography is because so much of it is unintentional It’s just you, you’re in it. Right? And as I’m watching it last night, I’m thinking, you know, in this current moment of, you know, Thomas, Friedman, you know, flat world, mass symmetric connectedness. We’re sort of torn in three.
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:07

    There’s three things to all of us. There’s our personality. There’s our persona and there’s our ideology. And these three things are either in concert or in conflict. Right?
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:16

    We’re being torn apart. Our personalities who we are that fixed. We can’t change that. Our persona is what we choose to project, and our ideology is our belief system. Now, none of those things can be level if you’re a human being.
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:32

    Ideology invariably runs into the problem of basic human hunger, desire, you know, flaws even. So like your personality makes your ideology on some level impractic there’s like certain things you do have to stand firm on. Like, you know, obviously there are principles of behavior. But, you know, everyone’s a hypocritical at one point or another because everybody changes every minute every day. Sure.
  • Speaker 2
    0:45:58

    The persona is very nearly always a betrayal of the personality. You know, because we’re now observed twenty four seven because the, you know, our life has to be so online. We’re all projecting. We’re we’ve all got an invented self, everyone is an avatar of themselves now. And it’s really fucking scary to just think about man, you know, I grew up.
  • Speaker 2
    0:46:23

    I was born in nineteen seventy nine. I didn’t have email till nineteen ninety four. Yeah. I didn’t have a cell phone, because I was in my twenties. I don’t understand how people don’t go insane.
  • Speaker 2
    0:46:35

    And a big part of the film is just like, It is about people driven insane. You, you correctly observed that his, his cozy recording room comes to feel like a cell. Yeah. And that’s it. It’s because he’s commodified himself.
  • Speaker 1
    0:46:50

    And it’s I mean, this is this is interesting just in terms of the art of it. So I mean, when you’re when you’re sitting there when you’re you’re you’re you you come to this house and you’re like, alright. We gotta set up lights here.
  • Speaker 2
    0:46:59

    I’m like, here.
  • Speaker 1
    0:46:59

    How when you were when you were doing the set designing, how much of that was like, alright. We want this to be sparse and empty versus, like, it’s easier to have it sparse and empty and moving moving around.
  • Speaker 2
    0:47:12

    I get you. I mean, like, so we did want it to be sparse and we wanted it to have a lot of negative space, but a big part of giving it character and depth was the lighting. And that’s down to Kevin Chu, our cinematographer, who is an unbelievably great lighter. You know, Kevin is a genius for it. And when we first came in, he was like, well, I can light about ninety degrees.
  • Speaker 2
    0:47:33

    And I was like, yeah, but how much more can you light? And we kept sort of expanding it until we had a truly obscene amount of freedom of movement the camera. And that was, that was a huge joy because my whole deal with it was I didn’t want it to look like a thriller from the outset. If if the whole thing looks kind of spartan and cold, then you immediately know that something sinister is gonna happen. I wanted to create a space that was sort of cushioned by warm lighting, which is then invaded by this unease and terror.
  • Speaker 2
    0:48:06

    And Kevin was brilliant with And JD was a remarkable collaborator in realizing, like, okay, how do we,
  • Speaker 1
    0:48:13

    how do
  • Speaker 2
    0:48:13

    we make this feel inviting at the start?
  • Speaker 1
    0:48:15

    Mhmm. And
  • Speaker 2
    0:48:16

    then by the end, no matter how big and empty the room is, he is trapped in the corner. That was a very deliberate choice. He’s not recording in, in a kind of open space. He’s essentially segregated himself to this one corner of the room. And he’s surrounded by, you know, pictures of his nineteen eighties crushes.
  • Speaker 2
    0:48:35

    You know, and, that’s, that’s kind of it. He’s got trophies. He’s got his own posters. I think if you look closer,
  • Speaker 1
    0:48:42

    his crushes and himself.
  • Speaker 2
    0:48:45

    Very notable. After we finished shooting our producer, Patrick, was like, do you wanna keep this Brent Ziff poster? It was like, the fuck I do. I never want to look at this guy again. I want to, I want to shower this man off.
  • Speaker 2
    0:48:58

    But, yeah, no. The design was a very conscientious component. I mean, like, the first day we were in, we didn’t shoot much in the room because we spent a lot of time dressing got the exterior shots, you know. Yeah. But it was, it was very, very, deliberate the design elements in this with what we wanted to suggest with it.
  • Speaker 2
    0:49:18

    Yeah. If you look at, the trophies that he’s won, there’s stuff like pillowards. You know, it’s all very.
  • Speaker 1
    0:49:24

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:49:24

    You can see, like, pull quotes on his poster, merciless, hilarious, and brave, which by the end, he absolutely is not.
  • Speaker 1
    0:49:30

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:49:31

    But, yeah, no. That dressing the set was a great deal of fun.
  • Speaker 1
    0:49:34

    How much do you, consider this to be an I don’t know. Influenced by or an artifact of or just a part of the the the experience of pandemic. And like that kind of it’s an extra vibe we all had at that moment.
  • Speaker 2
    0:49:52

    It is, at its core inextricable, from that time. I’m delighted by the fact that it doesn’t seem to have aged because the, the stuff that Mac focused on in the writing There is a mention of masks in large gatherings, and that’s still in the conversation.
  • Speaker 1
    0:50:07

    You
  • Speaker 2
    0:50:08

    know, so it’s in terms of literal stuff in script. I think it’s gonna be fairly permanent. You know, it but the stuff that makes it an artifact of its time, obviously there’s the tech and there’s the fact that it’s born of that anxiety of isolation, lack of control, the ways in which we all kind of retreated into our enclaves. You know, and no matter how connected we were, you know, through Zoom meetings or, or whatever, there was a sense that something had been chopped out of our lives. You know.
  • Speaker 2
    0:50:40

    Yeah. I mean, I think it’s inextricable from the pandemic, especially during Omicron. Yeah. When the the terror of it all sort of flared up again, and we’re like, Oh, wait. This gets worse.
  • Speaker 2
    0:50:49

    Yeah. You know?
  • Speaker 1
    0:50:50

    Yeah. And it’s the again, just the the mediation of all this through screens, him looking through his screenshots, watching through our screens, in living through an era where, look, I work from home. I work from a remote location. When I have to have meetings with people, we do it via riverside or zoom or whatever. It’s it is it is what it is, but it is also born of that era.
  • Speaker 1
    0:51:15

    Yes. Like, in a very in a very real way.
  • Speaker 2
    0:51:18

    There’s no going back. You know, people always talk about getting back to normal. It’s like, no, there’s a new normal. Right. Anytime there’s a mass disrupting event like that, frankly, a mass death event like that.
  • Speaker 2
    0:51:28

    Yeah. You’re not going back. Things have changed. Yeah. You know, you mentioned, you know, mediated through screens The experience of watching the film is very different depending on the venue.
  • Speaker 1
    0:51:40

    Mhmm.
  • Speaker 2
    0:51:41

    Because I’ve seen it now with crowd in a theater, lots of laughs, lots of engagement, very like attentive, you know. And There’s something rather cathartic and, and joyous in that, in that experience. But then I have a friend of mine, Scott Brown, co wrote beetle juice. He watched it in his hotel room, and he texted me afterwards and said, I am fucking terrified. He was like, I had to look out the window sometimes to pull back the blinds and look out the window just to be like everything’s okay.
  • Speaker 2
    0:52:10

    And yeah, that’s the difference watching it alone, which puts you, I think, right back in that place there is a calamity just outside the window.
  • Speaker 1
    0:52:18

    Yeah.
  • Speaker 2
    0:52:19

    Whereas there is something more safe in your heart watching it with like with a bunch of people who can just laugh at the profanity and the the sort of the big poop joke of it all.
  • Speaker 1
    0:52:30

    It was funny. I I was I was I think I may have mentioned this in my in my piece video. It would be a fun thing to watch with a with a crowd. Yeah. And not, you know, not not by by myself in my room, just because I was curious some of that played with
  • Speaker 2
    0:52:44

    Oh, yeah. With large crowds. It definitely hits the air in a in a cool way, you know. Like, I I was really nervous Because, well, you’re nervous anyway because you’re like, how is this gonna play to anybody who doesn’t live in my brain? But it was really gratifying.
  • Speaker 2
    0:52:58

    That people immediately cottoned on to like, okay. This is the tone. It’s, it’s definitely it it it it attains a kind of gravity. But it starts out really as dark comedy. And it never quite lets go of that, even in, even in its darkness moments because, you know, it’s a poop joke.
  • Speaker 1
    0:53:17

    Yeah. There is there is an extent.
  • Speaker 2
    0:53:19

    Without spoiling what it is for anyone who hasn’t seen it, there it is built on The dumbest dirtiest joke, and Mac Rogers, our writer, he said, when he sent me the script, he was like, Abe is absolutely gonna say no. To this particular element. And that’s exactly the thing that when I was reading it, I started shrieking with laughter in my apartment.
  • Speaker 1
    0:53:42

    Yeah. The, Alright. So that was that was pretty much everything I wanted to ask. I always liked to close these interviews by asking if there’s anything I should have asked if you think there’s anything folks should know about beetlejuice the musical, first time caller, Well, but anyway. Well, I
  • Speaker 2
    0:53:53

    feel like first time caller we’ve covered where you can see it, that you should see it. That it is, I think, I think it’s a terrific picture. I’m very proud of it. Beetlejuice. This is a tank that’s gonna keep on rolling.
  • Speaker 2
    0:54:03

    Something that I haven’t seen a lot of hype about and that I wish people would go see. I saw this last week. A picture called how to have sex. It’s a British film. Is a directorial debut.
  • Speaker 2
    0:54:15

    For a director named Molly Manning Walker, who was previously, I believe, a director of photography. It is a gorgeous looking and deeply textured film about these three British girls who go on a holiday in Greece, and it’s about, social terror, it’s about sexual assault, it’s about consent. It is a a truly rattling and great work of art with astonishing work by a cast of very young people. Can’t recommend it highly enough. It’s not playing in a lot of theaters, but how to have sex?
  • Speaker 2
    0:54:46

    Absolutely tremendous, and I really hope people watch that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:54:48

    I believe that was a draft house recommends.
  • Speaker 2
    0:54:50

    Was it? Oh, that’s amazing.
  • Speaker 1
    0:54:51

    So it’s it’s, it it if you’re if you live near a draft house
  • Speaker 2
    0:54:55

    Well, I can’t disagree. But yeah, no. I mean, just keep going to the movies. You know, I want people to, I want people to keep going out and having that experience together. That matters.
  • Speaker 2
    0:55:05

    To me. Because, you know, what I wanna do is I direct more pictures, is make stuff that’s certainly commercial enough to play on a big screen for a sustained amount of time. And I want people to share it. And there’s nothing like it. There’s nothing that good.
  • Speaker 2
    0:55:19

    Yeah. Similarly with beetlejuice. I mean, god, keep going to the theater and keep making theater locally. You know, very often we’ll have q and a’s after the show and young people will be like, how can I be on Broadway? And my immediate thing is like, a don’t think of New York as the be all end all for art.
  • Speaker 2
    0:55:38

    Mhmm. Because it’s not. There is art being made in every city and every state in America. And it’s so important that we don’t starve these community efforts by just having these mass migrations to the east and west You know, I I think it’s so important that art lives everywhere. And simultaneously, the best way to become a professional artist is to make things that teaches you who you are, that teaches you what your point of view is.
  • Speaker 2
    0:56:06

    That lets you make things that are specific to you and interesting. And the most interesting work of art is an interested work of art. So whatever it is that you’re fascinated with, that’s what it is. That’s what matters. That’s what you should follow and chase.
  • Speaker 2
    0:56:20

    But, yeah, I mean, not to be incredibly hippy dippy about.
  • Speaker 1
    0:56:23

    No. That’s good. That’s good. We inspire the kids.
  • Speaker 2
    0:56:26

    Absolutely. All the kids do listen here about that.
  • Speaker 1
    0:56:29

    Get out there kids.
  • Speaker 2
    0:56:29

    Yep. Wait. The twelfth of thirteenth, Sunny Bunch minutes.
  • Speaker 1
    0:56:32

    It’s very it’s it’s a narrow dynamic, narrow narrow demographic, but they’re they’re there. Now, thanks for thanks for being on the show. Thanks for coming coming out here and talking to me today. We’ll, make sure to get folks to the, to the theater. And again, if if you wanna watch the movie, just just go to go to just watch dot com.
  • Speaker 1
    0:56:53

    You’ll find you’ll find some place where where it’s playing, on a on a service you have.
  • Speaker 2
    0:56:58

    So really appreciate you having me here today, Sonny.
  • Speaker 1
    0:57:00

    Oh, once again, I am Sonny Bunch. I’ve called your editor at the Bulwark, and I’m very, thankful for having a Avon the show. Thanks. Thanks again.
  • Speaker 2
    0:57:07

    My gosh. Thank you.
  • Speaker 1
    0:57:08

    We will be back next week with another episode of the Bulwark Coast of Hollywood. We’ll see you guys then.