Digital Production Buzz
November 21, 2013
[Transcripts provided by Take1.tv]
to listen to this show.]
Brent Bucci, VP, Developer and Brand Relations, MediaFire
Evan Daugherty, Principal, Feudal Systems
Kathleen Randazzo, Acting Coach, Playhouse West
Voiceover: This Digital Production Buzz is brought to you by Blackmagic Design, creators of the world’s highest quality solutions for the feature film, post production and television broadcast industries.
Voiceover: Live from Ralph’s Maytag Museum at Podcast Studio in beautiful downtown Burbank, it’s the Digital Production Buzz.
Voiceover: Production, post production, distribution. What’s really happening now and in your digital future?
Voiceover: The Buzz is live now.
Larry Jordan: And welcome to The Digital Production Buzz, the leading internet podcast covering digital video production, post production and distribution around the world. My name is Larry Jordan and joining us is our co-host, the never bombastic, ever affable Mr. Mike Horton.
Mike Horton: Never bombastic?
Larry Jordan: Never bombastic.
Mike Horton: It’s always good to be here, Larry. This is two weeks in a row for me. Let’s see if we can make it three weeks.
Larry Jordan: We’ve got a great show. We’ve got some world class guests this week.
Mike Horton: Yes indeed.
Larry Jordan: We’re starting with Brent Bucci. He’s the Vice President of Developer and Brand Relations for MediaFire, a company that provides cloud storage services for collaboration. He joins us this week to explain if it’s safe for media creators to jump into the cloud.
Larry Jordan: Evan Daugherty wrote his first successful script – Mike, this should remind you of your career as a young adult – when he was in college, the $400 million success, Snow White and the Huntsman.
Mike Horton: Yes, I just want to slap him.
Larry Jordan: Now he’s exploring the intersection of gaming, science fiction and screenwriting by directing the highly successful YouTube videos called The Four Players, that re-imagine Super Mario Brothers as a movie.
Mike Horton: Yes, I just watched it before the show, watched all four of them. Nice job. We’re going to talk to him about it.
Larry Jordan: You can tell him that yourself.
Mike Horton: Yes, it looks great and it really held my attention. It’s super, super stuff, Larry.
Larry Jordan: Do you think he’s written a script before?
Mike Horton: Probably, in college, and he’s doing it now. Diversion he just wrote too, which is a very, very big novel, or trilogy.
Larry Jordan: And we’re going to have a third guest, because we wanted to spend more time with all three of them. We’re going to talk to Kathleen Randazzo. She’s an acting coach and an actor at the highly respected Playhouse West School in Hollywood. She stops by with tips for actors on improving their craft.
Larry Jordan: By the way, Michael, I know that you know this because you are just a devotee of the printed word.
Mike Horton: Yes I am.
Larry Jordan: But we are now offering text transcripts for each show, courtesy of Take1.tv. Now you can quickly scan or print the contents of each show as well, Michael, as print them out and post them on your wall so you can admire the witticisms that you…
Mike Horton: Put them on your whiteboard.
Larry Jordan: The nice thing is you can both listen to the show or look something up in text and the transcripts are located on each show page. Thanks to the folks at Take1.tv.
Larry Jordan: Also, and Patrick is frantically typing in the other office, we’re now doing live tweeting during the show. Join us in the conversation @dpbuzz or use the #buzzlive. Last week, we had almost a thousand people taking part in the show, which I just find fascinating. I love looking at the conversations.
Mike Horton: Don’t you love the internet community? I mean, it’s incredible.
Larry Jordan: It is, it’s amazing. As I mentioned.
Mike Horton: Who you can reach.
Larry Jordan: By the way, how come you’re not in Europe or doing some SuperMeet somewhere?
Mike Horton: What month is this? We had the LAFCPUG meeting last night, which you are a part of, and you and Norman Hollyn last night were brilliant.
Larry Jordan: It was fun. We talked about the craft of creating a story.
Mike Horton: It was so good.
Larry Jordan: Thank you.
Mike Horton: I loved the fact that you sort of took the tech side and he took the craft side and you melded it together and it was a wonderful presentation. I wish we could do more of that sort of thing.
Larry Jordan: Well, are people going to be able to see it after the fact?
Mike Horton: Yes, Dean, I think, is working on it right now. There were a lot of really good lines that came out of both your mouths, tweetable lines, and I do hope this goes up really quickly. We’ll show it to you just in case you said a few words that you don’t like to have said.
Larry Jordan: You know, it was fun because we were talking about how we tell stories, as opposed to the buttons we push.
Mike Horton: It was great. It was just super stuff.
Larry Jordan: Thank you, it was fun. We’ll look forward to talking about more of it. By the way, visit us on Facebook, at digitalproductionbuzz.com. Check out our weekly newsletter at digitalproductionbuzz.com for all the latest news on both our show and the industry. I’ll be back with Brent Bucci from MediaFire right after this.
Larry Jordan: The latest version of Da Vinci Resolve 10 is now shipping from Blackmagic Design. The new version includes innovative tools to speed on-set color grading, support for open effects plug-ins and simplified integration for Final Cut Pro, Avid and Premier Pro projects, allowing timelines to be easily moved in and out. You can even tweak your edits inside Resolve without wasting time switching back to your editing software just to make a simple change.
Larry Jordan: New editing features include full multi-track editing with 16 channels of audio per clip and unlimited video and audio tracks in the timeline. Da Vinci Resolve 10 can finish online from the original camera files for dramatically better quality. The latest version of Resolve 10 is a free upgrade to all Resolve users and, if you’re looking for ways to make your pictures look great, download the free version of Da Vinci Resolve 10 from blackmagicdesign.com.
Larry Jordan: MediaFire is one of the most popular online storage sites in the world and Brent Bucci is the Vice President of Developer and Brand Relations for MediaFire. He joins us tonight to talk about how MediaFire enables both storage and collaboration but it’s on the cloud, so there’s a lot to discuss. Welcome, Brent.
Brent Bucci: Thanks so much for having me.
Larry Jordan: We are delighted to have you with us. Start at the beginning. What is MediaFire?
Brent Bucci: Well, we originally started out in 2006 as a site simply designed to be able to share really large files with other people. Back in 2006 was before people really understood what cloud storage was and so we were laying down a lot of initial infrastructure for that. Since then, we’ve really evolved into a larger site designed to help you store all of your media and make it available to you any time you want, anywhere you go on any device that you might have, whether it’s on the web, desktop or your mobile device.
Larry Jordan: Well, who are some of your current clients?
Brent Bucci: So we have a variety of clients, anyone from average everyday users that are using MediaFire to be able to share their photos and videos to professionals that are being able to use MediaFire to both collaborate with other people, as well as share their creations and media in the cloud with other users, so everyone from independent film makers to DJs are using it.
Larry Jordan: Now, are we using it for distribution, for instance? Are you competing with the Sorenson 360 or are you using it for pre-production? From a point of view of media people, how does MediaFire get used?
Brent Bucci: So we’re primarily used in two ways. Before this, we were primarily seen as a site for distribution, so for example you can upload to the cloud and then be able to share links via Facebook and Twitter and really easily be able to have people be able to quickly download and play back your video from wherever they are in an optimized way for their device.
Brent Bucci: But this week, we had a special launch, which is really bringing collaboration to our application. Basically, our new updated, called MediaFire Desktop, is an app for OSX as well as Windows that automatically syncs your video or media in the cloud directly from your computer and you can instantly share with other people and have them be able to edit your document and you can actually follow them in real time as they edit your media.
Brent Bucci: So if you’re collaborating with, say, another director or another film maker or you have some other people that are doing pre-production on your footage, you can actually share with them the raw project files and they could go and edit it and it will actually notify you when they’ve accessed it and what changes they’ve made.
Larry Jordan: I want to come back to collaboration, because there’s a lot to talk about here, but without even thinking about it I can think of YouTube and Vimeo and Blip just as three companies that make distribution of media possible. Why would someone consider MediaFire when you’re competing against the 800 pound gorillas in the world?
Brent Bucci: Well, there are several reasons. One is, yes, for social distribution obviously Vimeo and YouTube and a lot of those big sites make a lot of sense, but when it comes to work in progress, so if you’re working on an actual project, a lot of times you want to be able to bounce ideas back and forth and change them dynamically as you go and MediaFire really gives you the freedom and ability to do that very quickly.
Brent Bucci: For example, if you have an update to a video and you have a bunch of users that have posted links to it, you can automatically actually update that video and it will automatically be updated in all the links that you’ve shared with everyone else.
Larry Jordan: So wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait. Wait, wait. We’re moving too quick here, I’ve got to slow this down so my brain catches up. We would do an edit, say another version of our edit. We would output that edit and then upload that file, say, in compressed form to you and then people would look at it? Because you’re not actually dynamically looking at how we’re changing the media.
Brent Bucci: Absolutely. Basically, everything is saved to the cloud and updated and so our users tend to engage with content. For example, a lot of people listen to musicians or DJs through Twitter and Facebook primarily. That’s a huge audience engaging with content in that way. MediaFire really gives them the freedom to be able to do that, but we’re primarily geared towards people that are looking to share and do really creative engagement with their community in really interesting ways.
Brent Bucci: There’s a huge need for people to be able to remix content when it comes to video and audio. By giving people a direct download and control to be able to share and edit content, we really broaden the audience that normal people have and actually give them a lot more freedom than some of the other platforms like Vimeo and YouTube have got currently.
Larry Jordan: So maybe an application would be a performing artist records a concert from two or three cameras and uploads the three cameras of the concert and people could then re cut, is what you’re saying?
Brent Bucci: Yes, absolutely. We have a lot of DJs that use our service and other artists that also upload raw versions of their tracks or even, you know, raw product files to be able to share with the community in a way that they can go and edit it and be able to share it on MediaFire and it becomes something that’s very, very viral and very engaging, so instead of just becoming an audience, it allows people to become a participant in media creation, which is really the larger idea that media is shifting towards.
Larry Jordan: Ok, so I can understand why from a, let’s just say a musical point of view, uploading a concert would make sense, and I’m using that just in general terms. But you can’t make money doing that, can you? So this would be more from a media creator’s point of view or a performer’s point of view. This would need to be viewed more as a marketing activity than a way of paying the rent.
Brent Bucci: Absolutely. You know, the fact is the media landscape is changing very dynamically, and we’re seeing this with a shift in how people are perceiving market value of media online, but there’s also a huge need for promotion when it comes to digital content and being able to empower audience numbers to have access to that content is really important and engages them on a whole other level.
Brent Bucci: I think that that’s going to extend, that same trend will extend to video in the same way that we’re seeing video mash-ups on YouTube extend and people being able to create new, interesting content via video. We’re going to see that and the tools just have to be built in such a way to enable audiences to do it more easily.
Larry Jordan: I can see the collaboration, which is MediaFire Desktop, but making the collaboration possible has got to be a massive amount of storage, which I think is what got you in the market in the first place, so how do you hook the storage in and what kind of storage is available and what does it cost and can it be afforded by people smaller than Walt Disney?
Brent Bucci: Well, when it comes to storage, we actually run our own servers and we were one of the earliest companies in the business and so, unlike other storage services such as DropBox, we have our own servers. It was out of necessity when we first started, because Amazon Cloud posted towards services and other services like that didn’t exist back in 2006, and what came out of necessity has really become an advantage to us because we’re able to offer a lot more storage for a lot less than anyone else in the market.
Brent Bucci: We generally offer 50 gigs of cloud storage for free to all of our users.
Mike Horton: Wait a minute. Say that again. 50 gigs free?
Brent Bucci: Yes, yes, free.
Mike Horton: Holy cow! I’m signing up right now then.
Brent Bucci: Yes, yes, right?
Mike Horton: Well, I use DropBox, you mentioned DropBox and I used DropBox like a lot of other people do, and one of the problems I have with DropBox is that it’s so slow. It’s slow to upload, slow to download and it’s been a major pain and I don’t know if that was because of me or is that because of their servers? If I were to use you, would things be faster?
Brent Bucci: Well, with services such as DropBox, they use other companies’ back ends, so they tend to pay for bandwidth and they pay for servers. If you’re using something like a free or paid account, they tend to actually limit your transfer speed based on that.
Mike Horton: Well, I’m actually paying because I think, well, DropBox gives you, what, two gigs free or something like that? I don’t know what it is.
Brent Bucci: Yes, something like that. I believe it’s two gigs free, which is not enough to really do anything fun so, you know, you really need 50 gigs and up to be able to really enjoy the cloud in an interesting way. So instead of using other people’s servers, we use our own and we optimize them very, very quickly and we’re designed around media. We have designed our entire service to be about being able to serve video content, music and media very, very quickly to users and our tested speeds are about twice as fast as the competition and that’s only going to get faster over time as networks…
Larry Jordan: Brent, I was just thinking, putting this kind of hardware together and supporting that kind of infrastructure is neither cheap nor easy. Is this you and a friend working in a basement?
Brent Bucci: No, it’s not. We actually have a team of over 100 developers now that all work for MediaFire that are based in Texas and I’m based in San Francisco and we’re looking at global expansion as well, so we’re a really long lasting company that loves seasoned industry veterans. For many of us, this is not our first foray into storage at all, but first to cloud storage. We’ve got some really, really good people on board that make sure that everything runs 24/7.
Larry Jordan: And who owns the company and how is it financed?
Brent Bucci: Well, we’re actually privately financed. We’re profitable. We started day one when Derek Labian and Tom Langridge co-founded the company, along with a few other co-founders. They originally came from a company called File Front, that they actually exited and sold and they used their profits to start MediaFire. Since then, we’ve been very wise in our expansion and we’ve remained private and profitable.
Larry Jordan: So talk to me again about this new software. Now that we understand that you’ve got affordable storage in vast quantities and that people can use you as a way of distributing media similar to YouTube or Vimeo but with a difference, where does the desktop application fit in?
Brent Bucci: Well, for the desktop application, we really wanted to make a seamless way for users to be able to share data in the cloud directly from their desktop without having to log into their browser or do comprehensive things. So basically we’ve created a syncing application that just looks like a specific folder and a notification window that’s directly integrated into your desktop, whether you’re on OSX or Windows, and you can basically drag anything into your MediaFire folder and select if you want to share it on the web and make it public or if you want to just save it automatically to your MediaFire folder and it will automatically sync and fit. It’s that simple.
Brent Bucci: We have some really cool technologies so it can actually limit your bandwidth if you’re surfing the net and you don’t want it to, say you’re uploading a huge, huge file, like 100 gigs or something of video, we make it really simple that it will automatically select the best speed and it makes sure that everything in that file’s automatically backed up.
Brent Bucci: We’ve also built these really cool tools for being able to follow other people, so we have what’s called a following folder and that allows you to follow other MediaFire users that have shared content with you and automatically receive notifications when they’ve updated that file or if they’ve modified it or created new things and that’s really, really good for workflow, say if you’re working with someone else who’s a digital video professional on a project, to let you know exactly when they’ve made new changes to the project or when they’ve accessed the file.
Larry Jordan: Now, we’ve got two questions coming in from our live chat. Eric is asking that you say that for free, you just told us a minute ago we get 50 gig, and there’s something on the website about starting at ten gig, so what’s the free allocation?
Brent Bucci: So we start with ten gigs for if you download it desktop and just install and sign up for free, so you get ten gigs just for signing up. You get another five gigs if you download DropBox, oh sorry, if you download MediaFire Desktop, and then if you install… applications, we give you another five gig free and then if you link up your Facebook account, you get a gig; and then the rest you can get by sharing with friends, so if you get them to sign on for a free account, for every friend you get another gig.
Larry Jordan: It’s like multi-channel marketing for storage.
Brent Bucci: Well, you know, we used to just give away 50 gigs to everyone, just for signing up, firstly customizing their profile and really doing that, and what we found is that users that got the most out of our site were the ones who downloaded the application and were the ones that really engaged with it. A big thing with cloud storage is we’re asking everyday users to pay for cloud storage at the end of the day, like we really want to convert people to using it, and for it to be successful it has to be something that people use on an everyday basis and when people realize that there’s a mobile app that they can access their data from anywhere or that by linking it to their Facebook account, they can automatically post to all their followers on Twitter or engage in really cool new ways, it becomes more useful to them.
Larry Jordan: Take a deep breath. I’ve got two more questions and we’re going to run out of time. Marina Delray is asking if the person receiving the files also needs to have an account or just the person sending the files?
Brent Bucci: No, they don’t have to have an account, they can just download it. But it is really handy if they have an account on MediaFire because if they have an account and someone shares it with them, they can with one click add it and save it to their MediaFire account and it will instantly be saved, it will be instantly added into their account without having to directly download the file.
Larry Jordan: What’s the monthly fee and what happens to our media if we don’t pay it after a few months?
Brent Bucci: Well, I mean, we’re pretty lenient when it comes to that, but say if you get MediaFire and you have a Premium account, like you only use 50 gigs of it and after a few months you decide, “Oh, I just want to downgrade to the 50 gig account,” we let you and we don’t touch your data.
Larry Jordan: Ok, and the monthly cost is?
Brent Bucci: The monthly cost is 4.99 starting at 100 gigs and it scales up from there, so we have accounts all the way up to 50 terabytes if people want it.
Larry Jordan: Well, that covers Michael’s movies right there, 50 terabytes.
Brent Bucci: I know, yes. Well, you know, give us a call and we can.
Larry Jordan: Where can people go on the web to learn more about this and sign up for the free trial so they can get a sense of how this works?
Mike Horton: I just signed up.
Larry Jordan: I know, but Brent gets to tell us.
Brent Bucci: Yes, it’s just mediafire.com and if they want to read more about MediaFire Desktop, they can go to mediafire.com/software/desktop.
Larry Jordan: So to get started, it’s www.mediafire.com and Brent Bucci is the Vice President of Developer and Brand Relations for MediaFire and, Brent, this has been great. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us.
Mike Horton: Thanks so much.
Brent Bucci: All right, thanks so much, guys.
Larry Jordan: Take care, have a good evening.
Brent Bucci: You too.
Larry Jordan: Bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Evan Daugherty wrote his first screenplay – Snow White and the Huntsman – while he was in college and just totally humiliated Mike and myself. It grossed over $400 million. Then he penned He Man, which was also known as Masters of the Universe, for Warner Bros. and in his spare time in an afternoon he wrote Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for Paramount and Michael Bay and now Mike and I are not talking to him at all.
Larry Jordan: His latest foray is into directing.
Mike Horton: We’re just jealous.
Larry Jordan: Directing with the viral series called The Four Players, four new short films, each one re-imagining a different character from Nintendo’s Super Mario Brothers, so it is with great trepidation we say welcome, Evan, good to have you with us.
Evan Daugherty: Hey guys, how’s it going?
Larry Jordan: Well, up until we were talking to you, we were feeling pretty good but now.
Mike Horton: Yes, we were feeling really good about ourselves.
Larry Jordan: Completely humiliated.
Evan Daugherty: Please. Please, please.
Mike Horton: It’s like you’re talking to Mozart. “When did you do your first concert?” “At five years old.”
Evan Daugherty: Right, exactly. No, no, I was still pretty late. I was kind of wandering around for a long time there.
Larry Jordan: Yes, well, you can’t even begin to get away with that, but I do want to find out.
Mike Horton: And Evan’s out of rehab now and doing well.
Larry Jordan: What got you into screenwriting in the first place? What caught your eye?
Evan Daugherty: Well, it’s a little bit round about. I always made movies in the back yard, I was always fascinated with movies. In my sort of aimless youth, I used to go see two and three movies in a row on the weekend, so I always loved making movies.
Evan Daugherty: Went to NYU Film School and learned a lot about the behind the scenes aspect of it, but what I sort of learned while there at NYU and then some of the years afterwards, where I really wasn’t getting a lot of traction, what I realized is it’s a lot easier and a lot cheaper, literally, to sort of enter the world of film making through screenwriting in the sense that you don’t have to go out there and buy or rent a bunch of equipment, you don’t have to get your 20 friends together and cast something and shoot it and edit it and cut it, although that’s all stuff I love doing. If you don’t have those resources, it’s a lot easier to get a copy of Final Draft and sort of, you know, flex your creative film making muscles in that way.
Evan Daugherty: And that really just was how I got into it and then it really took off and I’ve been fortunate to have had some success on the screenwriting side but, you know, obviously I consider myself sort of a storyteller or a film maker, whatever you want to call it, but I got into it that way and it’s been a very fulfilling few years.
Larry Jordan: So you got into it because you were cheap.
Evan Daugherty: Yes, exactly. That’s the short version.
Mike Horton: Good tip, though.
Evan Daugherty: Yes, yes.
Larry Jordan: If my notes are correct, you were signed by an agent and a manager before your first script was even sold.
Evan Daugherty: Correct.
Larry Jordan: So how did they find you and what compelled them to take you on as a client with no marketable anything?
Evan Daugherty: Good question. It happened for me, as it does for some good percentage of screenwriters breaking in, and that’s through a screenwriting competition and with not even a big screenwriting competition necessarily. It wasn’t the Nickel, but it was a smaller one but I won, so that counts for something, big fish in small pond. And then managers that really sort of hustle, they look at those contest results and I got emails from five or six; within a couple of months of winning that competition, I had a manager. One of the first things a manager does is try to help you get an agent so that they can help you sort of drum up work, so within about three or four months, I had a manager and an agent after winning a screenwriting contest.
Mike Horton: I’m sure there are a lot of writers listening to this right now. How was it that you decided to go with that particular manager? I mean, he could have been Bob Smith’s Management and Furniture Company.
Evan Daugherty: Yes. Good question. It’s very important now, and with the internet it’s fairly easy to just do your due diligence on that sort of thing, because, like I say, I got responded to by a lot of managers. I probably got responses from ten managers and, after doing a little research, three seemed to be pretty legitimate sort of people working in the business. In particular on the management side, there are a lot of sort of people that aren’t necessarily real managers.
Mike Horton: Yes, they promise to get you meetings with CAA.
Evan Daugherty: Yes, right, yes, exactly, day one, yes.
Larry Jordan: Evan, I’m going to spend a little bit more time with your start and then shift gears into the web videos, so don’t panic, we are going to get there. But what was the genesis for Snow White and the Huntsman? How did that script get born?
Evan Daugherty: I believe I was a sophomore at NYU and it was not for an assignment, but recently we had been given an assignment to write a short screenplay where we – and by the way, this is now sort of almost a cliché – but the assignment was take an old fairytale, folk tale, classical myth and tell it in a modern way.
Mike Horton: I love that assignment. That’s really cool.
Larry Jordan: That’s a very good assignment.
Evan Daugherty: Yes, it was a great assignment. I ended up using, funnily enough, a myth from Norse mythology about Thor and wrote a different sort of story, but I know it wasn’t long after that that I had the idea to write Snow White and the Huntsman, so my mind must have just been in that head space of telling old stories in new ways and, for me, it was also about remembering that experience, one of the first movies I saw in the theater was a re-release of the Disney Snow White, and the memory of that huntsman character who the Queen sends to kill Snow White and then had the change of heart and lets her go was really vividly etched into my memory and I said, “That’s a really cool starting point for a different telling of this fairytale.”
Larry Jordan: Well, the film grossed $400 million and, having read most film contracts, I know that the writer alone generates a clear 300 million, so how did success change your career as a writer?
Evan Daugherty: It changed it in immeasurable ways, almost. I had been working out here for about a year and a half, two years, but I was doing what a lot of screenwriters do, which is working on scripts that just get stuck in development hell, you know?
Larry Jordan: Goes nowhere.
Evan Daugherty: So it’s like you write a script. That was what happened with He Man – Warner Bros. ended up not making it – so I was very excited to be doing what I was doing, but having a movie made and having a movie made at that level certainly kicked it up into a great new echelon.
Mike Horton: Now, not being a seasoned writer, this was a big film – big budget, you’ve got some big directors, you’ve got some big producers and all this. I’m assuming, and I haven’t read the story, but I’m assuming that once you hand that in, it ain’t yours any more and somebody does something with it.
Evan Daugherty: Oh yes, oh yes. Well, you know, when I was hired, it was my baby, I had written it in 2002 and I didn’t sell it until, I think, 2011 so there’s nine years where it was like my little baby. It was purchased, progressed to production. I actually stayed and worked on it for another six months with the director.
Mike Horton: Oh, cool.
Evan Daugherty: Which was good, but then I was, as happens to a great many writers in Hollywood, I’ll put it the not nice way, I was fired.
Mike Horton: Yes, of course. Of course.
Evan Daugherty: The other people were brought in to re-write me, thankfully didn’t sort of mess with the essence of the movie – I still have the primary screenwriting credit on the film – but other writers are credited alongside me and, to be really honest, you know, going back and watching that movie, I’m really, really proud of that movie, but watching it is very much a rollercoaster of emotions, of seeing the things that are yours and being excited about that, seeing the things that change and saying, “Oh, I don’t know about that,” so it’s a tricky movie for me to watch because there are just so many emotions surrounding it.
Larry Jordan: Yes, it’s your baby but it’s dressed in clothes you would never pick out.
Evan Daugherty: A few items.
Mike Horton: Yes, but when you talk to other young writers who aspire to be doing what you are doing, I mean, how precious can you be about your material when you’re doing movies in the Hollywood system, without killing yourself.
Evan Daugherty: Well, that’s a tough question because you can’t be too precious at all and the thing that makes it extra hard, but the thing that if you make peace with you can actually have a lot of success, is you have to really commit yourself. For the words you put on the page for any given draft to be good, you have to really commit yourself, mind and soul, to what you’re putting on the page, yet at the same time you have to then be willing in three days to change it completely based on what producers or studio executives or directors say.
Evan Daugherty: So if you’re able to kind of be that constant font of ideas and creativity, then it’s something that works out. But yes, you do have to be prepared for that kind of mindset, for sure.
Larry Jordan: Well, let’s take a step forward. Let’s move from your incredible initial success, which Mike and I are not going to talk to you about ever again.
Mike Horton: Yes, ever.
Larry Jordan: And talk about your new web series called The Four Players. Now, this one you directed. Did you write it as well?
Evan Daugherty: I did. Funnily enough, I wrote the drafts of these before I even had a manager or an agent, when I was just going to do them in my back yard, basically.
Larry Jordan: With your friends.
Mike Horton: You directed, you produced, you wrote. Now you can be precious.
Evan Daugherty: Yes, that’s exactly right and that, to be honest, is a good segue because, as much as I have loved and continue to love doing the screenwriting thing, you know, this was very much an attempt to be the captain of the ship and to say, “This is the thing I want to tell, this is the way I want to do it.” Of course, you have to be very collaborative in the process, even making like a micro budget thing like this, but yes, it was an attempt to get behind the camera and sort of flex those creative muscles.
Larry Jordan: Yes, for a micro budget thing, it sure looked good.
Evan Daugherty: Oh yes, well, we tried to stretch those dollars as far as we could. I should note that, you know, the way it worked was it’s being sort of distributed by an online content network called Polaris, which I’m very excited about, but we sort of made it almost like an independent film in the sense that I financed it myself on the cheap and we produced it ourselves, finished it and Polaris was almost like the equivalent of a studio picking up an independent film. They picked up the shorts to distribute online.
Mike Horton: You financed it yourself? You idiot.
Evan Daugherty: I know. I broke the number one rule in Hollywood.
Larry Jordan: Well, remember, he made $573 million.
Mike Horton: Oh, that’s right, exactly.
Evan Daugherty: That’s right, I got all the $400 million right in my pocket.
Larry Jordan: Cash is nothing to him.
Mike Horton: He just sold his Tesla.
Evan Daugherty: Right.
Larry Jordan: Evan, we’re going to have about, oh, five minutes to talk about this, so give me a short thumbnail what The Four Players is about.
Evan Daugherty: Sure. I have always been a fan of the Mario Brothers and sort of old school eight bit and 16 bit Nintendo gaming, and there’s a big sort of culture on the internet of taking those characters and remixing them and re-appropriating them and using those characters in different ways and usually it’s just sort of for straight comedy with mash-ups and parodies and things like that, but clearly there’s something in my brain with the Snow White and the Huntsman of it all that likes to sort of take one kind of story and tell it in a different kind of way.
Evan Daugherty: So that was the idea and it just sort of came to me, to take what I consider the four principle characters from the Mario universe – Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach and Toad, who’s basically an anthropomorphic mushroom – and in the video game they’re very cartoonish, very colorful and I just wanted to turn all that on its head and sort of explore some darker themes with those characters and to do it in a visually kind of darker and grittier sort of way.
Larry Jordan: Can you share the production budget?
Evan Daugherty: I’m going to keep it somewhat loose, but it’s in the tens of thousands.
Larry Jordan: All right, and how big a production crew and how long to shoot?
Evan Daugherty: It was, I believe, ten to 12 days with some half days in there.
Mike Horton: Wow.
Evan Daugherty: So we did it pretty quick and the crew was, you know, it ranged anywhere from, I would say, maybe 12 to 25.
Larry Jordan: And what cameras did you shoot it on?
Evan Daugherty: Shot it on the RED Epic. We shot it in 5K.
Larry Jordan: And how did you edit?
Evan Daugherty: We edited it on both myself, I did some passes and my editor, James Darling, we edited it on Final Cut Pro, which I’ve been since I was, you know, in high school.
Larry Jordan: 7 or X? 7 or X?
Mike Horton: 7.
Evan Daugherty: Yes. Oh no, not X.
Larry Jordan: Ok, just asking.
Mike Horton: You will, guarantee one day, you will.
Evan Daugherty: Yes. Yes, I know there’s a big battle, I know between 7 and X.
Larry Jordan: We’re not even going to go there. There’s quite a few effects.
Mike Horton: Oh, it’s fun, come on.
Larry Jordan: There’s quite a few effects in the film. Who did your effects and how soon did you start planning them?
Evan Daugherty: Well, very good question. A piece of advice I would give would be to start planning them earlier than I have, because what’s fun is these four shorts run the gamut from basically my friends doing it to major visual effects houses doing it, so we started with the idea that I’m just going to have all my friends that went to NYU, when they’re not working in the industry, do effects when they can, on the weekends, whatever.
Larry Jordan: That never gets done.
Evan Daugherty: Correct, exactly, so we did Mario and some of the things, and Luigi, the first two shorts, we did some of the visual effects shots that way and it was taking, you know, it took a whole year, basically, for four or five shots and I said, “These look really good, but we’ve got to kick it up a notch,” so I then went around to basically different visual effects houses in Los Angeles and the strategy I used was I cut together the film almost completely, we almost did a full sound and music mix, color time, so the movies looked really cool, in my humble opinion, and we went around and showed them to these visual effects houses and I said, “Hey, you know, I’m Evan Daugherty, I wrote Snow White and the Huntsman. I hope to use these shorts to get my.
Larry Jordan: In other words, you went begging.
Evan Daugherty: That’s right, exactly. That’s the short version, yes. So we did that and we ended up getting a lot of really great places to kind of pitch in on shorts. There’s a company called Hammerhead.
Mike Horton: Yes.
Evan Daugherty: Who did a lot of the fire stuff in Luigi.
Larry Jordan: And I’m going to give you one more credit, because I’ve got to wrap this up. Who else helped you with effects?
Evan Daugherty: We also got help from Rhythm and Hues.
Mike Horton: Oh well. They paid him.
Evan Daugherty: Yes, right. I know, because they’re out of.
Mike Horton: Yes, exactly.
Larry Jordan: For people who want to see the film, where can they go on the web to learn more?
Mike Horton: It’s good, folks.
Evan Daugherty: Yes, please check them out. I would just go to, the easiest way is youtube.com/polaris.
Larry Jordan: That’s youtube.com/polaris
Evan Daugherty: Yes, or you can Google The Four Players.
Larry Jordan: The Four Players.
Evan Daugherty: Correct.
Larry Jordan: And, Evan, you’re Principal of Feudal Systems, is that correct?
Evan Daugherty: That’s correct. We’re using these shorts to kind of launch a bit of a production entity as well, so feudalsystems.com, @feudalsystems. Neither of those are filled in quite yet, so people are probably going to be kind of bored if they go there, but I promise good stuff to come.
Larry Jordan: Sounds perfect. Evan, thanks very much for taking the time to join us today. I wish you great success, although perhaps not greater success than you’ve already had because then Mike and I just won’t even be able to talk to you.
Mike Horton: Yes.
Evan Daugherty: Right. Thank you, guys.
Larry Jordan: But thanks very much for joining us.
Evan Daugherty: Appreciate it. Bye.
Larry Jordan: Take care, bye bye.
Larry Jordan: Kathleen Randazzo is an actor with television and feature films in her credits and she’s also an acting coach, which is wonderful because she helps others get better at their craft. Welcome, Kathleen, good to have you with us.
Kathleen Randazzo: Oh, thank you Larry. Happy to be here.
Larry Jordan: How would you describe your acting career?
Kathleen Randazzo: Oh, I would say it’s on again, off again, my career. I’ve been an actor for so many years, that’s the way I’d wrap it up.
Larry Jordan: What kind of films do you enjoy doing?
Kathleen Randazzo: Right now, I’m working on family oriented films.
Larry Jordan: Kathleen, are you spending more of your time now as an actor or spending more of your time now as a coach?
Kathleen Randazzo: Much more time as a coach. I used to, back in the old days, staple my resumé to my head shot and bake cookies and visit every casting director on the face of the Earth, and I just sort of lost the drive of putting all the little pictures on the computer. I do have an agent, but I just don’t focus on that so much. I find so much joy in teaching my kids and watching their careers grow. I feel like my career grows with them and they also put me in so many of their films that I’m busy working, acting on their projects, which is really wonderful and it’s such a learning experience for me as well.
Larry Jordan: Does your acting make you a better coach or does your coaching make you a better actor?
Kathleen Randazzo: I believe they go hand in hand.
Larry Jordan: How so?
Kathleen Randazzo: If you’re tutoring a math student, you understand the problem so much better when you’re teaching someone else and when I’m coaching an actor, I really start to understand the process even more when I do it myself. I make sure that I practice what I preach. I can’t tell them to read all the books and to study all the actors if I don’t plan on doing it myself.
Larry Jordan: Ashley Judd had a quote on Playhouse West and I want to talk about the school in just a second, but she said one of the things that the training at the school provides is to help her as an actress deal with the variables in a script. What does she mean?
Kathleen Randazzo: Several things. I believe that the one thing that Playhouse teaches you is to find your connection with the script. What is the meaning for you in the part? How can you hook into the meaning, the desire, the drive that the actor has? Playhouse teaches you how to really work off and listen. It’s one of those schools you go to, they don’t give you a script and say, “Here, get up and do Clifford Odet.” They say, “Let’s teach you how to act first and really learn to listen and work off,” and then they give you all the tools before they even get to a script.
Larry Jordan: Correct me for paraphrasing you, but are you saying you have to become the character before you can act the character?
Kathleen Randazzo: You have to find what links you to the character. You have to bring yourself to it. Anything that you fight for in life or you have passion about comes from a place, a deep place in yourself and I think that’s the same way you must approach a role. What is the desire? What is the drive? And how can I understand this in my life, what would this be for me in my life? So once you connect yourself to the meaning of the script, it’s that much easier to embody the character because it comes from you, not something you take and put on.
Larry Jordan: You mentioned that you teach at Playhouse West. We should probably explain. What is Playhouse West?
Kathleen Randazzo: Playhouse West is an acting school. It’s a wonderful school. It’s in the Valley in North Hollywood, on Lankershim Boulevard and it brings wonderful actors out of the school. It teaches the Sanford Meisner acting technique.
Larry Jordan: Now, for those of us who are not actors, how would you characterize that technique?
Kathleen Randazzo: Oh, jeez. It’s a special technique that teaches you how to really work off an actor, to listen and be present in the moment, not to plan ahead and try to manipulate the scene, but to really take from what you get from the other actor and use that as opposed to manufacturing behavior, really getting it off the other person, off the situation.
Larry Jordan: It sounds like improv would be very much in that style, that in order to be good at improv, you’ve got to focus on that very instant from the other actors.
Kathleen Randazzo: Larry, you are right on the nose. Improvisation, it goes hand in hand with what we teach. If any of our students come from an improv background, they get this technique very quickly. It really is about being present in the moment and being willing to be fearless and take risks. In improv, you must do that.
Larry Jordan: Yes, it’s like you never say no because you’ve got nowhere to go at that point.
Kathleen Randazzo: That’s right. That’s the truth.
Larry Jordan: Who started the Playhouse?
Kathleen Randazzo: Originally the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York, Sanford Meisner taught there; and Robert Carnegie and Jeff Goldblum opened up the Playhouse West here in the West Side and he taught there the last ten years before he passed away, and so he is really our father, he is really the founder of the school and the one we emulate when we teach.
Larry Jordan: That gets to my next question – how would you describe your coaching method? I mean, it sounds like some of this has to be innate in the personality of the actor themselves. How do you teach to enable more of it?
Kathleen Randazzo: Allowing the actor to know that they’re enough. If they go out for a role and actually bring themselves into the room, they’re giving the casting director the gift of their presence. To embrace who they are and not try to be something they’re not. Bring themselves to everything and if a casting director gets your essence and you’re not right for that role and they get who you are and you actually give the gift of being there, they’ll find something for you.
Kathleen Randazzo: So basically, to embrace who you are, all your crazy qualms, and bring that in the room, your insecurity, yourself, instead of trying to pretend to be something you’re not, which we can all see when someone tries to put on a façade or tries to fake something instead of bringing themselves in the room. I think that my actors, the first thing I teach them to do is embrace who they are, whatever they are, however they perceive themselves, to actually take that and embrace that and then this is your instrument, let’s use this and see where we can go from there.
Larry Jordan: But it seems like there’s a problem with that approach in that the actor would be playing essentially the same character role after role – I think of John Ratzenberger and all the Pixar movies – as opposed to inheriting a different character. I’m thinking Dustin Hoffman.
Kathleen Randazzo: Right. Well, Dustin Hoffman works the same way. Basically, we play different roles with everyone but say you are different on the radio than you are with your family than you would be with a child. We all shift around. We all have those different characters inside of us, whether it be a dark side. They’re in us, so I really think it’s about bringing that part of yourself out, depending on what the role is, finding where that is in you, so it gives you the ability to shift around an awful lot.
Kathleen Randazzo: Mark Pellegrino is one of our teachers and actors and his characterizations, they’re a huge range and he works this way. It’s all about pulling it from yourself.
Larry Jordan: As an acting coach, as you’re looking at a new class of people that haven’t been in the system before and you’re starting with them for the first time, what’s your biggest challenge?
Kathleen Randazzo: Getting them to listen, really listen to the other actor, and that’s the first thing we teach, is teach you how to listen, listen and repeat what you hear, see if you can really hear what the other actor is saying, and you’d be so surprised at how many don’t listen the very first day. They have no idea what I just said or what the other actor said because they’re so worried about themselves, and once they can leave themselves alone and be present, then magic tends to happen.
Larry Jordan: As you look back on your coaching career, what are some of the events or people that you’re proudest of?
Kathleen Randazzo: Proud of the school. We had a film festival last year that was just outstanding. The quality of the films was really spectacular. A couple of my students were so motivated by the festival, they wrote a screenplay that we’re now working on and they also wrote a play that we’re putting up in January. It’s just a wonderful story that needs to be told. I think I’m most proud of what our school inspires out of people, what it brings out of the students believing now that they’re actors, they can also write, they can create their own projects and just watching them go and turning on the TV at night and seeing them work. It’s such a wonderful feeling of knowing that you instilled that belief in someone that they can actually take their career and go with it. It’s a real joy.
Larry Jordan: Is the school expensive?
Kathleen Randazzo: No. Our school is probably one of the least expensive schools you can find in town. We charge $200 a month. You have two classes a week that you must take and we have two free rehearsal classes a week that you can go to, plus the rehearsals that you have with your other classmates. If you write a book report and educate yourself, we take $5 off the tuition every month.
Larry Jordan: And how long does it take to get through the school?
Kathleen Randazzo: Get through the program?
Kathleen Randazzo: It’s like a game of golf – you’re at your own pace. Sometimes to get to advanced class, it takes about a year. Sometimes it takes less. It really depends on the student. I had a student in a beginning class who lasted two weeks. She was out of there, she was just really listening and focused and ready to move on for the other training, so it’s really at your own pace.
Larry Jordan: For people that are listening that would really love to come to the school but for geographic reasons can’t make it to Hollywood, what piece of advice would you give to an actor who’s starting out and trying to get their mind wrapped around their craft? How would you focus them?
Kathleen Randazzo: I would tell them to work as much as they can. Get in a play, get in a class, find a good coach, get the word out there that you’re looking for an acting coach. Get into the universities that are close by, into the film program and get your name on that casting roster and practice with those people when they’re doing their short films, get experience on a set. Get everything you can do to get involved in any way – working from behind the scenes to helping, you know, lug the lights. Whatever you can do to get yourself in that environment is going to help you in the future.
Larry Jordan: Sounds like it could be boiled down to a phrase – don’t think about it, do it.
Kathleen Randazzo: Yes, just do it. Keep doing it and then you’ll make your mistakes along the way and start to polish your craft as you go.
Larry Jordan: Kathleen, where can people go on the web to learn more about you?
Kathleen Randazzo: Well, I have a page on imdb.com.
Larry Jordan: A lovely page, by the way. It was fun to look at today.
Kathleen Randazzo: You can put my name in and find some of my work there; and if you’re interested in the school, you can just put in playhousewest.com and take a look at that website as well and it tells a little bit more about the teachers and what we do there.
Larry Jordan: That’s all one word, playhousewest, playhousewest.com and Kathleen Randazzo is an actor and an acting coach at Playhouse West. Kathleen, thanks for joining us today.
Kathleen Randazzo: Thank you so much, Larry.
Larry Jordan: Watching Michael get ready for this next.
Mike Horton: I thought that was a very good interview.
Larry Jordan: Thank you.
Mike Horton: Very nice. Good questions.
Larry Jordan: She was fun to talk to.
Mike Horton: Yes, she was terrific.
Larry Jordan: And I loved some of her perspectives on the whole concept of being in the moment and listening to what the other actor is saying.
Mike Horton: That’s what it’s all about, Larry. I’ve been telling you that forever. Just listen to me, listen.
Larry Jordan: I’m sorry, what did you say?
Mike Horton: Yes.
Larry Jordan: So now I get to listen to you again, as you step up to the microphone and say?
Mike Horton: Yes, you want to hear some acting?
Larry Jordan: I want to hear some, that would be a first. Are you ready? It’s time for.
Mike Horton: Pick Our Brains.
Larry Jordan: That may not be acting, but it was definitely.
Mike Horton: I tell you, if she was listening.
Larry Jordan: It was stentorian is what it was.
Mike Horton: Auditioning for the part. I would have gotten it.
Larry Jordan: What you got, guy?
Mike Horton: All right, so this is a really simple one because we have to keep it kind of short anyway, but it’s a frequently asked question. This fellow wants to use Final Cut X.
Mike Horton: Not going to apply to anything. He’s going to be purchasing a new iMac and he wants to know how much RAM should he get? I mean, the new iMac can take, what, 32 gigs? Should he get 32 gigs? He’s going to get it with 16, that’s all he can afford. Is that good enough?
Larry Jordan: The minimum really for Final Cut X is eight.
Mike Horton: Right, that’s what it says.
Larry Jordan: 16 is a really good number because it’s a good compromise between the maximum – 32 – and eight. What happens is Final Cut just loads more stuff into RAM, so if you had 32 it would take advantage of it, but you’d be better off getting 16 gig.
Mike Horton: What does that mean, though, when it loads more stuff into RAM? Is RAM just faster than the GPU or something or what?
Larry Jordan: Think of the Roadrunner.
Mike Horton: Yes.
Larry Jordan: Ok, versus a turtle.
Mike Horton: Yes.
Larry Jordan: RAM is the Roadrunner.
Mike Horton: Yes.
Larry Jordan: It’s seriously faster, so if I can take stuff, what we do is we take the information from the hard disk, load it into RAM and rather than having to go back to that really slow hard disk all the time to get more information, which just bogs everything down, it just snaps. To give you an example, I took one of my iMacs from 2010, moved it from four gig of RAM to 16 gig of RAM and I am blown away by how fast it is.
Mike Horton: Just because it would load more stuff into your RAM.
Larry Jordan: Because it loads more stuff into RAM and the RAM is about 1,000 times faster than a hard disk, give or take a couple of thousand.
Mike Horton: Really? A thousand?
Larry Jordan: It’s just amazing.
Mike Horton: I’m going to look that up. You’re making this up as you go along there.
Larry Jordan: But it happens to be true, even though I’m making it up. The other thing is spend the money.
Mike Horton: The trouble is, you say everything with conviction, I believe everything that you say.
Larry Jordan: That’s because you.
Mike Horton: I’m just looking it up right now.
Larry Jordan: Are good at listening.
Mike Horton: You’re right, Larry.
Larry Jordan: The other thing you want to spend money on is don’t spend the money maxing out RAM. I mean, there’ll be a performance improvement, but you’re not going to see that much difference between 16 and 32. What you want to do is.
Mike Horton: Really? Why?
Larry Jordan: Will you let me finish?
Mike Horton: Well ok. Now I’m confused.
Larry Jordan: Spend the money getting a really high end graphics processor, a GPU, and 16 gig because Final Cut uses the GPU extensively and it does the GPU for all of the pixel blasting that it does, so getting a faster GPU is going go give you better performance than maxing out the RAM and getting a faster GPU for Final Cut X is going to be better than if you were to get a super fast CPU, so spend the money on the GPU first, RAM second, CPU third.
Mike Horton: I thought the GPU comes built in and you can’t spend more money on a GPU, it just comes with the iMac and you get what you get.
Larry Jordan: It depends.
Mike Horton: Is there like a built to order GPU?
Larry Jordan: With the new Mac Pro, you can also.
Mike Horton: Well, get a new Mac Pro.
Larry Jordan: So the rules are the same. RAM is important, but once you hit 16 gig, you can wait a while and upgrade later.
Mike Horton: Ok, Larry.
Larry Jordan: So get 16 gig and spend the money on the GPU.
Mike Horton: Once again, I’ve learned a lot.
Larry Jordan: This is why you come here.
Mike Horton: I know, it is.
Larry Jordan: And, by the way.
Mike Horton: Well, that and drink Jane’s wine.
Larry Jordan: You had some great questions today, by the way. I was very impressed with you.
Mike Horton: I did?
Larry Jordan: Yes you did, and I want to thank the guests that impressed me with Michael, which is Brent Bucci, the VP of Developer and Brand Relations for MediaFire.
Mike Horton: Does that mean I get paid?
Larry Jordan: Soon. Eric Daugherty, the writer, director and producer of The Four Players; and Kathleen Randazzo, an acting coach at the highly respected Playhouse West School in Hollywood.
Mike Horton: Eric was awesome. We’ve got to bring him back.
Larry Jordan: We will bring him back.
Mike Horton: Because I know he’s going to be directing. He’s going to be directing.
Larry Jordan: Music on The Buzz provided by SmartSound, streamed by wehostmacs. Our producer is Cirina Catania; the mumbling voice at the other end is Mike Horton.
Mike Horton: Go home and slap myself.
Larry Jordan: My name is Larry Jordan and have a good night.
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