Ashley: Welcome to Episode #247 of the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I’m Ashley Scott Meyers, screenwriter and blogger of the www.sellingyourscreenplay.com. Today I’m interviewing writer, director, producer, editor and actor Josh Folan. He’s a real do-it-yourself filmmaker who’s out there making things happen. He’s another great example of someone who’s just hustling like mad and having some real success too. Stay tuned for that interview. If you find this episode viable please help me out by giving me a review in iTunes or leaving me a comment on YouTube or retweeting the podcast on Twitter or liking or sharing it on Facebook. These social media shares really do help spread word about the podcast so they’re very much appreciated. Any websites or links that I mention in the podcast can be found on my blog in the show notes.
I also publish a transcript with every episode incase you’d rather read the show or look at something later on. You can find all the podcast show notes at www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/podcast, and then just look for Episode Number #247. If you want my free guide- How to Sell a Screenplay in Five Weeks you can pick that up by going to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide. It’s completely free, you just put in your email address and I’ll send you a new lesson once per week for five weeks along with a bunch of bonus lessons. I teach the whole process of how to sell your screenplay in that guide. I’ll teach you how to write a professional log line and query letter and how to find agents, managers and producers who are looking for material. Really it’s everything you need to know to sell your screenplay. Just go to www.sellingyourscreenplay.com/guide.
So now let’s get into the main segment. Today I am interviewing writer, director, producer, editor and actor Josh Folan. Here is the interview.
Ashley: Welcome Josh to the Selling Your Screenplay Podcast. I really appreciate you coming on the show with me today.
Josh: My pleasure man, thank you for having me.
Ashley: So to start out, maybe you can tell us a little bit about your background. Where did you grow up and how did you get interested in the entertainment business?
Josh: [laughs] I grew up in Ohio which is not exactly a breeding ground…well, maybe it is actually a breeding ground for entertainment people. But it certainly was not in the radar of things to do when I was little. I grew up near Cleveland in this little town called Oberlin. Some people have heard of the college, there’s also a small town there [laughs]. I went to Ohio States, I was down in Columbus for five years and then I went to school for finance so business was the trajectory I was on. I had done little modelling stuff through college local entertainment magazines, jury ads, whatever. Some pictures got to an agent in New York right around when I was finishing school and I flew out there, met with them, stayed for a couple of weeks.
I had a buddie that lived in Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan and that went okay. So there was like a six months stint where I was working for a finance firm back in Columbus Ohio and flying out for a week or two a month to New York to do that shit [laughs]. It went okay, and my lease ran up in my apartment back in Ohio and I hated what I was doing for that firm. I was working as a financial advisor…I could give you a long boring story about that but I’ll spare you, and I decided what the hell, you only live once and literally went in on a Saturday, stacked my client’s files up my boss’s desk letter thanking her for everything, left the keys, drove to New York for that stuff. I was there for a couple of months…
Ashley: Let me ask you a couple of questions about that because I know that’s a decision…I was an accounting major in college so [inaudible 00:03:50]. I’d be curious to get your thoughts on making that break. Did you get push back from your parents, presumably they probably helped you through college, they spent all this money on this finance degree and now you’re just headed off to New York, your friends probably were rolling their eyes…And I’m just speaking from experience here because that’s what my friends were doing when I said I’m just going to Hollywood. So maybe you can talk about that, like how did you get through that, did you question your decision and sort of what was your thought process? Because I know there’s people listening to this podcast that are probably in that similar situation.
Josh: I mean, I didn’t really…I don’t know, it’s hard to describe, but I didn’t really have a lot of push back or anything. I was already kind of…I donno, my parents or my aunt and uncle, they’re basically…that’s not my mum and dad. I’m not close to my dad and my mum’s not around anymore. So I don’t really have this parental unit governing me, or I didn’t by then. So yeah, my aunt and uncle are kind of parental figures and I can rely on them but they’re not bearing down on me, they’re not trying to steer me in any direction. They were just kind of like, “Okay, that’s what you’re doing? That’s interesting, where did that come from.” [laughs] Yeah, so I didn’t really have anyone…some of my friends talked shit but if you have good friends they should be talking shit to you for [laughs] whatever you’re doing.
So yes, I really honestly didn’t get a lot of pushback on it. Honestly if I had maybe I wouldn’t have done it and honestly I’m thankful that I didn’t have that. I didn’t have to overcome that because it was just kind of a I don’t like this, this opportunity presented itself, it gets me out of Ohio, that’s probably a plus [laughs] so why not go try and see what happens. So I was very kind of whimsical I suppose. There wasn’t a long lee time on the decision for people to give me a flat really.
Ashley: Yeah, and that’s part of being young. You kind of have those opportunities to try. So pick up your story there, so you moved to New York, you’ve got some modelling gigs, and then how did you transition to acting? How did you transition from modelling to acting?
Josh: I was there for just a couple of months and I booked something at the Comedy Central that was like a half modelling and half acting job that got me an agent. I took some classes, I studied with Master Studios for a while, took some other classes, Penny Templeton and some camera stuff. Not too far into that I booked a role on the soaps All My Children that was like a reoccurring kind of day play ordeal, not a contract role every day or anything that changed your life but it was probably forty something episodes over a three-year span and just that initial thing kind of got me a little bit of legitimacy and got me…the agent was able to send me out and get me auditions.
So that got the acting thing going and they got me into the entertainment industry. But that over the last 13 years is kind of become a very back seat thing to making my own stuff. That opportunity presented itself. I was working on that soap and then one of the other guys on there, he and I started a little theater company where we were producing little Off-Off Broadway shows with the soap…the important soap people that were not us. The contract players, the main characters and soap fans or fanatical and various supportives. So that year or so we were producing little theater shows went pretty well because their fans turned out and bought tickets.
So that got me to the producing and I did a little tiny six kids locked in a house horror film that I acted in and one of the other male leads in that had a script similar to one that I had been writing for a little while in our naivety [laughs]. We decided that going out and raising the money for two things would be easier than just one, and that was wrong, but we did scrape together enough to make one of them and that was the one the All God’s Creatures which was my first written produced feature that came out in 2011 I believe it was.
Ashley: Okay, so let’s dig into All God’s Creatures for a second. I wanna just take a step back. When you were doing these plays, producing these Off-Off Broadway plays, did you start to write, like was it original stuff you were writing? What point did writing become sort of a part of your…
Josh: Yeah, the plays we were doing was all published playwright stuff we were doing. We did like a Howard Carter [inaudible 00:08:34] life. I remember we did some kind of just little multi scene [inaudible 00:08:38] shows. We weren’t writing any of our materials at the theater stage. Yeah, the first thing I wrote, really I even tried to write was All God’s Creatures in all honesty. I didn’t…It’s been a while now but I don’t remember having too many things that I just wrote and threw in a drawer prior to that. Anyway, in the development process that was long. That process started in LA I wanna say. I started writing All God’s Creatures like summer of LA and I didn’t even show it to someone till probably early the next year ’09 and that was Matt who I ended up producing it with, Matt Gerald.
We shot that film March of 2010. So you wanna say two years of writing [laughs] and development and scraping together 21 and a half grand if you call that fundraising, I don’t know.
Ashley: Yeah. Let’s dig into that a little bit. Just in a nutshell, how were you able to raise the money? Was it friends and family, did you just…
Josh: Yes. All God’s Creatures was all friends and family. We shot that on 21 and a half grand. The financiers, actually my [inaudible 00:09:55]. I wrote a book, a case study about doing that first movie. If I can recall the page or the breakdown of the money I think it was like a quarter of that was my girlfriend at the time, another quarter of it was Matt’s dad, another quarter was Matt’s uncle and then the last six and a half grand or so was just like 800 from my aunts, 500 from my buddie Erick that I bartended with. Yeah, just like totally push together whatever little fragments of cash we could get our hands on. We surprisingly didn’t crowd fund any of the initial budget. We did do a crowdfunding campaign for that in post but that wasn’t part of the initial shoot money.
Ashley: Okay, perfect. How can people find…you just mentioned this case study that you created, Film Making The Hard Way. How can people find that if they’re curious to learn more about this?
Josh: That is on whatever EReading platform, Amazon, iBooks, what are the other ones…I don’t know [laughs]. Whatever they are it’s there.
Ashley: What did you do with that film once it was done, did you find a distributor, did you do the festival route? What was your…
Josh: We certainly didn’t premiere on Sundance or anything. I think we premiered at the Hoboken International Festival just outside of New York. We did a few others in the New York area. I wanna say Hoboken is probably the biggest one. So small festivals, little regional things, nothing major. And then I went out to AFM with it out here in Santa Monica Film Market and it was more relevant than it is now to physically be at. But honestly being here really, the story I tell about this, being at the market really wasn’t where anything happened for me, it was the amount of work I did before and after the market and all the outreach. Because really, I was definitely thinking these people are here to sell and buy things and make money and my little tiny film was not gonna do that for anyone.
So getting meetings, which is the goal for a lot of people going to AFM…while you’re there it’s difficult, I had a few but nothing came out of those really. The company that ended up picking it up, Osiris Entertainment which is…they’re based in Chatsworth. They’re a small boutique kind of indie focused distributor out here was a company that I had emailed in my short gun blast to probably 100 companies. When you sign up for the market you get the program of everyone who’s gonna be there and you can kind of go through if you do your due diligence, go through their IMDb, their filmography et cetera, kind of get a feel for what they do film type-wise, the tier of talent in the movies, are they cast driven, like what’s their deal as a company for the most part and decide which ones are good targets.
I did that and probably went a little wider than I probably should have been. But in doing that one of the companies was this one and they weren’t able to meet at the market but doing follow up afterwards, they certainly said they were interested and wanted to take a look at it after the market when things slowed down and doing follow up after that fact they ended up giving us an offer, and yeah, we got a little tiny events. Not a lot but 21 and a half thousand dollars film in events is probably an accomplishment.
Ashley: Yeah, for sure.
Josh: So we were not too disappointed. Yeah, they got it, it came out May of 2011. So yeah, so that we shot that in March of 2010, took us all year to do post on it basically and at the very tail end of the year of the AFMs in late October, early November. So eight, nine months later is when that kind of happened and then we were looking at releasing it…Sorry it came out in 2012, sorry. We were in post all through 2010 and then we did the festival thing throughout 2011. At the end of 2011 is when I [inaudible 00:14:11] AFM, I apologize. Really the next year is when it actually came out in May. So my timeline…it’s more like four years that process [laughs].
Ashley: Yeah, no doubt. So let’s talk about your film Catch 22 based on the unwritten story Seanie Sugrue.
Josh: Seanie Sugrue.
Ashley: Seanie Sugrue…okay, perfect. So you directed and edited that one. I mean, you wrote, produced and acted in All God’s Creatures, so then this next step is actually directing and editing. You’re doing all that stuff plus directing and editing. How did you decide to do that? What was the motivation to do that? You just thought, “I could do a better job than these guys did on All God’s Creatures,” you just had…
Josh: No, no, no, I would never say that. I’m still very close friends of Ryan and Frank, the co-directors of All God’s creatures. I can say this, when you filter your material through another human being and I’m referring to having someone else direct something you wrote, it’s inevitably not going to be the same exact thing you thought when you sat in that room and wrote it yourself because it’s going through another human being. So, that’s not to say that they didn’t do a good job or I don’t like All God’s Creatures, but it did change and there were things that I probably would have done differently. That’s nothing I wouldn’t say that I haven’t told them [laughs].
But we did, it was…I had never directed anything…I’d never written anything before All God’s Creatures and they thankfully did have a grasp on a job that I didn’t know how to do yet, so I’m thankful that they did. I think they did a pretty good job.
Ashley: What did you do to prepare to be a director on this first feature, this Catch 22 feature?
Josh: [inaudible 00:15:56] Catch 22 was not my first. In between All God’s Creatures and Catch 22 I directed this even smaller than All God’s Creatures, a feature What Would Bear Do, that’s like a [inaudible 00:16:08] buddy comedy that me and Matt who’s the other producer on All God’s Creatures. He and I kind of co-wrote together and I shot that back in Ohio where I’m from for like basically 10 grand in 2013. So like a year later I was directing something in Ohio and I hadn’t even done a shot at that point. That was a situation where it was comedy and like what I perceived to be whether it’s open to interpretation after the fact, but what I perceived to be a type of comedy that I didn’t think…I don’t even know if it translated when I did it, but I know or I was sure that it would not translate to anything entertaining if it passed through somebody else.
So What Would Bear Do was the first thing I directed. We shot that with 10 grand, me…it’s like literally, me, the four, five actors and two other people basically [laughs] shooting a film in the woods in rural Ohio. It was interesting. It was an interesting shoot certainly.
Ashley: And how did you learn how to edit, did you edit that one as well?
Josh: No, I did not edit What Would Bear Do. I had the cinematographer Brian edited that. I guess kind of what getting to the point we’re on Catch 22 and then Love Is Dead, the new one that we have coming down the pipe that I directed, I edited that as well. Each time I’ve kind of picked up another hat or two just usually as a producing solution honestly. It’s an inexpensive way, I sit there and I watch. In the case of All God’s Creatures I worked very closely with the directors. I worked on a bunch of sets between then and What Would Bear Do and then further down the line on Catch 22. So I saw more people direct, I got a feel for what it is and hopefully understanding it better.
In the case of material where I wrote it I’m like I think that I’m going to interpret this best and hopefully I have one of the tools necessary in order to execute that just from being around it, seeing other people who are talented and doing it, and I just kind of decided, “Fuck it! Let’s try it and see what happens” And that’s it. You kind of [inaudible 00:18:21] kind of fuck it, let’s see what happens [laughs].
Ashley: So, how did you raise the money for Catch 22?
Josh: Catch 22, it still was people we knew. It wasn’t just family, probably for the first time family and very close friends. But it was still people that…one of the chief financiers of Cath 22 was a guy that bartended in New York for a decade and a bar I worked at for…I don’t know, maybe a year or two. He was one of the regulars there, he worked at Weiser around the corner and…this is kind of the thing, maybe it’s almost a trop of film financing, but most people who finance films, especially smaller films and little independent things where making money is truth be told and being told straight forward, shouldn’t be the chief goal of the business basically, of the company that owns this film because it probably isn’t going to.
So when I sit down with a financier, one of the first things I say is, “This needs to be money that you are totally okay with never seeing again.” I mean, I’m going to try to make money, I have a fiscal interest in this as well, I would love to make money, the more the better doing this, but I understand that the odds are low and you need to understand that too. So yes, most people who do finance smaller or independent projects like a lot of the ones I’ve done are people who work in some field where they make an abundance of money and don’t necessarily love their day to day or at least are not entirely fulfilled by it, and they want to play in the same box that’s a little more fun and or maybe even a lot more fun. Film can very much be that and be a fulfilling thing if you’re part of the story that gets told and actually people see and like.
I think that that is a fulfilling thing especially for someone who day to day works outside of that. And yeah, the chief financier of Catch 22 who put about half the money was just a guy I honestly was not even that close to prior to working on catch 22 together. He was a guy…if he was in New York, he had moved out to New York by the time that film was happening and if he was in town we might get together and have drinks. We went to a Clippers game out here in LA once. We were not close friends and he happened to…I think I went and reached out to him when we first started raising money for Catch 22 and he was like, “Oh man, that’s not something I have money to do or whatever.”
He was like, “But I know people with money and if I see an opportunity I’m happy to pass your stuff along. So that was like the initial interaction with him about that and then at some point down the line he was at a…he had gotten a Christmas bonus or something and he sent me a text from a bar one night. He was bored travelling somewhere and he was like, “Okay man, how much money do you need to do this [laughs]?’ And I was like, “We need x dollars.” He was like, “Alright, let’s do it.” And then that was it, we were in production. So yeah, if you wanna do this I’m on long haul. I would say curate those weird relationships that you have because you never know [laughs].
Ashley: And how do you give folks like that value? Do you include him, take him to the festivals, take him to the premiere, do you give them a small acting role? What is the value do you think that you’re giving this guy?
Josh: Yeah, 100%. Like I said, you are not selling financial remuneration, you are selling involvement with this process and yeah, in the case of Cash 22 we had Matt out to set while we were shooting in Brooklyn and when we premiered at The Palm…we premiered at West Palm Beach…The Palm Beach Film Festival, we of course had him down and he was with us the whole week. Yeah, you want to try to however you can, whatever…part of your job as a producer if you’re fundraising for anything is to know who you’re selling to and how best to sell it to them and why would they wanna be involved, and find a way to try to at least give them some of that. So everything is situational. You certainly can’t say that this is the way that you’ll convince a guy to give you money.
You got to be good at filling people out or at least get good at filling people out and…everything about producing, front to back, from the second you start, if you write it or if you acquire a property script through every last individual you get to watch it. And then the problem never goes away, All God’s Creatures I still deal with on a daily basis to try to monetize it and give the people that were kind enough to give me money for that first tiny little film as much of their money back as possible and maybe someday even make them money which we haven’t done yet [laughs]. You’re always selling. That’s all it is. You’re always constantly in one way or another selling something to someone whether it be getting the distributor to listen to what you’re saying and then like it and put it out there or whatever the market that you’re selling to is.
You got to know what they want to hear, how they wanna hear it and sell it to them that way [laughs].
Ashley: I’m curious…just out of curiosity, what are you doing with All God’s Creatures? Like what can you do with a movie that’s at all…and I actually have a movie from 2009, so same vintage, but it was…the pushback I get now when I’ve sort of taken it to distributors is that we did a shoot back then and it was like 8D was like the best we could do. So we didn’t have the 2K, we certainly didn’t have 4K, so there’s just like a technical challenge that most distributors won’t even look at anymore.
Josh: Yeah, I just had Love Is Dead…I just had something similar to that for a project that isn’t too low grade but just because of the way we did it and the style it looks like it would be standard definition, which is something we can get into. I just heard that from a distributor yesterday. So yes, that can be one thing. Honestly with the library, which is what I call all the overall things library titles…you just piece some things together from anywhere and a great company that I love, I don’t know if you’re familiar with them, Film Hub, formerly Kino Nation, they’re a self-distribution minded company that basically you can work with non-exclusively. They have relationships with a million different platforms.
All the big ones but a million that you haven’t heard of either. Crazy, the China [inaudible 00:25:12] just all over the world like [inaudible 00:25:15] amount of things that are able to generate little tiny amounts of money for those library titles. And yeah, they’re fantastic. You basically put your assets…literally over there there’s a laptop uploading right now [laughs] [inaudible 00:25:31] Love Is Dead. So they’re fantastic [inaudible 00:25:36] for years. The guy who founded it, Roger Jackson is a filmmaker too so he gets it. BidSlate is another one, another company that’s kind of like that. They’re non-exclusive, they’re a little more…they’re still kind of just aggregating to [inaudible 00:25:54] platforms too but they also are physically attending the markets and they’re kind of trying to put together all out of those foreign territory deals like a traditional distributor would do to makes sales harder for those other older titles but you never know.
Ashley: What’s the name of that company?
Ashley: BidSlate, okay. I’m writing all this stuff down because I’m gonna need to…
Josh: It’s good to have something from you too instead of me just rumbling on your face for an hour [laughs].
Ashley: Okay, so let’s talk a little bit about Love Is Dead. That’s another film you wrote, directed, produced, acted in and edited. Maybe you can tell us a little bit about that film. What is sort of the premise or logline to that one?
Josh: It is an adoption of a play that my good friend Seanie Sugrue who is a real human being and I guess we didn’t really get to that on Cash 22. Cash 22 I did with a friend of mine who had never made a movie before. He was a guy that I bartended with for…I donno, two or three years around when I was making All God’s Creatures actually. He’s a music supervisor and maybe just a special thanks because he found us the music on All God’s Creatures. He trickles in a lot of my past credits just from knowing him. Catch 22 is the first formal thing we worked on and that was we co-wrote together. That was an idea that he…basically we went and saw our movie Fruitvale Station which if you’ve ever seen is fantastic.
But we went and saw that together. He was like six months sober at the time and he had called me randomly on a day, afternoon in the middle of the summer, I have to go see a movie. I wasn’t doing [inaudible 00:27:40] I didn’t think anything of it. And we went and saw a Fruitvale Station when we were walking out of the theater and that book had just come out, the Filmmaking The Hard Way. So I was talking about this long form thing that I was starting to write, I still haven’t finished. He was like, “I started to write something once,” and I didn’t know him to be a writer, so I was like, “Wow, what the fuck were you gonna write Seanie, teach me. What was it you were gonna write?”
Basically the story he told me walking out that theater was the foundation for watch Catch 22 became. He tells me this set up, this premise and I’m like, “You’re not gonna write that? That’s a good idea dude.” He’s like, “I already got past the title page…”
Ashley: And what was the premise?
Josh: Oh yeah, with Catch 22 it’s basically these five guys, they’re like hard lived blue-collar guys, they grew up in Brooklyn together. One of them gets arrested for small time drug trafficking charges so he’s going away to prison for a few years. His buddies take him out as a sendoff celebration kind of deal the morning prior to the day he has to turn himself in to begin serving the sentence. The story starts at sunset of that day prior. They’ve been partying all day and they’re waking up in his apartment and they don’t really remember why they passed out or what happened basically and there’s a dead girl in the apartment with them. The initial thing is then kind of like trying to piece together what the hell happened, why that’s the case.
None of them claim to know why she’s dead. So that’s the initial thing but honestly the long run of it is much more of these five dudes finally addressing all this horrific shit from their past that they haven’t really talked about or approached because that’s just how they are. This situation is cataclysmic enough to initiate that. I can’t really give you the tail end of it that really did. The thing that he said, like the idea that Seanie gave me that was kind of the hook of it all is a very integral plot point so I can’t really explain what that is. But it was good enough where I was like, “Holy shit dude, that’s worth doing!” I literally I’m like saying this to him as I’m hammering things into my note on my phone as we’re walking. We ended up deciding to co-write that.
So I was fingers the keyboard on it but we met and talked about it and kind of hushed out plot points et cetera to round up the story to a fully fleshed out thing. So we did that film together, we raised the money for it, once failed Kickstarter, one that kind of worked and then the crazy bar story that I already told you about that my buddie that I knew from bartending threw in a lot of the money. So we got that one done. In doing that in between that time and when we shot Love Is Dead because he also…he wrote that, it’s his play and I did the adoption but it was basically just [inaudible 00:30:50]. I called a [inaudible 00:30:51] it’s literally just from like in a play format to screenplay format is really all I did, I didn’t change anything.
In between doing those two films he…it was like six or seven, he basically started writing. That movie gave him the confidence to start writing and start doing his own thing. He’s written and produced now like six or seven plays in probably a three year span. He just got his first…he wrote and directed a bunch of little shots and he just finished shooting, he’s actually back in New York right now, he just moved out here too. He’s back in New York right now doing post on a film he shot like a month and a half ago. So it’s an awesome thing to me that like this crazy ass going to see a movie because he was kind of freaking out about [inaudible 00:31:40] situation turned into creating this filmmaking career.
That’s a really cool thing. But anyways, so Love Is Dead to answer your question there that you asked 10 minutes ago, Love IS Dead is an adoption of a play that he did a couple of years ago that he actually sent to me prior to being produced right as we were leaving to go to the Palm Beach Festival that Catch 22 premiered at. He sends me this play and like I’m like a third way into it, I’m like, “Dude, this is fucking hilarious man!” It’s like everything he does is so dark and twisted yet somehow funny. That’s kind of what we tried to do with Catch 22. It’s very serious subject matter but everything that the guys deal with they deal with via humor. So Catch 22 is a little bit of that but his plays are like absurdist and they’re like over the top weird and stylized…and dark, but like hilarious.
So this was one of those and I was like dude, this is basically three long scenes happening in three different New York apartments like we could make this into a film pretty cheap knowing how to make things cheaply which is what I’ve gotten good at over the years. So let’s do it. So we were kind of already going on that next thing before we had even started to get Catch 22 out into the world literally. We made that decision right before the festival from there. So Love Is Dead Is basically about…there’s a lose through line to it but it’s basically three sitcom scenarios, like really twisted family situations, each one happening in one interior apartment in New York. We shot it like a sitcom. So we got this…actually it’s just a stage theater in Lions City in New York in Queens, and we kind of converted it into a sound stage kind of.
It’s by no means a sound stage and we had a million problems doing it that way but it was infinitely cheaper that obviously getting the south stage. So we shot it three cameras, we shot it on iPhones 6Ss but we did it in a three camera traditional sitcom set up. So yes, we had three iPhones going at all times basically and we shot the pieces like plays basically. We shot each individual thing in their entire 25, 30 minutes-ish and random as plays basically. The production situation was obviously very similar to the way a sitcom would do it. We did like a whole day of just rehearsal for each of the three episodes…that’s what we wanna call them. In the movie we did like a day of just rehearsal.
Our cinematographer was there but no other crew, me and the actors and then we did a day where the crew came in and we kind of ran a few more rehearsals in the morning for everyone to see, kind of tech rehearsals if you will and then shot just some little insert things kind of just to get the crew warmed up and then that second afternoon we would do four run throughs with the piece with no expectations of actually getting anything useful. And then on the third day we came in and we’d shoot just random things into the ground, front to back all day long. That was the production process for each one. And then we would have one day off between each episode where we would tear the whole set down. Our directors Kim and Taylor did a fantastic job of tearing the whole set down and building a whole new New York apartment on the stage there.
And then a day after that we would be doing that first rehearsal day on the next episode. So then in post basically to make again driving the sitcom thing home, we shot it in the four by three aspect ratio, we used this…Red Giant is the name of the company of these plug ins, these premiere plug ins that allow you to kind of degrade and do a million things actually above and beyond what we were using it for, for Love Is Dead but we basically gave it kind of this VHS Standard definition warm feel…and yeah, we ended up cutting then these weird, old PSAs and commercials from the ‘70s and shit that are super weird and off putting. I was kind of amazed. In doing the research I was amazed at some of the stuff that the government was putting on TV as public announcement content.
I won’t even try to explain it, see the movie when it comes out and if nothing else. f it’s not entertaining on contents you’ll be amazed that these are actual PSAs that run national broadcast television in the ‘70s and in the early ‘80s. It’s mind blowing. So yes, it was commercial breaks, I mean, just the whole way with making it…it feels like you’re watching a Sunday night like limited mini-series or something in like the early ‘80s but this content could never be on television. It’s way more dark, twisted and fucked up than anything any network television or station would ever put on TV.
Ashley: So how did you raise the money for this one?
Josh: That one was even less money. We did that for probably half what we shot Catch 22 on and yeah, same thing. We went back to a lot of the same people that we raised money on Catch 22 from. Part of it was Seanie’s other half that his production company locked in the other productions. His girlfriend Amanda was one of our financiers on Catch and this. She was also one of our producers on both, not just because of the money but because she was amazing in a million other ways [laughs]. So yes, a lot of the same usual suspects for Catch 22 actually, but a lot less money.
Ashley: So let’s talk about Ask For Jane. This is actually one where you didn’t do everything yourself. So I’d be curious to kind of get your perspective on that. You produced it and you acted in it but you didn’t edit, direct it. How did you get involved with that project?
Josh: That was I produced a film that is hopefully unique during this festival run at some point the next year post on it has been very long but Camp Wedding and the director for that Greg Emetaz is in the writing group in New York called Shelter- that’s the name of the group, and these two women in his writing group after we had produced Camp Wedding…A Short Camp Wedding rather were looking for someone, a producer who knew how to stretch a dollar and…that was probably the main thing, knew how to stretch a dollar. He recommended me to them and Kat Johnston and [inaudible 00:39:11] is how she goes now, she has changed her professional name since, and Rachel Kerry and they had the script for that and they sent it to me.
It is about this group of women in the late 60s, they were an actual…it’s based on a true story, these women really existed, that were going to school to The University of Chicago, college freshmen like 18 or 19 year old girls. One of their friends got pregnant inadvertently unexpectedly or however you wanna term that and her parents were ultra-religious, they were gonna pull her out of school, ruin her life basically if she has this kid or told them about this kid. So her friends, you know, abortion was illegal at the time but it was still happening [inaudible 00:40:08]. So this group of girls found her a doctor that would perform the abortion for an amount of money that they could scrape together for her and then they actually did scrape together the money and for [inaudible 00:40:24] saved her life.
She was able to finish school and live normal lifestyle without whatever. And in doing that they decided that this was a service that needed to exist. And so these young girls installed a phone line in their dorm room, advertised in the newspapers like they were selling something that you could advertise in newspapers and basically told people in the ad to call this number and ask for Jane if you need this kind of help or need information or in this situation and just wanna talk to someone. And it became like a big thing basically. They ended up doing it all through school, even when they graduated they moved out to the suburbs, they kept doing it and eventually they were…because it was legal, they were eventually brought up on charges for it.
By the letter of the law at the time three people in a room talking about an abortion, Technically it was a conspiracy declared murder by the letter of the law. So eventually these women ended up getting multiple charges, they had like 100 years each hanging over their head, mid-twenties girls otherwise normal beyond they were involved with this organization. And so they went to trial and it actually ran parallel with Robert [inaudible 00:41:49] trial. By the time their trial concluded Robert’s already came down and it was no longer illegal to have done what they did, but that doesn’t matter, you broke the law when it was still illegal. But between that public pressure of that being the case and none of the women that the State was saying that they murdered the children of would testify against them, so all the evidence the State had was circumstantial and the women all ended up getting off and they didn’t serve a…they served a little jail time, but basically no actual sentence.
Ashley: It sounds like a fascinating story, it sounds like just a type of thing that would do great on festivals but it does not sound super cheap. I mean, a period piece, you got uniforms, you got costumes, cars, hair…
Josh: No question, yeah. It was pre-released so I can’t say exact numbers, but it very not the amount of money you need to make a period piece. It was still relatively…certainly it wasn’t 21 and a half thousand dollars like we made All God’s Creatures with. We had some money but nowhere near enough and it was insane. We shot that at 24 days of production, 73 speaking roles, I think it was 54 locations, the crew hovered around 25 headcount a day, it was crazy. It was absolutely insane. The fact we got to the finish line is amazing to me. The fact that we have a beautiful movie that people are responding to…we had our first festival announcement that I can talk about, the Napa Valley Film Festival out here, it’s playing at November. We have a couple more before that but literally the [inaudible 00:43:36] thing will probably be dropping any day now.
There are fantastic festivals and we’re absolutely thrilled to have that playing in all of them. We have that and there’s two more others that haven’t been publicly announced. So we’re in five, one is announced and with the way it’s looking I would say there’ll be plenty more over the next year because of the prestige of the five that we’re in I think translates well to having a really nice festival run, which is awesome because a lot of movies I do are so niche and in a lot of cases dark and just not for everyone. And Ask For Jane is not for everyone. There’s a lot of festivals that we haven’t gotten into because I think it is very controversial. We depict abortion on screen which is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is such a widely topical thing and so politically charged that there are enough people that I think it is their cup of tea.
I think it’s gonna do very well. But a lot of stuff I do does not strike a nerve with people in the same way that Ask For Jane will and does. So it’s awesome to be part of something that probably is more than just a story.
Ashley: Yeah. So ultimately what do you see…like what do you wanna do? Do you wanna continue to wear tones of hats or do you wanna eventually get to the point where maybe you’re only wearing one or two? What would those one or two be, what’s sort of your primary focus, directing, writing, acting, producing?
Josh: The thing I do most and most naturally and probably with the most ease is producing. I do a ton of that for hire, I do a lot of line producing and production management too, things that I don’t necessarily have a creative hand in. So that’s the thing that I do the most. But I certainly love when I am able to tell a story that whether I wrote or helped get from paper form or PDF form to film form and being involved with whether it be directing it or just working with the writer or editing, whatever it might be. I certainly love that stuff and I hope to keep doing it. The filmmakers that I most love the work of are Duplass Brothers, Sean Baker, people like that they are kind of do it all at any cost people.
They’re character driven stories, usually smaller ideas budget conscious films, things that are just kind of simpler and [inaudible 00:46:20]. Everything the Duplass Brothers touch I am just like fanatical about like Steven Sean Baker. I don’t know, actually [inaudible 00:46:26] was a little bit of a regression in my opinion, but Tangerine and [inaudible 00:46:32] amazing films. So much energy in them and like he did those with nothing and for nothing and that’s so cool to me too. Part of this is because it’s not a choice, everyone would love to have more money, but I do love that when you’re faced with the problem of having no money and you’re trying to tell the story the best way you can, a lot of times the restrictions can serve what you’re doing.
As long as you from the start know that that’s the kind of project you’re making and you’re not trying to fit $100 million action movie into a $50,000 budget, if you’re conscious and understanding of what you have from the start and you either write or work with a write to tell your story in a way that can fit into what your known budget range is gonna be, a lot of those restrictions can often be…you know, some of my favorite things about even that first one All God’s Creatures are scenes where we didn’t have the thing that I had wanted when I had sat and wrote it in that room alone at first. We weren’t able to find there’s a claw machine scene in All God’s Creatures where the two leads are on a kind of a first date thing.
A serial killer and a prostitute are on their first date together and in the script the way I wrote it they were at the movie theater and there was a claw machine at the lobby… We looked at all these movie theaters in New Jersey and of course New York too, all of them way beyond our location budget situation. The whole time we’re doing that we’re getting…we were like a week out from shooting and we didn’t have that location that’s pivotal and key for the film and I went down to 108 Street in a Spanish Harlem in Manhattan at the time and at the end of my block there was a [inaudible 00:48:23] with this shitty claw machine outside that I don’t think I ever saw anyone actually put a quarter in to play and the stuff in it was crappy and awful, you would have wanted to anyways.
But it was sitting outside and it was a claw machine and it was right down the block from the apartment that we shot most of the film in my apartment. So I was coming back probably from getting a rejection somewhere to shoot the scene and I was like, “What, fuck we’re going to shoot it here.” Forget it, it’s [inaudible 00:48:49] it will be super easy run to get…it’s right there with this [inaudible 00:48:53] shooting stuff. Honestly the film is this gritty New York story about these two underbelly people, a serial killer and a prostitute and if we had shot some beautiful movie theater lobby like I thought I wanted or I thought I needed I don’t think that would serve the overall feel of the movie as well as that gritty, awful claw machine sitting on a sidewalk in Spanish Harlem. If we had had the money I never would have shot that [laughs].
Ashley: Yeah, sure. So what’s next for you, what are you looking at down the pipe?
Josh: Well, we’re doing the Ask For Jane festival run, Love Is Dead…we are probably gonna self-distribute that. We still have a little bit of festival play possibility for it but we’re probably gonna self-distribute it and we’re looking at doing that releasing on thanksgiving because it’s about family even though it’s fucked up families. So we’ll release that on Thanksgiving I think. Then I have a couple of things I wrote, my next writing thing is a few drafts in and I’m working to shoot that back in Oberlin where I’m from actually inside the next year. I’m kind of still shopping the script around, getting feedback. I’ve even starts raising money for it so whether or not they materialize on the timeline that I would like is who the hell knows. But the main things are Ask For Jane and Love Is Dead and getting those out in the world.
Ashley: Okay, perfect. And what did you see…I just like to end up the interviews by asking the guest what they’ve seen that they thought was really great. Just some recommendations, I mean, there’s so much great TV, so maybe a movie or something. And maybe there’s something…
Josh: Sorry To Bother You, have you seen Sorry To Bother You yet?
Ashley: No, but I’ve heard it’s really good, yeah.
Josh: It is so fucking brilliant! I don’t even know where to begin. It’s just so good. So good!
Ashley: Okay, I’ll put that on my list. How can people see your film, it sounds like all the available platforms, iTunes, Amazon, some of these back catalogue films [crosstalk].
Josh: Yeah, you can go to my website, it’s www.nyehentertainment.com and you can find everything there but they’re also all located on Amazon and wherever you watch movies it’s on most of the platforms.
Ashley: Yeah, and what’s the best way for people to keep up with you? I will put your website in the show notes but Twitter, Facebook, do you use any of those services, anything you’re comfortable sharing.
Josh: Yeah, I have on Twitter @Josh Folan, @myshiftkeyisbroke on Instagram and also you can find me on Facebook’s Twilight Pages and my own personal thing. Yeah, I say in my book and I put an email address in there. If you have a question and wanna ask some asshole who has done a bunch of difficult things, don’t ever hesitate to ask me. I think one of my indie heroes is Ted Hope and his whole philosophy is basically if there were more transparency and more of a willingness to help each other this industry would be a lot easier because it’s already hard the idea of trying to make it opaque and not giving each other information whenever we can only makes it harder.
Ashley: Yeah, for sure. That’s a great way to wrap up the interview because I appreciate your coming on and being so candid, talking about budgets. I know a lot of people kind of shy away from that so I totally agree with you. Transparency and just being honest with people I think it will make all of our lives better and easier.
Josh: No doubt man. Thank you so much man, I appreciate…
Ashley: Perfect, I really appreciate you contacting me and coming on. This is a great interview.
Josh: Awesome, thank you man. I’ll talk to you.
Ashley: Talk to you later, bye.
I just wanna talk quickly about SYS Select. It’s a service for screenwriters to help them sell their screenplays and get writing assignments. The first part of the service is the SYS Select screenplay database. Screenwriters upload their screenplays along with a log line, synopsis and other pertinent information like budget and genre and then producers search for and hopefully find screenplays that they wanna produce. Dozens of producers are in the system looking for screenplays right now. I launched this service at the beginning of this year and we’ve already started to see some success stories. You can check out SYS Podcast Episode #222 with Steve Deering. He was the first official success story to come out of the SYS Select database. You can learn about all of this by going to www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com.
When you join SYS Select you get access to the screenplay database that I just mentioned along with all the other services that we’re providing to SYS Select members. Those services include the monthly newsletter that goes out to our list of 400 producers who are actively seeking writers and screenplays. Each SYS Select member can pitch one screenplay in this monthly newsletter. We also have partnered with one of the premier paid screenwriting leads sites so I can syndicate their leads to SYS Select members. There are lots of great paid leads coming in each week from our partner. Recently we’ve been getting five to ten high quality paid leads per week. These leads run the game, there’s producers looking for specific types of spec script to producers looking to hire a screenwriter to write up one of their ideas or properties.
They’re are looking for shots, they’re looking for features, TVs and web series pilots, all types of different projects. If you sign up for SYS Select you’ll get these leads emailed directly to you several times per week. Also you can get access to the SYS Select forum where we will help you with your log line and query letter and answer any screen writing related questions that you might have. Also in the forum are all the recorded screenwriting classes that I’ve done over the years, so you’ll have access to all of those as well. The classes cover every part of the writing process from concept to outlining to the first act, second act, third act as well as other topics like writing short films and pitching your projects in person. Once again, if this sounds like something you would like to learn more about please go to www.sellingyourscreenplayselect.com.
On the next episode of the podcast I’m gonna be interviewing writer Craig-Walendziak. He’s another great example of a screenwriter who doesn’t live in Hollywood but has started to sell some scripts and get writing assignments despite the fact being so far away from Hollywood. We dig into his various projects and how he’s been able to land these writing assignments as well as how he’s been able to option and sell some of his spec scripts. Keep an eye out for that episode next week. That’s the show, thank you for listening.