Audiovisual Cultures episode 82 – Film and Video Production with Justin McAleece automated transcript

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this is audiovisual cultures the podcast that explores different areas of the arts and cultural production with me paula blair visit forward slash av cultures to find out more and to join the pod i am really pleased to be joined across the atlantic and very far across the whole continent by justin mcelis hello justin how are you i’m doing excellent how are you today i’m good thank you you’re going to talk to us about your work in directing and cinematography is that right yeah absolutely there’s quite a lot of areas we can get into it’d be interesting to think about the relationship or maybe the differences between working for yourself and being someone for hire in film and television and you work across quite a lot of media don’t you yeah exactly there’s a lot of different types of videos we do for a lot of different types of clients and sometimes it’s we are the client so yeah just like you’re saying depending on who’s your boss there’s a variety of reasons you would want it to be one way or the other the sorts of work that you do we’re talking music videos commercials for television feature-length films and you work across different genres i’ve seen you you’ve done some documentary and mockumentary yeah exactly and then um i would add to that uh a lot of what we do is corporate video production so that’s a lot of that’s talking heads you know we go to a company and they have some new information about some new products or new things that they’re moving into different sectors within their company that sort of thing and we we talk to them and do interviews and b-roll so a lot of what we do ends up being that which is great because they have a story to tell and we can get it out there and those oftentimes you know for anyone who’s looking to go into video production i would never ignore that because they have some money to spend they know what they want they’re generally not what would you say everything’s not writing on that one video whereas when you do say like a local commercial for a company that’s a huge deal to them and then they you’re much more worried that they’re gonna get every dime out of it whereas if you’re working for a fortune 500 company and they’re putting together a video that’s just one of many things that they’re gonna do and so there’s a little less pressure to guarantee things that you can’t really guarantee when you’re talking about local commercials it’s a little bit of a different situation in that regard gosh that’s really interesting yes i don’t think i’ve ever spoken to somebody who makes corporate videos and these would be something that would be contained within the company is that right yeah some are internal some are external it sort of depends what it is a lot of things we’re doing these days because the covate is internal to whereas we are making something just to show to all the shareholders or all the employees they’re all at a company meeting that they would normally have in person but now they’re not doing that so that’s a lot of what it has been recently just this year but in general it’s forward-facing it’s out on youtube on their web page there are a lot of them are explainer videos you know to where a sales person takes it out or would you mail it to people and they’re like well what do you do and we’re like well here’s a three minute video showing you exactly what we do so we specialize in that and i think that’s pretty useful do you think that sort of format is very different in production from the other kinds of work that you do i think that there are parallels in just about everything we do i you get to take more artistic license certainly on say a music video or your own short film where you do anything you want but you know that’s the double-edged sword of anything creative is when you get all the ability to do whatever you want then it is much harder to make a decision you get that option paralysis which tends to be an issue whereas when you’re working with a client or let’s say you have an agency and then you’re working with a video production company inside of that agency and then they have a client then a lot of the decisions are already made for you in sort of a freeing sort of way it’s the opposite of what you would think sometimes it’s a little bit counterintuitive you know they’ve already decided what’s gonna happen how it’s gonna happen who the people are what the props are all that stuff you get to go in there and optimize that so you know exactly what your sandbox is whereas when you’re making something for yourself who knows what the sandbox could be and so it gets a little overwhelming at times i think there are definitely good things about both or any of the different ways you know within that that you could be able to do work and do good work i imagine that variety really keeps things interesting you wouldn’t get bored easily yeah it helps me because it is a bit taxing to be able to do all your own stuff because then there’s no one on the line but you and you know and you have to do soup to nuts on everything and then you just get tired at the end of the day and there’s a lot more chance for them uh what do you want to say maybe imposter syndrome or or thinking like what am i even doing here this sucks and no one’s gonna see this for a while this is a mess you know whereas if you’re doing it for someone else then after every shot they’re like oh that was good let’s move on to the next one you’re like good accomplished i did it something’s great we can move on you know it’s just a different idea yeah it’d be good to talk about your your work involved with music because you do make a lot of music videos and you’ve made music documentaries um would you be happy to talk us through some of that please and maybe similarities and differences and maybe working with musicians and collaboration yeah absolutely music videos are fun because all bets are off in a lot of ways you have a lot more room for creativity they also often are longer days or more complicated days you’re trying to get trying to fit more things into less time a lot of times sometimes you’re dealing with people who have never done a video before so this might be the first time that an artist is venturing into this which can get a little complicated and they have something in their mind that might not actually pan out on screen you’re also dealing with the fact that you want to do something original and what do you want to say you want to break the mold with these people but you also can’t really do that because you have to fit within the certain criteria of what they think a music video should be and a lot of times a lot of music in general is people finally getting to the point where they could produce the thing that they liked 10 years ago that’s the reason a lot of music feels like you may have heard it before just because you a lot of people grow up liking songs or you know in when they were 20 or whatever they had their favorite band and then 30 and then 10 years later maybe they were able to actually make that same music so you end up in a situation where not only are they producing music that is somewhat similar maybe their own twist on it of something that had come before but they also probably want the video of the thing that they had seen at the time but just slightly updated so there’s some dynamics at play there that are a little complicated because you want to do something brand new but you also want to do something that harkens back to what that music is to the rest of the people who would be listening to that song so you have a there’s a lot of requirements in in making a music video to make it fresh but classical you know you’re always arguing with yourself between those two things and there’s a lot of things you can do visually to get those accomplished um you’re also trying to get the artists themselves front and center you know having a very what you would say a very concept-y video i don’t know if you’ve ever seen a tool video for instance but you don’t really see tool the band in any of the tool videos and it’s all this claymation and all this other stuff that may work for certain bands but it’s not going to work for a lot of them who just this might be their only time to get in front of the camera so you’re beholden to a lot of things while making a music video that you wouldn’t maybe think that you were you’re like well just go do this thing it’ll be easy and it’s it’s a little more complicated than that moving from those short form types of films and videos to something longer form so the likes of music documentaries and you’ve made one um the art of organized noise is that right yeah exactly so i wasn’t the director on that i was the i was one of the cinematographers but that was a lot of fun we got to do a lot in a very short amount of time which was great because documentaries can often consume a lot of time but we were able to knock out a bunch of interviews we ended up shooting about half of it maybe more than that of the final documentary in a short amount of time which was great and we met some famous people and we heard some just really interesting stories something that i didn’t understand how that part of the business worked i didn’t know the stories behind any of those songs you know there’s a couple very famous songs certainly outcast the rap group out of the dirty south out of georgia and atlanta they’re a big part of that story the first song that they did was the song waterfalls by tlc that was their first one that hit big so everyone sort of knows that song yeah and it was a great place to be they have this place called the dungeon and it was just pretty fascinating so working on something like that you know we go in there and we try to get as much as we can we try to make it look to have a certain vibe throughout so we picked some gels you know to get a little technical we like we fell into some specific colors that we wanted that stuff to be and made it a little moodier than i would normally shoot maybe and had it more shadowy more saturated more punchy than some things we end up doing and you know that looks totally different than a commercial you would put on tv but you try to get some gravity out of the out of the visuals and out of the cinematography that you’re putting into it and hopefully that connects with the viewer and it feels maybe something like that they had seen before out of another band or group or rap artist that they had seen tour they can be like oh i get it this is like the same level if not bigger than that like this makes sense to me i understand what i’m watching and why i’m watching it that’s what you’re always trying to do you’re trying to put people in a place and connect with something that they a shared experience previously and then twist it on its head a little bit that’s sort of the role of a storyteller remind them of something that they already are familiar with so that you can pull it take it back twist it and give it back to them to where they feel like it’s new do you find that if you’re working as a cinematographer there’s a difference between working in fiction or something more structured and planned any differences between that and a documentary where you’re filming really in the moment and it’s a live event that you’re capturing do you think there are differences or is it you do what you’re told to do or how much license do you have typically we have a decent amount of license i would say you know in terms of how it’s lit and what the overall approach is a lot of that’s being decided ahead of time though hopefully when you get on set a lot of your decisions are already made because you’ve made them with the producer the director the writer whoever happens to be and you already know what you’re trying to accomplish and i mean really that’s what it comes down to it’s not like oh what do i want to do in this situation that’s like a very fourth tier sort of concept you want to be like what serves the story what will help the director accomplish the most amount of information in the least amount of time and really that’s what you’re trying to do david fincher american director has a quote you know like basically my job as a director is deciding what information to give out when and that’s really what directing is about and by proxy that’s what cinematography is about is putting people with a sense of what the context is what the vital information about a frame is and where to lead their eye and how to feel about it subconsciously without even attempting to tell them why they feel about a certain way with the actors or the dialogue or the action or any of that stuff just like you know one second in you’re like oh i get what this is you know so that’s really what you’re attempting to do in all cases i don’t know if i answered your question exactly but you know that that’s our job no that’s really useful i think you have been working on projects quite recently haven’t you are you seeing any real differences in the current climate with things i mean i don’t know how exactly how things are with you you’re in california is that right yeah in the uk we’re on quite a major lock line at the moment with kovitz i don’t know how things are we we hear not great things about the us but um but all the states are different i think so yeah what’s going on no they definitely get to choose their own path in a lot of ways we are somewhat locked down you know a lot of the things are still not open a lot of businesses it is not life as usual by any stretch of the imagination but what we’re able to do is go out and shoot with small crews with masks with taking precautions making sure that we got antibacterial stuff standing by you know once we do that we’re in decent shape i haven’t been on any sets where anyone’s been sick and i haven’t heard of anyone being sick related to those sets that i’ve had anything to do with so we we have a 100 track record as far as i can tell so far which is pretty great and yeah as long as you’re careful as long as you’re wearing your mask as long as you’re being aware of all the criteria then i think it’s okay we’ve definitely been doing other stuff than we normally would we’ve done a bit more live stuff live switching between multiple cameras we’ve done more like uh like i was saying the ceo comes on he does a stand-up we’re gonna do on something on thursday tomorrow of uh someone you know being there and just talking to the rest of the company basically and so the types of things we’ve shot has changed a bit and we’re not doing any big movies that either were some things that we had planned on doing that we can’t do yet but we we should be engaged in one of those in uh february march that i’m very much looking forward to so we’ll see as the timing changes how that all develops but yeah it’s a weird world out there could i ask you as well about your production company it’s blair media that’s right just uh a bit of background about how you go about establishing such a company and what people’s roles are that sort of thing sure yeah so we’ve been blur media for about 15 years now it’s been quite a while we 2005 2004 somewhere in there we started it is a lot of work to keep a video production company going especially at first it gets easier as it goes along i think as with most things it’s important you know you got to think of it as a normal startup of anything it’s like you have to put in a ton of time to do everything you can do it yourself a lot of times you know you don’t get to hire other editors or other people doing data like one thing that has changed over my time is not having to worry about all the hard drive stuff as much as i used to because i have other people doing that so having someone maybe not solely focused on that but being able to make sure that all that stuff is getting done properly saves me from having to be there every sunday night until 2 a.m worried about where all the data is and what hard drives it’s on and all these other things so that’s definitely in video production when you’re producing just an incredible amount of data that’s something to be aware of much like it is to be aware of your taxes and your accounting stuff you know those are things that i’m not that’s not my job per se but i have to worry about it as a small business owner and so getting people from the start and getting that ironed out as much as possible from the start i think we made some mistakes here and there of not maybe it’s just one of those things you could put on the back burner like we have a shoot we have a shoe we have a shoe we have shoot six months down the line you’re like oh we should have been worried about this thing a little bit more and making sure that we had our priorities straight into terms of that but it’s always a push pull you know you’re trying to make a buck so that you can pay the man so you can pay out your people so that you can give them more money and there are a lot of contingencies there that all have to fall in place simultaneously to have a successful company so you’re always fighting for that it’s a long road but i think once you establish it well enough then it does sort of become self-perpetuating to an extent which is great good great stuff it’d be really great now to turn to the really big project that you’ve had for a while of your own brick madness and to talk a bit about your film i mean so you’ve done so much work where you’re working for other people but is it right that this is really your baby this one yeah definitely my baby along with the some of my other friends and family but yeah 2009 we’re on the set of another movie we were thinking that we really wanted to do one of our own things in our inaudible hubris we’re saying that like hey this should be easy we’ll get this done in a few weeks we’ll show everyone else how easy it is and simple it’s going to be to make a feature film and that was 11 years ago and so here we are with the movie it has finally been distributed we entered into pre-sales a couple weeks ago december 22nd it will be on amazon and so really excited about that shortly thereafter it will be on the other assorted s foreign all the other stuff that you would normally find movies on it’ll be in a bunch of those places so we’re looking forward to that it’s a comedy it’s a 99 minute comedy about a national lego tournament in our world we call them bricks so it’s a mockumentary it’s a fake documentary and we had a just an incredible fun time doing it i think it shows up on screen i think the ebullience of our participation in it with my friends and family i think i really got something out of it i hope they feel the same way and we’ve really heard from other people watching like it feels like a documentary i did another podcast a couple weeks ago and one of the guys there’s two hosts on and he called up the other host after watching part of the movie and he’s like he was canadian he’s like this is a real this is an actual documentary right the other guy’s like no no it’s a fake documentary it’s all made up and he’s like my mind is bl nerd my head’s bleeding dude there’s no way this has to be a real thing he’s like no it’s all made up no no way so i was like that’s cool i’m really glad that they got that sort of um impression out of it that it could have been real that it could have been you know actual people doing these actual quirky weird things with their life i’m real proud of that and i’ve heard that before it’s fun it’s entertaining and we put a lot of time into it so we want people out there to watch it and enjoy it i think it’s you know i stand fully behind it and i’m like no this is a fun movie not just because i made it but i think i would like it regardless so there’s that yeah you made something that you want to watch yourself yeah tarantino said that you know that someone asked him like what’s your favorite movie and he said the one i just made that’s why i made it so i think there’s a little bit of a little bit of wisdom in in that and like why would you be making something that you didn’t want to see you know that seems stupid that’s not saying it’s the best that’s just saying it’s my favorite i think that’s a fun place to be at least recently there’s been a documentary series on netflix about the history of gaming i can’t remember what it’s called now but um it’s really really good there are episodes where the arcades got really popular and there are these massive tournaments and it reminded me of that actually the footage that they showed of that of all these kids piling into these venues to start playing arcade games in tournaments yeah i’ve i haven’t clicked on that i have a nasty habit of not wanting to see anyone do what i’m doing before i’m fully done with it that sort of thing and i get a lot of uh the resentment rages in me when i’m like oh man my thing’s not done yet but this thing’s even better ah screw you guys so sometimes i don’t watch stuff like that i try to watch stuff that’s like totally different from what i’m doing but yeah that’s such as the life of an artist or maybe it’s just me i don’t know but it’s always rough to see your babies being reared by other people other parents i guess is what it is but yeah i know about that show i definitely i think i clicked on it for about 30 seconds one time i was like oh this looks cool i’ll watch that later it’s a good one but yeah this tournament’s really um reminded me of that and it’s interesting because that was really new technology that they’re yeah and it’s archival um footage whereas with bricks and you’re dealing with lego you know this is something that’s been around for decades now and the enthusiasm of that and the characters and the hubris and you know the excitement and the it’s just fun you know they’re they’re into it it’s their own thing they love being a part of it and it’s their whole world to them i think anytime you can take you can dissect life and really find something that you feel like is your world and you’re a part of it and you’re meant to be there and you can participate in it without fear of reprisal from anyone around you i like that’s just a great thing and so you know the idea of nerd or geek or you know whatever that happens to be it’s like that’s such a silly concept in a lot of ways and we try to sort of dispel that stuff within it and get to the heart of what people like and why they like it and furthermore like this is just an art form it’s just an art form like anything else like painting or guitar you know learning to write music or learning to write a story like it’s all those are all various forms of expressing your soul through a medium um hopefully amy that’s the transcendent version of it and this is the exact same thing they just happen to be using a quote unquote toy but then you’re like well that seems like a double whammy then that’s awesome not only do you get to be artistic and do something that allows you to express yourself but you get to use a toy while doing it and it’s fun and colorful and interesting and like inherently like you get to collect the things you love while doing the art while using a toilet like it’s a really pretty brilliant field and i think that speaks to why it’s so popular and it’s something that involves skill it never really thought of like it was being competitive before but and it’s not really like that’s sort of our spin on it you know i mean you have to have a winner and a loser in a movie like this but they do some competitions and obviously like they have these other tv shows that are out now fox did a whole series about it and so that’s a whole other twist on what we had done sort of before that obviously which another they’re like oh you’ve seen that show and i was like screw that show i don’t want to watch that show yet wait till the movie is out and i made a million dollars then maybe i’ll watch that show but yeah that’s how it is what about your creative decisions did you want to have it as something fly on the wall where it’s just observational and coming across as if they’re not aware of the camera or is it a kind of thing they’re very aware of the camera and they’re performing to it a bit you know how is that because i’ve just seen short clips of it so far yeah sure i mean we were trying to go you gotta remember we were shooting this around 2012 a lot of the footage came from 2011 2012 era so we were approaching it i would say in the way that the office is shot at least the american version of the office to where there’s some characters that play the camera occasionally so you know like how jim would look at the camera and he he is aware that is it is there but most of the time it’s just sort of happening and i think what we try to do we were really at least i was i mean really critically aware of the idea that like we don’t want to put a camera where it can’t be we don’t want to listen to a conversation that we wouldn’t be able to hear we don’t want to be in a place where as filmmakers we would have no reason to be there so we were definitely trying to fix that as we went along and there were a number of times where like it would be so easy in a real movie just to solve this thing right here like all you would have to do is show a shot of that because you have the god view and you can see anything you want while you’re in a movie it’ll be fine and we’re like yeah but you can’t why would anyone shoot that there’s no reason at this point in this plot for a camera to be getting footage of that so it doesn’t make any sense so we can’t do it so we have to figure out an alternate way so it was harder than we thought to not break our own rules that we set for ourselves but i hope that that had some effect on why exactly the guy i was talking about would be like yeah that’s a real thing right that’s a real documentary and that’s i think that’s how we accomplished that if indeed we did there are parts are there where somebody’s being interviewed as it’s if they’re being interviewed and they’re talking with the other guys yeah yeah yeah we have quite a bit of interviews and some of that is real some of that is scripted and a lot of that is made up on the spot but what we did was we went to actual lego conventions so we went to a thing called bricks by the bay in santa clara here in the silicon valley in california and we talked to people that were already there that other people knew that what they call adult fan of lego a falls so we would talk to them and be like hey guys all right so you understand how who a good guy is who a bad guy is how this world went down okay max grand he’s great but something weird happened to him in the past you don’t really know what it is but you know it revolves around this idea of gluing and that’s terrible and so talk to me a little bit about that and then so they just sort of make up their own story based on what that was and we’d sort of guide them in a little bit different direction so we weren’t putting words in their mouth so much as getting them to tell the story from their own point of view which was really great because then it felt real and organic as if they were coming up with it as if they had lived through it and that’s what we were trying to do was not only weave people that other people within the lego community would know but also uh have them reflect on it in their own manner i can’t write for that person i don’t know that person i don’t know what character that person is so we want them to be able to talk from their own their own ability to be themselves which i cannot emulate that was our intent and do you think this is quite a community of people and you know what kind of backgrounds do people come from and ages you are they very different all of them and they’re all united by this one thing you how does it work yeah i think that’s a pretty accurate way to say it i went to five different conventions in 2018 and talked to a bunch of people and had a whole bunch of people watch the movie at those situations and it was great and i would say that they’re what you would think that that culture would be in some ways meaning that they’re i would say they are not traditionally extroverted people they’re a little withdrawn here and there you certainly have your people that are out there and having fun and a little bit different but this is their world to get out of their shell because they are among friends and they are among people who are into the same thing they are i was sort of an outsider in that situation so i think i got to see both sides which was interesting they are they do vary in range i mean lego is an expensive hobby too so it’s not like you have a bunch of maybe say 15 year olds with cubic meters worth of lego that would um be able to fill a whole room and actually make these big great creations to show off you know so it’s an expensive hobby so you’re you’re talking about a lot of middle-aged people men and women we sort of lampooned that in the movie too by showing basically one main one main woman that’s one of the contenders in it and you know that’s the idea is like there’s only one and so she has this weird dynamic within our world and that’s not entirely true but there’s a little bit of that certainly in the lego world not a bad thing it just you know happens to be who who’s into what it’s a great community they’ve been really nice to me all the conventions that let me go out there was really great and the bricks fiesta i did a keynote speech at dallas super fun and yeah everyone’s been really great what was it that drew you to doing it by zygo in the first place you know i remember when i was a kid how much i loved it still do but you know i used to play a lot when i was 10 12 13 and i wanted we wanted something originally you know because you start out with these sort of broad strokes while you’re creating a story you’re like okay what are we going to do what’s this movie about well let’s do it about i want to do a mockumentary cool all right well what do you want to do about it you’re like well most mockumentaries have to have some some sort of competition in them great what do you know about that you could do about competitions and you’re like well we’re artistic but then we also want to have something that i have access to um i don’t know let’s do lego okay cool and so like that’s it’s like the first conversation and unless you realize that’s a total dead end you sort of created your world in a very um slap-dash manner that doesn’t mean it’s bad but that means that you’ve already put yourself into a corner and then you have to paint yourself out of it they have that metaphor makes sense but uh it came very early on and that was immediately i was like yup that’s what we want to do that’s going to work and it sounds like an idea that although it’s been a long time coming this is probably the year that we needed it oh man i hope so yeah you never know because um you know i was watching the lego movie when it came out and it’s a trip because the kid that i don’t have you seen the lego movie yes okay so if you remember at the end there’s will ferrell and then there’s this other kid and basically what was happening within the movie was in this kid’s world and will will in this kid’s world and whatever so that kid is jaden sand he’s in our movie he was in our movie before the lego movie while we were making brick madness he was in it he did a bunch of scenes he came back and was in the rest of his scenes basically and i was talking to his mom and she’s like oh yeah we were working on something that was also about bricks and i was like oh that’s cool and she didn’t tell me anymore that she was very coy about it because she has to be because she decides ndas and all that and um i was like oh neat cool some little thing whatever yeah i’m sure this would be much bigger and better and then you know i go to the theater and i was like son of a [ _ ] jayden look at this this is insane they spend like a billion dollars it’s so good this movie’s awesome and so i’m just like depressed and this sucks and like you know and that was a long time ago too and it still took a long time to come out so it’s like you never know hopefully in 2014 we were ahead of our time and it wasn’t gonna work and now it’s gonna work better you know you do what you can do to make what you can and you put it out when it happens we made some mistakes and couldn’t have got it done sooner i made some mistakes but um it is what it is you try to push through but it shows that you were on to something that there was some interest in the subject matter so that in a way if you want to take a positive out of it you were in the right direction i was a trendsetter without even knowing it and without actually setting any trends it’s just yeah you’re the silent voice in the voice yeah exactly well that’s my dad you know it’s you’re like well i just thought of something dad i just came up with something and you know when we were kids it would be like you don’t think of things they’re just floating around in the air you just grab them because ideas are just everywhere you didn’t come up with an idea that’s just there it’s in the ether i was like all right i guess then i grabbed an idea and he’s like all right is it a good one you’re like yeah he’s like okay do something with it so i think that’s what i’ve always sort of thought about ideas anyway and that’s the thing too you can’t be you want to love your ideas they say kill your babies i don’t i do and i don’t agree with that i think you have to dispel things that aren’t quite gonna work but you really want to but you also have to fight for the things that aren’t quite working yet but you really think will and so it goes both ways that’s the eternal struggle of creativity i think deciding what to jettison and deciding what to champion those are very difficult decisions because they are amorphous and who knows what’s right i mean it’s really refreshing to hear you talking about mistakes i mean how do we know that we’re getting things right if we don’t mess it up every now and again and have something to learn from you know and we should be there’s so much pressure i think on creatives to get it right and to be doing it really well all of the time but you need those learning curves don’t you and you need to be allowed to feel sometimes and failure is actually a good thing and we should be allowed i think to recognize that really learn from it yeah absolutely we did a um sort of a corporate video for a school and these are second third fourth fifth graders and they talked a lot about failure and how it was good and useful and an important part of the learning process and you know i think they were combating the concept that a lot of kids growing up today are like have never really like internalized what it felt to fail felt like to fail and because they had always been you know you you get a participation ribbon even if you get last and that makes it seem like no matter what you sort of won and i don’t that’s not how life works and so i think we’re preparing people for young people for a life that doesn’t exist when we’re just giving out participation ribbons no matter what and graduating from kindergarten suddenly you have a big party and i’m like i don’t why why are we having a party that’s for the parents that’s not for the kids that doesn’t even make sense and so i think yeah along that lines you you have to learn how to fail and how to just understand that what you did maybe wasn’t good enough like you tried and you gave it to your best effort and it wasn’t enough and so go back and try again and be stronger the next time around obviously it’s important to learn that fail forward that’s what they say and uh here in the silicon valley especially fail forward fail often fail early fail often and that way you can get them all out of the way justin are there any other areas of your practice that you would like to talk about today that we haven’t touched on yet what do people ask you questions about i mean do you get much feedback that sort of thing have you had previous guests that have touched on a topic but maybe not really dove into it to the level that you wanted we deal with quite a wide variety of things and i suppose what i try to do with every episode is to try and really drill down on things and to mine out as much information as we can to try and um because they try and have an educational focus to the podcast as well as this thing’s really interesting and it connects this other thing when i do get the chance to talk to practitioners in different media the things that they learn and there’s always something because i’m more from a theory background of studying film and i have a bit of practice experience but not really very much and so it’s just always really fascinating to hear how it really works in different areas different ways of working different ways of problem solving you know so it’s just great to just hear you talking about you know how do you get around certain problems how do you impose limitations on yourself so that you don’t meander off and it doesn’t make sense anymore it’s great to talk somebody who’s made documentary and mockumentary yeah totally and we have another documentary coming out and it’s called better so that’s happening in january and that’s um way different than brick madness it’s an actual real thing about very important subject diabetes so that’s diabetes in obesity which are run along the same path almost always that’s the biggest epidemic we’ve ever faced health-wise i mean it’s not a pandemic in the same way that corona is but it’s you know the biggest thing that’s happening especially in westernized societies so talking about that talking about the shame that comes along with having overweight talking about how people develop these understandings of what they’re supposed to be eating and why and how often times they’re misled and given totally faulty information you know that stuff’s really important to address in a way that then offers them real answers about what scientifically proven methods of eating are actually going to help you in the long run and so that’s really what we’re trying to do on that i was a director on that i did a whole bunch of interviews you know talked to four harvard doctors and a variety of other people and we just really wanted to drill down and understand exactly what was at the heart of that and offer answers we put everything in the movie that we possibly could about what to do not just what not to do and so we didn’t leave anything on the cutting room floor door like oh man this is we’ll save that for the sequel or we’ll keep that so that we could sell it to someone later or whatever it’s like my goal was just to give people answers and i really think that’s what we did furthermore that’s what art is about hopefully either asking profound questions or answering profound questions i mean like that’s your job and usually both yeah so with that idea of relaying information maybe we’re in very similar places in the uk and the us at the moment where we’ve got this idea of post truth you know how reliable is any of the information that we’re told and there’s so much pressure on people to be autonomous and take control of their own destinies their own lives their own eating habits and that sort of thing but while being sold things that are very bad for them on a constant lip and it’s really difficult to make certain decisions and then there’s socio-economic factors and all sorts of things going on so it’s really again a probably a really prescient time for something like that to be on the way yeah i hope so that one feels like that is the best possible time it could come out is like right now i’m i really think we’re hitting it while the iron is hot and so to speak brick madness i hope has that same sort of the same sort of legs under underneath it in terms of that but like there’s never been a better time to have a movie like better in my opinion a quick question for you like what’s a healthy food generally vegetables okay good yeah i mean that’s a good start yeah yeah and so we talk about that and it’s because it’s not you being able to you answered that more quickly than most people okay and i would say that quote-unquote vegetables you know like that’s such a wide variety of things and so we center our concept of vegetables and which ones are good specifically on non-starchy vegetables okay so i mean you can get fat by eating potatoes or just rice or just wheat you know those aren’t neces those are vegetables or grains at least but they fit within a certain category that just because they’re a vegetable doesn’t mean they’re great but there are vegetables that are the best thing you can eat essentially and so we dig down on that we talk about non-starchy vegetables nutrient-dense proteins whole food fats and low fructose fruits in a way that i think hopefully people can like identify those things and really understand like not just well i heard that this specific thing was really good for you and like what does that mean but be able to drill down and be like here’s exactly why this food would be better than that food and we try to outline that for people in a really useful manner going back to maybe storytelling in general what you were talking about with regards to uh you know misinformation and people having to draw their own conclusions and all that i think we’ve lost the ability to think critically and it’s not necessarily our fault like we’re beset by so many things that are trying to take our attention and trying to co-opt our understanding of of what we already knew and i think we’re definitely in a time in history that has never been more like that and some of that is political it’s people trying to convince us something that we knew since time immemorial was one way and they’re trying to say well because of these reasons it’s not that way it’s this way now and so there’s a lot of confusion there in my own personal politics i definitely grasp all right definitely um what would you say have to wage a continuous war against that misinformation but when you’re making a movie and when you’re the writer of a movie let’s say your job is to give enough information to the director the producer so that that person knows exactly what you were trying to accomplish and why but not how to feel about it not how to do their job so as when you’re writing a story you want to display the situation as accurately as possible so that the director can then say here’s how i want to tell that story to the audience but you don’t tell them exactly where to put the camera you don’t tell them exactly how to make the actor act or any of those things right because that’s the direction in the same way then the director takes that and says here’s how i want to show that to the audience because i don’t want to ever tell them how to think but i want to tell them what the situations are so that they can decide how to interpret it actually you would give that to the actor so you display that exact as appropriately as possible so the actor can then say i will do my job i don’t want to tell the audience how to think but i will display to them exactly what the situation is so that they can decide how to think and then it gets to the audience and they hopefully gather all those things from those three processes or probably more they came before that and they don’t feel beset by someone else saying now you feel sad now you feel happy now this is complicated you know like they don’t feel that way they feel like oh this is a real story a real life situation that i can then get my own understanding of because then i can connect it to what i feel about as a human in that situation so now it becomes part of our shared understanding and that’s the critical thinking that i’m talking about in there and i think that you were sort of referencing is our ability to take input that might not all agree with each other you know a thousand points of data and get our own deeper more profound look into what that really means to us and i think we can’t let that go and that’s why reality tv sucks to divert is because they’re constantly telling you exactly what to think about the situation and that’s why it’s so i can’t even think of the word it it’s such a in my mind and it you know we’ve sort of gotten past a lot of that but that’s why it’s so sort of terrible for critical thinking and i think that those things go hand in hand or not maybe not by not mistake is not the right word but that’s not an anomaly that our decreased level of critical thinking also goes hand in hand with our decreased level of wanting to interpret media in a deep meaningful manner without being told how to interpret it so that’s my rant sorry it’s going on quite so long but that’s how i view the sort of holistic view of that stuff yeah i think we’re on the same page don’t worry it’s complicated and it should be complicated like everything should be complicated except for what food to eat we figured that one out it’s very much an aim of this show is to try and help people learn how to analyze the media that they engage with so that’s really useful justin thank you for that yeah it’s important that’s your job you know just like anything you have to watch something with a critical understanding of the 5 000 things that came before that that are influencing why that was done that way yeah because i think it’s so much about right well why is it framed in that way and why are we seeing that person at the moment why are they lit that way you know it’s asking all of those probing questions to get it an answer and if it throws up even more questions all the better as you say it’s complex but if you work through the complexity then you can have a eureka moment and go oh that’s yes what’s going on being manipulated okay and then you can do something about it totally so i’ll divert here for a second there’s an episode of the simpsons i don’t know if i know more than just about everyone but certainly almost everyone about the first 10 seasons of the simpsons anyway so there’s an episode with the um gummy venus de milo and um homer is supposedly you know sexually um harassed this she’s a a babysitter right and that wasn’t what he was doing he’s trying to get this famous piece of candy and all that stuff and so there ends up being footage of this and it’s a groundskeeper willie and he’s the one that did the footage because he’s a peeping tom or whatever and so homer gets on this show and then he gets you know they they re-edit it to make him look like a total psycho weirdo and all this there’s this big media hullabaloo and he’s just the most terrible dude in the world and they’ve already made a uh waited for tv movie starring dennis france from nypd blue and it’s like this whole mess right that just happens in this situation because um people just grab onto this stuff like vultures the video finally comes out with groundskeeper willy and we don’t know who he is yet but he shows the video and it like fixes the situation homer’s no longer in trouble and then immediately thereafter there’s a promo for the next video which is like basically saying how bad groundskeeper willy is for uh we willy peeper i think they call him for being the one walking around with the camera getting all this stuff and then homer immediately turns on him he’s like shouting at the tv he’s like that man is evil and marge is like homer he just saved your life and he’s like but marge listen to the music and so like it’s such a good encapsulation of how immediately we’re we’re made to feel a certain way just by the music or the lighting or whatever the situation is and we just take it hook line and sink or at least if we’re homer we buy into that [ _ ] immediately yeah yeah yeah so i don’t know that’s my favorite is that show just has so much truth you know it means so much of like oh that’s how the world works and so many of us have watched it endlessly and yet we’re still making the same mistakes yeah exactly yeah yeah it’s not even like oh i know what not to do now you’re like oh i see what i’m doing yeah i suck that’s totally the problem that i previously understood was a problem oh well yeah you make your mistakes over and over until you finally don’t keep making them hopefully yeah we just keep trying so justin would you like to point people towards your website your socials so that they can find you and follow your work yeah certainly that’s an easy place to go it’s not fully updated but it certainly can get you there if you wanted to buy the movie right now it’s at little sister ant dot shop and then you can find me on justin makes movies on instagram that might be a good way to approach all that you know there’s a million different ways to find me or anyone these days and it’s hard to keep track yeah yeah thank you so much for having me on i mean this is a excellent interview i definitely got to talk about i’ve done like dozens of or maybe a dozen of these so far and um i think they got i got a little bit deeper into some stuff on this one than i did on another one so i’m very grateful that you you know provided the platform for that well it’s been so lovely having you have been really looking forward to speaking to you and thank you for accommodating our big time difference oh yeah no problem out of bed anything that can make that happen is good no problem at all it’s so nice to connect with people so far away but to just hear so many excellent stories and to learn so much about your practice and everything that you do thank you so very much justin you’re very welcome yeah excellent this has been a cozy peapod production with me paula blair the music is common ground by airton used under a creative commons 3.0 non-commercial license and is downloadable from episodes release every other wednesday subscribe on apple podcasts spotify amazon music or wherever you find your podcasts see the show notes for a video link if you need auto captions be part of the conversation with av cultures on facebook and twitter or iv cultures pod on instagram as well as patreon membership one-off support is appreciated at forward slash pea blair i produce and edit the show by myself and i am grateful for any support for this work for more information and episode links visit thank you so much for listening catch you next time you


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