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December 15, 2023

Airforce to Auteur: David Lawson Jr. Charts a Unique Course in Film

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0:00  

Welcome to another episode of On Production brought to you by Wrapbook. In today's episode, we're diving into the world of independent filmmaking with an extraordinary producer David Lawson Jr. from serving as an airborne radio operator and the US Air Force to being nominated for the John Cavasettes award, the Independent Spirit Awards. David's journey is both inspiring and unique. He's the co-founder of Rustic Films, and has produced features like something in the dirt amid a very large portfolio of other films. An avid mentor and educator David also contributes his expertise to various film programs and universities. Today we'll explore his career philosophy and the nuances of independent filmmaking. David, thanks for being on.

0:42  

Thanks for having me. I'm just gonna have you walk around and just introduce me to everyone that I meet because that was extremely kind. Thank you.

0:49  

Absolutely. The first thing I have to ask is, you know, what really ignited your love for cinema? And how did that passion continue to develop throughout your life?

0:58  

So I was a Blockbuster kid. I grew up as a teenager in the 90s. One of my best friends worked for a movie theater, another one worked for a Blockbuster. We all bussed tables at the same restaurant, but we would spend all of our weekends either going to the movies or going to the Blockbuster. I didn't realize that like making movies or being in film was a thing that I could have done. Like I didn't think of it as a career. Until one of my good friends who you know, I was in the military with, when we then later went to college together. I was like, I want to be a director. And I was like, awesome. I was like, I guess I'll learn how to be a producer and then dropped out of college, and moved across the country to start work. But like, as far as igniting it, it was from a really young age. My parents let me watch movies I definitely should not have watched at a certain age. Like I saw Pulp Fiction too young, I saw The Texas Chain Saw Massacre too young, and a litany of others. So she was like, probably too young to watch.

1:56  

I saw American Beauty too young, my mom made me leave the theater and like the last 10 minutes of the film, Come on mom,

Unknown Speaker  2:01  

like everything's already happened, like what

2:06  

is really interesting. I'm curious, can you share with us your transition from serving in the Air Force to pursuing your career in film production? You know, how did your military experience shape your values and your approach in film craft? I mean, I think something to point out, like, you know, on film production podcasts across the internet, it's oftentimes talking to directors here at on production, we love talking to producers, we love talking to accountants, we really want to know the nuts and bolts of what makes production possible. So yeah, I mean, I'm really curious, like, the influence of the Air Force on your career and how that really has shaped your values.

2:42  

Structurally, a film set is set up, similarly to how a military operates in terms of, like, a structure within the squadron. So you know, chain of command is very important. Timeliness is always on. Always important. Putting, you know, the mission is first if you want to think about it, you know, in terms of like a mission to the military versus completing whatever project you're on. So that's kind of where it all started. For me long hours are something that I'm very accustomed to because she came out of the American military, very accustomed to working weekends and holidays, not seeing my family, all things that I was just really accustomed to. So it wasn't, that wasn't a drastic lifestyle switch that I think some people coming out of like film school, for instance, aren't used to, like, you know, 16 hour days, like when I was when I was a PA, I was doing mostly commercials and music videos, and I was going from company to company. So there would be times where I'd get off at like, 1231 o'clock in the morning, and my call the next day would be 4am for a different company, and I would just drive to the next set and sleep in the car. And, you know, change my clothes before I go to work and then go to work. Not you know, that's not something that I think is healthy. But it is something that you know, I did a lot from 18 to 22. So it wasn't it wasn't a shock to my system. Yeah, I

4:00  

I mean, the really important part is just having the metal to kind of make it through the grind and to build something for yourself, but it's really inspiring what you've built at rustic films. And that's actually what I want to jump into next is can you tell us about rustic films and its inception? And also like what led you to found your company with Justin and Aaron, your partners?

4:23  

So Justin and I had met probably about three years before doing our first movie, he was his office PA, where he was an intern at a company that I was working for as a production manager. And they must have hired him for our jobs, which means basically like, I was forced to hire him as a PA, but I really loved him like we got along really well. My production coordinator really loves him. And he was very, very smart. So we just started hiring him as our office pa he became our permanent office PA for like three years. And then about three years into working together. He's like pulling me aside. It's like hey, I saved up enough money. I wrote the script. I'm a co-director that I've been working with and we've got this film called, it's called resolution wasn't called resolution time. But for purposes of telling the story, it's called resolution. And we need, you know, we need a producer, and it's mostly been set up, we just need somebody to be there outside and make sure everything runs smoothly, you know, we're going to do this very small, we don't have a lot of money, would you be interested, and I moved out to LA not to make commercials and music videos. But you know, as somebody who came up in that world, yourself, it's hard to transition out of it, especially when just like, I was rolling at companies, you know, just going from one job to the next. Sometimes there'll be, you know, overlap. At a certain point, I was basically permalance at three different companies throughout the course, you know. So I saw this as my opportunity to be like, okay, cool. Let's try this and see if it works. It worked once, and I really, really loved it. And we got into Tribeca, we sold out of Tribeca and had a theatrical release for this tiny little movie, which we'd never ever dreamt of. Which was rad. And then. And then we just kept working together for a couple years. And it wasn't, I don't think until probably five years later that we actually officially formed a company. I've kind of put it akin to like, we had a kid and then five years later, we decided, oh, then we had another kid. And then when the third kid was about to be delivered, we were like, Should we just get married? And then so that at that point, we formed rustic films in 2017 16. Movie,

6:35  

I love that, that's hilarious. You know, I think it's really cool. You have a background and commercial, you know, for me, like you were mentioning, that is my background. And what I loved about commercial, I'm curious if you have similar experiences, like, in some ways, it's very similar to any film, like a budget that is, you know, pretty much set execution in a very short amount of time with like, really high quality, I always loved commercial, because it's like, instead of a shoot day, over weeks or months, I've got four days, but I'm deploying a lot of capital and using all of the same tools that a large cinema production will be using, I feel like I was really able to hone my craft. And I would imagine, I'm guessing here that, you know, those experiences kind of set you up to be really effective as a producer would actually making a feature film.

7:21  

Yeah, I mean, I think anybody that comes from that background, you know, I was doing it, sometimes three shoots a month. And you know, when you're constantly dealing with a new crew, and you're constantly setting up a new project and breaking it down, like constantly does, it sharpens that skill immensely. Obviously, now I'm just in the feature. So I do, you know, between one and three a year, you know, whereas I used to do that a month, it's much better for my quality of life to not have to do that many, many different set days, every month. But you know, I definitely enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun. So with

7:56  

rustic films, you know, how would you articulate the mission or unique vision of Rostec, within the independent film space,

8:04  

We focus on kind of hard to make films, which I don't know if that's a smart business model. It's, it's, it's, it's sometimes extremely frustrating as a business model. But it's also kind of the only way the three of us can do a project unless all three of us are all in on it. That's kind of been our, our stamp from day one, like any of the three of us can work on anything, but we don't, we don't put the rustic name on it, unless all three of us really believe in the project, which, honestly, it's we had a lot of scripts, and not a lot of them reach that threshold, we tend to do things that are more in the genre space. Mainly, that's because I've got a really bad ad. And you're with a movie for like three years. And so I need something really interesting to keep me going back to that film. After the 15th time I've watched it to watch sound design one more time to make sure everything is correct. That is I think the biggest difference between commercials and movies is commercials. When you're done, you're done with it. When you are finished, like we just wrapped production on something recently, and it's about to go into Edit, or no, it's about halfway through editorial, I suppose. And I'm not looking forward to when we have to start doing the watch downs. Because after about the third time, I'm like, Okay, I have to really, really focus.

Unknown Speaker  9:21  

Is this even good anymore? I

9:23  

can't tell it did become a certain point. Like we actually watch things if it's not something that Justin and Aaron have directed. We watch things in shifts in terms of like, like one of us will take the first watch of something to give like initial notes, then let like that we can always kind of have fresher eyes. And our tastes are so aligned at this point. After working together over a decade, you know, and again, we talk about all of our projects in detail. So we always know what's the purpose of the project, what's the point, what are the things that are important for us. So it makes it a little bit easier for one of us to watch it and be the voice of all three and allow the other two to kind of keep our eyes fresher for the next pass of the edit or the next. Yeah. Next bit of QC that needs to happen.

10:07  

It makes a lot of sense. David, can you discuss a project that you feel exemplifies rustic films, ethos and approach? I'm curious, you know, what are some of the unique challenges, but also rewards of working under this kind of rustic banner.

10:24  

I mean, the endless is kind of our go to in terms, something in the dirt was also something in that area. However, you know, we made that during COVID. And we were able to work with some of our collaborators on it, but like longtime collaborators, but really, the endless was the one that we got to play with all of our friends and make something that we're insanely proud of. We're hoping that we get to continue that model, we lovingly, unofficially, and officially, I guess, you know, rustics, models, make movies with friends. You know, a lot of our people that have been working with us have been working with us for years. Some of them are also aspiring directors that were, you know, always pushing their boulders up the hill alongside other projects. It's one of those things like I think the endless is probably the one that I point to. We all stayed at a children's camp at offseason, children's camp, when we made the movie. If you've seen the film, the camp that they went to that the cult is in? That's where we all lived. Which was fun. Yeah, let's, let's use the word fun,

11:32  

maybe a certain form of method producing in a way

11:35  

it's certainly something I don't recommend for you to do always, but it is, you know, the, if you get the right group of people together, it was a really fun experience. Yeah, we did some, we did some fun night hikes up into the mountains up near East County, San Diego, which is really fun.

11:52  

That's really awesome. David, I mean, I'm curious, you know, you've been in the game for a while now you have a great portfolio of projects under your belt, and you're doing more and more, which is really awesome. I'm curious, from your view. You know, how do you think rustic films, projects align with or challenge the conventions of independent filmmaking?

12:11  

It depends on how you define independent cinema, right? Like I kind of, you know, you look and see like $30 million indie films. And I'm like, I don't, it's hard for me to call that an independent film. When you get into like that amount of money. If you want to say like sub $10 million films, I think that we aligned very closely with, with the spirit of indie cinema, you know, we were always trying to do something that's a little bit different. It's not quite mainstream, it's a little bit left to center. Sometimes it'll challenge you, and make you thankful. Almost always, it's requiring repeat viewings to really grasp, you know, the things that we're trying to say. So I think I think it aligns nicely with indie cinema, again, it depends on how you define it. Because I have a hard time when it starts getting into like, the $30 to $60 million. It's like that, is it? Is that really in the cinema? Like where, where's the lie, that lie got real blurry.

13:06  

I mean, the thing is, it's like, there's no way to predict the future accurately. You know, there's a world where your projects over the years as they continue to perform, that different types of budgets will emerge different types of opportunities. You know, I am curious, though, like, you definitely have been drawn to the world of independent filmmaking within that budget range that you're talking about. I'm curious how you see the difference between large studio projects, and kind of what keeps you coming back to the types of projects that you take on?

13:36  

I think it's tough because like, you know, I think we'll always be rustic , always kind of stay in that smaller realm of indie, and not because we're scared or can't do bigger ones. But to be honest, those bigger ones are so cast dependent, and they take, you know, five years just to get the cat and I just don't have patience, you know, we show our movies or filmmakers not meeting takers. Like, we really want to be on set and making movies and, and that model requires years and years and years of development that, frankly, we don't, we don't particularly find interesting, especially when it gets into the casting department where it's like, okay, there's three people that can greenlight the movie at this level. And it's like, okay, cool. Well, we'll wait a year for each of them to never read it and say no, that's just that's not that's not an appealing process to us. We'd much rather do something a little bit smaller, a little bit scrappier, roll up our sleeves a little bit more and make it interesting and try to have it stand out in the marketplace not because you put an interesting face on it or you know, a recognizable face on the cover but because you really tried to do something interesting worth somebody's two hours and and however much money that they have to pay to see it.

14:51  

It's fantastic. You know, piggybacking on this a little bit, you know, I'm curious, how do you identify and collaborate with new talent in the space like can you share a story where, you know, this led to a successful project for all of you, I think there's this really interesting tension in commercial art, where as projects get larger, there are more roadblocks as to who needs to be in it. The paradox of this is, of course, that, you know, production companies like rustic and the stories that you're telling, also have the chance to break people out, yourself included, to actually then get more and more resources to make the types of stories that you want. So there is a certain sort of paradox. And, you know, how that happens, I think is, you know, collaborating, finding new talent and, and executing. So I'm just curious if you have any stories along those lines? Yeah, I

15:44  

mean, that's, in general, the three of us are always, always always, always watching small things to look for like that, you know, somebody we want to work with, we've been very fortunate that every single movie we've ever gotten has had a nice robust festival run that we usually try to try to go to as much as makes sense, both fiscally, but also, you know, you always have to be working on the next one. And during that, you know, that's kind of how rustic officially got formed was just seeing a bunch of meeting a bunch of friends, hearing their stories about producers that didn't have their back and didn't maybe necessarily, completely buy into their vision. That was something that we've taken harder, rustic, we've always tried to make sure that we, you know, are 100% aligned with a director before we say yes, on a project. Because for us, it's like, that's why I want to be there. I want to be all in creating the vision to do that I have to buy in completely to the project. And I don't want to be one of those producers that is a roadblock to somebody creating what their vision is. I'd rather just work with people where I'm like, Oh, cool. I see your vision. I think that's cool. I think it's doable. It's rad. Let's do it. We watch a lot of short films, like a lot of short films. I just got a batch of them last night from Mitch Davis. I had Fantasia because like, for me, it's like, reading scripts, watching shorts. Like that you have to that's the work of finding emerging talent. And unfortunately, it's still like unpaid work that is very time consuming for not a lot of payoff. But when it is, and when it works. It works really, really well.

17:20  

You pivoted a little bit, David, you know, you are actively involved in guest lecturing and mentorship programs. Can you talk about the importance of education and mentorship in the filmmaking and independent filmmaking community,

17:33  

I never had anybody when I got into features that I could like, ask. As a mentor, I had a bunch of people in the commercial world who taught me how to do the job who I'm immensely thankful for and always had like a sounding board. But when I went into features, I didn't really have that. And so as I've kind of gotten a little bit of a foothold in this industry, and kind of understood how it works a little bit for me, I was like, my email is still up on IMDb Pro. I get emails all the time when I get DMS. I try to answer as many as I can realistically. For me, I think it's important for us to have fewer gatekeepers, especially nowadays. I think it's important for there's some phenomenal voices that just haven't been heard within our industry. And whatever I can do a topic on Zoom for 30 minutes in talking to somebody about some pitfalls they may want to watch out for before they go into the feature helps them and I want to try to be there and help out like that. Also, what I learned during the pandemic is that I love, love, love, love helping people. And especially when they're when they're just starting out, or they're not that I'm extremely far in this business, but like if they're not quite to where I am yet, it's easy for me to give specific advice on how to kind of navigate a hurdle that I've already done a couple of times, or whatever that may be. And then when I see them do it, I get that dopamine hit as if it's my win. And so I get to, like, celebrate that. And it's like this, this business has a lot of losses in it for not a lot of wins. And so I'm just trying to like, steal everybody else's win as my own a little bit and just really I had a, that's I'm gonna, we're gonna take, like a small amount of credit for that just in my own head, but it helps me open the door in the morning and get to work.

19:21  

That's awesome. I mean, I'm curious, you know, what do you hope to impart when you're doing these lectures to the kind of next generation or up and coming filmmakers through your teaching and advisory roles?

19:31  

Don't do it. No, no, I mean, it's a lot of things and the biggest thing that I always talk about is be cognizant of who you surround yourself with both socially and professionally. If you get a bad feeling about somebody I don't know man I don't know about everybody else's got I can't speak to that. But mine has always served me very well in terms of like, and like I didn't have a bad a good feeling about that person and then sure enough, cool. Um, But it's one of those things where it's like, that's the biggest thing you know, and always like, it's going to be hard. Like I use the league of their own clip a lot when I lecture, Gina Davis getting ready to quit, and Tom Hanks going up to her, like, of course, his art, the heart is what makes it worth it. And it's, you know, I know that that's silly. And I know that we should be trying to not work as hard. But I don't think there's a way to make this job easy. And if this is something that you want to do, you just kind of have to buy into the fact that it's going to be hard. And there's going to be days where you're going to be like, Why the fuck am I even doing this? There'll be a lot of days like that, like, I would say, like 60% of my days start with like, what am I even doing. But then you'll get that when you're like, that's why I do it. Like, you know, and you just have to just and Aaron and I have a long tradition where we celebrate every win with a toast. Regardless, like we get on like, we you know, if we're not together, we get on Zoom. If we're together, we just, you know, pop a bottle of whiskey as soon as the hour is appropriate, not like 9am But like, and we celebrate that with a very tangible moment. And we like to cement that in our brains as like a time that we succeeded, because it's very easy to remember all the failures in this business, especially if you have a brand like mine, to constantly remind you of all the times you didn't win. And I find myself always wanting to plant flags on the wins, so that I can go back to him. And I think that's a

21:31  

a really wise thing to do. That's awesome. I think that it speaks to something I'm really curious to dig into with you is, you know, you've been doing this for quite a while. I think you belong to an amazing career ahead. So maybe in 1015 years, we can do a revisit of this. And I can ask you the same questions again. But I'm curious, David, you know, how would you describe your producing style today, and how has it evolved over time,

21:56  

all in is kind of the best way like I just don't, I don't know how to do and this is this is like beyond just producing, I don't know how to do anything in my life without like being completely engrossed in it like I don't, I have that version of add where it's like, either I'm not interested in something at all, or I'm like, I need to be the president of whatever this is. And so like, that's kind of that's kind of it, like, I make myself extremely available, sometimes unhealthily. So especially when I'm in production, because that's just the only way I know how to do it. It's the only way that makes sense to me, it's one of the reasons that like, I'll probably never work with a director that I'm not friends with, that I can't at least like go grab a beer with, like I don't, I think that that, that that relationship, at least how I do it, it becomes too intimate have a relationship in terms of like, I just need to love that person and need to be there from like be, I need to be able to make myself available for them, even when I don't want to. Because I feel like that's in my, in my experience, that's when the best product pattern emerges, the best version of the film emerges. And I don't ever want to do this job. If I'm not making the best movie I can. Like for me, it's like I can go make, I could go be a project manager in any other industry, probably 10 times what I'm making right now, and work like a third of the amount that I'm working. Like, I want to make sure that I'm proud of everything that I'm doing and want to make sure that everything that I'm doing is the best version of it that it possibly can, can be given the resources and you know, all of the other million variables that go into this job. But for me, it's like, that's why it's like, the one thing I can control is how much love I put into it. Like, and that has to be at like 100%

23:43  

to repeat back what I'm hearing, you know, your philosophy on production is work with friends, apply a lot of love to it. And really make sure that the project you're working on is worth it because time is limited. So our resources and it seems like that's what's gotten you to where you are today. Is that right? Yeah,

23:58  

no, I mean, that's it. It's and you know, it's I've been very fortunate to align myself with some people that are extremely talented, obviously, that's a big part of it, too. You can't work with people that are terrible. But you know, it's one of those things where it's like, I look back and I see a lot of people who are like, Oh, I didn't want to do that job. But like, you know, the director should like he's terrible, but so talented. I'm like, I don't think there's a lot of really talented people in this industry with all amazing stories. We don't have to work with assholes. We don't have to make it any harder than it already is. And I'm sure that that's not always been financially to my benefit, but honestly, again, it's like I'm not. I'm in this to make a living by wanting to go make money. I go to almost anything else.

24:48  

I do think for folks outside of the industry. They don't realize how truly talented great producers are and how the skill set of producing you know the word is try catch All right, but we're talking about somebody who's both somehow the Chief Operating Officer and independent contributor to very complex operations happening at the same time. And you're totally right, those values, the work ethic, the creativity, and intelligence that produces a great film producer could really be applied anywhere else. And so what you're saying really resonates with me, like we have to love who we're working with the work that we're making. And I think, you know, you've been very intentional and disciplined about making sure that you're making work that is worth it to you. And I think that's really respectable, and a lot of people talk about it, a lot of people dream about it, but you're doing it. And I think that's fantastic. You know, pivoting to the nuts and bolts of production, I want to just dive into the technical aspects, like I mentioned earlier, like, what's great about production is we talk to producers and accountants and, and people making the work, right. Can you describe the process of producing a film like something in the dirt, you know, what were the major challenges and successes in the actual blocking and tackling and the actual producing of the content,

26:12  

something in the dirt was exceptionally rare, because we did that during COVID, my wife was pregnant at the time. And we were like, how, like, you know, trying to be safe, and make sure that everybody that we could make a movie, because obviously the you know, we're the company that's always like, just go make your movie, like, just go make your movie here, we were just sitting around not making a movie. And we're like, we should come out of this with something we should come out of this, this time with something. And so that one had its own set of challenges. Obviously, we have a phenomenal art department that we've been working with for years, who, you know, came in ahead of time and set up Justin's apartment, which needed so much work and fabricated phenomenal props, much to Ariel's chagrin, she wanted to be on set all day, every day. But we wanted to, we wanted to kind of, again, keep it small for safety. So it was just the three of us that were actually physically on set, when we were shooting aerial did cover me a couple days when we were a little bit too far out. Because again, my play was like eight months pregnant at the time. So that had its own set of challenges because we were operating as the gaffer, sometimes the camera operator, sometimes special effects makeup, sometimes always the sound person, the first ad UPM, there wasn't too much payroll, because it was just the three of us. So it was, you know, payroll was super easy on that one. But that one weirdly didn't have the normal challenges. Because again, it was just the three of us. And it was, you know, in an apartment that we owned, and we could just keep doing a scene until we got it right, which was a really, really fun experience to just be like, Ah, I wasn't quite it. Let's do it again, until you know, and if we went a little bit long, or if we like, had to push a scene to the next day, it was like, that's fine. We'll, you know, we'll get it.

28:07  

David, I'm curious, do you think that the style of production that you are doing with rustic is the future of cinema over the next 1015 years, you know, different production teams coming together? Owning end to end IP distribution? Wherever it goes, you know, and just building your own audience? Like I'm really kind of curious how you are thinking about this, I know that you're obviously heads down on just getting great stuff made. But when you take a moment to kind of look up and see the path that you've been on, like, where do you think this all leads,

28:42  

I don't think there's any one way that a thing can be made, I do know that this way makes sense for me, and it was kind of our path forward, it is a path forward, if you don't have a lot of resources. And you know, again, we've been working on this for 12 years. And it started with the $20,000 that Justin had in his bank account. And it's kind of like, every time we've grown a little bit, whether that's in budget or scope, or what we're attempting to do or who we're working with, I do think that some people tend to try to jump ahead a little bit further than they should, we've always had a kind of a sustained growth business model of like, you know, making sure that we're not getting too big for our britches for, for lack of better terms and making sure that every, every time that we're growing, it's it's within our skill set and within our like abilities as a company, because for us, it's like this is something that we kind of want to do for the rest of our lives. And that one flash in the pan great project can sustain you for a little while, but it's like, yeah, but if it wasn't built correctly, and wasn't like foundationally solid on how you built it, it's like that just there's no way to build upon that,

29:56  

you know, popping up in the hood a little bit if you're willing to speak about it is I'm curious How you approach budgeting and financial management, both in your productions but also for Rostec. I mean, I think what's interesting is that you are a producer of these films, but you're also a studio executive essentially, like you are originating, producing, getting things distributed and having to manage resources across multiple people making a living doing this, I'm curious how you approach it,

30:27  

it's a difficult question to answer because as far as like how we handle rustic, we take a you know, whatever ends up allocated towards us as the company, in terms of back end or, or money, for any project, a certain bid just gets set aside, and we just kind of keep very small war chest to keep the lights on and keep, keep all of that stuff going. Beyond that, in terms of just how we keep all of the lights on, you know, it is a hustle. And it always feels like it will always be a hustle. And it's kind of one of those things where you're like, You got to figure out where the money is coming in that month, and or, you know, not that month, but like, you know, for the months and in advance, and where you're like, okay, cool. We're all set up now. And it's you know, but we take a very blue collar approach to this where this is a job for us, like it's not, you know, it's a very fun job. And the perks are super cool, yes. But it's like, every day, I'm in this office every day, Justin and Aaron are working, like every day, we are pushing something up the hill, it's, you know, been our experience that if you keep enough of those boulders going up the hill, you know, they kind of pay off. Just enough for the universe to keep you to keep you in this game.

31:41  

I love it. You know, half the work is showing up. And it sounds like you all have been showing up for quite a while. I'm curious, you know, David, can you share any upcoming projects or initiatives you're excited about?

31:51  

There are three that were in production and none of them were out. So I'm not going to talk about those. I can do it, we just put out a book called hot. Because why not? I wanted to find another industry where you couldn't make money. And do that? Well, we've been part of a kind of a Zune group, since the beginning of the pandemic that gets together every Thursday night, kind of as a support group for each other. It's a bunch of filmmakers. And one of the things that we'd all talked about is like, you know, creating IP or, you know, a bunch of people have been on these generals, and it ranges from people that haven't made it. The first feature to one of our members is like in his mid 70s, and has been a director since the 60s. So like, it's everywhere in between. One of the things that kept coming up was people wanting to own their own IP or, you know, production companies constantly asking, Do they have anything that's based on IP. And so a lot of our members were talking about making a novel or comic book, graphic, novel, whatever. And I came up with the idea of just putting together a collection of short stories, some of them are based actually, most of them are based off of screenplays that exist. Some of them are just writers that wanted to kind of do a fun thing. But we just put that out that just got released at Fantasia a month ago. And it seems to be doing really well. People were really enjoying it was called haunted rails. You can get it on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles. Which is weird to me because I used to go to Barnes and Nobles all the time. It's just weird. Have a book there. Now,

33:29  

you know, David away from the set away from filmmaking or any hobbies or interests that you feel fuel your creativity.

33:36  

Yeah, I throw axes. I don't know if you've ever done that. But it's kind of like bowling. It's similar to bowling, like bowling league starts is essentially the sport. And that has turned into like a weird meditative practice for me. I think there's probably some, like, underlying violence that I'm getting out. But yeah, so I do that. I do that quite a lot.

34:01  

You know, the funny thing about producers and myself included when I was really focused on producing content is the grizzled trench warfare elements of it that we somehow both love and detest, you know, but I am curious, you know, reflecting on your career so far, aside from the pain, I'm curious, what's the most rewarding aspect of being a producer and what keeps you inspired to continue? You mentioned love your friend, collective art, but I'm curious for you what it is,

34:31  

there's something to completing something so hard, like making a movie is hard. I don't think some, like everyone's like, Oh, yeah, I can make a movie. It's like, I don't think people realize how hard it is. And then to do it at a level where, you know, it's getting into big festivals and getting distribution that's even harder. You have to, like, be very intentional on what you're doing and not just, you know, making things to make things. So when that's done, like, especially premiere like I Love going to premieres I like, you know, like I said, the relationship is intimate for me. So like that hug at a premiere. You know, like Justin and Aaron, I always step away about 30 minutes before the premiere of our movie. We will step away and have a moment just just for the three of us. We're just like, you know, we celebrate, like how hard this is and how lucky we are that we get to do this, and to do this with people that we love. So that's what it is for me. And then you go in, and hopefully the audience responds to, you know, those tiny little cues that you're trying to like, like you're trying to puppeteer their emotions a bit. And seeing that happens. It's, yeah, that's it for me.

35:40  

That's fantastic. David Lawson, Jr. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your world of independent film production. It's honestly been a pleasure exploring your philosophy, your style, and the hard work that you put in and that your team puts in getting, you know, films that we love out into the world. I really look forward to your future projects. Thanks for joining us on production, wishing you a lot of continued success.

Unknown Speaker  36:05  

I appreciate it. Cameron, thank you so much.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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