I am so excited about this episode. I had the pleasure to interview one of the most accomplished and well rounded filmmakers I’ve ever met.
Alex Koehne (@AlexKoehne) is a producer, line producer, production manager and post production supervisor based in Los Angeles, California. He is one of the founders of Brevity Wit Productions, a modern production company focused on creating premium content in the new media space.
His new show “Lonely And Horny” Starring Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld from CollegeHumor.com’s “Jake and Amir”
His production company BrevityWitProductions.com
From starting his career as a high school intern at Skywalker Sound, Alex has worked on a vast array of projects across all forms of film, television and new media. His experience ranges from editing ads and marketing materials for Apple’s award winning internal marketing department, directing short form comedy videos, and producing independent feature films like “Folk Hero and Funny Guy”, “After the Reality” and “Director’s Cut”.
Alex has produced, production managed and post production supervised a large number of films including “Space Station 76”, “Higher Power”, “Mortified Nation”, “Heaven Sent” and “People You May Know”, as well as new media projects like “Tesla and Twain”, “Con Man” and “Lonely and Horny”. His work has been shown in numerous film festivals including Tribeca, South By SouthWest, The Newport Beach Film Festival, The Santa Barbara International Film Festival and Slamdance, and has been featured on the likes of College Humor, FunnyorDie, Break.com, Vimeo OnDemand , Hulu, and Netflix amongst other distribution platforms.
Just a quick glance at his extensive IMDB credits and you know he’s got some deep valuable insight and highly actionable knowledge to share. Talking to him definitely did not disappoint. The topics discussed include:
How to get started in the film industry
What it was like working on Steve Jobs Keynote speeches
How producing is one of the most viable ways to learn a ton about the filmmaking process and make a good living while still circling your true filmmaking dreams.
Whether you need to live in LA or NY to make it as a filmmaker.
If you have any interest in film, tv, or new media I think you’ll really enjoy and benefit from this interview. Enjoy!
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02:00 Alex’s Origin story of how he got into film
3:30 Alex’s first camera; The GL1 followed by the Panasonic DVX100
4:40 How Alex got into the film industry; HINT: watch a lot of movies, learn to edit, and have a burning passion
6:40 Alex’s work editing Steve Jobs keynote speeches
8:00 Alex’s experience as a screenwriter; they were way too big budget at first
9:30 How Producing taught Alex the most; His savings were running dry from time at Apple turned to producing
10:15 Alex’s experience producing “Space Station 76”; he became a post soup
11:45 Alex’s producing philosophy; Why Alex chose Producing over Directing
13:15 Plans to move back and forth between Producing and Directing while looking for first project as director
14:45 Why Alex doesn’t want to be a writer and what he’s looking to direct next
17:30 The genres Alex is attracted to and why
20:45 Alex’s biggest influences; Spielberg, PT Anderson, Wes Anderson, just something from a perspective that is visionary in some way
22:30 How important is it to live in LA or NY; advantageous because there’s so much going on out here, find actors for very cheap, it’s a networking town
26:15 How to avoid the mistakes that first time directors make; they don’t plan enough HINT: Shot list, If you’re going to be a director you should take acting or improv classes so you know how to better work with actors, trusting your crew but also having a solid perspective in mind, knowing that a good idea can come from anyone and working with a more experienced crew,
31:30 What to know about working with small and large budgets. ***Under $500K is ultra low budget, you learn how to make a deal. The next budget range is $500K to under a million. Can start doing things the right way. A proper post house, pay better crew, pay rates that people will come out for, then the unions become a factor but the crew is going to be really good. The only downside as a filmmaker is there is a lot more bureaucracy to deal with. Alex prefers to work in the $4 to $8 million, good catering goes a long way on set, days go 12 to 14 hours at a time, proper air condition makes a real big difference, having trailers and good bathrooms.
38:00 Distribution methods and his new show “Lonely and Horny” Work with investors or some sort of distribution partners. Interesting model is the “New Media Space”. The stars of the web series already have a following and Vimeo was interested in producing their own original content. Worked with them on a show called “Con Man”. Again the lead actors had a large following. Budgets are tight but you’re offered complete creative freedom and you don’t have to worry about distribution. And if it’s successful enough they’ll give them a bigger budget. Vimeo is using their own marketing budget. That’s a space that is worth watching. There is such a glut of content. Why he created a Brevity Wit Productions with a focus on making premium content for the web space. The gap is bridged on Netflix and HBO. It’s a cool space to be working in. There’s a lot of high caliber talent involved. Used the team from “Agents of Shield” because they were on hiatus for the summer.
46:15 What does the future of distribution and the 90 minute film look like? I watch fewer movies than ever before in my life. That long form storytelling can be really fantastic. A Netflix like deal where you have unlimited viewings at the theatre. Example The Alamo Draft house with really good food service and experience. He refers to indie films as the new short. You can make a feature for really cheap. There are a lot of really bad independent films.
51:30 The effect of Virtual Reality. It’s not a gimmick. It’s going to be a huge thing. The VR theatre experience. It makes it feel like you’re looking at a huge screen.
58:00 Do you need an agent? Producers generally don’t need agents. When he starts directing that’s when he would look for an agent. His process for finding an agent. It’s about making good work. Making good projects is your calling card. You have something to show them. No one cares how good you are in a room. Can you deliver the product.
61:00 Should you get an agent before you’ve made something you are proud of? You can get a manager to put you in their pocket, they work on your behalf but not officially your manager. It comes down to can they market you? It makes their job very difficult if you don’t have any good work to show. You don’t have to paint the Mona Lisa just show that you’re competent. That you have something worth watching. That’s when it becomes important to be good in a room. But you need a reason for them to let you in the door.
1:02:30 What is the most direct path toward making it as a filmmaker? No direct path. No such thing as an overnight success. They’ve actually been working hard for years. Go to NYU or USC. But you can simply meet a lot of people by just working. In terms of school just had to get through it. But he met a lot of collaborators. He thinks you learn filmmaking best by doing it. Competitions can be really great. They got him a lot of meetings from stuff he wrote. Every studio has a fellowship program. If you get selected you get placed on one of their tv shows. It helps to be in town and have connections and make connections. Everyone’s path is different. Working on indy films is rough because they don’t pay much and can go on for a while. Last summer he was working on 8 movies at once. His end goal has always been directing. Hasn’t wavered since he was 8. Circling the director position. He will be a much better director because of all this stuff. It’s circuitous but it’s a path.
1:14:00 The benefits of medical marijuana. Especially for insomnia. Can do way more with his time. Some of his favorite books include: Peter F Hamilton a british science fiction author. Peter Biskind does great film histories. Tries to switch between sci-fi fantasy, fiction, literature, classic stuff, non-fiction, biographies, science. He likes too many things.
1:21:00 Alex’s top three films of all time. He just fucking loves “Ghostbusters”. You can dissect it and it holds up. “Blade Runner” and “Mad Max: Fury Road”. The world building with so little dialogue boggles the mind.
1:24:00 Where to find more about him