Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 44 - Victoria Negri - FILM REFLECTS LIFE - Part 2 of 3

...that I try to hold on to really. Because we all, you know, life, what are we so afraid of? We're all gonna die. We should just, if you want to do something, just do it.
Smart Athlete Podcast Ep. 44 - Victoria Negri - FILM REFLECTS LIFE - Part 2 of 3

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VICTORIA: ...that I try to hold on to really. Because we all, you know, life, what are we so afraid of? We're all gonna die. We should just, if you want to do something, just do it. Who cares? Everyone's so concerned about their own lives and their own stuff that it's like if you do something and screw up, whoever is that's looking at your art or reading your book or whatever, whatever it is; they're going to think about it for two seconds and then move on. So, it doesn't really matter. JESSE: Yeah, yeah. And it's-- this is kind of on a personal level, I guess. I haven't-- So I grew up, my father is not as old as yours, but older than other kids’ father. So, when I was born, my father was I think 43, maybe 44. So, he's in his late 70s now. And so, older than other kids, and I always felt like it-- I also had maybe a similar kind of thought process as a kid. I always had this like fear of him dying or thinking about him dying sooner than other kids’ parents and thinking about, among other things, that's one of the motivators that kind of kept me wanting to achieve because I wanted to make him proud. I wanted him to be proud of me. VICTORIA: Yeah. Ah, that’s very familiar. JESSE: Yeah, it's like-- So, you have a kind of more, I'll say extreme. That's not really what I mean, contrasting experience than I did because your father is much older than mine, but I think maybe we had kind of similar psyche driven into us at a young age. VICTORIA: Yeah. Yeah, that achievement thing for sure. JESSE: Right. Where it's like, I don't have a lot of-- Like, you want your parents to be proud of you. But you know that clocks almost just ticking all the time on the wall and you're like, I don't have much time. I even think about it now where it's like, okay, I don't have kids, but it's like, if I want to have kids like, better hurry because ?? 02:14> much longer and it's like this constant ticking, that it seems like my peers, and maybe this is, you felt this way too is like, they just didn't have this pressure. And it's internal pressure but they just didn't have it. Because they're like, they're in high school and their parents is now late 30s, early 40s or something. It's not even a concern at all. So, it's just kind of interesting here from ?? 02:44>. VICTORIA: Yeah, 100%. Yeah, I mean, it really affected so many aspects of my life. I really wanted to do a semester abroad. I went to NYU and my family's in Connecticut so I could see them a lot. And I wanted to do a semester abroad and like travel and see more of the world when I was young, and I didn’t do any of that. Because I was afraid if I was away for six months, what if something happened to my dad? And he was super healthy. Like my dad ran until-- he was winning 5K's in his 80s. I mean, not winning outright, but in his age group. So, he was like, super healthy, but then he got Parkinson's when I was in college, and then I was just like, all right, I'm not going anywhere. The ticking clock thing, yeah, I felt trapped really by that perception of time and his age. And the math, I remember doing math when I was a kid and being like, okay, when I'm 30 my dad will be 90 something, and then wondering what that would be like. And watching him-- Yeah, just watching his body betray him was so painful as a young person. And that made it worse because that's a very like definite thing you can sight of like my dad’s old. JESSE: Yeah. Yeah. You know, I don't-- I'm not sure if this is a story I've, I kept to myself because it was just a personal experience. I'm not sure if I've actually shared it with anybody before. VICTORIA: Oh, here we go. JESSE: So, my dad refuses to text so he has to call, which is not like many old people. Although my grandmother will text and she's of a similar age. VICTORIA: My grandma texts too and she's 79. So, yeah. JESSE: Yeah. Anyway, so I had this voicemail from my dad and I was a teenager I think, High School some age, and it's just as garbled sounds with sounds like crying. And it's like a minute and a half long. And that, combined with that like inborn like fear of my father dying made this voicemail-- what my brain made sense of it at the time was like, it sounded like he was trapped in a vehicle filled with water crying, and he was gonna drown or something like that. That's how my brain processed it and it just like freaked me out ?? 05:16>. VICTORIA: Yeah, ?? 05:17> last voicemail. JESSE: Right, right. That's exactly-- that’s the first place, automatic place my brain went and it just-- VICTORIA: Yeah, my brain would do that too. JESSE: Yeah, it scared the shit out of me, and it really is just a butt-dial. It was just in his pocket. It’s the most benign thing. But like just a-- like that's how pervasive that thought is, is that that's the first thing your brain goes to. Not he just butt-dialed me. VICTORIA: Silly dad. Yeah. JESSE: Yeah. ?? 05:46> that at all. VICTORIA: Yeah, that's so-- it's true. Yeah, we-- having an older parent definitely does that to you. You're looking for things, you're like, when's it gonna happen? It's awful. But I think there are many good things about having an older dad too. JESSE: Right. That’s what I was gonna say. VICTORIA: There are a lot of older like, my dad fought in World War Two. So, I heard amazing stories. I wish I filmed them. That's my, I hate having regrets. I try to live not having any. And that's my huge regret with my dad. Because I kept thinking that denial, we're always in denial. It’s like well, when's it gonna happen, but it will never happen. But when's it gonna happen? It's never gonna happen. And I always said to myself, I'll film them saying these things one day, and I never did. But I know them and I can share them, and he wrote some of them down. But yeah, there are a lot of positives. Like that access to history. My dad was born in 1924, so he experienced the Great Depression and World War Two and saw so many presidents. And you know, it's just crazy that it made it feel not long ago and that's the interesting thing about history. We haven't really been around that long. So yeah, he made a time that didn't seem accessible for other kids really accessible to me. JESSE: Did he-- We're obviously going down a rabbit hole here, but-- VICTORIA: No, I’ll follow it. JESSE: Do you feel like thinking about positive things of having an older parent. I always felt like, so my father grew up as an only child on a farm and his parents went through the Great Depression. So, they were very frugal like, didn't have a whole lot but may do and stretched a $1 bill as far as it would go. But, because he came from a different generation, I felt like what at the time maybe seemed like a negative, as you get older, you kind of reflect on it differently in that, I felt like because he had a different experience growing up from a different generation with different values and a different outlook on life, that I was able to overcome some of the things that my peers were not because they were coddled more. I didn't know if like your father had maybe a stricter way of raising you because ?? 08:33> older generation than like parents now might? VICTORIA: Yeah, I was not coddled. I have a really funny story that I think you'll appreciate because it's related to running. So, my dad was a runner and I think I initially started running pretty much just to please him. I was good at it, but I didn't like it enough to be great at it. And we went running just in our neighborhood and I think I was in like junior high or something. And my dad was super-fast even in his 70s. It was crazy. I couldn't keep up with him. And I was so embarrassed about it, that I just faked an injury and was like, I'm just gonna turn around and walk home. I was like half a mile away. I was like, I can't. But I was so ashamed that I just pretended I hurt my ankle and turned around. And I think most dads, and I don't want to speak for most dads because I'm not a dad and I don't know normal dads. But most dads my now in that coddling kind of way asked like what happened or what's wrong or say, oh, I'll walk back with you to make sure you get home. And I was in junior-- I was like, 12, 13 walk back with me, and then continue the run. And he was just like, “Okay, bye.” and he kept running. Even though I had no injury, he didn't even care. He's like, “Okay, well, I got to do my run.” Like this is, I'm doing my thing. So, it was really like, what I learned from him was, he really took care of himself. Like despite everything that happened He balanced family with alone time really well and would like go paint-- paintings in the basement and practice piano. And yeah, I think I just learned a lot about what to appreciate out of life too. And also yeah, I definitely wasn't coddled. So, I think that he gave me a huge work ethic because it's like, okay, yeah, you're hurt whatever, you'll be fine. And resilience, I think I learned a lot about resilience from him. JESSE: It's like that walk it off mentality like, okay. Well, you're fine, but you'll figure it out. VICTORIA: Yeah, you’ll figure it out. Yeah, you're still standing. JESSE: Yeah, no, no problems here. I kind of wonder and this is speaking culturally, but just I wonder if we've kind of got helicopter parents now. They're like, over calling and then you've got kids that, I'll say kids, but I don't mean that, young adults who go to college and have no idea how to do their own laundry or, like the most basic of things. I wonder how long or if it will but I assume it will. I wonder how long it'll take for the pendulum to kind of start swinging back the other direction for people go like, okay, wait. This didn't produce the kind of children we wanted either. So, now we're gonna have to do, go back the other way and be like, you're on your own. You're eight years old, go to the store and buy all the groceries for the week. VICTORIA: Yeah. I mean, if I ever have kids I mean, I would definitely raise them the way-- I would change some things obviously because we learn from our parents like what we felt worked and didn't work. But I don't think I’d send them to the grocery store. But yeah, I would make them solve their own problems. Like I’d definitely give advice, but I wouldn't step in and interfere on stuff. And I think that my parents didn't do that for me, and I saw a lot of other kids, parents just kind of like, aggressively do stuff. I’m oh, my mom... And I think that's why like despite my parents’ age difference, it really worked. Like my mom really doesn't call me much. She doesn't-- she’ll like check in. But there's no helicopter. There was never any helicopter parenting. I woke up, I made my bed I went to-- Like I did everything I needed to do. Nobody had to tell me how to function. So, kids are smart, and they learn. And if you teach them that they can rely on you, they're just gonna rely on you. JESSE: Right. Right. VICTORIA: So, yeah, I don't know. I don't know. Raising kids seems complicated. So, anyone who gets through it and has functioning adults, well done. JESSE: Yeah. Well, it seems-- I mean, this is a little presumptuous, but I mean, it seems like that the whole idea-- I mean, the whole idea of you not being coddled is a skill that always allows you to make a feature film as your first film, you know what I mean? Like you already have-- You didn't have making film experience in that sense, but you had all the raw ingredients of like, yeah, I'm fine. I can figure it out. Like it’s gonna be okay. VICTORIA: Yeah, and I didn’t ?? 13:21> anyone. And I think that's why, partially why I could pull it off for such a low budget. I didn't really ask people to do more than what I felt was fair based on what we were paying. Like, I found all of the locations. I basically was the location scout also. Like I just tried to, yeah, I didn't rely on anyone beyond what was called for. But yeah, I-- Oh, man. It was so much work...years. I think it was like six years of work total between writing and releasing the film. JESSE: Right. Well, that's where I see like, and I don't know, maybe you can shed some light on this. But I don't know what the scale is in terms of like, how much a small independent film costs versus a major blockbuster. And obviously, there's steps in between. But it seems like, obviously, the more people you get involved, the more money you have to pay, because you got to pay them to go find locations or to find people to do casting, to write this script and to do revisions, and the more you're doing it, the less money you're paying, but the more time you're spending. So, if you're comfortable sharing, where does Gold Star kind of fits in budget-wise, and then moving up, how does that change over time? VICTORIA: Yeah. So, for Gold Star, there was a lot of strategy involved because I kind of knew what I could get to raise money for it. So, we set one of our producers, Ellen did a really fantastic job of making three different budgets. What we could get for the lowest amount of money we could raise and what that was; the medium and then the reach. And the reach one, the reach goal I think was like $150,000 and that's super low. We, all in, including releasing the film and paying a publicist came in still just under 100,000, which is insane. But I knew that I could, going back to your original question of like, committing to this and doing it and what kind of like doubts I had, I knew I wouldn't have to pay for any locations. The only question mark, because I know the owner of the bar we shot in, I know the owner of the gym we shot in, I knew we would shoot in my mom's house. We used a friend's apartment in New York. The only question mark was the hospital. And if the hospital made us pay a normal rate would have been 15,000 a day. They gave it to us for free, which was insane and the biggest blessing. So, the film looks a lot more expensive than it cost because of these things. A family member generously donated catering, owns a restaurant. So, I knew, I called in every favor I possibly could. But then there are jobs that you have to pay for like a guy who's a gaffer and a grip. They're not going to do this out of the kindness of their hearts like that's their day job. That's their job. So, using the money that I raised, and looking at these three budgets and saying like, okay, do we have to cut script supervisor if we're at this level? Do we have to cut-- Do we need a gaffer and a grip and a swing? Can we just use one person. We even like, did things as strategic as on days where it was just me acting, we didn't bring the makeup artist on. I asked them to leave the makeup they used on me and write out specific instructions on like how to do it with a photo of me. So, I could like look at, I mean a still image from the film so I can like look and see. But like I even did my own makeup on certain days. So, yeah, it was really just being very strategic about how to stretch $1, and how to just-- and it's so painful. I hate asking people to do things for nothing. But I think what the film is about and having a lot of family in Connecticut, like my grandparents drove Robert Vaughn to and from set. So, people were really-- everyone. I mean, it was a team effort. Anyone who's a blood relative of me did something. Everyone in the bar scene who's an extra is related to me or like a very close friend. So, yes, it’s a lot of that. So, for the next film, like looking forward, because I've used every favor I'll ever have, I have no favors left. If I wanted to do something like shoot a short film, I'm sure I could raise enough money to do that. But for like another feature, no way. And especially for this scope like to shoot in the desert and have it be in a budget level where people will even be safe, you can't shoot it less for than like 800,000. Like this film has to be a million at least. So, that's what I think our low is around there. But also, it depends on what actress we get. But if we get someone who's super famous, then the budget will get even bigger. And I'm talking to actresses right now that I'm actually flying to LA on Monday to meet with somebody who I don't want to say her name, but if she says yes-- JESSE: No, that’s fine. VICTORIA: I'll message you and tell you. And if she signs anything, and it’ll be a really exciting announcement. But if she says yes, my head will explode, and it would be insane. But it's such a different process like reaching out to famous people, you can't reach out to more than one at the same time. And it takes them all, like six weeks to read the script. So, for me, it's like, the scope is different. Like, with Gold Star, I could work non stop on it and just like churn that engine, like move that train forward. And with this, like I'm waiting around because it's a much bigger scope, and you can't get these people do move quicker than they're going to move. So, it's great because hopefully, a lot more people will watch this film, but it's also just different. I keep emailing the producers on like, what can I be doing? JESSE: Yeah. Go to Part 3 Go to Part 1

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