Zac Adams Episode Summary
In this weeks episode we catch up with Emmy Award winning Director and owner of Skydive Films, Zac Adams. We talk about what it’s like editing hundreds of hours of footage looking for a story, what it’s like being a filmmaker in Nashville, and how awesome Billy Bob Thornton is on set.
Zac Adams Episode Notes
In this weeks episode we catch up with Emmy Award winning Director and owner of Skydive Films, Zac Adams. We talk about what it’s like editing hundreds of hours of footage looking for a story, what it’s like being a filmmaker in Nashville, and how awesome Billy Bob Thornton is on set.
Zac’s Lightning Round Answers:
- Favorite Movie – Halloween
- Last Movie You Watched – The Godfather
- Favorite Director – Tim Burton
- Most Underrated / Slept On Cinematographer – Dean Cundey
- Coffee or Tea – Coffee
- Pineapple on Pizza – No
- Favorite Camera – Any RED Camera
- Three Films to Watch Before You Die – Goodfellas / An American Movie / Psycho
Zac Adams Links
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Get In Touch
Media and other inquiries, please email [email protected]
00:05 Corey Allen: Hi, I’m Corey.
00:06 Bill Cornelius: And I’m Bill.
00:07 Corey Allen: And together we host the In Focus Podcast. Today’s episode is sponsored by Gnome Recording Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. We’ll tell you all about Gnome Studios at the end of the show. Today we’re joined by Emmy award-winning director and owner of Skydive Films, Zach Adams. Zach, welcome to the show.
00:23 Zach Adams: It’s great to be here guys, thank you so much.
00:26 Corey Allen: So fun today, I know you and bill actually, have a pretty long history. I would love… Because everybody loves a good origin story. How do you two know each other?
00:35 Bill Cornelius: A good superhero origin story.
00:37 Zac Adams: It’s been I mean 15, no16 years.
00:41 Bill Cornelius: Has it been 16?
00:42 Zac Adams: I think it was January of 2005.
00:45 Bill Cornelius: Yeah, really? I can’t believe it’s been that long already.
00:49 Zac Adams: Yeah, over 16 years.
00:50 Corey Allen: How did you guys first meet?
00:53 Zac Adams: We were at a church function and I heard someone mention Watkins Film School in a conversation and of course I stopped and very rudely interrupted and said, ” What Watkins, who are you? I went there” and we just, hi I’m Bill, hey, I’m Zach cool.
01:09 Bill Cornelius: And I was still in school, that was like my last semester. So you were asking me about what I talked about in my episode, my final film. And we’d worked with the same actress and that’s how we kind of started talking about that.
01:27 Zac Adams: Right.
01:27 Bill Cornelius: And you were like a legend at Watkins, so I’d heard your name before. And I was like, Oh it’s the Zach Adams that they always talk about in class because you were like the guy who was working.
01:40 Zac Adams: And he was terribly disappointed, once the meeting happened.
01:44 Bill Cornelius: You were like the guy who went to Watkins and was working actively in the industry, which back then in the early O’s that wasn’t like common.
01:55 Zac Adams: Not at all.
01:55 Bill Cornelius: Because there wasn’t a lot of work.
01:57 Zac Adams: That’s true, Nashville had just started to become an up-and-coming filmmaking community. I mean, again this was 16 years ago.
02:04 Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
02:05 Zac Adams: Is that what it is now?
02:06 Bill Cornelius: Wow, alright.
02:08 Zac Adams: And all this time later now look at you guys.
02:11 Bill Cornelius: I know.
02:11 Corey Allen: And here we are on a Sunday morning reminiscing. I love it but yeah, it was your short Lavor Shia.
02:18 Bill Cornelius: It was, yes.
02:19 Zac Adams: Wait, Lavor Shia was your final film school project.
02:23 Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
02:25 Zac Adams: Oh.
02:25 Bill Cornelius: We talked about that.
02:26 Zac Adams: Well, we talked about LaVar SIA and how you were not incredibly proud of it.
02:29 Bill Cornelius: But I was.
02:31 Zac Adams: That was not one you said was a disaster.
02:33 Bill Cornelius: No.
02:33 Zac Adams: Oh.
02:33 Corey Allen: It won awards at the Gatlinburg Screen Fest, right?
02:38 Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
02:38 Corey Allen: It did well.
02:40 Zac Adams: Well, maybe I’m thinking about my computer.
02:43 Bill Cornelius: You thinking of my computer, we don’t discuss My Computer. That was right before, so this is funny we met in 2005 and then you would like occasionally, drop in on me with like email and you’d be like, are you still in town, are you still here? And then like a year or two went by and then you hired me on the LEP Briley Shoots.
03:10 Zac Adams: As the assistant director, because he had been doing some directing and stuff and that was summer of 2007.
03:17 Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
03:17 Zac Adams: And we were shooting on HD, let me tell you Corey, back in 2007, nobody was shooting high-definition it was like, wow!
03:24 Bill Cornelius: That’s true, yeah.
03:25 Zac Adams: It’s just you guys from George Lucas and that’s it.
03:29 Bill Cornelius: I had almost forgotten that there was a transition period then between standard Def and high Def. And I remember a lot of clients didn’t know the difference between the two when it was moving over because of periphery.
03:47 Zac Adams: Right.
03:47 Bill Cornelius: Like a lot of people still couldn’t watch HD because there was some Tube TVs out there still.
03:52 Zac Adams: I mean, you could say the same today with like, we got cameras, we’re shooting 8K every day.
03:57 Bill Cornelius: That’s true.
03:58 Zac Adams: Like, still you watch it online it’s 1080P.
04:01 Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
04:02 Corey Allen: Exactly, yeah.
04:03 Bill Cornelius: But yeah, back then I remember it was like I’m on an HD music video shoot with like a crew of more than two people, this is amazing, I’m living the dream.
04:15 Zac Adams: And you’re getting paid, I mean it was actual real money.
04:18 Bill Cornelius: It was.
04:18 Zac Adams: So that was exciting and it was hot, we did two back to back, I think.
04:25 Bill Cornelius: We did.
04:25 Zac Adams: Like, four days shoot and we shot in my house in Nashville, we shot in Galatian at the BJ Shit Bar. Oh, we can say that, okay wonderful.
04:36 Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
04:36 Zac Adams: Great, on the call sheet, it said Interior Shit Bar. Like BJ would call it, yeah, we’re going to shoot at the Shit Bar tomorrow now.
04:45 Bill Cornelius: And I saved that call sheet, I still have it. I found it recently just because it’s so good, Interior Shit Bar day and it was, I mean, that’s exactly what was.
05:00 Zac Adams: And it need no description underneath that, it’s like, okay you know.
05:03 Bill Cornelius: Yeah, you know what you’re walking into.
05:06 Corey Allen: Yeah, that’s awesome. Zac, you’ve had like a really great range of projects over the years, I know you’ve been a part of a short form, long form narratives. Which we’ll talk about your latest short here in just a little bit. Documentaries, music, videos, commercials, like you run the whole gamut, is there one of those genres was in particular that you prefer over the others?
05:28 Zac Adams: I’ve always considered myself a narrative filmmaker, but everything else pays the bills. It’s kind of one of those things where eventually I want to do my own, hopefully Horror feature film, which Corey, I know you’re a big Horror movie diehard fan but yeah, we’ve done everything from commercials. Like you said, music, videos, industrials things like that and we just want to tell a story whether it’s 30 seconds or an hour and a half, so we just consider ourselves storytellers.
05:56 Bill Cornelius: And speaking of the Horror stuff, so I know when you got interested in filmmaking, we’ve talked about this like you were a kid and you used to make like haunted houses, right?
06:05 Zac Adams: Yes.
06:05 Bill Cornelius: Take to us on that a little bit.
06:07 Zac Adams: Yeah, when I was in fifth grade, I just had this infatuation with making haunted houses and I would be doing kind of pre-production. Basically. I would come up with the idea, I’d get my friends to jump out, all of them. One of my best buddies, he was always the tall guy so he was like, Freddy Krueger. I would find people older than me that were taller that would be more intimidating than a nine year old jumping out and scaring somebody. And so I would write down the ideas in June or July and then start getting the props and then of course we had it like the week before Halloween and then I would market it, I’d put posters and drop off flyers and so in essence I was a filmmaker, but didn’t know it. So I was doing the pre-production, the production and then the whole marketing aspect, except there were no cameras.
06:57 Bill Cornelius: Right.
06:57 Zac Adams: It was just me being creative and making these haunted houses with my friends.
07:02 Corey Allen: And it’s interesting that’s like in the horror genre as well. I feel like horror is such a gateway drug for filmmakers. I feel like so many start there because of the freedom that allows you, like you can be as crazy and out there and creative as you want. And in the context of like a, B rated horror film, really like anything goes, and I think like you really can learn and really grow into your creative process that way as well.
07:32 Zac Adams: Oh, absolutely, a hundred percent agree.
07:34 Corey Allen: The only two shorts I’ve done; one is a psychological horror and then the other is like starting to now cross the line into a little more monster and like knives and stuff.
07:48 Bill Cornelius: Was Sweet Tooth, was that your first horror film with like a budget on it?
07:55 Zac Adams: Yeah, I think so. Gosh, that was 2016, so myself, Mike Striker, who you know, and Mark Allen Peters, kind of came up with this concept and we talked about it and talked about it and we just finally did it. And we just wanted to do something narrative again, to show people that we don’t just do documentaries or commercials or corporate or music videos that we can also do narrative projects as well and so it just took off from there and we had a blast doing it.
08:24 Bill Cornelius: And you had a pitch meeting in LA.
08:27 Zac Adams: We did.
08:28 Bill Cornelius: To talk about the feature, right?
08:29 Zac Adams: Yes, with Steven Knapp, that was about a year or so later they saw the shorts and we just pitched them different ideas and actually, yeah one of your scripts got pitched as well.
08:40 Bill Cornelius: Yeah, we talked about that.
08:40 Zac Adams: For Steven, so that was awesome.
08:42 Corey Allen: So that short and I feel like this is probably common for many shorts, was the intent was more proof of concept?
08:49 Zac Adams: Yes.
08:50 Corey Allen: Like a calling card for a larger budgeted, like full feature potentially, right?
08:55 Zac Adams: It is and the film was about 17 minutes long. So it’s kind of tough to market something like that on YouTube it’s on there and it’s won, actually a few festivals, things like that. We shot it on the same camera that they shot The Conjuring II on, well the sister version of it, mini Arri Alexa. So it looked good and cinematic and so we just, Mike and I saved up for several months and we said, we’re going to do this right or not do it a DSLR cell phone, something like that and yeah, we just did it.
09:27 Corey Allen: I remember, I like it, it looks great and it’s a super good story.
09:32 Zac Adams: That was when Josh was the DP, I got to give him credit, Josh Reed.
09:36 Bill Cornelius: Yeah, I worked on that film for one day, [Cross-Talking09:4] And that was my first exposure to the Arri Alexa and that camera is terrifying to me only because of how expensive it is. The lens what we had like Zeiss prime lenses.
09:57 Zac Adams: Oh, yeah.
09:57 Bill Cornelius: And I think the lens that was on there alone was as much as my car.
10:02 Corey Allen: Like that bill is probably a nice starter home.
10:06 Bill Cornelius: Oh yeah.
10:07 Zac Adams: Absolutely, we actually paid a guy a hundred bucks a day, a PA just to sit there for 10 hours and watch the lenses. That’s all he do, play on his phone all day.
10:16 Bill Cornelius: Was that on the day I was there too?
10:18 Zac Adams: No.
10:19 Bill Cornelius: Because I believe I was watching it.
10:23 Zac Adams: Yes, you were.
10:23 Bill Cornelius: Because I remember the fear, but I remember I had to swap lenses at one point. It was like doc in the space shuttle.
10:30 Zac Adams: Yes.
10:30 Bill Cornelius: It’s like, I got to be very careful if there’s one little ding, the whole thing is going to fall apart. But of course that’s being overdramatic but yeah.
10:44 Zac Adams: It’s good you were so concerned, I was concerned too because we don’t own that camera and if something happens to it, we have to pay for it.
10:51 Bill Cornelius: Yes, exactly.
10:52 Corey Allen: So Bill, what were you doing on set the day?
10:54 Bill Cornelius: I was doing some first AC stuff, just for the one day. I think that was the last day just getting pickup.
11:02 Zac Adams: Yeah, pickups of, let’s see a few close up shots and exterior shots of the house at daytime, I think.
11:09 Bill Cornelius: Yeah, that’s right.
11:10 Corey Allen: Got you.
11:11 Bill Cornelius: On our fun rigged [Cross-Talking00:11:15]
11:15 Zac Adams: We had a turn on the other dollars, so we had to.
11:17 Corey Allen: So you had to improvise.
11:19 Zac Adams: Yeah.
11:19 Bill Cornelius: And especially when the ground is not level, there’s a lot of sandbagging and Apple boxes involved to make a.
11:26 Corey Allen: Whatever it takes and we’re all independent filmmakers. So it’s great to do that, you have to do that to make it work.
11:33 Bill Cornelius: You know and that’s the thing about being an independent filmmaker and 80% of what you’re doing on set is problem solving a lot of times.
11:42 Corey Allen: Exactly.
11:42 Bill Cornelius: And you improvise a lot and you try to use what limited resources you have to make something work. It’s all about creating the illusion, ultimately. So for using like way back in the day, when we used to use those home Depot, like floodlights to light a scene and it’s like, no. Definitely in the, behind the scenes pictures, that looks not very sexy but on camera it works because you do what you got to do with a small budget, not a lot of resources you improvise, you try to be as flexible as you can. It makes you, so then when you do get a budget, like a bigger budget, you can use that budget more efficiently because we’ve learned how to make due with little.
12:31 Zac Adams: Yes, absolutely.
12:33 Bill Cornelius: You get 20 grand for a film and it’s like a million dollars for us.
12:37 Zac Adams: Oh my gosh, what.
12:38 Bill Cornelius: We can do everything with that.
12:40 Zac Adams: Last budget was a thousand.
12:42 Corey Allen: That’s right.
12:42 Zac Adams: Totally different, game changer.
12:43 Bill Cornelius: Oh yeah, so tell us about Skydive Films. I know BJ Brown; the late great BJ was the founder of that company. How did you meet him and then how did you get involved with Skydive?
12:58 Zac Adams: I met him; I’m trying to think. I think around 2002, 2003, gosh, we met somewhere on set, I don’t even recall, I should because normally I’m so great with numbers and dates and this and that. But it was almost 20 years ago and we met and just connected, had a lot in common and he was a doer. If you know BJ, if he said he was going to do something, he was there. If he said, he’ll be on set at 10:00 AM, he was there at 9:00 AM. Like, he was the real deal and so I liked that because there’s so many flakes in this industry and so we just teamed up and started working on projects together.
13:34 Bill Cornelius: And it was like Southern Hans, initially, wasn’t it?
13:37 Zac Adams: Right, we did a series for Regional PBS, like six or seven episodes. And it was kind of like the history slash folklore of hauntings in the South and so we went to Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston and even did on in Nashville and Kentucky, new Orleans was a blast.
13:58 Bill Cornelius: Yeah, and through that show is how Billy Bob Thornton got on the radar, wasn’t it? Like he had watched it or.
14:05 Zac Adams: Yeah, like on his tour bus years and years ago, like in 2007 or 2008, something like that.
14:11 Bill Cornelius: And you and BJ met him when you went to do something with Lynn Hoffman, is that what it was or what was that?
14:20 Zac Adams: Yes, in a Mere Mack Hall.
14:22 Bill Cornelius: Okay.
14:23 Zac Adams: Which is at Huntsville, Alabama, they were doing a show there and then Lynn had her own show called Private Sessions on A&E and Lynn asked me to film it and that’s how we all kind of met JD, Teddy, everybody.
14:38 Bill Cornelius: Yeah, that’s right, The Box Master.
14:39 Zac Adams: Yeah, they were brand new back in 2007. They had just started their band.
14:43 Corey Allen: Nice.
14:44 Zac Adams: So they were on tour.
14:46 Corey Allen: And now you’ve done more work with the Box Masters since then, right?
14:50 Zac Adams: Yeah, we’ve done a few music videos, actually Bill has been on set for several of them over the years and hopefully we’ll do more soon now that the pandemic is slowly kind of.
15:01 Bill Cornelius: Easing its way out.
15:02 Zac Adams: Easing its way out, making an exit very slowly.
15:06 Corey Allen: Yeah, they’re just very creative, great bunch of people and so, but we just love making music videos as well.
15:14 Corey Allen: Yeah, and like the thing about them is that they love working with you and the team and they prefer that over some of the Hollywood. I know Billy has a lot of strong opinions about the Hollywood system.
15:31 Zac Adams: Very, very strong.
15:32 Corey Allen: So he loves to work with some guys from Nashville that have a passion for it and are independent and I think that’s a breath of fresh air for him with all those.
15:45 Zac Adams: Well, that’s where he started off too, growing up dirt poor in rural Arkansas, no one gave him anything and he had to work his way up as well, so he remembers that.
15:54 Corey Allen: Yeah.
15:54 Zac Adams: So I think that’s another reason they like working with us.
16:00 Corey Allen: And he’s such an interesting guy, just generally. Like I’ve never met him, I’ve never been on set, if you ever like need some extra hands, let me know. But like just his persona of like what you know of him just in general just seems like just such an interesting dude.
16:18 Zac Adams: Yeah, very intelligent too.
16:20 Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
16:21 Zac Adams: He can talk about pretty much any subject, whether it’s filmmaking, writing politics, sports, you name it, he knows it.
16:29 Bill Cornelius: And just like a nice down to earth guy too, you know.
16:32 Zac Adams: Yeah.
16:32 Bill Cornelius: Like super humble.
16:36 Zac Adams: Just an old country boy from Arkansas.
16:38 Bill Cornelius: Exactly, playing angry birds on his phone every time you see him.
16:40 Zac Adams: Oh, that’s right, walking around Adams, Tennessee, ever that on the shoot population, 500 people just walking around by himself.
16:52 Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
16:54 Zac Adams: Which I love that town too, Bill has been there several times. We did a project together called the Bell Witch Legend, which is a folklore, it’s the oldest ghost story in North America. And that was a fun shoot and that was pretty much Bill and I did the whole thing, we no crew.
17:11 Bill Cornelius: Standard Def, this was back in pre HD.
17:15 Corey Allen: Mini DV?
17:17 Bill Cornelius: Yes.
17:17 Corey Allen: Was it the XL two?
17:18 Bill Cornelius: Yes, it was.
17:19 Zac Adams: And what was your nickname for the it.
17:21 Bill Cornelius: I called that camera baby.
17:23 Corey Allen: Hey baby.
17:24 Bill Cornelius: I don’t even remember why now, it’s been so long. [Cross-Talking00:17:28] I treat it like my baby because I couldn’t afford anything else back then, so I was happy to have something like that.
17:35 Zac Adams: Well, those now you can probably get on eBay for 300 bucks, but yeah.
17:39 Bill Cornelius: Or less.
17:39 Corey Allen: Yeah, but in 2005, 2006, what were they, like five grand?
17:45 Bill Cornelius: Yeah, I mean they were your typical what you’d see now for a first ever camera right back then, which is crazy.
17:53 Corey Allen: I feel like I’ll probably get fact check on this. But I feel like, and we talked about this in the last episode, I’m pretty sure 28 Days Later was shot on the XL two, right?
18:03 Zac Adams: Yes, but they use like the $200,000 Hollywood lenses.
18:08 Corey Allen: Right.
18:08 Zac Adams: That’s what they don’t tell you in the press release.
18:10 Bill Cornelius: I remember when I got that camera. I was like, I’m going to get the XL two because it’s got interchangeable lenses, this is so awesome and then I never swapped the factory lens out.
18:21 Zac Adams: And it was 24P, oh my gosh, it looks just like film and now you’re like, oh no.
18:28 Bill Cornelius: Well, you and I speaking of 24P what, like three years ago, we met like the dude who was one of the pioneers of 24P.
18:39 Zac Adams: You’re right, we did.
18:40 Bill Cornelius: Who was that what was his name?
18:42 Zac Adams: I remember that was three years ago out in LA, but he was
from Clarksville, Tennessee.
18:48 Bill Cornelius: Yeah, small world.
18:48 Zac Adams: But he had been out in LA for 20, 25 years. Didn’t he win a contest and direct a Michael Jackson video or something like that back in the 80ths?
18:57 Bill Cornelius: Yeah, he did something like that, I wish I could remember his name, but I know he.
19:01 Zac Adams: Was it Robert Faber.
19:03 Bill Cornelius: No, I don’t think so.
19:05 Zac Adams: I cannot remember his name, we met him once. It was supposed to be a 30 minute meeting and lasted like four hours.
19:10 Bill Cornelius: Yeah, well he had like a studio in East LA.
19:15 Zac Adams: That’s right and they were filming like green screen. It was fun, that’s right.
19:18 Bill Cornelius: About, I think he had won an Oscar for something like in the eighties. Because his Oscar was like in a junky cabinet with a bunch of papers around it, and I remember seeing it in the cabinet.
19:32 Zac Adams: Wow!
19:32 Bill Cornelius: Like, okay. So that’s an interesting thing to pass by when you walk in there, he never said anything about it.
19:41 Zac Adams: I remember driving up to the studio, we’re like, oh where are we? This looks like the set of Training Day.
19:48 Bill Cornelius: I had to make sure I wasn’t wearing game clothes. I had to like put a jacket over my flannel, I was wearing.
19:56 Corey Allen: If it was a different day.
19:56 Bill Cornelius: Yeah, crazy.
20:00 Zac Adams: I forgot about that, that was fun time.
20:02 Bill Cornelius: We ate at the fish tacos place.
20:05 Zac Adams: Yeah, with Ross.
20:06 Bill Cornelius: With Ross, the guy who’s the Wolverine impersonator on Hollywood Boulevard.
20:10 Zac Adams: He’s been doing that for years and he looks just like him [Cross-Talking00:20:12] He makes damn good money doing it too, he told us what he was making, I was like, what! Good for you.
20:19 Bill Cornelius: And he’s just like, hey, you want to get some fish tacos?
20:22 Zac Adams: Like yeah, yes please.
20:23 Bill Cornelius: In East LA.
20:25 Zac Adams: And they were like a buck each, they were phenomenal.
20:27 Bill Cornelius: From a place called Fish Tacos, that was the name of the hut that we got them.
20:33 Corey Allen: That’s Marketing, they just know.
20:35 Bill Cornelius: Exactly.
20:37 Corey Allen: Tell us about a recent production that maybe really pushed you to your limits creatively.
20:44 Zac Adams: I would say working on it, we have a new feature wrestling documentary that I was a co-producer and work with the director, Sergio Valenzuela and spending a year, working with him, editing, trying to find the right story out of 75 hours of footage, it was tough.
21:03 Corey Allen: What?
21:04 Zac Adams: Yes, and we got distribution, Adam Corollas company picked it up so it comes out later this spring or summer. And just, yeah working with him on that, going through, I mean, hours and hours and hours of footage that him and his crew had shot and I was hired to come there, write the voiceover and then help figure out the story.
21:26 Corey Allen: Yeah, and that’s interesting because I know you’ve been a part of several documentaries, but I think there’s probably a couple of different approaches that documentary filmmakers take either, you know the story that you want and you shoot to that, or you know that there’s a story, but it doesn’t necessarily come through until to your point, you get to the edit and you’d start to piece the story together.
21:48 Zac Adams: Yeah, we did the basics of the story. I think it would just go into the footage, making sure nothing’s too repetitive to the audience because sometimes you can do that in documentaries. And this film was about 84 minutes long and the first edit was three hours, then two hours and I was like, this is not a two hour story, it just can’t be. It’s a definitely not three hours, so just going through this footage with Sergio and our other executive producer was very challenging. It was fun, but it was a challenge.
22:21 Bill Cornelius: And you weren’t there on set or anything.
22:25 Zac Adams: No.
22:25 Bill Cornelius: So you had no idea until you looked at the footage, which you never had.
22:29 Zac Adams: There were two different crews, the first crew got fired and then they hired Sergio’s team. And then Sergio called me up and was like help. Let’s see if we can work this out and we need someone to kind of help flesh the scenes and write some voiceover. And I’ve been doing that 15 years and kind of know how to do that somewhat at this point and just kind of where that stuff goes and the timing and the editing. But sometimes, Sergio was a director and he had seen this footage hundreds of times and so what’s the point where let me bring in someone else that hasn’t seen anything.
23:05 Corey Allen: Right.
23:06 Zac Adams: And we even brought in one of my apprentices, Cynthia for four or five months after Sergio and I had worked on it for many months, same type of thing. Okay, what’s your opinion, honestly, does this scene work, is it too long? And then she would give us.
23:18 Corey Allen: Fresh eyes.
23:19 Zac Adams: Exactly, and that really helped.
23:22 Corey Allen: And this shoot was in post-production for how long?
23:25 Zac Adams: About a year.
23:27 Bill Cornelius: Yeah, so like hear me now at the time.
23:32 Zac Adams: I mean, it was seriously almost a hundred hours of footage for what the first crew did, the second crew figuring out which interviews to use, what soundbites, because sometimes the camera would just roll and it wouldn’t cut and they would go just ramble, ramble, ramble, ramble. And you just go through and just dissect it, which can be very tedious. But at the same time it’s rewarding because we’re happy with how it turned out.
23:59 Bill Cornelius: And see when you’re not on the set, it makes it a little more challenging when you do get to post-production because again, you don’t know what you’re dealing with until you review every last second of footage, at least, at least when you’re on set, you have the luxury of knowing before you get into editing what you’re dealing with.
24:21 Zac Adams: Yeah.
24:21 Bill Cornelius: So I can imagine that’s just like, I know that’s Luke Dye who we know like that’s his day job it’s just getting footage he’s never seen.
24:31 Zac Adams: Right.
24:31 Bill Cornelius: And putting something together.
24:33 Zac Adams: Absolutely.
24:34 Bill Cornelius: And that’s a whole other type of post-production challenge and honestly, most working editors deal with stuff like that, that’s just normal for them. It’s us who we also work on set, but then we also edit. We get a different perspective because we actually, I’ll be on set thinking about the edit.
24:55 Zac Adams: Exactly.
24:55 Bill Cornelius: Because I’m doing both, but a lot of working editors don’t have that luxury. It’s just like here’s footage, here’s some guidance, good luck make a story.
25:09 Zac Adams: It was the first time I was a producer, but had not been on set and so that was interesting. But like I said, it was time consuming but definitely well worth it in the end.
25:21 Corey Allen: Yeah, now for younger filmmakers that want to get into like similar documentary storytelling, is it common to have that much footage compared to like ultimately, you’re talking hours and hours for an 84 minute story?
25:37 Zac Adams: It’s not, I know the first crew just kind of kept the cameras rolling and you don’t really want to do that otherwise you’re really off your editor. Because they go on tangents for 30, 40, 50 minutes talking about this and that and then my dog and then this. And you have to go through, that’s the second time this has happened, we did another project a few years ago.
25:59 Bill Cornelius: Oh, is that the lawyer one.
26:02 Zac Adams: Yeah, which did really well. It’s aired on National PBS, Bill Gates and his wife saw it and had a screening, yeah couldn’t believe it. It had Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
26:17 Bill Cornelius: Balancing the scale, right?
26:18 Zac Adams: Was in it.
26:19 Bill Cornelius: And that was another one where you and Sergio.
26:22 Zac Adams: Worked on it.
26:23 Bill Cornelius: The footage was turned over to you.
26:26 Zac Adams: Yes, and we help find the story for the director and she had been making this film for since 1994 shooting interviews. And so some of the older people have passed away, but we had them and talk about footage. Some of the stuff looked like VHS.
26:40 Bill Cornelius: It probably was.
26:40 Zac Adams: So we would put the corner like 1994 footage or something like that and then because some of it was shot in 4k or 1080 so it would kind of go back and forth. But it did well.
26:53 Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
26:54 Zac Adams: I mean it aired right after Ken Burns made a documentary called Vietnam few years ago, do you remember that. And Serge and I are thinking, okay it’s cool, it’s fun but this will never be seen, no one is going to see this, it’s a paycheck. Maybe 300 people will see this, okay fine, whatever we’re getting paid, it’s good. It’s an idea that we like and then I remember finishing Vietnam, the documentary downstairs, it’s 10:00 PM at Night Prime Time and the first thing it says Skydive Films presents Balancing The Scales right after Ken Burns movie, knowing millions upon millions of people are watching this and Sergio and I were editing this whole thing in his little apartment in Antioch. We had no idea sometimes that happens and then other projects, oh yeah this is going to be great and it doesn’t see the light of day, you just don’t know.
27:49 Bill Cornelius: You don’t, that’s true.
27:51 Zac Adams: That’s been my track record, if I think it’s going to be a hit it’s not, it’s the opposite. So Hollywood needs to hire me, Zach, is this good, it sucks. It’s going to be number one of the Box office, I love it, it’s going to tank, you know?
28:03 Bill Cornelius: Well, that’s why when you all ended up pitching the Dark and Bliss, which is my film when you went out for Sweet Tooth. And they were like, that’s an interesting idea but they didn’t go for the script. I was like, yes, that’s a rite of passage, the stranger things guys got like 20 rejections all over Hollywood, look at them, like that’s making it when you get rejected.
28:27 Zac Adams: Yeah, it’s a rite of passage.
28:30 Bill Cornelius: Yeah, you’re going to end up doing something big.
28:32 Zac Adams: It’s like extra motivation.
28:34 Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
28:34 Corey Allen: Just keep you going.
28:36 Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
28:36 Zac Adams: There’ve been so many scripts that have been rejected that became big hits.
28:41 Bill Cornelius: Oh, yeah.
28:42 Zac Adams: Concepts.
28:43 Bill Cornelius: Well, you can never take that to heart when you get those rejections, because it even goes for film festivals. Film festivals, it’s a lot of politics.
28:56 Zac Adams: Absolutely.
28:56 Bill Cornelius: We know it’s like who you know, it’s whatever the theme of the festival is that you got to match up with and that sort of thing. And so you get rejected a lot, I have been rejected many, many, many times from film festivals and I just kind of ride them off at this point. Because the big thing with Hear Me Now was that it got rejected by almost every festival it was submitted to, but got four distribution offers at the same time. So it’s like, don’t take what happens with festivals or whatever it might be pitches, don’t take that to heart and don’t think of yourself as a failure and your idea as a failure because it may not be.
29:42 Zac Adams: Yeah, and so many film festivals are just overrated too. It doesn’t even matter if you get rejected, just go right to the distribution company, if that’s your main goal. Like you said, Bill, just skip it.
29:54 Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
29:55 Zac Adams: Save some money, you don’t have to wait six months to hear back from some of these festivals. You just go right to the company, if they want it then you know the whole point of going to a festival is exposure and distribution. So if you can just skip that process then sometimes that’s the better alternative, not always, but.
30:12 Bill Cornelius: And you know we’ve learned that the festivals were it really matters where it’s like the auction block or like Sundance and.
30:21 Corey Allen: Toronto.
30:21 Bill Cornelius: Toronto, South by Southwest festivals like that, not some of your more local Backwoods festivals and there, if you’re showing at one of those festivals, you’re just showing it for other filmmakers that also have their films. So what are you really accomplishing, are you moving the ball?
30:42 Corey Allen: Well, you get those laurels, like you get to say, like it look so cool on Facebook.
30:47 Bill Cornelius: The little laurels on your poster, yeah.
30:51 Zac Adams: That’s pretty much it and get like 30 of them from these tiny film festivals that no one’s heard of it. I mean heck Corey, you could start your film festival tomorrow, you should, there you go.
31:01 Bill Cornelius: Yeah, like official selection on the Backwater Springs film festival, like all these, there’s so many out there, it’s ridiculous.
31:10 Corey Allen: Do it for the Laurel?
31:11 Bill Cornelius: Yes.
31:14 Corey Allen: Zach, you mentioned an apprentice now tell me, so I know that still you’re engaged in a version of film school with the education process.
31:27 Zac Adams: Yeah.
31:27 Corey Allen: Tell me a little more about that.
31:28 Zac Adams: Yeah, it’s called Film Connection, they’re based out of Los Angeles. I’ve been working with them for about eight years now and I’m the main apprentice in Nashville. And so I get different students apply here and there and if we get along, then they hang out with me for eight, ten months, put them on set and it’s right to set. It’s not like they have to learn all the other algebra, this and that and spend $150 grand a year to get a script writing degree. It’s way cheaper to do it this way and you make contacts. Film school was great for making contacts, but now it’s between a hundred $150,000 a year for some of these art degrees like Belmont and things like that. And so they go right into the program and they also meet people like Bill or Steven or Striker and so I introduced them to tons of other filmmakers. I say, if I’m the only filmmaker, you know in 10 months, you’re screwed, you got to know everybody. And you have to show up on set and work your tail off and then maybe you’ll get hired once you graduate and some of them have gotten very successful. Some of them move to Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, some are here working full time, you remember Corey Pitts.
32:37 Bill Cornelius: Yeah, he’s a Steady Cam Operator now.
32:41 Zac Adams: It’s that what he is doing now, wow!
32:41 Bill Cornelius: He texted me last year and he was like, hey, if you ever need Steady cam work, look me up.
32:46 Zac Adams: He was doing art direction, he did all the art direction for Sweet Tooth, he did a phenomenal job. And there was a time he was working five, six days a week, he had to turn down work and he was an apprentice when he was with me, he’s making nine bucks an hour working in the liquor store. But you do what you got to have to do, young guy got to pay the bills. But he kept with it, worked his tail off and is doing very, very well now for himself.
33:10 Bill Cornelius: And that’s a good point to make is that, and I’ve seen this because I’ve worked with a lot of your apprentices and I’ve seen some strong ones and some not so strong over time. You see the apprentices that have gone on to do this work, to do more, are the ones that were showing up that were hustling, that were showing up early. Like we did, all three of us did the Lucky Scruff Commercials a few years ago and Corey Pitts was on that one and showed up early. These guys don’t complain, they do their work, they work hard, they get it done and that’s the mentality. That’s the spirit to kind of go on and these guys that have gone on to be Steady Cam Operators.
34:05 Zac Adams: Ryan Davis.
34:07 Bill Cornelius: Ryan Davis, he’s doing all kinds of stuff now because.
34:09 Corey Allen: Ryan was an apprentice for you?
34:11 Zac Adams: Ryan Davis, yeah.
34:12 Corey Allen: Really?
34:12 Zac Adams: He was great, he was in the New Trace Atkins film, like a stand in.
34:15 Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
34:15 Zac Adams: And then I would hire him to do some kind of second unit camera work.
34:22 Corey Allen: He came out and help out on Danny.
34:24 Bill Cornelius: That’s right, yeah.
34:25 Corey Allen: And then that’s where I met him for the first time.
34:27 Bill Cornelius: Him and Chris Dyer were on Danny, so we got everything done very efficiently.
34:34 Zac Adams: Well, Chris is like 26 crew people in one, he’s so phenomenal.
34:37 Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
34:38 Corey Allen: Chris Dyer.
34:38 Zac Adams: Yeah.
34:39 Corey Allen: I’ll give him a big shout out for man.
34:40 Bill Cornelius: Oh, yeah.
34:40 Zac Adams: He really is I met him almost 20 years ago, before I met you, I was working at Best Buy Cool Springs, he was working there and we were just both big film buffs. I was making some short films and he would just come on set and knew absolutely nothing. Nothing worked his way from PA now he’s constantly busy, working on productions.
35:00 Bill Cornelius: Yeah, and that’s again, a Testament to being just hustling on set being there on time.
35:08 Zac Adams: No drama.
35:08 Bill Cornelius: No drama.
35:09 Zac Adams: No slacking.
35:09 Bill Cornelius: Just like, yeah, I know, just getting after it.
35:12 Zac Adams: We’ve never even remotely had an argument, how could you with Chris Dyer?
35:17 Bill Cornelius: Well, yeah, I mean, he’s the nicest guy ever but he’s also the most prepared person I’ve ever met on set.
35:23 Corey Allen: Oh yeah.
35:24 Bill Cornelius: He’s just always ready and to the point where he jokes about how prepared he is now. Because the last time I worked with him on set, I made some comment about like, of course you have the stinger, this lens that I need [Cross-Talking00:35:36] and he just kind of shrugged his shoulders and was like, well, yeah of course you’re working with me, of course.
35:43 Zac Adams: Yeah, I’ve been pumping up so much to him and other places like that and it’s kind of going to his head, I’m joking.
35:50 Bill Cornelius: Well, he’s a great guy.
35:51 Corey Allen: He’s great.
35:51 Zac Adams: He is wonderful.
35:53 Zac Adams: And we had brought you on to help produce the Devil you know and he had three apprentices there, Carter, Cynthia, and Zach.
36:07 Bill Cornelius: Yeah, the other Zach.
36:07 Zac Adams: Yeah, and they’re all writers too. Zach is, we all wrote the short.
36:12 Corey Allen: Oh yeah, let’s talk about that.
36:14 Zac Adams: Okay.
36:15 Corey Allen: Your latest project, what’s it titled?
36:17 Zac Adams: It’s called A Good Mother, it’s a four minute horror short and we hope to release it in the next week or two. And take it to some of the festivals and see what happens but with the film, it’s four minutes, it’s really for the internet. So we want to get it out there and just see what happens.
36:33 Corey Allen: Yeah.
36:33 Zac Adams: Because we have tons of ideas for other shorts and features. Bill, even we talked about doing something this summer, definitely horror.
36:42 Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
36:43 Zac Adams: Putting something together creatively and work together but I had the idea in my head for about 15 years and never did anything with it. And then pitched it to Mike Striker who kind of had some ideas, pitched it to my apprentices and I said, you guys like the idea let’s make it and I said, heck yeah. Well, let’s finish writing because it was just an outline that I had and so we had to flesh out the script and everything, and then able to get a 9,000 square foot mansion in Hendersonville to shoot in, which was Zach’s aunt and uncle’s house and they were nice enough to let us shoot and Corey you were right on that.
37:19 Corey Allen: I was on set, that was great.
37:19 Zac Adams: It was a great time, so we released the trailer on social media and we’re doing some color correction this week sound design is done and then it is out. Because I’ve seen it too many times and I’m just getting too damn picky.
37:35 Corey Allen: And it’s great.
37:36 Zac Adams: I never want to watch it again after this.
37:38 Bill Cornelius: Well, that always happens where it’s like, it’s best to step away.
37:42 Zac Adams: It is.
37:42 Bill Cornelius: You got to step away from it.
37:44 Zac Adams: So, yeah that’s our newest narrative project and like a said, we have the Price of Legacy, the feature documentary coming out spring or summer.
37:52 Bill Cornelius: And that’s the Wrestling.
37:53 Zac Adams: Yes, Trace Atkins was our narrator for that.
37:57 Corey Allen: Oh, cool.
37:58 Zac Adams: We also had other people that almost did it, but trace was just phenomenal. We were like, we got to get with his voice, yeah it was a fun piece.
38:08 Bill Cornelius: So you’ve done a lot of documentary work and we’ve talked and you don’t like when people refer to you as a documentarian and I don’t either and I got that from like just doing, Hear Me Now, people were saying that about me and I was like, no I mix it up, I’m a narrative film. So would you say that is your preferences narrative over documentary?
38:34 Zac Adams: It is, I just call myself a filmmaker or storyteller.
38:37 Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
38:37 Zac Adams: Simple as that because we do just tell stories, whether it’s a 15 second local spot or it’s an hour and a half feature film or short film. We just want to tell the best stories as possible because story is where it’s at, have the biggest budget in the world, the best sound, the best acting, your script sucks, the film is going to suck.
38:56 Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
38:56 Zac Adams: So you have to start there and then proceed once you have your story words to live by. But we like it to look pretty too, don’t get me wrong.
39:06 Bill Cornelius: Eventually yeah.
39:08 Corey Allen: I would say that’s just as important as the story.
39:11 Zac Adams: Yeah.
39:11 Corey Allen: Alright, are you ready for the lightning round?
39:14 Zac Adams: Let’s do it.
39:15 Corey Allen: Alright, we need music. I’m going to have to get like some lightning round intro music.
39:19 Bill Cornelius: Lightning round.
39:23 Zac Adams: You should get John Bailey to do that.
39:25 Bill Cornelius: Yes, we should.
39:26 Zac Adams: He would do it.
39:26 Bill Cornelius: Do we want to talk about John Bailey for a second?
39:29 Corey Allen: Who is he?
39:30 Bill Cornelius: John Bailey is a voice actor or voice artist, who Zac and I, you just like randomly… how did you find him?
39:40 Zac Adams: I randomly found him on YouTube and I was looking for someone that sounded like Peter Colon, the narrative, he’s the Optimus Prime voice and he did the best Peter Colon impersonation I’ve ever seen.
39:52 Corey Allen: Oh, is this the guy that does the movie trailer?
39:56 Bill Cornelius: Yes, he’s the honest trailers.
39:57 Corey Allen: Okay.
39:58 Bill Cornelius: And his YouTube title is, Epic Voice Guy, but yeah, he was in Memphis, right? And he would like leave you voicemails talking in all these voices, but we got him to narrate the Harps, which was like a short documentary. And I used to have a podcast, another one, many moons ago in my twenties and he did his Peter Colon type voice for the intro for that podcast. And just like really nice guy, just really super into what he does and he’s like out in LA now doing, he voiced one of the Decepticons [Cross-Talking00:40:42] and so he’s getting into all kinds of stuff now. So it’s pretty cool to see how he has grown from working on little projects with us years ago to like he’s out at the paramount lot.
40:56 Zac Adams: And if you talk to him on the phone, he’s like the most normal guy with a slight country accent. And then he can just boom! Like that right into it, go right into it and just change it and whoa, your Optimus Prime now.
41:08 Corey Allen: We should totally get him to produce a lightening round intro.
41:13 Zac Adams: Oh, that would be so awesome.
41:14 Bill Cornelius: That would be cool.
41:15 Corey Allen: Until then, this will have to serve the lightening round, I’ll put something over it. Alright, here we go, Zach what is your all-time favorite movie?
41:29 Zac Adams: Oh, Halloween.
41:31 Corey Allen: Like the original.
41:33 Zac Adams: Yeah, in 1978.
41:34 Corey Allen: The last movie that you watched?
41:37 Zac Adams: The Godfather.
41:37 Corey Allen: One?
41:37 Zac Adams: Yes, but I’m halfway through part two, I was watching that last night until 1:00 AM.
41:45 Corey Allen: They are classic.
41:46 Zac Adams: They are.
41:46 Corey Allen: Your favorite director?
41:49 Zac Adams: Tim Burton.
41:50 Corey Allen: Okay, alright most underrated or slept on cinematographer?
41:58 Zac Adams: Dean Kutney.
42:00 Bill Cornelius: I said to him in my lightening round.
42:01 Zac Adams: Did you?
42:01 Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
42:03 Zac Adams: He’s awesome.
42:03 Bill Cornelius: Yeah.
42:04 Corey Allen: Coffee or tea?
42:08 Zac Adams: Coffee all day long, my man.
42:10 Corey Allen: Alright, this is a little controversial pineapple on pizza.
42:14 Zac Adams: That is controversial. I’m going to have to say no.
42:17 Corey Allen: My man.
42:19 Zac Adams: You know Mike Striker, he loves that.
42:21 Bill Cornelius: Mike Striker will order milk at the bar. So
42:25 Corey Allen: That’s disgusting, favorite camera?
42:25 Zac Adams: Anything that’s a Red. Oh that’s right, you have one or two.
42:33 Bill Cornelius: Two, yeah.
42:35 Corey Allen: Alright, three films everyone should see before they die.
42:38 Zac Adams: Goodfellas, there’s a documentary called an American Movie that everyone needs to check out.
42:47 Bill Cornelius: I’ve seen the trailer for that.
42:48 Zac Adams: It’s awesome, it gets me motivated. It came out in the mid-nineties about this low budget filmmaker, trying to make a short film and then make feature, just awesome. I probably seen it 30, 40 times. Then I would have to say Psycho, the original Hitchcock, I’m blown away by how many people have not seen it.
43:10 Corey Allen: Really.
43:11 Zac Adams: They think that they have.
43:12 Corey Allen: [Inaudible00:43:15]
43:14 Bill Cornelius: Well, it’s one of those movies that’s so iconic.
43:16 Zac Adams: People do think that they’ve seen it because they’ve seen all the clips.
43:20 Corey Allen: They just know of it.
43:21 Zac Adams: Well, 95% of the people I hang out with, couldn’t tell you one store Spielberg directed. So maybe that’s the problem. I know. it’s unbelievable.
43:30 Bill Cornelius: It makes me want to curl up.
43:31 Zac Adams: You guys are the 5% of my friends that are filmmakers because most of them are not. I just need to get more friends that make movies.
43:39 Corey Allen: That’s okay, Zach, thanks for joining us today.
43:42 Zac Adams: Thanks for having me guys.
43:43 Corey Allen: It has been a pleasure catching up and chatting and we will leave links to all of your things in the show notes for today. For our listeners, we know you have a lot of podcast options and we appreciate you choosing us, check us out on Instagram @InFocusPod or online at infocuspodcast.com. To learn more about today’s sponsor Gnome Studios, you can find them online gnomestudios.co or on Instagram @GnomeStudios. Gnome studios is located in a century old warehouse, just outside of downtown Nashville and is an amazing full service recording studio, check them out for your next project. If you like, what you heard today, go ahead, and subscribe and if you’re on Apple Podcasts, please leave us a rating, it helps us out a ton until next time, we’ll see you later.