AMA with Driving Arizona co-creators Joe Ahern and Dylan Tanous


(Ron Valderrama) #21

But I did watch an episode of Last Man Standing that @Dylan wrote. So you guys have made it further than most.


(Rodrigo Diaz Ricci) #22

Hi Joe and Dylan!
I would like to know how the distribution works for you and if with this (if paid, of course) you have managed to recover the investment in your project, or on the other hand if it is not like that if you have opened other doors.


(Joe Ahern) #23

You need to have solid camera rigs for the hood of the car and smaller cameras rigged inside. It doesn’t make for the most cinematic look, but when you’re trying to capture funny ad libs or happy accidents, smaller cameras allow you to move faster. Obviously if we were shooting this show on a bigger budget, we would have process trailers and stuff like that to rig the cameras to, but we don’t have that luxury. We also shot around quiet neighborhoods, so we didn’t have a lot of traffic, but we did end up with a lot of people coming out onto their driveways wondering why there was a strange van driving in circles with a bunch of passengers inside.


(Hailey Harper) #24

Hi!! Welcome to the forum! What would you recommend students do to get a head start on their careers?


(Meg Carroway) #25

Do you think your guys’ independent projects help with getting noticed/ having a leg up on other applicants? Or does it just come down to scripts and the indie work is just fun?


(Joe Ahern) #26

We have not gotten paid for our projects, nor have we recovered the investment. But we didn’t go into it thinking we would. We just put it up on Vimeo and allowed it to play on other streaming platforms. We just figure the more eyeballs on it, the better. A lot of folks have been kind enough to share our show on their sites and we’re very fortunate for that. But yes, it has opened some doors for us.


(Bri Castellini) #27

What is your general marketing strategy, and what does your marketing outreach look like? How do you get the word out about your show?


(Dylan Tanous) #28

Hey! Well, the secret is having talented friends who are generous with their time, also need to build their reel and are willing to work for a Jersey Mike’s sub or (if they’re in post) a nice bottle of whiskey.

We tend to spend a lot of time on the script and we try to be very conscious of what locations will be expensive to get (we cut those), what locations we can get for free (we write to those), and we often write with someone we know in mind. For example, we pretty much always want to write something for Nick Clark (Duane of Driving Arizona fame…) because he’s hilarious and will elevate any material we give him.

We’ve also had the benefit of being on set for a few different shows that we’ve worked on and we try to eliminate factors that we can’t control. If we write a scene at sunset, but we’re running behind all day and we don’t get there until after sunset, we’ve kind of screwed ourselves. As a rule, we try to not screw ourselves.

But really the secret is having talented actors for friends and then talented guys like Dan Riddle to direct. And not writing scenes that require helicopters, malls, or two hundred extras.


(Rodrigo Diaz Ricci) #29

Thank you very much for answering!


(Anna Bateman) #30

Can you talk more about the hood of the car rig? Did you buy or build that? How did you make sure the camera would be safe as you drove/ the driver could still see out of the windshield to drive?


(Dylan Tanous) #31

How’s it going, man?


(Joe Ahern) #32

If your college allows it, make as many short films and web projects as you possibly can. And if they don’t turn out great right away, don’t beat yourself up. I’ve made many terrible short films, but I learned a lot from each of them. Keep creating content. The more you create, the better you will get. But before you shoot something, make sure your script is in the best possible place in can be in. Shooting a script that isn’t ready is only going to be a headache further down the line. I know from experience.


(Bri Castellini) #33

I have no follow up but I wanted to highlight this because I think it’s a major thing that people forget when it comes to artistic collaboration.


(Joe Ahern) #34

They were professional camera rig car mounts that are available for rent at most production houses. We also had a crew of working professionals who knew what they were doing. Our crew ranged from 8-12 people, and most of them were more than up to snuff. Car mounts are no joke and you should get someone who has experience putting them on. Or at least do your research on how to properly mount them.


(Jane) #35

So is one of you in charge, or are you full partners in everything? In my project, I’m the creator but we’re sharing writing duties, and I’m trying to be cautious about how that all works. Any thoughts??


(Bri Castellini) #36

How did you do audio? Is one of the passengers a disguised sound person, or did you have lavs with a sound person on a nearby block, or what?


(Meg Carroway) #37

If we aren’t in major cities (yet! hopefully…) and have, say, ambitious but not overly experienced friends, how can we adapt this info and still make a product we won’t be embarrassed about? Keeping in mind location and cast number limitations obviously


(Joe Ahern) #38

This is an area that I think Dylan and I could both improve in. We feel like a lot of folks have seen our show, but we also think we fell short on marketing it. We’ve had some nice write-ups online, but outside of that, it’s always hard to generate viewership. We never did any paid advertising on facebook, but I hear that actually tends to help quite a bit. But yeah, other than blasting it on facebook, or instagram, we’ve mainly used Driving Arizona’s Twitter as a sort of fake airport shuttle page. We’re constantly poking fun at Uber and Super Shuttle, but I don’t think they take us too seriously :slight_smile:


(Jaime Lancaster) #39

How do you navigate labor trades/volunteer cast/crew things if you don’t have a budget? Or do you just pay people out of pocket? I’m just starting out and can only offer food, credit, and a copy of the finished product for their reels and I’m sooo worried people will think that’s not enough but I don’t have a better idea!


(Dylan Tanous) #40

I’m not sure we gained anything by not being on youtube, but we were conscious of how we wanted to present the show. We tended to watch more stuff on vimeo. We knew that they have a different audience that tends to be people who are making their own shows/movies/music videos, etc and we thought we would benefit from that type of viewership. Before it was on HBO, we were both big fans of High Maintenance and we wanted to follow that model of a quarter hour-ish series.

The indie distribution cycle is a mystery to us as well, but we knew we didn’t want to “spray and pray” that we caught on. We were hoping for a targeted word of mouth approach. So much of the new stuff that isn’t on billboards on Sunset or being blasted twitter/facebook with ads is likely to come to our attention when a friend is like, Dude, you’ve got to watch this.

And our episode length was a consideration. At the time we felt that anything over 5 minutes was too long for youtube. I’m not sure that we were right.