The Atlas Society Asks Robert Anthony Peters

July 20, 2022 00:58:46
The Atlas Society Asks Robert Anthony Peters
The Atlas Society Presents - The Atlas Society Asks
The Atlas Society Asks Robert Anthony Peters
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Inspired by the iconic image of a man blocking tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989, Robert Anthony Peters produced the short film Tank Man. As the Vice-Chairman of the Fully Informed Jury Association Robert works to educate people about jurors’ rights and responsibility to exercise jury nullification.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 0 00:00:00 Hi everyone. And welcome to the 113th episode of the Atlas society asks. My name is Jennifer Anju Grossman. You can call me JAG. I am the CEO of the Atlas society. We are the leading nonprofit, introducing young people to the ideas of Iran in fun, creative ways like graphic novels and animated videos. Uh, today we are joined by Robert Anthony Peters. Before I even begin to introduce our guest, I want to, um, invite all of you who are watching us on zoom, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, or YouTube start typing in your questions. Now I have a feeling we're gonna be able to get to many of them, so just type them into your, uh, chat. So our guest today, Robert Anthony Peters is an actor director and frequent lecturer on a variety of art and Liberty topics. He is the producer behind the, uh, short film tank man, which was inspired by the iconic image of the man blocking tanks in Tianmen square. Uh, in 1989, Robert also operates, uh, as the vice chairman of the fully informed jury association, which works to educate people about jurors rights and responsibilities to execute, uh, to exercise jury nullification. Robert, thanks again, uh, for joining us. Welcome. Speaker 1 00:01:33 Thanks so much for having Speaker 0 00:01:37 So, um, first I would love to hear a bit about your origin story, where you grew up, uh, what may have influenced your ideas today and set you on the path to your current work and passion compassion, Speaker 1 00:01:54 Because I feel like a superhero analogy story. It seems like every, uh, every franchise has all these coming out. We're fascinated by the beginnings. Aren't we, uh, I, I grew up in San Francisco, um, which doesn't seem like, uh, place for a libertarian to come from. Certainly there's the kind of open-mindedness aspect or if there at least was at one time, uh, we, we could liberalism throughout the years. Speaker 0 00:02:27 I, I, I grew up in I'm in San Francisco now and grew up in Massachusetts and I actually find that sometimes, uh, the, the strongest, um, most resilient, most persevering libertarians come from places like Massachusetts Grove Northwests is another Massachusetts yes. Uh, product. And then of course, Canada as well, so many, um, of our donors and of course, um, our scholar, Steven Hicks. So there's something about being fired in a hostile environment. I think that can make you wake up and say, Hey, I'm not okay with this. And, um, I'm gonna be, if I can survive San Francisco, Massachusetts, uh, Canada, with your ideas intact, you're gonna be on a, a good path to defend them going forward. So anyways, so, so San consistently. Yeah, Speaker 1 00:03:21 No, I, I, I think you're right. I mean, I just remember being a kid and kind of, there were adults in, in our lives who would kind of indicate that I should feel bad for being white or for being male or, you know, middle class or all of these things. And just thinking like this just doesn't make sense. I couldn't buy into that, that we would be guilty of something by virtue of how we were born or what circumstance we were created into. Um, as opposed to it, didn't, wouldn't make sense to judge somebody more by the things that they do, the choices that they make. So, you know, I, I, I tended to reject that dominant narrative that was there and, uh, you know, just, uh, really probably as, as a good young person, I was rebellious. And so I was, you know, just much more of a contrarian in nature, and I knew that what they were telling me wasn't right. And so I kind of went to the opposite. So what I felt was a lot of listening to Russian limb time. Speaker 0 00:04:27 And were you parents, um, uh, liberal Democrats like mine, or were they, uh, a little bit, uh, somewhere else on the ideological spectrum? Speaker 1 00:04:37 Yeah. You know, Speaker 0 00:04:38 My mom Speaker 1 00:04:40 Too interested, but she also grew up in San Francisco and, uh, I think she had more, wasn't had hippie sensibilities, not in kind of sea holistic sort of way, but just more openminded. Um, and, uh, but also she grew up as a Catholic. So had that kinda conservative, the kind of conservative liberal tension that I think probably is, uh, what, what might breed libertarians? Um, my dad was somewhat more of a, a gold water guy. He had gone to a high school in Arizona and had spent a good amount of time there. And I think that kind of influenced him, but politics wasn't really something that was talked about much in the house, but I gravitated towards it. I think I wasn't much of an athlete when I was a kid. I was a much bigger reader. So I think I had enjoyed really, um, you know, exploring the ideas and, and kinda enjoying getting people riled up with my contrarian views. So Speaker 0 00:05:41 Were there some books, uh, as a reader, were there some books that kind of helped to clarify or set you on a, your kind of inform your intellectual trajectory? Speaker 1 00:05:52 Yeah, I would say one of the big ones that was really kind of surprising look, a, a couple big ones really come to mind. One was something that most school kids read at some point, uh, was Mockingbird, which my mom gave me. Uh, she had me read, I think, in the summer of my fourth grade. And just what an important examination of what both individuals can do. I mean, the Atticus fi character is just, uh, still admired tremendously. Um, you seen the, the Broadway adaptation of it, the recent one, it's the shame what they did to it. We could talk about makes me sick, but, um, beautiful story. And then eighth grade I did a debate camp and the topic was way people to rebel. And so we were reading John lock's second treatise. I just remembered this is so cool. This is just amazing stuff. Speaker 1 00:06:51 Uh, and so, yeah, I was, you know, in eighth grade I was a Lockian, uh, so I was kinda hooked from there, but I had, um, my dad I'd worked with my dad in his business when I was a kid and, and, um, kept his camp and coin business in the peninsula in BU game. And people would come in and bring weird things, uh, sometimes for him to buy and sometimes it was gold or silver precious. We bring it to a guy named bet Blumer and bet was a huge libertarian. And he provided a lot of seed money for the MEUs Institute and was a big Ron Paul supporter. And so we go there, I'd like, yeah, you know, 11 years old and he'd give me a copy of, uh, Murray Rothbard's what has government done to our money? And so I'd go home and read this and be like, oh, this is really cool. So I had, fortunately I had some intellectual, uh, ammunition to help me out with that along the way. Speaker 0 00:07:51 So, um, in your bio, you say that you've been a libertarian longer than you've been an actor, uh, do many people in Hollywood, um, generally know that you're a libertarian or are you in the closet and, um, to the extent that you're not has, do you feel like it's affected your career at all? Speaker 1 00:08:13 You know, I'm not very closeted about it, but I'm also not famous, so it doesn't hurt me. I don't think cuz nobody knows or cares, you know? Um, uh, it's interesting though, on, on smaller scale things, I think it's been somewhat of a cost, uh, with theater in particular, you know, the stakes are lower so they can afford to really discriminate on those, those aspects. Uh, so I, I know, and, and I think even, even less than in film, people in theater tend to care more about what your ideology is and whether you've that or not. So I've had some problems in that arena, um, with it, but it's okay. I don't mind. I mean, I'm, I'm very, um, you know, I spend a lot of time thinking about the ideas I believe in, so I'm very comfortable with that and it's small price to pay if I'm in this house, certain opportunities. Speaker 0 00:09:15 And then of course you create your, uh, own opportunities in your short film tank, man, uh, about the iconic scene from the terrible Tianmen square massacre of, uh, a regular man carrying bags while, um, shopping while, while stopping a, a column of cakes, uh, by just standing in the way. So, um, how did you come up with, uh, the idea to dramatize your take on his story and, uh, how, um, and how he came to that place in history? Speaker 1 00:09:51 Yeah. Yeah. You know, I think like a lot of people I've always been fascinated that image. Yeah. You go see the poster on the wall and, um, it's, it's one of the most famous images of the 20th century, incredibly inspirational. And I think just my natural curiosity and I think some of that's the curiosity as being a actor as well, you know, you want to know what motivates behavior, what, you know, why does this seemingly regular guy do this highly irregular thing? I mean, I'd like to think I would do the same thing, but I'm not a hundred percent sure this takes a tremendous amount of guts to, uh, to look down a tank and, and say, Hey, it's either you or me, buddy. I'm pretty sure it's this one, but I'm gonna stand there anyway. So, you know, you just sit there and say, gosh, you know, this isn't stage, this isn't photoshopped. What, what's the story here? What would make somebody do that? So I just, I tried to think back, okay, what do we know about the guy? Start with that? Well, Speaker 0 00:10:55 What did we know about him Speaker 1 00:10:58 Next to nothing? You know, that picture, what we see in the footage. Um, but, but you look at at that, and it's just these guy wearing black pants, white shirt, he's got some bags that looks like groceries maybe or something like that. And, uh, he's just standing there and you know, he, so he just looks like a regular fell. He's not wearing a uniform, he's not Hercules, you know, he's not out there with an AK 47. He's not some big, massive dude that you think, man, this guy was just bred to be a hero, to be a warrior. He looks like just a regular max. Okay. Tell a story of a regular guy doing an amazing thing. Speaker 1 00:11:43 And uh, you know, yeah, I had, I hadn't set out necessarily to this story, but, uh, a mutual friend of ours, Patrick re over, hadn't an organization called <inaudible> Nexis. I needed film ideas and he would ask me what he got. So it's like, well, I had this one idea. I got a lot of ideas, but this is the one that I, I, I tend to gravitate to and think about, you gotta submit it. And so I did and they ended up, uh, selecting it. And, um, and so we, we made the film. Um, I didn't wanna make it at first because making the film is a lot of work and, uh, I'm actually being an actor, man, you got the easiest job on set. You know, I films a tremend amount of work, but now I'm kind of addicted and it's tremendously rewarding to, to really, uh, craft something yourself, you actor, you kinda get jobbed in, you don't necessarily know what you're working on or what the message will be or anything like that. And so it can be a little dicey to be able to have greater control over those aspects, incredibly rewarding. I mean, you just of the creator being more so it's great. I love it. Speaker 0 00:13:03 All right. Well, we've got a few questions coming in already. I have, uh, several more of my own, but, um, the audience always has, uh, has interesting and UN and surprising ones. Um, this one is a little bit, uh, off topic, but, uh, well, I'll ask it anyway. Candace Parker on Facebook asks, if you see any difference between modern, liberal and conservative politicians, Speaker 1 00:13:29 Modern, liberal, and conservative politicians. Speaker 0 00:13:34 Yeah. Speaker 1 00:13:35 Um, yeah, I mean, certainly it's, it's, it's scary when, at times when there are moments when conservative seem more, open-minded more tolerant than accepting and modern liberals, um, seems to turn the, the concept of some of these things on their heads. Uh, and I think conservative, the conservative tradition has room for, to for sure explicit be hallmark of liberalism, but it's certainly not there in the modern sense. I'm not a political philosopher opinions. Speaker 0 00:14:12 Okay. On Instagram, Danny KT asks what has been the biggest influence on your career creatively? Speaker 1 00:14:22 Um, that is a great question. I'm sure I, I should, for your, uh, the purposes of the podcast say Hein rant, but that would be lion's although I do love he rant. Um, Speaker 0 00:14:37 Yeah. Well, I also, you had this interesting project that, uh, that you did in adaptation, um, of her night of January 16th. So tell us a little bit about how that came about. Speaker 1 00:14:49 Oh yeah, that was great. Um, I, uh, I'm always trying to find ways to combine culture with Liberty. And so, uh, I'll approach people, different events, uh, about what can we do to, to bring these ideas to life in a more artistic way. And I've given a lot of talks to relate the two, but, um, but it's fun when you get to do a, a real execution at the real project. So, uh, one year for pork Fest, um, we produced a main stage event of, of production, of staged reading of night of January the 16. And it went really well. It's very popular and it's such a big cast. So we were able to cast, uh, a lot of the I'll call. 'em the celebrities who were there, a lot of the speakers, um, and the luminaries in the movement to, to come and play various roles. Speaker 1 00:15:43 And it was fun. I mean, I think you have like, you know, some anarchist playing, you know, a cop or something like that. So, you know, opportunities to have a good time with, with, during some of these notions on their, um, but it was great. And we had a, uh, a jury go out and vote on it and, uh, I'm sure they found the hero not guilty. Um, and yeah, I felt like it was a, it was a fun contribution to C more out there to getting the ideas be out there and giving people a good time as well. Speaker 0 00:16:21 Love, I love it. You know, that, um, that the experience of seeing that play adapted into a film, uh, was part of what inspired the fountain head with, uh, Ryan Rand because, um, the, the play and the, and the film adaptation are, you know, complete, complete, uh, kind of, uh, antitheses with the, the hero being presented as villains and the villains being presented as heroes. And so, um, with fountain hit Iran wanted to present a, um, an ideal man who would not compromise his creative vision for anything, not even the sake of the woman who he was. So, uh, I guess it's another way of looking at sometimes even, um, artistic frustrations setbacks, um, can be there for a reason, or they'll, they'll be there for what we decide to make them into. And if we want to, um, to try and, and make something positive of it, clearly I Rand did that with, uh, with the Fountainhead. Speaker 1 00:17:36 I think all artists can certainly relate to that dilemma and, uh, and some can relate to how to deal with it as well. I know we had some issues with tank man with, uh, conflicting visions and, uh, but that was my, I was not going to allow it to be anything, but the project I wanted it to be as, as much as we can, you know, as much as you can bring your idea into reality. So yeah, some, there are some, I could see if some might call me difficult to work, but I just, you know, but fortunately most of the people understand. It's just cause I'm truly passionate about, we gotta have, we gotta do this the right way, not cut corners and not, um, keep the audience and, and not anything less than the best we're capable of. So that's, to me, it's far it in the end, Speaker 0 00:18:31 Another great question. This one from Twitter, from Maryanne S asking, was there any feedback of tank man by the CCP? Speaker 1 00:18:42 Um, I, I wouldn't say directly, uh, we haven't had enough, but certainly we've had our challenges. We've had, uh, challenges with bots for, uh, things online. Um, we've, uh, definitely one of the fun accusations I get, uh, is that we're obviously, this is a CA funded, uh, project, which I think gone this would've been so much better if we had that kind of money at our disposal, which isn't necessarily true. Um, Speaker 0 00:19:16 Yeah, honestly, I sometimes feel that, um, people will ask me running the out society. How do you come up with all these creative ideas? What, what makes you so creative? And part of it is, you know, we don't have a lot of money. I think if we had a lot of money, we probably would just be like, okay, well let's just, uh, run a ad for that was strong in the New York times. But, um, Speaker 1 00:19:44 It's, that's, to me, one of the fun things, I mean, Speaker 0 00:19:47 You know, which isn't to say if you're there to not give the society. Speaker 0 00:19:55 Yeah. I think it's, you know, I, I continue to be, uh, creative cuz now we've got, we've got our, our method, we've got kind of our franchise, we've got our vehicles. Um, but in kind of coming up with those in the first place, whether it was the graphic novels or animated videos or, you know, the speaking of Patrick reason over the, the living history projects, Patrick and, um, and also, uh, Jeffrey Tucker who did, uh, the, the first, my first iron Rand living history impersonation, where I was absolutely scared with list. But, uh, so that was, that was fun. And you know, some people loved it and some people really hated it, like, you know, as if you'd be, uh, uh, representing Mohamed or something, but that's not kind of our take at the apple society. We're not about conflating ideas, uh, with personalities. So very loving rendition. Speaker 1 00:20:56 That's great. Yeah, no, that, that the obstacles often make the art better. Right. I mean, not only do they force us to be more creative, but it's amazing the happy accidents that can occur too, um, that you have to be open to. Cause you don't have a choice mm-hmm <affirmative> so it's, it's so exciting and that's, you know, I haven't had as much access to bigger projects or performing obviously producing, not at all, but, um, but it's, to me it's so fun and so exciting to be on smaller scale things where it's like, okay, we've got big vision now, how do we scale this as much as we can or what, I don't wanna say, sacrifices, what changes do we have to make, uh, to, to worry, um, without having, yeah. You know, without being able to just get off helicopter to come in, you know, Speaker 0 00:21:54 Well, speaking of, uh, scaling things up, Kristin tyin on Facebook asks, is there any possibility tank man could be turned into a feature length film, Speaker 1 00:22:06 Kirsten, thanks for asking. Yeah, I, I, that's one of the dreams, uh, that I'm hoping we, we can realize in the next day to make a feature film version telling the same, telling the story about that event, <inaudible> square master, uh, from several different perspectives in one feature film. And, um, you know, we do have people who are interested in it. We are working on creating something that's doable. It will be, has challenges in a lot of ways. I mean, the, the Chinese government does have a lot of influence in Hollywood and, um, and, and funds a lot of stains and take kindly to people who, uh, who step out of line. Uh mm-hmm <affirmative> that's okay. I mean, it's well, it's okay for me. I mean, it doesn't bother me fortunately, but it's, we actually, this is the first time I can, I, I interview to really talk about this, but I had an actor recently returned to China and, uh, requested that we take this name off of the project, uh, cause that can cause serious problems, uh, for him out there, which, you know, as much as we got problems in the us, we don't have problems like that. Speaker 1 00:23:31 And it's just, it's a shame that that's going on. And years ago, I used to wanna really make, um, projects that would hammer the Soviet union and I still do. They still deserve it. Mm-hmm <affirmative> to me to have this living, breathing entity, this the Chinese government has the continuity from when it started in, in, in 1949 and have that, you know, just those nobody has had to apologize for any of its sins. Uh, no turnover, it's the same ruling entity. And it's just, it's a shame it's uh, and, and unfortunately they're, they're backing. There had been a time. Actually the sad part is, uh, dun jumping who was responsible for the gentleman's minister was probably their best leader, um, post including now, obviously, but since, since they turned to communism and of course he, wasn't amazing, he was their best leader and has not improved since then back it's, it's really sad to witness and especially we see what's happen with Hong Kong, um, and sure you're aware of the documentary they made about Jimmy lie. Speaker 1 00:24:49 Who's now doing 14 months. Um, I've screened tank man in Hong Kong and the, uh, founder of the June 4th museum, the museum to commemorate what happened, Inman square. He's now doing 18 months. Um, and he, he took me to lunch and it was like, I, I, the table from this guy now he's in jail because he ran a museum and he talks about ideas like democracy and Liberty. It's, it's a shame that, that this goes on and, and it's not even that big of a deal. You know, the rest of the world seems to, to feel like this is okay if this is happening, I guess has so much clout. Like we need a lot more people who are willing to speak out, rise up, Speaker 0 00:25:42 Agree, agree. Well, we did our, one of our most successful, uh, drama lives. My name is Hong Kong and, um, but it was interesting. I shared it with, uh, uh, venture capitalist that I met, who does, um, he's a Hong Kong native and does a lot of business there. Um, and they're just, uh, not willing to even privately go against, uh, the CCP and, um, just will talk about what happened in Hong Kong in terms of hooligans and troublemaker. And so, um, Speaker 1 00:26:22 Yeah, it's, it's really a shame. I mean, I had the, um, privilege of being able to March in protest with them in 2019 when I was over there. Mm-hmm <affirmative> and just the, the quality of the people that were largely involved. And even when you, uh, when you saw, uh, what happened when they had the code, the legislative building, you know, they had little signs next to things like, like <inaudible> pieces of cases. This is, this is an antique, like don't break this, you know, and it was fine. I mean, all of their actions were very targeted now. I I'm sure there are examples of things that were problems at, at different points in protests, for the most part. That's what you saw or you see people picking up garbage after a protest. Could you imagine that less people doing anything along these lines? Like, I, I can't, uh, usually, Speaker 0 00:27:21 Uh, I can definitely for like a tea party rally Speaker 1 00:27:24 <laugh> yeah. Maybe it may be. Yeah. Yeah. Uh, but you know, I mean, this was how these largely went and of course they got painted very poorly and people responsible now we've got China has that national security law, which not only extends into Hong Kong, but extends anywhere. So it's, I'm sorry to have made you complicit. I'm sure you've probably violated their national security law here. So, you know, you and I would both be prosecutable. Should we ever go to China? If we go to China, you might have to be careful it's, uh, this could be evidence against you. You don't have to be in China now to, Speaker 0 00:28:06 Yeah. Not, not right up there on my, my, uh, top of my bucket list, but, um, uh, so I wanna get back to your film, um, in your story, you present tank man, as someone who at first does not want to get involved. Um, he just wants to mind his own business. He wants to get back home. He's got a family, uh, but he changes as he sees events unfolding. And, um, no one else knowing, you know, what to do or stepping forward. So is, uh, is part of the message that any individual can take a stand, um, when they see government tyranny, um, or other big violations of individual rights. Speaker 1 00:28:51 I think that's, that's definitely one of the things I'd like to come across. Um, yeah, I, I grew up reading a lot of myths and legends and, and I, I love them and I still love them to me. It's, it's a lot of fun to go back and read Hercules or Jason and the Argonauts or Robinhood. Uh, yeah. They're, they're great. They're wonderful. Um, but I know sometimes they're not as relatable. I mean, they're, they're aspirational inspirational, but in ways that seem a little bit remote mm-hmm <affirmative> so I loved like, you know, as I get a little bit older, I, I would read book and, you know, reading about characters, like photo baggy, so just seemingly Speaker 0 00:29:42 Mild manner. Speaker 1 00:29:44 Yeah, exactly. Just more somebody that's yeah. More ready for a Liberty fun discussion, uh, to, to sit around and chat over tea than to Speaker 0 00:29:54 Cakes. Speaker 1 00:29:55 Yeah, exactly. It's all about cakes, tea, cheese, maybe smoking some of that, uh, that fine herb of their, uh, their valley there, but, you know, not to go and fight ORs and climb into a volcano and toss, uh, in there and try to even remotely hope to, um, but you know, this guy takes on this task, maybe not fully realizing what he was in for, but having some inclination of it. And to me, that's something we can relate to, right. There's times where we think, man, did I get over my head doing this? Um, but then we think, you know, there is, Speaker 1 00:30:39 There is beauty and there's truth and it is worth making hard choices for, um, it's worth taking a stand over and doing hard, dangerous things. And because without that out, that may not be worth living. And, um, and so I think that's, I, I wanted to tell a story that was inspirational, so relatable. So, so I, what I had hoped was a lot of people would put themselves in the shoes of and say, uh, yeah, I, I may not be the biggest, biggest, strongest, most powerful, most influential person, but there are choices that I can make that can make a difference. One of my, in the research for this, one of the things I enjoyed a lot was, was watching this Berlin wall. And it mentioned that somebody was, um, some, some guy was being interviewed. He was going up to the wall. He had a ledge hammer in hand, and, uh, a reporter asked him, they said, Hey, what, uh, what made you think that you can go up and do this? And he said, know that Chinese fellow can do what he did, then I can do this. Oh, wow. Yeah. I mean, it's just the impact that this one man has had on global Liberty. And the saddest part to me is he is much more iconic for the entire rest of the world, except for his own Homeland, his own country. Speaker 0 00:32:17 Uh, we should have had more, um, memes in during lockdowns be like tank man. Speaker 1 00:32:24 Totally. Yeah, exactly. Right. Speaker 0 00:32:26 No, this is not okay. You don't get to shut down our Speaker 1 00:32:31 Oh yeah. Speaker 0 00:32:32 S and synagogue and, um, schools and Speaker 1 00:32:36 Yeah. Speaker 1 00:32:39 Yeah. There's people that, that went up against that. And it's tough. It's really, really hard because it takes a tremendous amount of courage and, and you risk a lot. I mean, I'm sure, you know, fines and other penalties, it's like, how much can you withstand? But yeah. You know, it's just, that's what we need. It's people who are willing to say, this is not fair. This is not right. And we will not tolerate it. I feel like that's what happened to this guy. And so, and we're all capable of doing it and we all have to run that equation too, you know, but can't do it for every situation. It seems, uh, otherwise we'd be flattened by thanks pretty quickly. <laugh>, it's, uh, pretty frequently, but you know, it's, it's crazy. Speaker 0 00:33:29 Have a couple similar questions. Um, from Facebook and Instagram, Andy Monroe, uh, said, have there been people in the us who have tried to cancel tank man and bring the dozer on Instagram, says which corporations wanting to cozy up to the Chinese with corporations wanting to ch cozy up to the Chinese market. Do you fear works like your film might get banned off of, of YouTube? Speaker 1 00:33:58 Um, yeah, that's, that's a great, those are two great questions. Um, so the, the, uh, canceling tank band has been interesting. Most people have been very receptive to it, which has been nice. And actually to the point that surprised me. Mm-hmm <affirmative> I think, because this is a great part of part is EV almost everybody, if, if there's a hero, almost everybody wants to see themselves in their shoes. Right. So I'll go to film festivals that will, I don't know, you know, you've been to 'em most film festivals, I would say the demographics would skew to older, white, wealthy progressives. That's that's the usual audience. And at the very least the, the, you know, if he's getting out on those other qualities, the progressive worldview is, is the one that's, that's not departed for the most part mm-hmm <affirmative>. So I get to go and I'm doing Q and a, and people like the film, they like the character, and they're nodding their heads when I'm talking. Speaker 1 00:35:09 And I say, see, this is what happens when you combine socialism with power and they keep nodding their heads. Right. Cause it bought in. And so it's just this wonderful way kind of to insidiously. I'm not trying to fool anybody. I'm just trying to tell a true story. You know, I'm trying to be an artist and, and bring truth. And I, and I think that is truth. And I wanna share that with them. And I think in that moment, I mean, they're along for the ride, but at the very least, hopefully it's giving them a little bit of a challenge that maybe they think and say, maybe there's a little something to that. They go home with a little more cognitive dissonance, so that eventually as they consume enough art and truth, um, that they will see, ah, you know, maybe the beauty doesn't lie with the way I've been, seeing things are better answers out there and maybe I should see them. Speaker 1 00:35:57 And so that's incredibly rewarding. Uh, as far as canceling tank, man, the closest that we've come is there's kind of, there will be sometimes arguments from, um, Chinese students in particular who, uh, they've in fed a certain narrative about what happened. And obviously, you know, I don't know, I wasn't there. Um, I have a strong inclination and I'll get this from actually conservatives in the us some as well, that will say, you know, even not conservatives, some, some kind of political Ben that doesn't want to go to a war with China, which I, I understand. I don't wanna go the war with China either. Um, well this is the us' fault. This was CIA manufactured event. There were protests all across the, uh, country in various states. We know about the Tiananmen square one in Beijing cause they have journalists there. Um, because Gobi child was, was wean with tongue shopping. Speaker 1 00:37:02 And so it got a ton of attention, but there were protests all over the country at that same time and giving the CIA way too much credit. But I think there could have been some sort of CIA involvement, but I think it's one of those attaching yourselves to things that already existed. Right. So just because maybe someone somewhere, uh, received some funds or benefit from the state doesn't mean it's not an authentic movement as well. And I truly believe it was, and having met people who were protesters, um, they're not all set up in, you know, Aruba with their, uh, beachfront houses, you know, and these are people who have struggled for various reason, I to leave home and can't return and are very excited about that. And they are very genuinely, um, of Liberty and democracy and I, yeah, I it's. So to me it, it's funny because we'll yeah, the only people will get canceled for, from are kind of, or attempt to cancel us. Are those two kinds of parties? I'm sorry. I, I talked to myself. What was the second question on there? If you can scroll back at all? Speaker 0 00:38:11 Um, Speaker 1 00:38:12 Yeah. About the corporations, Speaker 0 00:38:14 Corporations, uh, with corporations cozying up to the Chinese market, do you fear works like your film might get, if not banned then at least kind of shadow band. Speaker 1 00:38:28 Oh, uh, completely. And it's not just, it's more insidious than that. Right? It's the chill that it has that people don't want to make anything that could be challenging to the Chinese government and don't want to be involved in any way with it. I mean, people have talked about like Brad pits films and been able to screen in China because he did seven years into that. Um, you know, there all sorts of factors you you've seen that probably Johns's, uh, apology. He said something about, ah, it's great. You know, he's just kind of off the cuff talking in some interview. It's wonderful. We get to be, um, you know, like way things are now. Like it's gonna screen in countries like Japan and Taiwan and China, you know, like at the same time it's being released here talking about song. I forget whatever his recent movie was in the last year too. Speaker 1 00:39:21 Well, he referred to Taiwan as a country on the same par and China says, that's not true. China says that Taiwan is a near VA state of China. And so the pressure came down on him and here you have this guy, right. This massive guy, the typical hero that we would think would be tank man. Right. Very strong, you know, good looking powerful. I mean, how much money does the guy have a good amount, right? I mean, he's got what we would consider. He has everything, every advantage in the world. And here he is on TV. I am so sorry. I did not mean to offend China and the Chinese people. I have nothing respect for China, all of this stuff, all of this Maya culpa merely because he referred to Taiwan as an independent country. I mean, somebody came down the pike and I mean, I understand it, right. Speaker 1 00:40:19 If China is threatening, we're not gonna screen your film unless you apologize for this. And the studio comes down and says, you need to fix this. And you know, because he lose money. All the people below him, you know, all the, the day player, actors like myself, would've been on there, you know, they're gonna lose money a lot to be lost. But at some point I feel like you say, you know what, we'll take the hit, you know, go yourself and, you know, uh, we don't need to apologize for anything like this. It's absurd, but everyone is terrified. And I get it. I understand there's a lot of money to be made from China, but I don't, I know for me, I don't need that money. I'm Speaker 0 00:41:06 Um, well, let's talk a little bit about some of your other, uh, creative productions and, uh, work as an actor. You were in the pursuit of happiness with will and Jada Smith, the very inspiring story about the value of work and family. So what was that like? What were some of the differences, um, between being in a big budget production and, uh, versus the making of small, independent films, better food Speaker 1 00:41:35 <laugh> oh yeah. That's for sure. Oh my gosh. It's funny. Now you bring that up. I remembered, I think it was a little bit after that where I did, um, a student film and those are sometimes fun to do because you know, you get young people who are creative and I love kind of the, the independent scene. And like we were talking about all those creative decisions that have to be made, cuz you don't have all the money in the world. And like somebody was asking, they're like, oh, you know, lunch is coming up. And so what's for lunch. And they said baloney sandwiches. And this one kid was like, oh, alright. I was like baloney sandwiches like this, this is violation of mys contract. You know, my, I need to have a hot meal, you know? And it was like, okay, Robert, where are you at? Speaker 1 00:42:24 What's important. Like, I don't really care like what I'm going to eat or, or anything like that. Like I was happy to be there creating art with these people. And um, but yeah, it was a big difference from, you know, like grill swordfish and uh, yeah. But, uh, that's, you know, largely it's funny because they, the union will always be sending these messages out. You better approve for this contract because you know, it's gonna get us better quality food on set, who cares about the food? I mean, good food is great, but like, I think most of us wanna work. Like we want to do stuff we want to create. Um, that's contrary to that, unfortunately. But, uh, they, I feel like pursuit of happiness. I really lucked out cuz having a small role, I have no idea what the film's gonna be about. You know, they've given me two to three pages, you know, I hope it's good film. I hope it's something worth doing. I mean, I'm there for exposure or paycheck. All those things take a chance to do the things that, that I love, but I don't Speaker 0 00:43:33 Yeah. Speaker 1 00:43:33 Credit. Yeah, exactly. I don't have a clue. So, you know, when it comes out, I'm like, holy Mac, this is actually a great film. This is inspiring. This is encouraging. This is the kind of thing that I want to work on. So really, yeah. Really lucky for that Speaker 0 00:43:51 Was, uh, was that also the experience, um, when you were in the 2015, uh, film Steve jobs with Michael Fest spender, um, did you also just get a couple of, of pages or uh, you know, and, and so Speaker 1 00:44:10 Same exact thing. I have no idea what the movie's gonna be about, you know, I mean, I know it's about Steve jobs, but that's it mm-hmm <affirmative> and, and uh, yeah. You know, so first thing I did was I, I downloaded Walter Isaacson's biography of, okay. Speaker 0 00:44:23 So you did, even though you had the small part and what Speaker 1 00:44:26 Was yeah, I mean, to me it was great. It was very funny. Cause I, I, there was another actor there who had a small, smaller role, but, um, but it was a, a real person, like an actual like person, like with a name, uh, identifiable in Steve jobs life. And uh, and I was, he's like, you know, I kind of have a reputation on sets cause I'll like the guy who sits around reading, so people, you know, kind of weird, right. Cause what would you sit around reading? So them sitting, staring at a wall in green, you know, green room or just keep eating all day. Uh, a lot of people just grades, but um, but this guy he's like, yeah, you know, where are you reading, reading the biography and said, well planned. And he told me, he said, well, you can read about him in book. And he was like, cross mind <laugh> I was amazed. I was like, I'd be the first step I take, you know, try to find out what we actually know about the person. So, so yeah, yeah, yeah. It's, uh, Speaker 0 00:45:30 I do a lot of, um, uh, film productions at, at my house. I, you know, rent out the space through pure space and um, that your anecdote about reading kind of triggers, uh, recollection is that people are just mesmerized and kind of mystified and baffled by all my books, you know? Uh, it's a huge like wall of, of, of books. And I remember it was, uh, like a rap video or something. And um, one of the, the guys that was involved in the production came up and said, wow, are you a librarian? Speaker 1 00:46:18 Yeah. Yeah. Which Speaker 0 00:46:22 I think it just speaks to the fact that sadly people aren't, aren't reading anymore. And, um, a lot of people aren't growing up with books, unlike you. And I, Speaker 1 00:46:33 I think when people usually like, usually when people see my library, like first question, it's not what, what are those books? Or, you know, asking questions about them. Just did you read all those books? You know, just the fact that somebody would actually read them. Speaker 0 00:46:48 No, they're just there for decoration Speaker 1 00:46:51 <laugh> and you know, I wish I had read all, all my books that I have out. I wish I could say that, but I aspire to, I tried to, I tried to get back. I'll be happy to have still full when I'm dead, but, uh, but <inaudible> Speaker 0 00:47:07 A lot of my books are, are from my grandmother and those are, we have different political, um, orientations. So I would, I will not be reading a lot of those, uh, books. Um, Speaker 1 00:47:24 <laugh> along those lines, the, the director of Steve jobs, I'm pretty certain, uh, from, from what I've heard from other people, was he, he I'll tell you, he was one of the nicest guys I've ever met. And that was really wonderful. I mean, just such a sweet, wonderful man. And you probably know you, you deal in these circles enough that when you encounter somebody who's just genuinely nice. It's not, it's not always as frequent as you'd like, and it's just something to kind of be cherished. Speaker 0 00:47:56 Oh yeah, Speaker 1 00:47:57 Just great, great, wonderful. Like one of the nicest people I've met, period, let alone, I mean, if I just said that in Hollywood, that'd be one thing, but like in the world, like that's a whole other, he was just terrific. Really great guy. Speaker 0 00:48:09 Amazing. Yeah. Reminds me of my interview last week with, uh, with Jack Carr and, uh, talking about the set of the terminal list. Yeah. And how everybody was really positive and, and just this idea of, uh, going out of your way to, to make somebody's day. And, uh, I think, you know, he sees it as a end in and of itself. Um, I see it more as something that, that you should do because, um, being kind to others is also good for you. It's not a sacrifice. And, um, it'll, it'll come back to you. So, um, and you're just participating in the kind of world that you want to, to live in by modeling, uh, modeling good behavior. So I want to, um, go to another one of your projects this year, you were in a fictional detective podcast series, Tucson heat, which is what you must be in right now. Uh, and you worked with Eric Estrada in an episode called I'll take the rookie. So tell us a little bit about that. Do you see these types of series having potential to give promising directors and actors and new path without going through the studio system? Speaker 1 00:49:22 Yeah, so, um, uh, a actually I'd never worked with the director before, uh, on, on one of his projects. He was, uh, you know, in the arts a lot of times will wear a lot of different hats and he's a talented photographer and he took promotional shots for production of a hot tin roof that I was in. And we had to know each other from that and just a great, nice guy. And he approached me and said, Hey, I've got this project. And I asked him more about project. And he said, you know, he wanted it to be a or film, but when COVID hit, its like, okay, productions are shut down. You know, you can't make films when you got a six feet of work and all of that stuff. And so he said, well, what, what can we do? And so, um, they made this podcast series and um, and you know yeah. Speaker 1 00:50:12 And worked with us, Eric Estrada and they said it was great. I never worked with them. It it's, it's so fascinating in these podcasts. Right. Cause they will record people independently of each other and stitch it together. And if everybody's done their job, how they're supposed to including, and especially the director, everything's gonna sound like it belongs that way. There's a really fascinating way to do it. But, but there are so many innovations that have created the opportunity for people of less means. I mean, a feature film is a tremendous time and money commitment by online. I mean you can do things for more and less money, but to make something that's gonna be comparable, right. To, uh, follow the production, like most of us still have access to a few hundred million. And so this is an awesome opportunity and it's been something that I know our, our friend again has, and I are working on a, um, turning a play. Speaker 1 00:51:14 I was approached by, uh, by some of you guys ownership over a theater play and they wanted to do something with it to get out the ideas that are discussed in there. It's, it's basically a conversation between James and Adam Smith. And so I said, well, you know, yeah, we could do it, the traditional route of a play, but nowadays you never know, right. With pandemic lockdowns and things, you can do all this work and get shut down or people like or whatever. And it can, can scrap things. And as, as well as the fact that you've gotta be in that time and at that place, and it's the magic of theater, it's wonderful, but it's expensive to engage in, uh, for a very temporal, um, uh, so I said, why don't we turn this into an audio drama? Uh, essentially the same kinda way. So we're interested in that. Speaker 1 00:52:04 So actually gonna be moving forward, uh, on, into a reality with them. And we both have our own projects too, wanting to do along those lines team, existing material or original stories into an audio play format. And even that satisfaction of having an artistic creation is cheaper without the visuals, uh, that are required for, for an actual film. So, uh, and at the very least it serves as proof of concept. You know, if you're, mm-hmm, <affirmative>, Videorama version of it does well, it's a much easier sell to say, Hey, we gotta built an audience. Now we got these people. Right. And, um, they're enjoying Speaker 0 00:52:44 Things. I think, you know, kind of this, this, uh, more, um, step by step process is something that I think people get very and intimidated by, um, doing a, a project because they think that they have to kind of do the, the final version, the end result, start with, start with whatever you can, where you can. I know when, um, I started doing withdraw my life videos six years ago, I drew, drew them myself. I, you know, narrated them myself and, um, and you know, I did the, the live drawing. So we found, wow. People really reacted the quality, obviously wasn't that super great, but that's part of also the appeal because it was, you know, very authentic, very unproduced. Um, and, but then we were able to say, okay, now we're going to hire a, a professional illustrator. Now we're going to hire a professional voiceover person. Now imagine Speaker 1 00:53:51 I, Rand had to start with Atlas shrug. It was like, you either make that or nothing at all, you know, cheap. Speaker 0 00:53:56 So Speaker 1 00:53:57 Things in between, Speaker 0 00:53:59 That's why. Yeah. The, the early iron Rand remains for me, one of my favorite, you know, compilations of, of her work. Um, because some of some, there were sometimes frivolous, um, stories, you know, and fun stories and, and you could just see her beginning to, uh, try, try out her, her skills and, and put characters together. Um, now listen, we only have another, uh, six minutes and I'd love to get to these questions from Mandy Lee and Bob and king Allen. But I didn't wanna close out without talking a little bit about, uh, your work with the fully informed jury association. Um, tell us about it for what, for those who don't know, uh, what is jury nullification? Why is it important? Speaker 1 00:54:51 Yeah, so jury nullification, technically speaking, is when a jury finds a defendant, not guilty, though. There is a, they are sure beyond a reasonable doubt that they did by law. Um, be a variety of reasons for it in general, it's to create, to prevent an injustice from occurring, whether they find that the law is unjust or the application is unjust or, um, the punishment would be unjust. And this is something that there is a long heritage of it basically started. In fact, the anniversary of it is, is considered September 5th and it's jury rights day is that day. So, um, he'd be great for, for the listeners to be engaged with it by then. Um, Dave got, uh, uh, it's an anniversary of William Penn's trial, where he had this was in, in England. He had, uh, been accused of, uh, assembling people without authorization. And, um, so, and they couldn't get the jury, the judges couldn't get the jury to find them guilty, and they tried to throw them in prison and withhold food and water and, and smoke of all things, you know, of, of fire to life, their, their tobacco and the jury held strong. Speaker 1 00:56:16 And then a, and then a, a higher court said you can't compel a jury to make a decision they don't want to. And so it's this beautiful tradition that we saw being exercised during, um, during the, uh, fugitive slave law days before the civil war where juries would say, yeah, we're, you know, we're finding the slave, not guilty. We're finding people who allied with them not guilty. Um, and we saw it during prohibition, um, where you had, uh, folks as one case of the, where the jury asked to see the evidence beforehand, uh, while, while they're making their decision. And, um, they happened to evidence disappeared while it was in their possession. It might have been consumed by said members of the jury. And they said, oh, being that there's no, there's a lack of evidence. We're gonna have to find the defendant, not cookie. So it's this great response to unjust rules that are out there. It's the citizen's last resort. And there is a, um, there's a online webinar on August 9th. If you go to fiji.org, you can send or visit via Facebook page for Speaker 0 00:57:30 Ask our team to put the, uh, the link yeah. Into, uh, the chats across all of our platforms. Um, and this is bringing us to the top of the hour. Uh, thank you so much. This was really a lot of fun, um, little bit different than, uh, our usual format. Although, as I mentioned before, increasingly we are as would be my preference having on more authors, novelists, playwrights actors. So, um, so, so very good stuff. Uh, I want to, uh, let people know if, uh, if you haven't yet gotten your ticket to the Atlas society gala, you're gonna have an opportunity to, um, network and interact with spectacular, uh, friends and artists like, uh, Robert Anthony Peters. So please make sure to go and do that. And, uh, and if you like the work of the ATLA society, go ahead and, uh, hit us up with a tax deductible donation. We are a nonprofit and we rely on your investment to, to bring you great programs like this. So thank you, Robert. Um, and, uh, look forward to, yeah. Seeing you, uh, again soon.

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