In this episode of “Bring Out The Talent,” we shake it up a bit and speak with Kris Myer an Emmy nominated and award-winning producer and co-founder and CEO of Muddhouse Media.
In this off-the-cuff episode, Kris discusses his 20+ year career working in the entertainment industry. From his work with the comedic duo The Farrelly Brothers on blockbuster hits such as “There’s Something About Mary,” “Me, Myself & Irene,” “Shallow Hal,” “Fever Pitch,” and “Dumb & Dumber To.” To his independent ventures on a number of films and tv shows ranging from the Sports Emmy nominated ESPN show “THE LOST SON OF HAVANA” to “PLIMPTON!” Kris also discusses his most recent venture in podcasting with his new production company “Muddhouse Media.”
Tune in for a fun look behind the scenes of some of the best tv shows, movies, and podcasts of our time!
Maria Melfa: Welcome everyone to Bring Out the Talent. My name is Maria Melfa, and I am the CEO and president of The Training Associates.
Jocelyn Allen: Hi, everyone, it’s Jocelyn Allen. I’m a talent recruitment manager here at TTA, and we’re excited to bring you something a little bit different today.
Maria Melfa: We have a celebrity guest joining us today, who is an Emmy nominated and an award-winning producer and co-founder and CEO of MuddHouse Media, Kris Meyer. Kris is a producer who has worked for the past 20 years with the comedy duo The Farrelly Brothers under the production banner, Conundrum Entertainment. He has worked as a creative executive, production executive, and producer on blockbuster hits such as There’s Something About Mary, Me, Myself and Irene, Shallow Hal, Fever Pitch, and Dumb & Dumber To. Kris received an Emmy nomination for the ESPN film The Lost Son of Havana. Under his own banner, BlackEagle, Kris, most recent movies, The Do Over, starring Adam Sandler, was released on Netflix, and SuperTroopers 2 was released in movie theaters nationwide. Kris’s tenacity, passion and humility are key to his continued success, and we’re excited to learn more about him today. We’re so excited to have you, Kris.
Kris Meyer: Thanks for having me.
Maria Melfa: So, Kris, you are a man of many talents. We are interested in learning more about Kris, and the origins of Kris Meyer.
Kris Meyer: Wow, Jesus. That’s quite an introduction. Thank you, Maria.
Jocelyn Allen: We don’t assume. We’re going to ask.
Maria Melfa: You probably don’t have enough time for that. But I guess Kris, so was film producing something that you always wanted to do growing up?
Kris Meyer: No, I had no idea that you could make a living in the film business. My whole family is firefighters and cops and, you know, as the first kid in the family to go to college. In doing so, you know, you have this broad stroke, and you get to see a wide variety and diverse group of people and bases and things like that. And I was going to go to law school. You know, I was attempting to go to law school. I was thinking about becoming a firefighter like my dad, and I have three uncles and three cousins on the job. And, you know, in the early 90s, the job market was not good. And five out of six of my roommates in college are attorneys. And I realized, you know, two of them had pretty good opportunities right out of the gate. And the other guys were just like, I want to make money, and everyone starts to panic. And I said, well, you know, I kept thinking about it. I’m like, I felt as though I was just, you know, going to law school to go to law school. Then I thought, well, there are other ways to make money. And I used to take the T, the train in Boston, to all the independent film houses, and I used to go to the Harvard Silent Movie Festival. I never knew you could make a living at it. It was more of just I loved going to the movies. I could sit in on a Saturday afternoon and watch three films.
Kris Meyer: And, you know, when we first got out of school, it was tough. You know, I was floundering a little bit and my mom said, “You love movies, why don’t you try to get in the movie business?” And I said, “Well, how do you do that, mom?” And I called the Mass Film Office, and I worked on a BU grad film for the first six or eight weeks, and then from there, they invited me back. I worked for about a year, a year and a half in the film space in Boston, and then realized if I really want to go for it, I need to make a big move. And I tell a lot of the kids today, I call it “the big move”. If you’re moving east to west, it’s one of the earliest and probably biggest decisions in your life to move three thousand miles from everything you know and love for an “if”. And it’s a big “if”. And we threw caution to the wind and went out there with almost no money, and no network. And, you know, as young and dumb and gullible and naïve, and luckily, after about five years in the trenches, I finally got a break with the Farrelly Brothers and went on an incredible ride with them. As their stars rose, mine did as well.
Maria Melfa: That’s excellent, and that’s wonderful that your mother encouraged you. You always hear stories of, when people become very successful, that’s usually part of the story that their parents told them they could do anything that they wanted when they grow up.
Kris Meyer: Hey, I still owe my life to Ruth.
Maria Melfa: Yes, absolutely.
Kris Meyer: She will love to hear her name.
Jocelyn Allen: The real MVP is Ruth.
Maria Melfa: So, did you have the buy-in from all of your family members, or do they think you are crazy?
Kris Meyer: It’s interesting because, you know, I jokingly say, my dad said, “JESUS, what are you doing? What about law school?” Not going, dad. You know, and I think he was encouraging back in the day, but I don’t know. I mean, he was very skeptical. I mean, no one has ever ventured out, if you would, and stepped outside the box. When you look back, I asked my dad if he thought I’d stick it out as long as I did, and he said I thought I’d give it about a year, and then I’d come home. But I was stubborn and steadfast in my drive, if you would, which is good or bad. Luckily again, as the Farrelly Brothers careers took off, I was lucky enough that they took me with them for the ride.
Maria Melfa: That’s fantastic. While that stubbornness and persistence obviously are what made you successful. What do you consider your first big break? Was that, you know, in Boston or when you met the Farrelly Brothers?
Kris Meyer: My first taste of it was when just getting my feet wet and being green in Boston, but my big break came with the Farrelly Brothers, and I jokingly say when I talked to a lot of the kids today, I now use Malcolm Butler as a crude example that I won the “Super Bowl of movies” that year with There’s Something About Mary and I caught that pass coming out of a little JUCO college in the middle of nowhere Mississippi, and won the “Super Bowl of films”. And that was an incredible year in 1998 for Massachusetts filmmakers in general. There’s Something About Mary came out, Good Will Hunting came out, and L.A. Confidential. Three of the biggest box office smashes in critically acclaimed films of that year. That’s pretty cool.
Maria Melfa: Yeah. I didn’t realize that I actually forget about L.A. Confidential. I have to watch that again.
Kris Meyer: It’s been many years of, you know, everyone’s going on, obviously to, you know, have incredible careers in Hollywood.
Maria Melfa: Excellent. So how did you meet the Farrelly Brothers?
Kris Meyer: That was very romantic, and sexy.
Jocelyn Allen: I can’t wait to hear about this.
Kris Meyer: I was bouncing at a local nightclub called, 14 Below, and it wasn’t your typical nightclub. It was more of live music, a kind of lounge area. And it was very successful when I first got there. It kind of blew up and was a hot spot, and there were two different sides to the club, and the Farrelly Brothers would come in there to watch the games. I knew the owner at the time. I met them when I asked them for their IDs. So anybody with a Massachusetts license back then would get in for free.
Maria Melfa: Wow, that’s fantastic.
Kris Meyer: I said, “Oh, you’re from Massachusetts?” And then of course, we hit it off and started talking and became, you know, acquaintances. They’re thirteen, fourteen years older than I, and their careers were just about to pop, and had already really popped with Dumb and Dumber. And they were nice enough to call me out of the blue one day when I was getting close to packing it in.
Maria Melfa: Wow. That’s amazing.
Jocelyn Allen: [00:06:59] Serendipity. You hear it all the time where it’s always the moment before you’re ready to completely throw in the towel, that’s when it happens.
Kris Meyer: Yeah.
Jocelyn Allen: You hear that all the time, but you never know when that moment’s going to come. I’ve intentionally given up on things when I’m not ready because I want them, that moment to come faster. Doesn’t work that way, though, but you know, I’m like, “OK, I guess I’ll try again. It’s not that time.”
Kris Meyer: It’s funny because this is all pre-cell, you know, and pre-Internet,
Jocelyn Allen: Right.
Kris Meyer: And I got a call. I was in my posh, hole of an apartment back then, right? I got a call from Peter or Bobby Farrelly, and they said, “Kris, what are you doing?” I said, “Is that a joke?” I’m curled up in the fetal position in the closet, watching the light bulb burn. I’m down eighty-five pounds about the move into my truck. I told the lone guy I died. I told the credit card guy, I died, and I don’t know if I should pull the trigger or hurl myself off the building. They said, “Is that bad?” I’m like, “It’s not that good.” And then they said, “You want to come work with us?” I said, “I’m in”.
Maria Melfa: Wow.
Kris Meyer: I have my flip-flops, my shorts, and a t-shirt. Let’s go.
Maria Melfa: Fantastic.
Kris Meyer: You know, I started as their assistant, and then over the course of the years, you know, we got promoted and moved up the ladder, and they gave us more responsibility, et cetera. And then here we are. You know, we still work together. We work independent of each other, but we’re still partners on certain projects.
Jocelyn Allen: Can you tell us a little bit more about your first movie experience? I’m curious about how different it is between then and now.
Kris Meyer: Oh, that’s a good question.
Jocelyn Allen: [00:08:29] You’re welcome.
Kris Meyer: [00:08:29] I have no idea what I was doing, right? No idea. Nobody really taught me what an assistant did or was supposed to do. I mean, every day was eye-opening. The other thing is, I grew up when I moved to Los Angeles, you know, I had to learn to be independent. But when we were on the movie, I didn’t know I was available twenty-four hours a day. No one told me I was. And then I learned quickly that my phone is to be kept on twenty-four-seven, and I’m going to answer to the bell every hour of every day until told otherwise.
Maria Melfa: So I’m sure you have so many crazy stories.
Kris Meyer: Yes, they’re not boring, Maria. Again, once we sit around the campfire one day, we’ll all have our stories to tell. And it’s a lot of fun. It’s been an incredible journey.
Maria Melfa: So you can’t tell us who the most high-maintenance actor is that you worked?
Jocelyn Allen: Or the best? The best late-night phone call you’ve gotten?
Kris Meyer: The best late-night phone call and one of the best guys I’ve worked with is Bill Murray.
Maria Melfa: Mm-hmm. Oh my God.
Kris Meyer: I mean, he’s just a legend. A veteran.
Jocelyn Allen: Yeah.
Kris Meyer: There’s a lot of stories around him, and his process, and how to get in touch with him, and this and that. But he’s always been a gentleman to me, and very respectful to everyone. There have only been two or three actors that actually come to you at the end of a movie and take you aside or even take you to dinner with 20 people and coming around the table and spend 15 minutes with you saying thank you for doing X, Y and Z for me while I was here, and he’s one of those guys.
Jocelyn Allen: I read stories several years ago at this point about him, like, crashing people’s weddings, and stuff like that. Like, he just shows up and gets pictures taken. I, again, one of those things. I had about 17 weddings in different areas to see if Bill Murray would show up at one of them. Didn’t go as planned.
Kris Meyer: He still might go. He is notorious for making cameo appearances in life in general.
Maria Melfa: That’s awesome.
Jocelyn Allen: Life in general. It’s the coolest thing.
Maria Melfa: Excellent. So, Kris, I’m not sure if you want to talk about this, but I know when you and I spoke, you said that you had a lot of fun filming There’s Something About Mary, and especially working with Cameron Diaz. Mentioned how she was just such a sweet and wonderful woman. Want to share any stories about her?
Kris Meyer: Yeah. And I was new. You know, when you’re a rookie or, you know, a PA assistant and have one of them, you know, entry-level positions, you know, a lot of times on film sets you might never even know or interact with, you know, the C-suite, if you would, the director or the producers, the actors, et cetera. And you might not even be in and around the movie a lot. They might be having you do errands in this and that. And Cameron had just, I believe, exploded on the scene with The Mask and Jim Carrey. She’s from Long Beach. You know, she’s from a blue-collar working-class family. She, actually, went to high school with Snoop Dogg and Willie McGinest.
Maria Melfa: Wow.
Jocelyn Allen: Yes.
Kris Meyer: She was just a joy to work with. You know, she probably won’t remember me. It’s been 20 plus years, but my brief moment in three or four months with her and beyond that, she was just down to earth, and just respectful to everybody in and around her.
Maria Melfa: You mentioned that you had a friend, part of your crew, that was in love with her, and you told Cameron, and she ended up just kind of…
Kris Meyer: Yeah, she said, “will you go say hello to one for me?” and she said, “Yeah, what’s his name?” And she ran out of her trailer, and he was talking to a few people, and she just basically jumped on his back, like a piggyback, right?
Jocelyn Allen: That’s awesome.
Kris Meyer: It was. It was a torrential downpour, and she asked him his name and he paused. And I’m like, “Are you having difficulty with your name?” And he also said, “It’s a beautiful day, huh?” And she looked at me and I said, “It’s a torrential downpour.” And he just, you know, just get all tongue-tied and twisted. And she was very nice to him and a memory I will have forever, you know? And actually, I throw it out at him all the time with his family and everything that he got a little goofy around her.
Jocelyn Allen: Oh man. Every time it rained, I would be like, “It’s a nice day, isn’t it?” Every time. Never living that down.
Maria Melfa: Oh, that’s very funny. So, I love the dog scene and that movie, too. So what did you use as a stuffed dog when it got thrown out of the window?
Kris Meyer: With Matt Dillon and Magda?
Maria Melfa: Yes.
Kris Meyer: You know they have a prop dog.
Maria Melfa: Yes.
Kris Meyer: Yeah. They have multiple prop dogs. Just in case you
Jocelyn Allen: Right, I was going to say something.
Kris Meyer Put a muzzle on them and during lunch, you know, there’s always five or six different props that you have just in case something goes wrong.
Maria Melfa: That’s hysterical. So, when you are using animals in movies, is there a place to go that has these Hollywood actor…
Kris Meyer Oh, yes
Maria Melfa: Dogs?
Kris Meyer: Yeah, I mean, yes, I mean,
Jocelyn Allen: There are, like, reality TV shows about it now.
Kris Meyer: Animal trainers, if you would. Animals are, you know, obviously, they’re animals, you know, so they’re very unpredictable.
Maria Melfa: Yes.
Kris Meyer: When you’re working with them, you have to be very specific with the scene, and who’s in and around. And, you know, it’s easier with dogs because they’re more trainable than a lion, right? A lion or a grizzly bear. When we did SuperTroopers 2, we had, you know, one of the other producers. I forget his name, but it’s like Big Ben, this bear was the size of its trailer.
Maria Melfa: My gosh.
Kris Meyer: And I looked in, and I could barely see him because he was.
Jocelyn Allen: He was the trailer
Kris Meyer: Massive, massive animal, right? And they have this little electric wire around the trailer. And I said I don’t think that’s going to hold them back if he gets a little angry. So, as we’re walking by, he lifted his head. When there’s anything that could be risky or dangerous on set, whether it’s flammable or an animal or anything like that, we have a safety call, and everybody within the company comes, and the aid and the safety person and the animal trainer or the pyrotechnics chief will come and give a quick lesson on what we’re doing, and if something were to go wrong, this is, you know, X, Y, and Z, right? But I wasn’t there for the bear. You know, Chad. And as we’re walking by the trailer, it was just so fascinating. He was so big and beautiful. He turned his head, which was the size of probably, you know, the desk you’re at. And I just kind of looked at him, and my fellow producer said, “Don’t! Don’t! Don’t look at him!” And I said, “Oh, Oh, OK. OK.” He said he’ll take that as a threat. You know, we don’t want him to get upset. So Big Ben never got upset. Thank God! We kept everybody away from him, except when he needed to act and get to work.
Jocelyn Allen: Which is something. Do not look him in the eye and
Maria Melfa: I know that that would be scary, right?
Jocelyn Allen: He’s of that status. You do not look Big Ben in the eye.
Maria Melfa: Oh, my goodness. So, one of the movies that you produced, Fever Pitch, that really worked out in your favor as far as the timing of the Red Sox?
Kris Meyer: Oh yes.
Maria Melfa: Want to talk a little bit about that?
Kris Meyer: Yes. I mean, couldn’t leave out Fever Pitch as well. I used to work there as a kid, and to come back 10 years later, standing on the field, and a friend of mine who hired me back then, who still worked there, who we had not stayed in touch, but said, “Kris, what are you doing here?” I said, “Oh, we’re producing the movie”. He said… he didn’t know I had moved to Los Angeles and things were happening, but due to that and due to a friend of ours, Vic, he introduced me to Luis Tiant during the making of Fever Pitch, and we hit it off. And at the end of dinner, Luis said, “I want to go home before I die”. And at that point, I think he was 70 years old, so I think he was sensing his own mortality. And I was driving home that night and I said, “Wow, imagine if we could get him home, you know, we’d take a camera crew”. So, I thought about it for a couple of weeks. I didn’t know Luis. Maybe he was blowing smoke or just, you know, telling us a good conversation. And I called them back and I said, “Hey, Lu, if I can get you home, can we bring a camera crew?” And he said yes. It took us two years to get to Cuba, and when we got there. It’s probably one of the proudest and prized journeys in filmmaking experiences I’ve ever had. I’ve never been to a communist country until then. Cuba, obviously, is surrounded with, you know, romance and intrigue and all kinds of different things and folks, and going there and bringing Luis back, who became a friend after forty-six years in exile. And because of that, and because of the incredible job that the entire team did, and we were nominated for an Emmy.
Maria Melfa: Which is fantastic. So, you beat me to this part of the session. So, I was originally talking about, I know that that’s exactly where you met Luis at fever pitch, and that opportunity led to this opportunity. So, The Lost Son of Havana. I know you worked with ESPN on that, and it was originally premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. And as you mentioned, that was an interesting story about Luis Tiant, who was a Red Sox pitcher. And it’s all about Luis wanting to get home back to Cuba. So, the movie was absolutely amazing. So, you mentioned got nominated for an Emmy, and I know my brother, Vic Melfa, was, you know, part of that because he was…
Kris Meyer: I mean, he was the catalyst in instrumental. I mean, he’s the reason I met Luis.
Maria Melfa: Absolutely. So, my brother did a very small local film called Freedom Park, and Luis Tiant did a cameo there. So that’s where my brother became good friends with Luis. And they became close, started golfing a lot. And Luis was telling my brother how he really wanted to do a story about his life, but he really wanted to make sure that he was able to trust the producers. That was the biggest thing, he said that I don’t want anybody to change my story around. So, when Vic met you, Kris, and talk to you, he knew that you had the same vision and goals to work with Luis and the way that Luis wanted to work, and not change everything around. So, it really was an amazing movie. I remember when it came out. Our whole company did a field trip to one of the local movie theaters, and it was truly amazing. You know, I’m not a baseball fan, really. I apologize. I like football a little bit better. But the movie is way more about that, as you, as you mentioned, especially like nowadays when we’re talking about, you know, a lot about diversity and inclusion, it just it really is an amazing movie and I cannot recommend it more, and we’re excited to watch it with some of our new team members.
Kris Meyer: It’s an amazing thing because it’s a human-interest story, right? And a year later, the 30 for 30 programming on ESPN became a reality. We would have been one of those first 30 for 30 programs, which John Hawk, our director, who I think is one of the best sports documentarians in the world, most of which you’ve seen on 30 for 30. They’re all human-interest stories. You know, and I tell a lot of folks, even if you’re not into sports or even baseball or anything, and this was my pitch to the Farrellys, and then to ESPN down the road was that this is about a guy going home after forty-six years in exile who happened to play baseball for a living. You know, we want to know Luis, The Human Being, and in and around his world. Not just, you know, most folks in the public just know these guys as you know, actors, athletes, musicians. They don’t know. Nowadays, it’s a little different too because everyone is so exposed, and has access to their talent and et cetera, that you know, you’re watching Dwayne Johnson at home combing his daughter’s hair, which is a beautiful thing, you know? But back then, you didn’t have this really intimacy and that’s only 10 years ago, you know, intimate interaction with talent, and getting their real true backstory and get a sense of who they are.
Maria Melfa: So what were the challenges that you faced having to film a movie in Cuba
Kris Meyer: At that time, it was very challenging. Bush was in office at the time. You know, Fidel was still in office and, you know, it was still under the embargo. It’s a lot looser now since Obama, but back then it was still extremely difficult to get to Cuba.
Maria Melfa: I can imagine.
Kris Meyer: But luckily, we made it.
Maria Melfa: Yes.
Jocelyn Allen: Kris, can you tell us more about the backstory of the movie?
Kris Meyer: So Luis was a great baseball player. His dad’s name is Skinny Tiant. He’s in the Negro League Hall of Fame. His dad has been likened to Satchel Paige and some of the Greats of the early days. Luis became a baseball player and was playing in Venezuela, Guatemala. Back then there were no agents. There was no, you know, you just call up and say, “Do you need me?” And they would play winter, summer, spring, fall. They play all year long. Suddenly, Luis in Mexico, he meets his now-wife, Maria. He calls home and says, “Dad, I finally got the call. I made it to the big leagues. I also got married. I’d like to come home before I head to the United States.” And his dad said, “Don’t come home, right now. It’s going to blow over in about a month.” But, Fidel’s taken over, which is a beautiful part of the story. And to this day, he’s always baffled that A. He was an African American gentleman, right? And depending on which country he’s in, he’s a different color, which is the oddest thing. And he’s in the south. He doesn’t speak the language, so you get a double whammy. And his story is amazing when he first comes to Cleveland, and he still holds a lot of the early rookie records. But that’s how he ended up coming to the United States, not going home because Fidel had taken over, immediately. You know, it’s still the height of the Cold War. It was in the early 60s. So, there’s still a lot of tensions around the world, and you’ll see in the film what happens next? Pretty cool.
Jocelyn Allen: Yeah, it is. It’s such an intriguing and beautiful story, and you’re right to see that unfold in the style that it is. And the film is just a great perspective for the viewers to understand what he has gone through, and what you were able to give to him.
Kris Meyer: Yeah, it’s a great father-son story. It’s a great civil rights immigration. It touches on a lot of topics that are relevant to today.
Maria Melfa: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.
Kris Meyer: So, Fever Pitch was, actually, is a novel that was written by Nick Hornby, who is a very famous and well-known British author, and he wrote that for the rivalry between Man United and Arsenal. And he is such a European football freak that he moved right across the street from the stadium. So, we adapted his novel to the Yankee Red Sox rivalry, and at the end of the script, they don’t win. So, we were in Toronto at the time. There was no Massachusetts tax incentive. If there had been, it was in place a year later, we would never have left, but we had to cross purposes. We went to Toronto and made, you know, the rest of the movie in Toronto. And then we had to come back after they won the World Series on the last two nights. What was happening was they had never resurfaced the field. That field is the same age as it was when it was laid down. You know, one hundred and twelve years ago, whatever it was, we got a run of the place the last couple of nights before they rebooted the turf in the field, and it was just an incredible experience that they went on to win it. I mean, it’s something to tell you, you know, your grandchildren.
Maria Melfa: That’s excellent.
Kris Meyer: Yeah, we were leaving the movie, and living their season while it was happening.
Maria Melfa: Which is the coolest part is it absolutely that worked, certainly in your benefit.
Kris Meyer: One of the toughest things ever to do in my life as a filmmaker was to shoot during games.
Jocelyn Allen: I bet it’s hard enough to attend them.
Kris Meyer: Nobody. All of a sudden, we started hearing, “I don’t give a shit what you’re doing.” There’d be all this. Fans around us were screaming, throwing stuff at us. Oh yeah. You know they want their Red Sox to win, right? Yes.
Maria Melfa: I was going to say they must have been the Yankees fans, but sorry to any of the Yankee’s fans, but you’re saying they were Red Sox fans? Yes.
Kris Meyer: Yes. Another great experience. I don’t if you remember it, but when Drew Barrymore runs across the field and drive. Herself out of the bleachers and runs across the field,
Maria Melfa: Yes.
Kris Meyer: We would try to figure out how we’re going to keep thirty-eight thousand people in their seats post game.
Jocelyn Allen: Right?
Kris Meyer: So the Farrelly brothers, they kept announcing it over the loudspeaker, and then at the seventh inning stretch immediately following the game. And luckily, they had one. And we all had it planned that as soon as the last ball was out, the guys would go running up to the mound, and ask them to stay. And they said, “This movie we’re filming is about us. It’s about you. It’s about New England, the Red Sox, Boston,” and they gave this incredible rah-rah speech, right? And everyone’s getting fired up. And you know, they’re into it. They’re still trying to figure it out. And Peter and Bobby went to walk off the mound, and Bobby turned around and sprinted right up back to the mic and said, “The Yankees suck!” And the place went insane. They went insane. Action! Action! And they all start running in because we did the same thing three days later, a week later. If there’s a flaw in the film, for whatever reason, we had to reshoot it a week later, and they were on a three-game losing streak. We went up, did the same thing and it was a dud. So luckily, we got it on the first take.
Maria Melfa: Wow, all the stars were certainly aligned for you.
Kris Meyer: [Yes.
Maria Melfa: That’s amazing.
Jocelyn Allen: So Boston to Cali I, not only a long journey but just a different journey being on the other coast. What surprised you the most about the move that you made?
Kris Meyer: “You’re not in Kansas anymore”. You know, and I think, you know, again, any young person that moves from somewhere where they grow up to another place is it’s overwhelming. You get exciting. And at the same time, you know the unknown, your foot-losing fancy when you’re a young person and you’re living in a massive city, one of the biggest cities in the world trying to get into one of the most difficult businesses in the world. Like, I learned how to survive, and get by, and do whatever it takes, and you need to be relentless at your pursuit of what you’re chasing and have been passionate about that. When I look back, you have three to five people start questioning their journey because it’s so difficult to get a job and get a shot. And then even then it’s, you know, how long can you hang on? Basically. And a lot of the folks, you know, a lot of the guys and gals I met early on, you gravitate towards each other because you’re out there alone, and your friends become your family. And then, you know, when you start hitting your mid to late twenties, you got to start thinking about, “Oh, wow. It’s either going to work or it’s not. And am I going to be?” I always thought as long as I gave it a true, valiant effort, I’d be OK with going home, and I’d still be young enough to start over.
Maria Melfa: How did you stay strong? Any tips?
Kris Meyer: And, you know, I think that comes with, you know, your upbringing, you know, and work ethic taught that obviously from your folks, and hopefully your folks and all those around you about working hard and grinding it out. I always say, There is no “no” in the film business.” You answer every bell, and you just keep showing up, and things will happen.
Maria Melfa: Well, that’s why you made it.
Jocelyn Allen: Right. What is it that makes it so difficult, like from your perspective? Is it the lack of job opportunities? Is it the lack of people wanting to take chances on somebody new? Is it the fact like, are there jobs or it’s just hard to find a successful one? Like what? You hear it all the time? Oh, it’s so hard to get into Hollywood, but why? Why tell us what we don’t know?
Kris Meyer: Well, it depends on what you want to do in the business, right? You can go work at the studio and work your way up over thirty-five years, and that’s great. And then some folks like that step out to be producers, execs, step out and become producers all the time. But, if you want to try to stay independent and remain your own entity if you would, that’s very difficult. Whether you’re a writer, director, actor, producer until you get that break. I mean, there’s a whole slew of stories of how and why certain folks make it, and others don’t. A lot of it is luck and timing, but a lot of it’s putting yourself in. You know, I always say, “what’s luck”, right? When preparation meets opportunity, and the opportunity cost of how much time and effort you can put in before you have to make a life decision if you’re going to stay in or not, you know, two percent of folks make it. That’s not, that’s pretty…
Maria Melfa: Pretty Low.
Kris Meyer: Pretty significant.
Maria Melfa: Yeah.
Kris Meyer: You know, and again, that’s again, it depends on what job you want in the business, and where your path takes you.
Jocelyn Allen: Out of all of the actors that you’ve met, who have you felt the most inspired by?
Kris Meyer: George Clooney?
Jocelyn Allen: Oh, I didn’t expect that. Why? Not that you’re not inspirational, George, because I know George Clooney is obviously listening right now.
Kris Meyer: I don’t need to know the gentleman, but he conducts himself with class and tact, and he does an incredible amount of generous work for folks that don’t even know it.
Maria Melfa: Yeah, it’s great to hear.
Kris Meyer: He helps a lot of folks that he’s touched, which is pretty impressive in any business. There’s a lot of self-serving, selfish folks, right? He’s not one of those folks.
Jocelyn Allen: Yeah, it’s always great to hear that.
Maria Melfa: Yes, it is.
Kris Meyer: Yeah.
Maria Melfa: So what made you decide to move back to the East Coast?
Kris Meyer: My folks. You know, I wanted to get a little closer to home. I’d been on the road for 20 years plus, and my folks are getting older. I just wanted to be around my family. LA has been very good to me. I love it. I like it there. I have a lot of incredible friends there. It’s been incredible to me, but I don’t have any family there. I wanted to get a little closer to home and be around and participate in everybody’s life.
Jocelyn Allen: Well, we’re happy to have you back.
Maria Melfa: Yes.
Jocelyn Allen: Has your “Why?” changed over the years?
Kris Meyer: Yes. I hope, and I think most do. I’m not quite an adult yet. I think I’m an adolescent. Yeah, I mean my “Why?” I think that comes with maturity in life’s lessons and experience of the meaning of life, and who you are and what you want to be and where you’re still going, even at an older age. I mean, it never stops it for me. I mean, I love life, but you know, it’s a lot different than when I was twenty-five. What I care about when I was twenty-five and what I care about now is totally different. You know, some stuff remains the same, as we all know. But, I’m not as focused on me, and it’s about others and those around me and sharing my life with folks in my experience and expertise and how I can help.
Jocelyn Allen: What made you take the turn into podcasting?
Kris Meyer: Almost about a year and a half or two years ago? Obviously, we all know podcasting was coming and was already here, and I started getting asked to be a guest on a lot of podcasts. How to make movies? How to work with movies? How do they work? And then someone said you should start your own. You know, I always talk about “the break”. Everyone at some point in their life got their “break”. Whether you mortgage your house for five years, and you finally got that big client and change your life. You went to thirty-six banks. Finally, someone believed in you and gave me the money to start your own company. Everybody got a “break” at some point. I applaud people’s success, but I love the journey. How did you get there, and what are the key moments in your life that changed that and made it successful for you? So, I started doing a lot of homework and due diligence in the space, and I called a VC friend of mine who a couple of years prior I had been doing business with, and maybe three years ago, I asked him what he was investing in, and he said podcasts, emphatically. So, you cut to two years after that and we’re thinking about starting the company. And I called to see if it was too late or oversaturated.
Kris Meyer: There were seven hundred and fifty thousand podcasts in the country at that time or in the world. And he said, “Kris, no. It’s just beginning.” You know, eighty-five percent of those seven hundred fifty thousand podcasts are a couple of kids, you know, having fun and fooling around. They don’t have your experience, your network, et cetera. So, I said, “OK, let’s think about that.” And then I called one of our partners, Mark Carey, who comes from twenty-five years of radio programming and multiple national awards, and another film and TV partner of mine, Stephen Laukien. And I said, “What do you guys think?” Because we’ve never done anything, you know, half-assed, and we tend to go a little big when we get into things. So, I said, let’s go for it, and here we are almost a year in three months in, working with you guys and have an incredible amount of clients thanks to the team and everyone’s hard work through COVID. I mean, what the team has done in your business, in any business, but especially as a startup under the most extreme market conditions in almost modern times, we remain steady and in growth mode. And that’s thanks to you guys and folks and clients of ours that continue to believe in us and give us a shot.
Maria Melfa: It’s great to hear. So why do you think MuddHouse Media stands out from other podcasting companies, besides Mike?
Kris Meyer: Yeah, yeah. So, in addition to Mike, I mean, we’re an incredible hybrid, if you would, of Hollywood storytelling and radio storytelling, and we have the best producers and storytellers on the planet in our game, and we use that in our experience and expertise with a white glove touch for all of our clients. And I think, and I hope we provide best-in-class podcasting audio for our clients in the corporate world and for our originals. And luckily again, due to our network and our access and our experience with everybody who’s on our team. You know, I think it’s a no-brainer.
Maria Melfa: Yes. Well, your network certainly is amazing and your shows. So, you currently have, you know, just mentioning a few of them, a podcast series with Kevin Youkilis, Patrick McEnroe, Tanya’s Table, who was just endorsed by Oprah, and Panasonic for some of your corporate clients. I find that very interesting and fascinating because I know in the learning and development space, some of the biggest trends that have been happening, especially now more than ever, is the blended experience or the multimodal experience using several different modalities. And podcasting, as we know, is becoming one of those modalities that is being brought into the picture. And I see a lot of opportunities, and I think it’s just starting right now where some of the clients are looking at podcasting as an easy and relatively lower cost than some of the other media to use. So, for example, I know for like virtual onboarding, new product releases, engagement culture, and so many others. What makes training stick is the reinforcement, and being able to have a podcast where the executives, leaders or anybody in the company can just have, whether it’s a two-minute message or a, you know, our message that they’re sending out to their organization every day? I mean, you could see how beneficial that will be. And we, actually, do have some trainers that have been using it with their corporate clients, and we’re excited to do that more, and work with MuddHouse Media, and bring that mix.
Jocelyn Allen: Yes, I’m sorry.
Kris Meyer: We appreciate that. Thank you.
Maria Melfa: Ok, excellent. So, Kris, you are working on a very touching project right now on the 20th anniversary of 9/11. I can’t believe it’s already been 20 years. So, can you tell us a little bit about that?
Kris Meyer: Yeah, we were lucky enough to be introduced by a young gentleman by the name of Chris Russo to Silverstein Properties, who is the developer and family-owned real estate company that rebuilt the World Trade Center campus after 9/11. It’s been an incredible journey, and they’ve asked us and hired us to do a 10-part series leading up to the 20th anniversary of 9/11 on the rebuild and the recovery and the resiliency of New Yorkers in Lower Manhattan to rebuild Lower Manhattan. And bookended by that is the recovery and rebuild coming out of COVID for the City of New York. And it’s just an honor. I mean, again, my family being first responders. And, you know, we’ve all obviously been touched by 9/11 in some shape or form or directly involved. I mean, I just got the goosebumps talking about it. And Silverstein Properties has just been an incredible client and opened their doors and the resources, and it’s a must-listen because the guests include a diverse, eclectic group of folks from everyone in anyone that lives in Lower Manhattan residence, world-famous architects, the engineers, construction workers, first responders. Everybody is just to hear from these folks. You know how they rebuilt, not only the buildings, but Lower Manhattan coming out of 9/11. It’s just an amazing story. The podcast series is titled “Top of the World: Lessons Learned from Rebuilding the World Trade Center”, and it’s been exclusive on Sirius XM, Stitcher and Pandora right up until 9/11. It’ll release soon thereafter or release now on wherever you listen to your podcast, Apple, Spotify, Google Playlist, wherever.
Jocelyn Allen: I’m looking forward to hearing about it because it is a story that we will all take with us for the rest of our lives. I mean, it’s the very identifying moment I think for all of us always remember where I was when I heard about it, and even as I started to understand what was actually going on because I don’t think I understood what that meant.
Maria Melfa: So, Kris, when you approached us about doing a podcast, I know I was very hesitant to do one. But that night I ended up going home and listening to “Saints, Sinners and Serial Killers”. The story about Whitey Bulger so inspired me. No, that was actually a very interesting story. And then, it’s interesting because when we had one of our first meetings with Annie Powell. Shout out to Annie, who is an incredible salesperson and consultant, and advocate.
Kris Meyer: She keeps all the trains running on time.
Maria Melfa: Absolutely, absolutely. So, when we were talking about it and talking about sharing our story, it really became kind of a no-brainer, and we started getting into it more. But my biggest thing was, do I have time for this because we have so many different priorities going on. We were going back and forth, and I’m like, I don’t want to be the host. But then I had a little conversation with Lady J, here. Joselyn Allen. And, actually, you named her Lady J, Kris.
Jocelyn Allen: Thank you for that, Kris, for that and the memes going around the office. I appreciate it.
Maria Melfa: So, so what happened…
Kris Meyer: Is, I mean, yeah. I mean, it’s regal.
Maria Melfa: It is. It is absolutely regal. So, I had so Jocelyn’s as I listen to a lot of podcasts, so I asked her to join one of the meetings and just to get some of our thoughts and ideas. And afterward, Jocelyn’s like, “Hey, I’d love to be part of that”. I’m like, “Really?” She said yes. So, she kind of left my office, and then I called her back in. I said, “Do you want to be my co-host?”, you know, because I knew she would do a fantastic job, and she said, “Absolutely”. So, here we are. So, so, so, so thank you, Annie.
Kris Meyer: When we first met with you guys, you know we met Jocelyn. You guys know her better than we do. But right out of the gate with her personality and her excitement and energy for life. I mean, we just said, “Jocelyn’s the host.” No question about it.
Maria Melfa: It just all worked out so perfectly. And now. You know, something that…
Kris Meyer: She’s a natural.
Maria Melfa: I was hesitant to do. You know, we’re definitely having a lot of fun.
Kris Meyer: Maria, by the way, if you like the Hunting Whitey episode, the Boston Strangler episode, I think is even more compelling and intriguing. Why? Because the host and the writer, Casey Sherman, he started his writing career because his aunt was the last victim…
Maria Melfa: Wow.
Jocelyn Allen: Oh wow.
Kris Meyer: of The Boston Strangler. So, when you listen to that,
Maria Melfa: OK.
Kris Meyer: he is still hunting.
Jocelyn Allen: Yeah
Kris Meyer: And there’s always been mystery around one or two of the perpetrators and killers. And when you listen to that, you’ll understand and know why, and it’s pretty amazing what happens, and it’s only some of it only happened recently, as you know, now that forensic science and DNA testing and all that is, obviously, it didn’t even exist in the 60s. So, I highly recommend episodes one and two of the Boston Strangler.
Maria Melfa: Well, I’ll definitely watch that. Thank you for that.
Kris Meyer: Very uplifting.
Maria Melfa: Yeah, so you know, if I come home with some kind of stressful days, then there will be a good one, a too good one to watch.
Kris Meyer: Yeah, I wouldn’t. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, make sure Justin’s not home.
Jocelyn Allen: I mean, a nice little lullaby to put me to sleep.
Maria Melfa: I want to play the rook, you know, for a bedtime story. Again, you know, so thank you for convincing us that podcast was the way to go. We have so much great talent and stories to share, so I know we’re coming close to an end. So, if you had the advice to give to your younger self, what would you say
Kris Meyer: The future is now. You know, I wasted a lot of time as a young person. I think we all do. But again, that comes with experience and maturity, and I think I would have taken things a little bit more seriously then, you know, and jumped in a little quicker and faster. But you know, that’s part of the journey. And thank you, by the way, to TTA and you, Maria and Jocelyn, and the entire team that to giving us your business, helping tell your story, and getting your message out to the learning and development world. It’s been educational for me to learn what you guys do, and do well, and you’re thinking outside the box, right? And being progressive and jumping into a new thing could be scary, but at the same time, it’s now become a reality and fun. And in addition to that, building the business.
Jocelyn Allen: Thank you for allowing us to do this little one-off episode with you. We were excited to do something a little different and introduce kind of our reason why for being excited about doing all of this and partnering with you and with MuddHouse Media. So, we’re excited to put a little something new on the table to our audience. In closing, Kris, what advice would you give to our listeners who are curious about getting into film producing or podcasting, even?
Kris Meyer: I‘d say just go for it. A lot of folks think about it, but they never act. You can go to all the schooling you want, right? But unless you go out and do it, you’re never going to know. So, I say, just go out and make a movie, write a script, write a novel. You know, it’s difficult, as it may seem. Just go, do it right. That’s it. I mean, pretty and be relentless about your passion of doing it, you know, especially as a young person and just stick with it. You know, it won’t be an easy ride, but it gets easier, as does life, hopefully, as the years go by
Jocelyn Allen: Or you just learn how to deal with it a little bit better, right?
Maria Melfa: You know how to get up quickly.
Kris Meyer: Yeah, you learn how to bob and weave.
Maria Melfa: Well, thank you so much, Kris. This has been a lot of fun. We had a great time and learning more about you and your background.
Jocelyn Allen: Mm-hmm. And thank you. Yeah, for being part of our journey, Kris. It’s been. It’s been awesome.
Kris Meyer: Yeah, likewise. Thank you. Maria. Thank you, Jocelyn. It’s been incredible to work with you guys in TTA, and we’re looking forward to the future.
Maria Melfa: Absolutely. Thank you so much. Thank you.