Please enjoy this transcript of my interview with nine-time-Emmy-nominated executive producer, director, and cinematographer Morgan Fallon (@diamondmofallon). Morgan was born and raised in New England and studied film at Emerson College in Boston. After graduating, he spent three years working for his mentor, director Michael Mann, and in 2007, he began a long-term working relationship with producers Chris Collins and Lydia Tenaglia and their New York-based production company, Zero Point Zero Productions.
Through his tenure at ZPZ, Morgan focused primarily on work with ZPZ creative partner Anthony Bourdain on several episodic series and documentaries produced by Bourdain, including the Emmy-winning Mind of a Chef, the theatrically distributed documentary The Last Magnificent, and the Emmy-, Peabody-, PGA-, TCA-, and ACE-award-winning series Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, which Morgan shot, directed, and produced throughout the series’ one-hundred-and-three-episode run.
Currently, he is a director and executive producer for the Emmy-winning series United Shades of America, with W. Kamau Bell.
He lives in California with his wife and production partner Gillian Brown and his two children.
Transcripts may contain a few typos. With many episodes lasting 2+ hours, it can be difficult to catch minor errors. Enjoy!
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Tim Ferriss: So you started mountain biking a couple years ago?
Morgan Fallon: Yeah, actually right after Tony died. I quit drinking right after Tony died and started mountain biking a lot. Just, I mean, I tend to over do it with everything. Mellow trail mountain biking on the fire roads quickly turned into like enduro charging on these like DIY kind of ridiculous enduro courses that they build around here that are totally unpredictable of like really unpredictable lips on the jumps and stuff like that. I ended up just hammering one of these things and had just a horrific crash. I broke my nose. My nose was sideways. I was all torn up. I made my way back to the main trail and these two Russian guys actually helped me out. I just, I know —
Tim Ferriss: You know you’re in bad shape when the Russian guys have to help you out.
Morgan Fallon: That’s right. Yeah, exactly. The difference, the profound difference in having that fall at 44, as opposed to the last time I had ridden when I was young, it’s unreal. I had never broken anything. I’ve never even hurt myself. I just shattered on the ground. It was like dropping like a China plate, you know?
Tim Ferriss: Oh, so bad. It’s so bad. This is a perfect way to segue and we’ll get to the bio in a second. You are, or at points, have been and have also self-described as a very physical shooter. If I’m remembering correctly, please call BS on me if I’m misremembering, but you told me a story about running. I want to say on a football field while filming.
Morgan Fallon: Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: Could you just briefly tell that story to give people an idea of what physical shooter means? You might give an additional example after that, but I just remember almost losing my lunch with that one. Why don’t we start there?
Morgan Fallon: Well, this was kind of the depressing example, but yeah, we were shooting a documentary me and my long time friend Todd Lubin, who I’m still in contact with. We’re shooting a documentary in 2003, on a football team in South Carolina, Coastal Carolina, who’s gone on to become D2 champions. I mean, they’re players in the NFL and stuff, a really good program now. I was trying to run sprints while holding the camera sideways along with the players as they were running. Sprints, I started with like the O line and it’s like the O line guys, you can keep up with the O line guys, right? I got all cocky feeling like I was hot shit running with the O line guys I’m 15 years older than. I started, I tried to run with the running backs.
It was like, I was racing a Ferrari in a shopping cart, you know? Yeah, so I’m running down the side and yeah, I stepped in a hole and just obliterated my knee, just blew it to shreds. The dumbest thing I did was I went, I flew to New Hampshire, I got an MRI, and flew back and finished a show. I shot another two months on the knee before getting surgery. I regret it every day. Because, I mean, it’s a disaster now. I didn’t know that everything’s amplified when you get older, you know? You ever climbed up the top of a mast on a sailboat when you’re out at sea?
Tim Ferriss: I wish I could say yes, but I haven’t.
Morgan Fallon: Well, I’ve done this more than once. It’s kind of mellow when you’re on the deck, you’re kind of rolling and stuff, but you didn’t realize that, at the top of a 60 foot mast, the little bit of rolling there is like these massive 20-foot swings —
Tim Ferriss: Swings —
Morgan Fallon: Back and forth, and you just get shredded, that’s what growing old is with injuries. It’s like at the point of injury, it was kind of mellow. It was like, “Ah, I can roll with this. I’m tough. I’ve got tons of hormones still producing in my body and I can do anything.” I just didn’t realize that like at 46 now the effect of that would be so amplified that I basically spend my life limping around, you know?
Tim Ferriss: Well, you and me both, but I feel like you have better stories to tell, most of mine are just from terrible decisions in questionable circumstances. Before we get any further, let me just read this bio, which was fun to read because I don’t know if I’ve actually read a bio of yours before. Obviously we’ve spent some time together, but let me just jump into this. All right. Morgan Fallon, on Twitter @diamondmofallon is a nine-time Emmy-nominated executive producer, director, and cinematographer. He was born and raised in New England and studied film at Emerson College in Boston. The first question’s probably going to be what you learned and did not learn in your film courses at Emerson. After graduating, he spent three years working for his mentor, director, Michael Mann, and in 2007, he began a long-term working relationship with producers, Chris Collins and Lydia Tenaglia and their New York-based production company, Zero Point Zero productions.
Through his tenure at ZPZ, Fallon focused primarily on work with ZPZ creative partner Anthony Bordain on several episodic series and documentaries produced by Bordain, including the Emmy-winning Mind of a Chef, the theatrically distributed documentary The Last Magnificent, and the Emmy-, Peabody-, PGA-, TCA-, and ACE-award-winning series Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, which Fallon shot directed and produced throughout the series’ 103-episode run. Currently, he’s a director and executive producer for the Emmy-winning series United Shades of America with W. Kamau Bell. He lives in California, with his wife and production partner Gillian Brown and his two children. You can find him, like I had mentioned, on Twitter @diamondmofallon, Instagram @fallon.morgan, and I’ll include the Facebook and everything else in the show notes. The website for Zero Point Zero is zeropointzero.com. Now we’re back.
Morgan Fallon: Nice.
Tim Ferriss: Morgan, AKA Mo, thank you. Thank you.
Morgan Fallon: Thank you.
Tim Ferriss: You have seen me read a lot of scripts and look into a lot of lights and maybe we’ll cover some of that ground —
Morgan Fallon: Do a lot of stuff. I mean —
Tim Ferriss: We did lot of stuff.
Morgan Fallon: I mean, you talk about physical shooter, you were head long into that project.
Tim Ferriss: Well, you want to talk it about things that you roll with and then you realize now you’re at the top of the mast in a squall. That parkour episode, which was the first episode.
Morgan Fallon: Exactly, yeah.
Tim Ferriss: I am still fixing injuries from that episode.
Morgan Fallon: Oh, a hundred percent.
Tim Ferriss: The Tim Ferriss Experiment. Oh, God and it just seemed like such a great idea at the time.
Morgan Fallon: I know, but you’re jumping in with people who had been doing that forever and those kind of athletes, when they get to that point, they’re like a purpose-built race car.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah.
Morgan Fallon: That is what they are designed for.
Tim Ferriss: Oh, yeah.
Morgan Fallon: To jump into that, yeah, it was a lot. You did it, though.
Tim Ferriss: That is one of the more generous ways to put it. Yes. I did it. Slowly rebuilding my body however many years later. Emerson College, studying film —
Morgan Fallon: Yes.
Tim Ferriss: Why did you choose to study film, and what were the most important things that perhaps you learned, if any? The most important things that you did not learn? We could take it piecemeal also. You don’t have to answer all that.
Morgan Fallon: I think the story for me is like a lot of people in creative fields, it goes back far beyond college to my initial introduction to school and education and kind of figuring out that my brain style, didn’t really jive with what were asking me to do. The academic portion of school was always really difficult for me. Then I found art, you know? Art was always a huge part of my life that goes up through high school. Originally, I was going to do ceramics. I was like headed to Alfred University and I wanted to do ceramics, and did that a lot in high school. Actually had like pieces in the national art show and stuff so I’m still pretty proud of that. At some point I started doing math and ceramics, listen, no shade on ceramics and you climb to the top of that ladder, like any other ladder, you can make a lot of money. It’s not exactly the best life plan, I guess. The other thing is, I wanted to do something; I wanted to be in a medium that had power. That had power to tell stories, to inform people — I mean, I grew up with two kind of bleeding-heart liberal teachers in my family. My mom was a writing teacher and she focused on teaching writing through using film. She was using Pink Floyd: The Wall, Deliverance, Apocalypse Now, Do the Right Thing.
Tim Ferriss: That’s a [crosstalk] —
Morgan Fallon: Pretty heavy stuff, right?
Tim Ferriss: Exactly.
Morgan Fallon: Right. She was using pretty heavy stuff with high school student to grow ideas and to teach critical thinking and all this things I wanted to meet —
Tim Ferriss: All right, I’m glad you mentioned the timeframe. High school, I’m imagining like teaching little Timmy in third grade how to do his cursive with Deliverance.
Morgan Fallon: No, no, no. Age appropriate. Age appropriate, age appropriate stuff. Well, I mean, kind of age appropriate. I don’t know. Deliverance, I don’t know, some high school students, maybe some high school students, maybe not. That introduced me to film and introduced me to the idea that film could be like more than just the art form or the money making enterprise. That it could be like actually a way to talk about issues that are go going on in our culture, a way to reflect on ourselves as humans. I wanted to be a part of telling those stories. I just pivoted from ceramics, which was the original goal, to filmmaking. I mean, I had Jaws. I love that movie. I had Jaws on VHS tape. I recorded it off of HBO. I watched that movie so many times I broke the VHS tape. There was a love for the art form before I even knew what the art form was.
I wanted to chase that, so I went to Emerson. It’s the only school in the end. It was only school that I actually sent an application to. They denied me and I got in my car because I lived in New Hampshire. I got in my car, I drove down to Boston and went to the admissions department. I was like, “Why’d you deny me?” They put me in a room and I talked to someone and at the end of the meeting, she left and she came back in and she said, “Cool, you want to come to Emerson? Come to Emerson.”
Tim Ferriss: That’s incredible.
Morgan Fallon: I couldn’t believe it.
Tim Ferriss: After the, “I can’t believe you denied me, why’d you deny me?” Was there a plan going into it? Why do you think they let you in? Was it just the sheer fact that you were there in person and wouldn’t leave?
Morgan Fallon: I think that’s exactly it. We work in an industry where tenacity is kind of the key ingredient, right? I was a total up in so many ways. I didn’t know my ass from my elbow, but I was tenacious enough to go down there and basically demand that they save a bed for me. I do think in the meeting, at some point, I said, “You better save a bed because I’m showing up.” I just think she liked that. It was great.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah.
Morgan Fallon: I wish I knew who that was. I wish I knew that admission person, because I do have to kind of thank them. Yeah, they saved me a bed. It was great.
Tim Ferriss: Well, they read the tea leaves correctly too in a sense.
Morgan Fallon: Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: Right.
Morgan Fallon: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Couple turns I didn’t expect in the road there, but like yeah, for sure.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, no, no doubt.
Morgan Fallon: You know —
Tim Ferriss: Did you learn what you were hoping to learn in school?
Morgan Fallon: Fuck, man. I mean, honestly, going into college, I’m not even sure I knew what I wanted to learn. I had these really weird conceptions of what the industry was. I still kind of pictured it as like, I don’t know. I pictured it in terms of I kind of want to crawl out of my small town context and live in some big glitzy kind of space. I think that’s what I thought Hollywood was. That was was kind of the goal originally. You quickly learn that’s not really it rolls. Here’s the thing about Emerson College, and it is a really great school in a lot of ways.
They put you on set. Emerson’s kind of known for building technicians. What I learned that I don’t know that I went in wanting to learn, but was the most valuable thing, is I learned how to be on set. I learned how to use everything on set. I learned how to do everything on set and that’s a rarity. A lot of film school is just theory. This was like hands on and that allowed me to go out and actually start doing stuff. Little did I know that my particular little niche of this industry, in the end would require me to know how to do everything, you know? I learned that. I don’t know, I guess I kind of believe in that aspect of going to college. I know there’s a lot of people out there that think you don’t have to go to film school. I guess I would kind of agree with that too. I think that you can go out and you work in the industry and you’ll learn what you need to learn.
Tim Ferriss: A lot of different ways, different paths to approach it. Post-graduation —
Morgan Fallon: Yes.
Tim Ferriss: All right, so you spent three years working for your mentor, Michael Mann, maybe for people who have no context, a kind of explain in brief who Michael Mann is now? Then, at that time who Michael Mann was and how that actually came to be that you were working with him?
Morgan Fallon: Yeah. I mean, I was extremely lucky because I mean literally going out of school, I was like, I want to work for Michael Mann or Terrence Malick or Martin Scorsese. It was like, this thing just fell into my lap. Who Michael is — I think the most important thing to note about who he is, and who he was then, is Michael was one of the few, like truly powerful directors that was left in Hollywood. There’s obviously a few now, but kind of the age of the Peckinpahs, these incredibly powerful juggernaut directors, has kind of like come and gone.
Tim Ferriss: What is, I will admit, what is Peckinpahs? I don’t know what that is.
Morgan Fallon: Oh, Sam Peckinpah is like very famous director, think of The Wild Bunch.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, okay, got it.
Morgan Fallon: These very, very powerful, huge personalities that can drive a set with 300 extras and explosions, and massive camera teams, and just the big, think of the big ’70s kind of films. These directors who were just so big and so powerful that they could drive all of that. Well, Michael was that. Even at the time that I started working for him, which was in 2000, you know? He still had the power to go against the studio. To say like, “No, this is…”
Tim Ferriss: When you say power, I’d love to hear you elaborate on that. In terms of like leverage because of past performance? Just sheer personality and stubbornness where people will fold and allow him to do what he wants to do? I’d love to hear you describe —
Morgan Fallon: A little bit of all of those things. A little bit of all of those things little bit of all of those things. I mean, I think what he did really well and was really smart about, was he always had the talent on his side. Actors felt safe with him. His track record was obviously just incredible. I mean, you think of a film like The Insider and what he was able to do with Russell Crowe, who’s obviously a brilliant actor, but look at that character on The Insider and look at what Michael was able to build.
He had the trust of actors. When you have the trust of actors at that level, and the actors are people like Russell Crowe and Will Smith and Tom Cruise, you have a lot of power. That’s one thing he had. He also, and I think this is like a thing that people don’t understand a lot about directing is it takes a level of disciple, and driven and energy, and fortitude, that is not within the scope of normal human existence to make these films. To pilot a $150 million film, a $200 million film. To be in charge of something that is so big and so sweeping and epic. I worked with Michael on the making of Ali. We were what, I think 130, something like that was the end budget. We had nights, I mean, we had a night in Mozambique where we had 15,000 extras, think about that.
He’s at the helm of all that, and he has to hold all that together and he has to keep, keep focus, keep straight, keep drive, keep the actors in there, keep the crew in there. All of that stuff, that takes a truly unique person. Usually takes a total fucking tyrant as well. He would fall into that category also. Those kind of directors are kind of less and less because the studios have quite a bit of control now, right? The studio, it’s more kind of decision by committee now. You have very powerful studio heads, very powerful executive producers within the studios. I think that there’s fewer and fewer of the directors like, I mean, I guess Paul Thomas Anderson would be like a modern kind of example of this, who can go in and say like, “This is the film, this is the story. This is my vision, this is what we’re going to execute, and you’re not going to fucking touch it.” That’s rare. Michael had that.
Tim Ferriss: How did you get the job with Michael?
Morgan Fallon: That was crazy.
Tim Ferriss: Actually two questions maybe we can pick up. You said, “I want to work for Michael Mann, a name I didn’t recognize, or Martin Scorsese.”
Morgan Fallon: Terrence Malick.
Tim Ferriss: Who is Terrence Malick and why those three in your mind?
Morgan Fallon: Terrence Malick is Thin Red Line. He just has a way of making these incredibly articulate films. It almost feels like visual poems, but a very powerful director and someone who was able to really exercise the medium of film and use all of the tools. Spend like, I mean anyone who works in the industry will know how hard it is to get at like 45 seconds of silence into a film or into a television show or into everything where you can just absorb the natural space or absorb the characters going through something. It’s like, you constantly need to be packing action and you constantly need to be packing information. You constantly need to be feeding and feeding and feeding. What I really loved about his films is if you watch his films, he has these beautiful little detailed, nuanced moments, within the film that’s just hard to achieve.
I mean, Martin Scorsese is Martin Scorsese. He directed probably the greatest American film ever made, which is Goodfellas. I believe, I think it was Tony’s favorite as well. I agree with him. It’s a masterpiece. Michael, I really, I loved Insider and I loved Heat. I love, I think that the last sequence in Last of the Mohicans is one of the masterpiece of filmmaking. It’s technically perfect.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, I just re-watched Last of the Mohicans recently because I read the book for the first time and —
Morgan Fallon: Oh, that’s cool.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, it was —
Morgan Fallon: Isn’t it amazing?
Tim Ferriss: It’s just incredible.
Morgan Fallon: That’s Michael. Michael did Last of the Mohicans. It’s a good film. I like the rest of the film, but from the moment that they leave the village where they burn the, I forget his name, the British soldier. He chases them up into the hills. It’s perfect. He doesn’t miss a beat in that.
Tim Ferriss: It’s really beautifully conceived and beautifully shot. Also, it creatively deviates from the book in a bunch of really interesting ways. At some point, I would love to talk to like the screenwriter and I mean, this is a fantasy, right? Sit at dinner, have some wine with like the screenwriter, Michael, be like, “I know it was a long time ago, but let’s talk about it.” All right, so how did you get the job with Michael?
Morgan Fallon: It’s totally random. I just got a phone call one day, you know? And it’s like they —
Tim Ferriss: What? Well, why did they know who the hell you were?
Morgan Fallon: Because I got a call from someone who I had known at Emerson. It just said, “Hey, they need a temporary office assistant for three days. I can’t take the job. It’s Michael Mann’s office, do you want to do it?” I was like, “You fucking kidding? Yeah, like, absolutely.” I got in that office and I look back now and I’m like, “They must have all thought I was just totally out of my mind.” I didn’t leave. I forget what I left. I left at like 11:30 at night or something. I stayed after, I cleaned the whole copy room. I organized the fridge. I just did anything I could. I was like, “I’m doing anything I can to stay in this office.” I did. At the end of the three days, they’re like, “Hey, we’ve got a film coming up. You want to be a PA on the film?” I was like, “Of course.” I took that.
Tim Ferriss: Wow.
Morgan Fallon: Where it really turned though, is that Michael had an assistant and I was there, and I was like the runner and the office lackey. I knew stuff. Because of Emerson, like I said, I knew how to run cameras. I knew how to run systems. I knew how to do a lot of stuff. I had a solid base of understanding filmmaking. The other thing I did is when I got in there, I asked for the research material. They’re like, “Hey, read this book, read this book, read this book.” I just went and read them all. I knew how to do all these things. Eventually I started setting up the rentals on cameras and stuff like that. Then, their video cameras, none of these cats know how to use them. These older, like filmmaking cats, you know?
Tim Ferriss: Yeah.
Morgan Fallon: Michael and his generation, they didn’t [inaudible] look at a video camera. It’s like, you know, they had no idea what to do with these things. He’s like, “Oh, you know how to run it?” I’m like, “Yeah, I know how to run all this stuff.” He’s like, “Okay, come down to the gym where we’re training with Will, and you can help me set these things up and stuff like that.” I would basically just set these cameras up and hand them to Michael, and every once in a while with my head up and be like, “Oh, my God, I’m standing in a room with Will Smith and Michael Mann.”
Then eventually, like Ali came by, I’m like hanging out with Ali and then Darius Khondji, who’s a very famous cinematographer was there. I remember one day, Darius Khondji, who I was like, “These cats are like my idols when I’m in film school.” Darius Khondji shot Delicatessen, you know?
Tim Ferriss: Yeah.
Morgan Fallon: Darius Khondji came up to me, he’s like, “Hey, man.” He’s like, “Don’t tell anyone, but I have no idea how to use this camera.” I’m like, “Oh, okay, cool.” I dial it in for him. I’m like, “You’re all good, man. Just ask me.” By doing that stuff and reading the research material, like eventually Michael kind of pulled me more and more in. Then, I remember one night, and I still feel kind of bad for this kid, but it was such a bad call. He had this assistant and the assistant went to a Roger Waters concert and left me alone with him. I’m like, “Dude, you just left the fox in the hen house, man. You closed the door behind you. I am going to fucking destroy you.”
I stayed and eventually Michael comes out and he’s like, “Where’s so and so?” I’m like, “Oh, he went to a concert.” He’s like, “Oh, he went to a concert.” I was like, “Yep. I’m here.” He’s like, “Yeah, but you don’t know any of the stuff.” He’s like, “I need this quote from the David Remnick book and I was like, “Actually, I read that book and I know right where that quote is, and I’ll get it for you right now.” I went down and I made the photocopy and I don’t know, a week later that kid’s moving his shit out of his desk and I’m moving into it. It was that cold. I went on this incredible ride with him.
Tim Ferriss: Wow. I was going to ask you [inaudible crosstalk — audio connection lost momentarily] how the research materials came in.
Morgan Fallon: Yeah. Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: Wow. so from the three-day office assistant, that has to be a world record pole vault into a whole different stratosphere of responsibilities. That’s just incredible. I mean, what a story.
Morgan Fallon: That was amazing. It was amazing and he handed me, also, being his assistant, he handed me responsibility over all the creative materials. Listen, well, Michael, he’s a very, very difficult person. He can be cruel. He can be incredibly cold to people who have been loyal to him for years. There’s a lot of ugliness there and a lot of stuff that eventually I was like I don’t want to be that kind of person. I still feel that way. I can’t but respect him to the highest degree, as a creative. I’ve never seen someone with so much creative energy and so much drive. It was like all of a sudden, just being in a different universe where like I, at 24, was using every ounce of energy I had to keep up with this man who is 60, you know? That’s the difference. That’s the difference.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah.
Morgan Fallon: You know, with someone like him, but he handed me this — he would keep these running notes that were thousands of pages long, these huge volumes, huge three-ring binders, where he had thousands of pages of creative notes that he had made on every scene. He handed me responsibility for all that stuff. A lot of what I was doing was like a look into someone who’s operating at the very highest level, who’s arguably a master of their craft. It was incredible. I mean, it was amazing.
Tim Ferriss: Wow.
Morgan Fallon: I was next to him for every second of it.
Tim Ferriss: That’s incredible. The research material, so I see how the research materials ended up being helpful. Did you request the research materials because you thought there might be an opening like that, or was there a different reason for you requesting?
Morgan Fallon: I was like, I have a foothold here and I am going to live and breathe, whatever I can, that this man lives and breathes. I’m good, just because I’m here and I’m 24 and I got, you know?
Tim Ferriss: Yeah.
Morgan Fallon: Just like full of energy. I do think that they probably thought I was like a speed freak though. I think they probably thought I was like either a cokehead or a speed freak. I wasn’t, but I was just so charged at up and so full of energy that I just did all these things.
Tim Ferriss: Just total immersion.
Morgan Fallon: It was amazing.
Tim Ferriss: How did television enter the fray, so to speak, how did you then become involved with the television?
Morgan Fallon: That was the weird thing. It’s like my career took a very, a very weird kind of turn there. I finished working for Michael. What I had done while I was with him, they handed me a video camera because they’re like, “Well, you’re here for everything, so let’s keep the camera on. You film what you can,” and I ended up filming —
Tim Ferriss: In terms of a behind the scenes type of thing?
Morgan Fallon: Exactly. I ended up filming quite a bit of that, and they were producing a documentary for HBO on the making of the film. It ended up being that 50 percent of the footage in the end result was mine.
Tim Ferriss: Which film was this, just to — you may have already mentioned, but which —
Morgan Fallon: Ali.
Tim Ferriss: Oh, that was Ali.
Morgan Fallon: Yeah, that was the film. The film was Ali. I had filmed all this stuff. They ended up using a lot of it. The producer came up to me, and she said, “Hey, listen, we get a lot of footage from assistance, and it always sucks. Your footage is actually really good. We used quite a bit of it. You might think about this as this is a skill you have.” At the same time, young in Hollywood, there’s a lot of temptation, and I had gotten —
Tim Ferriss: Might need you to elaborate on that. What does that mean, just the faces of Hollywood?
Morgan Fallon: In the end, I got pretty deep on just alcohol and partying and a lot of stuff got — caught a DUI, broke up with my girlfriend at the time, stopped working for Michael. Things just kind of fell apart a little bit. But I always had the camera, and so I ended up — picture this. One day I’m flying around in Gulfstream Vs with Michael and Will Smith. I had dinner at fucking Nelson Mandela’s house in Mozambique. Picture that, 24, hanging out with Nelson Mandela.
Tim Ferriss: Quick interjection, correct me if I’m wrong. You grew up partially, at least, in West Virginia in an old farmhouse with no electricity. Am I making that up or is that legitimate?
Morgan Fallon: That’s true. That’s true. When I was much younger, though.
Tim Ferriss: I’m just painting the contrast since you’re mentioning flying around in a GV.
Morgan Fallon: It’s a good thing to paint because West Virginia comes full circle in this story of my life, too. West Virginia, that still has a place in my heart. I’ll elaborate on that in a bit. But, one day I’m flying around in Gulfstream and hanging out with Nelson Mandela. The next day I’m in my parents’ basement, back in the middle of winter in New Hampshire, a broke-ass, bombed-out alcoholic. Dude, you’ve got to put your life back together. I ended up teaching a film class for my dad who ran summer programs at this private school that I grew up at and saved up enough money to buy a camera. Then I just started shooting from the very bottom, and I just started again.
Tim Ferriss: What did you start shooting? What did you start shooting?
Morgan Fallon: I was literally shooting America’s most fantabulous homes and stuff like that.
Tim Ferriss: Were you finding the gigs in New York or how did you find the gigs at that point?
Morgan Fallon: Again, my friend, the same friend that I shot the documentary on the football team with, my buddy Todd Lubin, reached out to me. There’s a number of times in my career and in my life that Todd reached out to me and was like, “Hey, you should come do this.” There are a couple of life-changing kind of moments. He reached out. He hooked me up with these gigs, not much money. I didn’t have a license. I lived in New Hampshire. Most of the jobs are in New York. I’d have to take a bus to South Station in Boston with all my equipment, and all these huge Pelican cases, get on the train, go down to New York, shoot these things, get back. I was hustling, and eventually rebuilt it.
You know how it is. You get better and better projects. You get kind of known for things. You meet people. Your network starts to spread. But the time with Michael was almost just like an appetizer, like an amuse-bouche. Then the real work came of building something from scratch again, and building from the bottom. That taught me how to be tough. It taught me how to shoot and it taught me how to be scrappy. Most of all, and the thing that ended up paying off most when I got down the road with Tony and stuff is I learned how to make something out of nothing because when you’re with Michael and on the projects like that, you’ve got all these resources, huge budgets, huge, huge stuff.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, totally.
Morgan Fallon: When you’re working on the kind of stuff that I do, it’s a knife fight. You’re intentionally small. You don’t operate with big crews. You operate with small crews. You don’t want to freak people out. I don’t work with actors; I work with people, and you’ve got to have a light touch. You’ve got to go in, you’ve got to figure out how to pull the most value out of things with the fewest amount of resources.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, totally. How did you, and then end up connecting with Chris and Lydia at ZPZ?
Morgan Fallon: I, again, in kind of working my way back up through the ranks by 2000, and I guess this was 2006, I shot this show in Buffalo called Tough Love. It was a dark, romantic comedy about a matchmaker set in Buffalo. I lived in Buffalo for six months in the winter, which is — I mean, hats off to anyone in Buffalo. You are tough people. The DP on that show was someone named Zach Zamboni, who is just a phenomenal, gifted DP who understands this genre better than anyone else I know. When I say this genre, I mean the vérité documentary genre. He ended up giving my name to Chris and Lydia because he had been working for them, and was, at that time, working for Tony on No Reservations. They hired me for a couple of jobs, and that’s how I got in with them.
Tim Ferriss: Wow.
Morgan Fallon: I owe a tremendous amount to Zach. I still talk to him all the time as much as possible. What can you say about him? He’s the master.
Tim Ferriss: Sounds like a mensch, too, along with Todd. I have a question about working your way back up. If we do now just a mini flashback, you’re taking all sorts of different projects.
Morgan Fallon: Anything.
Tim Ferriss: Now I’m tempted to say whatever you — okay, so anything, whatever you can get.
Morgan Fallon: Anything.
Tim Ferriss: However, I know you’re also a very smart guy. One could say what happened with Michael Mann was one part luck, but it was also required many other ingredients for that to actually coalesce into what it did. As you were working your way back up, was there any particular strategy about how, let’s say past the halfway point, before you get to ZPZ, about how you chose projects or anything like that, or was it really just throw as much against the wall and hope there is some synchronicity?
Morgan Fallon: It was definitely throw as much against the wall as possible. But, I think that a marker of many people’s careers is, certainly not my philosophy or anything like that, but kind of like a, I don’t know, like a trapdoor spider or something. You sit there. You’re kind of patient. You’re grinding out the days, and when the cricket comes by, you grab it, and that’s the moment. I think that that has been when —
Tim Ferriss: When the assistant goes to the concert. [crosstalk]
Morgan Fallon: Come on, man, I mean, rules of engagement. [crosstalk]
Tim Ferriss: That is a terminal move that he made. I agree. I mean, who does he think he’s working for?
Morgan Fallon: It was stunning to me that he allowed that opening, and for Roger Waters, which, respect, but it’s not Pink Floyd. I think that it’s just knowing those moments, and there are career-changing moments, and it’s sometimes just a phone call. It’s out of the blue, and you’re like, “Oh, this is the moment. This is the thing. This is the project.”
When I got turned on to ZPZ and Chris and Lydia, that was very clearly it. I was very aware of Tony and No Reservations at that point and was like, “That is what I want to do. I want to do that.” When they came into the picture, I was like, “Oh, I mean, yeah, I’m going to do anything that it takes. Put me on any project that you want. I will prove to you that I deserve to be on that ride and working with Tony.” That’s what I tried to do.
Tim Ferriss: How did you go about trying to do it? What did the first date look like?
Morgan Fallon: First thing I did for them was a show for PBS called Diary of a Foodie, which was a great show. It was a beautiful show. What did I do? I show up on time, work your ass off, shoot good footage. Don’t be a pain in the ass. Keep your head low, figure out the lay of the land. Don’t come in like you own the place, I don’t know, the basics. I, luckily, learned how to do that shit from my dad. He taught me how to work hard. I don’t think that I’ve been like someone in my career — I mean, are people a lot of people in this industry that are just way more calculated and Machiavellian about how they go about — they see it way, way down the road. They know where they’re headed. They know the strategy to get there. That’s impressive to me. I can’t do that. I see the thing come, I grab it.
That’s what happened with that. I knew that I wanted to work with Tony. I saw a window, and I just was not going to leave. I mean, I guess that’s it. Same thing with kind of showing up at Emerson and telling them that I’m coming regardless of whether they have a bed for me or not, I guess.
Tim Ferriss: Part of what prompted me to reach back out, and I think I said this in the text was, I had an international flight, and I watched Roadrunner, this documentary about Anthony Bourdain, Tony Bourdain. I thought it was, to the extent that I could even assess it because I didn’t know him, but I thought it was well done. It didn’t seem one-dimensional in the sense that they really approached it from many different perspectives. I would be curious to know what you thought was — if you have any opinion, what you thought was important for them to include that they included and then perhaps what you would’ve liked to have seen more of or mentioned.
Morgan Fallon: I’m stoked to talk about Roadrunner. We should back up at some point on the ZPZ stuff because there’s a bunch of stuff that happened in between there, which is Steve. We should talk about Steve.
Tim Ferriss: Oh, yeah, yeah. Oh, yeah. We’re definitely going to do that.
Morgan Fallon: Roadrunner, it was directed by Morgan Neville, who’s one of the great documentary filmmakers out there right now. What I would say about Roadrunner and a lot of different people — by the way, I should like specify, there were a lot of people that worked for Tony, and a lot of people that were really close with him. In no way am I the person or a singular kind of thing there. There was a lot of people that were really close to Tony and went on the ride with him.
I’m sure a lot of them have different opinions about Roadrunner. For me, when I watch a film, and I’ve only seen it once — I may only ever see it once. It’s hard for me to watch it again. What I saw, I think that what they did was as good a job as you could do with that subject without having been on the inside of it, which, I guess, is in some ways, I mean, that as kind of the greatest compliment I can give because I think that there were things that were missed. But I think that there are things that you kind of had to really be there and know him and have gone through that experience to really fully grasp and understand. I think they did a really good job of getting who he was and getting what that journey was.
As far as things I wished they had leaned into more and away from more, I do wish they had gotten a little bit more of who Tony was in terms of his relationship to people, and the way he approached people, the way he approached the world. Yes, he was a champion of the underdog, and they mentioned that in the film, but it was more than that. Tony really, really deeply felt, I think, a connection to people whose environments he was walking into, and he felt that connection as a guest. But he was the kind of person who’d wade into a room and pick up a baby and sit in someone’s living room and really, actually kind of be there and be with them and be with them on their terms.
I think that was one of the kind of the intangibles about him. He was a very connected person to the world. For someone who was as strangely agoraphobic as he was, he had an amazing ability to be truly connected and in the moment and see the beauty in things that are often passed up in — to see the beauty in people and in the small nuances and details of their life. I don’t know, so I guess a little more of that and a little less of the kind of who done it aspect of Tony’s suicide. I understand going down that road, for sure, and who am I to talk? I contributed as much to that as anyone else through my interview, but it is not the defining characteristic of who Tony was. There are so many others that I feel could have, I guess, played a little bigger. It’s well done, though.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Makes sense. We’ll certainly come back to Tony. You mentioned ZPZ. Let’s talk about ZPZ, right, and Steve. Who is Steve, and what do these chapters look like?
Morgan Fallon: I came in on Foodies, and then did a couple of No Reservations with Tony, and those were great. The first one, I got called to replace someone on the Egypt show with Tony, and I got along with him, which was kind of amazing, I guess. I didn’t know at the time — I didn’t know it was anything special. But I got a call after it from Lydia, and she’s like, “He knows your name. This is a benchmark moment.” I was like, “Oh, okay, cool.” So I went to Egypt with them, and we had a great show. I did a few other No Reservations, was getting to know Tony.
But then they called me — I was working, at the time, again, for my buddy, Todd, who was show running Biggest Loser. I had shot 96 episodes of Biggest Loser, which is real formatty, reality TV with a little more puking than normal reality TV. I’d done that for three years. Really, I learned how to shoot on that thing because you’re just grinding out — you have a camera on your shoulder for 10 hours a day and you are just grinding out, shooting. It’s the same stuff over and over again, but you’ll really learn it.
I got a call, and they’re like, “We have this guy, Steve Rinella, who — he’s got a really interesting story. He lives in Brooklyn, but he hunts for his food. He’s a conservationalist and a hunter and a writer, and he’s a really smart guy. You should meet him. I think you’d get along with him.”
I go and meet Steve in a parking lot in Michigan. Within 35 minutes, I am this deep in a swamp, up to my shoulders in a swamp, holding the camera above my head as Steve sets turtle traps. It was just like this moment of oh, my God, this is it because this is super experiential. It’s super visual. He’s incredibly smart, just a fountain of information, as you know from hanging out with him. It’s like it never stopped.
Tim Ferriss: Encyclopedic.
Morgan Fallon: It’s just unbelievable. Everything was there. You got all of the information. You got something that’s really smart. You got a philosophy behind it that makes sense. Yet, you’re doing stuff that’s highly physical, that’s really cinematic, that’s really kind of gripping, and kind of hits on a root human level. You’re out doing it. You’re out getting food.
I met him in that swamp and just started a journey with him. We went on to film eight episodes of a show called Wild Within, which was, I think, an early attempt to make a hunting show and figure out what a hunting show could be in terms of also telling a story and having a narrative progression. It was really unique in that we were just actually doing the stuff that we said we were going to do. I remember early on, a producer came on, they’re like, “Okay, where’s the line item for the animal wrangler?” Steve’s like a fucking animal wrangler. He’s like, “There’s no animal wrangler, dude. We’re going to Alberta to hunt moose.” He’s like, “Well, how do you know you’re going to be successful?” He’s like, “I don’t. It’s hunting. We don’t know if we’re going to be successful.”
Tim Ferriss: “Who’s dropping off the moose?” No one’s dropping off the moose.
Morgan Fallon: To present that to a network and be, “Well, how are you going to assure us that you come up with something here?” “We’re not. We’re going to go out and actually do it.” That was a lot for a network to get their heads around, but it allowed us to be genuine about what we were doing. I really believe when you watch these shows, people know when they’re being bullshitted, and they know when it’s honest. The bullshit is fun to watch. I get it. It draws numbers and people enjoy it. But if you want to build a legacy — you want to build one of these legacy shows, you’ve got to be honest with your audience. That’s what they will come back for year after year after year. That’s what they’re looking for. That’s what Steve provided.
We went and we did this show that was really unique. I felt like we had moments that were unlike anything I had ever seen on TV before. I mean, we were in it, man, hunting pigs in Hawaii, having the pigs run up this coulee, and they got in this little stream there where we found them. They’re in a fight to the death with the dogs that had run them down. Steve’s in there with a knife trying to stab pig and not dog. There’s blood. There’s screaming. There’s mud and shit flying all over the place.
I know that that can be very difficult for some people to hear and understand, but for me, I had this moment where, well, I feel incredibly connected to the human experience, to the natural experience. I feel like a part of kind of the whole dynamic, and we ate pig, and we used all of it, and we were responsible about it. I could kind of, from a philosophical standpoint, I felt like I could get my head around it and understand, oh, this is why this person does this.
Tim Ferriss: Had you ever hunted prior to that show or been involved with hunting?
Morgan Fallon: Not at all. Never. What I realize is growing up in New Hampshire, I felt like I was outdoorsy. Then I went with Steve to Alaska, and I was like, oh, I’m not outdoorsy at all. I’ve never been off a trail. I’ve never been off a well-marked trail, and, all of the sudden, you’re standing in the middle of Prince of Wales Island with Steve. It’s fucking pouring rain. You’re freezing cold. You’re cliff hung because it’s Steve, and something always happens.
Tim Ferriss: What do you mean by cliff hung? What does that mean?
Morgan Fallon: Cliff hung, I think it usually happens when you’re descending, right. But, basically, say you’re descending through heavy cover and you get out to a cliff, right. You make a decision, which is “I can get down this thing,” and you go down a drop that you can’t come back up. Then you realize that the next drop isn’t 15 feet, it’s 60 feet. Then you’re cliff hung.
Tim Ferriss: Oh, shit. That sounds like a great situation.
Morgan Fallon: You’ve got to figure it out. But, figuring all that stuff out was incredible because, again, I was just like, I’m just a dude. I didn’t like come from any kind of special background. I’m not a Green Beret. I was dropped into this thing with no understanding of what my capacities were when I was put into an environment where you have to rely on your natural instincts and your ability to do shit and your ability to not get yourself fucking killed when you’re out in the woods. At first I was like, I can’t do this. I can’t do this, and, by the way, I’m got a 50-pound pack on and a camera all the time. I’ve got one hand. Everyone else has got two hands.
At first, it was terrifying. I remember that first time we got a little bit cliff hung, and I’m like, “Where’s the SAT phone? Let’s call the Coast Guard.” They’re like, “Dude, we don’t call the Coast Guard over this. Trust me, you’re going to be okay.” It was an incredible realization to be like, oh, wait, I am going to be okay. All the stuff is innate in being human that I need to survive this and to figure it out and to deal with it whereas I think a lot of my career up to that point had been like how to navigate the human world and be kind of a player and all of that. I had totally —
Tim Ferriss: The constructed world.
Morgan Fallon: That’s right. I had never connected with the natural world. I had no idea that within me and within all of us was this ability to navigate the natural world by simply connecting with stuff that we are born with. Steve brought that out of me. Once I realized that, then the whole world opened, and you’re like, oh, my God, I’m in the middle of this highly dynamic, highly visual thing that we can just run with. I don’t want to say no one’s ever done that style of production before. But, truthfully, honestly, in the hunting world, they did a lot of, you know what it is, they sit in a blind, they shoot a bear over a 55-gallon drum of donuts. I find all that shit disgusting.
A lot of these shows won’t even finish the episode unless they get a good kill shot. We were like, “Fuck kill shots. I don’t give a shit about the kill shot.” We were doing something that just felt so raw and real and unproduced and unscripted that it was very refreshing, and once you kind of figured out oh, you put your feet here, you walk this way, you hold the camera like this. This is how you don’t get yourself killed. This is how you don’t get yourself hurt. Once we figured all that shit out, or once I figured all that shit out, then you were left with just this incredible canvas to paint on.
I think we did something really special. I think we really put people in that sensory environment, what it feels like to be out there and to be a predator and to be part of this whole dynamic that’s always going on around us, but that we have largely excised ourselves from. We were there with a camera to capture it.
Tim Ferriss: I’ll be the first to concur that Steve is as legit as I’ve seen, certainly having —
Morgan Fallon: Me, too.
Tim Ferriss: — spent time with him for one episode in the Brooks Range, which was incredible.
Morgan Fallon: You got thrown into the deep end.
Tim Ferriss: Oh, that was exciting, having the barren-ground grizzlies charging the camp. Oh, my God, and Steve, I remember when one charged the camp, and it’s running because Janis spotted it — wait, Janis, is that right? Am I getting his name right?
Morgan Fallon: Yeah, that’s correct.
Tim Ferriss: So Janis, nicknamed The Bear Whisperer, I think on that trip ended up — at some point, he was just unpacking some gear or something, and then he kind of sat up and he is like, wait a second, grabbed his binoculars. Then, lo and behold, he spotted this bear that was on its hind legs smelling some of our meat. It just comes galloping, that’s probably not the right term, but loping towards us around —
Morgan Fallon: Barrelling, is usually the way I feel about bears.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Barrelling, that’s — yes, absolutely barrelling. I remember Steve is being summoned, right. We’re all like Steve, Steve, because half of us are muggles who have never dealt with bears before. Steve comes out of his tent, and he’s so pissed off because he had left his cell phone in the corner of his tent, and this mosquito kind of Deet liquid had pooled in that side and destroyed his cell phone. He’s ranting and raving and “Fuck this,” and “Fuck that,” and he’s so pissed. As this bear is running, he’s completely unconcerned, and we’re all like, “Steve, bear! Steve, bear! Steve, bear!” Eventually he’s like, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,” and he shoots a shotgun in the air and waves at it. It runs off and turns around a quarter mile away and just sits there, staring at us. I’m like, “Now what do I do?” But he is absolutely —
Morgan Fallon: A hundred percent.
Tim Ferriss: — absolutely able to walk the talk.
Morgan Fallon: Every part of that story, including him destroying his cell phone, rings so true to Steve. But, that’s exactly right. I mean, to be with Steve Rinella is to — you’re with someone who is so surefooted and so competent in their environment. It is really something to behold. He kind of shrugs it off when you try to compliment him, but that is one of the toughest, smartest, most solid people I’ve ever met of life. I just can’t say enough about who he is.
Tim Ferriss: I was just going to add incredible human. Also, for those people who are like, “Oh, isn’t that the hunting guy on TV?,” he is also an incredibly talented, and not just talented because that kind of infers he’s born with it out of the box — maybe some of that is true — but skillful writer. I mean, American Buffalo —
Morgan Fallon: Excellent writer.
Tim Ferriss: — and many other books. Excellent writer.
Morgan Fallon: That’s earned. I think, I mean, sure, born with a predilection for writing. Sure. I’m sure that’s true, but he’s a writer. I mean, he writes from nine in the morning to five in the afternoon every day. He does the job, and it has made him a great writer. I would say that his voice over and his writing is some of the best in the industry. He’s just excellent, and has built — that initial show, Wild Within, went on — I mean, of course it was canceled in the first season because no network was ever going to be able to really wrap their head around what we were doing. We launched a self-financed endeavor, which was MeatEater, which has now grown into this big company that Steve owns or partially owns or whatever. I don’t know exactly what the ownership structure is, but it’s grown into this big thing.
When we actually went out and did that, that was the fully formed version of the show. I feel Wild Within, we were just kind of learning how to be outside and how to make TV and how to not bullshit people. Trust me, we did a little bit of eye-rolling bullshit in Wild Within. But by the time we got to MeatEater, we weren’t bullshitting anymore. We were just going out and doing it and grinding, and we got really good at it. And I’ve just watched recent episodes now, and they’re beautiful, and smart, and just excellent, high-quality TV. And very, very proud of that. That something I was involved in, like on that ground level has maintained that kind of quality is like incredibly rewarding.
Tim Ferriss: What do you feel like, aside from what we’ve already discussed, what skills did you develop or what did you learn from that show, that experience on the show that has ended up transferring to other things, helping with other things later?
Morgan Fallon: The psychological game is everything. I think we have a tendency to shut down when we feel defeated or to shut down when we feel like we’ve reached an impasse. And what’s amazing about being in the natural environment like that and really doing it is that you’re forced to face the landscape. You’re forced to face the elements. You’re forced to face weather. You’re forced to face all these things that are incongruous with producing television and achieving your goal. And you don’t have the option because you’re out alone. I mean, you know how it — I mean, from the Brooks Range show.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah.
Morgan Fallon: You’re dropped off by like a Piper Cub in the middle of nowhere, and they’re not coming back for 10 days or however long you were out. And so you’ve got to figure all that out in between. And yeah. We go out with like a lot of tools and stuff, but it’s hard not to feel defeated when you’re freezing, when you’re soaking wet, when you roll out of your sleeping bag in the morning. And the reality you’re facing is that you’ve got to put on your soaking wet wool underclothes that have been out in 40 degree weather all night, and it’s going to suck, and it’s going to hurt, and it’s going to be miserable, and cold, and depressing. And you’ve got to push through that anyways. I think, for me, and I don’t know that this is the same for everyone else. But I think, for me, that was the greatest thing that I took away from that is keeping your head space, keeping your mood elevated, keeping the possibility of something amazing and beautiful and brilliant happening.
And keeping grinding is the way to do this specific line of work, because we don’t get to, again, we don’t have the resources to control all the variables and we’re working with real people in all the work that I do. So you’re kind of at the whim of a lot of dynamics and you’ve got to learn how to see the things that get in your way as gifts. You got to learn how to take them, and operate around them, and move off of them, and use them. And that’s what I learned out there with Steve.
Tim Ferriss: So let’s try a segue into the world of Tony, and this may or may not make sense as a segue. Well, let’s try it and then we can go anywhere you want to go. The first time working with Tony in Egypt, because this is sort of the — what was the term you used? Like a trap spider moment of sorts for you?
Morgan Fallon: Yeah. Oh, that. That definitely was. Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: Okay. So let’s have you describe what happened in Egypt.
Morgan Fallon: So I got a call. I got the call I was waiting for, which was, “Hey, one of the shooters can’t go to Egypt.” I think he got sick or something. And, “Do you have like — is your passport up to date? Can you go like next week?” And I was like, “Absolutely. There’s no way I’m missing that.” So I went to Egypt. I kind of jumped in. That show had been going already for a while. And so they had ways of doing things. I tried to do my best to assimilate to the ways they were doing things and bring what I could to the table. But the thing that changed it all and Tony was not like everyone that came in the door. It was like, “Hey, how’s it going?” He plays it. Cool. And the other thing is if he doesn’t like you, you are just simply not going anywhere on that show. And there’s a lot of people he didn’t like. He had like pretty kind of like particular —
I think if you were honest, I think if you weren’t a dick to people, I think that if you carried yourself in a respectable manner. I think that if he saw that you worked hard and I think that if he saw that you could like hang out. And I have to admit, there was a lot of drinking on the show. If you could hang out and not become just like a sloppy drunk. And you were kind of cool and you could hang out, but initially he wasn’t going to give you anything. The thing that changed it for me was with Tony was we were going out. We were going to go out and spend a night out in the Western Desert with the Bedouin. And we go, we drive a few hours outside of Cairo. We meet them in the desert and you’re on a paved road with just sand on both sides. We meet this group of Bedouin, all in their late ’70s Toyota Land Cruisers, which is the car of choice in the Western Desert of Egypt.
And we’re just going to go drive off into the desert. And I was like, “Well, okay. So we’re driving across the desert. I should get up on the roof of one of these cars and just film a bunch of car to car stuff. We’re driving across the desert. How bad can it be?”
Tim Ferriss: Yeah.
Morgan Fallon: And so like five minutes later, we’re going like 80 miles an hour across the desert. I am absolutely terrified. One hand on the camera and my other arm, my right arm was around a four-post bed that for some reason they had strapped to the roof of the car. And so I have my arm —
Tim Ferriss: Now, by a four-post bed, this is like a bed with a huge canopy above it? Is that what you mean? Like one those things.
Morgan Fallon: And it was broken down into pieces. They had broken it down into the pieces and strapped it to the roof of the car. I think that they thought that Tony would want to sleep in a four-post bed out in the desert, which is absurd. And if you know Tony, all Tony wants to do is go off and pass out in the sand. Anyways, they had this ridiculous thing on top of the car and it saved my life, because I was able to hold onto the car. Whoever the driver was must have been like, “I am going to show this white boy.” And so they go barreling off across the desert and it is harrowing. And I see Tony looking out the window with this big ridiculous grin, looking at me and like, “Oh, yeah. Look at the new guy suffer.”
This is great. I got great footage. And also, what I think did it for me is by the time we got to camp, I had a hematoma the size of a small Nerf football on my bicep where I was holding on that was deep purple where I had been holding. That’s how hard I was holding onto this thing. And that’s the kind of beating that I took up there. And I think that that act of he’s like, “Oh, this is a cat who’s like…” Like I said, I mean, I’m a physical shooter. “This is a cat that’s going to throw himself completely into this.” And it’s like a light switch went off. I landed in camp. He’s like, “Hey, all right. That was a pretty rough ride.” I was like, “Oh, yeah. Look at this.”
I showed him the bruise. And from that moment on Tony liked me. I got called after that. Like I said, Lydia was like, “This is a benchmark moment. He actually knows your name after one show. Do you want to come back? You want to do another?” I was like, “I’ll do as many as I can for as long as I can.” And that’s what I did. So that was the introduction to Tony. It just took an act of — I don’t know. I didn’t have kids at the time, so I don’t consider it too selfish, but I wouldn’t recommend it to any young shooters.
Tim Ferriss: What were some other pivotal moments or episodes for you with Tony? I’m thinking one and we could do something chronologically that happened sooner, but like Ethiopia.
Morgan Fallon: Ethiopia was huge. Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: So we could jump into that if you want to just describe —
Morgan Fallon: Yeah. So when I came on the show, I was just a camera operator. And then worked my way up where I was like the lead camera and a DP on the show. And then I was like, “If I don’t take the opportunity to try to direct this show and produce this show and do everything that I can on this show, I’m going to regret it.” And so around — I guess it was around like 2014, I started asking and being like, “I really want to direct the show.” And I did a season of Mind of a Chef with Magnus Nilsson in Sweden, which was a show that Tony produced. That allowed me to really like showcase like, “Hey, I can go out there. I can make eight episodes. I can like lead a show. I can get it done.” And it turned out really well, partly because Magnus is like an absolute genius.
And one of the most fascinating people you can hang out with. He’s like on that — he’s like with Steve. Just an incredibly dynamic person. I mean, someone who had created like one of the best restaurants in the world out of what was a moose fondue restaurant in central Sweden. Imagine what he started with. Created one of the best restaurants in the world by his mid-20s and was already a master som at that point. So that’s who Magnus Nilsson is.
Tim Ferriss: Incredible.
Morgan Fallon: It’s incredible. But I did that. Tony saw it, Tony liked it and agreed to let me direct. And it was Ethiopia with Marcus Samuelson. So if you know Marcus, Marcus —
Tim Ferriss: I know of him. I don’t know him personally, but certainly know of him.
Morgan Fallon: Yeah. Marcus is a — he does every — he is on tons of cooking shows. He is an incredibly magnanimous, huge smile, wonderful person, tons of energy. But Marcus’ story is that he was born in Ethiopia and during a — oh, God, I want to say it was a cholera outbreak.
It was an infectious disease outbreak in Ethiopia. Tuberculosis. It’s tuberculosis. And Marcus’ mother walked he and his sister when they were just little, little kids something like 75 miles from her village into Addis and got them to an orphanage and then died. And so Marcus and his sister were adopted and grew up in Sweden. So this show was his return to Ethiopia. And he had been there before, but like, it was also his wife, Maya, who’s just an absolutely incredible person, and just simply one of the most gorgeous human beings you’ll ever meet, was also from Gurage. And from one of the more prominent tribes in Ethiopia. So it was a return to her village. It was a return to find his father and reconnect with his father. It was a big show. And I was terrified. I don’t even know why. It seems irrational at this point, but I was totally terrified.
Tim Ferriss: What were you terrified of?
Morgan Fallon: I don’t know. I just respected Tony so much. I loved the show so much. I suffer from anxiety disorders. I’m bipolar. I have a few things in my bag like everyone does to kind of deal with and it set those off pretty good. But I went, I did it. We had this incredible show. Ethiopia is just a totally extraordinary place. Like so many places in Africa, totally misunderstood. One of the more dynamic environments that you can step into. It’s got a young population there that is just totally plugged in, totally driven, super hardworking. It’s one of those places where you’re like, “Man, if the corruption at the top can ever get out of its own way, these people are going to just kill it.” But it was an amazing experience. An amazing experience to let go and go back into Maya’s home village to find Marcus’ father. The funniest part of it was for all the shit that Tony ate through his career, he just cannot handle Ethiopian food. I love Ethiopian food.
Tim Ferriss: Of all things.
Morgan Fallon: Of all things. He said he found his kryptonite. And so he was basically starving to death during the show. I’m begging him to eat Clif Bars and stuff like that, because he wouldn’t eat anything. He was just like wasting away. Yeah. But that was amazing. That was the first show I directed. It was a huge moment and Tony was very kind to me.
Tim Ferriss: How did you prepare for that? Yeah. I mean, and what is — I know this is going to seem like a really elementary, naive question.
Morgan Fallon: What’s the difference?
Tim Ferriss: Well, I’ve seen you in action with the camera. Right? And we’re going to talk more about that just because the kind of dance involved, especially when you have multiple shooters, is incredible. I mean, it’s such an amazing craft and so much geometry. So we’re going to get into that, but directing in a situation like this seems to represent other skill sets that you had not exercised perhaps as much. So how did you prepare for this? You don’t seem like the guy to just wing it.
Morgan Fallon: No, no. Directing is an interesting word to use for these because like — and you typically think of a director, like you’re working in narrative. And so you’re working with actors, you’re working with the crew. That is a very —
Tim Ferriss: Storyboarding it out or whatever. Yeah.
Morgan Fallon: Very, very precise endeavor. This is different. What we do on these shows initially starts with a ton of research. Right? So we’re just trying to get our head around the environment. We’re trying to understand the dynamics of what’s going on, trying to understand what we can and can’t do. And we have to be also, in a place like Ethiopia especially, you have to be sensitive to the environment. That is a totalitarian government that is 100 percent watching everything you do. And the people that we work with there are going to be left with the repercussions of what we do and how we behave there. Right? And so you know certain things off the bat where you’re like, “There’s certain stuff that we’re not going to do. There’s certain boundaries we’re not going to try to push.” And again, hats off to all the people that go and do do that.
I hope they do it carefully, and with respect to the people that they’re leaving behind. But we were going to be very careful going into an environment like Ethiopia because I don’t want to end up that my PAs or my drivers or my fixer is sitting in some dingy prison because of something we did. And that’s a reality there. So it’s going in and assessing what you can and can’t do, assessing what the boundaries are, and knowing the landscape, and then starting to pull out. Okay, so this is this very interesting thing. There’s this culture of these Azmari there. And they’re basically minstrels, right? Play this very kind of old fashioned kind of music. It’s kind of like a rap where they’ll freestyle stuff from the room. They used to travel around from village to village. But what’s really interesting there is they use the Azmari as a way to have these kind of coded political discussions. Right? So they have all kinds of nuance and intricacies in the way that they do their kind of freestyle rap that is actually talking about politics in an environment where you can’t talk about politics. Right?
So we know we’re going to — this is a cool thing. We’re going to do a scene with them. Okay, where are we going to do that? What’s that going to look like? So you’re finding different Azmari. You’re looking at the locations, you’re pulling people in. Okay. So we’re going to do the Azmari, but we want to bring some dancers in. There’s another dance troop over here. We can get them to work together. This is a good environment, this particular place to shoot it. What you’re actually trying to do is set up an environment that is simultaneously real and authentic and also constructive. And in a way that we know that the apparatus of television making is going to work. We’re actually going to walk away with something that works.
The sound’s going to be workable. The lighting’s going to be workable. We’re going to be able to control the environment and not have other kinds of background pollution or other things that are out of our control infecting what we’re trying to do. I think Zach Zamboni, who I referenced before, said it best when he said like, “When we make a show about Vietnam, Vietnam doesn’t look like that. But Vietnam doesn’t not look like that either.” These are real things, but they are filtered through our process of trying to set them up in a way where we can then kind of just give the ship a little push and hope that it crosses the lake. And that’s what we’re really trying to do is pull those elements together. And that’s the directing, in terms of if you’re going to go in and direct Tony like you think you’re going to direct an actor. That was never going to happen.
You maybe can get him to ask a couple of questions. And if he spends 45 minutes of his hour-long interview talking about John Wick 2, you’re going to have to kind of like suck it and deal with that. Which happened a lot. So the amount of shit that I’ve heard about John Wick, I was like, “I’ve never even seen it.” I actually won’t watch John Wick because I’ve heard Tony talk about it so many God damn times in moments where I’m like, “Dude, I need content here. We’re dying here. I don’t have anything to put this scene together, and you talking about fucking John Wick — I won’t watch the movies and I hear they’re great.”
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. That’s incredible.
Morgan Fallon: So that’s basically the process of what we’re doing and then you’re talking to the DPs about how we’re going to shoot it and what style elements we’re going to use, what that’s going to look like, et cetera. And this was a show where you had a lot of film references that we were trying to pack in.
Tim Ferriss: What makes someone a DP? Maybe we should also just spell out what that stands for.
Morgan Fallon: Right.
Tim Ferriss: And did you interact — as a director, did you interact with the DPs differently than most directors interact with DPs?
Morgan Fallon: Definitely. I’m sure it drives them crazy. Because I’ve really high expectations because I was a very accomplished DP before. So a DP is a director of photography, cinematographer, shooter, you kind of go by all those names. I did really well. That was my thing. I was really good at it. I did really well. And I was known for it in my, again, in my little kind of subgenre. So yeah. I interact with the DPs differently because I can see the shots. I have a real advantage in that. My wife is a director as well. She doesn’t come from a cinematography side. So I spend a lot of time working with her on how to see things from a photography standpoint. And it gives you a real advantage when you can, it also will drive your fucking DPs crazy because I’m breathing down their neck all the time. I’m like, “Yeah. Is that the best shot? Maybe stand over there a little bit more. Move over that way. A little bit tighter.”
They’re like, “Dude, I’m trying to find it.” So yeah. I think I probably ride them a little harder, but I’m right. So it’s okay. Most of the time.
Tim Ferriss: So I’d like to double click on high standards because this is fertile territory for all sorts of conversations.
Morgan Fallon: Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: All right. So I want to read something. You can’t believe everything you read on the internet, but in the course of doing research for this conversation, I found something on CNN and I’m going to read it. I’m going to read it and then we can explore it. All right.
“What Morgan Fallon, director, cinematographer, and producer of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown misses most about working with Tony is the pressure. In a recent phone call with CNN Travel, Fallon described Tony’s exceedingly high expectations in awe.
“Indeed, he may have been smiling on the other end of the phone when he explained the editing process for Parts Unknown.
“‘You could get absolutely gutted in a rough cut,’ Fallon said.
“In other words, Bourdain didn’t sugarcoat it, and this approach was appreciated by Fallon and other crew members.
“This celebrity chef and star producer ‘was never going to accept anything mediocre,’ said Fallon, who was pleased with the workflow. ‘I felt good when Tony was happy with the show,’ he added.”
And I was watching — we don’t have to spend a ton of time on this, but this doc that in some ways prompted me reaching out, Roadrunner, and I — Tony is so human and so nuanced and so loving in so many ways, and has really fucking high standards. Right? And I remember at one point when in that doc, they’re talking about the rough cut and they said something like more than once Tony told an editor to like unfuck themselves or something like that.
Morgan Fallon: Oh, we got told to unfuck ourselves all the time. I got told that on a daily basis. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Start working. Unfuck yourself.” I’m like, “Okay.”
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. So let’s talk about different types of high standards. Right?
Morgan Fallon: Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: So could you elaborate on Tony’s particular species of high standards? And if you have any funny stories, that’s always great. But any stories that come to mind are also super helpful. And just so you know where this is going, I’m wondering how it contrasts with say a Michael Mann, and I know — I don’t think you’ve had experience with James Cameron. But James Cameron, another person who’s really famous for having extremely high standards. And where the line is between being like brutally direct and turning into something else. Do you know what I mean? I’d love to explore, because this is something I struggle with also.
Morgan Fallon: Yeah. I mean, okay. So speaking at the very high end. You were speaking about the Michael Manns, the James Camerons. So the level of expectation is never achievable. They will never — it’s never good enough. Right? They do not have a level where it’s good enough. It can always be better. You have to be that way. Yes, they are assholes. I will say it straight up. Michael Mann is an asshole and he’s known that way in the industry, but he has to be. That is the only way that you get that caliber of project done. You want to get through a Titanic, you are going to have to be an asshole. 100 percent.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah.
Morgan Fallon: And the same is true in high-caliber kitchens. You want to run a high-caliber kitchen, there is only one way to do it. And you are not friends with your crew. You are in charge and it’s your responsibility. And I think that Tony approached it from that perspective, at least initially. He had extremely high expectations that I think were based on his history of knowing how to run an effective kitchen.
And at the same time he had all kinds of his own like neuroses and stuff that bled into that. And you see it in Roadrunner. Actually, one of the parts I really liked was when he talks about, “Hey, I’m not going to stop for the cameras. You guys learn how to get fast. You get fast. I do what I do.” And that was — I loved that, because I could do it. I was fast and I loved working fast like that. So yeah. Super high standards. With Tony though, different than Michael and James Cameron. And I have not worked with James Cameron. I know a number of people who have though. I don’t think you’re ever going to get that moment with Michael or with someone like Michael Mann or someone like James Cameron, where you’re like sitting down and drinking beers with him out in the desert and talking about life and things that really mean something. And with Tony, you did. And that was the difference. He was actually, he was a friend and a very, very important friend, who I miss every single day. He was not those guys. He wasn’t an asshole. He could be an asshole. You know, he could be an asshole all the time. He could be incredibly frustrating to work. But there was something under it. There was something very loving there. There was something very caring. And once you were kind of in his sphere, he really did care about people.
So from that perspective it was different. From the work perspective though, he wasn’t going to mince words in the same way that he wasn’t going to mince words when a dish isn’t right in the kitchen. Like you can’t. It doesn’t work that way, you know? Unless you want 20 fucking risottos sent back, you better get the first one right. Someone fucks it up, you better let them know that they it fucked up big time right now, immediately, and correct the problem, you know?
And was a lot of the process with Tony, in post for sure. In the field, it was more like things that were cumbersome or inconvenienced Tony, he didn’t like messiness. He didn’t like sitting around. And when shit goes south on a crew, I mean, my God, we just look like a bunch of chickens with our heads cut off, running around, trying to make shit happen, or trying to make shit work. And there’s a lot of reasons that that can happen, you know. He didn’t like any of that, and you’d hear about unfucking yourself quite a bit in those moments.
But when it came to post, like that’s a much more calculated thing. Like, I would send him rough cuts and everyone has been through this. I would send him rough cuts where, I mean, from the very beginning, he’s like, “What possible reason do you have for presenting me with this piece of garbage? I didn’t work so hard,” dot, dot, dot in full caps. “You didn’t work so hard to have your work flushed down the toilet by this asshole editor,” you know? And you’re like, “Oh, okay. Are we going to go in a constructive direction?”
But he would, and that was the thing about him, is that the good ones are right. Michael Mann, as much of an asshole he was to people like, you’d have to kind of be like, “Well, he is right though.” You know, he’s right. He knows, and he is right. He’s not wrong. With Tony, also like 90 percent of the time he was right, and it wasn’t up to the standards.
What was cool about Tony is that then he would go on and work the material. You would start reforming it. You’d start working with him. He’d give constructive notes. And that’s something that I tell people, or try to like explain to people, and I think that people should know about him. And something I do kind of wish they had said in Roadrunner too, is like Tony was like, you go on his Wikipedia and it’s like “celebrity chef.” And it’s like, yeah, that’s not how I think of him. You know? And he wasn’t that great of a chef. He was —
Tim Ferriss: Also just that label doesn’t, and I didn’t know him at all. But the label doesn’t make any sense. It sounds so hollow to me given the breadth of what he did. also.
Morgan Fallon: Yeah, totally right, a hundred percent. To me, what he was more than anything else within my sphere of working with him, was he was an absolutely incredible television producer. He understood story. He understood story structure. He understood cinematography. He understood using the tools of film to make something that was cinematic. Even though we were making our little show on TV, it was like it always wanted to be a feature film. And so we were using like our limited resources to get his close to that benchmark as possible.
It should look beautiful. The framing should be great. The lighting should be great. You know, the music needs to be great. The editing, the pace, the buildup, the way that you present subjects, all of that stuff needs to be like at the highest level. And that’s what people are seeing, I think. When they respond to the show and the kind of response that the show has gotten, which is really incredible, they’re seeing a couple things. Authenticity, because we never did shit twice. We never faked anything. That’s all real.
Everything you see is real. We didn’t set up shots. We didn’t call “Cut.” We didn’t call “Action.” We got fast. We did what he told us to do. We got fast. You see authenticity and you see just a very, very high level of production value given our resources. And I think it’s something that I constantly want to point out to people is like, look at the weight classes that we were punching in.
We were way out of our group, you know. We’re going out on shows where we’re shooting for seven days in the field. We had a $3,000 external equipment rental budget and we’re getting cinematography nominations. My last cinematography nomination was up against Free Solo. It was up against Free Solo. We’re punching way out of our class, and that was because of the very high standards. And that can only come from the top. You know? We were down with it because over the time he was powerful enough, and the show was magnetic enough to pull in people who were very talented, who were gifted, who really wanted to do good work and push the genre as far as they could.
But that comes from the top. And that was Tony. And that’s what you get from that impeccable nature of like, “No, everything needs to be good.” And also just, Tony was so fucking cool that you really wanted to please him. On my wall I have framed the best email I ever got from him. That was when I sent him the first act of the Nigeria show that we shot in Lagos. And it just says “Out-fucking-standing!!” with two exclamation points. And then under it says “Couldn’t be happier.” And I framed it and I put it on my wall. So maybe that’ll tell you a little bit. I mean, that’s like the highest moment in my career.
Tim Ferriss: That’s so cool. You know, there’re two things and there are many others, but two things that jump to mind as I’m listening to you describe all this. The first is that when you watch Roadrunner, and I’d never seen any of this archival footage, but it took a while for Tony to find the path to express himself authentically in front of cameras. Right? It wasn’t immediate. It wasn’t automatic. It took some screwing around and throwing a lot against the wall to get there.
And when I think of some of my favorite episodes, and I don’t know if you were on this particular episode I’m going to reference, but there are many examples of this. The authenticity of things going totally sideways and him being really fucking pissed off and having the writing chops to actually make it into a super entertaining scene.
Morgan Fallon: Are you talking about the Sicily show?
Tim Ferriss: I think it was Sicily with the octopus and the guy throwing the octopus.
Morgan Fallon: I knew immediately what you were talking about.
Tim Ferriss: You know, that’s funny. You and I have never talked about this, but you knew exactly what I was talking about. Okay.
Morgan Fallon: That’s the best example.
Tim Ferriss: Because it’s so fucking hilarious. Oh, my God.
Morgan Fallon: Well, I wasn’t there. It was directed by Sally Freeman, who’s an incredible director and one of my like favorite fucking people in the world. She is just this ass-kicking salty Brit who doesn’t take any shit from anyone. She’s the only person I’ve ever seen be able to refer to Tony as shitcakes to his face without being summarily fired, which in and of itself is a tremendous achievement. I literally saw her in Finland in the hotel lobby, say to the group, “Where’s shitcakes?” with Tony standing right behind her. And then turned around and she says, “Oh, there you are.” So hats off to Sally.
Tim Ferriss: She must have been good at what she did. Yeah.
Morgan Fallon: She was directing that. And I don’t think that that was premeditated on her part. I mean, they were going to go out. They were going to dive for octopus. But as I recall, she said that she kind of knew they were fucked when they got there. Because it was like a popular beach. There’s like tons of people in the water. It’s like this whole thing. The guy shows up, they’re putzing around in the water looking for octopus. Of course there are no octopus there because the water on that beach was probably 20 percent urine. And all of a sudden, so the way Tony described it and we talked to him, we were in Tokyo with him like right after this happened.
And he’s telling us this story. We were sitting in the bar of the Park Hyatt in Tokyo, right where Bill Murray was in Lost In Translation, soaking up just being in that space and being like, “This is the spot where Bill Murray was.” And Tony’s saying like, “You wouldn’t believe it. I was in Sicily. I’m underwater. All of a sudden this dead fucking octopus floats down to the bottom of the ocean. And I realize what’s happening because the other diver goes and claims the octopus, the dead, limp octopus, off the bottom of the ocean and goes to the surface and holds it up as if he’s found the octopus.” And so it was a total setup.
And I think it was actually like a really miserable moment for Tony because when we got to Tokyo, he wasn’t like, “Oh, I’m going to write this thing and it’s going to be great. And we’re going to figure it out, and it’s going to be funny.” He was like, “That was the worst fucking moment of my life.” He went into like a hole of existential angst. You know, in the show he goes and he downs like six Negronis after that, you know?
Tim Ferriss: Oh, yeah. He just fucks off and walks down the beach and just gets beyond the camera. Yeah.
Morgan Fallon: He was genuinely bummed. And the reason he was genuinely bummed is because he felt like it was a breach of exactly what we were talking about, of that authenticity. You know? And the thing that had really been the most important trading capital of the show up until that point was, well not up until that point. I mean, there are other examples of that, and that certainly didn’t break that. But he was bummed about it. I think it’s also a testament to Sally that she was able to say, “Hey, no, there’s something here that’s like really funny and really worth exploring.” And then he wrote to it, and it ends up being this iconic scene. Lots of people talk about it, but what you’re seeing there is a real response from Tony. He was genuinely bummed out, you know?
Tim Ferriss: Yeah.
Morgan Fallon: Genuinely bummed out.
Tim Ferriss: So let me come back to the quote, framed on your wall for second.
Morgan Fallon: Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: And this is going to be a bit of a non sequitur from what we were just talking about.
Morgan Fallon: Yeah, sure.
Tim Ferriss: The plop plop plop, as I recall, the voiceover was something like plop, plop, “And then I realized what was happening.”
Morgan Fallon: Yeah, exactly. That’s right.
Tim Ferriss: These poor, dead octopi are being thrown into the water around him.
Morgan Fallon: Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: Are there any quotes, poems, books, memorabilia, it could be anything that you have found to be meaningful enough to revisit more than once? It could be anything. I’m just thinking about this letter, this email on your wall.
Morgan Fallon: What that I keep around my house?
Tim Ferriss: That you keep around your house, or keep inside your head. It could be anything.
Morgan Fallon: It’s full of stuff. I mean, it’s full of stuff. All right. This is the piece of paper that he was typing. We needed a scene, when we did the Tangiers episode we needed a scene of him typing, right? And so he’s typing and we’re just filming him typing. And this is what he wrote. “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. Call me Ishmael. This is the saddest story ever told. Jackie Brown at 26 with no expression on his face said he could get some guns. You are watching CNN. You’re watching Mind of a Chef. You’re watching Treme on HBO. You’re watching The Layover. You’re watching repeats of No Reservations.” So this is him just freestyle typing. I don’t know why I picked it up. It’s on my wall.
Like life is full of these things. I have shit everywhere from just stuff that I picked up when we were on the road with Tony. I have like an adobe brick from Marfa, a muzzle brake from West Virginia. I have a lighter that Josh Homme gave us when we did the show with Queens of the Stone Age. Just collected crap from everywhere, you know?
Tim Ferriss: I will narrow it down. So let’s assume family, any pets, photo albums, all of that is in the clear. But house is burning down, you can take three to five of these many items that you have.
Morgan Fallon: Fucking let it burn.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Let it all burn. Okay.
Morgan Fallon: I think it’s more in the spirit of Tony. I’m probably grabbing the Emmy.
I don’t know, man. You know honestly, all jokes aside, it all means something to me. Like these are the things I decorate my house with. These are the things I want around. Like, this is the greatest thing I ever got to do in my life, was be with Tony. To travel the world with Tony. To see a world that like a tiny handful of people get to see, because the price of admission as a civilian, as someone who just wanted to go out and do those things, would be so extraordinarily high that you just can’t achieve it. It wasn’t like, oh, we got to go on some sweet vacations. It wasn’t like, oh, I have the money to go to the Maldives and stay in like a sick resort. It wasn’t like that.
We had access. We had things that no one else will ever get because of who Tony was. And that is why this shit is special to me. You cannot do this again. This is not replicable. And I think it’s actually a lesson that the TV industry needs to learn, because I hear a lot of like, “It’s the Bourdain of this. It’s the Bourdain of that. It’s the Bourdain of that.” And you’re like, “No, it’s not because the first word you’re using is Bourdain and that is gone and it’s not coming back.” We’ve got to stop trying.
This was a singular experience. And I think we’re all very aware of that. So yeah, I decorate my house with the detritus of traveling the world with Tony, and I’m fucking proud of it. There’s junk all over my house.
Tim Ferriss: So Tony, and we don’t have to explore this. It’s going to segue to a question about you. Tony obviously had things in his sort of psychological, psycho-emotional bag. As I think you mentioned earlier, you do.
Morgan Fallon: Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: And we all have our demons of different types. You know, battles we’re fighting that no one knows about, or maybe only a few people know about. Before the anxiety and bipolar disorder and so on, what have you found to be most effective in terms of tools or behaviors or anything at all for helping with those things for you?
Morgan Fallon: It’s a work in progress. Bipolar, I mean, I’m still trying to go unmedicated. I don’t want to go on a mood stabilizer. They’re pretty heavy. Consistency is really important. It’s a hard thing to do when you’re traveling the world, is have a consistent schedule. But having a consistent schedule. I have no proof of this. This probably gets into your world and your expertise a lot more than mine.
But I find techno, I listen to a lot of techno, Bluetooth head[phone], and I will listen to seven, eight hours of techno straight while I work. It’s like a metronome for my head. It keeps me planted, on task, clean. So those things. You know, exercise, eating right. All of those. Those are the ways that I’m trying to deal with my bag.
But yeah, we all have them. Tony definitely had plenty of them. But I also think that most of the people on our crew did, you know? We kind of like were a collection of like minds. I don’t want to speak for anyone, but I think what we found in the end when we kind of looked around the room, and these are the people in my life that I hold with the highest regard and like the greatest value, that we were all people who had strong creative capacity, and were all kind of, for one reason or another, kind of, I don’t want to say the island of misfit toys, because it’s so corny. But you know, it’s got kind of an element of that. Like everyone kind of had like a thing that was broken and a thing that they were struggling with, and you kind of knew those things.
But that brokenness, and the kind of pain that comes out of that, I think was critical in terms of looking at the world through the lens that we were trying to look at the world through, where we were trying to see everything. We were trying to see the beauty. We were trying to see the pain. We were trying to see all of it. That’s not a formulaic show. That’s not a show that like everything’s going to end happy every time. It’s not a show where you’re going to hit happy beats every time. It’s not like an upbeat travel show, like, “Oh, today…”
It’s not. It was an exploration of the world in all of the permutations of what that means. And if you don’t understand pain, you don’t understand fear, you don’t know those things, you are never going to be able to see it. You’re not going to be able to see it. And I don’t mean to be dismissive of anyone. But I remember at one point we had a new editor coming on for a show and I talked to him for 10 minutes on the phone and I asked him a few questions. “What’s your favorite shows? What’s your life like? What do you do? What are your hobbies?” and stuff like that. And I called our show runner Sandy Zweig. And I said, “I’m sorry, this isn’t going to work.” And she’s like, “Why?” And I was like, “He’s too fucking happy. His life’s too good. Everything’s okay with him, and he’s not going to get it.” And he didn’t.
And that wasn’t prophetic on my part. It was just knowing that we had to embrace those things. And so you get to the end and what happened happened, and all of those things. And there’s a lot of different ways to analyze that. But what’s, I think, important to note is that those things, that experience of pain, and dealing with those things, was a critical part of making the show. And it came with a lot of shit that like we were kind of all hot to trot at the time, that I look back and I’m like, “Ugh.”
You know, a lot of alcohol, Tim. And I’ll speak only for myself, you know? There was a lot of, I mean, almost daily. I mean, yes, daily. It was drink yourself to sleep. Wake up in the morning. Hammer fucking coffee. Go on adrenaline and caffeine as far as you can, and then start drinking again and come down. And that was the rhythm of the gear shifts every day. And that’s kind of how we got through it. You know?
Tim Ferriss: Why did you stop drinking when Tony died? Is it because you felt that was maybe a contributing factor? Was it for other reasons? And I’m not asking you to speculate. I’d just love to hear your thinking, what your experience was.
Morgan Fallon: I want to be careful about not speculating. I want to be respectful to everyone in Tony’s sphere. I will say this. It is impossible for me to separate alcohol from Tony’s death, and that’s kind of a reality for me, and I feel like other people on the show felt that way as well. Again, I don’t want to speak for them. There’s a lot of people involved in this. There’s a lot of people that have their own journeys. There are people who are a lot closer with Tony than I was.
But I was fairly close with him. And after he died, I could not separate alcohol from his death. I don’t mean that he died because he had been drinking. I just mean that that was part of the calculus. For sure it was in there, and it’s a dangerous drug, and it’s severely underestimated in our culture, you know? And I just couldn’t do it anymore. I like couldn’t. And I went hard for a long time, you know?
Tim Ferriss: So what did that process look like for you, removing that?
Morgan Fallon: Stop drinking.
Tim Ferriss: So was it easy? I mean, was it hard to not?
Morgan Fallon: It was frantic. It was frantic at first.
Tim Ferriss: Tell me more. Yeah.
Morgan Fallon: I stopped drinking. I got a mountain bike and like I swear for the first couple months I was riding. I was riding. Every night I was riding 20 miles a night up on the fire roads outside of my house. And this is in the months after Tony died. I would ride from my house up to the Nike station on Mulholland and back, and it’s 10 miles each way. It’s not the hardest 10 miles. I don’t think I’m Lance Armstrong. I’m definitely not Lance Armstrong. But like, that’s where I was.
I was alone at night riding, and just trying to, I don’t know, trying to make sense of shit. It was dark right after. Like the month after he died, I went pretty hard. I woke up on my lawn one night, you know?
Tim Ferriss: You mean you went hard drinking?
Morgan Fallon: Yeah. I drank like a bottle of tequila, woke up on my lawn, scared myself. I have two young kids, you know? And I was like, this must end, you know? So.
Tim Ferriss: Good for you, man.
Morgan Fallon: Well, yeah. A lot of people do it, and they all need credit. You know, it’s a hard thing to do.
Tim Ferriss: Let me ask you a related question.
Morgan Fallon: Sure.
Tim Ferriss: As I watched Roadrunner, which I thought it was well done. I’m sure it’s imperfect, but there were some takeaways, takeaways or perspectives that seemed to be shared by more than one person. And one of them was that when Tony was doing jiu-jitsu seriously, he was in perhaps in one of the better places, psycho-emotionally speaking.
Morgan Fallon: Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: And parallel with that, I’m thinking about something you said earlier in this conversation that I just want to highlight, because I’m not sure people understand just what it requires. And that is running through the wilderness with a 50-pound backpack with a camera on your shoulder, being able to use one hand. And maybe the technology has changed, but when you and I were spending time together and I was able to watch you film, this is not an iPhone that you’re using to film. This is a significant rig. I don’t know how much it weighs. I mean, what would you say at the time? I don’t know. 20 plus pounds, for sure, I would imagine.
Morgan Fallon: Yeah, probably 20 plus pounds. We were on slightly bigger cameras for The Tim Ferriss Experiment than what we used like with MeatEater. MeatEater was slightly smaller cameras. But it doesn’t really matter. I mean —
Tim Ferriss: It’s incredibly physical.
Morgan Fallon: Yeah. It’s very physical. There were days we were doing 15 miles of back country. That may not sound like a lot. That’s a fair amount when you’re doing it day to day, when you’re in snow, when you’re in like environments that you’re not on a trail, you’re in back country, you know? So there’s a lot of, again, I’m not trying to pretend like I’m super rugged, but it definitely took some doing.
Tim Ferriss: You’re pretty rugged, man. I mean, I don’t want to overstate it, but you’re pretty rugged. And where I was going with that is you’ve been very physical, which I’m speculating, but I would imagine that’s been good medicine for you to be that.
Morgan Fallon: A hundred percent. Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: What are your versions of jiu-jitsu? Like the activities that seem to nourish you and counterbalance, maybe, some of these things that you’re carrying in your bag, right? The anxiety, the bipolar, et cetera. When would people say you are at your best? What type of activities?
Morgan Fallon: What are my hobbies?
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, sure.
Morgan Fallon: Surfing. Mountain biking. And I was really into racquetball for a long time, but my knee’s been a little tough on me with racquetball. Those things for me, when you’re doing them, you’re not doing anything else. You know, surfing’s got a solitary element to it that’s almost like meditation. It doesn’t even matter if you’re really catching waves. I mean, that’s like a bonus. But you’re sitting there. You have the rhythm of the ocean. You’re thinking. You’re processing things.
But you’re on liquid, and you’re staring out at the ocean waiting for waves. It’s unbelievable. I mean, it’s very, very centering. I mean, there’s a reason that there are stereotypes of surfers. You know, it’s true. You get a surfer [inaudible 02:01:57] to you. I like mountain biking because it’s really physical. It’s like a real grind. It really pushes your heart rate. But also when you’re doing, like I said, I like the kind of enduro style stuff. You got a lot of shit coming at you fast and you’re making a lot of calculations, a lot of decisions. I like that. It’s very dynamic. And I tend to like solitary kind of sports.
Racquetball is just fast. For anyone who knows racquetball, it’s a killer game. You know, you’re looking for kill shots. You’re playing strategy. You’re playing geometry and looking for opportunities to execute kill shots. And it’s a blast, you know? I don’t know. I like aggressive shit. And I like shit that like keeps your heart rate way up, you know? So.
Tim Ferriss: All right, I’m going to use the door that was just opened, the use of the word geometry. And then we’re going to go to muzzle brake in West Virginia, because we made a promise earlier to come back to West Virginia.
Morgan Fallon: Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: But I mentioned the dance and I remember watching, and this is segueing into the geometry. And you really need kind of two players in the game maybe to fully visualize this.
Morgan Fallon: At least.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah at least, which is why I wanted to be mention Marcus Lehman, who was also working on Tim Ferriss Experiment. Great guy, very skilled. And watching the two of you guys dance with geometry was so fun to the extent that it was almost not distracting, but I was so intrigued. And almost just puzzled by how you guys could pull it off. So for someone who has no idea what the fuck I’m talking about, could you just explain how geometry plays into what we were doing or what you would do with Steve and so on?
Morgan Fallon: Sure. So if you picture it in a basic sense. Say you have two characters who are talking to each other. They’re standing in a room, and they’re facing each other. This is a very simple setup. We are not a scripted show. There is no script. We need to capture as much of that conversation for the edit as possible in real time. When you’re on a scripted show, you can shoot one camera on one angle of that conversation. And then you can move the camera to the other angle of that conversation, and shoot the other side. So you’re shooting one character first, and you move and you shoot the other character. When we’re doing documentary stuff, you can’t do that. You need to get it in the moment. So we have at least two cameras.
And so one camera is shooting one angle on character A, and one camera shooting the other angle on character B. Now that’s the basic setup. And you could just stand there and you could be in one frame size and whatever, and you could cover the conversation, and the editor will cut back and forth between those two cameras as they see fit. But it’s going to be boring. You want to add dynamics, so you’re going to need to add movement to that scenario. You’re going to need to move your characters around the room. You’re going to need to allow them to go on some endeavor. They need to accomplish some goal. They need to do whatever. So they start moving, and now the geometry is always changing. Now you need to be shooting both sides of that interaction.
You also need to be shooting your insert shots. You need to be shooting wider shots to give you a context of the environment. You need to be shooting all of the supporting footage that tells you where you are and what those characters are doing. And you need to have that in your head, and you can’t talk out loud. I can talk on the walkie a little bit to the other camera operator, but when you’re really doing it well and I guess again, there’s a million different ways to do this so there’s all kinds of different ways that people achieve this. But when you’re doing it really well with someone who really knows what they’re doing, you know inherently, I know because of the action, because of where the other camera’s standing, because I know what their shot is.
I know where their lens is. I know where their background is. I know where not to cross into their shot. I know what they have. And so you’re simultaneously watching them in understanding what they’re covering and where they are. And you’re reacting to that. Or you’re establishing your shot, and they’re reacting to you. When it’s really good, it moves that way without conversation. And after you shoot with someone for a while, you really get into a rhythm where you both know what the other person has, you know what the other person’s shooting. And as your characters move around the world, as they do their thing, you know how to move together to maintain that coverage. There’s a variable in that which dictates a lot of this, which is called the 180 degree rule.
So picture this, there’s a car moving along a bridge. And you are shooting from a helicopter out on the passenger side of the car tracking along with it. You can picture that?
Tim Ferriss: Got it.
Morgan Fallon: The frame, the direction of the car then if you’re doing that is moving from frame right to frame left. That is the way that the action moves. If you then cut to a shot from the driver’s side tracking —
Tim Ferriss: Wait a second. Let me, could you say that one more time? So I’m imagining in my head, I’m in the helicopter passenger side —
Morgan Fallon: You could draw it up.
Tim Ferriss: No, no. Passenger side is on the right hand side of the car.
Morgan Fallon: Passenger side is on right hand side of the car. And you’re moving along with them and the car is going along. And so when you see that shot on the screen, the car is moving in a direction that is from the left hand side of the screen —
Tim Ferriss: Left side.
Morgan Fallon: Left side. I messed it up. Left hand side of the screen to the right hand side of the screen. The car is pointed to the right. Now, if you go and you switch over and you shoot from the driver’s side, what direction is the car going when it goes on screen?
Tim Ferriss: Going the opposite.
Morgan Fallon: It’s going the opposite right to left. You’ve crossed 180 degree line. I don’t believe a lot of these rules are just set up to be broken. So there’s a lot of variables in there. But in a basic sense, you are confusing your audience because the car that was going left to right is now going right to left. And that is confusing when you’re following the continuity of an edit. The same thing with a conversation. If you have two characters, and the cameras are standing on the same side of those characters, you have one character which is looking screen direction left. And then you have one character that’s looking screen direction right, and you’re cutting in between of those. Now, if one of those cameras crosses that line, you now have two characters either looking screen direction right or screen direction left. And when you try to cut between them, it won’t make sense because they both look like they’re looking away from each other.
Tim Ferriss: Now just a quick, I was just going to say. It’s like when it’s done well, you don’t notice it, but when it’s screwed up, you really notice. And I was watching a super high budget scripted show. I’m not going to mention the name. And they messed this up. It was a bunch of royalty seated at a long table on one side having a conversation. And it was so confusing to my brain, that it was uncomfortable.
Morgan Fallon: I think what people don’t appreciate a lot is that you need to establish the geometry of your environment in order for people to understand what’s going on in a physical sense when you’re in a scene. And there’s a lot of tricks to doing that. And there are some things that you can do that break that. And that’s one of the things that you can do that breaks that. So, but now picture you have two characters who are now, I keep thinking of the one we did in Vegas where you’re basically —
Tim Ferriss: What did we call that episode? It wasn’t the gambling. We did two in Vegas. We did the poker, the heads up poker.
Morgan Fallon: Not poker.
Tim Ferriss: And then we did the evasive driving.
Morgan Fallon: Evasive. Yes, that one.
Tim Ferriss: Evasive tactics. Because it was also on foot. It was getting out of zip ties and —
Morgan Fallon: Yeah, exactly. So you have to two characters moving around in a dynamic environment there, and they’re constantly crossing each other. They’re constantly crossing the line. They’re constantly moving around. Now you need to know where that 180 degree line is all the time. And both your cameras need to be tuned up enough to move with that line and reestablish that line without thinking about it and without talking. And that’s the dance that you’re seeing. So when you talk about the dance, the dance is really maintaining that coverage in a way that is going to make sense for the editor and ultimately makes sense for the audience. And it is difficult to learn. And once you do learn it, like with anything else that’s fun to do, it’s a blast. It’s really cool to work with someone that understands how that works.
Tim Ferriss: Now, I don’t know if this is the schedule we had was normal. If it is, I don’t know how the hell you guys do it for so long.
Morgan Fallon: Pretty normal.
Tim Ferriss: I remember we had whatever it was, 13 weeks of shooting and it was five or six days of shooting half a day to a day of transition to another location if necessary. And then you’re right back into shooting. And then I was reviewing rough cuts and so on at night, which was just a really incredible introduction to the velocity of that type of production. But what I was going to say is it also makes it sometimes hard to remember because there were moving pieces and sometimes people wouldn’t be available for a week or two. Were you on the New York City episode with Josh Waitzkin and Maurice Ashley?
Morgan Fallon: That was amazing.
Tim Ferriss: So I want to mention one scene because A. it’s a super fun scene, but it also demonstrates how well shooters can dance this dance in a complex environment. You probably know where I’m going, but this is Grandmaster Maurice Ashley playing this —
Morgan Fallon: My God. One of the most favorite things I’ve ever seen.
Tim Ferriss: It’s incredible. And people can find this clip actually on the YouTube channel for Grandmaster Maurice Ashley. And I want to see how many views it has now. It’s got nine million views. This is just such an incredible scene in Washington Square Park.
Morgan Fallon: It was amazing.
Tim Ferriss: And so maybe you could just walk us through, since this is a real world example. If you recall, just what were some of the considerations, what was happening? Because we’re sitting in Washington Square Park, it’s freezing out, people are wearing their winter clothing. And this is where, well A. Josh Waitzkin, who was the basis for Searching for Bobby Fischer, both the book and the movie, played as a little kid. It’s where in the details from Maurice Ashley, “it’s where the late great Vinnie Livermore used to beat my ass at the same table,” this is from him. Maybe you could just, if you remember any of the experience, just walk through because this is complex. This is, it seems to me at least, hard to get right. And it just came out so, so well.
Morgan Fallon: So I don’t remember the specifics of the blocking. I remember it was one of the coolest things that I’ve ever seen because you had this grandmaster chess player sit down with a New York City street hustler. And listen, I don’t know shit about chess, but I know that those New York City street hustlers are damn good chess players and they play fast.
Tim Ferriss: They can play.
Morgan Fallon: And we watched a grandmaster sit down and devour this cat as if he just didn’t even exist. It was like when they talk about —
Tim Ferriss: Return fire with shit talking in equal measure.
Morgan Fallon: That’s right. And called him out when he tried to, when he tried to knock the pieces over and hustle him. It reminded me there was a famous quote, I forget the name of the Crow scout who was working with the US cavalry when Custer was decimated at Little Big Horn. But they asked him after how long it took, and he said, “About as long as it takes a hungry man to eat a sandwich.” And that’s how we described Custer getting taken down at Little Big Hor, and that’s how I would describe that grandmaster running through that cat. He fucking devoured him. It was so satisfying to watch. Not because I have anything against the street hustler by the way. But just to see someone that proficient at something was incredible.
Tim Ferriss: It was great.
Morgan Fallon: I don’t remember the specific blocking, but this is what I would say in remembering that scene and thinking about how I would go into that. So you know a couple things going in. You know that it’s going to be all about their energy between them. And so you’re looking at tight shots of eyes. You’re looking at establishing their connection, establishing the board and you have two things going on. The connection between them, and the shit talking and all that stuff. And then what’s going on on the board, and you’ve got to cover on the board too.
Tim Ferriss: And then you’ve got to cover the board too.
Morgan Fallon: I’m getting to that part. I’m getting to that part because in their dynamic, you need to cover the game. You need to cover the game, but you need to be quick enough to know that you’ve got to get up to the two shot. You also got to establish the environment. And part of the environment and part of what you know is going to tell the story is the reaction of the people that are standing around.
So you’ve got to get out to those wide shots, got to see where the crowd is, got to see where everyone is placed. Got to get in on the details of the game, got to get in on their rapport. And then you’ve got to start search the audience, that crowd that was standing there for the telling reaction shots. And so what I’m standing in an environment like that, I’ll be doing my coverage looking around and when any moment I get, I’m looking up and I’m like, who’s the most expressive here? Who’s the person that’s going to come out with the big line? Who’s the person that’s going to — and I think I remember that day, someone being eventually to the street hustler guy, patting him on the shoulder and being, do you know who this is? Am I right about that?
I feel like he at one point someone was —
Tim Ferriss: There was a funny moment. There was, absolutely.
Morgan Fallon: Exactly. And so it’s looking for that and understanding in two cameras you know that the people that are on your side of the line, the other camera’s going to have them, and the people that are on the other side of the line, you have them. And that’s how you divvy up the responsibility. But if you miss it, you miss it. And remember, these are not actors. You cannot go back. You cannot get those original reactions again, you have to get it in the moment. And that’s where it gets back to Tony. And when he said, “You be fast.” And he was right about that. And it pissed a lot of people off, a lot of people come onto the show and be like, this is fucked. We don’t get time to set up. We don’t get something to do that. And I’d be like, dude, you are not cut out for this show or not just dude, a lot of women in our line of work too.
But you’re not going to make it here because what you don’t understand is that you’re fucking it up by trying to get it right. You got to learn how to not miss it the first time. And it might not be perfect and it might not be pretty, but you’ve got to get it. And that’s how I would think about a scene like that. The most important element being that it doesn’t happen again, happens once.
Tim Ferriss: 100 percent. And what made that scene —
Morgan Fallon: It was delightful.
Tim Ferriss: — so gratifying is that Maurice is a handsome, charismatic Morpheus in a black leather jacket —
Morgan Fallon: He does look like Morpheus.
Tim Ferriss: — and can also just murder people on the chess board and trash talks really well. So it’s so fun. We’ll put a link in the show notes.
Morgan Fallon: That’s worth watching.
Tim Ferriss: So that’s what I’m pulling up, because you may never guess who I texted. So I texted John Bedolis and Chris Vivion. And so John directed a ton of these Tim Ferriss Experiment episodes. And so I asked him what topics and questions he thought might be fun to explore. So —
Morgan Fallon: Going to be interesting.
Tim Ferriss: Well he had some good ones.
Morgan Fallon: I bet.
Tim Ferriss: I’ll start with, and there are many different ways we could go here, but from DP to director to showrunner, what skills or habits do you find help most in transitioning from a more narrowly creative role to a broader creative role with more managing responsibilities. So there are many ways to approach this. I suppose the simplest way would just be to say, what advice would you give to someone who is really technical and good at one thing? They deliver. They’re really exceptional, and they hope to embrace or they’re being asked to embrace a role that is broader with managerial responsibilities. What advice would you give to your younger self as you were doing that or to someone else who’s in a similar position?
Morgan Fallon: Get ready to relinquish control. Because if you don’t, you’re going to smother the people who are working under you. You need to trust them. And you need to be able to work with the people who need work in a proactive manner to get them to the place where you need them to be, because you are not going to be able to control everything anymore. When you have the camera in your hand, you have this tiny little world in the viewfinder, and you can control every aspect of it. As you start to climb the ladder up to directing and then to showrunning, you need to depend on other people. So part of that is bringing good people in. The other part is understanding when you need to let people do their job.
Tim Ferriss: Well, let’s get super specific. So this, I would imagine, is super hard for people who are very proficient in something they are now supervising. You were talking about with the DPs. And you’re just like, “You sure that’s the right shot? Why don’t you move over a little bit? I think maybe… Why don’t… Maybe a little tighter?” So does it mean just picking your battles well, and letting things go that you can let go, but holding a really strong line on certain quality decisions where you need to push a little bit? I’d just love to hear because it doesn’t sound easy to just flip the switch.
Morgan Fallon: I don’t think it is easy. And I think it took me some time, and I had times when I blew up at camera operators or DPs that I really regret because it was exactly the wrong way to go about things. And I had, I had a DP who I really, really respect. We had a pretty vicious exchange in the field one time, and he came to me after he’s like, “Dude.” He’s like, “You took what was just a lovely, delightful day where we were getting great stuff, and you fucking murdered it over a detail. And you’ve ruined the whole vibe of the day in the shoot.” And that was really profound for me. And I thought about that a lot. For what? Because he missed a shot that I knew was there. I know I was right.
I know the shot was there. I knew the shot would make the edit. I knew it was important. Why I had to rip his head off about it, I have no idea now. I don’t do that anymore. So I think that one aspect is just finding ways to approach what you need to get in a way that’s positive and proactive. We worked with Angelo Dundee when we were doing Ali. Angelo Dundee’s, to just fill everyone in who doesn’t know Angelo Dundee, was Ali’s trainer. So one of the great boxing trainers of all time. So you want to talk about a level of expectation and perfection. That is operating at the very highest level of that, but he wouldn’t come in and be like, “Hey, dude, your jab sucks. And what the fuck? Why am I wasting my time on blah, blah, blah, all this stuff?”
He would come to Ali and he’d be like, “Hey, I was watching your jab. You’re doing really good with that jab. I love the way that you’re doing this,” even if it was something that Ali wasn’t doing, he was trying to point out something to get a response, to get him to focus on a particular aspect of that movement. And I think that’s really important in finding ways to work with people and get what you want in a way that is a little smarter than just coming out and just hammering folks. I don’t —
Tim Ferriss: So what might you have said to that guy, the newer version of you? How might you have handled that situation?
Morgan Fallon: In retrospect now I think the number one thing is I would stay calm. I didn’t stay calm in that moment because I was dying because I knew I needed a shot. But I think I would stay calm and say, “Hey, listen, this is happening right now. You need to break off, let go of what you’re doing. Don’t worry about the shot that you’re on. We’re fine on that. I got it in post, but we need this right now.” I think that’s a pretty easy explanation. But we tend not to do that because we’re so controlling that in the moment it feels like you’re losing control, and that’s not the truth. I think that as you get older, you get more experience with management. Unless you are going to be a Jim Cameron or a Michael Mann, unless you’re going to be a tyrant, which, trust me, that’s 20 hours a day of work, hard work.
I’m not that, and I’m not going to do it. And I never was. And I don’t want to treat people like that. And listen, no shade on them. What they do is unbelievable. But I think I know myself enough now to know that that’s not how the style and how I’m going to accomplish what I need to accomplish. I think it’s building people up now and saying I trust you. Think about it this way. Think about it this way. Try this. I know from experience, I can tell you that this is going to work. But I don’t know, being willing to work with people.
Tim Ferriss: So let’s come back to that muzzle brake on your shelf. Maybe you could explain what a muzzle brake is to people. And then, and let’s talk about the return to West Virginia and why it matters.
Morgan Fallon: A muzzle brake, first of all, it’s a way to dispense the energy of the bullet coming out of the gun. It can provide accuracy and safety by basically pushing the energy of the— firing the bullet out to the sides. This muzzle brake was made by JMac Customs in West Virginia, which is cool because they’re an independent operation, which takes people who were laid off in coal mines and various other extractive industries that have left West Virginia, and puts them to work and trains them as machinists. And they do high quality work. I’m not particularly into guns, but I respect what they’re doing. And I’ll probably get a little bit of commentary online about my understanding of the dynamics of muzzle brakes, but that’s what I know.
Tim Ferriss: That’s what the Internet’s for.
Morgan Fallon: West Virginia for me, and this is a very personal story, so if everyone can bear with me. West Virginia for me was the most important thing that I ever did. And then when I say West Virginia, I’m talking about the Parts Unknown episode of West Virginia. I had lived in West Virginia when I was a kid, and my family went through a pretty tough time when we were there. My parents were on the rocks. West Virginia can be a tough place, especially in that time. It’s a place that’s been hit really hard by the dynamics of extractive industries and capitalism. And listen, I’m not bitching about capitalism. I believe in capitalism, maybe not our particular form of it, but for the most part, I believe in it. But you have a state that was really predicated on the coal industry.
And as soon as they found easier, cheaper coal in China and in Wyoming, they just dropped those people like they didn’t even exist. And so it created a tough environment. And I grew up in, to some degree in West Virginia, in an environment that was tough. We didn’t have running water, electricity, et cetera. There’s also some things I remember about it. They were very fond, but it was a really formative moment in my life. And I had really bad associations with West Virginia for a long time. And I just wouldn’t think about it. Wouldn’t go there. I went back in 2003 after I stopped working for Michael Mann, and I happened to be there in southern West Virginia when there was really bad flooding. And I saw these people and had this moment where I was just like, you’re talking about the heart and soul of America. They are, especially when you get down to southern West Virginia, that is a mixed group of white folks, black folks who came to that area to build lives for themselves, and in the process built this country.
And we basically shit on them. We engage in these ridiculous hyperbolic stereotypes of who they are. We consider them to be uneducated. And how many jokes do you know about hillbillies? It’s not true. These are the hardest working, most independent, rugged self-determining people. And that’s the reason they went to those mountains in the first place. They are the heart of who we’re supposed to be as a country, and I think we’ve seen, and I don’t want to dive into politics here, but I think we’ve seen the result of what happens when you shit on those people and you ignore them. They get fucking angry, and they’ve got a right to. I always wanted to go back and make a show from what I saw there and the hardships that those folks were going through.
And so we were in Antarctica with Tony, and I pitched him on a West Virginia show, and he was stoked on doing it. And so we got to go back to the town of Welch in McDowell County. McDowell County is the county it’s the highest percentage population loss in the United States for any county over the past 50 years. It’s a place that’s just been decimated. It’s always number two or three on the most impoverished county’s list in the United States. And we went there and I had this moment where I was taking Tony to a place where there’s no restaurants, there’s no food. It’s literally a food desert. Is he going to connect with this place? Is he going to see what I feel I saw, which was what I feel we were always looking for to some degree in the show, which was the beauty that’s underneath that surface level. And we went there. We go through the first couple days of shooting, and then Tony starts tweeting these tweets, “Nothing moves me like this place.” He just, all these really beautiful, wonderful —
And I had this moment where I was like “Yeah, dude, it’s Tony man. Of course he gets it. Of course he gets what you’re trying to show him. Of course he gets these people in this place.” And I think it was so important because it showed on a show called Parts Unknown, we’re going to central Appalachia in the United States. I think it showed his ability to walk into a context and environment. This is right after Trump was elected, by the way. To walk into a context and environment and see people for who they really are, not who, what our perception of them is. Not based on his political feelings. Not based on anything but just the evidence of sitting down with someone and saying “What are your values? What does life mean to you? What do you want? What are you looking for?” And as soon as he saw who they were, he responded to it.
We made this beautiful show. It was one of the few shows that we got to do where CNN gave us extra time. They gave us an extended episode. Show won an Emmy, and I sent the Emmy back to Welch, and it’s in Welch. It’s in someone’s house.
Tim Ferriss: That’s amazing. How cool.
Morgan Fallon: And it was just, for me personally, for me professionally in every way, it was… it was This is full circle. This is how you make peace with something that’s painful in your childhood. You go and you confront it and you find out what’s really there beneath the surface. And then you try to be benevolent about what it is, and I guess that’s in part — now I’m kind of making this a little bit of a leap, but like we said earlier, looking for the gift in something. Like here’s this thing that was really painful for me as a child, but here was this tremendous gift in it, which was an understanding of this place and a connection to it that allowed us to go and do something within our own country, looking at ourselves, at a time when we critically need it, because we are fucking falling apart if you haven’t noticed.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Yeah. Anyone who hasn’t noticed, man.
Morgan Fallon: We need to connect with each other —
Tim Ferriss: It might be time to take another look at things.
Morgan Fallon: We need to talk to each other. We need to be good to each other.
Tim Ferriss: How are you choosing the projects that you work on now and how did you end up becoming involved with United Shades of America?
Morgan Fallon: Yeah, that was great. I mean, this was like — again, this is like one of those lucky moments where you’re like, “Oh, well obviously I’m going to do that.” We had taken Kamau Bell to Kenya on Parts Unknown, and we wanted to do — CNN wanted to do a crossover show. Kamau has a Kenyan name though — and I don’t know what his genetic descent is, but probably West African, not East African, but —
Tim Ferriss: For those who don’t know, who is Kamau?
Morgan Fallon: He’s a comedian from Oakland, Black comedian from Oakland who has really, I think, carved out like a niche for himself dealing in identity and cultural issues in the United States, but from a comedic lens, and has been someone who’s really been willing to sit down with the other and have honest conversations with them, but do it in a way that is not so heavily laden. He is really kind of brilliant at that. Again. I mean, one of these people that I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to work with because he’s super smart, super dynamic, and is doing something at a time in America where I really believe we need it, where we are talking about these things head on. His current project, which I had absolutely nothing to do with, is the four-part documentary on Showtime on Bill Cosby, and I think it’s really brave of Kamau to come out and be willing to have that conversation. A lot of people weren’t.
So that’s kind of — that’s who he is. We took him to Kenya simply because his name is Kenyan. Kamau in Kenya is like Dan here. It’s just like, you look at the phone book and it’s like half the people in the phone book are Kamaus. We went, we shot this awesome show there. So cool. Went on safari. We were like three feet from lions. And the safari, we saw black rhinos, white rhinos, hung out with the Maasai, hung out in Nairobi, which was an incredible, incredible city, again with a really young, really vibrant, really hard-working population — that is another place that is just driving this kind of, I don’t, how does one even say it? I mean, Africa’s on fire right now, and I believe it’s the next real growth place. I mean, with some hot centers around Lagos and Nairobi and Accra and other places.
But shot this great show. And at the end of it, I kind of like — and with a little bit of scumbaggery producerness said “Hey, listen, if you’re ever dissatisfied with your production company, or if you ever just want to make a change…” I shouldn’t say dissatisfied because I don’t want to put words in his mouth “…we’d love to work with you.” And we got a call a year later, and he wanted to I guess try something new. So we’ve been lucky enough to do that. And again, I feel very, very lucky in that because at a time when — again, we’re bleeding, man. This great, incredible country that we have, we’re hurting. And we’ve got to be — we’ve got to be able to talk about these things with each other without ripping each other’s heads off, and more and more it feels like we’re just ripping each other’s heads off.
So whereas my life was really focused on the external world, the world outside of the United States for so many years with Tony, I felt like at a time when we really needed to look inward, I got a chance to — have gotten a chance to do that with Kamau. And it’s been amazing. Learned a tremendous amount about we are, and have seen some shit that I can’t unsee. I feel like it’s so hard for us as white Americans to get a glimpse into what it’s like to be Black in this country, and I will never know that, and I know that I will never know that, but I’ve been able to see with much clearer resolution than I think a lot of people get to see what that experience is like, and I can’t unsee it now. You know. So… For whatever that’s worth. Like Black America gives a shit what I have to say about anything, but —
Tim Ferriss: Well, I mean, be that as it may, as you mentioned, these are hard conversations to have, but if the conversations aren’t had, we’re fucked.
Morgan Fallon: What are we going to do?
Tim Ferriss: I mean, yeah, and it’s —
Morgan Fallon: What are we going to do?
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. I mean, then what, right? What’s Plan B in that case? And it struck me, as you mentioned —
Morgan Fallon: We know what Plan B is. All you’ve got to do is read history. You know what Plan B is? Plan B is blood, man. Plan B is not good.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. So better to go with Plan A. And I was struck — I didn’t know about this, but when you mentioned that Kamau was working on this, you said miniseries for Showtime or like a —
Morgan Fallon: Yeah. Four-part series.
Tim Ferriss: Four-part docuseries on Bill Cosby.
Morgan Fallon: Yeah. Just premiered. Yeah.
Tim Ferriss: And I don’t know the content, I don’t know the angle, I don’t know him, not referring to Bill but referring to Kamau, but that is a ballsy move.
Morgan Fallon: Very.
Tim Ferriss: That’s a bold move, and I applaud that. However people may feel about Bill Cosby, to make a character study and a historical study of that, I think, is — it seems important, right? It seems important.
Morgan Fallon: But we have to — again, we have to talk about it. We want to fix these issues, you have to talk about it. But, again, for Kamau, and I don’t want to speak out of turn here, but as a Black comedian, I look at what Bill Cosby did. I mean, Bill Cosby broke more goddamn barriers. What he accomplished was amazing, and that’s why I think that what ended up coming out about Bill Cosby, which is pretty irrefutable, despite the fact that he is now walking the streets free, that is soul-crushing. That is hard to face. That is hard to deal with when you’ve looked at this as a person who has been able to transcend a lot of the boundaries that have held you down. So I think as a Black American to do that and to take that on head on is damn gutsy. I think he should be applauded for that regardless, again, of how you feel about Cosby and the cases surrounding Cosby in particular.
Tim Ferriss: So what’s next for you? What are you most hoping to do or looking forward to doing in the next few years for yourself?
Morgan Fallon: Oh, man, I’m just waiting for crickets to walk by.
Tim Ferriss: Waiting for crickets. You seem to have —
Morgan Fallon: You know when you know, right?
Tim Ferriss: — an uncanny ability to be in the right spots and to pick the right crickets, I must say. You are an excellent spider. You’re a fantastic, fantastic spider.
Morgan Fallon: I don’t honestly know, Tim. I mean, you want to keep — you want to keep progressing, right? You want to keep building, and you want to see how far you can go. I’m open, man. I’m open. I want new challenges just like everyone else, and we’ll see where that goes.
Tim Ferriss: I have another Bedolis question, and I’m going to read it exactly as he texted it to me because I love the brevity. It’s almost like a haiku. So I would probably reword this just because I’m a different person, but I love it in its current form, so I’m going to read it. Here we go. “You work with your wife, period. Potentially loaded situation, period. How do you deal, question mark?” So this is, though, I think a question that applies to a lot of people. How have you navigated or made rules around or figured out how to coexist and collaborate with a spouse?
Morgan Fallon: Honestly, be willing to lose, and be honest about what is right in a particular situation. I think that we spend so much time — I think a lot of times in relationships, we spend so much time trying to prove that we are in control and competent. I think, again, it is giving someone the respect to give them space and allow them to take control of a situation. I mean, we do that at home with the kids, we do that in our household, we do it at work.
And I don’t know, I came up with this concept — wait, I didn’t come up with it. What the fuck am I talking about? I tapped into an age-old concept that I feel like has some wisdom to it, which is this idea of strategic loss. Be willing to lose some battles. What are you trying to prove? It’s your wife. I mean, she’s not going anywhere. I hope. I needed to do a couple of things to make it all work. And this is the life I want. I want to work with my wife. I want to travel around the world with my wife. I want to be as much a part of helping her build her career as I want to build my own.
But it took, for me, coming to the point where I had to be like, “You are going to have to — you’re going to have to learn how to lose, not be right about everything, give her space, let her learn. let her teach you, and follow through on the shit that you say you’re going to do.” And to me, it is like number one relationship killer, right? If we’re just talking about the relationships is like you say you’re going to do something, do it. Don’t not do it. You’re breaking trust. And when it came down to my wife going back to work after she raised the kids and went through two home births without medication, I have to mention that because she’s rugged as shit.
Tim Ferriss: Match made in Heaven for [inaudible].
Morgan Fallon: That’s right. I said to her, “If you go back to work, I will learn how to do this stuff. I promise you. I will follow through on my end of holding up the family. My end of the household duties.
Tim Ferriss: When you say learning how to do this stuff, you mean handling —
Tim Ferriss: — the kids and so on?
Morgan Fallon: Yeah. It’s hard.
Tim Ferriss: That was perfect timing.
Morgan Fallon: Yeah, they’re there.
Tim Ferriss: Cue kid audio.
Morgan Fallon: Hi, sweetheart.
[Child’s voice]: There’s a daddy long-legs.
Morgan Fallon: I think that that’s going to be okay.
[Child’s voice]: In the house.
Morgan Fallon: There’s a daddy long-leg in the house?
[Child’s voice]: No, on the painting. On our painting.
Morgan Fallon: I’ll come handle it, sweetheart. I just got to finish this up, though. So give me 10 minutes, okay? Give me 10 or 15 minutes. You don’t have to worry about that.
[Child’s voice]: I don’t want to go in the house.
Morgan Fallon: I do need some space though, love. Give a hug. You say hi to Tim? Do you say hi to Tim?
[Child’s voice]: Hello.
Tim Ferriss: Hello.
[Child’s voice]: What’s [inaudible] doing?
Tim Ferriss: Oh, man.
Morgan Fallon: You can come play with it after, sweetie.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, yeah.
Morgan Fallon: I love you. All right. I’ll be in a sec.
Tim Ferriss: I’m so glad I slipped her that 20 to make that appearance and talk about spiders. It was perfect.
Morgan Fallon: But I mean, for me it was realizing that anyone who doesn’t think that taking care of kids and the household isn’t a full-time, professional job just has not done the work and does not understand what goes into it. It is a full-time gig. And if my wife was going to go back to work and we were going to have this future where we could work together, I had to be willing to ante up. I did, and it made all the difference. But what a dream, right? I mean, just to put this in perspective a little, and I don’t want to cry on my own violin here, but when Tony died, Gillian and I had just finished co-directing, co-producing the second Parts Unknown that we made for him.
And it was in Florence. It’s a show that has not aired. It was never finished. We shot it a week before Tony died. And we were sitting with Tony on the last day and he turned to Gillian and he gave her his seal of approval and said, “I like this. I like working with you. We’re going to do this a lot more. I just signed another three years, and buckle up. Get ready.” And that was the last interaction the three of us had together. And Jill and I went home that night and we looked at each other and we’re like, “We did it. We did it, man. This is the dream. We’re on the coolest fucking show on TV, the best ride you can possibly go on. If you are a sensualist who wants to see the world, this is it, man. It doesn’t get better in this. We’re doing it together. We’re able to bring our kids.”
The next show that we talked about potentially doing was in Kyoto. Who doesn’t want to do that? We had the dream, and we had worked really hard to get there. And a week later, that was gone, and that was a tough blow. And so I don’t know. We’ve just focused in on like, “Okay, cool. How do we get back there?” I mean, man, that’s so important to me.
Tim Ferriss: Well, sounds like you have a great —
Morgan Fallon: She’s like super, super good at what she does, though. It makes it makes it easy. Now she’s out growing me though, because everyone wants her.
Tim Ferriss: Quality problems. And sounds like you have — sounds like you both have great co-pilots for kids and daddy long-legs and everything in between.
Morgan Fallon: Going pretty well.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah, man. Well, Mo, let me do this, because I know you have a lot going on over there and we’ve already been going for almost three hours.
Morgan Fallon: I had so much fun.
Tim Ferriss: This is so great, man. It’s so wonderful to see you, and I’m so happy to see you doing so well with the family. And is there anything else you would like to say, share? Any requests you’d like to make of the audience? Any complaints about the podcast you’d like to state publicly? Anything at all that you’d like to add before we wind to close here?
Morgan Fallon: Oh, man. There’s so many things. Like when we were going to do this, I was just going through all these incredible experiences in my mind, and it’s too much to get into one thing. But I did want to talk about one day that I felt like it was really the best day of my career, and I feel like really got to typify, like what the whole experience was about. And, and I don’t know if this will make the cut or anything. Anyone wants to hear my anecdotes, but we did this show in Antarctica, which was a huge show for us. And I think was really — it was a real expression of what I was talking about. Like, you can’t buy this ride. You got to earn this with something special like that show.
We get invited to go down to Antarctica, and it’s like — I mean, you know now. You’ve been. You fly to Christchurch, hop a C-130 to McMurdo, and then from McMurdo, we hopped another C-130 to the South Pole. Like we had our own C-130. Like how ridiculous is that? But me and Tony and the crew — actually, the show was directed by Erik Osterholm, which I got to give him mad props for getting us down there, and produced by Josh Ferrell, who’s also just a great producer. And Co-DP on that was Fred Menou, who’s a gifted cinematographer. And we also had Josh Flannigan, who is one of our other DPs, who’s also just as gifted, on the show. So we had this incredible crew, we had our own frigging C-130 flying around.
And we did this thing where we went out to place called Dry Valleys, which is like — it’s kind of like the get if you go to Antarctica, you hang out at McMurdo. Dry Valleys is interesting because they’ve had no precipitation for like 10,000 years, right? So you’re in Antarctica but it looks like you’re in the desert. People don’t know this. There’s places in Antarctica where there’s no snow. Where we were was kind of mixed. You get glaciers and you get rock, right?
So we go, have this incredible meal with this crew that’s there. We’re drinking whiskey out of these little shot glasses they make out of the ice there that’s 50,000 years old. Had ice in our drinks that’s 50,000 years old. There’s a beach there next to the — so we’re sitting on the beach, Tony’s playing music as he always would. He would be like the DJ. We’d drink, shoot a little, play frisbee, shoot the shit, talk, just kind of soak it up. It’s like bright sunlight, 12:00 at night. Specifically, he was playing “Gin and Juice.” I remember that. And we’re all just having a great time.
We go to sleep, camp out next to the glacier there and wake up the next morning. And the next morning we were just going to shoot B-roll. And we get picked up by a helicopter, right? An A-Star that’s piloted by a pilot who had been flying Apaches and Cobras in Afghanistan, and then got to go down and be one of these pilots on the ice. But when you’re a pilot down there, basically all you do is, you either pick up human waste and shuttle it back to McMurdo from these substations, or you’re ferrying scientists and samples back and forth. You don’t really get to do a lot of fun stuff. But then we’re like the rock and roll crew that comes in, and we get this pilot who’s just hot to trot and like, “You want to go see some shit?” And we’re like, “Yeah, we want to go see some shit.” And just took us on a tour of all the craziest shit that he could get to within fuel range of that substation.
And we’re flying through these canyons that no one’s ever been in. Fly you up to a cliff that’s 2,000 feet high. The scale of Antarctica cannot be described. We’d be on this cliff that’s 2,000 feet high looking down into a valley where you could easily fit Manhattan with room left —
Tim Ferriss: It’s vast beyond belief.
Morgan Fallon: — and that no one’s ever touched, and standing in a place where no human being’s ever been. Hop back into the helicopter and then he’d do some crazy drop off the cliff where you’re like weightless for a second, and go fly around, and going through canyons, and just everything you ever wanted to do if you ever had a helicopter and an Apache pilot to yourself. And we’re filming and filming and filming. And eventually we need fuel. We stop at this refueling station. There’s intermittent refueling stations around. And we’re sitting there, surrounded by 55-gallon drums of jet fuel, and these three folks come out, and they are the people who work at the refueling station, and their job is to be out there all season long refueling choppers. Pretty lonely out there.
Tim Ferriss: I bet.
Morgan Fallon: You are literally — at that point, you are living on Hoth. And they come out with these pulled pork sandwiches. Like they made pulled pork sandwiches for us. And so we sitting there drinking warm coffee, eating pulled pork sandwiches over a 55-gallon drum of jet fuel, the helicopter still hot, and just had this moment of like, “This is it, man. This is the top. For this particular thing that I’m going to do in my life, this particular journey, nothing is going to get any cooler than this. Nothing is going to get any more singular, inaccessible, or amazing. To be able to do those things and see those places and to hope to be able to capture enough of that in an organic enough way that it would translate some of what that journey was to people at home who will never be as lucky as I’ve been to stumble into this thing and to be able to hang out and hang on and get to that place.
That was it, man. And I don’t know, it feels kind of selfish to tell that story in a way because it’s like, “Oh, look at the awesome fucking thing that I got to do.” But I actually don’t mean it that way. I actually mean, I hope that what we did at the end of the day was be able to bring some of that back and show people what is out there. It is vast and beautiful and extraordinary and so much bigger than our little daily kind of day to day context. I’m not trying to belittle or trivialize that, but there’s something very freeing about the humility that comes with those massive spaces and being able to say no one’s ever stood here, or this ice is 50,000 years old, or this is timeless. This goes so much deeper and beyond me. I don’t know. I hope that maybe everyone gets to experience some degree of that at some point in their life, because I think it’s really important to be able to feel small.
And ultimately that is what the show did, I guess, for me in the best way, is gave me a — it gave me a perspective on what this world really is. FYI, we should fucking take care of it. And don’t be so goddamn afraid of other people, man. They’re not — the end of the day, like I keep telling people, what I saw out there, seven continents, 70 countries, and a lot of hairy moments, and a lot of beautiful moments, and a lot of whatever, 99 percent of the people that we encountered were just beautiful, awesome people that wanted to take us into their homes and feed us and share their life with us and tell us who they were. And that’s the truth of what’s out there. There’s a lot of othering that goes on in this world, and they’re not. Same concerns, same people, all of them. Same shit we’re trying to do.
Tim Ferriss: Same, same.
Morgan Fallon: I don’t know if that makes sense. It was kind of a rant.
Tim Ferriss: That makes perfect sense, and I could not have scripted a better play to end, and I’m glad that there’s no scripting involved, man. It’s the perfect place to wrap up. Mo, it’s so nice to see you again.
Morgan Fallon: Yeah, man. That was great.
Tim Ferriss: Really, really great to see you.
Morgan Fallon: Hopefully we can hang out in person at some point here too.
Tim Ferriss: I would love that. I would love that. And people can find you on Twitter, @diamondmo — M O — fallon. Let me just try — let me try that — you figure with an F in my name I can say that correctly. @diamondmofallon, and I already got the Mo part. F A L L O N. Instagram, Fallon.Morgan. Facebook, Morgan.Fallon.31, and Zero Point Zero all spelled out, zeropointzero.com. Thank you so much for making the time.
Morgan Fallon: Yeah, come and be another one of my disappointed and frustrated social media followers. I don’t do great on social media.
Tim Ferriss: Oh, that is the perfect way to get people to look at your social. Brilliant. Genius. Absolutely genius. And really appreciate you and what you do in the world, and the ruggedness and rigor that you bring to what is both incredibly artistic but — and I saw this when we were working together, also very tender and human. It’s a gift that you help bring to the world, so thank you for doing that.
Morgan Fallon: Shit, Tim. I mean, that’s an incredible compliment coming from you and everything that you do and bring, and I think you bring that same humanity to everything that you do. It’s like a real marker of your success. So I mean, listen, I’m humbled, man, by the whole thing. So thank you.
Tim Ferriss: Yeah. Well, thanks to you, man. And we’ll get together, have some coffee, maybe go mountain biking on something that isn’t like a 45-degree single track. And I’ll let you get to the daddy long-legs. And for everybody listening, for links to everything we discussed, everything we talked about and more, I will put that all in the show notes at tim.blog/podcast. And until next time, be just a little bit kinder than you is necessary, and thanks for tuning in.
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.