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Amanda MiCallef (Producer, Entrepreneur, Advocate)

Amanda MiCallef

Producer, Entrepreneur, Advocate

Amanda Micallef, the founder of Arsenic, joins the guys at FORTitude this week. She talks to the guys about how she went from Fort Worth to LA right after high school and never really looked back. She shares some of her wild moments working in the movie industry and how she went from working on films to creating Arsenic to ultimately leaving LA and the movie business altogether to return to Texas. Her story is one you really don’t want to miss. 

Prior to founding Arsenic, Amanda Micallef spent 12 years as a producer of over 20 films, music videos, and commercial productions, where she was responsible for all aspects of projects from inception through distribution. Amanda is a board member of Jamak (the largest privately owned silicone manufacturing company in the nation with offices in the US, UK, China & Hong Kong,) Reata Restaurant Management Group as well as four other boards with holdings in real estate, manufacturing, and automotive. 

Amanda also has extensive social media experience having grown a digital magazine to an Instagram following of over 1 million on Instagram, outpacing legacy brands such as Vanity Fair, Vice People, Maxim, GQ, Esquire and others as well as Snapchat engagement seven times that of her Instagram. Amanda is a member of the Producer’s Council of the Producers Guild of America and Women in Film.

Audio Only

Episode Transcription: 

 
Welcome back to FORTitude!
 
guys. Well, Brinton Payne, and I continue to argue over everything, including mundane. We have come together in the United Front for this particular guest. We have a really cool lady in house to talk with us about some of the things she’s accomplished in her life. Before we talk to her,
 
Do you ever get referred to as lady? I mean, is that like a comment? referral? Lady?
 
I’m not sure. I can say how I often get referred to so we’ll just stick with late it’s
 
a sign of respect. The obvious sign I don’t know how else to acknowledge you and see if you’re out there. You can find us more on Roxa media house.com or our Twitter @fortitudefw. If you have complaints about Brinton Payne, please see the Contact Us button on the Roxon Media House website. Please fill that up. He needs to know where he stands. One interesting bit of news before our guests be excited about this year’s Super Bowl that’s far out in the distance. I’ll take that as a yes. They just no answer. They just announced the Super Bowl lineup for this halftime issues halftime show. February 13 in LA so it’s in a big spot. Dr. Dre, Snoop Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar.
 
Amazing in LA that they would get those musicians.
 
This is a collection that happened. Yes, this collection of some good ones. Oh, this ought to be
 
fantastic. And I found out just recently that two football teams play at that same stadium. You think a place like LA could have could build a bigger one. But oh, go to another one.
 
Don’t don’t start down that rabbit hole. We could do a whole podcast on Los Angeles and football. Okay,
 
the voice you’re hearing folks is that of Amanda McCallum. She is our guest today, and you’re about to find out why we find her fascinating. She’s a fourth native. And we have known her for quite some time. You might say we went to high school with her or actually in school with her elementary school through high school, then some really cool stuff happened. Welcome the show, man. Thank you for joining us. Thanks
 
for Thanks for having me. And I want to give a disclosure to your audience. I’m not nearly as interesting as they’ve set me up to be so you know, I don’t want to I don’t want to get people with really high expectations. And I’m boring. No, no,
 
we’re not worried about that at all. We’ve carefully designed this show around this being interesting. And you so first off high school for you. Where did you go to high school?
 
I went to Trinity Valley. I went to Trinity Valley, kindergarten through high school by senior year, right? The 13 year plan, a 13 year student.
 
Yes. Something happened though. In high school. You disappeared?
 
I did? I did. I am. I took me on to a movie set in February of my senior year. It was supposed to be for three weeks. I think I stayed for five. And I never went back to another five days of school in a row. Once you get out. It’s really hard to kind of get back into it. Right?
 
I recall you not being there. And I didn’t really know why it was
 
the same grade.
 
It kind of was quiet. I think they didn’t want everybody to think that they could get away with doing what I did. And, you know, I mean, the funny story. It’s long enough that I can actually tell the story. So the way I made this happen is I called the movie crew that was shooting out in West Texas, New York, my family’s ranch and told them it was okay with my high school if I took a month off and did an internship with them. Yeah. And then I went and told our principal that the movie said it was okay as long as it was okay with them and that I talked to all my teachers, none of whom I’d spoken to and they were all good with it if he was good with it, and then did the reverse with my teachers. And I’m sure everybody knew what I was doing. But they let me go anyway.
 
Fleming was it? Yes. It was a tough sell. No, no,
 
you actually I had he was he? I owe him big. He was he was great. Yeah.
 
So what you’re telling us is lying is Okay kids, as long as it helps you build a career that you’ve obviously been very successful.
 
That hurt in my life making
 
streets of Laredo was the film The prequel to Lonesome Dove. Yes, it was. Most of us are huge fans of Lonesome Dove. That was an experience I’m assuming that was eye opening and you fell in love quickly, right?
 
I did. I did. I can remember I was except for about two weeks. And I realized that every day I would start work at like 430 or five in the morning. And the first time I would look at my watch would be about 330 In the afternoon, and I wasn’t looking because I was getting ready to go or wanting to leave. I was just curious what time it was. And I was like, if I can do something for 10 hours and not even think about the time, this is what I see, you’re
 
so busy enjoying whoever you’re doing that you didn’t really realize what time it was. Gotcha. So, before we get into more your accolades, your family that McCalla family is synonymous with Fort Worth, and for many reasons, can we step back a little bit? Talk about your father owl, your brother, Mike, and how that all came to be? And
 
absolutely, how do you want to go back back with the beginning of ALS sort of origins true?
 
Surely, if you if you don’t mind, we can go through that briefly. But I’ll
 
I’ll do it quickly. So um, my, my dad, actually, both my parents grew up in Michigan. My dad grew up listening on some like shortwave radio to a show out of Del Rio, Texas when he was a kid. And he decided that all he wanted to do was move to Texas, and become a rancher. And then he saw a James Garner movie called Wheeler Dealer. And you can imagine what that’s about, and decided he was a rancher who drove a big Cadillac and flew around in his own plane and bought art. And, and so that was his second really seminal moment for him. And he decided that he had to get to Texas and get to rent and he wanted to be like James Garner, and Wheeler Dealer. And that’s kind of pretty much sums up as well. So he actually moved to silicon plant down here in 1974. Trying to find a state that was a little more business friendly than Michigan was, which is highly unionized, and built a silicone plant out in Weatherford.
 
Is that Jay? Mac? Yes, that’s
 
a Mac name come from?
 
It was a combination of several people’s names when they all started the business. Yeah, they were older gentlemen. And so over the years, unfortunately, they’ve since passed. And so now the only person left is the A for our
 
first names that weird, I was actually
 
a combination of first and last names, which is really interesting to be, but that Yeah, they did. Um, anyway. So that sort of started their life in Texas, and really was the foundation for any other businesses that were started after that, and all the crazy fun things that my dad has done in his life, one of which, so to tie it into Mike, what if it’s his we have a ranch in West Texas, and there was nowhere to eat. And so my dad decided to open a restaurant called Reatta. And then had some friends out from Fort Worth, who really liked the restaurant and often basically opened up a door to put a Riyadh in Fort Worth, actually, at that time in the big one tower. We are now in our second location in San square. But um, but so my brother really focuses both on the restaurant as well as we have some other ranch developments out in West Texas and Michaels. Those are Michael’s two big focus, and then any other loose ends.
 
Do you have any connection to the restaurant or than? Are you involved at all?
 
I mean, so Michael. So Michael and I both sit on the boards of all of our companies, they’re all family owned, so they’re, you know, informal boards, and so we’re very aware of what each other are doing. But I primarily focus on Michela cigars and J. Mack and Miko primarily focuses on the ranch the restaurant in real estate developments and then, you know, investments in loosens right how
 
come Michael got his picture with your dad at sash one, but I don’t see you in that.
 
Welcome to my childhood. I bet as the my favorite picture. Great picture really is, um, they were hunting. I was not on that trip. Okay. It’s okay.
 
J Mac. It started from from your dad. And these people you mentioned, it’s now the world’s largest manufacturer of privately owned
 
privately. Yes. So about 10 I guess in 2008 with the real estate, it’s almost all the silicone companies got rolled up it and so we are now the sort of largest still standing family owned silicone manufacturer in North America.
 
What manufacturer pieces of silicone Do you manufacture do? What do you do?
 
We make a lot of seals and gaskets. So you’re the seal around your oven or your freezer. We’ve been very busy this year with the vaccine needing super super cold temperature freezers. Silicone is a regular rubber can’t get that cold it’ll crack and sell but silicone can and so we’ve been busy making freezer gaskets like crazy thing, a lot of things like that. I’m
 
bringing on cooks over an open flame so he does not have no
 
idea. Okay, well,
 
it is freezer refrigerator. I’m not sure of this concept of ice block in a closet, but then you don’t need silicone.
 
So when riada in Fort Worth began, we’ll keep that fourth sintered used to be on top of the of the building. Yes. Before the before the tornado came through. Yes, a year. I don’t recall. I
 
think we just I think it was just the 20th I think like last March was 20 years or 25 years
 
since that happened. Yes, that location. You had some pretty Pretty big shifts there, right like that have gone on to other things. Yeah.
 
Unfortunately, a lot of the a lot of the sort of more than damy people in Fort Worth have started at riada. Yeah, it’s great. And you know, the, the, the restaurant community in Fort Worth is incredibly tight and, and very supportive of each other.
 
And I will have to share the story with you because I’ve never shared before my wife actually, she probably knows, but I’ve been happily married for the better part of 18 years. I think. I love you, honey. Before I met my wife, and I wanted to go on a date with somebody, if I thought I liked this person, or he had met for a while and I liked this person. riada on top of the building was that if I took if I took her there, that’s because I liked her because I couldn’t afford really to spend a lot of money. That was the one big spin if I if I wanted to really impress this person. So I was always my dating trick.
 
I did not know that I was the one on the roof. That’s right, top.
 
Yeah, that’s correct. But that was my little my whole secret, if you will. And so but luckily, I didn’t need it for my wife. We fell in love organically and didn’t need all that. That’s very nice. Yes. The show was about Amanda today. Married
 
that story about Jada made my whole trip here worthwhile. Okay, good.
 
So you’re in the movie business, or you’re you’re making films as a young person. When did the move to LA happen?
 
About two years after I started in the business? I
 
sort of Amarillo after the high school deal?
 
Yes, I kind of looked around and realized that every time I was working in all these movies, so I guess I should back up and clear something up. Because JB and I went to Tony Valley, so you would assume that I went on to college, but I ruined their their 100. Although I’ve now I’m giving it back. They’re 100% college attendance. I did get in college,
 
do you? Yes, we go back and look at those records. A bluff did not know anybody.
 
So I did actually get into school. And I ended up deferring for a couple semesters. And then finally they were like you have to either show up or give up your spot. And I was happily working in the movie business to
 
go on at that point.
 
I mean, yes, it was
 
no college for you.
 
No, I mean, no. So anyway, about so. So that’s how come two years after high school, I moved out to California when I was 20.
 
What you were doing the movie business kind of this on any project? Everything. You know, it
 
just sort of kept. I thought when I took the first job that I was just going to do out of high school that I was just gonna work on it. It was going to wrap in December, I was going to go to college in January. And then one thing just led to another thing. And you know, I just kept getting work. Yeah. And no one ever asked where I went to school. Yeah. And so I kind of looked up in two years and realize that, at least for the moment, that wasn’t something I was going to focus on. And that all the department heads were coming from LA or New York. And so I thought, well, I guess I got to get to LA or New York, at least for a few years. That was my intention to go to LA for two years. I think it was 23 years. So Wow. best laid plans. Yeah, but uh,
 
but yeah, what was the first film you worked on after moving to LA? You recall.
 
I well, I mean, I remember I don’t remember what it was called, was terrible. It was a Cinemax movie.
 
Okay. Good. You’ve got his interest. I know.
 
Well, it’s even worse than that, because it was a Cinemax movie. And they had just partnered with Playboy. And so there was no tune. It was no to nudity or anything like that. But it was like imagine, actually imagine like a porn movie, but without the porn. It was that level of bat. Anyway, so yes, you know, fascinating. Award winner. Yeah,
 
several of your bigger films. Beneath the dark, Grand Champion beyond the Whisper? Are these three ones. These are the three ones that we like to discuss a little bit if you can, which were those three are the most are your favorites? Do you have a favorite?
 
Uh, I don’t know that I have a favorite. And you know, it’s funny. When I look back, there’s movies that I worked on, that I wasn’t a producer on that I also loved. I mean, that were, in some ways, some of the best experiences. So it’s it’s hard to say, but I’m happy to talk about
 
them. Well, grand champion for one. Can we talk about that for a sec? Yes. That was the
 
first movie I produced. It had planes, trains, boats and kids in it. You’re not supposed to do any of those four things in your first movie. So really, I did all four of those things. I
 
said like what, like one of those rules that it’s just going to make everything that much more difficult. Yes,
 
yes. But you know, when you’re young and you don’t know better, you just go for it. Yeah. So that’s what we do that. Yes.
 
Guys like that. Where was this
 
movie filmed?
 
We filmed all over all over Texas. I mean, we filmed a big chunk of it in Snyder, Texas, of all places. We also shot out in West Texas, we shot in Midland and we kind of were everywhere. It was a movie about raising a kid with the grand champion steer and then sells it and realizes they’re going to eat it. And so he kidnaps his steel back and he’s trying to get back home. It was a G rated movie. Total kid movie. Really fun. Yeah. What was the budget for that movie? Oh, gosh, that’s been set. It was two or $3 million. It’s been so many years now.
 
Would you call it movie a success?
 
Yes, and I mean, financially. We were. It was nice. not anywhere near where we wanted it to be. And there were a whole world of domino effect that happened. Um, I got it, we got it sold and got in theaters. And you know, in the movie theater in the movie business, that is a pretty big accomplishment. So in that sense, yes. And I, you know, we learned a lot, we had a great time, but um, you know, think if
 
you could set some pretty interesting concept, it’s got a lot of Fort Worth ties to it, you know, in the way we have the structure. You think if you did it today, same movie, but just with the distribution that exist, it would be a lot more successful.
 
What if I mean that, you know, when we released that movie, there were there were seven players, and everything sort of, trickled off them and through sort of a perfect storm of things and never kind of got the big push it was supposed to Yeah, and that would just you write between social media and the different distribution channels today, you would have a very different opportunity.
 
Does that happen a lot in the movie business two words, like in production, you’re making the movie, everyone’s promising you the world, we’re gonna do this with you, we’re here with you. And then you get to the final product that you think is a good final product. And they’re like, we’re out is it kind of the party
 
can be but but that would at least imply that somewhere along the way, they lost interest because of the quality of the film. You’d be surprised how often it has nothing to do with that. And it’s that, you know, you got bumped out of a spot at Sundance, because somebody else with better political ties got in or, you know, that somebody else was able to sort of slide into your, you know, day and date release, and then you get pushed to a worse state. I mean, a lot of times things happen that have nothing to do with whether your movies, good or not, there’s just something else that is a little more shiny at that moment.
 
So is that the reason paying a lot of money for a good agent or for being president? Those are?
 
Those Yes, having the the better your representation is without question, the better your chances are of not having one of those incidents
 
happened. Okay. Was grand champion. The movie was involved. Julia Roberts.
 
So Julia Roberts, nice. Emma was in a team. That’s correct. And then Julia Roberts did make a little cameo appearance, her husband, who she’s been married to, since we made the movie. I mean, I think they got married that year was our cinematographer. So she was around for the whole shoot. She was I will, Julia Roberts, we needed extras one day, and Julia Roberts went to Walmart and got on the loudspeaker and asked people to come out to the movie, which is pretty amazing of her. She’s just so unbelievably down to earth, you would be really surprised.
 
Yeah, fantastic. So obviously, you’re in LA now making films, how are you meeting people that we all would call celebrities? Are you involved in that scene very much being around movies, and you
 
definitely are meeting people. I wouldn’t say that was ever my scene. I was more behind the scenes. And then even, you know, when I was going out and things I was not the I was not the person who was regularly out at the clubs. That was just sort of not my thing.
 
Yeah, this photo here. You’re seeing that is, there’s a lot going on. describe what’s going
 
on fellow Fort Worth in. That is Chad V. Han.
 
Oh, and he’s big time, right? Yes. He’s been a Donovan. Yes. He
 
was an executive producer and Ray Donovan, you know, chats doing incredibly well. He’s incredibly talented. We had a great time working together. He directed the movie set that we’re currently on. That is actually a set. Really? Yes. VHS tapes. Yes. There. Yes, exactly. So that was not well, that’s not we did not live there that was set up that way on purpose. And yeah, you can see that it this. We were shooting nights to to defend myself in the middle of nowhere. And so that is what set life looks like.
 
Was that local? Was it? No, no,
 
no, that was a well, outside of LA, we were out in this abandoned motel I was on Bernardino,
 
for for the mood for people who don’t understand that much, probably myself included. What’s the moviemaking process, like, generally speaking, the timeframe and how much stress goes into what you what you do producing a movie?
 
Well, I mean, what what timeframe wise it can be? I mean, it’s 18 months minimum, you know, I mean, I guess now editing has changed, but we were stopped cutting film back then. That’s how old I am. And, yeah, but easily. I mean, a lot of times it’s three, four years. I mean, you find a project, you develop a project, you get it set up, then you have to find a writer, sorry, if you have if you don’t have a writer, a writer, but if you have a script, you’ve already got a writer but you’re looking for a director and cast, then you finally get into production. You could shoot the movie anywhere from you know, 18 days would be on a really really low budget movie to it could be hundreds of days. Right? And then you go away and edit it for months, two months, and finally release it so it’s not it’s not fast. I guess it’s stressful. You know, stress is sort of what you make it I guess but you don’t I think you live in that world for so long. You’re
 
enjoying excitement. Yes,
 
exactly. I mean, you can’t you kind of become a junkie on it. I mean, it’s it’s you know, you spend time carefully preparing because you know, things are going to go wrong on set, and then sort of becomes this game of like, how are you going to overcome?
 
Is it? Are you only doing one movie at a time or like you’re doing? Like the way to make it work is remodel five homes at once? And maybe not get the quality? Like, how does that all work? Right?
 
So, I mean, that’s the studios are set up, very much like you said, they’ll make, you know, 2025 movies a year, they need a few of them to hit big sum to breakeven, and they know some are gonna lose money. And so yes, if if you’re playing on that level, that’s absolutely how you’re going to be successful. And then the most notable producers and directors, you can only direct one movie at once. But a lot of times, producers will have things in various stages of production all going at the same time in big teams, I was an independent producer, the a lot of the material I gravitated to was never going to be studio kind of pictures, it was pretty dark and eerie. And so there was there was not enough of us to be doing multiple things at once. I mean, we might be working on a script while we were shooting a movie or something. But we wouldn’t ever have had the bandwidth to really be in two movies in production. At the same time.
 
How difficult raising capital for these films. I mean, there’s a whole aspect of the money that has to pay for all this. How are you involved in that side of it? How hard is that part?
 
It’s nearly impossible. I mean, it’s not it’s not easy. I mean, it’s definitely it actually, it’s easier as you become more established, you know, and then it can be easier as you have obviously the right cast on board or director or writers and things like that. But it’s definitely not an easy thing to get done.
 
Wasn’t when you were there, but I’m thinking like, with all the stuff that exists now, it’s got to be 10 times is more difficult, right? It’s,
 
it’s yes and no, in some degree, you can shoot a movie on an iPhone now. So you don’t need very much money. And if you have something and you’re passionate about it, you don’t know if it Britain gets a phone, you don’t need to have a lot of money to make a movie anymore. At the same time, there’s so many people creating content, trying to you know, be the little signal and all that noise to actually get some attention becomes that much harder.
 
Okay. 20 plus years in LA, what’s the craziest thing that ever happened to you? Oh, my gosh, I have no idea. You can bleep out words or things later, if you need us to.
 
I really don’t know, this is a terrible question. Um,
 
maybe something you saw saw somebody do so anything?
 
Well, the craziest thing that happened to me was not in a life. It was a movie business story. Can I tell that story that would be great. I was asked to go to Wichita, Kansas, to basically oversee the production of a independent film, that the person was financing and asked me to go and basically babysit, essentially. And so I get, I think I was doing a producer capacity and a kitty, remember, but essentially, I was just making sure that the money was getting spent and things were happening and all that good stuff. And their cinematographer went out to a strip club. And what’s that Britain,
 
you taught by that old time? In Wichita, Kansas? Yeah,
 
um, I mean, there’s so many other things. I’m not going into the long story, because that’s really insane. But anyway, he goes out to a strip club with the crew leaves with one of the strippers goes back to his hotel,
 
the next morning and one of those buttons. So
 
the next morning, I was like, I don’t know if I can say this the next morning. He’s not on set. And everybody’s getting ready to roll out in the vans and go and go to set. Sorry, I guess he’s not waiting to leave for set. And I, you know, ask somebody to go check in his room. And he his face down needle in his arm? Oh, no. But I mean, basically all but
 
dead. He’s diabetic. Right? So,
 
you know, he shot an eight ball with the stuffer. And, and so then, so that I had to call his eight month pregnant wife and explain where her husband was? Oh, no, that was probably the craziest thing that ever happened to me. If
 
you make that call prior to calling the producer, you’re out there on behalf of or no
 
first. It’s really funny because I called him and I’d worked with this guy a lot. And I called and I didn’t get him and I left a message and I’m like, You need to call me we have a problem. And it’s been a ton of things. And he was impossible to get on the phone. And he called me back within like 15 minutes. I was like, You never say things like that. What happened? Yeah. And I was just like, so anyway.
 
Alright, let’s talk about arsenic. Arsenic, find you.
 
So I wish I can. We can’t really see you your face right now. So audience you should see that little JW looks like the cat that ate the mouse right now.
 
Yes, the tail is wagging out of us.
 
Anyway, okay, so I got frustrated with the film business for some of the reasons that we’ve brought up today. It was just the business had changed a lot. I actually was on set less and less in some ways. I was getting bigger movies set up with like big name producers and things but at the same time, I wasn’t getting to make them. So I started looking for an outlet to just kind of, you know, scratch the itch of being on set and collaborating with other creative people. And I started doing still photoshoots not thinking it was ever going to become anything. And we sort of the One thing we did that was kind of different than what was happening in Los Angeles is there’s a million models in LA, but they kind of usually get stuck shooting whatever the photographer wants to shoot. And so we sort of started playing around with this idea that I would help produce photoshoots that were kind of the vision of the model and find a photographer that was down to be very collaborative and things like that.
 
Imagine that artists license kind of thing. Yeah.
 
And the timing was interesting, because Instagram was just starting to happen. And, and we started posting, I didn’t even I started sharing these pictures with these with the models, and they started posting them. And it just sort of caught fire. And it grew fairly quickly. And then a friend of mine, who was an agent at CAA at the time, kind of, he ended up leaving ca to come on board when we decided to make it a real venture, but he’s the one who sort of had this idea that we don’t have to shoot all the content that we’re posting, we can just ask people to submit things by using hashtag, and no one that seems so crazy now, um, you’re like, Well, duh, but this is a long no one was doing this. Yeah. 2015. Right. Yeah. And what was Creative Artists Agency, so one of the really big powerful agents. Um, and so we started doing that, and it and that kind of further, you know, helped the growth. And then we also got on Snapchat very early and started shooting a Snapchat. And that kind of tipped it the other way. And it blew up. And I mean, we were we had audiences bigger than MTV and other cable stations, watching our social media content. And we kind of became one of the first social media magazines.
 
As of today, you have 1.2 million followers? On Instagram. Yeah, Instagram is correct. Among that’s obviously there’s other,
 
we have an exponentially smaller number for this show.
 
Yes, by a factor of 1.2 billion,
 
you would like to know, as a marketing professional, I would tell you that some a smaller niche audience can sometimes serve you better than a large audience.
 
But do you have folks that are going to there to actually like Did, did it help the models, right? created this.
 
So the ecosystem was really, really interesting. Especially when we first started, we didn’t pay. I mean, this was a hobby, we did it on a weekends. And then even as we grew, if we were just shooting content for arsenic, we didn’t pay. But if we were doing a branded deal, or something, if we were getting paid the models got paid, basically, is how it worked. But because we got big and the bottles, a lot of the people we worked with were big, then new people would come in, and they wouldn’t be able to grow very, very big. And so somebody would go on a trip with us in a week’s time, they could go from having, you know, a couple 100 followers to 10s of 1000s of followers, and then they’re getting brands offering the money. So So yeah, we were really able to kind of create this sort
 
of influencer ecosystem. That’s really what
 
it was. And in which everybody sort of got it and supported each other and helped post each other to kind of get people up to the next level and things like that. It was, you know, it’s funny, you people think of it. It’s so sort of vapid and LA and those things do exist, but sort of when you peel back all the layers like this, people have each other’s back too.
 
Yeah, for sure. So, but you found a niche with with arsenic? Are you still involved?
 
So about two years ago, the arsenic is was was pivoting to more of a tech play. And so I had been given some thought about wanting to come back home and work with my dad and my brother. And it was kind of a good moment for me to sort of give up my day to day activities. So I’m still on our six board. I’m still my co founder is still with arsenic and don’t mention his name really. Hawkins Hawkins. Okay. And so what’s his background real quick, if you don’t know. So, he was a, he went to Harvard Law then went into investment banking, and ended up in the mailroom at CAA where he grew to become one of the biggest agents there. He represented everyone from Steven Spielberg to Eva Longoria to Bill Smith. And then sort of blessed because he got really fascinated by all this new stuff that was happening in sort of short form content
 
out you guys mean,
 
playing polo, not he and I play polo with his boss when he was an investment banker, and he was just getting ready to leave to go work at in the mailroom ca and she’s like, You guys should meet? Oh, yeah, there we go. Yeah,
 
you’re not getting more you’re not getting more boring. I can tell you.
 
Let me ask on the LA move back deal. Did it just get this let life get tiresome? You know, I think so many people look at it like, oh, boy, it would be so great, beautiful place and all this excitement stuff. But as you one grows and all l older and a little more mature is that kind of
 
I love to lay until one day I just went I don’t want to do this anymore. It just, it’s fantastic. But at some point, it’s like I have to get a parking ticket in a park in a parking garage to go to the grocery store. It’s just like, every single thing is kind of hard. Yeah. And I just went Oh, no, I think this is I’ve done what I came here to do. And I’m ready to go back to Texas.
 
Yeah. Came back to Texas in 2019 2019. Almost exactly two years. What are you do you do when you go back to Texas?
 
So I started working with family companies. And I went to work and focus on marketing and sales for our silicon company. And I started doing marketing for our cigar company having never smoked a cigar.
 
He did this. I think
 
I came early on this. I don’t know if this this may have been right before I came back, but it was so in the last few years. Yes. Because our snakes up there. So this is prior to but this is in Texas, this is that. No motorsport ranch out in Crescent. Oh, yeah.
 
It’s an electric vehicle because it says, electro motive on it. It is not an electric vehicle. Do they make electric field calls like that? They
 
do. Okay. It’s actually a whole division.
 
Yeah. How long have you been doing this? And how successful or
 
so I just for fun. I just for fun. I would love some time to actually do one of the leaks. But at the moment, I don’t have the time. And so I guess I, I been I probably drove open wheel the first time 2025 years ago, and I occasionally when I’m here, we’ll get to go out and jump in the car.
 
I want you to take Britain for a ride. But I see there’s not much room
 
for passengers. You can also ask is the track there on university considered open wheel? The one on the way to Jyoti’s if you’re coming from that open wheel? It’s a it’s a go kart? It is
 
it’s it can be open wheel if you want it to be.
 
I’m sorry. I’m sorry for that last question. So speaking of the family business, yes. The cigar company? Yes. When did it begin? And how are things going?
 
So began, like in 2016 2017. It sort of had it had a slow start. I joined in late 2019, along with Dan Thompson, who’s currently president. And we’ve been having a ton of fun. And it’s starting to it’s like we’re starting to come together. It’s been really interesting. We sort of took a step back in 2020, and changed a lot of our strategies. We took ourselves off of all EECOM only stores to focus on family owned brick and mortars, and online through those stores only.
 
Oh, I see this organic thing kinda like the arsenic coming.
 
Yes. Now we’re the scars
 
rolled in Nicaragua, Nicaragua. Yeah. And then also like the arcic thing pulled out of all of our print, you know, contracts and anything like that, and have really focused on growing the Caliph Scara Ambassador community, and a lot of social media things and stuff like that.
 
Do you smoke cigars?
 
I do. Now,
 
when you pull out in the parking lot, and the door opened, a bunch of smoke came out of your car, I was wondering if I was
 
smoking my car, and I do not smoke in my
 
house. Good, good.
 
But how often do you smoke cigars?
 
Anywhere from, you know, once to three or four times a week, we I like a sort of community workspace. And so we have taken one office out at the distribution center and turn it into a cigar lounge. And Dan and I basically sit in there all day in at a like dining room table and work. And so you know, oftentimes at some point, we’ll smoke a cigar.
 
Yeah, very fun. Very fun. What else are we doing for fun and besides work? Right now?
 
Well, that and then I just had it. So as I’ve previously established, I didn’t go to my undergrad. But I decided that I wanted to fill some gaps. And so I recently enrolled at TCU. And I’m getting my executive MBA. So between work in that, I don’t know that I have much time for fun. For fun, work and school are a lot of fun. I’m having a really good time. It’s amazing
 
how you did that without going to college and you going back to do it. It’s it’s a phenomenal structure, I would say because it’s all worked out for you. And it’s the way it’s supposed to be
 
this I would not recommend my path. It did work out and I’ve been very fortunate but but probably would have been easier. Had I done it a little more traditional way. Very good. How
 
can people find you got the cigars?
 
Cal cigars calm and there’s a map to all the retailers that were in? Where’s al today? Where is Al today? I’m gonna guess he’s at me in Parker County or Silverleaf in Fort Worth. Oh, Lown, somewhere in the area right now. As far as I know,
 
with a cigar in hand puzzle probably does your LIKE, SHARE location say lounge for our like, you know, like he’s got a special deal.
 
Yes, exactly. He’s that’s that’s pretty much where he spends most of his days. I mean, he comes into the office for a few hours and then he’s off to the level
 
he pushed the Macau cigars there will just automatically Hey, would you really like to try one of these?
 
A funny thing happens big surprise that McAuliffe quickly becomes one of the best if not the best selling car in whatever lounge he’s spending most of his time in. Yeah, even without him doing it because people you know, they’re like, hey, that’s the guy. Well, you know, it’s not that often you walk into cigar lounge and the guy who started is sitting there and so and then people like well, I want to try one of those. So yeah, inadvertently, he pushes it. If you’re pretty woman, he definitely pushes it. And that’s pretty much how it works.
 
Is he made it onto our snick yet
 
not. He’s in debt. No, no and funny thing if you look at our There’s one thing you won’t see very much of that would be guys that look like Yeah, yeah, yeah.
 
Does I’ll still go to session one from time to time
 
time to time not like we used to right. But but he definitely does still get in there.
 
Good Will please tell him hello for sure. Are you in Mike? You guys have similar energies in lifeforce energy you’re going going on all the time. love that about you. I love that about Mike. You guys spend a lot of time together Jesse each other ever.
 
Oh, yeah. So we as a family, we see each other. We have family dinner every Monday, just because we are all going so many different directions. You
 
guys having dinner and just just personal.
 
That was actually last Monday, but we hadn’t been in a long time. But we do we bounce around trading places. So I actually for sure get to see everyone together then. And then Michael and I often catch up throughout the week. So yeah, let’s
 
pretend that you survived, you’re getting your MBA. And that’s done and everything else is stable as it is now. What’s the next big project for Amanda?
 
Well, I’ve got, you know, there’s a lot of interesting directions that we can take Mcal of cigars, even beyond cigars. And so I think that that consider, you know, playing more in the consumer goods world is kind of where I have my, my eye on the horizon.
 
Okay. Very good. So we’ve truly loved learning more about you some things I’ve never heard before. This is fantastic. We like to ask our guests a special question. Brendon, what you what do you handle this
 
one? Oh, thanks. Jacob isn’t over and over? Well, my buddy, we do this deal where you know, best day of the life like family stuff aside and all of that thing. So it could be even that that picture in there of directing that film of whatever it is. So what’s the best day of your life thus far?
 
Okay, well, I want to first say I’m not married, and I don’t have kids. So I get to throw so I don’t have any of
 
that. No, that’s good. I don’t have that.
 
allow that.
 
I don’t have any of that pressure. We’re
 
the luckiest human alive. My intro title. Sorry. I’m sorry, kids in honey, I did love you.
 
Um, what was my I had? So I’m a very lucky person. I’ve had a lot of great days. I don’t know if I can boil it down to a single amazing day.
 
I need you to actually
 
answer that. And that’s okay, too. Like I like I like the whole thing, like a producer’s mind probably is like it’s the whole process of the deal. You know,
 
it is I don’t know that. I mean, there’s there’s moments but I don’t know that I could I don’t know that I could pick one I really can’t like hey, I’ve had more good days and bad days. So you know, it’s it would be very tough. I’m sorry, I will let you off. Feet that’s what a producer does guys. They persuade people to do whatever they want.
 
Europe you’re a big proponent of the women’s movement or women’s equality, things of that nature. It can we speak to that for two seconds? Absolutely. You do so many things for women, what is your what is your aim? What is your goal and all this just,
 
you know, I want to you know, I have a backup. So I hope this isn’t too controversial is a really interesting thing when when meat was happening, like everybody I was, you know, saddened by the stories and shocked and horrified not that shocked but the thing that really sort of stuck with me was that part of the problem is that we aren’t teaching young women to say no in a really impactful clear way. And you end up in a gray area a lot and gray areas I think help lead to these sorts of metoo moments. And so though I if there was one thing I just want to give women a voice and a voice to feel like they can be confident enough to say what’s on their mind and be okay not just going along because it’s you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or doing that because you have to be a good hostess and just really, you know, hopefully bring a different perspective to the table that you can you know, carve your own way and you don’t you can make waves and you don’t have to go along to get along.
 
Greatness. Yes, thank you man and Macau. Please visit us on Roku Media House calm or for DFW on Twitter, in the fourth Inc website.
 
And what about cigars could be Macau cigars. Britain burned down baby. Alright, thank you. Thanks, Amanda.