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Ask the Expert (in a crisis): How Will COVID-19 Affect a Mortgage Lenders’ Loan Processes

 

August 13, 2020

Max Simkoff: Welcome to Ask the Expert (In a Crisis), where we ask industry leaders about their unique perspective on how to navigate the most difficult challenges faced by the broader real estate and financial services ecosystem during the current global health crisis, and also give you a chance to ask the experts some of the most pressing questions on your mind. My name is Max Simkoff. I’m the CEO of States Title, and today, I’m excited to welcome founder, president and CEO of CMG Financial, Chris George, who is going to be talking with us about the topic, “How Will COVID-19 Affect the Loan Process That Is Managed by Mortgage Originators?”

Just some quick background on CMG and Chris. The company was founded in 1993. CMG is a well-capitalized, privately held mortgage banking firm that makes its products and services available to the market through three distinct origination channels. Those include correspondent lending, wholesale lending, and retail lending. Chris reminded me right before we began that since founding in 1993, CMG has grown to over 2,000 associates today, which is really remarkable. We’ll be talking more about their growth and development. 

Chris, himself, as CEO, president and founder of CMG Financial, has spent three decades building an organization capable of sustaining and thriving through a number of challenging market fluctuations, including the current one that we’re in. He serves as an immediate past chairman of the Mortgage Bankers Association. He’s a member of the MBA board directors, past chairman for the California Mortgage Bankers Association and a member of the MBA Board of Directors, and has also served on many advisory boards and taskforces within the industry. I would be hard-pressed to think of anybody on this webinar who probably doesn’t know who he is, or isn’t aware of him. But in case not, that’s the background and bio.

Chris, welcome. Thank you for agreeing to spend some time with us today.

Chris George: Oh, you’re very welcome. It’s an honor being here with you, Max. I’ve always enjoyed our conversations, and also just loved watching both from afar and close the success of States Title, so thanks for having me here.

Max Simkoff: Awesome. Let’s start with just a little bit of perspective and background, given the success you’ve had growing CMG now. Over 20 years ago, you founded with a small team of just seven people, and  now you have over 2,000 employees. I’d love a high-level start with understanding what characteristics that you found to be most important in helping you build the business successfully, and also through certainly some challenging ups and downs in the mortgage cycle.

Chris George Well, it’s a great question. If you rewind a little bit in my career, I started in the mortgage industry in 1982. I was actually 19 years old. At the time, like almost all of us, hardly any of us thought this was going to be the direction of my career. “I’m going to go in the mortgage industry,”  tends to kind of pull you in, and I think we’re all accidental mortgage participants at some level or another. By the time 1988 rolled around, I kind of thought I wanted to start my own company. The reason was I just didn’t like, culturally, the way certain companies treated their employees, so I thought I could do it better, and I’m going to go start my own company. I did that in ‘88. I was a plain-old mortgage broker. I started in my fourth bedroom at my home in Dublin, California, and suddenly decided that I wanted to grow. I sold that company and started CMG in my garage, as you’ve mentioned, with seven other people –  a couple of whom are still with us today, so we’ve been around a long time. 

What’s interesting is that I’ve been asked a variation of this question before. In my heart of hearts, I’m a loan officer. I think like a loan officer. I like the value proposition of a loan officer. I like how loan officers serve and are able to get what the customer is looking for, and don’t get paid unless they do. I really like all of that. I like that I embody many of those qualities. 

In my heart of hearts, I’m a loan officer. I think like a loan officer. I like the value proposition of a loan officer. I like how loan officers serve and are able to get what the customer is looking for, and don’t get paid unless they do.

When I first became a loan officer, I was really not all that focused on making money. I was really just focused on the person liking me. To be honest with you, I didn’t even care if I made money. I just wanted you to think I did a good job. I guess I had maybe a little inferiority complex back then, but what’s odd is that accidentally, I discovered the secret of almost all sales organizations, and that is if you can get your customer to like you so much they become your primary referral source, that just continues its way down the path. So you like me and you referred me to two of your friends. They loved me and they referred me to two of their friends. And along the way, suddenly, I started actually making money. But early on, I would do loans for free because I just wanted you to go, “my gosh, he’s amazing.”

With that in mind, I didn’t want to lose this culture of helping, teaching, and educating. Both my parents were teachers. I have a number of teachers in my family, brothers, sisters,uncles, aunts, and cousins. I really wanted to make sure that I gave you the information to make an informed decision. From my perspective, I thought, “OK, if I make these people really like me and they come away informed, that is the culture I’d like to have permeate  our organization”. 

Externally, for everyone that interacts with CMG, we elevate them to the level of being the customer. Internally, we do some things to make sure that we are super-supportive of our people. I’ll give you one quick example. We do all those trade, Strathmore studies, where we compare our information with other companies. There’s one area that we’re always the No. 1 in, and that’s what we spend for benefits on behalf of my employees. We are the most expensive. We’re the company that spends more money on benefits for employees than any of the companies in my peer group. It’s a big difference between No. 1 and No. 2. My employees come to work and will frequently say, “Oh my gosh, I came to work here and my benefits are substantially cheaper to me as the employee than what it was at my previous company – so much so, I’m able to buy a car. I’m able to pay off other debt.” So we felt like that was a good way to put our, quote, “money where our mouth is,” by being able to deliver on the promise that there’s something different going on culturally and with our company’s personality. What is that done for us? Well, there’s a lot of stickiness. We don’t lose a lot of people. According to the industry average, somewhere between 20 and 25 percent of your production goes away every single year. Over the last three years, we’ve averaged somewhere right around 8.5 or 9 percent, so we’re way lower than industry average. 

From my perspective, I thought, “OK, if I make these people really like me and they come away informed, that is the culture I’d like to have permeate  our organization”. 

One of the ways that we do that is we have a series of “CMG-isms.” One of them is called leapfrogging. Anybody in the company can call anybody in the company, and you don’t get in trouble. If you want to call me because you have an obstacle or an opportunity, I’m happy to jump in and help. That goes all the way to a VA loan, where the borrower turns out to not be a veteran, to a loan where we’re trying to make a loan on a piece of property that’s an island, all the way to where we made a loan to a barn that is a condo. A “barn dominion” is what it’s called. I never heard of one of these things before. But it was one of those things where it was a really good customer and it made sense. It was the right loan to value, and a good borrower. It got to my desk, and I still am at a loan-level basis, because I think that’s what keeps us nimble and agile and informed. I think it permeates again to who we are as a company. We’re going to no bets are off. No bet is too hard for us in terms of going the furthest we need to go and to make the customer’s experience extraordinary, and that’s for every customer, every time – a no exceptions, no excuses mentality.

No bet is too hard for us in terms of going the furthest we need to go and to make the customer’s experience extraordinary, and that’s for every customer, every time – a no exceptions, no excuses mentality.

Max Simkoff That’s great. I mean, helping your customers treat your people well. They sound like truisms, but they know they’re the foundation of building successful companies.

My father-in-law always loves to remind me that Sam Walton and his wife would go and work the cash register at Walart, every weekend when they were building the business up until they were unable to basically walk into a Walmart location anymore. I think a kind of funny side of that is that part of the reason Sam Walton did that is he felt it was the only way he could get customer feedback was made sure he was talking to customers himself.

Let’s switch gears a little bit to something that’s very recent, and also in the realm of perhaps making things a little bit more challenging for both customers and your loan officer associates that just got announced yesterday.

I’m going to read you two headlines from two different publications. I won’t tell you which is which publication, but I think it’s fascinating as it’s getting reported.I would love to get your take on this. The first headline is: “Borrowers Face New Fee to Cover Heightened Risks.” The second headline is: “Refinancing Your Mortgage Will Cost More, Thanks to a New Fee from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.” Both of these obviously refer to an announcement from Fannie and Freddie yesterday that after September 1 there will be what’s called a new “adverse market refinance fee” of 50 basis points of total loan value on refinancings.

First of all, the fee is not good for the industry. It’s not good for a time where people are suffering through a variety of different setbacks associated with the coronavirus. There’s just no question about that.

A couple of different questions here, not to put you on the spot. One is, what is this fee to? Based on what we know about it, given it was only announced less than 24 hours ago,- is this really a fee to protect against a new risk that is being introduced in the market, or is it something else? And this kind of gets to the theme of discussion in general: What do we do about this, and are we going to see more of this?  Is this kind of the new normal,  the new hurdles that are being introduced to how we originate loans and help homeowners during a very challenging time?

Chris George Well, OK. Let me respond to that in a couple of fronts. First of all, the fee is not good for the industry. It’s not good for a time where people are suffering through a variety of different setbacks associated with the coronavirus. There’s just no question about that. You’re talking about an implementation of attacks on refinances, which almost makes you wonder if this is some form of risk, an arbitrary change in guarantee fees (g-fees), so when you raise g-fees, you should reflect real risk. I’m not completely convinced that there is real risk yet, based on the data that we have with regards to the number of forbearances and how many folks are going to be able to afford their payments in the future, as it relates to the continuation of shutdown and a lot of the economy across the United States. Because there are some areas that are coming back, and there are other areas that just are not. There’s a starting and stopping, and raising and lowering of the amount of folks that are testing positive for the coronavirus. The big thing is, we just don’t know what we don’t know. In my opinion, when you don’t know what you don’t know, it’s sort of like driving with your eyes closed, and I wouldn’t recommend doing that. Right? If you’re going to do it, I would highly recommend you do not jerk the wheel to the left or the right arbitrarily. I would think that driving with your eyes closed, you’re probably better trying to keep the wheel reasonably straight. I think this is one of those arbitrary jerks. I’m not specifically referring to any one individual. I’m talking about the action. 

[Both laugh]

So as a result, I think  you should really sit down and say, are we going to see higher default costs due to the coronavirus? And if so, what are those costs? And if those costs result in a 30, 20, 50, 70, 60 basis point change., the industry should come together and make a decision on this thing. So there’s the fee itself, right. What is the fee? What is it taking care of, and what will it do in terms of protecting both the agencies for increased risk? So there’s that. 

Are we going to see higher default costs due to the coronavirus? And if so, what are those costs? And if those costs result in a 30, 20, 50, 70, 60 basis point change., the industry should come together and make a decision on this thing. So there’s the fee itself, right. What is the fee? What is it taking care of, and what will it do in terms of protecting both the agencies for increased risk?

Equally is the implementation of the fee. This is a two-week notice of a fee with people who have billions of dollars, with the pipelines locked all around the United States. By the way, there’s precedent on how these fees have been implemented previously. So I do not understand why the director has chosen to go about implementing this fee the way they have, and how they come up with the fee. I am certainly not making the recommendation or suggestion that we ought to have this fee extend past refinances. But consider this argument: How do you make an argument that a rate-term refi at 45 percent LTV, with a 9 DTI and a 780 FICO score, is somehow more risky than the 97-percent loan to value first-time homebuyer that’s got a DTI that’s higher than the other customer, and probably a credit score that’s lower than the other customer? Of the two, which one will weather the storm of losing their job? Cearly, the person who’s got a lower DTI, higher credit, lower LTV has a lot more opportunity to weather the storm than somebody who’s right at the edge in each one of those categories. Again, I’m not suggesting we put a 50-basis point tax on purchases, but I am saying to you that it doesn’t seem terribly well thought-out. 

I wish the industry was more a part of a collaborative discussion. Nobody likes this, right? Nobody likes a fee. To the degree that interest rates stay low in the low 3-percent, maybe nobody even notices it. But it did push pricing back a little bit. If you take a look at what pricing was back in maybe April or May, we’re probably back there now, because this 50 basis points is something that’s going to be part of the process of the expense for our customer to refinance. 

Ideally, I’d like them to pause and say, “Let’s think about this.” I’m not completely convinced that’s what’s going to happen. What I hope happens is there’s a delay of implementation, and there’s a process where people can clear out their pipelines, a process where it can get integrated into all the pricing systems, etc, so it’s not just so quickly pushed through that it creates havoc in the marketplace.

Max Simkoff Yeah. I think what was striking to me – and granted, this is this is all new information, so we’ll see what comes out in the next few weeks or months – but might there even be a way to, if they were going to keep this fee, maybe direct it at encouraging some of the things that it is designed to protect against. It’s a little unclear to me. Is this going to mean that there’s more cash sitting on the balance sheet of the GSEs for a rainy day, which is certainly, you know, that’s one thing that it could be used for? might it be used to encourage more first-time homeownership? Or might it be used to enable some other programs that keep the necessary liquidity in the system that we need? 

I just wonder – and you’ve had certainly way more experience at this than I have – is that the kind of dialogue  you think could be opened up now that it’s been established that this something that they’re going to do? If we’re going to do this, can we at least have dialogue around how those funds get used for the benefit of the greater good, and that they’re at least being communicated as being designed to protect? 

Chris George You’re describing a classic case of a waterfall. The waterfall starts with, “OK, do we believe there’s going to be greater risk in the future? Is there going to be concern whether or not people can stay in their homes?” And if so, is that based in part on fact, unemployment, the continuation of this virus, and so on? Yes, I think there’s a reasonable statement to say that because of forbearances and the other things that are going on, there probably is greater risk. OK, how much is that risk, and how do we price that risk? That’s the first step. 

Then when the risk goes away, how do we stop pricing that risk? So the risk is gone. Well, let’s just keep chugging along here with this tax? 

There is no discussion about it. We’re simply instigating this fee, and that’s it.” Right? There’s no real discussion around it. I don’t think that’s good for any industry. It’s been bad for the mortgage industry because I hardly doubt any individual has ever gotten a decision like that correctly done. I think most people say, “We see this and they’re operating with the best intentions, but they are not operating with all of the information.” The way you operate with all the information is you bring in those stakeholders to have that conversation.

And then last but not least, where is that money going? Is the money simply going to the bottom line of Fannie and Freddie, so both of those entities can get out of conservatorship quicker? Maybe. Is the money going to methods that help people weather the storm and get back to making their payments on time? In other words, an increased awareness around modification? Possibly. But none of that is discussed. It’s just, “Hey, look, we’re taxing you. There is no discussion about it. We’re simply instigating this fee, and that’s it.” Right? There’s no real discussion around it. I don’t think that’s good for any industry. It’s been bad for the mortgage industry because I hardly doubt any individual has ever gotten a decision like that correctly done. I think most people say, “We see this and they’re operating with the best intentions, but they are not operating with all of the information.” The way you operate with all the information is you bring in those stakeholders to have that conversation.

Max Simkoff Totally. I guess getting to the other side, the only way that our industry can, over time, increase profitability – especially in a world where there may be increased fees, and then ideally pass on some material benefit of that profitability in the form of lower fees to end consumers – is through the widespread adoption of technology. This is something that I think is a relatively uncontroversial topic that nearly everybody in our industry, certainly anybody who is forward-thinking, would  agree on.

I think certainly what you’ve seen recently is because of COVID-19. A lot of originators have been scrambling to enable better capabilities around technology broadly. But to be more specific around this concept of fully remote digital closing, this has certainly been a bunch of conversations we’ve been having. As you and I talked about yesterday, I thought you offered some very good advice for the kinds of conversations that we’re having right now. It’s like, “Let’s keep it practical. Let’s talk about what can be practically done here.” 

You guys have done some things practically that enabled you to be ahead of the curve. I believe you have already to some degree implemented eNotes, which are a critical part of enabling this. One of the things I’ve learned is you can’t enable a fully remote, digital closing unless you’ve figured out how to implement eNotes. On that topic in particular – and then maybe on the topic of enabling the fully remote, digital close – what is CMG  able to do, and what have you learned in your experience of trying to move toward a world where you enable a fully digital mortgage? What do you think are some practical takeaways for many who are on this webinar who are probably wondering how they can do this quickly?

Chris George So we were one of the very first companies, and, believe it or not, it was about, gosh, eight or 10 years ago that we started doing eNotes. I believe we were the first independent mortgage banker to start selling these notes to Freddie Mac, and then ultimately to Fannie Mae.

Part of the problem with this is that if you are a typical mortgage banker, a typical bank that is doing mortgages, and the entire spectrum, you’re trying to get efficiencies via a systemic process. What happens with eNotes is that if you want to utilize eNotes – and for the sake of discussion, FHA doesn’t deploy in eNotes today – you’re constantly saying, “Oh, OK, all my FHA loans gotta go over here, which is the old way, and all my streamlining eNotes stuff can go over here.” Where you really run into a problem with eNotes is your remote online notary discussion. I’m still thinking, “Alright, I can do most of it electronic, but I have to have this person notarize it.” 

What does an eNote do? I have been a proponent, and I believe eNotes will reduce the cost. I believe that it will allow me to sell my loans quicker. It will allow me to not be so dependent on giant warehouse lending, because I can fund the loan on Monday and sell it on Monday.

Lastly, there are certain parts of the country – and you know this better than I – where a county recorder’s office operates differently than other county recorder’s offices. The technology that exists within those local county recorder’s offices isn’t the same all the way across the board. Somebody told me that blockchain might ultimately put that into some sort of unified format. 

What does an eNote do? I have been a proponent, and I believe eNotes will reduce the cost. I believe that it will allow me to sell my loans quicker. It will allow me to not be so dependent on giant warehouse lending, because I can fund the loan on Monday and sell it on Monday. It ought to be like buying and selling a stock, that simple. My reliance on mega warehouse banks drops dramatically, because I don’t have to have this long duration of keeping the loan until I send it on its way. 

I think there’s a number of legislative efforts going on about remote online notarization once we can get that done. I’m very encouraged by what’s happening in FHA and what Brian Montgomery is doing over there to bring his entire system up to a place that he can accommodate eNotes. Once you get there, I think this whole idea of physically moving documents around like we still do will be something of the Stone Ages. It surprises me that we’re even still here, to be honest with you.

I’ll just share with you a little bit of personal experience. This is the 38th year I’ve been in the mortgage industry. It blows my mind that we lose a note, right? We lose an original note, and then we call the borrower up and go, “Hey, Max. Remember that $400,000 negotiable instrument that you signed, like, a couple of days ago? We need you to sign another one.” It just stuns me. “OK, fine. Send it over. I’ll sign another note.” Right? And it’s not carelessness, by the way. I don’t think people are looking at it lackadaisically. I just think it’s the system of a physical piece of paper moving its way through the system, and it gets ground up in some copy machine, or lost in some snowbank, or whatever. Despite the concerns about data security and privacy, it shocks me that we’re still here in this paper world. eNotes, remote online notarization, and technology intended to reduce the cost to the borrower are way overdue. I think you’re going to see a lot of progress in this over the next 24 months.

Max: I mean, look, it never ceases to amaze me that the only state that has now not approved either a state-level statute or an emergency order to enable remote online notarization is, unfortunately, the great state of California, in which we both reside.

The frustration that we’ve had is trying to understand why California seems to have some residual concerns about the data security and privacy for remote online notarization. To your point around the note getting lost, we’ve been having those conversations. We were like, “Hey, you are aware that when a notary does this the old-fashioned way, they put that stuff in what’s called a notary journal? A hardbound book that goes in someone’s car, and then it goes in their house?” These same notaries would be happy to not have to drive to people’s houses. They can do this stuff online and have the stuff be protected. 

But anyway, that’s that. I want to leave time for a couple of questions, and then I’ll end with more of a fun one here. A number of events this year have put a sharp focus on the need for racial equality. You were the past chairman of diversity and inclusion for the MBA. What do you think lenders can do to better ensure equality of funding?

Chris George OK, so let’s talk about diversity and inclusion for just a second. When I was the chair of the Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Committee, I made a standard line. I was coming off of the previous chairman, who was Dave Mottley, the former chairman of the MBA. The process is you are the chair of the D&I Committee before you, the chairman of the MBA, in the process of your leadership time. Dave made a comment, which was pretty well reported on, that he thought  the mortgage industry was made up of a bunch of “male, pale, and stale people.” People would laugh about that. I think there is a lot of truism to that. When I got to the D&I, I said, “Look, I think D&I should stand for support of Diversity and Inclusion. But I think it also should stand for D should stand for deliberate and I should stand for intentional.”

I like the concept of things being diverse in my leadership team. And I like the concept of my marketplace being diverse. It’s actually sensible business when you start talking about diversity in the manner to which you do business. 

You’re not going to accidentally be diverse. You’re not going to accidentally be inclusive. By the way, being diverse is a little easier than being inclusive. It’s easier to say, “OK, I’m going to make a concerted effort  to find people who are different from what we typically have hired.” So, for instance, in California, as you know, the minority is now the majority. The majority of the folks in California who I’m likely to encounter are going to be Latino or Hispanic. That’s true probably in Nevada, Arizona, possibly even New Mexico, and Texas, and in other parts of the country. It’s my opinion that people like to do business with people who they’re comfortable doing business with. I want to make sure that I do something that it makes it easier for you to interact with CMG. 

One of the more difficult projects we’ve been working on – and it’s hard – is to go from the beginning to the end. When I say the end, I’m talking about servicing the beginning of the end of a fully integrated Spanish documentation set and communication. It’s easy to say, “Oh, you’ve just got to do that.” Well, it’s a lot more difficult than you think, because some of that stuff doesn’t translate right over.  We’ve been working on this now for more than two years. We’re almost done. We believe it’s an edge that’s going to allow us to be able to go into marketplaces that we may or may not be in today, but also feel like it’s the right thing to do. I like the concept of things being diverse in my company. I like the concept of things being diverse in my leadership team. And I like the concept of my marketplace being diverse. It’s actually sensible business when you start talking about diversity in the manner to which you do business. 

If you only do jumbo loans, and then suddenly jumbo loans go away, your business is going to tip over pretty easily. So build a wide base. Figure out a way to do business in either parts of the country that you don’t do business in, or work on a product that you typically don’t work on, and then try and diversify that way – but also diversify with the players and the people in your business. 

Lastly, as I mentioned, the “deliberate and intentional side” of this thing – I’m duly surprised by how much better we have become as a company when I am adding this level of diversity. Diversity, by the way, isn’t just ethnicity. It’s diversity on locality, diversity on lifestyle. It’s all kinds of things. I mean, we’re in the Bay Area. This is a pretty diverse area in the Bay Area. For the most part, anything goes, as long as it doesn’t hurt somebody else. Right?  I like that. I really do. Maybe there are other parts of the country that aren’t as diverse, but I really do like that about the Bay Area. With that in mind, we’ve been able to bring in younger people. We’ve been able to bring in people who are from different walks of life and from a different perspective. Those things have opened up our eyes to different ways to do business – not just from a technology perspective, but a way to communicate better with a market to keep in contact with people better. 

I’ll leave you with one last thing. If our industry is focusing on D&I – and we should be – by the way, we should also be focusing on the other “I,”. and that’s Innovation. The innovation component is: What are we going to do? What products do we need to create in order to be able to be competitive in the marketplace in the future? In my world, I live six to nine months out. That’s the place where I live. I want to know that  nine months from now, what are my people going to be selling? Are refinances dead? Are we back to purchases? Are we looking at second mortgages now? Because nobody wants to touch the 3 percent, 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage. They need cash out of their home. 

In other words, I’m looking out there. A lot of times people have good ideas. The industry is where the ideas will come from. A lot of people have good ideas, but they just don’t know how to get those ideas implemented. And my recommendation, I’m not trying to make a public service announcement here, but my recommendation is to contact folks like you, Max, and say, “Hey, listen, who do you know at Fannie, Freddie, Ginnie, or FHA? I have an idea that might help people who have student loan debt be able to buy a home. I have an idea that can help you crowdsource your downpayment. You may or may not have the contacts that I have, having sat in the chair of the MBA chairmanship for three years in the leadership ladder. But you have been, Max, and there are other people that do have them that you know. 

So my recommendation is, if you’re listening to me and have an innovative idea and you want to figure out a way to implement that idea, pick up the phone and call either the folks at States Title, or possibly an MI company that you’re close with, because that’s what’s needed today: Innovation beyond simply where we’re at today. We need to take this entire industry to another level in terms of reducing expenses and exposure — and frankly, again, that diversification of the marketplace.

Max Simkoff Great, great answer. So I know where we’re just a little over time, but I still want to ask this one last question, because it was a little bit of a softball. I’m guessing from the – I can see just based on the last name of the person who’s asking this question. I’m guessing they may know you pretty well. The question here is, what is your favorite Nicholas Cage movie?

Chris George What is my favorite Nicholas Cage movie? Well, I think this answer will surprise you, as well as surprise the rest of the people in attendance. My favorite Nicholas Cage movie is Animal House. 

Max Simkoff Really?! [Laughs]

Chris George Most people are going to say, “Wait a minute, I didn’t know Nicolas Cage was in Animal House.”

Max Simkoff I have seen Animal House several times, and I don’t remember him being in that movie.

Chris George You’ll have to do your research, but in the movie, he is not Nicolas Cage. He is whatever his last name was. I can’t remember what his actual name was. He changed it to Cage.

Max Simkoff I’m just curious, do you remember who he is in that movie? 

Chris George Well, he’s an extra. He hangs out within the smoke-filled van, which is a perfect start for that. 

Max Simkoff Wait, that’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High. 

Chris George You’re right. I’m sorry. It’s not Animal House, it is Fast Times at Ridgemont High. 

Max Simkoff OK, so he’s in Fast Time at Ridgemont High, another movie I’ve also seen a number of times, so I’m going to go back and rewatch it. But anyway, Chris, thank you for making time for this. Always a pleasure. Many really insightful pieces of practical guidance and advice for people in our industry. I wanted to  say thanks again. I really enjoyed the conversation.

Chris George Thanks, Max for having me. And to follow-up – because I have this information sometimes at my fingertips – it’s Nick Coppola in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. 

Max Simkoff Yes, that’s right. Coppola, because he’s related to Francis Ford Coppola.

Chris George I think that’s his uncle. 

Max Simkoff Yeah. Interesting.

Chris George Well, thanks for having me. I’d be happy to come back again if there is either another major fee added to our industry, or if you would like to talk about some of the other great movies of the 1980s, for sure.

Max Simkoff For sure. Awesome. Thanks again, Chris.


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