Why Filmmakers are Always So Damn Broke
I hope I got your attention with that title. I’m truly PISSED OFF guys and am tired of seeing my fellow indie filmmakers and artist struggle to make a living doing what they love. I decided to put together a list of steps that every indie filmmaker needs to do in order to thrive in the film business.
Since this website is call INDIE FILM HUSTLE the terminology I’ll be using will be aimed at filmmaking or screenwriting but all of these concepts can be applied to any art form.
PLEASE NOTE: If you were to ever listen to a podcast of mine, this is the one. I’ll be laying out the steps in the article but I go MUCH DEEPER into each one on the podcast. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN.
Steps to Make a Living as an Artist and a Filmmaker
Step #1 – Have a Plan
How are you going to support yourself while your building the skill set needed to make a living as a filmmaker? Not having this plan is by far the biggest mistakes I see filmmakers make. Without a plan your dead in the water. and MAKING A FILM AND WINNING SUNDANCE IS NOT A F*CKING PLAN!! Yes there are the lottery ticket winners but they are the exception not the rule.
I choose editing, post production and directing commercials and music videos as a way I put food on the table. That path was not an easy one but I learned so many skills along the way that I can put into my creative work. The more I know, the more dangerous of a filmmaker I become.
Find something you can do for a long time that will support your creative aspirations and if all possible find work within the film business. Work for free at first if you need to, hustle, learn, and grow. It ain’t easy but if it was everyone would do it.
Step #2 – Learn as Much about Every Aspect of Making a Film as You Can
Don’t learn just the sexy creative stuff. Cameras, film gear, post production, working with actors, directing techniques, writing, and visual effects are all sexy areas of the film business.
You need to understand all of the above topics but what I’m saying is that you need to also learn the un-sexy stuff like:
- Starting an LLC,
- Psychology of human behavior (for writing and dealing with people on set/in general),
- Basic entertainment law
- Audience building
- Tax Incentives
- Working with agents and mangers
- Budget breakdowns
- Production insurance
- Web Design
- Internet Marketing
- Email List Building
…and many other things. You have to understand the whole picture, not just the fun stuff. You don’t have to be an expert in every topic but you do have to have a basic knowledge of everything.
The filmmakers who succeed in the long term educated themselves on ALL the aspects of the creative and business sides of filmmaking. James Cameron, Chris Nolan and David Fincher didn’t just wake up and start making amazing and game changing films, they studied everyday and added new tools in the tool box.
The skills that put food on my table today weren’t learned in a film school, I learned them by constantly reading books, taking online courses or listening to audiobooks/podcasts.
Step #3 – Show Up Everyday
“90% of success is just showing up.” – Woody Allen
Woody was correct. I’ll rather work with some one who shows up everyday and bust his/her ass than a “talented” lazy ass. Consistency builds a career and more importantly builds a life. If you show up everyday and read a book, learn something new, or try a new thing, this is what builds you up into a unstoppable creative force.
The more tools you can put in your toolbox the more dangerous and successful a filmmaker you will become. Doing something small everyday will lead to great things. The Rock didn’t become the highest paid actor in the world over night. It took decades of work and hustle. Little by little. Be Consistent!
Step #4 – Learn Branding, Audience Building and Marketing
If you do not learn these three things Branding, Audience Building and Marketing you will not make a living as an indie filmmaker selling your films or products online. Marketing is not a horrible thing, without it you would not know about some of your favorite products or services.
As a filmmaker living in the world today these three subjects have to be in your toolbox. I’ll be going into much deeper depth on each of these subjects in the future. They are large and vast topics but understand you need to know and use them in your filmmaking.
Step #5 – Become a Entrepreneur
A filmmaker today that is trying to self distribute or sell their films or products online and that doesn’t consider him or herself an entrepreneur is not going to make it.
Whether you like it or not, when you make a film and your goal is to make money with it then you are an entrepreneur. How skilled you are as an entrepreneur is entirely different. You are making a product to sell to a customer. If you don’t frame you ideas of the film as it is a product to be sold then I hate to tell you but that might be the last time you make a product like that. Think Shark Tank.
Here are examples of filmmakers who took their films and made businesses out of them.
These filmmakers are a blueprint of what can be done when you think like not only as an artist but as an entrepreneur.
Step #6 – Don’t Give Up
Look I’m not perfect, I’ve lost my way over the years many times. I owned an online comic book business, an eBay and Amazon.com business selling DVDs and I even own a olive oil and balsamic gourmet company (it’s a long story).
These were my confusing times, where I veered off the path I was born to walk. The path of the filmmaker.
These “dark times” were when I thought I couldn’t do it anymore. That the struggle got too tough but I never abandoned the filmmaking ship completely.
No matter how much I wanted to leave the film biz I couldn’t. Like a mythological siren in “Homer’s Odyssey” it called to me with it’s seductive song. I didn’t feel whole unless I was practicing my craft, my calling is as a storyteller. I alway kept working in the film industry in some capacity during these “dark times”.
You have to find the strength and energy to keep that dream alive, to keep that hustle going. You owe it to the world to keep going. You have no idea what your little film or story might do for another human being. It’s might bring them a smile, a moment of joy, educated them or God helps us inspire them. You owe it to them to tell your stories and make your films.
Step #7 – Work and Hustle
The film business is f*cking brutal but it doesn’t have to be. It’s the best time ever to be a filmmaker. You have access to things that us “more mature” filmmakers would have killed for coming up the ranks. Affordable cinema quality cameras, post production in your house, direct distribution and more access to filmmaking knowledge then ever before.
If you’re smart, have a plan…a realistic plan, (making a film and winning Sundance is not a f*cking plan) educate yourself on every aspect of filmmaking, audience building, crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, branding and marketing, show up everyday and put in 100% and oh by the way HUSTLE LIKE YOU NEVER HUSTLED BEFORE, then you have a recipe for success.
This isn’t a 6 month plan, this isn’t a 1 year plan, this is a life time plan. Making a living as an artist or filmmaker is F*CKING HARD but you can change that in your own life.
I hope these steps bring value and inspiration to your lives, I also hope it lights a large fire in your ass to follow through and be the filmmaker you were born to be.
Good luck with all your future projects. Keep that hustle going and keep your dreams alive!
Right click here to download the MP3 (Transcription of the episode below)
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- Robert Townsend – Hollywood Shuffle
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Transcription – Indie Film Hustle Podcast Episode #98.
Welcome to the Indie Film Hustle Podcast Episode Number 88.
“Don’t think about making Art. Just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. And while they’re deciding make even more Art.”- Andy Warhol
Broadcasting from the back alley in Hollywood. It’s the Indie Film Hustle Podcast where we show you how to survive and thrive as an Indie filmmaker in the jungles of the film business and here’s your host Alex Ferrari.
Welcome to another episode of the Indie Film Hustle Podcast. I am your humble host Alex Ferrari. Now guys today you know I’m pissed. I’m pissed off and we’re going to talk about some real shit today. So if you don’t want to listen to real real raw information stuff that may not be easy to listen to and some of it might be my opinion but this is going to be the realest shit I’ve ever said on this podcast.
So if you’re interested perk up those ears because we’re going to talk and we’re going to talk real and at the end of this. We’re going to see a light at the end of this fucking tunnel and yes I know I’ve got like two days left on my crowdfunding campaign but we’ll talk about that later.
You know because I wanted to get into this because something happened to me a little while ago and it affected me. It affected me really really deeply and I kind of just had an epiphany down like you know what I needed. I need to talk about this and I need to lay this out for the tribe and for whoever is listening to this podcast out there. I have a story about an artist.
Now I was driving in LA and in LA when you’re driving around and you stop at, you know off ramps of the highway. There’s always some homeless person or someone you know asking for help and you know it just becomes something you always see in the back of your. You always just see it. You know it’s something you there. And when you have some money you give. I always try to give as much as I can whenever I see somebody.
But I saw this one person and she hit me to the core of my soul when I saw her. Was a beautiful young girl. She must have been probably in her early twenty’s and the look on her face while she was standing on the side of the road asking for money with her little sign which I’ll tell you what it said in a minute. The look on her face was so. I mean it just it’s like bringing a tear to my eye just thinking about what she looked like. She had this fear, this depression, this like hopelessness. And the sign said I’m an artist. I’m homeless. And I need money to eat. Please help.
Now what brought what really caught my eye was the fact that she had drawn this beautiful calligraphy on this piece of cardboard. Some piece of cardboard she found somewhere in a dumpster and she had a pen and some colors and she drew this beautiful calligraphy stating what I just told you it was and it broke my fucking heart because she had so much talent and I’m like why why in God’s green earth can’t this artist make a living. Why in God’s green earth can this artist, this beautiful young lady cannot make a living doing her art.
Why does she have to be standing on the side of the road begging for money, begging to eat to survive and she has this talent. That’s obvious. It’s not like I’m making it up. She has this amazing talent which is a monetize. You can make money doing it. She can monetize that talent. But she doesn’t have the skills or God knows what also happened in her life to get into the position she is at. But I think if she would have had the skills, the knowledge, the support to be that artist. She wouldn’t be
on the side of the road. Now I had twenty dollars in my pocket and I handed over to her without even thinking twice. If I had more I would have given her more that day. And I’m no rich man by any stretch of imagination. I’ve got a family I have to support.
But when I saw that I was just in awe of even at the lowest part where she was at and again I can’t make any judgments about where she is or who she is or what she’s gone through but at that moment in time to be where she was at in her life, she still used her art to express herself. Even if the expression was to ask for money to survive, to eat, to have a place to sleep in the night and that just rang so true to me as an artist, as a filmmaker that I was like oh my God I can’t believe this young girl and I gave her some words I go.
Look I stop for a second I’m an artist too. And there is hope you know keep your head up, keep working and I couldn’t do anything else for her at the moment, I was just so I mean I was just so breath take, my breath was taken away from me and the light turned green and I had to go but that woman’s face, that young girl’s face is burned into my brain and I will never forget her or her sign.
So this episode is dedicated to all the starving artists and in my world filmmakers because that’s who I talk to. I talk to filmmakers but everything I’m about to say is something that could easily be translated to any art form. Whether that be music, whether that be painting, whether that be writing a novel or a script whatever. Almost all the forms of art.
What I’m about to say can translate into that form but I’m going to focus on filmmakers and I’m going to used filmmaking terminology because that’s who my tribe is. That is a tribe that I’m trying to help but in in the broader term. I want all artist. No matter what form it you choose to be able to make a fucking living wage doing what you love to do. This world is big enough. There is enough people in it to support your artistic endeavors and I want to make that very clear to everyone there is enough people on the planet to support you. You, your individual little art, whatever little or big or whatever you want to do. It can be supported by this population, by this planet.
OK. So I’m going to get into it. Now guys by the way I, if you had been listening to my podcast for a long time. You know I don’t curse very often. I rarely curse because I like to keep the show clean. But this clip, this show is going to be fucking not that clean and I’m doing it for a reason. I want to shake you up a bit. I want you to wake up out of your delusion sometimes that we as artists get through and trust me as I go through this you’ll understand my journey too because I’m going to talk a little bit in detail on things that I have never talking about on the show before to illustrate what I’m talking what I’m trying to explain to you guys today. All right. So if you are offended by a cursing. I’m sorry there’s going to be some in this show.
So step one have a plan. Have a plan. Now I’m going to give you some examples of what I mean have a plan. You have to have a plan on how you’re going to support yourself while you’re building the skills needed to make a living as a filmmaker or as an artist. Does that make sense to everyone listening. Have a plan. There are so many artists so many filmmakers that go out like I’m just going to go and be an artist. I’m just going to be. I just want to show art and I just want to do art and I want to make my movies in, I don’t want to worry about the business.
If you go down that road. You will never ever ever make it a living as an artist. OK. Sure there are the lottery ticket guys. Always are. There’s always exceptions to every rule but the ninety nine point nine percent of the rest of us were not going to be able to do that.
So you have to have a plan. My plan was I chose editing. I chose post production to make my, put food on my table and by doing that I learned immense amount of skills that helped me as a filmmaker, as a director because those skills I was able to translate into my directing career as in commercials and music videos where the point was I was being packaged out as not just a director for hire.
But a director who could also shoot, a director that could also edit and post and I could package it all together making myself much more appetizing for potential clients. Why, because I had a plan. I thought about I’m like well if I don’t and by the way this was all at twenty something when I started this journey. I did not have this all mapped out by the way. I’m not that smart. I kind of fell into it and I kind of was very instinctual about it. So I’m here to hopefully pass that information on to you. So you don’t have to learn the hard way which are a lot of lessons I am going to talk about that I had to learn the hard way.
So find something that you can do for a long time to create to support your creative aspirations. OK. Whatever that might be and you know working at the local, you know the local restaurant as a waiter. Yeah you could do that and many artists here in LA do that but I would I would go out I would go out and try to do something a little bit more.
You know try to get were if you’re a filmmaker and you try to break into the business, why not work as a PA, why not work in the grip department, why not work on the set, why not work in a post production house, why not work in visual effects, why not work at a casting office, why not work at an agency. Work somewhere that you’re going to get access to information, to knowledge that can help you build up that tool box, build up that arsenal that you will be able to use on your own projects, on your own creative endeavors.
Not having a plan is the single biggest mistake I see filmmakers make. And I’ve seen so many come through my doors who like mortgage the house and they roll the dice and that’s all beautiful and very romantic. You know what I mean very romantic to do that but don’t be an idiot. I’m sorry you don’t do things like that. This is the real world. You don’t go out and put your house on mortgage, your house to make your movie. It’s very romantic but if you do that and have no backup plan and you risk yourself, your family, your home for your art. I’m sorry you’re an idiot.
Like I said before, you could do that if you want to. Kevin Smith did it with clerks. He put a bunch of stuff on his credit cards. I was at thirty thousand dollars to make Clerks. Robert Townsend was one of the first independent filmmakers to do that.
If you guys doesn’t know Robert Townsend you look him up. He did a movie called Hollywood Shuffle back in the days when films were films. As far as making movies actually on thirty five cost a ton and he put everything on his credit cards. He’s the first guy I think who did that, that was well known and actually hit. Spike Lee did that, Robert Rodriguez you know did it with you know he was a guinea pig to make his moving in to get his seven thousand dollars budget to make his El Marachi.
You know everyone does a lot of different things. Now if you want to risk it all, go for it. Knock yourself out. But you’re risking it and you’re rolling the dice and in today’s world. It’s not the world of Kevin Smith anymore.
It ain’t the world of Robert Townsend which was the eighty’s. OK it’s twenty sixteen guys. There is a lot more competition out there and the whole I sell all my stuff. I put on my credit cards or loan myself out or mortgage my house to make a movie story that’s been told already. So I’m going to get you a lot of heat. All right.
And I’m not saying I am saying you shouldn’t but it’s not smart. You have to have a plan on where you want to go with this. So again. Step one. Have a fucking plan. Step two, learn every aspect about filmmaking that you can. OK. Every aspect and again of filmmaking or whatever your art might be but learn every aspect of it. So as a filmmaker. I don’t want to hear about a director who doesn’t understand lenses, who doesn’t understand cameras, who doesn’t
understand Post basic post production. I don’t mean I don’t want you guys to become experts in everything but you should know enough about every avenue, enough that you could do something with that information to help you make your movie. You know it and it’s not going to happen overnight. You know but something as simple as this. Throughout my entire career audio has been my nemesis. I hated it in college, I hated it during productions, I don’t want to deal with it. I just didn’t like audio. I hate it in audio post. It just drove me nuts. It was something I never like doing. But now because I started doing, I was going to do my own movie and I was going to create this meg which is the first feature as you all know that I’ve done and I’ll talk a bunch about that in a minute. It was the first time I was going to do everything by myself essentially. Almost the entire production was going to be handled by me. And the one area that I felt really weak in was audio.
So what did I do I took an audio online course. A wonderful audio online course that is available. Here’s my plug. At the I F H film school which is amazing. In just two hours, in two hours I learned the basics about how to record great audio on set. Simple. It’s not complicated. I now can talk to an audio guy at his level. I’m not an expert by any stretch, by any stretch of my an expert in audio.
But I know enough to get clean audio on my movie and in the future I hopefully will have bigger budgets where I can hire a professional audio guy. But that is what I’m talking about because if I didn’t learn that piece of information. I can’t move forward. I can’t learn or it’s going to cost me a lot more to get it done.
So what I’m telling you is learn as much as you can about the film, the filmmaking process and I’m not talking also about just the creative fun part. Educate yourself about every aspect of the creative and business side of filmmaking. OK. Every aspect. So you need to understand the business like I’ve said many times before. And I may quote Suzanne Lyons, a good producer friend of mine. She says, ‘The word show and there’s a word business and the word business is twice as long as the word show.’
And there’s a reason for that. It is real reason you have to understand the business of it. You have to understand distribution, you have to understand marketing, you have to understand all this other stuff and we’re going to get into a couple of those other avenues in a little bit but you have to understand everything. OK. everything. How to open up an LLC.
You know when you’re opening, you’re making a movie you need to have an LLC, you need to understand insurance, you need to understand everything as much as you can and again you don’t have to be experts at everything but you need to know enough about it to move yourself forward and not have it hold you back. Is that make sense. I really hope it does.
Three big huge tip on how to be a successful or at least an artist that can sustain himself or herself throughout her life is to show up every day as Woody Allen has said, ‘Ninety percent of success is just showing up’. And he’s absolutely right. Consistency builds a career, builds your art. Showing up every day and just doing it. Read a book every day learn something new every day. Try a new thing and it builds up into this unstoppable creative force.
Imagine this guy’s imagine this. Why don’t I want to put something out in the world right now. I am going to put everybody here in this podcast to try to do something for me. Why don’t you guys read ten pages of a book every day. Ten pages. Ten pages will take you twenty minutes. You can do it on the journey. You can do it on your commute. If you can read it. Listen to it. Listen to ten minutes. Let ten minutes or watch a ten minute course. Ten minutes of an online course, a video, a tutorial, YouTube tutorial, listen to audio books or listen to a podcast. An informative podcast like one like when you listen to right now of course. But listen to something like that.
Every day. Now imagine if you read ten pages every day. How many books would you have read by the end of the year. Ten to twelve books out of average of a two hundred fifty page, two hundred fifty pages a book. Let’s say. Some will be shorter, some will be longer. So let’s say between ten to fifteen books. So imagine if you read ten or fifteen books a year.
How much stronger. How much more informed. How much of a better creative filmmaker or artist would you be if you had that much information in your noggin. Imagine you learning about every other aspect of the business. You know maybe learning about the legalities of the film business is boring to read a book. For you know ten twenty you know just sit down and start reading a book but a ten page is a day you can learn something and if books aren’t your thing. Like I said a lot of people are visual learners. I’m a visual learner. I listen to books.
I listen to books and I watch online courses, I watch to tutorials, I watch videos, I watch documentaries. That’s where I get. That’s how I absorb information better than just reading a book. I do read books of course for enjoyment but where I really absorb it is visual some of visual learner. So whatever works for you but do that. Every day. No matter what and watch the magic that will happen. If you’re a filmmaker and you start reading books on directing, books on cinematography, books on audio, books on art department. Just read books about life because you can’t be a good artist. Unless you understand the world around you. Read a book about other things other than filmmaking.
Imagine how much richer you will be as an educated filmmaker about other aspects of the film business. How much more dangerous as a filmmaker would you be if you had all that information in your head. You know Chris Nolan didn’t just wake up and be Chris Nolan. Robert Rodriguez didn’t wake up and be Robert Rodriguez. Tarantino did not wake up and become Tarantino. They all showed up. They all every day did something small to build up their information, build up their arsenal of knowledge that they can use to do their art and in our world that just create the art, sell the art. Make a living doing the art, doing your film. All right.
So number four. And this is one that filmmakers completely and totally underestimate and don’t want to deal with but guess what if you don’t do what I’m about to tell you the chances of you making a living in today’s world or tomorrow’s world as an independent filmmaker trying to sell your stuff online by yourself, you’re done. You’re dead in the water. So what you need to learn is branding, audio audience building and marketing. Those three things are huge. I cannot express to you enough the importance of branding, audience building and marketing.
If you don’t do that without that you will have an extremely hard time. If not virtually almost impossible to make a living as a filmmaker or as an artist on the Internet or wherever you’re trying to sell your stuff. Now of course you’re going to do the whole Oh I don’t really want to do everything myself I just want to make my movie, have a studio pick it up and I’m off to the races that is the lottery fucking ticket mentality that I am raging against at Indie Film Hustle and I know a lot of my other contemporaries do the same thing. You can’t think like that. That’s not a fucking business plan.
OK. I don’t want to hear about, Oh! you know my business plan is to make a movie with Sundance. That’s not a fucking plan. That’s a pipe dream and it might happen but that’s not the plan. Might look right now I’m getting I’m shooting this is Meg I’m getting ready to submit it to Sundance like every other filmmaker on the planet. OK. That is my goal, my dream. Would be wonderful to get into a Sundance or a South by Southwest or a Tri Beca or any of these big festivals. Absolutely. I would love it but it’s not my only plan guys I’m going to submit it, I’m going to give it my best. I might get picked. It might not but I have other plans afterward or let’s see how
it works. It doesn’t work we got this plan boom boom boom and they’ve got three or four other plans lined up back to back. We have strategies about where this movie’s going to go. You can’t just whisk it all on one thing. You know it’s lunacy. It’s absolutely lunacy and that’s when you’re desperate and when you’re desperate is when you sign horrible distribution deals with horrible distributors when you’ll never see a fucking dime and that’s what I hate to see filmmakers do.
They spend a year, year and a half of their life making a movie if not longer sometimes. They have no plan on how to market it or sell it or build an audience to sell it and then. Oh well I guess I’m going to have to go to AFM and try to sell it and then they spend thousands of dollars going to AFM and they figure out that they can’t sell it anywhere else until one distributor comes on like look good.
I’ll take it on for you. I’ll release it on DVD. I will put it over on netflix for you and then they never going to get any fucking money and that’s happened. I’m going to say the majority of the time when I’ve seen filmmakers go through this process and I’m not the only one to say that you could talk to any professional in the business. Any distributor.
Any go over talk to Jason Brubeck over filmmaking stuff. He’ll say the same thing. OK there’s so much that you need to understand about the branding, about the audience building and about the marketing. You’ve got to educate yourself, you have to educate yourself about how to brand yourself as a filmmaker. OK. Now brand your movie.
That’s different. Brand yourself as a filmmaker like Scorsese branded himself, like Spike Lee branded himself, like Mark Duplass brands himself, like Joe Swanberg brand himself. They all have a brand. How big or small it’s irrelevant but they all have a brand. The Coen Brothers have a brand. Everyone has a brand. You have to learn and understand your brand and take care of it, nurture it and build it. Then you start creating a brand around your movie but before you could do that you got to start building an audience.
Now you can build your audience in many different ways and there’s a whole courses about this and I’m probably going to build. I’m going to probably create a book or a course on everything I’m talking about later on but you have to understand about how to build an audience so you can sell to that audience. And then marketing. God! marketing. Marketing the evil word of marketing. Well but you know what Seth Godin who is a marketing genius
has said it best. ‘Marketers ruin everything’. So when something’s cool, marketers will come in and screw it up. Facebook being an example of that. Twitter, Instagram and so on. That’s what marketers do but marketing is not this evil thing that you have to be like I don’t want to be a marketer. I don’t want to be a marketer selling my stuff. Why I have to tell you because if you don’t know how to market, you ain’t going to sell shit. You ain’t going to sell your movie. You ain’t going to make a living. You ain’t going to pay the rent. You’re not going to eat food. You’re going to be living on your parents’ couch and you’re going to be looking for a job at the local Olive Garden and if you want to work at the Olive Garden. That’s fine but I don’t think you listen to this podcast because it’s ain’t called Olive Garden hustle. It’s called Indie Film Hustle for a reason. You try to learn how to survive and thrive in the business. And I’m going to give it to you straight. As straight as I know how to give it to you. I’m sorry I’m angry guys. I just that story the beginning of the episode got me so riled up that I decided to just kind of, just blurt all of this stuff out and I worked hard on this podcast and I want you guys to listen. Because it’s the message that I’ve been trying to say with Indie Film Hustle. So let’s continue before we go off track. So branding, audience building and marketing.
Step Five, be an entrepreneur. Now what is an entrepreneur if no one knows what an entrepreneur is. Entrepreneur is just a fancy French word says someone who hustles a whole lot, creates a business and sells a product. Whatever that might be a service, a product, so on. That’s an entrepreneur.
Filmmakers who are not entrepreneurs in today’s world twenty sixteen and moving forward because the world’s only going to be going more towards this avenue. You’re not going to have a chance. You have to think bigger. You have to think more than just, just going to make a movie and I’m going to get it distributed and I’m going to get some money and go.
No, no you can’t do that. Now mind you I don’t think I want to be selling This is Meg dolls action figures and Meg T-shirts. You know to support this is Meg. It’s not probably going to work with that kind of movie but there are other things that you can do. So perfect example as look at movies like Kung fury and Turbo Kid. OK on the side of like.
Filmmakers, Indie filmmakers these guys were no one’s nobodies before they came out with this to my knowledge. Because I’d never heard of them but they both came out what’s very successful. Not only crowdfunding campaigns but they were able to sell and continue to make money and build an audience with these guys in the show notes at indiefilmmuscle.com/088 .
You have links to all the stuff I’m talking about. OK. Kung Furi and Turbo kid. These guys built up an audience around their product, their brand and around the concept of what they were trying to do. They funded it. They sold it and they and it’s been they’ve been very successful. Now success is very a very unique term, what success to you. Ten million dollars living up in the Hollywood Hills.
Or I made one hundred grand. And I can live for a year while I create more art. That’s something that you need to decide decide for yourself and what you have to do to get to that point but those guys they did really well and two other amazing examples are two documentaries Food Matters and Fat Sick and Nearly Dead. These guys are entrepreneurs to the highest degree.
If you go to foodmatters.com I think it is. If not going to get in the show notes. Food Matters actually built up this documentary about food. It’s about how food matters and it’s all about healthy food and GMOs and healthy eating in all that kind of stuff. Well they build up so much momentum of the documentary that they actually build up a platform.
So now they’re a distributor. They’re a distributor of other movies in the same token. This is just a family. This is a couple in Australia who did this.
They’re not big guys. They built their entire business up. Now they’ve got a to my understanding a multimillion dollar business built up of a one movie and they were able to spin it and leverage it to build an entire business around, to help people in the cause that they’re trying to help with. Same thing happen with Fat Sick and Nearly Dead if you guys haven’t seen that movie. It changed my life when I saw it but this guy on Australian again, I want to make something in Australia.
I don’t know maybe I should move to Australia. I have no idea but another Australian guy came over and decided to juice himself out of his sickness for sixty days and it changed his life and changed people along the way as life and so on and so forth. He got huge sponsorship deals with juicers. He has built an entire business up around that Sicken and Nearly Dead. I mean I saw his stuff at bed, bath and beyond. They were given movies next to the juicer.
That’s an entrepreneur that someone’s thinking outside the box. Before he was a filmmaker he was a businessman and that’s how it worked and now he made a sequel to it and he’s building a business up. He does lecturing he does touring. I mean it’s remarkable what that guy has done but that’s what I’m talking about being an entrepreneur with your movie.
There’s millions of stories and I won’t say million but there’s a lot of stories out there. I wish there were millions of stories but there’s a lot of stories out there filmmakers who decide to take control of their life, their creative lives and make a business out of filmmaking because I hate to tell you guys. This is a business. You’ve got to sell your product. You’ve got to make a living doing this if not you’re going to just get up enough energy or enough willpower or whatever. Enough money to make one movie and if it doesn’t pop, you’re done. And you can’t look at
filmmaking as a home run derby because it’s not. If I am going to use baseball as an analogy. You’ve got to work on the singles, just keep poping those singles in and BOOM. BOOM. They may not be flashy they are singles but you know what singles after singles after singles turns into home runs. OK. And that’s what you need to focus on don’t focus on the home run.
I think that’s what all, a lot of filmmakers including myself focused on is these home run mentality this like I got to knock it out the park. I gotta get that deal with Warner Brothers of this one movie. You can’t do that. You gotta just hit singles man and maybe, maybe one day the balls thrown just right and maybe you pop that ball just up in the air hard enough and its homerun. And it happens. But you know what if you have a practice hitting those singles, you’re never going to be able to hit that homerun. OK. So focus on that. Be an entrepreneur. Take control of your filmmaking and creative world. It’s one of you guys know something.
There is over seven point two eight billion people on this planet. All you need is a thousand people a year to pay a ten bucks a month. That’s one hundred twenty thousand U.S. dollars which is an amazing salary for an artist and a family to certain extent. Living in Los Angeles depending where you live of course in Beverly Hills not so much but everywhere else. Yes it’s an amazing salary. You know and I can only imagine what one hundred twenty thousand US could do for people living outside of LA living in other parts of the of the US or another country. Imagine that. Now you’re saying all it’s how do I get a thousand people. One thousand people is not a lot of people in the scope of seven point two eight billion people. you have to create enough of an audience that someone’s willing to pay you ten dollars a month for your art or for your knowledge or for your information or for something that’s really related to what you’re trying to do as an artist. It’s not impossible when I break it down into those numbers. It’s not only possible but it’s very probable but it takes a lot of work but it is doable.
So now I’m going to go on to Step six. This is another big one. Don’t give up. Do not give up. Now I am far from perfect. I have lost my way. So many times of my past, off my path. You know my path is a filmmaker. That’s the journey.
That’s my journey. I’m walking on that path and it’s gotten so tough and so wroth you know living in, you know I was living in Miami and it gets a smaller market in LA obviously and it was tough making a living as a filmmaker as even a post guy which is an actual like you know not just creating movies but actually just editing and post-production and things like that. Things got so rough sometimes that I jumped off the course. I jumped off my journey.
You know I’ve had multiple different businesses over the years that I kind of stepped off the journey went down other paths I had a comic book business. I hid in my comic book business when things got really tough. I had an eBay and Amazon business selling DVDs. Many of you know my DVD story that helped me get to LA and I put that link to the to that episode as a fun story. I even opened up an olive oil gourmet shop and that was only a few years, a year and a half ago.
I closed that business. I was doing that business for three years and people were like what the hell is Alex doing. Why in God’s green earth is Alex Ferrari opening up an olive oil company or you know what I was so beat up. I was so disheartened by the business that I’ve been beaten up by these distributors that I’ve been working with, I was just working with them as post.
I wasn’t even working with them as a filmmaker. Working with them as a post I was just getting beat up constantly and I was just tired and I was worn out and I was didn’t feel like I was going anywhere. And I and I had this crazy idea of opening up an olive oil company and I’ll be honest with you guys it was the
roughest, some of the roughest years of my life. It was very very difficult and I have a newfound respect for anybody working in retail, working advance things like that. And you know I always feel this is true and it’s happened to me in a few times in my life where you’ve got to go if you stay kind of like in the middle and you don’t get pushed either way, either really low or really high. You can, it just kind of model there and don’t move and I found that that’s not really good for your soul, its not good for you as an artist. You’ve got to kind of be pushed and tugged a bit. So when I went on this crazy adventure of opening up an olive oil company. It brought me down very low. It brought me lower than I’ve been in over a decade easily and it was very tough and it was very emotionally draining and physically chust brutal but one day I’ll go into the details of it later.
But I think that for me at least I feel that when you’re being brought down so low I feel it’s like almost like a sling shot. All that weight was pulling me down pulling me down pulling me down to the point where I finally released the store, I released the company. I released it and it snapped and that slingshot burst in me out of the cannon.
If you will and that’s where Indie Film Hustle was born because I had such a new respect and love for what I loved originally I had forgotten. I had fallen out of love with the film business. And now that I saw the options. I said well hell I’m, I got to go back and when I came back, I came back with a vengeance. Big time and that’s where Indie Film Hustle came from and then everybody that all my friends and all my colleagues were so happy, we came up.
I had never. I don’t think Indie Film Hustle and what I’m achieving with Indie Film Hustle now with this is Meg all the things that are happening to me in my life right now wouldn’t be there if I hadn’t been thrown this amazing three year journey or challenge that I had to go through to get where I am today and a lot of people always say and I’m a little Tony Robbins on here a lot of people always say that you know I don’t want problems.
But you know what problems are what make you who you are. Problems are what shape you as an artist and shape you as a human being because if you don’t have problems. You don’t you can’t overcome them. You can’t learn from them and you can’t grow and if you can’t grow. You’re dead and I hope you heard me.
If you don’t grow, if you don’t challenge yourself you’re dead as a human, as a person and as an artist and I still did business still I did post-production during the process. I still did movies. I still, you know I did all that kind of stuff. I state I always no matter how far away from the path. I veered. I always had one foot on the path always.
You know why because this business this calling. If you will calls to me like a mythological siren like if I was in a home or story and it just called me no matter how many times I tried to leave. It just kept calling me back. No matter how many times I said I gotta just I got to do something else. I gotta quit. This is too fucking hard. I can’t take it anymore.
No matter what I tried, it always called me back. It always just kept calling me back and saying you. I always asked the question. I got to leave. I got to do something else and I asked the question like well then my brain or my universe or my soul or whatever you want to call it said well what are you going to do and then I said well I don’t have a choice, do I? Like no, you’re not built for much else.
So that’s why I thought my olive oil career was going to get off the ground and we did well with that business and the first time I’ve actually talked about that and a lot of people out in the tribe have heard about it through other interviews and things like that but as a first time I talked about it on the show and it was the largest olive oil company in Los Angeles and it was called the dark times. But I viewed I veered off the path and I understand a lot of you out there are feeling what I felt and what I feel now and I
know it’s really tough out there for you guys and I feel you because I’ve been there and I’ve been there not once but multiple fucking times. A lot of times I’ve been out there but the thing that you have to keep in your head is you can’t give up. If this is really for you, you won’t give up. If this is really your calling. If your calling is really to be a storyteller, a filmmaker, a filmmaking entrepreneur.
Then you will find a way, you will find a way to make it work. If I’ve been able to find a way to make it work. You can find a way to make it work and I’m telling you it’s not going to be an easy path being an artist is probably one of the most difficult paths any human being can take as far as a career choice is concerned. It’s very very difficult to make a living but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re smart the opportunities are there.
If you put in the work, you educate yourself. You can take this. You can do it. There is nothing you cannot do if you do these steps. These simple steps I’m talking about if you do them. I guarantee you you’ll have some success. It might not be the success of your dreams of millions and millions of dollars but it’s a starting point because I guarantee you if you do something long enough eventually someone’s going to notice you and you’re going to get opportunities that you never even thought of because you’re doing it.
Do you know how many opportunities have opened up to me because of Indie Film Hustle because of my want and need to give back to my community to give back to my filmmaking tribe to the filmmakers out to the Indie filmmakers you know how many opportunities have opened up, how many meetings I’ve had, how many things have happened to me.
People I’ve met. Purely because I sit in a dark room and I talk on a microphone and try to help people with my podcast or write articles or upload videos about helping you guys. You know and it’s amazing. It’s absolutely amazing and I can only imagine if I keep doing this which I will in the next three four five years. What I’ll be able to accomplish as a filmmaker and how many people I’ll be able to help. How many artists.
How many stories I have hopefully will have inspired in other filmmakers to make that can change the world because when you make good art. Good art can change people. Good art can change a person and if you can change a person you can change the world and I know that’s kind of fluffy. I know I’m from LA. That sounds really hippy but you know what it’s the fucking truth. It’s the fucking truth. All right.
So step seven and probably the one that’s the most difficult out of all the steps I’ve talked about today and stuff that a lot of people out there listening to this don’t want to do but I’m hoping you will is you’ve got to work. You’ve got to hustle. I repeat that you’ve got to work and you’ve got to hustle. This business, this film business that you want in so bad on it’s fucking brutal. Brutal. OK. Like a Stallone says in Rocky Balboa which is an amazing speech he wrote, “This business will bring you to your knees. No matter how tough you think you are.”
Like life. Life will bring anybody to your knees and that’s only something that you realize as you get older but this business will bring you to your knees and you won’t even know what to do but as he says it’s not about how hard you get hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. You’ve got to keep moving forward.
This is the best time ever to be an independent filmmaker. You have access that us older filmmakers not that old but older filmmakers would have killed for. I would have killed to have an editing system on my laptop but I didn’t have that option when I was you know coming up. I had to drive an hour in this is my appeal the snow barefoot story. But I had to drive an hour every morning to my interned ship where I got to work on the Avid an hour before the production company opened and then I would stay two hours late and then drive back home at midnight because I’ve been working and practicing on the Avid and I did that for months before I ventured out to become my own freelance editor.
Now all you need to do is download the DaVinci Resolve, download or you know buy premier or you know get access to premier for like twenty five bucks a month or whatever the Creative Cloud thing is now and you can be doing it at home. You have access to things, you have access to distribution outlets. You can upload your movie to Amazon right now. To Amazon. Using certain services you have access to iTunes, to Netflix, to Hulu, to Crackle, to all sorts of different avenues that can create revenue streams for you but you know what you’ve got to work.
You’ve got to hustle hard to get the word out about your movie. You can sell your movie right now. You can go to VHX or Vimeo or ball multiple other for platforms. Upload your movie and start selling it to the public. Simple. Do you know what that means you have no understanding what that is. I never had that. My generation of filmmakers never had that. In my thirties that was a pipe dream. I still remember in film school where the teacher told me all this non-linear editing thing will never work. They will never get broadcast quality out of a computer idiot. You know what I mean it’s, you’re living in a mind boggling time to be a filmmaker. It’s mind boggling. But you’ve gotta hustle,, you’ve gotta work.
You’ve got to, you have to be smart about it. You have to have a plan, a realistic plan and making a movie and winning Sundance is not a fucking plan. Educate yourself on every aspect of filmmaking, of audience building, of crowd sourcing, of crowd funding, of branding, and marketing. Show up every day and put in one hundred percent. And oh by the way, hustle like you’ve never fucking hustle before and that is a recipe for success. This isn’t a six month plan. This isn’t a year plan. This is a life time plan. Making a living as an artist is fucking hard but it doesn’t have to be. It’s taken me over twenty years to get all of my own bullshit out of my way.
So I can finally make my first feature film. I don’t want anyone listening to this podcast. I have to go through the same crap that I did. If not worse maybe. OK. You’ve gotta just do it. But listen to these steps. It is a roadmap. It ain’t the end all be all guys. It’s a start. Learn from other people go out read other books, follow other people, listen to other podcasts, educate yourself as much as you can but this is a good step. I wish I would have had this.
When I started out I wish I would have led. I don’t know if I would have listened to it because I was an idiot when I was in my twenty’s. But it’s a blueprint. It’s a blueprint. It’s a nice blueprint that if you can follow and do, you have a much better chance of success guys and in the future coming episodes and coming online courses and things like that. I’m going to talk in detail about this because I think it’s something that this community needs and I’m going to do my darndest to help you guys as much as humanly possible.
So I hope this episode has lit a fire under your fucking ass because I don’t want to see any of you standing on the side of the fucking road with a sign saying I’ll direct for food. I’m not trying to be funny about that. I’m being real. If you’re going to be an artist. You’ve got to learn every aspect you can about your art. You can be a filmmaker, learn every aspect of filmmaking you can. So you can make your art, sell your art. And do it again and keep creating art, keep creating films, keep creating stories because those stories will change people’s lives whether it be entertain them, get them to escape a bit or change the way they think or maybe even inspire them to be a better version of who they are. You have no idea what your little movie could do for another human being and I can talk about this because certain movies I’ve made, certain experiences I’ve put out there. This podcast, all the emails and letters I get from you guys, thanking me for the inspiration, thanking me for the knowledge that I’m putting out there for you guys. Stuff that you’re not going to get anywhere else because I care because I really really
care about you guys and I don’t want to see you on the side of a fucking road with a sign saying I’ll direct for food or I need food for my family because I’m a starving fucking artist. It’s not sexy to be a starving artist anymore guys. I hate to tell you, that went out in the seventy’s.
OK. So I hope this episode has done some good for you. Please share this episode with as many fellow filmmakers as you can. I want this message to get out to as many filmmakers as many artists as humanly possible because this is an important episode because I think it’s probably one of the most important if not the most important episode I have ever made on the Indie Film Hustle podcast.
I hope you can hear and feel the passion that I have behind my voice right now. I’m not fucking around and I’m not joking. I want nothing but good things for you guys. I want you guys to survive. Not only, now fuck surviving. I want you guys to succeed to thrive making your art. There’s no reason why you cannot. Do you hear me? Hear me again, there is no reason why you cannot make a living doing your art, doing your film, being a filmmaker. OK. I’m going to do the best I can to give you the tools that I can see or find the tools for you to help you along this path. All right.
Now. This was heavy. I’m exhausted. I don’t know about you guys but I’m exhausted. Now, I’m going to say this once and once alone. We’ve got two days left on this is Meg to hit our goal and hopefully exceed our goal. All right. And we are like ninety four percent. So we’re really close. So I’m going to put this out today. So it is accurate. It’s two days left. We’re over on the twentieth, July twentieth two thousand and sixteen. This will be over as far as this Meg is concerned. Crowdfunding campaign is concerned. So if you found any value in this episode or in any episode anything you can contribute to this, to the film would be greatly greatly appreciated.
Five bucks, fifty bucks, a thousand bucks, five thousand bucks. Whatever you can do. I would be greatly appreciated. And if not just post, repost this episode, share this episode, email this episode to everybody you know that would be amazing and more than enough. Imagine how many lives can be changed. If more filmmakers could actually make a living making their movies. If more artists can actually make a living doing their art and they can create more art. Imagine what a better world it would fucking be if artist could actually make a living doing their art.
Share this episode with as many artists, filmmakers and people you think it can help. The URL is indiefilmhustle.com/088 . And if you want to help This Is Meg. The url is http://www.thisismeg.com . Also the show notes for the show are also at indiefilmhustle.com/088 and I’m going to leave you with one quote that hopefully will be the final piece of gasoline I have to put on this fire and I’m hopefully is all up inside your ass.
“If you don’t build your dreams. Someone will hire you to help build there’s”- Tony Gaskin.
Keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive and I’ll talk to you guys soon. Thanks for listening to the Indie Film Hustle Podcast at indiefilmhustle.com . That’s I N D I E F I L M H U S T L E .com.