How to Make Money Shooting Short Films with Carter Pilcher
Have you ever wondered if you could actually make money making short films? Take it from the guy who made over $90,000 selling a short film, yes you can (click here to hear that story). Today on the show we have the founder of the world’s largest short film distribution company SHORTS International, Carter Pilcher.
Carter Pilcher founded Shorts International in 2000. Coming from a background in both investment banking and law, Carter has made Shorts International the world’s leading short movie entertainment company, functioning as a distributor, broadcaster, and producer. Carter has extensive experience in short movie production and short movie entertainment. He is a voting member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and a member of the Short Film and Feature Animation Branch of The US Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences (AMPAS)
Enjoy my conversation with Carter Pilcher.
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- Carter Pilcher – IMDB
- Carter Pilcher – Shorts International
- Carter Pilcher – SHORTS TV App
- How I Made Over $90,000 Selling My Short Film
- On the Corner of Ego and Desire
- Indie Film Producing Masterclass with Suzanne Lyons
- BlackBox – Make Passive Income From Your Footage
- Studio Unknown Audio Post – Mention the IFH podcast, and you’ll receive 50% off one day of ADR
- Filmmaker in a Box – Learn How to Make an Indie Film – 18 Hours+ of Lessons
- Martin Scorsese Film Directing Masterclass
- Ron Howard Film Directing Masterclass
- Judd Apatow Comedy Writing/Directing Masterclass
- Aaron Sorkin Screenwriting Master Class
- FreeFilmBook.com (Download Your FREE Filmmaking Audio Book)
- IFH MASTERS CIRCLE – Filmmaking Community
- IFH’s Online Film School
- Six Secrets to get into Film Festivals for FREE!
BONUS: Filmmaking Resources
- Martin Scorsese’s Film Directing MasterClass
- Ron Howard’s Film Directing MasterClass
- Filmmaking Hacks: Filmmaking Master Course
- Directing Actors Film Workshop
- USC Film School’s ONLY Online Course: Directing the Actor
- Film Lighting MasterClass
- Recording Sound for Indie Film
- The Art of Micro-Budget Filmmaking
- Cinematography MasterClass
- Film Festival Hacks: Submit Like a Pro
- Self-Distributing Your Film Online
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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 Biz. And here’s your host Alex Ferrari welcome indie film Hustlers to another episode of the indie film also podcast. I am your humble host.
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Just go to Studio unknown now. Have you ever wondered how you can make money actually selling your short films or or getting a short films out there or if there’s even money. Made in short films. I am one of the rare examples of someone who made not only a little bit of money but a lot of money and still making money with short films that I’ve done in the past.
Now those were different times different moments in time where you can make certain types of money with short films, but I still was able to figure out a couple things, but the one thing I always wanted to do. Is get my films up online and nowadays you can do that through companies like the stripper and other aggregators, but uh, the one place that you had to before get on to be can get your movies up on iTunes or Vimeo or any of those places was shorts International not shorts International is the world leading short film distributor.
And today we have on the show the CEO and president. Carter Pilcher and we go into the Weeds about short films about where the market is for short films how you can make money with short films, um how Europe and outside of the u.s. Is a huge market for short films and how you can get them there and you can make money and the value of short films.
In general, I always preach on like if you’re going to make a movie might as well go make a feature film. But if you’re just starting out, I always suggest as well to just start shooting short films lots of little short films first to get your get up get some momentum going and start playing around with ideas that might be too expensive even for a micro-budget feature film.
So short films have a tremendous amount of value and they are a very. Art form around the world and now even more so in the u.s. So without any further Ado, please enjoy my conversation with Carter Pilcher. I like to welcome to the show Carter Pilcher man. How are you doing, sir? Fine Alex. Thank you for having me.
It’s great to be here. Thank you so much. I appreciate I know you are in moving by right now and we have a 12-hour different so I know it’s extremely late over there. So thank you for uh jumping on and hopefully dropping some knowledge bombs on the tribe today. Fantastic, uh glad to be here. It’s uh, it’s it’s late but not that late.
Okay. Good now tell me a little bit about shorts International and how it became how how it came to be and all that because I mean I was a short film maker for a long time and shorts International is kind of the. The the Academy Awards if you will of shorts in many ways to get your short on to that platform.
So I love to know how I got started and and the whole story. Yeah, I uh, honestly ma, uh was a astronautical engineer when I went finished University. And uh went and did got a lot of green and then practice Investment Banking and I I really decided I couldn’t you know, and I decided I’d always wanted to start a business and so at one point I had enough money to try to do that.
So I did. And we started searching. It was way too early. We were just in I was living in England, uh doing Investment Banking and we started uh, and I started a little company just to put shorts. It was called Brit. Shorts, but we were putting British short films online and you know at the beginning of the internet everything just froze the street the three me and we just like, uh pictures and audio, uh static picture.
So I it was horrible and the more you did in terms of. Uh people watching you the more Street people that streamed streamed kind of your stuff the more money that akka might charge you so the more more popular you became the poorer you also became so I ripped through all the money. I made an investment banking very very fast and said, oh my gosh, what do I do?
And um, you know, we’re a little company. With four or five people and uh, we uh just started building up a catalog and distributing short in 2006. We built up a huge catalog. Uh, and we started um, Uh Distributing films and selling them to TV channels, then, you know, we weren’t as successful as you are you were with broken but we you know, we we were at least staying alive and in 2006, we started putting uh, we went out to um, California and met with the guys in San Francisco near you at Apple and said hey, Uh, we we have the largest catalogue of short film to the world would love to put them on your platform and they said uh, no and
I said, well, you know, what if we got some really famous One. And they said I don’t know just tell us what you mean. I said maybe we done a deal that you’re with Sundance promote their films. So they I said they said what about a few I got used the Sundance Film. Listen o son is that would be interesting and one of the guys in the meeting said, can you get us all the academy nominated shorts?
Hmm. I said I said well, that would be so interesting. And they said look if you can get those to us, this was in November. If you can get us those in you know, after the nominations are announced then we’ll do a deal with you for all the films. So I said let’s do the deal first and then we’ll make totally contingent.
If we you know, don’t wait to do the deal will do the deal first, but it’s contingent on us getting you the short on these Shores. They said I woke okay. Why not? Well, if you think you can get him I said, I don’t know I’m gonna try so we went trotting off and you know, no one at that point. There were a few people who would go out and buy a few of the shorts and put together a theatrical compilation of a few animations and a document in maybe a couple of live actions and put it in a theater in New York for a week and kind of toward festivals.
It wasn’t popular. It didn’t have all the. And uh Apple said the only way we’ll do this though is if you give us all the films in both those two categories animation and live action. So anyway, we there it turns out there was another company Magnolia pictures who was trying to do the same thing.
And uh, the guy who was doing in his calm Qin who’s now at neon running neon. Okay great company. Yeah, Tom’s a great guy and we screamed it each other. We each got a couple of films and will neither one of us could do the Oscar shorts release at all, unless the other guy agreed. So I wanted to do the digital side.
I had no idea how you’d be at the at release Tom only one with the Africa. So you think we but we’re both very hard-headed guys and both of us wanted to do all of it, right and. We screamed at each other all of January like go forth until finally and Tom was in Magnolia then till finally we redo the of course, he’d do the we’d get we buy all the films we would give them him for theatrical.
He provide the the cash for the theatrical being a publicity and we would uh get them for digital. Uh, so we didn’t trust each other we screamed each other a lot, but it worked and in that process we became great great friends Thomas still a great friend. So we did it. We did it for three or four years together.
And then uh, um, Mark Cuban, it wasn’t making money in theaters, uh told Tom that if we took it over we could keep doing it, but they were out right and so we. And we took it over and at about the same time launched, uh, the first Shorts TV in France on numerically which cable system there and uh because we had this huge catalog and and I was pitching cable companies every week to try to get somebody to agree to let us launch a channel and so this launch launched in France and uh, and so since then we’ve grown and distributed the channel now in Europe and also in.
In the US on DirectTV and we’re about to launch in India and Latin America. So uh, so it’s it’s really grown a lot and that so basically it was all because I remember that you were guys were the Oscar all the Oscars have to go through you and and for certain time and I think that’s still the case.
If you want to get a short up on iTunes you were the the place I had to go through you for a certain amount of time. I’m not sure if that’s still the case or not. It’s not the case. It’s not the so we’re the largest catalogue on iTunes. And for a long long. Long time. We were the old people, you know, they said once they found out how nightmarish short films are, you know, every project it’s not a fan dird thing and they said oh my gosh, so you guys just handle all of it and we’ll take whatever you give us and that’s kind of how because it was hard work for all of us back then but yeah.
That’s exactly what it was like so you were to you arguably the largest distributor of short films in the world. Yeah, we for sure. We are. We have a uh, just on air in the US where showing on TV we’re showing probably 5,000 shorts in the US and another four or five thousand in Europe and I was we were trying to.
Between all of them were probably the total catalog sighs, uh is probably anywhere for between in any year between six and nine thousand films. It’s a lot Jesus insane now, let me let me ask you how does how do filmmakers because I’m sure everyone listening. There’s a handful of short filmmakers out there.
How do they submit how do they get involved? You know, how do they how can they get their short films to you to be even looked at? So here are all the things that are great. You know what the I was a banker a long time ago. And uh, one of the things uh experiences that I’ve had that is like every short film maker ever, uh, whether you’re a producer director, is that the lovely bite utter poverty, um, you know, In his whole process before we did this deal with Apple literally there were years three or four years at you know, he started with a lot of money and I went through it paid it all to Akamai and practically almost had to close the company, you know.
So, um, one of our big goals is making sure that the filmmakers get paid and it’s been a slow slog but uh, but we’re paying. We’re paying filmmakers nearly a million dollars a year just in uh in license fees. So nobody and nobody else’s. Just short film makers. Um, we uh, so the way you get your film to us is you can go online to shorts which is our website and there’s a submissions page and just download the form and fill it out and then send us send us your film.
We’d love to look at it the other the other thing that we do we send lots of guys. We we have four people in the US that are looking at films and uh, we have another three. Europe that do the same thing, so we try to cover most festivals and and see most film and I’ll do you acquire a film shorts at festivals like uh other other Distributors require features.
Yeah, we do. Absolutely we do so that’s what that’s what I’m saying is the other place we go is festivals. We are guys all go to the scribble screenings. They go to the Festival to the markets go into those little boxes and screen for eight hours a day. So yeah, we we go to we do all of that. We’re I’m going to can.
We do a bunch of uh pitch competition with the with can the film festival every year. But really the reason we go is our our Acquisitions team just goes into the little vaults in the dark. It’s in the dark in can on the beach, you know from the beach and they sit in the dark eight hours a day watching and this.
Oh go outside at all. Oh, It’s great. Uh, as a place to see films is a great place to see filmmakers and uh, and you know, it’s it’s just short films are really really becoming uh, a big thing. They’ve been always been for anyone whether your producer director. They’re a great way to get your your talent seen and whether you can tell a story or not, but um, You know, you can tell when a guy can can tell a story in a short film and you can tell if they’re going to be a good director or not.
Um, the the truth though is that shorts have never really been that popular but there but we’ve seen in the shorts, you know, we release the Oscar shorts, theatrically every single year and this. Uh, we had our best year ever in almost every it’s amazing. We have uh, elderly people who are really into it.
We have young people go. It’s a very, uh, eclectic audience and surprising audience, but it’s really it’s especially people who like films and people who are in film school. We want to see them, but they see them every year and this year. Uh, we took three and half million at the box office which is uh for short poems.
Wow. Sure, that’s so. And that’s just the North American box office in the u.s. We release them in. Uh, we made several hundred thousand more dollars all we released them across Europe. It’s more it’s not as steady as a runs in Europe, but we’re we had a nice release in the Netherlands a nice release in Germany, uh, and then small releases in lots of other countries.
And now this is for the Oscar. These are for the Oscar, uh films. Yeah. The oscar-nominated shorts that I started releasing with Tom way back in 2006. We still do it every year and it’s increased every year from the first year the box office was less than 100,000 bucks and they said there was three and half million and uh, and that’s you know, and we and each of those filmmakers on average.
Last year, so this is 2018. So 2017 the filmmakers on average made took home about thirty or thirty-five thousand dollars each of the nominees. That’s and that’s from the theatrical release yet. So we’re getting back to the filmmakers, uh, more than 10% of the the box office back directly being paid to the filmmakers as a whole not.
You know not each one individually where we you know there it’s like one motion picture but it’s it’s a great opportunity for filmmakers know what in your opinion since you’ve seen I’m so I’m assuming you’ve seen a few short films in your day. Um, what makes what makes a good short film.
Well, uh, that’s a great question. I think there are a lot of different things that uh one is uh, whether if they’re going to use a hook or a or a surprise reveal at the end. Those are always a fun. It’s a fun technique that works in shorts. It doesn’t really work in features always, uh, sometimes it can but the insurer to definitely works and and so if that’s that if that’s a good setup and it’s a clever.
Well fought through script that makes a great short. Um always an emotional connection is a set, you know, a well a well acted piece is always fantastic. Um this year the short that won an Oscar for best live action film was a very, uh, beautiful story. I have a little girl who was death and uh her parents her parents didn’t want her to be strange.
So they didn’t want her to learn sign language and they didn’t really end. It was a story about how families uh, Can go through can be insensitive without releasing that they’re being insensitive to they’re handicapped child. So it’s a big topic. It was a big story, but it was told in a way, uh, that was very endearing and very moving and short films are are exceptional vehicles for moving and heart-rending stories.
Um, they’re great to for comedies, you know a great. Short comedy. It’s this year. One of the nominees was a was a great comedy film a great short comedy is probably in my mind better even than a feature-length comedy because feature-length comedies. They’re always have part of it where you just kind of run out of gas.
You have to wait right? You have to wait till it gets to a point where you can laugh again and a short that’s funny it if they time it right you just laughing laughing laughing laughing is over, right? And and I think I don’t know. I I for me that a better, uh moment a better entertainment experience than the long good laugh and then kind of you know even.
Sandra Bullock Melissa McCarthy film they have great moments that are hilarious like the but you know, they’re very few the own I can and the only one on the comes to mind is the uh Brides. Yeah. Yeah exactly. Brightness is the only one that I think of that actually made you that I’ve been to in a long time in years that really where I laughed from the moment.
I started watching that film to the end for me. It was hangover the first hangover when that came out. Oh God exactly. So it’s the most but it’s it’s that it’s hard in a feature to get. Maybe one good laugh to a good three or four good lap. You have a whole hour of just kind of a nice story and some less.
It’s hard to get hangover is a great example hangover bridesmaids that kind of you are laughs. You cannot believe what is happening in front of you but a short can do it. And so. For me that so, you know, I I I started out as an astronaut a Glenn’s near I honestly am still in this business because I think short are way more fun than features.
I love them. I think they’re inventive. I think they’re amazing. It’s and they’re you know, and they’re coming from often from really the heart of the filmmaker, which I think is a fabulous fabulous. Um now how long should a short film will be how long is your film? Uh averages first average, um, average animation that we show out of thousands of animations average animation is under 10 minutes and normally around 7:00, uh film that we see in live action is about 15 average film.
I’m sorry. I just have all these averages but average film that wins. Um, an Academy Award is about twenty to twenty eighteen to twenty-two minutes. So um and average Sundance winner is shorter, right? So it’s an amazing thing. You kind of look at these different festivals and different prizes and different winners are at different lengths, but you have to.
No, no, I didn’t mean to cut you off. Just remember that, you know, I’ve been to many short film festivals or festivals with shorts in and sitting down watching shorts and sometimes you know, they just a 45-minute short at this not a short anymore in my opinion like just keep going and finish it off as a future some of them are that way, but you know even.
Even a 25-minute short. It’s a a big and it’s a big story. There was one that was nominated in the nominees are on my mind this year, but are right now, um wot 202 it was a German film. It was a big it was actually a big story as probably 25 minutes and just the idea. Um, I I’d like that. It’s you almost feel in a I kind of think this is where movies are headed.
In 25 30 minutes, it’s kind of enough. It was it’s great. It’s a fabulous. It’s a whole story. You don’t we don’t hang out for for another hour. I I feel that way and I’ll be totally honest with documentary features. I really honestly most of the time I feel like I just need to go out and shoot myself I get.
But a document very short, that’s 30 even 30 minutes. I love it. I love it. And you know because I feel like I’ve learned something and I don’t feel like I’m bogged down by hours of and some of my good friends are documentary makers but I like documentary shorts way better than a documentary feature and no you saying.
No, I was gonna say and and the same true for animations and live action’s. I just I think there are better form of entertainment now our are there some ways that filmmakers can monetize short films if they don’t get into shorts International.
Obviously, that’s the dream for short film makers and be great for distributor pick them up and send them a check every once in a while that be great. But in your opinion are there other ways that um that film that shorts can’t even be monetized in today’s world. Well, you know, there is this this world YouTube which has lots and lots of Promise.
It’s a brand-new thing just showed up. Well, no, but I mean the the. Shooting in San Francisco pointed out the promise and the downside of the promise and and basically the story was the reason she went and shot people was because they all these uh, uh creative lab people that they’ve funded and were make starting to make money.
They’re making too much money. So they changed the algorithm and the rules so they don’t make much money shot people, which is great but the point. Yeah, but YouTube is designed to help you never make money. And that’s that’s really YouTube. And if you’re a big, uh content provider, they know they can’t really exploit you and they change but if you know, so if you put your film one of the big problems we see is that filmmakers, um, put their films online too early.
Uh, and because once the films online, I I am unlikely to buy it. Our teams are unlikely to buy it. Uh, big channels can’t buy it. You can’t release it on iTunes, uh, it becomes disqualified for lots of prizes and lots of festivals. So a short is one of those things that you have to somewhat nurse a little bit.
If you wanted to be worth something you have to kind of uh, protected value, uh, and by that, I mean you have to uh, You have to get it into festive spend some time getting it into festivals and getting it seen there are you know, there’s film uh, is it film film freeway and there’s not a box without a box that are great.
Um, great assets and make it much less expensive and Troublesome to submit your film. But um, it’s a. It helps it helps you and the value of your film, uh immensely if you have one some Festival prizes, if you get seen on the festival circuit and you don’t put it online, once you put it online, you’re not, you know, YouTube people are pretty much wised up.
But but YouTube people used to think you could put it online and make a lot of money, but you can’t really. And it’s better to to take it through the whole process and and uh, and it’s better in terms of notoriety to because you know shorts one of the things we’re uh working on is an app and happy to talk about that with you.
But uh, but part of the purpose is one of the things we know for viewers people who love shorts love watching shorts is. They what they they will everyone with short any type of short content if they have to touch their clicker more than or their phone more than once it’s over there off to something else.
So you so you’re not it’s it’s a very difficult sale. There aren’t the thing, you know, you mentioned uh, uh before we got on the call the fact that your film had sold an awful lot of DVDs and that that method. Uh, you know kids are you have a daughter? I have you know kids are our don’t understand.
Um, really the whole idea of a DVD. Why does it have to what do you do with it? Where do you put it? Um, you know, I don’t know if that conversation, but I have and it’s a kind of. Located thing where you try to my music used to be on pieces of metal. Right and it’s in your phone on your computer.
Why why does it have to be on pieces of metal that you carry around?
So I I don’t think anybody DVDs to sell them. I don’t think that’s a Way Forward. Um, so so that I would say. Um, those are the there’s the main routes now can um, Ken filmmakers create a successful likes to do that Focus solely on short form content and short films. Yeah, you know, I think I think so.
There’s lots. The great news is there’s lots of money sloshing around out there looking for short form content and looking and more than that looking for great new ideas. Every TV channel is trying to come up with some kind of digital something that is that augments what they’re doing on TV, there are lots of opportunities.
So I in terms of getting yourself seen and this is we’re doing short form content. On YouTube, uh does make sense not when you’re working a making money, but when you’re worried about creating an impression and getting people to know you uh or and if it’s if you’re doing something shorter than less precious, I guess than a proper short film, but that kind of short form content, uh, whether it’s gags.
Or uh little documentaries or whatever your thing is or cooking or any of those areas. Those are huge. I think and companies are putting incredible about some money and they’re spending guys. I know spending unbelievable amounts of time finding people who know how to take a camera and use it hold it make say something intelligent into the camera and and.
Get it get a video short form video that really works. Yeah, there’s a lot of companies. Now I’ve seen that advertising has gone to short films now as well because of YouTube and because of online platforms where they you know, big brands are hiring filmmakers to do a three or four minutes short with their product.
Well, even even here in India, um parenteau Ricard, which is one of the big alcohol Brands, um has a the most popular whiskey brand in India is called royal Stag and then uh, and I it’s not a brand whiskey Randy I’d ever heard of before uh, because I think it’s only here in India, but the. They have launched a website where they and they had all these stars that they are.
They’re kind of, you know celebrity faces and they started they got them to do shorts. They hired directors and had to make shorts with one with the Stars just as a project to get their brand out there. And here in India, they got you know, they’ve gotten their huge Stars. They’re very popular.
Their movies are gotten 50 100 million views which India everything staggering but it’s for them for them as a brand even in India that is as moved everybody’s needle and um, so it’s it’s also you know, um, So I so I think brands are making more and more short form content. So getting yourself seen if you’re if you’re worried about getting yourself seen and have a way to promote yourself on YouTube and you’re not worried about monetizing your film then then that’s a different consideration in something to think about.
But you know, I can if I can just say this and in in Europe. Where I live in England and in America where I where I came from, uh, short-form watching stuff on your mobile is is great and young kids do it all the time. But most of us when we get home TV’s on someplace and we just turn on the TV and and we and maybe uh, look at.
Uh, Facebook or YouTube or something? Uh Snapchat well while you’re sitting in front of TV, but you’re not really watching video on your phone as much in places like India and Latin America. I think they’re actually the future, um, a small percentage of people when you’re speaking of the over Pop overall population have mobile phone have TVs.
Everybody the mobile phone smart phones are everywhere and they watch all their TV all their TV on their phones and they watch all short and they and that’s part of the popularity of these films that this uh, alcohol brand made is that people are watching those because on your on your phone. It’s it’s kind of irritating to have to stop all the time if you’re trying to watch a movie or even a TV in our TV show but a 50 movie or a 12-minute movie.
Is kind of perfect for for transport or or you know, if you just trying to take a break and watch something on your phone. Um, it’s the world is changing I think in a faster than the us, so I was gonna ask you that I know historically shorts are been very well accepted in Europe much more so than in the United States, but you feel now that that’s changing where people are now being more accepting of shorts as a general as a general statement.
I so I think in Europe there were always more accepted and thought of as a more pure and uh intellectual Pursuit.
Um, I think that General people young people probably in Europe are slower getting acquainted with shorts then young people in America, but I think in because we’re watching more and more and more and more young people first in the where you know in, California. And uh and everyone in Latin America everyone in in India, everyone in China is watching almost all content on their phone and they’re all watching, you know, Game of Thrones in India, uh, because the advertising is so big as made uh, less than 10 minute versions of Game of Thrones really just yeah just as uh, just because you can get it out to more people.
That’s insane now, um, are there any tips, uh that you would uh, give on making a successful short film and we spoke a little bit about making a good short film but things that would like grab are there any genres that specific genres that are more accepted than others things like that? Well, it depends on what you’re after if you’re waiting Festival prizes are getting audience.
Oh, Uh audiences horror rates IFI a good sci-fi film. It’s easier to make an audience, uh, energizing film. Um, comedies are great, uh for for audiences. Um, if you want even sketch comedy is a really works. It’s kind of in between a proper short film and a. And and just a short sketch but sketch-comedy can be can be great ways to make a film uh if you wanted want to.
Uh, really if really what you’re trying to do is compete for prizes at festivals and become you know, and really your you see yourself as a big director of film director may be directing someday one of these big TV shows or being those cruise. I think you you want to focus on on films that tell the meaningful stories, uh, and they can be comedies.
They can be uh, they can be. Um poignant love stories. They can be uh Thrillers, they can be hilarious. But telling showing that you can deliver a great story in a short amount of time is The Mark of a great filmmaker if you look at and this is this I think is absolutely essential in thinking if you look at the last.
Six directors that have won five directors, uh, five of the last six directors who have won best director at the Oscars all I wanted to twice Steve McQueen. Uh, uh, the guy who won one for moonlight. Um, I know you talked about and uh, And what and Guillermo del Toro and one other guy. Anyway, they’re five or six one for shorts.
No. No, that’s director Professor actor. Of course. Yes. Yes guys have won best director in the last five or six years all of them have at least as many short films. If not more than they’ve made features Barry Jenkins made money. Yes. And Barry Jenkins had made two features and nine and twelve shorts, right?
Uh had made about the same. Uh, um who made did Birdman and Revenant? Um, almost quit filmmaking and he went off and made for a period of three years. He just made sure he made three or four shorts in a row and then he came back and made Birdman. So. The but I think the point is about shorts is it as a director, you know for Enrico is a great way to reestablish your confidence and it it really gives you an ability to practice distinct storytelling and it really, uh, It’s an unforgiving to do it.
Well, it’s a very forgiving format. The other side of that is it’s cheap cheaper so you can make three or four and really, you know, do some great practicing and you don’t have people standing over your shoulder saying nope. Don’t do that. Nope. You have to do this. It’s a much free environment where you really can try things out that you want that you the director want to do to play to play.
I think it. Yeah, play and practice, you know and in film if you get hired on a big film and or you kind of get hired on the first small feature and it’s crap. You’re kind of done. Um, right it’s there’s no either they’re a hundred lines of guys who want to have a five million dollar budget or a 10 million dollar budget owl out the door.
So it’s short if you want to tell great stories then you’ve got. Start right away learning how to pick great scripts picks a great actors and really practice telling those stories and then unique way now, um, do you talk a little bit about the shorts International applicants? You tell me a little bit about that.
Yeah. It’s called the Shorts TV X. So the uh, you know, we. All of this time one thing you do learn earn is what people you know, I’m an audience guy. I spend all my time thinking about talkin to listening trying to figure out what people like about short shorts all shorts what they hate. What’s good about a short to an audience member and one of the things we provided these big libraries of shorts 500 shorts at a time to these big TV cable networks that we’re showing the TV.
Getting along and you’re nobody ever looks because if you look at VOD on a cable system, it’s really slow and you have to click click click and then they’re all these titles. You’ve never seen all of us have been there. Um, so we uh the guys in Holland, uh, the big cable system in Holland that we work with, uh came to us and said, hey we do design an app that goes on the set-top box and make sure VOD more exciting.
So kind of rolled her eyes, and they said and if you don’t do it, we’re gonna reduce your feet. So we said yeah, we really want to do that. That was really something we were just now thinking about really excited about so we went off and developed it and. Came back, but as we started developing it is it’s really fabulous.
We uh, our guys came up with an app that uh, while you’re watching in the Netherlands while you’re watching our Channel you just push the red button on your on your uh, click and an overlay comes over with a navigational guide like kind of like, uh, um, it’s similar to Netflix not exactly the same.
But uh, and then you click on short you can either create it, but it’s a lot of. Modify the functions a lot of the watching a short film we feel is very very similar to listening to music. So we’ve created the ability to build playlists and we call them channels. We’ve developed the ability to you can like a film or skip it if you it starts and you don’t like it you skip it and you go straight to the next film.
So it’s always moving and you never have to read the title pick a film and we we built it with a lot of a very heavy machine learning capability like Spotify or Pandora. We are guys actually. That type of an algorithm so that after about 20 likes and skips. It pretty much starts really feeding you films that you like and don’t like and it learns your it’s more interactive like a music app.
Uh, Because just like like music, you know you go through a title very quickly compared to a movie or a right so it comes on the team. So right now it’s it’s playing in the Netherlands and you just push the clicker. It comes over your TV channel and can just start going through the and we launched it with 2500 films.
Uh, we’re just testing next week starting next week. The iOS version of that that’ll be on phones and will be issued be out by June. That’s and let me let me tell you something. It is fantastic. It’s so cool. It’s I think it’s revolutionary. Nobody’s ever done scripted content with music type algorithm.
Very very cool and I’m glad someone out there is is fighting the good fight for the shorts of the world. Yeah, we’re gonna give everybody and we’re putting and now, you know, we’re were able to go and say we can create a playlist that is just. Our films, you know, the film the graduation films for blah blah blah film school and put them on the app.
We’re doing it in the Netherlands and putting their graduation comes on for a month so that you can go see all the graduation films and just skim through them and then you know or so, it just gives you this enormous flexibility to be able to bring all kinds of new interesting content. Uh to our audiences where it’s it’s really we think it’s really fun.
It’s it’s definitely the viewership has uh, it takes a while for people to get used to how to use it. But you can see uh is very high. Uh, and the amount of time that they spend on the app is high very cool. It is really great. So I’m going to give you now, uh, the speed round of questions. I ask all of my my guests.
Okay, um, what advice would you give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today? Uh, there’s never been a better time to get into filmmaking or video anyting this is the time. So if you’re even halfway thinking about it just do it. Now, what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?
Wow, I know it’s pretty pretty deep Alex my gosh. Okay, I would say uh longest lesson that took the longest to learn. Uh, well, you know something lessons you never quite learned amen. But uh, But probably um, I would say I a hard lesson to learn has been to make sure that you never you know, I don’t really understand and I went through this phase when all our competitors, uh were had tons of money in the early 2000s had company called Adam films.
Oh, yeah, all these other. There is a company called Steven Spielberg was starting a company with Jeffrey katzenberg called uh pop they 18 million bucks and that all popped and it never all of it died. So the one thing that I took away from from those experiencing that happen and going through my own little uh challenges is that you always stay.
Close to you, you make money and you keep Bunny and you stay close to money. Yes, sir. It’s just you don’t you don’t do the start your film and not have enough money to finish it. Oh God. No, please don’t do that. That’s the biggest mistake you could do. Now what if three of your favorite films of all time?
Oh my gosh. Well honest, I would say. Saving Private Ryan is is probably one one of them, uh for a comedy Princess Bride genius move. Yeah, it’s just I can watch it endlessly. I think it’s brilliant. Um, gosh and what we what we have third one be Casablanca good choices all very good choices. Now where can people find uh you or and get more information about Schwartz.
Uh short is probably the best place to go. Um, It’s there and there’s everything about our website. You can go find anything you want about the company. Uh, and if you there’s an info thing and just put my name Carter Pilcher in the uh subject line, and if people will Creek and run it over to my desk, thank you.
Thank you so much for uh for talkin all things shorts with us on the podcast today. Thank you so much for your time. Yeah, Alex. Thank you is great. I lovely to meet you and I look forward to meeting you in person. I want to thank Carter for being on the show. He dropped a bunch of knowledge bombs about short films things.
I didn’t even know about and I’ll make sure to put links to how to get a hold of Carter how to submit things to short shorts International as well as links to shorts that I discuss in the episode. Just head over to indie film Hustle the show notes and I want to thank everybody all the. Film tribe members who have gone over and started and subscribe to the bulletproof screenplay podcast.
It is blown up. It is amazing how fast uh it grew like almost overnight. So thank you guys so so much please if you have not subscribed head over to screenwriting podcast. And uh, and if you can’t leave us a review leave us a five star review And subscribe because there’s a lot of amazing information on that podcast as well and I should be doing.
A crossover event soon where one episode will play on both podcast at the same time. So keep an eye out for that and as always keep that whole going keep that dream alive and I’ll talk to you soon. Thanks for listening to the indie film hustle podcast at indie film hustle.