IFH 540: Selling Indie Films with the Regional Cinema Model with Daedalus Howell

Daedalus Howell

Today on the show we have writer/director Daedalus Howell. Daedalus’ film Pill Head is the definition of being a Filmtrepreneur. So much, in fact, I used his film as a case study in my book Rise of the Filmtrepreneur®: How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Moneymaking Business. The method he used was the “regional cinema model.” 

This model is based around developing, producing and distributing a film project targeted to the niche audience of a geographic area. He essentially made an Art House film for his hometown.

Pill Head was entirely a hometown affair — from discounted permits to merchant buy-in and a recent theatrical release through a consortium of local exhibitors (no four-walling!) accompanied by tons of local press.

After an overdose, art student Theda becomes an unwitting specimen in her university’s experimental psych program. There’s a side effect, however — she sees the branching possibilities of reality in an alternate universe. Moreover, an alternate self wards her off the program’s enigmatic researcher Dr. Ashe. Determined to escape, Theda’s salvation lays through the looking glass of quantum quandaries, romance revisited, and the jagged little pill of her own nature.

In this interview, we go deep into the regional cinema model, how he creates multiple revenue streams and how he got that group of local theater owners to four wall his film for free. Enjoy my inspirational conversation with Daedalus Howell.

Right-click here to download the MP3

 

Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome the show Daedelus Howell man, how are you?

Daedalus Howell 0:14
I'm Grand man, how are you?

Alex Ferrari 0:15
Thank you so much, man. I appreciate you reaching out to me and coming on to the to the podcast and hopefully being you know, dropping some knowledge bombs from your experience because I always look for unique as you know, unique ways of looking at film and you you you hit something I hadn't heard before. Hey, how about using your hometown as a backlot, I'm like, that's a podcast so.

Daedalus Howell 0:38
I had nowhere else to go Alex had nowhere else to go. And I'm with you.

Alex Ferrari 0:43
I appreciate it. But so first of all, man, what made you want to become a filmmaker? Like why did you want to become a carny?

Daedalus Howell 0:52
Well, that's a great question. I, you know, I should back up until you I'm from Petaluma, California, and what you may or may not know about Petaluma, we're north of San Francisco a little bit. This is a movie town. And so we were surrounded by all kinds of film phenomena beginning with like American Graffiti, which was shot here. Lucas, Peggy Sue Got Married was shot here, Coppola and then through the 90s, in many of the Abbotts phenomenon, the leader remake flubber. I mean, it was crazy the amount of like cinematic immersion, just in production that was here for a while. And so growing up in that you get the bug compounding that Lucasfilm was just over the hill in Marin, right. And then you throw in Winona Ryder going to Petaluma high. And this is like Super film consciousness in terms of town. And so a lot of us grew up with, yeah, my cohort and I, with this fantasy that we could do it too. And of course, that was summarily crushed, you know, once we all went to Hollywood and, and, you know, as everyone goes through that process, and so, so I had the bug pretty early. And I had to really figure out how I was going to like, deal with having that in my system. I became a writer pretty early on for local newspapers and that kind of thing. So I was able to kind of build a film adjacent career I could, I could interview film people. And when I did finally go to Los Angeles in like the early 2000s, I was principally, you know, an aspiring screenwriter had some minor breaks, that kind of thing. But you know, I washed out and I was left with the disease, you know, the virus was in me, I wanted to make a film. And it got so bad man. That after, I mean, the infection was really,

Alex Ferrari 2:30
I always refer to the bug or the thing to become a filmmaker. It's like herpes. Like it literally, it once you get it, you've got it for life. It will flare up sometimes, but sometimes it's dormant. But no matter what, it will flare up eventually again, and then you'll and then sometimes it's really bad. You just start like, oh, man, turn into a crack fiend. But go ahead. Yeah.

Daedalus Howell 2:51
Well, that's yeah, that's a great metaphor, because it's really what happened in the gut, it got to the point where it began to forbid myself to like read about, you know, read film books, to look at anything about any film because I didn't want the flare up to come back because I was feeling so negative about myself from never having done it. Yeah. And then I just, I, I got in a situation where I was between jobs in my my partner, girlfriend said, Hey, what do you really want to do now? You know, what, you just kind of wide open and I said, Well, what I really want to do is direct. And she didn't know much about production, anything like that. So she didn't know it was impossible. And so she became a film producer and I became a writer director. And it was just it was just the the drive to do it. That that compelled me but it was really just a you know, after you know you did this with this is Meg 15 years or whatever, you know, you're like, why haven't I done it? There's no really excuse not to apart from manifesting the drive to do so. And so that's what we finally did.

Alex Ferrari 3:49
No, I mean, I mean, I had a I had a horrible experience with a mobster and Hollywood. So that kind of that kind of that kind of stain to me. And so

Daedalus Howell 3:57
I havent read that book Yeah, I'm going to though Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 3:59
It is. It is it definitely I realized it subconsciously stopped me from ever going back into like, why would you go back to the most painful time in your life, and you associate making a movie with the most painful time in your life? So I had an excuse. It was a horrible one, but I had an excuse. Why I didn't do it, but at a certain point, you know, you and I are both have similar vintages. You know, at a certain point, you just go dude, I'm not 20 anymore. Like I can't keep I can't keep doing this.

Daedalus Howell 4:25
Yeah, but the problem is when you bring that filmmaker identity into your consciousness, and you're carrying it that long, and you haven't made that, oh, you know, the feature film, your life is all plot no story, man, you start like you start questioning who you are. And of course, all your friends are like, Dude, are you you're so you're a filmmaker. Really, dude. I mean, where's your movie? And you've got a bunch of shorts on YouTube. Who are you? You know, it's like it's so you just have to do it. You just have to do it. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 4:51
Yeah. And then I hid behind. You know, I did direct like little commercials or music videos and things like that, but it wasn't what I wanted to do and I hid behind post So I was like I was it was kind of like nice. It's adjacent. It's you're kind of you're still a filmmaker, but you're not doing exactly what you want to do. So it's a great experience but your hide you hide in that in that world. So for me, I hid there for god knows about 20 years. Yeah, dealing. Yeah.

Daedalus Howell 5:16
And then you did a podcast and that, you know,you hid behind the podcast,

Alex Ferrari 5:20
And then I hid behind the podcast and behind this. I'll be honest with you, though, I'll be honest with you if it wasn't for the podcast, and if it wasn't for the tribe, I don't think I would have made this is Meg. The reason why I there was two reasons I did it was because one I wanted to prove to the tribe that it can be done. I wanted to prove to myself it could be done. I also wanted to use the tribe as something to keep me to keep me what's that word? Ah, not compatible, but when you're trying to when you're trying to do something and someone tells you like was watching you. I forgot that word. That term I losing my will never find it now. We'll never find it over. I'm sure someone's yelling at it in their car at the moment. But, but, but I did it for that reason. And then also for whatever odd reason, because I was still doing indie film hustle on kind of a side hustle. Still, it wasn't my full time gig yet. I just said, Well, if it doesn't work out, I always have indie film, hustle, I can just go back to that. So it's like my safety blanket, you know, and it's become this kind of like, oh, I I'm good. I'll just go i It made me more brave to just go out there where it might scare other people because you're like putting yourself out there. i It's the opposite. For me. I find it very comforting knowing that I have an I have not only an audience, I have a tribe, I have a community that I could always go back to. And if it doesn't work, doesn't work.

Daedalus Howell 6:41
Yeah, no, that's that's really I think that was one of the smartest moves you clearly one of the smartest moves you've made, you know, and you did I mean, you've definitely galvanized the community. I mean, I'm, you know, how they say like the Velvet Underground had 100 fans, but each one of them started a band, you know, you've got well more than 100 fans, but I there's gonna somebody, some film historian is going to trace back this explosion of independent film, they're gonna be able to blame one man. Oh, they're gonna go oh, sorry. And that would

Alex Ferrari 7:09
That be amazing. You know what I honestly that would be the most wonderful thing ever. Because if I you know, I'm here just to help and I want to I want to I want that and I get these stories like yours and, and other people who've listened to the podcast for a long time. Like I finally made my movie I finally did this thing. But now it's my my job to teach you how to make money with it. But that's why you're here because because you have a unique story behind it. Now tell me about your film pill head? Because great name, great name.

Daedalus Howell 7:33
No, thank you. Yeah. The the general gist is a young art student takes too many pills in wakes up in what's probably a parallel universe. And it's all about finding her way back to her reality, whatever that may be in a sort of redemptive Alice in Wonderland kind of phenomena. However, we went out this sort of fit, you know, typical sci fi style plot, I think, with an arthouse vengence in so I call it an arts floatation film, this thing I just, it's like your first year in film school, you take a survey course, and it's all shot on Luc Godard and Truffaut and I kind of thing I checked every box, I could man, it's black and white. It's it's moody, it's handheld, it's it's an aesthetic kind of like, hat tip to, you know, the French New Wave and all the films I grew up on and that kind of thing. And so it scratched a lot of itches, you know, that, that the flare up was real. And so it's it's a very different kind of movie. And it doesn't really fit into the general indie landscape, which is a stumbling block, in some ways. It's sort of its differentiator in other ways. And, and I was able to play that to my advantage once, once I accepted that this is my aesthetic, there's no way around it, I have to make the film I'm going to make. But I have to make it in a way that it's meaningful to my audience. And I know and I knew pretty much who they were because I'm in local media and that kind of thing. And I knew that I wasn't going to make the kind of film that's going to scale and explode, I was making a regional film, I was making a film that's going to be meaningful to where I'm from, and the people in my community. And that sounds a little backwards because you want your film to be as big as possible often you want to go everywhere. But I'm really hooked on this notion of regional cinema the way that you know, they used to like regional theater, right? There'd be a you know, like a play house and then they'd put on a regular program that kind of thing. I wanted to start something wherein I could credibly create films and know that I had an audience here and do it on a regular basis. And the trick of that of course is making them inexpensively making them profitable and making it for an audience that you know is going to come back in so I knew was gonna make a Petaluma film.

Alex Ferrari 9:43
That's that's that's a really so that's what regional cinema the regional cinema model is for you because that's the first time I've heard that term. And it might be out there in the zeitgeist, but I've never heard of it. Yeah, I've never heard of it. And generally speaking, if I don't hear it, I've never heard of it. It's a weird thing. cuz I'm pretty much inside of this world all the time. So when I heard that I was like, interesting. So now that's the definition of it. And honestly, it's, uh, you know, we're we're taught as filmmakers, especially our generation, but even younger filmmakers, that everything's got to be huge. It's got to be big, it's got to be blockbuster, you've got to make $100 million. And, you know, what film entrepreneur is about is to start bringing it down, bringing it down to niche audiences to bring it down. Now you've created the, the regional aspect of things, which is awesome, because now you are, you're doing basically what I've been preaching, but doing it on a regional standpoint, as opposed to a niche is a niche, but it's a regional niche. Yeah, but it's a regional niche. And if you as a filmmaker have a region that you know, that you can sell movies to, and you can make those movies for a budget, and you can recoup your money and continue to make that's a business, that that's a business and if it goes somewhere else, and it goes International, or sells outside online, somewhere to a bigger audience, fantastic. But your core audience is what is going to sustain your career. That's a really powerful thing. And it also gets out of your gates, that lottery ticket mentality out of the filmmakers head, which is like I need that make something this movie's got to pop for me, I need to go to Hollywood I need to do you don't, you don't, you could keep it small. And as long as you're cool with not living in the Hollywood Hills, and you could just have a lifestyle, buy, you know, buy a house, you know, pay your rent, you know, and enjoy it, like make money, make enough money to sustain you and your family comfortably and make your art well. Hell That's the dream.

Daedalus Howell 11:41
No, that's that's you're totally right. And that's the metrics of success. Can you do it again, it's a supporting you, versus like you're saying a lottery ticket where it's supposed to make your career overnight? That's just not going to happen anymore. You know, unless you're in a dat system, which you know, I would have I would gamble most of most everyone listening is not clustered in Hollywood. Maybe they are but

Alex Ferrari 12:00
But even if you're here, but even if you're here, it's a lottery ticket. There's one guy like, like you and I were raised in the 90s. Like we came up in the film industry, like in the 90s. When independent film like every frickin week, there was Talentino Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, Richard Linklater, Spike Lee, John Singleton, it just kept the Steven Soderbergh every week, there was a new magic lottery ticket being handed out. And

Daedalus Howell 12:25
Sundance was just stamping these guys out, oh, it led us to believe that that's the system, that's what you do you show up, it happens, and it doesn't. And that could be that could really derail your life artistically. Yeah, tell me about it. So yeah, so So I, you know, I had to get really pulled back and figure that out. And once you scale stuff, to, to not just a level where you can actually make it but you know, who's going to watch it, and you know, that you're going to earn it back and in beyond it, it changes your mindset. And there's a lot more freedom in it, you know, especially if you know, your niche, or you know, you're doing now and I totally agree with you regional cinema is a nation that is the region in this case, and I grew, you know, this where I live is, is it's a very special place. And so I knew this fairly dependable and, but there are ways to, to galvanize that and make it happen. And so we set about with our production, and I have to tell you from the like, I was talking earlier about the exploitation factor, this, I knew this is going to be intrinsically not a mass market film, there's just no way about it. But I knew if I did anything other than that, I wouldn't, I wasn't going to be, you know, my artistic integrity and all that BS wasn't gonna be intact. But if you're going to make a film at RH, after not having made a film, you're gonna make your guide and film the way you want to make. Absolutely. So I had to dovetail that into a concept that would work in so I was on a radio program yesterday, and guy pointed out, because hey, you can pedal it's kind of a character and like, that's right, you know, the town, I made the town look, I wouldn't say beautiful, but I gave it a vision that, that this town hasn't seen itself that way before. And and I think that had resonance, you know, and that's something that's talked about a lot. But to kind of like roll back and like how to do this kind of thing. You're going to do a lot of favors, you're going to need a lot of a lot of buy in from like the sort of civic, you know, like bureaucracies that you have to participate in. And you're going to have to become friends with the local press, and you're going to have to have to have a story that's beyond local filmmaker does good, you know, because they've seen that story, right? It's not 1982 Yeah, no one cares. No one cares. Everyone's making a movie right now. You know, they'd rather write about the YouTube kid than they would use so. So I just hunkered down and wanted to tell the story that I told and but I wanted to make the film. I didn't want to do too much guerrilla stuff. I knew that I had to do it legally. by that. I mean, like permits and insurance and all the things and I needed to keep it cheap, lean and fairly invisible because I couldn't afford to close off streets I couldn't afford To I couldn't ask any businesses to stop their business from me, that kind of thing. And so the first thing was, you know, to ensure the production you have to be permitted. And to get that permit, I had to appeal to the city of Petaluma and I go to them. And you know, so in Petaluma, as I mentioned before, has been has seen a lot of film, right. And they're used to big budgets coming in and they make this cities make money on movies through transitory occupancy tax. That means heads and beds, right crew comes in 50 plus people or more, they, those people are put up at hotels, they're eating local restaurants, local services, so films can be a big moneymaker for a city. So when you come in and say, I got this little itty bitty film, please give me a film permit. They're like, Well, okay, sure. We're not going to deny your your freedom of speech. But what's in it for us, especially since in my case, I wanted a discount. And no one thinks that you can negotiate with the bureaucracy, but you totally can, especially the smaller town because the mayor is your neighbor, right? So I wrote a letter to the city manager, they wanted I think, 200 bucks a day, or 225 a day or something like that, you know, that was their deal to 222 25. And I had like a 20 day shoot, right? That's not a significant amount of money to the city. It's like, what, four grand or so like that. But to me, that was like a budget breaker, right? So I wrote a letter to the city manager an email and I said, Hey, here's the deal. I'm a townie. I'm a local, everyone here is local, it's locally cast. It's all this. Here's the general pitch. And the guy wrote back and said, Have it 300 bucks flat rate. In dying, I'm like, isn't that great? You can do that. Right. And so then I went through Fractured Atlas, which is a nonprofit, sort of fiscal sponsor, you know, there, if you can't receive donations yourself, because you're not a nonprofit, they'll they'll vouch for you and receive those funds. And they have an amazing insurance policy policy situation where they worked out, they broke out some deals, so they get discounted insurance for production. So I was able to take that get discounted insurance, which is what the city wants to do want to want you to mess up anything and they weren't insured. So then I had to go most cities will ask you to go to the local merchants is usually like a chamber of commerce or a downtown merchants society or something like that. Because their main concern and this was a concern in Petaluma. And that kind of led to a lot of productions being shut down or not even shut down, like blocked from coming in. Merchants complain about streets being shut down, sidewalk traffic, ending foot traffic gone, no customers, right, even if they're compensated by a studio or whatever. It's never enough. Everyone's grumpy, and it's so disruptive to local business. So when you have a lean little production like ours, you're not going to impact in that way. But you got to tell them that. And that was the weird part. I didn't expect to go to the local business and say, Hey, man, we're gonna be shooting here. Here's my flyer, you have to, you know, announce it that way. That's where I got the first bit of, like, pushback. I was like, Dude, we're just a small. I mean, we were gonna look like tours. There's only five of us, you know, and I camera, and they were so suspicious. And so kind of like, we remember what happened last time, you know, like, you know, I can't remember the film, but I can't I think screen was shot locally, and it ruined the town for a few weeks. Right? So they're pretty chapped about that. And, and I just had to sit down and talk with him. And eventually I surfaced up to the, you know, the the chairperson of the Downtown Association, and I just, I just pled my case, I made it clear to them that we're not gonna shut anything down. This person happened to be a Mason. And I threw that person's influence. Everyone just jumped in. And then the Masons said, Do you need a building to shoot in and like, yeah, and they gave us their building, we shot in a Mason Temple at one point, it was crazy, man, so awesome. It's so it's that it's that local boy makes good angle. But more like, we're doing this together. We're doing this for these reasons. This is how it aligns with what you're trying to do. And we're not going to cost you a thing. And and we're not going to tell you we're going to make your business look good. It's going to be an advertisement for you or anything like that. But we are going to respect you and your business. And we're going to make this as seamless as possible. And we're gonna make it fun for you. You want a cameo? Great, you know, that kind of thing. And so that's

Alex Ferrari 19:08
The power of the cameo. Oh, yes.

Daedalus Howell 19:10
Which is the most Yeah, as everyone else the most BS thing ever because usually it's the first thing gets cut, right?

Alex Ferrari 19:15
That in the associate producer credit

Daedalus Howell 19:20
Got a couple of those.

Alex Ferrari 19:22
So that's when a merchant buy in is is like that's

Daedalus Howell 19:25
That's how I would characterize it is because you're going to need the streets of your small town as if you're shooting the exteriors you're using their storefronts and their backgrounds and that kind of thing. You're going to get location releases from them you know and that kind of stuff and you're going to you want them to to love what you're doing versus being afraid that you're going to cost them money by blocking their customers from getting an intimidating people or people don't want to be on camera. People are afraid of being caught up in something people that want to be in a movie called pill head I get it, you know and so, so you start just literally on the street level going door to door saying This is what we're doing. We're insured, we're playing by all the rules, we're not going to make a mess. And and we're going to, we're going to try to make this a pleasurable process for everyone. And in most of the time they they get into it, we actually we gained more locations than we were a threat of losing because people said, Hey, why don't you shoot my building to? You know, when we had a place that just scheduled wise wasn't gonna work out? Another guy stepped up? Because he's like, Yeah, this sounds like a lot of fun. You guys are, you know, doing a great thing here and that kind of thing. And so that's, that's the place to start on the street level right. Now, what was the what was the budget of the film? Just a smidge under $30,000?

Alex Ferrari 20:38
Okay, so it's a it's an it's a low budget without What am i It's a argue or people will argue micro budget.

Daedalus Howell 20:44
Totally. It's, I don't even think it qualify for the micro budget sag agreement. Be ultra low. I mean, we didn't we paid. That's the thing. Here's the to keep within the budget, we flat rated all the performers. And so everyone got 100 bucks a day, across the board. And that, and that's great. Because that kind of that keeps the spirit of the thing alive. These people are getting paid, or paid actors, that's huge for them. Because we're often in small towns, just starting their careers. And that kind of thing

Alex Ferrari 21:10
That's huge is normally they wouldn't even get paid to be in a feature in a small town. So that's a big plus,

Daedalus Howell 21:16
You have to do it. You know, in hit us, we used a casting director remarkably, we have one up here, I guess, because there's a lot of extras needed when the big films come in. So and so this was the chance for the casting director to break some talent, and it was great for everyone. But we paid everyone which make some accountable. Right? They show up they take it seriously. But at 100 bucks a day where I think the minimum for a SAG agreement 125 I just couldn't make it pencil man. So they didn't get there, you know, sag units, but they don't care.

Alex Ferrari 21:46
Yeah, it's not about the second is how many days did you shoot, by the way

Daedalus Howell 21:50
20 and so here's the thing, man in the middle of our production, the big California fires in Northern California happened. And Petaluma wasn't affected necessarily, but all the surrounding area was and so we were smoked out and we had to shut down and reschedule which was pretty traumatic for a small scale production. And there's a moment of course, where I'm like, we're never going to get this done. This isn't gonna happen. But it's a Karen has a producer was able to like, triangulate, work it out, get all of the merchants to come back on board on different days. You know, the first thing that happens though, when there's a catastrophe like that is that all of the money's all of the donation kind of stuff, like the free catering kind of thing that goes right out the window, because they're diverting that energy and resources to, you know, people who actually need it, you know, fire victims, and that kind of thing completely makes sense. But that that was, that was something we never accounted for, of course, and we had to figure out how we're going to patch all these holes. You know, fortunately, there's a local woman who makes tamales. And so we, we lived on tamales for a week or so. But it was it was a

Alex Ferrari 22:52
Look can I, I want to tell you a quick story. My first film broken was my first short film in 2005. We shot in a like, it's arguably an abandoned hospital. But we like there's four floors that are abandoned, but the rest of the hospital is functional. So the basement was like in it's like from the 40s. In the 50s. There was like ancient stuff. And like there was entire entire, like floors full of props. Basically, they've just been sitting there for four decades. And they're like, go have it go at it. And they eventually originally, were going to be for 500 bucks. And at the end of it, they had such a good time with it. So like, yeah, don't worry about it. So we got the whole place, we got the whole place for free. But the problem was the week before we reshoot, a hurricane hit us because we're in West Palm Beach. So hurricane hit our area. And when we drove up there, like everything was destroyed. A lot of a lot of flooding happened, all of this stuff. So we just incorporated it all into the story. We just said screw it, we'll just we got a roll where we're shooting in five days is happening. But the best part was that FEMA, because it was a hospital set up shop there. And there was hundreds of 1000s of people in line outside while we're trying to shoot a movie, so you gotta roll with the punches sometimes

Daedalus Howell 24:07
Like now you have great production design and a cast of 1000s. Right. Yeah, that's yeah, that's that's the thing that when you're lean, small production, you're you can pivot like that, you know, and so if you do have a natural disaster, you can actually either incorporate it or at least in our case, reschedule and make it work. But so that that was a setback, but But generally speaking, everyone was appreciative and understanding of it and that kind of thing. And and so throughout our post production, we kept everyone abreast of what was happening, that kind of thing. Because once you go into post production, like, it's like, your film disappears. If you're in the cave for once, totally, and no one knows what's happening, or if it's ever going to or if it's ever going to happen. So we've been driven out.

Alex Ferrari 24:48
Well, I was gonna ask you, did you, you obviously understand who your target is, which you're very it's a very it's a niche audience, but it's a very broad, you know, you got a lot of spectrum of people there. So how did you realize that Your movie, which is an art arts floatation film, would would resonate with this audience. Did you do any mark? Did you do any market testing? Did you? Like what was the other than just being shot in that town? Do you think that was enough to gather everybody to come to see your movie?

Daedalus Howell 25:18
That was a start, that was definitely a platform that we could start with. But that's a great question. I knew that given the sort of demographic makeup here, it's a pretty rd town, we're very close to San Francisco. And there's a lot of a lot of people who go back and forth between here in the city. So it's sort of it's a suburb, so it's got a kind of a cosmopolitan edge to it in some ways. In the local movie theaters are multiplexes and and have the usual stuff. And so there's no arthouse films as such. So I always knew that I was going to pursue some kind of local theatrical distribution to kind of like to slake that thirst for that kind of content in this area, right. And so we're blessed that in that we got a couple of like old school venues that used to be old movie theaters that can still do it, that are now music venues and that kind of thing. And so, I always had an eye to like reviving this art house phenomenon in town. And

Alex Ferrari 26:18
So it's a consortium, if you will, a consortium of local local exhibitors.

Daedalus Howell 26:23
So yeah, that's my job. Because it's, you know, every small town has, most small towns have movie theaters, most movie theaters are gonna be owned by somebody, right. And that's often a local business person. Or if it's a chain, you can figure out where the basis of that chain is. And oftentimes the regionalised in, because of the nature of how these businesses put together, they're often they could be like a big AMC theater, but they're actually local franchisees, that kind of thing. And so, or something, I'm not sure for that particular chain, but that's how it often works. And so you can find through just through some internet sleuthing, like who actually owns the theater, right. And it's usually a small company, that kind of thing. Up here, we had, for, you know, a fairly small market, relatively speaking, two separate exhibition companies, right, that between the two of them represented most of the theaters in town. And so I knew that those guys had to be my friends. Right. And I needed to make a case that our film would be worth the risk of, of slotting you know, against the Avengers in this case, you know. And so, what we did was, I knew that a good healthy cast and crew screening would would, I just at this point, I had faith in the film, it was cut, we had a great mix, I knew that I knew that we had something that was really going to make the town lose their shit, right. And so I booked a theater in town called the mystic, which is one of these used one of these old single screen funky, fairly large venue, beautiful place that has turned into a music venue, but they still had the screen. And I approached them. And I said, Well, you know, what's your rate for single night screening, we're near casting crew, and it was like 3000 bucks. And again, you know, deal breaker for me. And so I made the case, hey, this is a local film, it's local talent. It's local, this local that I just really sold them on. This is your opportunity to be a hero to the cast and crew of this film and their friends and family and bring new eyes to this theater who haven't seen it in this capacity in 30 years. Right? I saw so they're like, yeah, it totally, exactly total muscle in and, and they saw the merit in that and they shaved it down to like 1000 bucks, then, which is great. Still, that's 1000 bucks, right? So then, in fact, I have one here. I got myself, a designer, my producer, and we made a program. And then we sold advertising in that program, right, to underwrite the production, or sorry, the the presentation of the cast and crew screening at the theater. So we sold 1000 bucks worth of advertising. Then, of course, he said to be printed, I go to the print shop, and like hey, man, I could go to you know, FedEx Kinkos or whatever. Or we could keep it local, you know, Petaluma printing, and, and we'll throw an ad in there and the guy just shaved it down to like, practically zero. We had to staple them ourselves. But we totally hustled it, and we pass these out, and everyone was happy. And so, you know, they're it, you know, it's like could put him in a special thanks. I did, you know, the credit roll, but the film was pretty locked to that point. But But all in all these advertisers were like, you know, and of course, they got to come the screening because as the thing, man, I wasn't selling any tickets. Right. I told the casting crew, come on down. Bring as many friends as you want the theaters capacity of 300, something like that. And I set it up on Eventbrite. So I can I could register that capacity and I wanted the on Eventbrite. You know, they show you how many tickets are remaining, even though they're free. You want to see that number like, dwindle and get down, down down in the surges, right? And so we packed that place beyond capacity. Right? We had a line out the door, which everyone wants to see, I invited all of the local press to see that line and the local exhibitors. So they come and they they see this film. And of course, you know, it's casting crew, everyone's cheering every time some new face pops on. It's a round of applause, right? It was a really spirited fun up great event, you know, the film's 80 minutes, so you're in and out, right? But we kept the party atmosphere going, it was really great. And in that what happens is the press the exhibitors, they come up to you like, that was really great. That was really exciting. You know, what's your next step? Next step is a bunch of lunches. The next week, we do a bunch of interviews, and we do some deals, right? We negotiate it with the exhibitors, they have, you know, theatrical exhibition, sorry, exhibition is kind of weird, where they, they need to, they kind of lost lead on the film, right. And so I'm films, right. So they're, they're moving popcorn concessions, that kind of thing. For the first few weeks, right, big film comes in, they take a dive on the ticket price, it but they're there. And then the longer the film stays there, the more their percentage of the box office goes up, as you know, and so I knew that I couldn't really tolerate that threshold, you know, because I needed to make the money now at this point. And so because of the nature of of our sort of awareness aware, the where the awareness we'd created in town and all that, and because I knew some press was coming up and all that, I was able to tell the story of getting into it, how we're having local exhibition, it makes the film seem successful, because no one gets distribution, right. And, you know, if unless you go out of 40 Mile Square radius, you don't know the film's not everywhere, right? It's in the movie theater. Right? And so we did a straight up 5050 split. Right, which is a sound for them. It's huge for them. Yeah. And so they got more money up front, on a Thursday night from our little film than they did with endgame, which is playing the theater next door, because there's five guys in there, right? Because yes, I film it been played out a little bit. And so it was a win for them. And it was a win for us. And, and they have all their stuff wired. So like, you know, they, they're taking the tickets and all that and we had to invoice them at the end of the month, they sent the money in the money shows up. And it's great. And so we ran for a couple of weeks in four different cities. That's the thing. That's what you don't want just one theater, you want it, you want to leverage your press, as as wide as you can. And in as many markets as you can, even though it's ostensibly the same community in the same type of audience. They live in different places sometimes. And we have enough regional media that I was able to, like, push that. And once you get one story, you can push that story to other places. I got lucky because one of the newspaper chains here has reported that, you know, they're cheap on the reporter. So they get the one guy to write it, but they run it in three different papers, right? Mm hmm. Fine by me. So here, here's an example. You know, here's, there's one clip. Right. You know, and this is, of course, the hardcopy, it has more of a life online, you know, is another clip, right? Same article, same exact article, this one was different. This is a shot from the movie, this is the cover man of a local alternative news weekly. And they, they just jumped on it, man, we made it a story. Because we had 300 People who had a great time talking about how great it was, and then looking for the paper. So then that's how you did it, man, you start small and you keep it focused and you and you knock on the doors that you know will open for you in your town and and you keep the spirit alive with it. And so so this all snowballed to our Amazon released but anyway, that's that's kind of like the

Alex Ferrari 33:46
So how much did you make on this theatrical release? What was the kind of revenue generally speaking,

Daedalus Howell 33:51
We were making about 1000 bucks a week. Right? And so it made a dent in in our, our initial outlay, and I say the thing that all the film was in part, underwritten by Indiegogo, right, not significantly but a few 1000 bucks, we got a private donor, right who came in for a couple grand to begin with. And then midway through I'm like, I need more money and and I so I just asked him again and he was cool enough and kick kick down into the few grand and our post we did ourselves we built our own you know system, you know, out of bits and pieces and use Premiere in this case. We got a real break though in the mix Central Post la down there up up arm did our did our mix through. I did some music videos for these guys back when they're running some label stuff. And my brother is kind of a mid level Rockstar worked with those guys. And so they did the mix for free. I mean, that's that was huge. Wow. Yeah. And so I shouldn't say for free they they

Alex Ferrari 34:49
Deferred points.

Daedalus Howell 34:53
And they're great associate producers. I'm very happy to work with them. And if you ever need good postman that's where it's at. Good I see producer credit. But so we we made a dent in that and then or so that's that's for one theater. So that so we had four theaters, some theaters do better than others in ran multiple nights in in most of them. Let me backtrack a little bit. We didn't have enough money to make the film when we started. But we knew that we could keep making money while we're making the film to keep paying everyone and paying it off. And I

Alex Ferrari 35:27
I think that's a dangerous business plan, sir.

Daedalus Howell 35:30
Well, is it though, because you can either not make your film, you can either wait till you have your whole budget and not make the sum or you can know that you're going to you know, you have your day job, and you're going to sink a little bit of your paycheck,

Alex Ferrari 35:43
As long as you have if you have a revenue stream that you know, it's coming to cover your nut, then yes, yeah, I've seen too many filmmakers start, like we got 10 grand, but we really need 50, we're just gonna start, we don't know where the other 40 are coming from. That's dangerous.

Daedalus Howell 35:58
No, that is dangerous. I don't advise that. But I do advise making a film if you know that you that if you don't have the budget all at once that you're at least going to accumulate the budget, actually accumulate it not pretend you are but actually know you're going to earn that money or acquire that money through production and post mostly in archives so that you actually are still making that film, there's nothing worse than having a you know, a film on your hard drive, and waiting for somebody to write a check, that's not going to happen and you never do it. It's better just to keep moving as best you can, and then keep it as cheap as possible. So we're so this is 30 grand, but this is this is 30 grand over 18 months, that's still a lot of money. But that's a lot of money in in smaller chunks.

Alex Ferrari 36:38
So what was it? What was the total that you actually had to recoup? After everything was done?

Daedalus Howell 36:45
Oh, of our own actual outlay? Yeah. Right.

Alex Ferrari 36:48
And investors are donation? Is it all donations? Or

Daedalus Howell 36:52
It was all it was all donations or Indiegogo kind of stuff.

Alex Ferrari 36:55
So like actual money you had like, what was the what was the the, to make this go into the black?

Daedalus Howell 37:01
To recoup our personal out of pocket expenses, we only needed about eight grand. You know,

Alex Ferrari 37:09
If you can't make eight grand with an independent film, then you really shouldn't be making an independent film.

Daedalus Howell 37:14
Right in and you can do that. And the great thing is, you know, we own it, too, you know, and it's part of that. Yeah, and it's part of this growing library. And now it lives online. And you know, Amazon sends us little statements every you know, and so if well, did I need to send it I check every day. But but there's it's better to have done and do and start building your your intellectual property empire and have something to leverage. And here's the thing with Pierhead. It's not a standalone property, the way I constructed it, it speaks to in an actually features other things that I've done. So there's this character who has a book called Quantum deadline. That's a kind of a MacGuffin in the movie, which is also a book that I wrote that's published in so I'm selling the book, in conjunction with the movie product placement product. Yeah, but it's, but it's not just product placement. It's it's a plot device. It's it's transmedia. You see, it's, it's it, they share the same story world. So the movie and the book are kind of exist in the the Luma verse for lack of a better term. And so that's, that's, that's how I'm kind of thinking this long term. It's like keep building in keep building the world and properties that exist within that world, in own all of it. And so it could be a longer game, but it's a better game to play. I think.

Alex Ferrari 38:34
So then how did you How was your online marketing game? Like? How did you guys you know, you have this audience that you're trying to reach? How did you reach this audience? How did you, you know, reach out to this audience, your regional audience, and then also beyond?

Daedalus Howell 38:50
So what I did first for the regional audience, because we did that cast and crew screening, through Eventbrite, which, you know, it's just a, you know, it's a free ticketing service at the level, we were doing it that allowed me to capture all of their emails. So not only did I have my cast and crew emails, I had all their friends and family at that point. And so, so that was a list of, you know, 300 plus people, which doesn't sound huge, but it is huge. When you want your numbers to spike on your on your first day of releasing, as you say, Hey, everyone, remember that great time we all had last month or a couple months ago. If you missed it in theaters, here's here's the chance to really deep dive into this film. And I hope that the film can endure repeat viewings. And so because it's got a lot of easter eggs and stuff like that in it. And so that's how we did it. We just did a blast, encourage everyone to share it. Of course, we leverage social all that you can triangulate through emails, like you know, where people are on different social platforms, and you can invite them to fan you know, like your fan page and that kind of thing. And so that's how I started and then I started with press releases and just sending them out to places that I thought would cover the film. And I'm still in that process in trying to try to Push the online. But that's a little. So that's a little outside of the regional model. That's a whole different kind of, it's more traditional in that this

Alex Ferrari 40:10
It's another revenue stream. It's a hybrid. It's a hybrid model.

Daedalus Howell 40:13
Yeah. And you have to keep doing that and keep that alive, because it keeps in the consciousness. And so I send out a press release, or some sort of appeal to a reviewer or a blogger. And then it doesn't have to be like, you know, a huge place any, any mention helps, you know, and so that's what I do. And it only takes you know, it's templatized at this point, so it takes a couple of minutes every day, or every, every week in my case. And that's what I'm doing

Alex Ferrari 40:36
Now. And do you did you use? Like, have you built an online community on Facebook at all or on different social media platforms?

Daedalus Howell 40:44
Yeah, so I because I was a local author and all that I was able to use my my own kind of presence, right. And so I'm generally the face of the film, even though there's a wonderful cast and crew. This I got to push it right. And so through my own Facebook, you know, I've got like, only 1500 followers, but they're really great. And they're really responsive. And so they're not like your tribe where they you know, if you ask them to, you know, march in and take bullets for you.

Alex Ferrari 41:08
I don't I don't know, you given way too much credit, sir. Giving me a way too much credit

Daedalus Howell 41:13
My tribe goes, Oh, this guy, this asshole again. All right. But it keeps it keeps it moving. And, and I know it's working. Because I see I see the you know, the hockey stick, you know, in my Amazon results, but I also get really great feedback. For whatever reason, pill head is the kind of film that people if they get into it, want to talk about it and tell me about it, which is really great. And so I've I've met people online and just hey, I watch your film, man. I really dig it. Did you mean this by that? That kind of thing. They're trying to decode some things. The dude I was speaking with yesterday on the radio, kind of nerded out on me. I didn't. He was putting out things that were in my opinion in the film, but I was like, Yeah, dude. SURE that you believe that? Let's go for that. And I don't mean that like in like a cynical way. I just mean, like, you know, you know what it's like people find something that you didn't maybe intend, but that's important to them. And it's important to let them have that.

Alex Ferrari 42:06
Oh, there's no question. I mean, I know Kubrick understood that very well.

Daedalus Howell 42:12
Yeah, he was brilliant. Not even talking about anything, you know,

Alex Ferrari 42:14
Exactly. Just like you guys figure out what I meant. I you know, it's much more interesting. Now, did you at any point, did you consider doing traditional distribution? Did you go down that road at all? Or was this planned from the beginning and like, we're doing this all the way?

Daedalus Howell 42:32
Okay, it was planned from the beginning that we were going to make a cause like, a completely comprehensively unmarketable film. Right. In that was in I mean, it sounds weird. It sounds like a like a rational after the fact. But truly, Alex, my producer, and I were like, we had done some conceptual art installations. We were, we were all about the creative, and which can be healthy thing, but also it's not going to make any money. Right. The idea was to make the film, we wanted to make a bout this place for this place. And that was the audience. So as long as we stood, you know, kept kept to the the principle like this is Petaluma film for Peda lumens. That was going to be enough to take it over the the, you know, the hump, but but there is that little part of you. Of course that goes. It would be cool, though, if this got picked up, and it would be a hell of a lot easier if it did. And, and so early on, I looked at the distributors that were distributing the kind of films in the A, the arthouse films have a peculiar kind of psychedelic nature, like like this one. And, and, you know, comes down to like, there's the big ones like Annapurna, and a 24, that kind of thing. And there's like a little ones like oscilloscope, none of those guys want to talk to me, it's, it's so and and I knew that and I kind of needed to lob that out there to confirm for myself that I'm, I gotta stay on my path, right? And even if they wanted to pick it up, if they I don't think there's the investment for this kind of film. And this film was so regional in its in its scope, that it wouldn't make sense really outside in some ways. However, I found it a little more universal mathematically than then. I'm probably giving a credit for but but no, I, you know, there's there's the, the darkness is always lurking, right. And it's in the seduction of, you know, breaking through somehow, as always there but you gotta stick to your own thing. It's the only, you know,

Alex Ferrari 44:34
And then how about film festivals, you didn't decide to go down to film festival route either.

Daedalus Howell 44:38
I considered it and I remember looking at the Filmfreeway you know, lineup and thinking this one looks good. That one looks good. I did the you know, I took pleasure in submitting to Sundance and giving them my $100 to sit.

Alex Ferrari 44:56
So it's a fantastic donation. Yeah. And that's and

Daedalus Howell 44:59
I knew going in. I had never submitted a film to Sundance, I had no delusion that it was going to get in. But I wanted to have participated in that. Finally, does that make sense?

Alex Ferrari 45:09
It's worse. It's such a strange such a strange Sundance is such a unique Film Festival in the in the scope of the world. I mean, unlike any other film festival anywhere in the world, especially for people in the US, Sundance is it, and we know that it's astronomical to get accepted. We know we have almost a better chance of winning a lottery or a scratch off than we do of getting our film in was last year, it was like 15,800 submissions. and 120 P films got in including shorts. So if you go go on the features, it's even less like the chances of you getting in are so astronomical. But then we all turn it to Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber you're saying, but there's still a chance. But you're saying there's a chance. And that little dream is what kind of, you know, look, I fell into it. Like when I made the ego and desire, which was a film about Sundance at Sundance, yeah, at Sundance without Sundance permission, I waited a year to submit to them, because I was like, if I'm ever going to get a chance, this is it. And I wasted a year, you know, I wasted a year of my time, you know, chasing that film festival dream. So I always find it fascinating when film, filmmakers now are just saying, You know what, I don't think the film festival route is for me. And it's not for everything. And it's not what it was in the 90s. Like, you know, like Sundance was stamping them out. They don't do that anymore. There is no festival that does that anymore.

Daedalus Howell 46:42
Right in festival, the festival culture has changed quite a bit to in what's considered a festival where the film is way different. Right? And not just in terms of, you know, production value and that kind of thing. But you know, a lot of the one stars a lot of them want

Alex Ferrari 46:56
They want asses and seats, they want asses and seats, they want press and that's look at start, you need star power. There's two ways you get into a film festival star power so that you can prove that you can fill that that those seats in those showings by your audience, whatever, that if you're a YouTuber who made a film, and you say, hey, look, I got 5 million subscribers. And I'm going to get how many seats do you need? 300 filled? Yeah, that's not a problem. Yeah, that's yeah,

Daedalus Howell 47:23
I didn't have that. And so I knew that I would have to, like, make my breaks. The other thing was, I was I put myself on this timeline, right? I booked the first screening before the film was done. Right? Because I needed the deadline. And I needed to, like really push it. And I know that sounds a little risky. But we have the technology, you know, it just takes the drive to finish. And so he did. I mean, like up all night, you know, that kind of stuff. But it was worth it. And it's exciting, you know, but no, this is not a festival film, man. And that was that was kind of a weird thing to accept, you know, because I, you know, I'd been everyone we've been through these festivals, we've seen what the culture is like, it's fun, but it just has changed. And there's such a delusion of content now. And our little black and white weird art flick is just not the kind of thing that's gonna play.

Alex Ferrari 48:13
It's not and trust me, like I, you know, with ego and desire, I was rejected from all the major festivals. I mean, I got into rain dance, I got a world premiere at Rain Dance, which was huge. That's pretty great. Yes, it was really, I was so blessed about that. But I was rejected by every other one. And I realized I was like, you know, I think other festivals just have a big stick up their butt about promoting Sundance at their festival. Like you don't want to be thinking about another festival while you're at my festival. That's interesting. Yeah. And I was like, Yeah, because anyone who watches the film really enjoys it. It's a filmmaking movie. It's about filmmakers selling a movie at a festival. Like why? Why wouldn't that play? It's a perfect film festival movie. Yet it didn't sell. It's odd man. I've seen I've look. I've been in over 600 festivals throughout my career with all my projects. It's changed. So so much in your

Daedalus Howell 49:05
Yeah, tastes are different to me. Like the people who go to film festivals. It's, it's usually an older demographic now. And there's a lot of baby boomers. They're kind of looking for the thing that speaks to them. You know, no one wants your punk rock or your movie, you know, it's better to project it unless Brad Pitt's in it unless Brad Pitt unless Brad Pitt's in it. And if Brad Pitt's in your punk rock movie, it's not a punk rock movie anymore, man. See, I mean, so.

Alex Ferrari 49:24
Exactly. So you've got

Daedalus Howell 49:27
Brad Pitt he's great but

Alex Ferrari 49:28
But there's there there's that whole thing is well, it's It's remarkable, man. But look it also I wanted to say I saw on your website, you have some merch? Have you been selling that merch? Has it made any money? Have you created any revenue off of it?

Daedalus Howell 49:41
Yeah. And so that that's the thing, I put it all on the front page of D howell.com. And that that's a constant stream. It's really great man. It's not like huge, but it's definitely buying groceries. You know selling Yeah, I'm selling the film. I'm selling the books that are related to the film and on the site. You can you see that I kind of make explaining What I'm doing this is all one world. And these are the different pieces and you can you can dive into the book or you can watch the movie and there's more to come and stay with me and that kind of thing. It's just the beginning. But it's, it's, it's like the foundation, you know, for like a personal content empire, you know, it's like,

Alex Ferrari 50:17
But that's that's where the future is man. That is, that's, I believe, truly believe that's where the future of independent film is going. It's not this one movie that's going to get me to where I want to go, it's like, it's going to be the grind. It's the film after film, building a portfolio, not selling out to distributors, or creating some hybrid distribution deal where you maintain some sort of control over your your film, not for 15 years, but for five or three things that there's so many different ways of going about it. And this is the future, I think that what you're doing is fantastic.

Daedalus Howell 50:51
I think that one of the tricks though, is to keep it coherent in its own universe, because people want you know, we see this with binging on Netflix, and that kind of thing, I find that audiences if they're going to invest in your your thing, your story, they want to, they want to be like rewarded for for that investment. And you got to do that by giving them another story. Just like the other one. I'm not saying the same plot thing. I'm saying like the same world, allow them to dive into something that you keep building out for them, that keeps them in, in interested in that world. I think the as filmmakers, we want to always do something new and novel and all that. But if you can commit to a story world with characters within it that you can explore, I think that's better. I think it's better to corral everything under some kind of some kind of unifying concept. Like, you know, I'll use the obvious example of Star Wars. Star Wars is like a world and all this universe, frankly, and all this stuff is in it, right? And there's no dearth of story material, you can, there's always a new spur someplace to go. I think if I can encourage anyone, if you're if you want to build a foundation, that blossoms into a business, keep it consistent unto itself. And another that can feel like you're locking yourself into something, but if at all possible, because synergies develop, right. And I'm not like selling like, you know, millions of copies of quantum deadlines that I've sold more this year with this movie, because of the relationship between those two projects than I that I have prior to that, you know, and hopefully one feeds the other that kind of thing. And as I roll out new material that speaks that place in the same playground, it'll keep growing exponentially.

Alex Ferrari 52:22
And it's similar to what I've done with my films with like, this is mag, and you know, what this is mag is not specifically a filmmaker movie, but it's a movie about the industry. It's about an actress. Yeah, it's about the industry. But it's also, you know, really, it's part of my ecosystem of indie film, hustle. So I created multiple revenue streams off of it, in addition to just the actual sales of it, and licensing and things like that. But now with ego and desire, which is coming out, as of this recording, it's coming out in in less than a month. Hopefully, that is going to be real product placement. And real interesting, because that is a product that is designed for the tribe like it is designed for a filmmaker, an independent filmmaker, like if, I mean, I wanted if I would see this commercial, I see this trailer, I'll be like, I've got to see that.

Daedalus Howell 53:12
Right, right. No, that's Yeah, totally. That's exactly what I'm talking about. You've you, that's your niche is kind of turning the camera back on the camera, you know, and exploring the nature of independent film, that's a perfect sweet spot for you. It's great in everything dovetails perfectly, right, it's a coherent brand proposition, I think you're onto something

Alex Ferrari 53:30
And that's it. That's what I've been trying to do. And I you know, and shooting for the mob, which is a book about my filmmaking, and then I've got the new book, whereas with films like it, there's a there's, you could see the film entrepreneur aspects of my business, you know, I and you have, to an extent, you've created multiple revenue streams coming in, and you're not getting you're not retiring off of them. I'm not retiring off of anything. You know, it's it's work, it's a hustle, but it's, it's a keeps the roof off over my head. Lights are on family is fed, we go on a vacation here or there. Life is good, you know, you know, and I live in Los Angeles, for God's sakes. So I mean, like, I wish I lived somewhere else that you know, house costs, you know, but I'm here and in this kind of world that I'm building out as a film entrepreneur is something that's able to sustain me and my family and and you're doing you're doing something similar so that's one of the reasons why I want to jump on the show, man it's really great stuff, man.

Daedalus Howell 54:29
Oh, cool. Yeah, there's that threshold I think for me it's about 18 months, maybe two years out where I hope that the revenue from all these endeavors begins to catch up in Eclipse you know the other work I have to do you know, I'm a writer so I write regardless so you know, I write for clients or write for magazines or newspapers, that kind of thing. And but I I feel a tipping points coming and eventually it's gonna you know, and that's, that's, if you can make it like that. That's the best way to make it man where you made it yourself. And we all have help along the way and all that Yeah, we help others along the way, I hope but But ultimately, you built your own kingdom you built your own empire Alex and and I think that everyone should endeavor to do that, because I think that we're gonna be a bunch of micro studios in 5-10 years.

Alex Ferrari 55:12
But that's but that's the go to the 100% we have to be our own businesses, we have to be our own corporations, we have to be our own studios. And I got to that tipping point, probably around two, two and a half years in, is I got to that tipping point where I just said to my wife, I'm like, I don't think I need to do post anymore. I you know, if a directing gig comes along, I like it, I'll take it, you know, but I don't have to do it anymore. And that is most wonderful feeling. For someone who's been hustling for 20 odd years in this business to just wake up every morning and go do what I love to do. It's the dream. It really is the dream. I'm so blessed and humbled by it. And and that's what you're doing on your end with your films, man. So congrats, man. Seriously,

Daedalus Howell 55:55
Thank you appreciate it. Yeah. I have to say, though, the way you do things, I really appreciate the openness and the way that you share how you accomplish these things. That's something I'm trying to engineer figure out a way to incorporate into what I'm doing. So because they're the give back factor is pretty huge. I mean, as we talked earlier, I without listening to indie film, hustle all that and kind of keeping the spirit of film alive in my head. I don't think I would have gotten to this point. And I think that if there's a way that filmmakers filmmakers can bake in some kind of way of acknowledging or helping kind of keep the community growing, all the better. I don't know what that is for me yet. Perhaps I'll figure it out. But

Alex Ferrari 56:40
The as as I don't know who said this, but if I forgot who philosopher said this, but he says, If you want to, if you want to succeed, help someone else succeed, right, and steal from them, and then obviously, then knock them over the head and take no, but but I've discovered by giving is, the greatest strength I have is because I am of service to my community, I give as much as I possibly can. Sometimes I give give too much, I give away 95% of my information for free. And I only charge for about 5% of what I do every day on a daily basis. You know, I could easily there's some podcasts that I do some interviews with some people that I'm like, I could charge 20 bucks for this is amazing information. And I give it away for free. Because I just found and I discovered that when you pay it forward, man, it comes back to you. And now it's addictive for me like I can't not give I cannot be of service. It's part of my DNA now. So wherever I meet someone, right, sure, you know, there's only there's only one of me, so I can't do it as much as I would like. But as much as you can give. And as filmmakers, you have to find that, that thing inside of you, that you want to be of service. And that be of service could be making a regional movie for your community of a film, that's a mark, that's a that's a a need in that in that marketplace. And you're being of service to that community, giving them a light that they haven't seen before. It doesn't have to be grandiose, it could be something very small. But when you discover that being of service aspect, and you should incorporate that in any way shape, or form you can through your work it is it's so much better than the Me me me vibe that I had back in the day when I was coming up when my ego was out of control and all sorts of craziness that I've gone through in my my career. That's why That's why anytime I meet a filmmaker, which I'm sure you've met too, who are just so ridiculous. That's why I may be going desire because I just had to had to make fun. It's so ridiculous. That I say it's all good man, don't I there's nothing I need to say to you. The business will take care of you. Life will take care of you. Yeah, it's and you might have some success here there. But I promise you, the hammers coming. It always comes and I don't care who you are, it always comes. So you will be humbled. If it's not. It's not me to do it. I won't humbly tell you, do you.

Daedalus Howell 59:11
I think that there's a tick in filmmakers, I think filmmakers, especially in the indie realm are intrinsically problem solvers. Right? constantly figuring out how to do something, or fix something or whatever, patch the holes of somewhere. And I think when you see problems in, in, like, the community, like in terms of like accomplishing something or making a film, that kind of thing, you there's an impulse to want to fix it or help somebody like, Dude, you're doing this wrong, man, this is how you do it. And I think maybe that's where it comes from. At first. Were you just like, Oh, I gotta help this guy. He's, you know, he's gonna waste everything here and I don't know, it's it's, it's a fascinating place to be and maybe it's just maybe I'm just getting older, you know? And then

Alex Ferrari 59:51
Don't underestimate the power of age, brother. I'm telling you, man, I mean, I look when I was 20 Oh, oh, I would I would slap my You know, it takes years of shrapnel it takes that that that kind of that rhinoceros skin that you've got to develop because of all the just the bruising and the battles and the and the punches and the, you know, the cuts, and the scarring that you have to go through in this business and I'm not being dramatic, it's the truth. Like we all go through it. And as you get older, you just start figuring things out. And that's what I try to do with this podcast. I try to like, give them a little bit of a shortcut. I still want them to go through their pain, but it's one thing to be sideswiped by an MMA fighter who's sitting next to you. And another thing is if someone says, Dude, there's an MMA fighter right next to you, you will be punched any minute now. There's a huge difference between you're gonna get punched, but understanding it preparing for that budget is a whole other story

Daedalus Howell 1:00:51
Well put. Yeah, good. The MMA metaphor. I love it. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:00:54
It's I always call ego is the MMA fighter that sits on your shoulder that that's what ego is because it'll be he'll be quiet. Sometimes you'll be like, quiet down quiet. He's fine. But he's just waiting for that moment, where there's an opening, and there's always that moment, you're like, Hey, maybe I am not that, boom. And that's it. You're out like, Hey, maybe I am really this good. Boom, there you go. You're out. And ego is always there waiting for you. And you've got to kind of flatten it and it takes forever. So I use that analogy all the time that MMA fighters always on my shoulder.

Daedalus Howell 1:01:28
That's good. That's good.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:29
Now I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all of my films or printers, sir. What advice would you give a filmtrepreneur starting a project today?

Daedalus Howell 1:01:37
Really focus on the writing, that's the one thing you can do for free yourself and get right with enough practice and dedication to it. Make sure that script is story worthy and shoot in shooting where they first just, you can't fix, you can't fix bad writing and post you can edit it around some stuff. But even in my own experience, there are scenes where I go eat if I just spent one more day on a draft, I could have cleared up a lot of problems for myself. Just make sure that things written first write it

Alex Ferrari 1:02:06
Fair enough. Now what is the biggest lesson you learned from building your company building what you're trying to do with your film company.

Daedalus Howell 1:02:15
So go in on getting professional advice for setting it up correctly. If you're going to do an LLC, or, or a sole proprietorship, whatever you're gonna do, just make sure you actually set it up as a business and do it legitimately. Sometimes, if you're going to have your business is going to have what they call a fictitious name. And by that it's like again, it's not your own. Yeah, DBA go through the hoops. Just check all the boxes, it's worth it and and it sets you up for success. You don't want to have to like mess with your taxes. You don't want to have to mess with all this stuff. That's just gonna slow you down artistically. Do it right. And if you have to pay a little bit for it, do that.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:52
And get an account.

Daedalus Howell 1:02:54
That's a great point. Accountants, you know, cheap. Total bookkeepers is way cheaper than you think, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:03:01
A lot cheaper, than you're doing it yourself man. I could tell you that much.

Daedalus Howell 1:03:04
Especially when you mess it up. Yeah, it especially in production. Having a bookkeeper? I didn't didn't have one until ahead. I really wish I did. Because it would have been so much easier just to have it happening every week. Everyone gets paid. Versus do I get my check? It's midnight. I'm you know, like, well, let me get let me get the book out. Yeah, no, just pay the 200 bucks, whatever. It's nothing.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:24
Yeah, it's no, it's it's, it's a good ROI. And an ROTC return on time and return on investment Ah, yes. Yeah. Because, you know, a lot of us, as filmmakers, especially us guys, here at the micro budget level, we always want to save a buck, but you got to be smart on where you save it. Because if you save $5, but if you pay that $5, not $5 will save you an hour or two in work, or time does it makes is your time worth more than $5? Right? Could you be doing something else that could generate more revenue, or help the project farther along? That is such a huge, huge thing.

Daedalus Howell 1:04:03
That's a great point. Let the pros do the pro stuff, you know? Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:04:07
Fair enough. Fair enough. Fair enough. Now, what what did you learn from your biggest business failure?

Daedalus Howell 1:04:13
Hmm, well, that wasn't necessarily this project.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:17
No, no, no, no, in this business in general.

Daedalus Howell 1:04:19
Um, there's a lot of people who are often not invested in your success. Shocking. Yes. And it's, it's important to recognize that and get rid of them early. Not that anyone may be intentionally sabotaging you, but they may unconsciously have a grudge and you might be carrying them with you and you want to drop them as soon as you can. We see this in creative stuff. Sometimes, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:04:48
Some just not all the time just sometimes.

Daedalus Howell 1:04:53
Just sometimes. This guy suck. You know, there's just there are energy vampires, you know that they want to be close to you Because you got the thing and they don't and they're gonna take it from you. Bit by bit drop by drop papercuts death by pet. Yeah, in they may not even know they're doing it, get rid of them. It's okay to get rid of them.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:13
It took me a long time to figure that out a long time to figure that out. Now in your opinion, what is the definition of a filmtrepreneur?

Daedalus Howell 1:05:23
A filmtrepreneur is someone who endeavors to make filmmaking their live their live in livelihood and by pragmatic and judicious execution of the their, their talent in the cinematic space.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:43
Sorry, you're a wordsmith, sir. Obviously,

Daedalus Howell 1:05:45
No that sounds a little put on. That again, I was I was reaching their films I film a filmtrepreneur is is somebody who, who knows that to make films, they have to make films that that sustain them ultimately. And so by by being smart as as, as well as pragmatic, is the way to go.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:08
Now where can people find you your movie and what you're doing?

Daedalus Howell 1:06:12
Yeah, I'm at DHowell. It's Dhowell.com. And if you want to go directly to the business, it's culturedepartment.com culturedept.com. I'm on Facebook at Daedelus Howell don't even bother Dhowell.com. There's links everywhere I swear. And until hits on Amazon, go to Amazon watch pillhead You can see how I did it.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:33
Yeah. Is it on prime? Or is it on just rental? And

Daedalus Howell 1:06:36
It's on prime yeah.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:37
Nice. Fantastic. Are you finding that you're making? You're making good money on prime as opposed to rental and purchase?

Daedalus Howell 1:06:43
That's a great question. I I'm finding it's not quite as juicy. In terms of prime. But I'm prime is kind of a long term play for me, because I'm trying to push it a lot. And it's easy to get people to watch it if they're not paying out of pocket. Sure. Like, it's a little frictionless. And so I'm kind of in a in a marketing push right now. And so I'm sending out links to, you know, bloggers and stuff like that. I want them to be able to click it, watch it, love it, talk about it. So that's kind of where I'm at right now. So yeah, there's a bit of a little bit of decline. But you know, the great thing about prime though, it's like it's opened up in the UK now. So the film's kind of getting a different audience, that kind of thing. less friction, long term play. I'm a little I'm still on the fence about it a little bit to be honest.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:24
But you're but you're huge in Turkey. So that's all really that matters. You can't walk the streets in Turkey, sir. So

Daedalus Howell 1:07:32
I can't anyway, but yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:07:35
Brother, man, I appreciate you coming on and being so transparent and forthcoming with the tribe, man. So thank you so much for dropping those knowledge bombs, brother.

Daedalus Howell 1:07:44
Oh, thanks for having me. This is a real privilege and pleasure. I really truly appreciate it, man. Thank you. Yeah.

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IFH 538: I Made a Short Film Now WTF Do I Do with Clarissa Jacobson

So you made a short film, now WTF do you do? Today guest is filmmaker Clarissa Jacobson and she is the perfect person to guide you through the rough waters of getting your short film out to the world.

Clarissa is the writer, producer and creator of the multi-award-winning comedy/horror short – Lunch Ladies – based on her feature. The film garnered forty-five awards and is distributed all over the world.

Her follow up short – A Very Important Film – also got distribution. Her optioned feature screenplay, Land of Milk and Honey, is in development with Elizabeth Avellan and Gisberg Bermudez.

In addition, Clarissa wrote a book – I Made a Short Film Now WTF Do I Do With It: A Guide to Film Festivals, Promotion, and Surviving the Ride

I Made A Short Film Now WTF Do I Do With It is jam-packed with hard-earned knowledge, tips, and secrets on how to enter film festivals, promote your movie… and SUCCEED!

I Made A Short Film Now WTF Do I Do With It covers everything from what festivals to submit to, how to maximize your money, secure an international presence, deal with rejection, gain publicity, harness the power of social media, what a sales rep does and much more.

Included are exclusive filmmaker discounts on services/products from the subtitling company, Captionmax, and promo merchandisers, Medias Frankenstein and The Ink Spot.

Enjoy my conversation with Clarissa Jacobson.

 

Right-click here to download the MP3

 

Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome to the show, Clarissa Jacobson. How're you doing Clarissa?

Clarissa Jacobson 0:15
I'm doing great. I'm really happy to be on your show because it's so freakin awesome.

Alex Ferrari 0:20
Thank you so much. Thank you so much. We were talking a little bit off air. And I appreciate all the kind words you said about the show and your you know, that you've been listening to for a while. And you found me through distribution, where a lot of filmmakers end up finding me when they start running into that wall.

Clarissa Jacobson 0:36
Leaving gray area is since it's no fun, and nobody knows anything about and we're all terrified.

Alex Ferrari 0:42
Right Exactly. And then of course, after you listen to me, you're even more scared. Because Because I tell you the truth. I'm like, No, you're never gonna make money here. This is how they're going to screw you. They're don't sign this here. And and

Clarissa Jacobson 0:54
Knowledge is power. Even It's scary.

Alex Ferrari 0:56
I'd rather you I rather you be scared than lose your movie. So but um, but I'm happy to have you on the show. And yeah, you reached out to me about your book that you wrote called, I made a short film. Now, what the eff do I do with it's a guide to film festivals, promotions and surviving the ride? Based on the title alone? I said, Well, I have to have her on the show. I I mean, because I was like, this seems like the kind of gal that I can vibe with on the show. Because it's it's no nonsense.

Clarissa Jacobson 1:29
Yeah, that was my title. And then I just never changed it. And it's super long. So now I just call it my WTF book.

Alex Ferrari 1:37
Exactly, exactly. TF. So, so many. So so many filmmakers do make short films. I mean, I have a long history of making short films and having some success with them early on in my career. But there is so much misinformation about short films, how you what you do with them, can you monetize them? How do you run the festival circuit is you know, where do you go with it? All this kind of stuff. So before we jump into the, into the weeds, how did you get started in the business?

Clarissa Jacobson 2:04
Well, I when I was a little kid, I thought I wouldn't be an actress. So I did the whole acting thing. I went to acting school. You know, I went to Indiana University and majored in theater. And then I went to American musical and dramatic Academy in New York City. And I did that whole thing. But I was always writing. And the thing about acting is you need so many people to to do it. You know, so I had all this pent up pent up artistic energy all the time that it can never use because if you're not in a play, or you're not you just can't use it. And I stumbled on so long story how I met my mentor Joe Bratcher who teaches twin bridges writing so on. But I he offered me a class and I was like, Well, I'm an actress. I don't write, you know, like, I'm an actress. But I took like, yeah, and I took a few. But I was kind of getting that burned out stage where I was feeling like the bitter actress, you know, but I was always trying to do my own projects. And then I started screenwriting with him and I just never looked back. And I had like, you know, that weird come to Jesus moment where I had to like, because I always like want to commit to one thing and really be good at it. And I was like, you know, freaked out going, Oh my God, my whole life is saving actress, I'm leaving that behind. I'm a failure at it. And my friend was like, you know, life is like a tributary, you're just taking another, you know, waterway. And that was like 1415 years ago, and I don't miss acting at all. And I just love screenwriting so much. And then I made a short film for a variety of reasons. And that's when I really realized Holy shit. I'm a filmmaker. Like, that's where I fit like, 100% I fit as a filmmaker. I mean, screenwriting first and foremost, but I, I don't want to just give my screenplays over. I like to be part of the whole process. I just freakin love it. So yeah,

Alex Ferrari 3:49
That's awesome. That's awesome. And yeah, it is, you know, a lot of times you walk into this business wanted to do one thing, and then you find yourself doing something else. And it's, I mean, I walked in wanting to be a director. And that still still was my goal. But I fell in love with editing. Because Oh, I can make a living. And I can learn and I can make connections. I'm like, this seems like a good job. And I I get some carpal tunnel. I work in an air conditioned room. I'm good. I'm good to go enough to be on set all day. As a PA because that's thinks you know, when I first started, I was like, three o'clock in the morning call. What did Oh, I'm getting $75 Well, that's fantastic. And by the way, that was $75 back in 1995. Whoa, that's $75 today $75. So fun money man. That was something like that was some mad money back in the day. But um, so So you so let's discuss your book, how I made short films. I made I made my short films on what the heck do I do? How to we're gonna go over a bunch of stuff. But one thing is a question that we always get people asking me about is branding. Because I've done I've done it a decent job branding my show and branding myself over the years. How do you brand a short and your opinion?

Clarissa Jacobson 5:07
Um, well with my situation I just looked at this the story and what what little thing that I could pull from it that would be that people could latch on to and that was my lunch. So my movies comedy horror about lunch, ladies. So first thing I did is I was like, okay, where does my film take place it takes place in a school. So when I made the website, I don't know where I learned this, I learned somewhere along the line that you, you always do the same type of fonts, you do the same. So I got started doing like, you know, it was going to be the century schoolbook font, it was going to look like at school, it was going to have the same attitude as the film. And when when I talked to other filmmakers, short filmmakers about branding, I say, you know, don't don't like freak out about it. Like, you know, you don't have to be some marketing genius or whatever you have to find like that thing that you can pull from it that other people will react to. So like for me, I my life actually reprehensible. They're, they're like, really, they're the bullied all the time. So you kind of you feel for them, but the reprehensible so like I, I kind of went the opposite. I branded it in a way that like, everything was, if they got in a festival they cheated to get in, everything was so I just found that like little niche kind of thing that I could hang my hat on. And then when I would do all the Instagram posts, the Facebook posts, all the products I took, I find that a lot of people just throw stuff together, I took like a really a lot of time, making sure that everything like fit together matched with the fonts look to get looked good, and that it was consistent across all the social media. And even my blogs, like I mean, if you wrote like over 200 blogs during the course of it, but like if you look at my beginning blogs, there's there you can see how it's helped grows. So like I would say you don't need to be at 100. When you start, you just start somewhere and you you branded in a way that also it's information that you'd want to see. Like you have to like create a look for your film, whether it's comedy or drama, or whether ever when you're creating content, that stuff that you want to look at that you would want to look at. Because I see a lot of times people just want to like announce stuff. So

Alex Ferrari 7:27
So it's basically graphic graphic design 101 is basically like you're thinking about everything you just said is graphic design 101, which most filmmakers don't think about, because they're like, oh, I'll just throw it up there, I'll just take a still and I'll grab whatever font that I find in in Canva, or in Photoshop and my cracked version of Photoshop that I got somewhere on my old Mac, and they just slap it up there. And that's where I always find I think that's really separates. You know, projects is the design of the branding how it looks before anyone even sees the movie. More people will see the website, definitely more people will see the trailer and the poster. And that will tell me like anytime I get sent video of a gets sent pitches for being on the show. I'll look at the trailer. I'll look at the movie poster, right? And the second I look at I'm like, no, they obviously don't know what they're doing purely on the scope of the design. Because design is so powerful of a way to kind of introduce you to your world. And if you haven't done a good job with your posts, your your website, your trailer, chances are, I've never I've never once seen an insanely well done short or insanely well done feature that the poster in the trailer sucked.

Clarissa Jacobson 8:48
Right and, I think it's too like you have to come from such a place of creativity like in that you have to think of the branding as just as creative as the film. And you know, like I fought it, I didn't want to do it. Don't want to do this. Don't want to do that. But you know what, like, I just sucked it up, you got to just suck it up. And you have to find a way to make it joyful. So what I did was I found a way to make it joyful, so and I would send out my postcards because it's about lunch ladies, I would wrap them in in butcher wrap. I would send like the pins in like little wax paper bags with little stickers, you know, like, just what would amuse me, you know, and try to make, make it fun. Because if you're not having fun and you're not being creative with it. It's not going to resonate. So that comes from that authenticity of like what is fun, like what excites me about how to how to do it and so that was kind of like always my thing like if if I was creating something or sending something out what I want to receive this and you know, people would say, you know, nobody, nobody cares are just gonna rip through that paper. I'm like, Yeah, but I know when that the programmer opens that package. They have a little smile on their face. You know? Put a smile on my face.

Alex Ferrari 10:02
Right, exactly. And sorry. So the other question is this branding? This is where a lot of think a lot of filmmakers make mistakes, too. Is there a lot of times they'll brand their film for the mass audience? But you need to understand who your audience is. Is your audience. The public? Or is it Film Festival programmers? Or is it studio execs? Or is it financiers? Like, you've got to really understand your audience? Is that a fair statement?

Clarissa Jacobson 10:29
Yeah, I think so. And I and I, you know, and I just think there's like a big thing to be said, for consistency. And putting yourself out there. I mean, I have a whole chapter on this about the fear of putting yourself out there, because everybody, you know, it's so much easier to shout someone else's work out than your own. And you're afraid that people are going to go, oh, I that person is so egotistical, because all they do is talk about their film. But you know, at fucko you got to talk about what you love. And if you have a passion and an authenticity, and you're putting it out there and spending time, like it takes time to like, make your product look good, like did not just slap together to, you know, stay up a little a little later that night. And like make sure you have the right stuff that you're sending out. You know, like, it takes time in that passion and putting it out there. Like people will respond to it.

Alex Ferrari 11:24
It's you know, that's called hustle. That's called work. And yeah, a lot of filmmakers they, they feel that that once they're done with the short, I'm good, I don't need to do anything else. And that's the I don't want to do the non fun stuff. But

Clarissa Jacobson 11:37
That's what you got to make it fun. That's what I did. I try I made I made I made it. I made it as fun as I could. Right and, and i Nobody thinks that's fun. They can throw like, Oh, you have a talent for it. I'm like, You know what, everybody has a talent for it if you want to do it,

Alex Ferrari 11:49
Right. I personally love the branding. I love the marketing of my projects and things like that, because it's, I just think of it as just an extension of the creative process. Yeah, for me,

Clarissa Jacobson 12:00
That's exactly the way I think of it.

Alex Ferrari 12:01
I mean, you look at you look at Fincher, and he's really in a David Fincher, he's really involved with his marketing, Stanley Kubrick was heavily involved with the marketing from the trailers to the artwork to everything, every aspect of the marketing process of his films, because he saw it as well. So to Fincher that way, and I not that I'm putting myself in the same category as Rick,

Clarissa Jacobson 12:24
Right, you're absolutely right, you have to have that creative. Yeah, I mean, that's the best thing to think about. It is like, it's just an extension of the product, you know. And I think, too, you need to know what you want to do with your short, like, if you you don't want to if you just want to go to film festivals and part of your ass off, and you don't care where your film goes, and you don't need to do all that stuff. But if you have a vision that you want it to be like a proof of concept, or you want people to notice you, then you have to find a way to connect the whole thing together make it part of this. I mean, to me, it is part of the same thing. It's not as fun as making the film. But no, it's part of it.

Alex Ferrari 13:00
And I think the the big benefit that everyone has nowadays and now I'm going to put on my old man hat because back in the day, back in the days in the 90s it was a lot more difficult to put something together online. Oh, yeah, I remember. I mean, yeah, when you still had dial up and like DSL, okay, stop and

Clarissa Jacobson 13:21
Rent a camera to like, do a little video.

Alex Ferrari 13:23
No, no, there was no video. We were 10 years away from YouTube. Okay, that's where we that's where I was. That's how old I am everyone

Clarissa Jacobson 13:32
Like my acting things. I mean, I'm aging myself, but like my acting things, and you had to do like a thing. And I had to like hire somebody to bring a little camera. Oh, yeah, a little tiny tape or

Alex Ferrari 13:41
Mini DV tape and they would have to transfer it to a VHS. Exactly. So but the point I'm making here is that when you when you, you now have the ability to make yourself look much larger and much more established than you might be? Because if you've got good design, and you've got a solid website and you've got a solid trailer, agents, managers, financiers festival festival programmers, they'll look at that and go wait a minute, they must know what they're doing. Because that is the depth honestly, a good design and good branding will set you apart you have so much bad

Clarissa Jacobson 14:27
Even just doing it.

Alex Ferrari 14:29
So that so it so there's different levels, not doing it doing it badly. And doing it really well. Yeah, even doing it bad that like well, at least they got a website they must have done. Right. But if you do it really well and that's from my experience. I mean, I was with my first short film in 2005. I was I got into like, I think three or 400 film festivals with that with a with it was a different time. It was awesome. It was a different world back then. But a lot of times it was about The website we put together which was a flash, it was a flash website. But it was so far beyond anything short film should ever have. plus all the extra stuff I did for and everything. So it looks so much bigger I was getting called by like Oscar winning producers. They're like, what's going on here? Can we can we produce your Oh, that's a whole I'll write another book about that whole story. sure one day about about what happened with the journeys I went through with that project. But it was about the festival, the trailer, the branding, and I did it instinctively. I didn't know any better. I didn't go like I got a graphic this economic. I did it instinctively. But

Clarissa Jacobson 15:37
I was the same. Mine was like such a design. Like I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my film. And I was like, if if this fails, it's going to fail. Because not because I didn't do everything I could to make it succeed. So if it fails, then I can go okay, well, I did everything I could write. So it was such a desire to have it succeed. That I just was like, I had to figure and figure out how to make a website, I figured out like, I didn't know how to use Twitter. I was like, pound what they're like, No, it's hashtag. Like, I didn't have a Facebook page. I was not interested in Facebook. I didn't. I was terrified to like, you know, to talk about it a little bit, you know, because everything, she's gonna have an ego, but the passion to get it out there outweighed my fear. And then I became good, getting good at it became better became better and better at it, you know, the more passionate but Absolutely.

Alex Ferrari 16:31
Now speaking of social media, do you think that you need to create a specific social media presence for each film? Or do you create a brand around yourself as the filmmaker and promote all of your projects through that, that those social channels?

Clarissa Jacobson 16:48
Well, I think you could do it either way, like I have. I'm a co creator with my partner, Shane Webber and we have trouble minx. But I still, you know, we have like everything. We have our projects all there. But I still like have a separate website for lunch, ladies, we're doing a feature and I have a separate, separate thing. I mean, it unless you're like Richard Linklater, right, like everybody knows who you are. I think it's I think it's harder to like drive people to it, than it would be just to send somebody your film and just go hey, guess what, go to my website. And they don't have you know, lunch ladies movie calm, and they can just look at their versus going to my rebel makes website, trying to find where it is trying to find what it's about. And you can put a lot more information.

Alex Ferrari 17:35
Well, yes, but not as much on the websites. I agree with you on the websites. I'm talking about social media. So mean, like, Oh, do we have it do have a lunch lady Twitter account, which has maybe x amount of people on it? Or do you go to rebel minx and have that as your main

Clarissa Jacobson 17:50
One for the films because that way you can gauge who's involved in the films, okay. versus, you know, versus just it might just be your they might be in the one film and another so you know, how many you can gauge how many people are into it? I think it's easier for? I don't know, like, it feels like it's, it feels very professional to have a film website. Like, I don't I mean, I haven't really looked at like, you know, the big films out there. But I would bet that like, like, let's say Warner Brothers puts out a film. I bet all those films have their own social media just feels more,

Alex Ferrari 18:25
But they also have $200 million back.

Clarissa Jacobson 18:27
They don't cost anything to open it up Twitter counters or anything. I just work.

Alex Ferrari 18:32
Yeah, it's it's a lot of work. Absolutely. I think it all depends, too is how much how long? What's the long game here? Because if it's just the one movie because it takes so long to get one movie made, let alone trying to do like two or three. So focusing all your energies at the beginning on individual projects would be great. But then you could also coincide that with a company site or branded site like, like trauma. I'm thinking like trauma films. Yeah. If you're making the same

Clarissa Jacobson 18:58
Thing because trauma has I mean, differently good trauma has a very specific niche style, right? If you're a filmmaker maybe who just does so like I have a comedy horror I have a historical horror, I have a feel good drama I have. There's my films are different. So it'd be hard for somebody who likes I mean, you know, they might people I think would like that like my stuff like my voice, but they might not necessarily like my drama, they might only like my comedy horror. So then, um, you know, I just feel like I can groom people so much more just having, you know, but like, like a trauma. You're expecting a cert in there. All those films are kind of the same, the same vibe. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 19:37
I agree. So if you are a filmmaker who's going to be like, I'm going to be a horror filmmaker. And that's all I'm going to do. That might be something. Yeah, I can see doing that way. Yeah. Or if you're a comedy, and all you do is comedy, there might be something of but if you want to, you know, move across. I gotcha. Gotcha. Now, the big thing with with short films is film festivals. Like how do I get into film festivals? How do I submit the Film Festivals. What's that? What's the it's a land. It's a landmine, field Land, land field related land, field minefield, a minefield of all sorts of do's and do nots and secret. Like you shouldn't do that. But no one's ever told me that before and all this kind of stuff. So what advice do you have for filmmakers submitting to film festivals today?

Clarissa Jacobson 20:24
Well, first of all, and I think I read this in a book a while back and that but I kind of perfected my way of doing it is to have to have a list. But you you can you, you have an Excel spreadsheet where it tells what the early bird is the you know, the so that so that way you can track you can look at that spreadsheet every day and track to get your films to get your film in the early bird. So you can save money that way. And you can kind of organize it by you know, by what you want from your films. So like, Are you a person who wants to have maybe be nominated for an Oscar so like, for example, I was like, Yeah, fuck yeah, I want to be nominated for an Oscar. I'm gonna go I'm gonna go for all the Oscar films for sure. Right? Don't put those all on my list. And then I'm going to go for you know, I'm going to do I did a little research about you know, you like great horror festivals. And so I knew I wanted to be a bunch of horror. So I put those on my list. And then I started really getting into the idea. pretty early on that I was going to get subtitles for everything because even though that's a little bit upfront, you put like 100 bucks or whatever down for 200 bucks for your subtitles. In the end, it saves you so much money because so many festivals across the world are free to enter. And so once I got on the bandwagon of getting first of all, just getting your English subtitles is amazing because once you get your English subtitles, a lot of film festivals will just take your film. Foreign festivals will take your film as your film with the English subtitles and make subtitles for you. So I think that the first festival I got in that was I submitted it with English subtitles was more beat on then they wanted Spanish subtitles. But then all the festivals after that, that I entered, they all made the male made the subtitles for me and then opened up this incredible world in Europe where all the festival first of all, like I went on other other sites because people want always want to just go on Film Freeway, well, there's fest home, there's short film depot, and you can find like the most amazing freakin festivals on there. But your film has got to have some subtitles. But by the time you're done, you're you're you know, so I would what I would do is I go on those those sites and I'd look every week and see what the what ones coming up work, you know, and then I see is that right for me. And if it's free to enter a couple bucks, what do you have to lose nothing, if you got your subtitles. And then you're also having a long game if you have your subtitles, because then if you get picked up by a sales rep, or you do it yourself, then you can, which is harder to do it yourself to get your film distributed in Europe. But if you have a sales rep, then they can go and sell your film in France and Germany, because you already have the subtitles. So I you know, so like, and the other thing is, is a lot of people would say to me, can I have your list? You know, because I want to know, I want to know which ones to enter. And I would say Well, first of all, every film is different. So my film was a 18 minute film. So I didn't there was festivals, I couldn't enter because it was too long, too long. My comedy horror, and in AI and the thing about doing your own list and going out there and researching and like looking at these festivals and see and looking at their websites is pretty soon you start to get a real feel of what's out there, what your film might be right for now, you're always surprised by what your film gets in, like, sometimes you think Oh, for sure that's a shoo in. And other times you don't you know, but you do get a feel, you do get a feel. And I can't say enough even though it's a lot of work to create a list, you know, about what first of all the film, the festivals that you think will fit your film, the festivals that are free. The festivals that maybe are Oscar and you you make that list and you also put the early bird down. So you know that you know how much money you're spending or you know how to weigh it. Once you've made that list. It's like you kind of feel I mean, I like I really got like a real feel of what's out there. And what in what to submit to and how and how to do it, how to get stuff going. So I think it's really important. Like I get filmmakers all the time. I'm like, hey, you know, like, I'll see their phone be like, I bet this film would be great for this or this or this, like I'll give I'm happy to like tell people that. But I but I don't like when people say can I have your list? Because I'm like, how is my list that specific for my film going to help your film? Right? You have to take that time. You have to take that time to create that list. And I was coming from Ground Zero to like I had never been on the festival route. I didn't know I mean, you know, I knew I knew Sundance.

Alex Ferrari 24:50
Yeah. Yes. The five the top five. Okay, no, Toronto. Yeah, yeah, Rebecca

Clarissa Jacobson 24:56
Just got to get out there and just kind of like and then another way that I did it too as I decided that I wanted my lunch ladies to go all over the world. So I'd be like, Oh, God, I gotta get in a festival in Venezuela I haven't been an investor woman is and which ones these have not been Venezuela yet.

Alex Ferrari 25:10
She's still trying, but they didn't they didn't pay your weight. All right, you bet you paid your own way. No, no,

Clarissa Jacobson 25:15
I mean, I met like my, my film, like, I had this feeling like I would create, I created a map of where they had been, because I loved the idea of them going to these, you know, places like in December, it's going to be in Bali. I mean, it's going, you know, so like, There's something so amazing about having your film be seen all over the world. So that's another way to do it, like has your film been seen in Spain and to not get to not give up because it can take a while to break into a country. And then once you break in, it's like, the programmers all talk to each other. And they get to you, they hear about you and the Europeans especially like, I feel like the programmers there really talk to each other and really share films, and really, they'll play your film more than once. So you know, that's another way to do it, too, is like geo geographically or like, which states have by knocking into if you can't decide which ones to enter, you know,

Alex Ferrari 26:05
So the thing, I think one of the big problems that filmmakers have, as well as they always focus on the top five, or 10, the Sundance is and the slam dances and these, these kind of festivals, and the I always tell them, like the chances of you getting your film in are so astronomical. I mean, it was like 30,000 submissions to Sundance last night. And, you know, 110, including shorts get in. So it's so astronomical to get into those kinds of things. And they feel like they're failures when they don't get into the big, the big 10, or the big 20, even bigger, and I always tell them, It's not about you. It's not personal, it's not about your film, you're not hitting what they are looking for that year, that year, they really might be into this kind of film, with this kind of filmmaker attached to it. It's political, it has little to do with the quality of your film, to be honest with you, because I've seen a lot of good projects that don't get in. And then I see projects, sometimes it like, I never forgot this. And forgive me if there's a filmmaker who did this, but I couldn't. I was so angry. I was at Sundance, was such Sundance, and I went I went to the shorts of a shorts block. And I see is called Batman goes on a date, a Robin goes on a date. Okay, and it's Justin Long as Robin and Sam Rockwell as Batman. And, and, and Robin and Justin is like, you know, trying to go on a date, and then Batman's trying to basically move in on Robins date. And that's the short film. And I'm sitting there going, if that was done with anybody other than Justin and Sam rock, it would have never made the Sundance block. And I go, that's just that just upset me. Because I was like, I don't have access to SAM and Justin, especially in 2005. So that it just was like, but that's the way the game is played. It's unfortunate. It's unfortunate. Sometimes, you'll get you know, and then sometimes you'll get the Cinderella stories and sometimes you'll get people that don't have names, get into those festivals, of course, based on their quality and things like that. But that was just one example. It's like, oh, it's not really about my project.

Clarissa Jacobson 28:18
I I find that like you have to go for the big ones. Sure. Because it's fun. But also sometimes like there's ones that are like just so that opened up so many freakin doors. I've had festivals that have opened up so many doors you know that that maybe if that you know cuz I've seen I you know, I talked about this so like, you know, I didn't my film did not get in Sundance. Okay. But,

Alex Ferrari 28:49
Mine either by the way, you're in good company,

Clarissa Jacobson 28:52
You know, but then my film got in Claremont fron and that was the festival that I needed to get it going. Sure. But But, but you know, there's plenty people I mean, come up front is the most amazing festival. There's plenty people don't know, Claremont fry is right. So you know, I got you know, I'd get in that one or I get in some small or into some small festival that I couldn't get in. Or I'd enter another festival that nobody had heard of, but that festival would open another door for something else. So like the idea is like to check out the festivals and make sure they have a real thing going you know, to know that they're legit or not to feel good fake or, and to really just be thankful when you get in them and not. You know, like it was it was a total crazy thing when it got in that one and I wasn't even in the competitive section. And it still was like the most amazing thing in the world. But like, I didn't get in South by Southwest I didn't get in you know a ton of it. But there's always a festival that's that it's for your film and you just got to get out there and just submit some MIT submit and realize, you know, like when I actually did a whole, a whole chapter about that, about why your film doesn't get in festivals, because it's a mindfuck. If you if you go down that path to start believing that your film was bad, you'll drop out and I talked to people that will be like, Oh, I've entered 10 festivals, and I only got one. So I'm dropping out. And I'm like, you know, the average is 10% of the festivals that you get in. So that means you're gonna average film gets in only 10% of the festivals. Oh, yeah. Just get out there and keep, and you can't have, you know, like, there's people that I know, that's a small festival, you know, some of the smallest festivals have been the most amazing.

Alex Ferrari 30:36
Three are the best. They're the best it was ever. I went to I went to when I with my first film, I, I got into so many festivals, but I got into my first 35 festivals turned down from all the major festivals because I had a 20 minute, right, you know, action thriller, not the film festival grading, you know. So, you know, I got into a lot of genre and all that stuff. But after 35 episodes at 35, festivals, I'd spent about $1,000, in submission fees. So I was just like, I didn't know anything about anything. I was just trying to

Clarissa Jacobson 31:10
Bring up the free festivals in Europe.

Alex Ferrari 31:12
I mean there was no free festivals in Europe. I didn't know about any of that stuff. And subtitling costs $10 a minute. So back then it was a whole other world. But then after a while, I said, Well, I got into 35 festivals, no festival that I'm going to get into from this point on is going to explode my career is the way I thought about it. So I'm like, right, I just boycotted paying for festivals anymore. So I just said, I'm not gonna pay for any more festivals. Now. Right? What I did at that point is I didn't stop submitting, I submitted to everybody. And because my branding and my marketing was was so on point with the trailer, my trailer was watched 20,000 times back in 2005. So it was a whole lot like, you know, it's I think it's one of the first trailers ever on YouTube. I'm so old, is I looked it up. I looked it up the other day. I looked it up the other day. And I was like, oh my god, am I the first movie trailer ever on YouTube? And I found, I think Sony Classics had put one up. Oh, my God, I love it. So so it's still up there. And it got like 20 30,000 views back then I've seen and it's a great trailer. Yes. So it was so because of that, I was very confident. I was like, hey, look, I already got some of these other vessels. So what I would do is I would submit to everybody, I mean, I did not discriminate, I submitted to everybody that could be submitted to, and then they would go back and like oh, we like your film, I'm like, great. If you if I'm accepted, I'll be more than happy to pay your submission fee. But I'm not gonna pay a submission fee. If for the mere chance of getting it because at this point in the game, I'm not gonna throw another three or 4000. Right. And I it worked enough that I got into another couple.

Clarissa Jacobson 32:53
And it does get Yeah, I mean, the truth is, is like, you know, if you get that roll going, then people start to come to you. Right. And actually, it takes a little bit, you know, like it's building you know, Jerome Kershaw and calls it a pedigree, it's building that pedigree, I didn't realize that that's what I was doing. When I was like, you know, emailing every single day, you know, someone to write about my film, no matter how small it was, like every single day, like just just building these reviews, building these reveals just creating this buzz for my film. So that after about I would say it took it took a while, but about six or seven months, then I started having people come to me saying, Can I see the film, you don't have to pay the you don't pay the submission fee? Can I see the film? You know,

Alex Ferrari 33:36
It takes a minute, it takes a minute, but once you're able to build up that momentum at a certain point, and don't get me wrong, I got a lot of film festivals. I was like, yeah, no, we need you to pay the submission. I'm like, that's fine. I'm not going to.

Clarissa Jacobson 33:47
And you hustle in the beginning and you always gotta hustle through the whole thing, but it does. But when it starts snowballing and you start getting like people excited and hearing about it and stuff like that, then then it becomes even becomes even more worth it. You know, cuz getting some positive reinforcement.

Alex Ferrari 34:02
And some of the best experiences I've ever had at festivals are always been the small ones. Because it's, it's, it's kind of a mom and pop. Like, you know, everybody, everybody knows you. They treat you like family. Whereas in some larger festivals who shall remain nameless?

Clarissa Jacobson 34:18
Yeah, I can go over that with you.

Alex Ferrari 34:21
After Yeah, I mean, there's a there's one specifically in LA.

Clarissa Jacobson 34:26
I think. That same one. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 34:29
And that specific one in 2005 It's not Holly shorts, by the way. I love Holly shorts. It but I I do 1005 I submitted and got accepted. And it was a fairly big one. It was an Oscar, whatever qualifier and all this kind of stuff. I flew my ass across the country. Put myself up in Hollywood. Can you imagine I was in a hotel in Hollywood. Me and my friend. I never forgot it. We might meet my producing partner we got into this hotel room and the beds. Like

Clarissa Jacobson 35:10
Shut the window.

Alex Ferrari 35:11
No the beds were they were so they were so close to each other it almost seemed comedic.

Clarissa Jacobson 35:17
Like you want trains and automobiles?

Alex Ferrari 35:20
Like is this is this a cleaning closet? And then like out front when I walk into like, you know Marilyn Monroe stayed here once I'm like I'm sure she did but Jesus guys so it caught it cost us a couple you know, by 1000 bucks. 1500 bucks, if not more back to go over there. So we get to our screening. We were in a block with everybody else. And then at the end, no q&a. No q&a, only thing I wanted. It was a q&a. And I talked to the the programmers there and then everyone's like, Sorry, can't do it. We're running late. I'm like, dude, and oh, by the way, I wasn't even the worst another another poor filmmaker in that block flew from Spain. And he didn't get his his and he only had the one screening. There's nothing so yeah, and that's off air. I'll tell you some other stories. But But, but but but, but some of these smaller festivals like there's a wonderful festival down in Florida called the Melbourne Independent Film Festival. I know those guys really well. They love filmmakers. They treated me like like gold. And they're wonderful. There's so many great film festivals out there that that will treat filmmakers well. So don't always look at the big boys the big boys.

Clarissa Jacobson 36:35
Oh, you do you do a nice little mix and then yeah, and now that they have you know fest home and Short Film depot, you can enter the foreign festivals for like next to nothing. And in I've had just met so many amazing people. Yeah. Let's talk many amazing people in the foreign festivals.

Alex Ferrari 36:53
So let's talk let's talk a little bit about the experience of working a festival because a lot of filmmakers just go there with their eyes full of shiny golden lights. and the like. Oh look the

Clarissa Jacobson 37:04
Right expectations like I had to Morty to see

Alex Ferrari 37:07
Exactly, you're like, oh my god, this is gonna be a mate's gonna be like up because all you think about a Sundance, so you think everything's gonna be like, I'm gonna walk the red carpet, there's gonna be people taking pictures of me everyone's gonna want to talk to me about my genius, and about my my artistic expression and how amazing I am. And then eventually, obviously, Steven Spielberg, or somebody is going to watch me for sure, obviously, from going to that first festival. So when you get there, so can we talk a little bit about how to actually work a festival, how to take advantage of what they have to offer and things like that, because a lot of filmmakers just go they're completely clueless about what this is, and what the true opportunities are. And what the true complete delusions?

Clarissa Jacobson 37:54
Yes, absolutely. So one thing is that you can do is you can always work a festival, even if you're not there. Oh, so that means that when you talk to the programmers, so they know who you are, like, don't be a pain in the ass, but you know, talk to them and say, you know, can I send postcards? Can I can I send a poster and I mean, I've sent them to Europe as many times as I could, because if because if you're not going to be there, at least or postcards will be there. And I will tell you like, even if you're not there the first part of the week, and you hear coming the second part of the week, you want your postcards there on the table, I've had distributors that have gone to see the film, because there was a postcard on the frickin table even though I wasn't there. So that's the first way to work your festival is to make sure you know and you got it you have to ask sometimes festivals don't want your swag and they don't want all that but like, you know, get up try to have a presence, then, you know, earned learned early on don't have expectations about how you think it's going to go. So I have a funny story about Morabito fest, which I just I love it so much. But when I went there, I missed my film both times the first time I got in an Uber X. For the first day I was in such a bad. It was like you know that James Bond movie, I got stuck in a Day of the Dead parade and I was running and I was sobbing and I was like me put me Gouda, which was the only Spanish words I knew. And I was running and I was like I couldn't the taxi cab driver dropped me off on the side of the freeway. I ran up I ran into this huge parade. I got to my film right when it was over and got to do the q&a with mascara running down my face. Said the second time.

Alex Ferrari 39:25
I mean, it was a horror comedy. So that makes sense.

Clarissa Jacobson 39:30
What is it 2000 3000 miles to know I know to do this to do this, right? And then the second time the film play twice. I was like I'm gonna get there really early. So I got there really early, you know, like had a gin and tonic like talk to people. And then I found out two minutes before that it was canceled. Yeah. And then I got in a second Uber accident on the way home. So like you'd think this would be like the worst situation right? Well, it wasn't because first of all I like I said I was telling you earlier I had stood in line for the opening night and I met my director there that of my current film. So if I hadn't gone to morbido Fest, I never would have met him. The grammar was just so wonderful like I I talked to him so many times, they've been so supportive, I wrote about them on my book. So you could look at that experiences like, oh my god, that was the worst experience in a world because you have this expectation that you're gonna go to the more Beto fast which is this amazing festival in Mexico City, you're going to be like hobnobbing, and you're going to Oh, and also I went to there was supposed to be a party and I went, I was there by myself and I speak Spanish and we're supposed to be a party. I go to the party, and the guy goes, no party here. No party here. So I went to a bar by myself drink a margarita. And the next morning, I saw on Instagram that they were all partying at the place where they told me there was no need. So that kind of like week but like, but at the same time, like that's when I was like, I already kind of gotten gone to a few festivals where it was like your expectation of what do you have no freakin idea what its gonna be but like, if you can just open it. Open yourself up to it. Something always something amazing always comes out of it. Even the worst festivals I've been horrible festivals where I meet just one person that's so freakin amazing. And they become like my best buddy. And they helped me so much. So the first thing is to try not to have expectations and know that something positive will always come out of it. And then you want to be as prepared as possible with all your stuff. So like, there was many times when I was the only one there with a poster

Alex Ferrari 41:24
Oh my god a poster and an easel postcards all that.

Clarissa Jacobson 41:27
I mean, it sounds simple. It's a pain in the ass to bring it but yeah, if you have a poster and evil people will see will tend to go to see your film over other people's films.

Alex Ferrari 41:36
Right, exactly. And it's, it's, it's just an interesting the whole thing I remember when I first my first I never forgot my first film festival ever got into because I didn't know anything about premieres or if there was premieres or anything like that. So I submitted and got into the Ocean City Film Festival in New Jersey. It's amazing way to make it. I won Best Director. Right, like right first first festival. I don't like a set. I'm like, This is gonna be easy. Like, obviously, everyone's seeing my changes. Like everyone's seeing my genius right away. This is Oh, I should be directing a studio movie within a year. And then I didn't get another award for a year.

Clarissa Jacobson 42:26
That's hard to like when you get in the you don't get you get rejected. But then you get then you then you don't you know, because it comes in waves get kinds of waves, you'll get accepted to a bunch and then it'll be like eight or nine rejections. Oh, yeah, it's it's never gonna get in another festival.

Alex Ferrari 42:42
No, no, it's crazy. But so but the best part was when I looked them up. And again, guys, this was 2005 when I looked it up on their website, which if you can imagine what a 2005 website done by somebody who doesn't know what a website is? It's absolutely brilliant. It was my film was being played at like Billy Bob's Crab Shack. And that was where they were holding the festival. They were like, basically just projecting it in the back of the bar. And this guy, and I think that went on for like two or three. I think it went on for two, three years. And then what a great story, but one I wish I would have gone. I wish I would have gone it would have been amazing. But yeah, but you just never. You never know who you're gonna meet. My best. My best story of working a festival is working Sundance, because I didn't get into Sundance, but I worked it. So in 2005 when my first film came out, my first short broken came out. I flew to Sundance, even though we got rejected, and we were just gonna like make sure everybody at Sundance knew about our film and we literally walked Mainstreet on Park in Park City, with a DVD portable DVD player really was showing people showing people the trailer. And we had postcards all over the place. And people are like, Where can I see this? And I would just send everybody to our website. And I got so much attention. We actually got more attention than most of the festival film.

Clarissa Jacobson 44:04
Yeah, you have to put yourself out there. You know, like, even if you're afraid and believe me, I'm I. I mean, I was so happy to be like out there doing it. So like, sure, you know, up but but I but yeah, there is fear like that. Yo, how am I going to talk to people, you know, and it's like, you just got to talk to people. You don't just pitch pitch. You get to know people and you like, and sometimes it's even better if you don't have your sometimes it's even better, it's fun, or if you have your team with you. But sometimes it's better even if you're by yourself. Because you need more people that way.

Alex Ferrari 44:35
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that it was at that year that we did I think one year we actually wrote We created our own passes. So my parties, so we actually created of like this ridiculous pass. That would not fool anybody. But again, this is 2005 so Sundance was a little bit different. And it just said All Access. That's all it said. It was just an all access. You have no idea

Clarissa Jacobson 45:00
But that takes so much chutzpah like I love that. They're probably like knew knew it was bullshit, but they were like, Oh man, we got to let these guys in because it's been

Alex Ferrari 45:08
You have no idea how many places we got in to. Because we acted like we were in the festival and we're like, oh yeah. And we will leave our postcards it like Sundance's like headquarters and then like, back in the day, like, Who's this guy? And you see it all in the garbage cans we pick them out of the garbage can we like it was just straight up. It was just straight up porcelain like hard, hardcore stuff, but we met or hustle but we met producers distributors that way we had it led to me flying up to they flew me up to Toronto to when we were going to try to make the feature and all this kind of craziness all because we went to a festival that we weren't accepted in. Yeah.

Clarissa Jacobson 45:49
And you work it you talk to people you like got a really I mean, it was parties we were we were like when I was at Monster palooza. I just walked up and down the line. Because I knew that people were there not to see films. And I just was like here, here's a lunch ladies here. Now we please show up my show.

Alex Ferrari 46:06
So this is so this is so this I'm going to tell the story. I'm I don't know if I should tell this story. But I think

Clarissa Jacobson 46:10
Yes, please do. If it's embarrassing tell it

Alex Ferrari 46:12
It's not embarrassing. It's actually a it's a hack. It's one of the many hacks discovered at Sundance.

Clarissa Jacobson 46:19
The to hacks, man. Okay.

Alex Ferrari 46:20
All right. So that was about it. But it does affect somebody else. So we knew so so because we were hustling so much. There was this one agent at CAA that we met there at some parties. And he was, he was a prick. And he wasn't very nice, but we knew his name. So what we would do is we would go to a party up in the hills at one of these giant houses. And they're like, where's the list? And like, Hi, John, John Smith from CAA. And they're like, go right on, and Mr. Smith, we would get there early before John would get that that was like because, because he treated us badly. So then what we would do is, so I would get in, and then I would walk in and find an exit or somewhere and I would let my buddy and I let my buddy and on the side. So we're there. Like I'd never forgot it. We were at this giant house, in the middle of you know, up in the hills in Park City. And we're like partying next to like, Paul Walker, Elijah Wood. Paris Hilton was there at the time, like, all awesome, man. I mean, we were just like, fifth. It's awesome. Oh my God, I believe we're here. Like love that you did that. But that's it. But you know, there was I was younger, I was more foolish that thing times with different guys times were different. But don't do that to any agents that cool guys, please. But, but it was a way it was. And we and one other trick that we did is we got to Sundance probably a date too early, while they were setting up. And we became we became friends with the door guys. That's smart, too. So we walked in, we became friends. We befriended them, we bought them little drinks here and there. So when the parties were happening on Main Street, we just walk up and like Baba and Baba would let us right in. And that was and that and we were able to get into parties that we had no business being in whatsoever. None. None whatsoever, like people are like is that why are these people? What the hell have these idiots? What's all access? What is that about? So? Oh, no, I should write a book just on my Sundance adventures. That's why I made my movie ego and desire because I'd love I just love.

Clarissa Jacobson 48:32
Yeah, I just started watching it. So fun. I think girls are pissed off, get all the credit.

Alex Ferrari 48:40
Because that never happens. Never happens in filmmaking ever. Never. He goes, he goes in filmmaking. Never in a million years would that happen? So, um, so let me get oh,

Clarissa Jacobson 48:53
And show up. The other thing too, is to show up, like can cost you $1,000 Go to the festivals like I mean, I saved a little nest egg. And I found out you know, using Scott's flights, which is amazing that you could go to Europe for pretty much the same price as you can go to New York City to see a festival because a lot of the foreign festivals will pay for your hotels or they'll put for for you know, food or whatever. You know, and I just can't tell you like how valuable it was just meeting just going and meet new people.

Alex Ferrari 49:23
And especially if you're if you're not in LA or New York or Austin or or a hub where there's a lot of filmmakers or in Atlanta. You you get to interact with your kind. Your your people, you meet other filmmakers, you meet other producers, you meet other writers and the networking that you do at these festivals. Even if it's a little hole in the wall festival is important. There's somebody there that you can meet. You have no idea who you can meet there. And sometimes there's a panelist who's on a panel somewhere and you walk up afterwards, and you and you introduce yourself and it's a Weird thing at a festival? Like you couldn't do that on the streets of LA. But no. But at a festival, it's acceptable to a certain extent. Like if they're at the bar, you can walk up to them. And Oh, totally friend.

Clarissa Jacobson 50:13
What do you do? Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 50:15
Do you have any advice? All that stuff? By the way, if you do meet somebody at a festival that's like, you know, big writer, big director, producer, don't just start asking them for things. Please know where and Can I buy you a drink? You know, what advice do you know? What advice do you have for him? But don't go hey, can you see my movie? Hey, can you Hey, hey, I got this script. Don't.

Clarissa Jacobson 50:37
Don't you know, the other good way to is, I know, this goes without saying, but this happened. I mean, this happened. And I talked about this in book two. Another way to make sure that you work a festival is is freakin support the other filmmakers see their films. And when you go to a block and your film is played, don't get up after yours is done. Watch the rest of the films. Right? Do that not like really? Nothing is like worse will than going to a block and somebody gets up in the middle after their film is done and doesn't watch the rest of the filmmakers to support them.

Alex Ferrari 51:12
Yeah, there's there's that Yeah. Yeah, I've been in those. I've been in those as well. And

Clarissa Jacobson 51:18
Makers are your like best.

Alex Ferrari 51:20
The worst is when you get to a film when you're at a film festival, and like the only people in the audience are you in the crew. And that's and there's like, Okay, we bought 10 tickets. Okay. I see there's some sort of

Clarissa Jacobson 51:33
Every once in a while, there's a small audience and yeah, which is great, which is great. And you're like, Oh, bummer. It's a small audience. But I've learned to love small audiences, too. Because sometimes, you could have a huge audience and not a single person could do anything for you, you can have a small audience, and there's somebody there that can help you in some way or wants to help you. Right? So never look down on even a small audience. You just don't know who's in that audience.

Alex Ferrari 51:55
I'm gonna I'm gonna tell one more story. When I was at the Toronto Film Festival, in 2005, or six, somebody, one of the producers who I was working with at the time to like, Hey, we're distributing this film. Here's a ticket to go see this film. It was like a, an independent film. I'm like, Cool. So I went, and we sat there. And I was with my partner, my producing partner, and we look in the back and the like, is that Roger Ebert? sitting in the corner of the theater? And he goes, I think it is, I'm like, let's go up and talk to him. This is before the movie starts. Like let's, let's go up and talk to Roger Ebert. So we walk up over to Roger Ebert. And Roger, you know, we're like, Oh, my God, Roger, you're like the best. Like, you know, we're such big fans of yours, all this stuff. So we're talking to Roger Ebert. And all of a sudden, and then we start, like, we start yapping about our film, like, Oh, we got this, we've got our movie. And we did it for like $8,000. And it's got like 100 visual effects shots in and we shot it with its digital camera, and it looks like film and all this kind of stuff. And we're disputing things off. There is nowhere in my mind that I believe that Roger Ebert will ever watch my film. That's not even that that has not even crossed my mind at all. I'm just depressing. I'm just expressing. I'm just expressing I'm just expressing to Roger Ebert, who was an idol of mine, what I've done as a filmmaker, right in the middle of the conversation, I see something change in his eyes, and he kind of tilts his head, and he goes, Can I take a picture of you guys? And I said, Sure, Roger Ebert. That would be awesome. That was he had, he had his, like, he carried around the, you know, this is before iPhones. So he carried around his, you know, his, his digital his camera with them. So he, and he, you know, we take a picture, he takes a picture of both of us. And, and the only ignorant thing in my mind is like, well, now I can ask him for a picture too, because he asked for one of ours because I wasn't going to ask him for one until this happened. Because I'm not that guy didn't want to like you get big. But he took one of me. So now it's fair. I want to take a picture with you. And he's like, Sure. So I got a picture with Roger. And and then he's like, you know, this story would make a nice little story from my blog, about up and coming technologies, and all of this cause all the up and coming technologies and filmmakers using this. I'm like, great. Would you like to watch our movie? Bam, here's a DVD. And we happen to have our DVD with us. And he's like, Sure, I'll take this. So we took it. And we're like, great, you know, because originally, as we were talking and talking, he's like, Guys, I can't I can't watch your film. I it's not in the festival and I there's so many hours in a day I have and we're like, Roger, of course you're not going to watch our film. You're Roger Ebert. Why in God's green earth would you watch our little $8,000 short film from West Palm Beach, Florida. Like, hey, makes no sense. I made him want to watch it. Um, so then he grabbed it. He took it and we're like, okay, hold on. Ever watch that, but that was really nice of him to do that we got a picture with Roger, but that's all we got. So we fly back to Florida, when we land, our emails blowing up because everyone's like, Roger Ebert reviewed your film on his blog, and wrote a story about

Clarissa Jacobson 55:15
The jackpot.

Alex Ferrari 55:16
I'm like, what? And we went to his website, and oh, my God, it's there. It's still there. It's still it's still there. He wrote a long article about a bunch of films he watched. And he in that article, he also wrote about us that he watched the film, he gave us two lines in the movie, effective and professional. What did he say? Oh, got it. I used to repeat it, like on verbatim, but he's like, Oh, the mastery of horror imagery and techniques. I'm like, holy cow, Roger,

Clarissa Jacobson 55:49
But he was he was vibing on your authenticity and your passion. So I would I had similar things happen like that. No, but it was situation at Claremont fron were friends 24 There's a million filmmakers. And they came up to me and I got to have my little film on Fritz 24. You know, what it was to me sedative section. But he said, I said, Why me? He goes, because you were so passionate and excited about your film. So that like translates that's uh, you know, that's, you know, bringing it up. I'm sure. That's why he probably was like, There's no way in hell, I'm gonna see these guys film, but your passion and your authenticity about it, not pushing it. He was like, I got to see this.

Alex Ferrari 56:26
And I'll never forget, I will never forget that to the day I die that a giant like Roger Ebert that's insane. Gave a little a little he sprinkled a little magic dust on on us. And then from there ever was still the best bet still the best film critic in history of film critics. Yeah. But he because of that quote. And because of that attention. I that was my lead with zactly every festival I'm like Roger Ebert reviewed it, Roger Avery, because

Clarissa Jacobson 56:55
See, that's what I mean. Like, when you You never know, like, who's gonna be there. And what you're in is going to be I mean, I've talked about this before, like, I've been in festivals, you know, with films that have gone to Sundance where they, the people in Sundance did their film, they did nothing with their film, they didn't promote it, they were just like, if I was in Sundance, right, their film didn't go anywhere. It just wasn't Sundance, that was it? Right. So. So you know, like, you don't have to get in sun. You know, it's what you do with your film where and who you the passion that you exude when you're you're there. And you you meet? Roger you, but

Alex Ferrari 57:28
It was the most and it was such an it was like, like you were talking about earlier is like, how do these things happen? There was no reason for us to be there, there would have been never asked juried in everything. Everything just happened. Like I met this person that

Clarissa Jacobson 57:41
They feel like I feel like you just drew that dude to you

Alex Ferrari 57:44
No, there's there. Yeah, there was an energy there thing there no question. But then you're like, Okay, here's the ticket to the screening of this obscure independent film from Australia, then, and then I just happened he showed up and showed up and oh, my God, there's

Clarissa Jacobson 57:57
The universe gave me the ticket. And a lot of people be like, oh, you know what, I'm just gonna go have a drink with my buddy. You know, you know, like, I'm gonna go next door that Oh,

Alex Ferrari 58:06
And that and that that one moment, or that one moment opened up so many doors, and I got called by, like I said, Oscar winning producer.

Clarissa Jacobson 58:15
Oh, my God. Yeah. Example the proof for

Alex Ferrari 58:19
Yeah, it was in for a short film. That wasn't in the festival in 2005.

Clarissa Jacobson 58:25
He doesn't even he doesn't he doesn't learn there. He does. Yeah, I mean, he does, I think, only times I've ever heard him even

Alex Ferrari 58:31
Reviewing a short. And when I say review, I use that term very loosely. He watched it and gave me to

Clarissa Jacobson 58:36
Talk about it. And he said nothing about it, and you can use it. And it was positive. It said something positive.

Alex Ferrari 58:42
It was sneaky. And he was so kind. I could have said negative. But he was the thing about him is he he was kind when he didn't need to be kind. He was supportive when he didn't need to be supportive. And that is that is the hallmark of a great, great person in our business. Because and I've heard this, I've heard similar stories about Steven Spielberg, constantly do out. I interview many of his collaborators. I've spoken to many people who've worked with him on the writing side, on the cinematography side on the producing side. And I hear the same things about Stephen that he does things behind the scenes that you're just like, oh my god, he has no reason to be. He there's no need for him to

Clarissa Jacobson 59:29
Always here. Good stuff. James Cameron.

Alex Ferrari 59:32
James Cameron. Well, James Cameron, let me I'd love Jim. I mean, Jim is Jim he's, there's no other filmmaker liking

Clarissa Jacobson 59:39
Stuff, good stuff behind the scenes about him. I've heard good stuff, too.

Alex Ferrari 59:42
He helps. He helps when he can help. I've heard there's also those legendary stories about his temper onset. But, um, but he's he's mellowed over the years and I know a lot of people who've worked with Jim as well. Um, I actually know what it is neighbors cuz he told me stories I was like, he has what? What does he do? That's amazing. But there's there's these giants who who are kind when they don't need to be kind, you know, I got a I got a an autograph from George Lucas in middle of from when he was only gonna have to that's just his book I wish I was a Stanley Kubrick. But But yeah, like he didn't have he didn't have to be that nice. So there's these giants who are nice and are that don't need to be nice and that's such a refreshing thing and Roger Ebert story is one of those. But anyway, so that's something we could keep. We can keep yapping about this for hours, where can people where can people buy your book?

Clarissa Jacobson 1:00:48
Um, so you can get it at my website? HeyImClarissaJ, or you can get it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble target Sunbury Press published, so you can get it there. If you get it from my website, I'll send you some lunch lady swag. Book. If you get it from Amazon, you probably can get a cheaper you can get it on Kindle. You know, so yeah.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:11
Is it an audio book yet? Or not yet? No, it's not you right now. But right now that my but when you're stopped when you stop talking to me, you're going to start recording your audio book. And we'll talk about it afterwards. If I ask you a few questions, ask all my guests. What advice would you have for a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Clarissa Jacobson 1:01:35
The biggest thing for me always is to surround yourself to find a class and surround yourself with people that will hold you up and help you and to keep learning.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:44
So what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Clarissa Jacobson 1:01:50
That I am enough. And everybody talks a lot about filmmakers and artists having egos. But, you know, there, I always felt and I know a lot of people feel this way that you just I just wasn't no matter how many classes I took that I just on, no matter how much I did it that there was that I just wasn't enough that I could, I couldn't you know, and then when I just kind of set back into like, I'm enough and they're either gonna get me or not get me. Things started to turn for me, like when you when you can find that belief in yourself. And I have this like, I have this crazy story like when am I in my 20s. So I, I when I was an actress, I wanted to be unmad TV. And I like this is a perfect example. I want to be a man TV and I just bugged them and bug them bug them for an audition. And I finally get to go to the audition. And you had to do three characters and an impersonation. So I decide that I'm going to dress up as my character which was a bingo lady, that the bingo lady and carry a suitcase with all my clothes and do my whole like little stand up thing with them. So I show up to the audition. And I'm the only one dressed up. And all these girls are kind of talking. And I hear like the lady at the front desk doesn't know that here, but I hear her go. Clarissa Jacobson's here, you should see her right. And I felt so mortified and so embarrassed. And so just being in that place of like, Hey, I'm awesome. I showed up. So I went and I did my audition. I did okay, it wasn't. I just was like, I was off. I was off because I was upset about it. I didn't get I didn't get on my TV. But years later, I read that Pee Wee Herman did the same thing for Saturday Night Live. And the difference between him and B was he was so completely in his own like, Fuck, yeah, I'm showing up in my clothes. I'm going to do my thing. And he owned it. And I look back as like a younger artist about thing just not owning. My does.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:46
Yeah, that's that. Yeah. It was so funny. Because I've actually, in my first feature, I worked with Deborah Wilson and, and Joe Michelle McGee on both mad TV alumni. Oh, really? Yes. And they've told me stories all the time about oh my god, it's the golden days of Mad TV and stuff.

Clarissa Jacobson 1:04:03
And I just was like, if so many times if I had just owned because I actually had a frickin good idea of I mean, it was good enough for Peewee Herman. It's just being haters. They were just being haters, you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:04:14
And if you could just be authentic with who you are. That is what's that's what makes you stand out. Yeah, you're authentic and you own your space like Andy Kaufman come out. I mean, come on. He mean, like you look at Andy Kaufman, he owned everything he did, to a level that is beyond normal human capacity. And he did it. He did it in such a level that they're just like, well, we he's we don't understand what he's doing. Let him sit next to that record player and sing my and Mighty Mouse just like it's you like, Oh my God. It's like, but that's the authenticity.

Clarissa Jacobson 1:04:49
So the new idea, don't let the haters get you down.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:53
Own it, own it, own it, own it. If your three of your favorite films of all time.

Clarissa Jacobson 1:04:59
The magic second film Santa song Gray. I don't know if you've seen that.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:03
Vaguely sounds familiar.

Clarissa Jacobson 1:05:05
Okay. A girl walks home alone. And I'm 16 candles.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:14
Nice mix.

Clarissa Jacobson 1:05:17
John Hughes is a genius. John was right teens like even today nobody writes teens like John Hughes.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:23
Amen. Amen. But Clarissa thank you so much for being on the show. It has been fun. It's been a joy talking to you. And I hope I hope a whole bunch of filmmakers go out and read the book because it is a guide to really helping you through these treacherous waters and spiders. And I appreciate you so thank you again for being on the show.

Clarissa Jacobson 1:05:42
Thanks so much, Alex. It was really fun.

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IFH 537: The Power of a Niche Audience (Saltbox TV) with Jerry Goehring and Patty Carver

saltbox tv, Jerry Goehring, Patty Carver

Today on the show we have Jerry Goehring and Patty Carver. They are the founders of Saltbox TV.

Saltbox TV is the first-ever streaming service dedicated to connecting older adults with diverse, informative, and engaging programming. Through a simple and user-friendly platform, Saltbox TV welcomes even those with no technical experience. Saltbox TV hosts various programs from music, faith, classic film & television, lifelong learning, wellness, documentaries, arts and crafts, Saltbox Originals, and everything in between.

This is the Senior streaming service I represent.  They have an incredible mission and great programming for seniors.  They’re just moving into original programming and currently developing their first reality show SILVER STARS.  Attached is a sheet that highlights that current programming which includes financial assistance, health & wellness, exercise, general entertainment, etc.

The real topic here is ageism, the lack of entertainment focused on this demo from content to devices…SALTBOX has made some incredible partnerships with players in the sr industry from pre-loading Saltbox onto tablets for seniors, playing on closed circuits TV at senior homes, and deals with Roku, Firestick, etc.

In this episode we discuss the power of niche audience, how to serve them, how to build and audience and much more. Enjoy my conversation Jerry Goehring and Patty Carver.

Right-click here to download the MP3

 

Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome the show Jerry Goehring and Patty Carver. How're you guys doing?

Jerry Goehring 0:16
Oh, great, Alex. Thanks for having us.

Patty Carver 0:17
Hi Alex!

Alex Ferrari 0:18
Thank you so much for coming on the show. I wanted to have you guys come on the show because you have a great product and called saltbox. TV. And, and I just was really interested in using it as a case study as far as how to focus on niche audiences as opposed to going mass market, which so many filmmakers do nowadays, creating their projects and TV thinking that they're gonna compete with Marvel, or Disney or Star Wars, or any of these kind of mass market concepts or even just a general drama or general comedy. It's very difficult in the independent film world to do that, I think focusing on the niche is so so valuable, and you guys have definitely focused on a niche. But before we get down, go down the road with with saltbox. TV. How did you guys get involved in the entertainment business in general?

Patty Carver 1:07
Well, alright.I'll go first Jerry?

Jerry Goehring 1:11
Yeah, go for it!

Patty Carver 1:13
Okay, I'll go first. So I am, I'm a singer and actress. And for the past 20 years, I've been well, Jerry and I have theatre companies. Before that, I traveled across the country doing regional stock, Dinner Theatre, cabaret in New York. And after we got married, we started some theatre companies, including Connecticut children's theatre. And Jerry, of course, has always had his his commercial projects. But as far as I go, after we got married, and we had two children, I sort of had to navigate around all that. And so I created these one woman musical programs, which I started performing in schools, libraries, historical societies, and older adult communities. And as the years rolled by, and I was able to book around my kids growing up and being carpool queen and driving to swim meets my audience flipped to almost exclusively older adult audiences, in communities. And I love this audience. And I have a database of hundreds of communities up and down the East Coast throughout the Midwest, New England. And that's a large part of what I've been doing for the past 20 years after we got married. And yeah, and so when COVID hit theater was shut down. And that and so saalbach was born of COVID. But maybe Jerry, you should just talk a little bit about your background before we start talking about soapbox. I don't know.

Alex Ferrari 3:09
You're a good husband, sir. You're a good husband.

Jerry Goehring 3:13
Fine. So yeah, so my background, my background, I'm on the other side of the footlights. I can't sing dance act, I can't do any of that stuff. But I started producing way back when in the you know, early, late 80s, early 90s, you know, in New York, and produced, I can't even tell you how many shows around the country in London elsewhere through the years, had a knife started nonprofits. For a long time, I was a turnaround guy for nonprofit theater companies when they were in trouble. I did that for a while. I would say in the last 10 years or so I've also started working on a ton of commercial projects, meaning Broadway, Off Broadway and West End. So my my, my focus has always either been on the nonprofit in the theater world and really supporting artists, young artists, young writers, young creators, and conversely, then in the commercial world, taking those artists that have a voice that really wants something to say you can tell me I love this because I pride myself on reaching an audience that is underserved. And we like Patti talked about the children's theater, we started a sound so like oh theater for children. No, no. Here's what we did. We actually got there all of our Broadway friends. We created professional shows and all we did Alex as we went to the inner cities of at risk communities and gave professional theater experiences to only pre K to second graders and at risk community how niches that that's fairly niche. It was such a unique audience that we wanted to serve and we were able to also support a lot of young artists out there that were trying to get their started in the business. So kind of go to Broadway as an example give you a broad example my first Broadway show, you probably know the movie A Christmas Story, of course. Sure. So with Ralphie and leg lamp and all that shoot your eye out. Should we all? So that's right. In fact, guy played Ralphie Peter Billingsley, you may know from the film world, he was my partner on that. And we put up the musical on Broadway with multiple Tony nominations. And we got a composer and lyricist out of University of Michigan bench pastic and Justin Paul, that, as you may know, went on to do lala land and, and, and greatest showmen dear Evan Hanson. So again, discovering young people and helping a demographic that looks like they're there. They're on the outskirts that that they do need some representation. I think that's where Patti and I have found our lives leading in that world. So that's that's kind of, you know, our background.

Alex Ferrari 5:53
Now, Jerry, I just had to ask you a side question. I've always been faster because I don't know a whole lot about Broadway, I have talked to a couple of Tony Award winners on the show. And, and I've talked to a couple people in Broadway, when I see these shows that could pop up every once in a while, which are based on movies. Some are, you know, some, you know, do very well, some don't. But I'm assuming that they're in Broadway, they're trying to tap into an existing audience that knows the property, the IP, it's very similar to what studios are doing with films like The you know, the grab a book, they'll grab a comic book, they'll grab something that already has an existing audience. So something like, obviously, Lion King is a great example, or any of the Disney shows, I remember when Lion King showed up, everyone's like Lion King, watts. And then, of course, it's still running, and it's made a couple bucks along the way. So it's something like the Christmas story is really interesting to me. Because, you know, it's a, it's not a, it's a classic, but it's not, it wasn't avatar. So it's a classic film that has an audience to it. But I guess when you and Rafi put it together, I'm assuming you're trying to tap into that audience. And it's in that as far as the business side is concerned, again, just trying to understand the niche audiences and how you're how you're approaching it.

Jerry Goehring 7:07
That's a very good question. And one I've talked about a lot through the last 10 years, you know, it seems so simple on the surface, hey, let's get an IP property that is branded already it has an audience, and they're going to come because they don't have to worry about as much about having stars or having, you know, huge, great reviews, blah, blah, because some of those don't work in the professional world. But Alex, there's the flip side of that, when you have an audience that is absolutely devotees, and your fans have an IP property, and you want to change that property, you know, you're kind of playing with fire a little bit, right? So here's what I've learned. And and A Christmas Story is a great example is how do you take the essence of an IP property that that is, beloved? And how do you change it to a new medium? Retain What was special for all the fans, but I'll take it to the new medium, like live musicals on Broadway, and how do you enrich and enrich what they and deepen what they love without tearing it apart? And still giving them what they expect? It's a very, very fine line to Krishna is a great example. For us to get to Broadway. We took five years and put it up year after year and changed it and nuanced it to make sure we could hit all those hot buttons. So niche audiences can be really tricky.

Alex Ferrari 8:23
Now, is there a song called you'll shoot your eye out? I'm just asking. Thank you. I just see that was as a fan of like, if there is not a song called you'll shoot your eye out, I you're not gonna have my money.

Jerry Goehring 8:36
Or niche audience expectations.

Patty Carver 8:40
I have to say Jerry, really was a champion of staying true to that story. And making sure that that book reflected the movie and captured the essence. Because it's easy to let that stuff go when it goes to another medium.

Alex Ferrari 8:55
Yeah, it's it's it's I mean, that movie is such a such an interesting case study. Because it did not. If I when it came out in the 80s. I remember saying it was 82. So right so wasn't a monster head. Even when it came out. It was a very male, the box office, it was a very slow burn of a film. And now it's beloved. I mean, it's like now they're they mean just the merchandise alone every Christmas you see those lamps with the leg and, and the outfits for hollow. I mean, it's insane.

Patty Carver 9:28
All over our house.

Alex Ferrari 9:29
Yeah, I'm sure. Thank you. Thank you there. For everyone listening. He just, he just focused the camera onto a leg lamp from the Christmas story. So but yeah, it's it's so which brings us to our conversation today about saltbox now, you know, I wrote a whole book about niche about that's the future of independent filmmaking. That's the future of filmmaking in general for the independent, because if you, you know it'd before in the 80s and in the 90s In the 80s, literally, and I've had this conversation with multiple filmmakers from the 80s, that like if you just finished the film, it was sold. It didn't even matter if it was good or not. If you were able to get 35 millimeter settled, Lloyd edited and put in a can, it's not gonna make money, like it can be sad to be good, but had a shot, you would go into theaters automatically, because you were one of 50 people making movies that year, as opposed to now that there's 1000s and 10s of 1000s of people creating content at a very high level. So now the barrier of entry is not technology, which it was before. Now its audience and finding that audience. So saltbox is such an interesting concept to me. So please tell me what saltbox is, and how was it born?

Jerry Goehring 10:50
I'll throw that to Patty. Definitely. This was at that very beginning.

Patty Carver 10:54
All right. So when COVID happened, we were shut down. I mean, we and I was completely unemployed. And we decided to, you know, since everyone was going virtual, and I was specifically concerned about the older adult communities that were in my database, because I had like six months sold out. And like everybody called me within 48 hours saying, you know, canceled for the time being, yeah. It was really crazy. And of course, not only that happened, but but Broadway went dark. The West End

Alex Ferrari 11:30
Once a generation, it's like once in a generation. Yeah.

Patty Carver 11:33
Yeah, it was just unbelievable. So we had this idea to film, my one woman musicals that had been doing live and offer them to them as a virtual option to these senior communities in my database and beyond. started calling communities one at a time, it started, it became really clear really fast that people needed more wanted more than just a baddie Garver show. They needed all of these activities, directors and communities were being thrown into this frying pan, this virtual frying pan, many were not tech savvy at all. And they were suddenly I mean, having to, you know, do all this virtual programming. So I went home one night, especially after one conversation, in particular with a, an activities director who was exhausted, they're on quarantine. And she said, I would love to purchase your virtual shows, but I don't have any time in the day. Right now. All I'm doing is bringing food to my residents doors, and arranging facetimes with their families. And, you know, I went home that night, said to Jerry, there should be a channel for senior communities, for older adults, especially now when they're so isolated, and quarantined and away the whole world is, but they are that much more. And so the next day Jerry started, we all we both started calling our theatre colleagues, and Jerry in particular, and started the ball rolling with saltbox. TV. You know, as the first phone call started happening, everybody was saying it was a good idea. But it wasn't just that people really wanted to help us. And in particular, older adults that we were reaching out, that were in the industry wanted to help one because they wanted to help but also because they want to work to to, they want to work. And, you know, it was an it's been an interesting journey. Because we're not just becoming a platform for older adults, in many ways. It's becoming a platform by older adults for older adults. And, you know, the interesting thing that's additionally happened is multi generational thing, or intergenerational thing where, if you're an older adult, you're in your 80s and 90s, and might not be tech savvy, your grin son or granddaughter can help you hop on Roku or firestick and get the free app. But I know I skipped a lot in between there because you know, there were celebrities Jerry that the first celebrity that stepped forward to help us a spokesperson was Ed Asner Bless his heart. Yeah. And, you know, he sort of opened the door to a whole bunch of other people that said, whatever you want to, if you need help, we'll help you. So yeah, and, you know, we hired some gerontologists to help with the structure the website with you know, colors and font sizes. And very early on, we realized that older adults They're not going to go on if they have to log in, or put their email in, or remember a password. Even my mom, who's our biggest fan wouldn't go sign into saltbox if she had to leave her email, so we were like, it has to be click and watch. It has to be free. And it has to be clicking watch. And that's what we are. And so we can very, we can we can say to people, you know, just click and watch and it really is that it's easy.

Alex Ferrari 15:29
So you want so you obviously, you went for a VOD platform and advertising video on demand platform as opposed to a T VOD, or s or subscription based video on demand. Was there a conversation early on to make it instead of making it subscription, making it a VOD, because, you know, a lot of people think that subscription is the key to everything, but from my understanding, and from my experience, and my my knowledge AVOD is where the money's at right now, for filmmakers and for content creators. Because there's no barrier to entry. There's no monthly fee, we are subscribed to death right now. There's so many subscriptions that we have going on, and being able to just click and watch, especially the generation in a niche audience who's so used to television from like, you know, that's just, oh, it's commercials. Okay. As opposed to, as opposed to 20 year olds. We're going oh, God, commercials. And I'm like, You think commercials are bad. Imagine having to wait for that next episode a week later? Yeah, right. Right. Yeah.

Jerry Goehring 16:35
You know, Alex, we actually, in full disclosure, we were when we first started with a summer of what Patty 20s When we really got rockin July of 20. So we've been doing this about 18 months now. So we're like Nunu. We were like, Yeah, I'll pay 499. My first business plan was just changed like 1000 times since then. Was that's fine.

Alex Ferrari 16:54
Sure. Because that's the mentality. Yeah,

Jerry Goehring 16:56
Right. I can see the money. It's easy subscriptions. Yeah, I people, I can market to all that good stuff of capturing information, blah, blah, blah. But then what as Patty mentioned, we learned quickly that this particular audience is not going to do that no credit cards are coming out. So

Patty Carver 17:11
We owe 499, a month for this audience.

Alex Ferrari 17:13
No, in that's the thing that's so fascinating about you. Because you know, when you talk about it, I noticed a few certain few key terms there that were very insightful, which are that you were looking at font sizes, you were looking at color schemes, you were doing a deep dive into your audience and really providing value to that audience where so many filmmakers or even businesses, they'll just launch without even thinking about their audience. They'll even they'll write a story. I mean, the same thing goes in theater. I mean, I'm assuming he's a you don't just throw up, hey, let's go put on a show. Let's go spend, you know, obscene amount of money. Let's go put on a show. And hopefully someone will show up there is there was really a good amount of thought put into I mean, even hiring those specialists to come in and and guide you on that it's really very straight very forward thinking.

Patty Carver 18:03
And you know, what, Alex, this audience that we're talking about, we're talking about it with, as if they're a niche audience, but they're huge.

Alex Ferrari 18:16
They're huge, nice. They're huge.

Patty Carver 18:20
And they're, I mean, as far as Geryon are concerned, and they're a neglected demographic in so many ways, and dismissed in so many ways. And, you know, they deserve a font that they can read.

Alex Ferrari 18:36
And also, I mean, they deserve also content that they could that that they're going to connect with, because I mean, look how many look, everyone's not going to be 20 and 30 years old for the rest of their lives. But according to Hollywood, that's what we see. You know, and I'm, I'm not 20 or 30 anymore, in a case, and now it's a lot better than it was 1015 years ago, now. We're seeing multi generational stories, stories for women, women that are not 20 You know, these kinds of things. And I think that, you know, the smartest, the smartest business people always look for the neglected audience that neglected customer underserved. And that's when when this came across my desk, I was like, okay, these guys got it. And I'm like, I can't believe no one thought of this. And then I went to your Santa Ed Asner, who, by the way, I had a short meeting with on a set one day, I was visiting a friend shooting film and I met him. He was the sweetest man. And he was like, he was busting my balls within the first five seconds of meeting him and he was, oh my god, he was so great. He is so so great. But having someone when I saw it as I'm like, okay, these guys get it. They got it. They understand who their audiences. Look at their spokesperson, look at the way the health thing is set up. It was really well. Well, well put together.

Jerry Goehring 19:52
Thank you. We learned a lot as we looked at content, you know, and we learned a lot of times we were completely 100 100 180 degrees wrong. And what we thought as an example, if you go to the site, you'll see that we have, we have cultivated content. So it's always a one stop shop. Yeah, you can get classic movie and TVs, you can also get lifelong learning and be wiped if you're somebody in your family has dementia, there's all kinds of programming to how do you deal with that? How do you Oh, there's all the way to chair yoga for older people. But what here's what I learned is that, as I mentioned, the very beginning, we love young artists, we love new, we new love creep young creators, so we automatically don't go for, you know, the huge blockbusters, we can't afford them anyway. We go for the for the artists that are looking that had this great piece of content, be it you know, 30 years old, or brand new, that come and we put them on our site, we since we're Avon, we do a revenue share deal. So everybody's in the same pod, very standard. But what we learned, I thought people would come because they want to learn about they want to do exercise, want to learn about dementia care, whatever. And then they would stick around and see all all this great entertainment. It's actually the other way around, is everybody wants to get be entertained. And then they're like, Hey, wait a minute, you have this also for my community or for a house. And it just goes to prove that even though you may be 75, you still love the same things you did when you were 25?

Alex Ferrari 21:18
Oh, there's no question. I mean, I would have to ask you. So right now, your current demographic was raised on the Andy Griffith Show. And in Sanford sun and the you know, and I Love Lucy, and those kinds of those things. So when Generation X, which is my generation gets to, is saltbox going to move with it? Is it you know, is there going to be a Gen X, you know, channel, that's which I should create one right now, because I would love to watch a Gen X channel of things just in the 80s 90s. But it's still, there's still plenty of it out there. But like, but you know what I mean? So is it going to be moving along with, you know, the, as far as the generation and the audience because the audience will change? Because I I know of Andy Griffith, I watched it when I was very, very young, but it's not a show that I'm gonna go watch. But if you throw on, you know, different strokes or friends or, you know, a team or night writer, those are the those are the shows that I grew up with. So is that something that you're thinking about as, as your population starts to change as your audience starts to change?

Patty Carver 22:21
Wow, I hope we have that. I hope we have this problem.

Alex Ferrari 22:28
Like, oh, God, it's just too much money.

Jerry Goehring 22:31
You know, what we talk a lot about athletes is, is the term aging up, right? Because even if you look at 65, plus now, what 65 year old and 95 year old, have different entertainment expectations, and even kind of community learning opportunities that that they need. Now, that generation, let's look at 75 and Plus are maybe not as tech savvy as perhaps a 50 year old is, but at the same time, there's a lot of smart 75 year olds out there. So there's we're already in a mixed group of people and their abilities and access to online streaming. So right there, we thought we can tell you where our niche challenges are. That's where they are. Now you look 10 years down the road, that's gonna start to change all the people like Patti and I, we just cut the cord a year ago, we're still kind of dealing with all that we can't just turn on, you know what we want. We're used to it. But in other 10 years, people are like, I cannot believe I described subscribe to a cable channel. How archaic is that? So we are not only thinking about that, but we're actually thinking right now, with our multiple mixed ages and our audience that we're reaching to how do we age up and then look back to the Gen X to the the 50 year olds like us? And how does all that mix together so we can have a business plan that can go forward?

Alex Ferrari 23:48
Yeah, and that's, I mean, I cut the cord, probably about five years ago, probably I cut the cord. And, and then I've never looked back. And every time I move or something, of course, I got to talk to the cable guy. Well, you know, we could do this. I'm like, Dude, if you need to just stop. Or I had DirecTV forever, and they're just like, Well, why don't we uh, we could give you the sweet deal. Like, there's no sweet deal, dude, it's over. I'm probably paid the exact same thing. If not probably more with all my subscriptions on on the apps, there's no question but the ease of use the technology of being able to record everything all the time and have access to all of it at all times, is something that is just priceless in the world. But now, how did you guys develop the technology? Did you use it? You know, are you did you develop it yourself? Did you work partners?

Jerry Goehring 24:38
Uh, yeah, we reached out and made some partnerships with some of my friends in Broadway. So there are some Broadway streaming services out there. We've been friends for a long, long time. So we kind of went in and shared the cost on coders and you know, kind of build it from the ground up. So this is not a template format. As Betty mentioned, we wanted to make sure that we could have a viewer could change the size of font if they need to see you later. You can go on on the homepage and change the size of the font. You can do colors, all that stuff that we worked on all that had to be put into, from from day one. So yeah, we basically are all about partnerships in our world right now.

Alex Ferrari 25:13
I know that I know the feeling. And partnerships are much more affordable than cash out out of pocket.

Jerry Goehring 25:21
Everybody wins. You know, we all bring our, you know, air in front and makes filmmakers and TV makers out there. They're, they're bringing projects to us, because there's a need for all of us. We need great content from artists, and creators. And these artists and creators need as many just distribution channels as they can get.

Alex Ferrari 25:38
There was a filmmaker story, I heard that they directed a documentary about sanitarians, who were at the Olympics, like the Olympics Antarian that, you know, the that that was something like, yeah, yeah. And they, they, they tried to do the normal thing, and it just didn't work. So they will actually went out to these communities, and toured and toured and sold licenses. And they made over a million dollars. Just just like it went to I think they went to a convention. And you guys probably know that convention where all the they all get together to buy content. Right, exactly. So they went in, and they said that in the first, that weekend, they sold $380,000 worth of licenses, just because because there's such a lack for this demographic for this, this niche audience. And it's not like I think we say niche, but we're talking about, you know, 65 and older, there's a few of them. The baby boomer generation is you know,

Jerry Goehring 26:42
Yeah, no, is totally the largest demographic in this country. All those all those baby boomers are over 55. Now, and, and that's it. I mean, we talked about advertisers Guess who has the most disposable income, baby boomers over 55.

Alex Ferrari 26:56
I know, it's and that's why 499 should have made sense. But it didn't.

Jerry Goehring 27:04
You know, what, what's very interesting to me, is that as we look at at to the financial landscape of all of this, that Hollywood does truly, truly focus on the young person. And I get that our kids are in their mid 20s. And they're, you know, they're they do their thing. But there is such not only a market for the for the content, but there is a very huge potential market for artists to be seen by millions to make money from that, and revenue share deals to find a new way to get product out. And to get all these amazing stories that are being told at a high quality and you brought up Alex, there is opportunities out there being created all the time, like saltbox. TV.

Alex Ferrari 27:44
Yeah. And I mean, I was just shocked that no one had thought of this, and no one had done it the way the you guys are doing it. And you obviously considered the technology barriers for your audience, you you you are very well aware that they are not I mean, if if my parents are any indication, they, they I mean, texting was a thing. You know, and like, email was a thing. And God forbid, my father's like, next time you come over, I need you to set up Apple TV, because it sounds really good. But I it because I he loves it when he comes over to my place. And he's like, wait a minute, I watch baseball all day. And like, yes, you can't how much? Is it? What, um, you know, like, but there's that technology barrier. So you guys really thought about that. And again, you know, filmmakers listening now thinking about your niche audience. I mean, obviously, we're talking about a streaming service, which is different than a piece of content. But concepts are still the same. Thinking about your audience and thinking how you can get your product to them. How it can serve them is something that should be upfront, when you're thinking about this. Do you agree?

Jerry Goehring 28:55
No question. I'll give you one less example. I see. Patti wanted to add to that. But when we first started, we said we're gonna take our first two years, and we're still have like six months left. And we're not going to worry about advertisers right? Now let's build our base, we'll just get some investors. And we'll just pay for this the old fashioned way, right. And then we're still doing that. What we did, what we wanted to do is get into these markets so we could actually get real feedback and build our base. So what we started with your point to get to senior communities where they all live together in a community, and they are all in service with content from one provider, and there's a many providers out there. Like right now we're in over 5000 communities nationwide, and each community has two to 250 people in it. Because they we know they can actually watch us because of the technology in those communities. And of course, we did OTT platforms and all that, but that's going to take a while be patient for that to grow to eight people to age into that. So you hit it right on the head. It's about technology and finding the lowest common denominator. How do you get this to them?

Alex Ferrari 29:58
Now how did you What is the marketing plan for this? Because I'm assuming you don't have the $200 million for marketing that universal does for their next Fast and Furious thing. So how I mean, obviously, you had a database, and you knew this audience very well. So I'm assuming that's what you tapped first. But beyond that list, and beyond those original context, how are you planning to reach that audience? What are you doing with that?

Patty Carver 30:22
Well, we're talking to you.

Alex Ferrari 30:25
Well, I'm not sure my demographic is going to be going into salt box. But hey, listen, I have no idea who listens to me sometimes. But, but other how other ways are you doing it?

Patty Carver 30:39
Well, I just have to say, we're doing any, you know, marketing press opportunities that we can at the moment. And we're doing that all the way to giving up postcards, one person at a time, I'm actually doing that going to communities, live gigs are happening again. And I've been to, you know, I go to lots of communities again, which thank goodness, and I'm getting way up, I'm sorry. No, no, no. I'm just kind of just saying that we're really it's a big array of things right now a great big puzzle of different marketing puzzle pieces right now.

Jerry Goehring 31:17
But that's the partnerships for a second, Alex, let's think about, we're not the only ones out there that want to get content to this audience. They want to bring this audience in, right. And so the streamers of various sizes from a tiny new place like us all the way up the chain, are looking for partnerships are looking how to share content, looking at fast channels, looking at linear looking at different ways to get out. I think, ultimately, that's the answer. You're right. We don't have 200 million or two USA Today, ads, and AARP ads and all this stuff that costs so much money, we are going to continue partnering and with other like minded streamers, not only to get our content out, but to also create content together, we're in multiple deals now in pre production to start creating our own content, bringing all of those people together, and telling stories and filming and creating. And we are not doing it by ourselves by any means. And so honestly, that's the truth. That's how we're getting the word out because there's a need, and other people are seeing it too, that have a much have many more eyeballs than we do and a much broader reach than we do. And the same need.

Patty Carver 32:21
Yeah, one of the one of the ways we when we first started gathering content when we first began this, you know, the obvious is movies and sitcoms and documentaries. But we also went surfing YouTube, and finding content providers with big followings. And we just reached out to them, we just got on the phone and found them. And we ended up in some really wonderful partnerships with for instance, tip us know who's like the rock star of, of dementia care. There's a guy and she has hundreds of 1000s of followers on YouTube. And you know, it's a win win, because people see her on saltbox, that directs them back to her site. And it just, it benefits everyone. There's a guy named Greg Pickens who has a show called Finding America, he travels, he travels across the country, with his metal detector. And he digs and he finds these treasures. And he's got a huge following. And he has recently joined us and, you know, we have like 10 of his programs on saltbox. And when you go to salt bucks, you're also directed back to his channel. And, you know, we have that type of partnership with so many content providers, who, especially at the beginning, really kind of took a leap of faith in this new this new company called saltbox that wanted to, you know, do a 5050 Revenue Share, and, you know, partner with us to air their content.

Alex Ferrari 33:54
And that's the thing that I that's interesting about your specific audience is that you can't buy Facebook ads. You can't buy, you know, YouTube ads, you can't do traditional even content marketing is not something that your audience, you know, is not looking on YouTube, or looking on for articles about things generally speaking, I mean, obviously, it's different, but generally speaking, so I think the for the lesson for filmmakers listening is that you are going at the at the at the street level, and partnering with other audiences, which is something I talked about in my book, you go where the audience is, you partner with those people and then try to tap into that audience and try to provide service to them and they provide service to you. And that's much more powerful. I think then Facebook ads, if you if you're able to partner with someone in your niche who's a rockstar in your niche, that's so much more powerful than spending $100,000 on Facebook ads and hoping that someone will click on it. Is that fair?

Patty Carver 34:53
And they bring the passion to that they we had the same mission.

Alex Ferrari 34:58
Right

Jerry Goehring 34:58
Yeah. And what's interesting too Here's what we're discovering on the aging up topic. And this marketing is that, like you had mentioned, your, your parents had enough parents are the same way, maybe a little older than yours. But the same ideas that we're finding that those older adults that truly maybe get a little lost in all of this. The kids or the grandkids are under our understanding that and they want to help their parents or grandparents to be more connected, and then starts connecting families, Mrs. Getting called kind of heartfelt now that we're seeing that happen, we're seeing, honestly a marketing opportunity we didn't anticipate, which is our kids and grandkids helping older adults have access to this content.

Alex Ferrari 35:38
You know, it's so funny that some of the content that is is aimed at your demographic, let's say a show like The Golden Girls, which is a show that I watch, but then Millennials love. And I was I was watching it. I was watching a show like that in the 80s when I was a teenager, I was like I love The Golden Girls like that's one of those shows that like Connor that just jumps through generations. So it's it's really interesting.

Patty Carver 36:07
It's a good story, and it's well done. Everybody loves it.

Jerry Goehring 36:10
Yeah. Look at Grayson Frankie right now. Oh, guess who's watching it.

Alex Ferrari 36:15
Oh, god. Yeah, it's I can't I mean, yeah, I upset I'm obsessed with Grayson, Frankie. I mean, I'm obsessed. My wife and I started watching it. We're like, we are obsessed with this show. Lily Tom and I just hope before the series ends, that Dolly Parton just makes a cameo, please just please bring dolly in. Please. Please, please.

Jerry Goehring 36:38
We agree. Go Dolly.

Alex Ferrari 36:40
Yes, exactly.

Patty Carver 36:43
Now, how do you not I just got word that Dolly Parton is going to make a cameo on the last episode. Okay, have a Achille here.

Alex Ferrari 36:52
Okay.

Jerry Goehring 36:55
We're all learning this together, Alex.

Alex Ferrari 36:56
Well, you heard it here. First everybody Dolly Parton is gonna be on the last episode of grace of Frankie. Well, yeah, there's only a handful of there's a there's only a handful of episodes left and I'm sad but it by nose. And going off topic just for a second. There's no reason why Grace and Frankie should have succeeded in a platform like Netflix. For as long it's like the longest running series in Netflix history like has the most seasons of shows to my knowledge. I mean, even said, yeah, there's there's no other show. I think even Orange is the New Black stop that five or six. So that that it's that makes no sense. Like on paper, this makes no sense. But when you watch it, you're just like, Okay, this this is good. It's just as good writing good performing. I mean, it's, it's amazing. And a question I have to ask you as well with the the A VOD platform, how do you get advertisers? Because that's always a big problem with with with a VOD platforms unless you're tap into one of the big boys like a to b or something like that. How did you bring advertisers in? And how do you you know, get as much as you can tell me, I don't want to get any proprietary stuff out?

Jerry Goehring 38:07
No, I'll give you heads because we had to learn this again, theater people, we don't go out and get commercials, you know. So learn, learn how to do it. So here's here's what I learned a lot about programmatic advertising, and learning how that works in the digital world. And you know, our site right now has no advertising on it, it will start July 1. So we're still just self funding this whole thing. But we are now working with programmatic advertising firms out there that do this work. And then we are coding their their work into our our underbelly, you know, so all of our platform will have full systematic integration of programmatic advertising. So then we do the revenue share, and they're a part of that. But then our goal is over the next five years to start phasing that out having our own sales staff having our own nobody kind of phasing that out. But right now, there's resources out there, because everybody sees this burgeoning streaming market exploding. And there are advertisers that want a specific audience in a specific area, that country of a specific age, oh, programmatic advertising gives that to you.

Alex Ferrari 39:16
Perfect. Yeah. And it's, I mean, I get it through podcasting right now. So as you're listening to this podcast, I've heard that there's been ads that have been local to that specific area that they're listening to the podcast. And as opposed to I mean, there's some general market stuff like a McDonald's or a Honda or something like that. But many times it's local advertising. And I found out when I moved from Los Angeles, to Austin, my ads, I start hearing Austin, local Austin ads, when I'm listening to my, my own show, to test it. I'm like, Oh, okay. So even then, through my through my, my provider, it does that too. So I think we're still getting we're still in it's in the infancy of AVOD very much So very much the infancy of a VOD, and it's getting better and better. But we'll get to the point where, like anyone almost I can't say anyone can get an S VOD going because it's not does take a little bit of there is a barrier to entry to that. But generally speaking, it can still be done where five to eight years ago, if I said I'm going to if you guys said I'm going to open up saltbox it would have been the technology would have been a major hurdle on cost and putting it all out there and everything like that. So yeah, that's that's it. There's, there's a will there's a way without question

Jerry Goehring 40:34
That our our ignorance has paid off, because I don't know how how to do it. So I just do it.

Patty Carver 40:40
Really, it's not and this this programmatic advertising is not my world at all. And I just, I just look at it as this magical thing where you know, that the right advertisements appear before and after, and it's all good.

Alex Ferrari 40:58
Right, and it's all tacked in, and then some, some Gremlins, some sort of Gremlins inside the computer, do it for you. And that's it, little elves or something. And that's it, and then check shows up, it's just fantastic. Um, so it's kind of like residual payments for television or films, like all of a sudden, like, if someone's doing something someone's tracking something, I get a check. It's fine. It's nice. Now what's in your so where do you see the saltbox? In the next 5 10 years?

Jerry Goehring 41:32
I'll take that. Should I start?

Patty Carver 41:34
Well, you know, I, I see it growing. I mean, I we're gathering momentum, I see it growing. And what I'm most excited about is the opportunities that are happening for our in house productions. I want stories by soapbox, TV, that right? On the horizon for us.

Alex Ferrari 41:59
I mean, Netflix figured that out a little bit ago. Yeah.

Jerry Goehring 42:04
I mean, there's only so many I Love Lucy, as you can put up and people will come we need destination content, to be quite honest, we need to go we're used to creating our own shows from scratch on Broadway. So now we're working with the same and more artists from a different field from electronic media. And we're meeting new people every day. So those listening, feel free to reach out, you know, look at this all but we're look we're looking for always to partnerships and content. I think my main goal is to continue cultivating the content for this aging up audience. I mean, right now, in a year and a half, with really no experience doing this, we have almost 400 pieces of content up right now. And more and some have multiple episodes, we're talking well over 1000 pieces that are on our site right now. And we are just now starting to produce our own and work with other production companies to make that happen. So yeah, let's see where it goes.

Patty Carver 42:57
I want to add to that, Jerry? Um, so yes, it's, it's going to grow, it's going to be great. And I'm so excited about all the possibilities to produce softbox productions. But for me, also, the mission will always be to be a resource for communities. soapbox TV started out as a as a resource for communities. And of course, there's such a broader market out there. But that will always be something that's extremely important to me to reach those activity directors and communities that can use saltbox for any number of reasons.

Alex Ferrari 43:39
And, and there's a lesson there for filmmakers to listen to is is is always think about your audience, and not about the money. Now, if you're when you're making movies, and you're being a filmmaker, yeah, you've got to do you have to be financially responsible. But if you don't lead with being of service to the audience, whatever that story might be, look, Marvel does it probably better than anyone else? Disney does it probably better than anyone else, whether you like or hate their films, they're doing it a pretty high level, and they're reaching their audience and they're paying off their audience. It's paying off for their audience. I still remember watching Avengers endgame. And after 10 years of stories, ending with that story, how it just brought the entire audience together and I'm their audience. So it might not be someone else but it but what they did is they did think about how to really touched their audience in a way that a lot of Hollywood productions and a lot of filmmakers don't think about, think about what's hot, like you know what's hot right now salt, like Asian Americans, yes. And if that's that's where the money is, we got to throw things in there. But if there's no heart behind it, it will fail. I feel

Patty Carver 44:46
Right.

Jerry Goehring 44:49
Agree. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 44:51
Now I'm going to ask you a few questions. Ask all my guests. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the entertainment industry or in life?

Jerry Goehring 45:02
Oh, woof. Pat, do you have to go first now? Oh my goodness. Alright. So from the heart on this one is that someday we're all going to be at that moment where we're no longer here, right? You're gonna have a little time to look back and think, you know, you can think of the things first you want to think about the family, your friends, all of that, and then think, can I make a difference? What did I do to help people? What did I do to take what little skills I have, in this case bringing artists together? And did I make a difference? Did I help somebody with what I did? Or was it all just self absorbed, make money, a lot of the story, I'm just determined to make it for other reasons. I learned that as soon as I have a project that is driven like that is driven by an investor or a partnership, that is only seeking the return. That's when it fails. And if there's not somebody that at the top, that trickles down with passion and artistic integrity, and a reason for doing it, that is not worth doing. We've learned that multiple times through the years and we get keep getting reminded that. So there you go.

Alex Ferrari 46:23
That's a great lesson. Great, great lesson. How about you Patty.

Patty Carver 46:29
Mine short and sweet I think always be willing to change the plans. Because the best laid plans are good. Always gonna be a good one. Yep.

Alex Ferrari 46:44
So you made it. So you need to tell me that things don't go as planned in life. Is that Is that what you're saying? Cuz I, I mean, everything I've ever planned. It came out perfect. I don't know what you're talking about. Oh, come here. Oh, my God, when you're young, you think Oh my God. And when you're younger, you think that everything that you're planning is exactly, it's gonna it never happens, exactly how you plan it. And most most of the times even when it's it's bad. In hindsight, it was good. I've always found that even the worst things have happened to you in life, somehow is something that needed to happen or, or, or was meant for some sort of good and I know that's hard to accept sometimes for people because I went through some I got shrapnel. I've got a lot of shrapnel, and I'm sure you guys have shrapnel as well in the in the business? Yes. Not easy. Not easy at all. Now, um, what is the? What did you learn from your biggest failures, artistic or business wise?

Jerry Goehring 47:48
From saltbox, or in life?

Alex Ferrari 47:50
In life? Well, saltbox is still there. So I'm assuming we're still good. Well, let me rephrase that question. What was the biggest lesson you've learned so far from launching saltbox?

Jerry Goehring 48:03
I'll tackle that first is that you get pitched by so many people, and so many people that have decades of experience in this business. And they only see it one way, you have to do it this way. We've always done it this way. It's how Hollywood works. Know how Hollywood works. So when I come in and say, here's how I do that, here's how I'm going to do this. And the lesson I learned from that, because we tried stuff the Hollywood way a couple times. And you know what, it was a miserable failure.

Alex Ferrari 48:32
Mm hmm. Shocking, shocking.

Jerry Goehring 48:34
I know what I'm just gonna kind of do what I know. And do it the way I know how to do it. And if it's not your cup of tea, then Thanks for calling.

Alex Ferrari 48:44
Very good answer. Very good answer. You want to add anything Patty?

Patty Carver 48:48
Um, yeah, what I've learned through soapbox right now is that I have to say, you know, when we started it, it's a great idea. But you know, not, you know, there are so many great ideas out there. What I've learned is that, yes, we can do this. Because we it could because we were a couple of theater people that just dove off a cliff into this new media. And really, and Jerry talks about, you know, ignorance is bliss. It really is true, because ignorance is bliss. And it allows you to pick up the phone and, you know, call somebody that, you know, you know, you wouldn't otherwise. And actually I tell the team here sometimes, if we have an interview, don't tell me too much about this because I don't want to I just want to go talk. I just don't I don't want to know. Anyway, but I also and this kind of piggybacks off of what Jerry was saying. I go with my gut, my intuitive feelings about things and from the get go, I've also been saying that I have just a really good feeling about this. You know, coming into the office and you know, and just day to day stuff and finding a balance.

Alex Ferrari 50:07
That's great. I mean, I was I was completely agree when I picked up a microphone six and a half years ago it started a podcast. I didn't think I would be here that's for sure. My best laid plans were not this and it's so much better than what I ever thought of. So it's been I've been blessed in that sense So ignorance many times is bliss. And last question, guys, three of your favorite films of all time.

Jerry Goehring 50:30
Three Oh my goodness. Okay, Patty. You go first on this one,

Alex Ferrari 50:34
Whatever comes to mind

Patty Carver 50:35
That can can we go back and forth?

Jerry Goehring 50:37
Oh, sure.

Patty Carver 50:40
All right. I like Shawshank Redemption.

Alex Ferrari 50:43
That's my number one. Thank you so much. It's it's it's it's the it's it's the best one of the best written scripts ever and one of the best movies ever and I can watch it a million times and sorry, everyone, everyone who's listening knows my love for Shawshank.

Jerry Goehring 50:58
I know we'd love to work with Morgan Freeman. Just putting that out there.

Patty Carver 51:03
Jerry your turn.

Jerry Goehring 51:05
All right. I've got to say love Scorsese. So I'm going to go with that's a good skirt, the Goodfellas.

Alex Ferrari 51:14
Goodfellas good film can't complain.

Patty Carver 51:18
Silence of the lambs.

Alex Ferrari 51:20
Wow. As you hear the nice kind voice silence of the it's like it doesn't it doesn't connect. It doesn't connect. But also, that's it felt like that wasn't that I didn't think that was gonna come out of your out of your lips. There was a nice,

Jerry Goehring 51:38
She's a tough one. Not me. See. I like Silver Linings Playbook. So you know,

Alex Ferrari 51:41
there you go. That That makes sense. And this next is going to go Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I think that it's a fantastic

Patty Carver 51:54
You know, I have just musicals in general. But I think my favorite musical because I have to include a musical. You know hairspray.

Alex Ferrari 52:08
Oh, nice. Nice. That's a fun movie. That is a fun movie. And last but not least,

Patty Carver 52:14
One more, Jerry.

Jerry Goehring 52:15
All right. I'm thinking I'm thinking, you know, since we're almost in that season, I'm going to say the one that I end up being only one of the house watching most of the time is It's a Wonderful Life.

Alex Ferrari 52:26
Oh, it's a fantastical I mean, not as good as diehard, which is obviously the best Christmas movie of all time. But No, I'm joking. Story, of course, obviously a Christmas story. But I've had I've had multiple conversations on how diehard is a Christmas movie. And it it we actually did the numbers we did research it actually is. It has more Christmas references that home alone does. Oh, you know, for like we did. There's a whole episode I'm going to really I'll probably release it for Christmas movie Jerry. And we actually talked to John McTiernan and to the writer. And both of them said, Well, yeah, it's a Christmas movie now. I love it. That's so great. Jerry, it has been an absolute pleasure talking to you guys. Thank you so much, much success with saltbox. And I hope the audience picks up a little couple of nuggets on how to approach niche audiences and how they can create projects and sell things to a niche audience. It is a very powerful idea and needs to be put out there more but I do appreciate what you're doing. So thank you so much.

Jerry Goehring 53:33
Thanks for having us, Alex.

Patty Carver 53:34
Thank you Alex

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IFH 514: How to Sell Your Film in Today’s World with AFM’s Jonathan Wolf

Today on the show we welcome back to the show Jonathan Wolf, Executive Vice President of the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA®) and Managing Director of the American Film Market (AFM).

The American Film Market is the most efficient film acquisition, development, and networking event in the world. Unlike a film festival, AFM is a marketplace where production and distribution deals are closed. More than US$1 billion in deals are sealed every year — on both completed films and those in every stage of development and production.

Over 7,000 industry professionals from more than 70 countries converge in Santa Monica every November. They include acquisition and development executives, agents, attorneys, directors, distributors, festival directors, financiers, film commissioners, producers, writers, the world’s press, and all those who provide services to the motion picture industry.

At AFM, participants can discover the entire global catalog of available films and projects, attend 50+ world-class conferences, roundtables, and presentations, and connect with the independent film community’s decision-makers, all in one convenient location without the distraction of a film festival.

The American Film Market 2021 will go on during this crazy time but not how you might think. AFM will be conducted completely online.

  • Industry offices – Connect with over 300 sales and production companies, and industry organizations from around the world.
  • LocationEXPO – Meet Film Commissions with billions of dollars in production incentives that can quickly get films moving, and connect with facilities, service companies, and institutions.
  • On-Demand Theatre – Discover hundreds of films from the world’s best producers – all on demand for convenient viewing.
  • Stage 1 & Stage 2 – Over 200 speakers will participate in more than 70 live sessions – Conferences, Panels, Workshops, Conversations, and Presentations – all with on-demand replays.
  • Networking Pavilion – AFM’s most interactive experience for attendees to meet. Over 50 video discussions, every hour offers endless opportunities to join small groups that share your vision, passion, and goals.
  • MyAFM – The place to create a profile, discover other participants, send messages, and have Zoom meetings from inside the platform.

I’ll also be speaking at this year’s AFM with my good friend and film distributor Linda Nelson on November 3, 2021, at 9am PST.

Jonathan and I discuss how to sell your film on today’s ever-changing world.

Enjoy my conversation with Johnathan Wolf  from the American Film Market.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome to the show returning champion Jonathan Wolf, how you doing Jonathan?

Jonathan Wolf 0:16
Oh it's good to see you.

Alex Ferrari 0:18
Good to see you too. My friend every, it's become now an annual event for you to come on the show. You've been what, like four years now? I think

Jonathan Wolf 0:26
Three or four times yeah!

Alex Ferrari 0:27
Yeah, you've been on for like three or four times and I've had the pleasure of speaking at AFM once before, before the world went to hell. And then and even even in the online version last year, and again this year, and it's been it's been a pleasure working with you and AFM and, and having you on the show, and we always have wonderful dialogues, depending on where we are in the world. What's going what's going on in the world. So first of all this year, I was planning to fly back out to LA in November, like when I when I left LA to move to Austin, like I'll be back in November for AFM. I'll fly in. And, you know, we'll do all this stuff. And then of course, the announcement came like, we're going online again, guys. So first of all, how did AFM do last year, with the online I personally enjoyed the online experience. It's not it's not the physical experience, it never will be. But it was damn it was it was really cool. It had little places you can jump off, you can talk to people, it was you guys really did a lot to make it as as realistic as being there as possibly you could be in the digital realm. So it was a very cool experience. But how did AFM do last year in online?

Jonathan Wolf 1:39
It depends on which measure, you look at clearly from our standpoint, from an economic standpoint, you know, we're not going to have the same fundraising activity for our trade association that we would if we were in Santa Monica, but you know, if you tried to look at the glass as being half full, what was really cool is that we had speakers and participants from all over the world that would have never participated couldn't afford to travel. We had speakers from Nigeria, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, France, the UK, all staying in their offices or home participating on sessions, the vast majority wouldn't come to the AFM more than once every four or five years. And the participants that were there, it's the same thing. We have people all over the world, who were the economics of travel, just don't make sense. So from from the standpoint of sessions and the education, and that kind of networking, it was terrific. And as you you mentioned, we brought in some technology that really allowed some of that serendipity of bumping into people take place online, and one of our areas, we call it the networking building, it's literally 150 tables, over 10 floors, where you can go sit at a table online and meet four or five other people at the same table. But you get to mouse over their face in advance to see what their title is see what they do to decide whether you want to be in that conversation or not. And that's where we just got tremendous feedback. Because my analogy sort of is if you walk into a large cocktail party, a networking event, and you go person to person, group to group and you find out they're all talking, you're into Docs, and the first guys are talking about horror, and the next group, we're talking about animation, and you never find any group that is talking about dots, and you leave the networking events thing that was a bust and it happens to all of us, then you come to the our networking pavilion, where there are tables that have themes that are floors that have two themes, you can mouse over the people and see who's there, before you actually join a conversation. And so from a networking standpoint, a lot of people found it even more efficient. The downside is is from for those who participated, the AFM purely for transactional purposes, and I'm talking about producers coming to pitch scripts and pitching in his films. It doesn't work. Because you're not able to do that you're not able to walk into the doors of sales companies and go door after door, see what they're into and see if they're interested in your film. So the transactional piece for producers was less. But in some ways the networking was actually more and the the education was was was was best we've ever done.

Alex Ferrari 4:28
So do you instill into moving moving down the line? Hopefully in the next couple of years, you know this, this pandemic will be a little bit more under control than it is with us. I think it will be with us. It's going to be with us for for a long, long time. But it will be to a place like you'll be a seasonal flu hopefully. Yeah, hopefully something like that moving forward. How do you do see a hybrid version is this changed AFM forever in one way, shape or form?

Jonathan Wolf 4:55
It's probably changed how participants value, an event. If if someone's going purely for the education and the sessions, they can look at this and say, Boy, if it's that's being offered online, I don't need to travel, I don't need to be in the room at that time in the 40th. Row, you know, trying to hear what's going on, I can do it online. So it may have diminished a little bit the desire for education on site. But the parts that I talked about before the ability to pitch to meet people, the word access, you know, we there are a few pillars of the AFM one of them is access, you get access to the industry, you can only really get access face to face, you can't get that online networking, you get a different mix of networking online versus face to face, there's a little bit more serendipity face to face, who do you bump into at a bar, things like that, you know, just some you see an old friend introduces you to someone else, there's more of that we can repeat some of that online. And a key pillar beyond education, access. Networking, is visibility. A lot of people in our industry, this is what you seek out, you want to be noticed whether you're you're on a stage pitching a script, where there's somebody has written something about you, you've been introduced to others that ability to be seen, not just to see but to be seen, that can only happen at a live event successfully, where you can market yourself in that way. So we don't see the live events going away at all. But I think the how we tweak the value of attending may change, for example, we may pull back a little bit on some of the the onsite sessions, we may make the onsite sessions available remotely. Because this is the only part you can really do a hybrid. Like auctions, you can have somebody online or auction and in the room, you can have somebody watching the screen like we're talking now or live in the room. But you actually can participate in a what's a trade show, and, and

Alex Ferrari 7:03
You walk the walk the halls and things like that.

Jonathan Wolf 7:06
And so we may take a piece of this and say for those who can't travel, the piece that we can deliver effectively, which is the education piece, here it is. And yes, we'll set up a networking pavilion also. So for those of you who can't travel, you can speak to each other. What's almost impossible is to get the person who's in Santa Monica, to engage with the person who's taught Trent, excuse me participating online, whether it's a buyer in Santa Monica solar online, the reverse of producer online where the person who has traveled and is at an event is not going to spend any time trying to connect with somebody online. So we may have, we may really bifurcated a bit and offer a smaller online experience for those who can't travel this year. But the bigger physical experience remains.

Alex Ferrari 7:51
Yeah, I mean, unless you have computer screens and every single suite, and then they just like login. I mean, that's the only thing I could think of. But that's

Jonathan Wolf 7:58
Even if you're in an office and somebody walks in your door, and they've traveled halfway around the world at great expense, correct, didn't have a meeting scheduled and says, can you talk and the person online who's sitting on their couch on their iPad? What do you mean, you're interrupting me for the guy who walked in? You get bounced, the person online gets bounced every time

Alex Ferrari 8:18
You're right. You're absolutely you're absolutely right. Yeah, there. I think I think it has You're right. I really did. I did enjoy the experience. And having experienced both the live and the online experience, the online experience was really fun. I was actually very surprised that how smoothly it ran. I think you were you said like, Yeah, me too. It was it was fairly smooth with the technology. But you're right, just being there. There's just there's serendipity that you try to emulate online, but it's very, very difficult to do. And, again, there's just stuff that you can't do. Now I have to ask you the hard question. knowing now that there's this, and this, I think this is a question that every business in the world really needs to ask like, Okay, well, we've been online for the last two years. Now, next year, let's say God willing, we have a in person AFM. Do you think that, you know, huge studios are going to be paying those big, you know, those big ticket items for like offices and stuff like that, like they normally do? Or they're going to be like, ah, you know, we'll just do it. You know, we'll just do the online version. Like, what how do you see that? And I don't I'm it's not a gotcha question mean, me and Jonathan actually spoke about this earlier. So everyone thinking like, Oh, my God, no, this is we had that discussion originally. So what do you what do you think?

Jonathan Wolf 9:35
Well, we didn't have the discussion. You asked the question, and I told you, I'd answer it.

Alex Ferrari 9:39
That's the that's the discussion we had. Yes!

Jonathan Wolf 9:42
It's actually going to be somewhere almost neither of those. Meaning I don't expect the companies, the sales companies and production companies to take as much space as they have in the past. And I don't expect them to find value in continuing to be online. What we witnessed Actually in 2019, when was the last time we were in the Santa Monica Hills maybe two years ago, the industry had all the independent sales and distribution slice of the industry that sector had already started to contract, because of the role of the streamers. If you look today, this is a this is a renaissance period for those involved in production. There are more people in front of a camera, more people behind the camera, more set director decorators more grips working today than probably any time in the history of filmed entertainment around the world. And it's being driven not by independent film. And it's being driven not even by long form, but it's being driven primarily by narrative series around the world had destined for streamers. I think in the US, we've hit 500 narrative series this year, on all the various platforms, it's tremendous. But what it's doing is it's taking eyeballs, we only have a certain amount of time you spend in front of a screen. And and, and it is somewhat a zero sum game. And so it's taking eyeballs away from other places. And it's primarily taking eyeballs away from independent film. That is, because of the marketing difficulty of a one off product. studios are now moving into programming, and sequels. But it's really more a taking a page from the television divisions, which is once you launch a series, you don't have to spend the same amount of marketing. On the second episode that you did on the first, it's now launched, it's it's in orbit, and off it goes and it becomes much more predictable. And having additional episodes is like just making more of the same product until it finally is uninteresting to the audience. When you have a film, whether it's a studio film, an independent film, you're launching a one off marketing can become very $1,000 film or $100 million film, proportional, it's still a very big piece of part of the budget. And it's high risk. And so the studios are continuing with their production, all of the series that we're seeing all the very hope high profile scenery series, all the money that's going into this is really squeezing out somewhat, the independence and then you have the streamers coming in buying the worldwide rights in some cases. So it doesn't mean that independent pendant film is doomed, it just means that its slice of the pie is somewhat smaller. And that those coming to the market may be a little less space, they may have sold some of their films to to streamers, so they're not bringing it to market. So we see the same players, I think we'll see the same amount of attendance. But the amount of transactions that they're doing will be less, which is why we already planned to shorten the market from seven days to five days in 2020. Before we got kicked out by COVID. Right, exactly. We'd already shortened it down. So if you look at the TV markets, they're three and four days.

Alex Ferrari 13:10
Right, exactly. But I have to ask you so you know, in the end, you're absolutely right with what you're saying in regards to the independence being squeezed out and independent film in general, being squeezed out in the 80s, specifically in the 80s and the 90s. In you were you definitely around that time period. And you know, the the it was just money was flying from the sky, it was it was an insanity for people listening, you just don't even understand the kind of money that was flying around. And even going back further, when, in the early days where you have that that stereotypical picture of a distributor, who's behind a desk smoking a cigar saying All I need is a trailer and a poster and I can sell that kid that that that image. In those days, there was such less competition in the world for eyeballs like movies were still movies and TV at three channels, you know, and then slowly but surely things have been getting changed, changing change it to the point where you said very eloquently now is that there's so much tension vying for our eyeballs. Our eyeballs only have so much time during the day that many filmmakers still create product and independent producers still create product with the mentality of the 80s and 90s. And even the early 2000s When DVD where you could put out sniper seven, four and get it pre sold around the world in a matter of minutes. Where in today's world that might be so much more difficult if not impossible to do. In other words, the quality of the product has to elevate to even get a just even to get a fighting chance. So a lot of these independent filmmakers are thinking it's the 90s in the Sundance generation where you could just make your personal initiative film, and expect to get those checks that Ed burns or Robert Rodriguez, Tarantino and those kind of guys got, and it's not that world do you? Do you agree with that?

Jonathan Wolf 15:09
Yeah, I had a couple things to her. Just like the 80s and early 90s, a lot of money flowing around, there's a ton of money flowing around right now, probably more, but it's all targeted at the series. It's all coming this time from the platforms rather than than individual investors in the 80s. If you weren't happy with a 15% return in the stock market, you tried to get 20% out of out of the film industry. Here was a strange time I worked at Newegg World Entertainment, they make a movie for television, and then sell 50,000 cassettes to stores after it was on network television and get $2 million in video revenue simply because there was no video store in the country that couldn't have one of everything. If somebody came into your store, and I have one of everything, there are 30 or 40,000 video stores. So you always sold 30 or 40,000. And you made a million half or $2 million in revenue every time on every film just out of whack. I mean, it was it was it was crazy. But it was it's almost similar today, two platforms that are valuing market share over profit, right need market share of consumers, they don't mind running at a loss they need to build their business while they can. It was the same with the video stores in the 80s, they couldn't have you drive by your store and go somewhere else, they had to have that share of their local audience. So they had to have one of everything. So this is a bubble. But it may not burst right away. This may go on for quite a while because the players are not mom and pop video stores. The players are Disney, HBO, you know, you've got giant players who are in this for the long haul. And I think that's just terrific for everybody who works in film. But if you just happen to work in this slice of the film industry, which is the independent producer, making spec films, you have the highest risk, and it came about at the wrong time. And it's the wrong time. By that. I mean, it would have been better if this was 20 years ago, and we didn't have digital cameras. And production wasn't so inexpensive. The access to to, to being able to film inexpensively, or the aspiring or the emerging producer, the access to crews the access to cameras, the access to do it, you know how you edit all the things that you do are much less expensive, and can be learned more quickly. And then you throw that in and of course of all the growth of all the film schools. And what we've done is we've turned out a lot of people who want to practice their craft who want to bring their art forward, who find that the economics of making it more cheaply, are there. But the marketplace is not in sync with their desires.

Alex Ferrari 17:55
And I think I think also just as filmmakers listening, I think their expectations of what a career in the film business is is not what they were originally told. And that could be, you know, like in AI, that's a very, you know, there's a very pollyannish way of looking at like, oh, you know, you just make your movie. And Hollywood finds out how genius you are, and all this kind of stuff. But originally, when I went to film school in the 90s, it was like you can get a job onset or in production, and you make a movie that came up in the 90s. So you make an independent film, one every couple years, if you're lucky. And use you could build a career off that. In today's world, you got to almost if you're going to do independent films, you've got to make maybe two or three a year to have just a decent living. If and that's at the top 1% of everybody doing it. And that's not what a lot of people listening want to hear. But it's the truth, it is a very difficult thing to generate revenue from being a producer and independent producer, especially when you're starting out. And I know, you know producers as well, who've been doing this for 2030 years and they're in distributing company. They're just like, you don't know what to do. What the game is keeps changing on us like it's insane.

Jonathan Wolf 19:14
It's funny to say that a close friend of mine who's made more than 40 films, some of them very high profile, some of them smaller independents. He basically just shook his head and said, the way it's changed, I can't connect. I'm just going off and doing something else. Now he can have 40 or 50 films. But the difference is he made those films at a time where he kept the rights or they reverted back after licensing deals expire. Today the platforms are taking the Netflix approach, which is Here's your check. Thank you very much. You made a nice profit but that's it and it's ours forever. Producers have become work for hire laborers if you will, versus business builders and owners of their content. And well writers and directors and actors have residuals that they can live off of and help sort of support them between projects. Producers used to have profit participation, ownerships, rights, reverting back to them, that in many cases, that's that's not true anymore if you take a streamers deal. And so they're starting to chip away at you, if you will add the business model for the entrepreneur, to create a business. And now the producer is if you find one, great, here's your fee, go find another, but you're not getting paid in between.

Alex Ferrari 20:33
In that's in that in you said, you know, directors, writers and actors have residuals that's also shrinking dramatically. I mean, the days of the friends cast or the Big Bang cast getting a million dollars a year off of residuals off of syndication, those days are starting to go away too, because

Jonathan Wolf 20:52
I think those big numbers were more their profit participation. Yeah. And then the union residuals. But But sure, all those things. When you see a series on Netflix now that's extremely high profile with Nicole Kidman, you know that she got a big check. And that's it. That's it.

Alex Ferrari 21:09
Yeah, that's it, and but they get a big check up front. So he's like, and same thing for the producers. And same thing for the directors, if you're doing something for the streamers. But if you have a product that you're trying to sell to the streamers, that's a very different conversation there and it was find it funny, because a lot of directors a lot of filmmakers I talked to they're like, Well, you know, Martin Scorsese, or Spike Lee or, or Kevin Smith, or these kind of directors, they'll get deals at the streaming platforms. And I'm like, the only reason they are getting deals is because they were able to build their brand off the back of the studios at a different time when that was possible. If Kevin Smith shows up today with clerks, no one would ever see it. Same thing for El Mariachi, same thing for Brothers McMullen. Basically, almost any movie in the 90s, other than maybe Reservoir Dogs would be lost. And even then Reservoir Dogs could possibly be lost, and they wouldn't have the careers they have today. So it's just such a different world that when

Jonathan Wolf 22:06
For one wonders, where are we going to be in 10 years, when the same system of bringing forward that talent, and allowing them to take risks and be discovered, isn't there? And it's now all conglomerate driven?

Alex Ferrari 22:19
If you were already there?

Jonathan Wolf 22:22
Well, they're still going back and finding the Kevin Smith's and they're finding some of the others. But how Gotcha. You know, it's, it's the entrepreneurs, the producers, they really, they're the risk takers, and they're the ones that discover the new talent. You know, I'm Roger Corman, is the poster child for for having done this so many times in so many careers launched or discovered by him?

Alex Ferrari 22:47
Yeah, and I mean, I just had Jason Blum on on the show, and it was amazing. He's one of the few guys doing it. At 5 million and below level, mind you he has the sweetest deal. I told him that, like you've got the sweetest deal in Hollywood history. And he's like, yeah, no, because I don't think there's going to have that again. But but he's a but if you look at his model, genre based, most of the times genre based 5 million below 3 million below, sequels could go up to 10 million, and even then, only if the director is seasoned, so they'll kill given M Night Shyamalan 10 million, but he and he won't use new directors, he only use seasoned directors. It's really interesting. But that's about a business model that is working right now.

Jonathan Wolf 23:30
But it's interesting, and use the right phrase, it's a business model. And I wish that most producers would look at what he's doing. And understand that he's really starting with the marketplace and with the customer. And working backwards, because his goal is to make a profit. Shocking, shocking. His goal is not to make films that he likes and whatever they happen to do they do and who cares. His goal, and the goal of most successful film companies is to make a profit. And that isn't always the goal of the independent producer who's putting together a film we talked before we started, you know, I'm going to have an ensemble genre with eight or nine characters. And it's a coming of age story set in small us town.

Alex Ferrari 24:19
I need I need 3 million for that. And everybody's going to learn and no cast, no cast that we recognize and crumble. It's an ensemble. So there's nobody, it's all unknowns. And I need $3 million. It's a period piece as well. Let's throw that in there. And then they I've seen I've seen that movie. It's come across my desk and I'm like, Oh my God, these people have no understanding that they will probably never get their money back. And I even told you earlier like even if they went Sundance or get into Sundance or South by or Toronto or any of these big festivals, the days of you know, buying out like I had the director of Palm Springs the writer director of Palm Springs on which sold the has the record 17 point 17 excellent film 17 point $5,000,000.69 The making it the biggest sale ever at Sundance, but it had ended Andy Samberg in it. And it had JK Simmons in it. And it was like this it because it is a big thing that's so people like Oh look they just the biggest sale ever at Sundance. I'm like, Yeah, but look at the cast. That was pre sold almost it wasn't pre sold. It wasn't pre sold there, they actually sold that there. He told me the whole story. But you know, and Hulu by the way, just so everyone understands the business model of that that purchase. Hulu bought that for 17 point 5,000,069 cents, right? The chances of them actually recouping that money in that sale is minimal. And he said that, but the PR the press that they got first buying the biggest movie at Sundance was probably worth about 80 to $100 million. With a PR

Jonathan Wolf 26:00
I've talked about this before to Netflix stated as well, because they're no longer in the business of selling tickets to a film or attracting advertising with eyeballs. They're in the business of subscription. And, and one of the things we've talked about this once before magazine publishers have known for a century that you will maintain your subscription and renew every year, if there are two sections of the magazine that you like and want to keep seeing can be a 300 page magazine. But if they're two sections, you'll keep coming back and Netflix follow that model. They're going to have just enough documentaries that if you like Doc's, you're going to keep coming back just enough Adam Sandler films that if that's your taste, that you're gonna keep coming back, but they don't need more than that. They need just enough to fill each section, so that everybody says that's got something that I want. And I'll maintain my subscription versus how many people actually watch any individual, any individual film, the eyeballs on Doc's may be very low. But you need people that want to have Doc's and they'll maintain their subscription because of it. But each of the brands is different. Disney, of course, handles it completely different.

Alex Ferrari 27:13
Yeah, I mean, when we, when we came on last time to speak, Disney plus was just coming online. And we were just like, Oh my God, what's gonna happen and now they're, the estimates are in the next two to three years, it'll be bigger than Netflix. Because it's a mat. I mean, it's just massive and what they're doing, you can't compete with the mouse. I mean, the mouse is the mouse, it's just so difficult and the kind of money that they have and, and the properties they have between Star Wars and Pixar and, and Marvel and you just can't compete with that. And HBO is trying and they're still not making it.

Jonathan Wolf 27:46
I wouldn't count Netflix out or Oh no, I said five years ago, Netflix will be dead because they'll lose all their studio deals and they won't have any content. And what we tend we'd be in 10 alternative be very us focused and what we do, they are doing terrifically around the world, local content, we think of studios versus studio films versus serious versus independent film, there's that fourth leg of the table. And that's local production around the world. And trust me, the world is just tired of seeing scenes from Hollywood and Beverly Hills in every film that comes on. Did they want to see scenes in their own backyard, they want to see their own talent. So that's another piece of the equation that's, that just has to be considered there.

Alex Ferrari 28:32
I have two words for you squid games.

Jonathan Wolf 28:37
Okay, I've seen about the first five minutes and since I can't get my wife to watch it with me. I'll be looking at it another time.

Alex Ferrari 28:44
So I just finished it with my wife. And she actually because it's your right if you can't watch it with your wife, it's very difficult to to get that situation to go. But I got her to watch the first episode and she saw she got hooked. And look at it. It's a Korean show. They paid apparently according to the leaked documents $21.4 million for it. Biggest show in the history of Netflix, bigger than stranger things bigger than Cobra Kai It's insane.

Jonathan Wolf 29:10
Look, I'm a guy who's who's never raised on subtitles, my view subtitles men art film and art film just didn't happen to you might think they're not bad films. They're just we all have our own thing. Never watched subtitles. I am completely hooked on call my agent. And I haven't seen it I recommended French series. It's called 10%. In France, they change the title. And they've made a strategic decision not to dub it for the US. So it's on Netflix call my agent if you haven't seen it. Another French series we saw I forgot the name of it now. But we've started to see series from other countries which we never Yeah, I mean call my agent. I'm telling you if you haven't seen it yet, it's just terrific. And I think let's not forget our arms getting out. And let's not forget about this. And one of the things started on this ship colleagues that I have in South Africa have told me that if they have white characters in their films, especially romantic comedies, they can't travel at all. But black characters are doing better outside of South Africa than than anything else that they can make. Because there's, they speak English, they have a US way of producing and storytelling, and that they're doing just terrific export. And this is like, a huge piece of their business now is is romantic comedies. romcoms with with black actors, very important, because there is there's almost a shortage of that you write for the world. So you know, this is that fourth pillar, which is films are starting to travel much more than we in the United States may give credit.

Alex Ferrari 30:58
Yeah, and it's I mean, I thinking of watching a squid games or a call my agent that just didn't we didn't have access to it, the occasional foreign film would come in or you would see the chorus our or the Fellini films, or the French New Wave or something like that, that would come in but generally speaking, we weren't exposed to I think the BBC was the closest to anything for and that we would see like Doctor Who or Luther or something like shows like actual series, but now I mean, squid games and the thinking call my agent and things like that the the game is changing so rapidly, and it continues to change. It's such a rapid face that, you know, people who like yourself and if you're looking at this, it's you know, just a second that you feel like okay, alright, SVOD is the way this is the Okay, it's just going to be as far from now on what No, no, no, don't say VOD now. Okay. So now it's a VOD. Alright, so we're in a VOD now, and, and what's going on now? Okay, foreign. Okay, we need it just every year it's changing. It's almost changing month to month, there's it's so difficult to be a film producer. Which brings me to my next question. And we discussed this as well off air, that you have seen a lot of disgruntled and angry independent producers, and independent filmmakers who have such a tough time as everything we've just illustrated in our conversation, finding a sales agent, finding a distributor that I can actually work with and the frustrations that they're having. What advice do you have for that? What do you how do you how do you see them fixing that problem, or at least helping in some way?

Jonathan Wolf 32:39
Well, first, this is probably shrinking a two year Master's course into about 10 or 15 minutes. We hit the highlights we just needed to drill down a bit. Let me start with something which is unpleasant. And then I'll go into all the positive stuff. Okay. Most art is bad. Amen. It's from little kids. Terrible. I got two or three paintings from my grandmother that she would give me every few months. Look what I painted for you went it's still in the closet. Most artists now and most artists understand that they're they're making for themselves. They're making it for the people they like, if you look at most artists in most disciplines, most are not in it for a profit. It's not their business. It's their hobby. It's their passion. You get some matriculate up in there, it's Saturday afternoon, you know, art fairs at the park, you get some that are really at the top and they're in galleries. But most understand that this is this is a passion and it's a hobby. And yes, I'm going to paint the same lake over and over and give it to different family members who say thank you very much. When you look at filmmakers, they, they come into it for different reasons. But ultimately, because of the economics and because of the collaborative nature, there is an expectation among some are all involved, that there will be an audience for the art. My grandmother didn't expect an audience of more than one for her painting when it was handwritten. But when you get filmmakers working on a project, collaboratively, there's an expectation of an audience. And then, which leads me sort of to why to filmmakers, make a film and I believe there's three reasons why an aspiring or emerging filmmakers should make a film. One, frankly, is for the education for the learning experience. There are masters you know, we've heard stories about master painters where they've used x rays and realize there was another painting under the original one you see why because they paint something and decided they didn't like it, just paint over it. That was their their learning experience. That's one reason to make a film and it's a terrific reason. Another is a showcase piece. One that you want to be able to demonstrate the skills of all involved, not just the actors, the director, the writer and the set designer, and so that you can go to festivals and have your film be seen and be somewhat of a calling card. And of course, the third is a profit, you're running it as a business. And there may be a fourth, but those are the three that I see, every decision you make, from the story that you select, to turn into a script, all the way through casting and production has to be driven by one of those three, and it can't be all three. If you're making a profit, you're going to make certain decisions. If it's a showcase piece, you're doing something different. If it's a learning experience, you're doing something different. And it's recognizing first and foremost going in, What's my goal, and if it's one of the first two, which means it's not a profit, then you're looking to have the experience and hopefully have the film scene and have it in festivals, and have everybody you know, have eyeballs, but not necessarily a business. If you're looking at that third pillar, which is this is going to be a profit, you need to start at the very beginning and make sure you've done everything you're going to need to do. Which means did I have a lawyer that wasn't my father's real estate attorney? Who's going to look at this and tell me he knows what's going on? Did I? Did I balance my budget to make the film as marketable as possible? You know, how much money goes into cast versus special effects versus, you know, versus location? Am I looking at the audience, I've always said, If a director comes to you and says, I'm making a film, here's my story. First thing you ask him is who's it for? And if the director can give you a fairly narrow demographic, 18 to 24 year old guys, you know, middle aged women, whatever it is, okay, great, let's kind of target audience, when the director says, by making the film for me, the first thing producer does is sort of backpedal out of the room and then run. Because ultimately, every decision you're making, even if you're looking at theatrical, the rating of a film is highly important. If you're targeting 14 year old girls versus 19 year old young women, the rating and what you put on there, how you cast, even what clothes there were, all of that's impacted by your target audience. So it has to start with that target audience. And then knowing all the way through, I hate hearing about things. I finished the film. Did you have a photographer on the set? No, we couldn't afford? Did you get a good lawyer to make sure that all the rights are taken care of? No couldn't afford it? How's your chain of title working on it?

Alex Ferrari 37:40
What, what what's chain of title exactly.

Jonathan Wolf 37:44
And so there there seems to be, and this is what they miss in film school. Which is, it's it's all about the craft, but not about the business, right. And whatever business you go into, you tend whether you're making shoes, or sweaters or whatever cars, you tend to first look at what is the audience want. And that let me work backwards to talk about Jason blue. He's focused on what the audience wants. They want this type of storytelling. And so it's just whenever you hear I didn't have the budget for and then fill in the blank and whatever they didn't have the budget for was necessary to make the film commercially viable, or to get it into the marketplace. And then you have to step back and and we work it.

Alex Ferrari 38:35
Yeah, it's interesting. Because if if a canvas cost $100,000, a paint brush cost $50,000 And paint cost $25,000 per can, you as a painter would think very carefully about what you paint. And you're like, Okay, now where am I going to sell this painting? And how can I generate revenue with this painting in this so that's why there's so many that so much bad art in the world, because it's so cheap to finger paint, or, and, and to be honest, that's one of the reasons why there's a de Lucia of bad cinema. Because now the cost has come dramatically down because like I've said this so many times on the show before in the 80s the only prerequisite was to finish. If you finished a movie, you made money in it. I mean, it could be in I believe I worked at a video store. I saw the stuff coming through the doors, and I'm like, Are you kidding me? And it would sell and it was just and that that was a completely different world where now not only do you have to finish it, but it has to have this this this this this this this it's just so much harder to hit the baseball because the pitches are so much faster. And things are so much harder to if I use the baseball analogy where before you know when Babe Ruth was around midday didn't throw 9890 905 mile an hour fastballs but baby could hit the 93 or 94 It's all day and that's why he was the best At the top could Babe Ruth, survive in today's world by drinking and smoking and not actually doing other things that he know!

Jonathan Wolf 40:07
He had at home runs because he couldn't run fast.

Alex Ferrari 40:10
He couldn't run, he was out that man was alive as long as he watches me on me. But you know what I'm saying. So it's just the world is different. And I think filmmakers are still trying to hit the baseball of Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth's time where it's now really where we're at now.

Jonathan Wolf 40:24
There's a perception among producers that the marketplace is so big, with the explosion of right platforms all over that whatever they make, there'll be, there'll be a market for right. And while some of those platforms, yes, they're aggregating, they just need content, whatever it is, most of them aren't as selective as any platform has been in the past. And it's expensive to do that. And one of the things that that, that I don't think producers truly understand is the cost of distribution. You know, I hear about, well, the sales agent wanted me to pay the marketing upfront. Well, the sales agents just decided they're going to work on on a fee, but they're not going to take on risk. You know, in every entertainment industry, every film industry transaction decides somebody's paying for something and somebody receiving a risk is being transferred. We talked about Nicole Kidman being on a on a on a big series for Netflix, Netflix took the risk, she got paid a big fee. So somebody else who's working at scale, they're taking the risk. And whoever is funding, it is transferred that risk to that person working at scale, there's always a risk transfer going on. And whenever you look at any transaction, whether it's hiring a writer or selecting a sales agent, at every step of the way, you want to say who's in the risk boat, who's taking that risk. Most distributors are risk adverse, if they were interested in risk, they'd be producers. They are risk adverse, they simply want to earn a fee for the for the service they're being provided. And, and a lot of producers feel that those distributors should one take on risks, but to that the world should be designed to make their dreams come true. This is how you know, and the industry is not designed to make your dreams come true. And so when they go to the sales agent, I'll read things sometimes posted on the Facebook groups that you've seen are part of our oh my god, they asked me for $10,000 upfront to cover the marketing expense, and then they want a 20% fee. Why should I pay them 10,000, they should pay it, it isn't a matter of one being bad or one being good. It's understanding that they're dealing with a company that is risk adverse that isn't taking on anything other than risking their time to do to do the distribution.

Alex Ferrari 42:56
So just just as an example, you know, that the $10,000 marketing costs, which is a very broad thing

Jonathan Wolf 43:03
I just throw out a number, but

Alex Ferrari 43:05
No, but I've heard that number 25 20 25,000 50 100,000 for marketing, quote, unquote, marketing, in today's world, if someone's asking you for $10,000, and that might be for cost to like deliver the film that might be finishing, it might be closed captioning, it might get in the chain of title, do, there's those costs and producers listening have to understand, either you're gonna pay those costs, or they're gonna pay those costs. And you can negotiate differently, if you if you bring it all to them, you can negotiate a better price. But I promise you, if they're going to do it, it's going to cost you more than if you did it by yourself if you know what you're doing, and so on and so forth. But an actual marketing expense. So if a distributor X is asking $10,000, which is going to be purely for marketing, we're just going to get the word out. That is literally like spitting in the ocean, in my opinion, like you can't get any sort of awareness

Jonathan Wolf 43:56
I agree should have a different label.

Alex Ferrari 43:58
Yeah, if there's just no, look at 50,000 100,000. I've worked with some of these distributors, and I've talked to them, they're like, at 50 grand, what do you get? And like, what, what kind of ROI? Is that going to get you? Are you going to get transactional? Are you unique? So it's like that's the that's a real gray area where a lot of distributors I find, you know, are should be labeled something else. But anyone listening, if someone's asking for 10,000 purely marketing, I oh, it just makes no sense. You're right, like just like

Jonathan Wolf 44:30
But the labels should be different and may have to do with the physical the third party costs. Basically the distributor should be earning the fee to cover their staff and their overhead out of whatever percentage they're charging. The third party costs whether like it says it lawyers is a chain of title. Is it all the closed captioning deliverables? Yeah, is it is it dubbing all the various deliverables and things that need to be done the queue sees that may be the risk they're unwilling to take. They can't Read the marketplace. It's somewhat like a consignment shop, we've all been to these, these antique stores with a consignment shop where the consign or consignee or or I forgotten, the person who's bringing the product into the store, they're still paying rent for that space. And if nothing sells in that month, they paid the rent, because the person that owns the business is not willing to take on the rent risk, they're willing to take on the overhead risk of their staff sitting there. And so they still have They get a percentage of each transaction, but they're not willing to take on the fixed cost. And it's, it's the same sort of thing, you have to understand you're putting your your film in the high in the hands of a consigner you're assigning to them, and that they're going to want you to pay certain costs, and they'll cover their overhead out of their feet. And, and so that has to be built in when you're actually financing the film of putting it together. What are all those end costs of deliver, and they are going to need to take care of.

Alex Ferrari 46:08
And the the key is is like if you don't want to play ball with them at the numbers that they're throwing out there, like that's fine. There's 450 other films sitting in line right behind you. And that's where the disheartening problem is for so many filmmakers is that just they don't understand that the marketplace it's not a it's not a seller's market. It is a buyers market, there's way more product and there is need for product level. Yes. Yeah. At that budget level

Jonathan Wolf 46:32
Target over 30 million.

Alex Ferrari 46:34
That's a different wall that yes, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Once you start getting at 10 million and below, you know, there's just so much so much product out there. That's so difficult, you know, to make a profit, because it's just so much competition. But yeah, once you start doing 30 Millions and you got Bruce Willis in it, and that's a different the, the competition's a lot less in that world. But there's more risk involved.

Jonathan Wolf 46:59
You mentioned, you know, Bruce Willis, okay, I'll go see diehard 44. But there, you have said to the distributor, I have prepaid in marketing, by paying for Bruce Willis, wherever it is, I have bought marketing. So this comes with a marketing element. It comes with a built in, in heart

Alex Ferrari 47:20
But you So the funny thing is, though, and I have to ask you this. You know, we're back. When you when you pay for Bruce Willis to be in your movie, you're paying for 30 years of marketing and brand awareness of the brand that is Bruce Willis. But that was done at a different time in the world where studios were spending obscene amounts of money and movie stars. And getting it out there where it's not as much like that anymore. Yeah, there's the rock. And there's, you know, a couple other but the days of the movie star that just just just because the movie stars in it opens a 20 million, or 50 million. I remember Tom Cruise could open anything. Back in the day, Brad Pitt could open anything back in the day, Arnold Schwarzenegger Salone. And then you know, now that's not the case anymore. So where's our future movie stars going to be? Because if you look at Marvel Marvel's building and making movie stars out of Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth, and Chris Hemsworth, now becoming a movie star in his own right, and has like other franchises outside of Marvel, through Netflix, whereas, but he again needed the leverage of a studio to put him out there in a way that Chris Hemsworth will work for the rest of his life. Yeah, if Michael Madsen and Eric Roberts and Danny Trejo, and all these guys all work, and that nothing gets any of those guys. They're all wonderful actors. But they continue to work for the rest of their lives based on the cachet that they had earlier in their careers, or projects that they've been involved with. And that's just the way the game is played with with talent. Where's the future gonna be like, because we don't have those movie stars? Where's the next Bruce Willis gonna come out of as the question, is it out of squib games? I don't know. I don't remember any of the actors in Split games. I don't think people look at things like that anymore as much.

Jonathan Wolf 49:11
I don't know. But I think that they'll be there because that's what actually differentiated the US film business from the film business of any other country in the world. How many local stars can we name that are outside the US that are global stars? Yes, one or two out of Hong Kong, one or two out of Italy. And that's about it. What the US was able to create throughout the last century was global stars. And it's what differentiated the US film business from the rest of the world. Nobody else could do that. And they still haven't. They still haven't. And so if there's a chance to continue to do it, it will be the US and when you became a star in the past, if you've been came with a good enough start somewhere else. You're starting Australia, you moved to the US, you know, Nicole Kidman became a US studio star, not an Australian.

Alex Ferrari 50:10
Yeah, Russell Crowe did as well. Yeah. So does Hugh Jackman. Yeah.

Jonathan Wolf 50:13
Yeah. So so we are still we are in the US is still viewed as as the place that can create global stars, where we don't see that elsewhere. And I just I tend to think as long as the US has a leadership role in storytelling. We know how to connect with an audience because the United States is one of the few countries in the world that gets no absolutely zero commercial or economic support from its government. There are countries that maybe they don't have supports, let's say it's, I don't know, China still has China film or motion.

Alex Ferrari 50:50
But Australia, Canada has government support

Jonathan Wolf 50:53
That local films must play in theaters for a certain amount of time, local films must have their version of network premieres, that they have carve outs for local films, and some had subsidies. And some have both the US has neither, which forces us in Hong Kong, by the way was similar, which forces us to take a purely commercial view of filmmaking. And it's why we've been successful, because we haven't actually dependent on those subsidies. In France, you don't make a film for the public, you make a film for that board of financiers who are over the age of 70, who love to see three minute panning shots of a mountain that, you know, I love French films, but some of them should hang in the loop this so slow. And so, you know, their audience is different. And a country that has Nigeria is a great example of no subsidies whatsoever. And they have a great film, tiny film industry, but it's all commercial based. And they're all successful because they can only make what they can sell. And so I think we sort of got I got off topic a little bit, but I think stars will continue to evolve and be created in the US for some time.

Alex Ferrari 52:09
So what do you see what trends do you see coming because I was kind of joking about it earlier with like s VOD. I remember what the first year was at AFM is all s VOD, and OTT s VOD, OTT Asphodel, e, t, and then the year after like, it's all about AVOD. And T VOD is pretty much just, you know, the the, you know, the the side to side thing like, whatever. No one ever makes money in divan anymore. Unless you drive out unless your studio or you could drive traffic, or you have Bruce Willis in, in the movie or something like that. So what are the trends that you're seeing is AVOD. Still the growth area for independence at a certain level?

Jonathan Wolf 52:44
Sure. I mean, it's, it's, there's AVOD, and then there's I forgot the acronym for it. But there's linear advertising, which, which is basically it's being programmed for you. I mean, if you look at the look at any of our broadcast networks, so NBC, its advertising supported, it's just linear versus on demand. And you'll continue to see some of those types of channels being created. Yeah, I agree with you, you know, TV will slowly fade away. Because every the economics for the filmmaker will be such that I'm just not going to put it there. It may have a moment in time, where you'll have releases, you know, what? Disney plus plus or Disney plus?

Alex Ferrari 53:25
Oh, it's a PVOD premium video on demand.

Jonathan Wolf 53:29
Yes, yes, the word Disney actually did this, which is if you subscribe to the channel, you still can't have it in the certain window, you have to pay the premium. And so we'll see some of that premium to offset those who don't want to go to the theaters. But I think the normal transactions if I'm going to go find a small independent film and pay $1.99, we come back to what you said is there's no there's no marketing ability to make that happen. There's no way to create awareness. You look back at the record industry 50 years ago, yeah, you'd see some, some garage bands press 100 singles, Saturday afternoon, outside their school over their trunk, you know, but it's not a business. And self distribution in that way, won't be a business. I mean, I know that people are gonna be listening to this and saying self distribution is an avenue to go onto, well, you might be able to bypass the sales agent and go to netflix yourself or go to some of the platforms yourself. But ultimately, they can't deal with the friction of connecting with individual producers. They need somebody in the middle, they need an aggregator that when they know the file is being sent to them that aggregator Qc is for them. They don't have to do it themselves. They don't need to send out 10,000 profit or statements or whatever. They do have transactions. They just don't need this supplier pool being that big. So there's always going to be those intermediaries. But where do I see it? I think you know, it's it's we'll still have free television because Governments around the world are going to require that those it'll be over the air always will have a VOD Well, I've SVOD the bundle that we used to have on cable will just become a bundle of s VAs where we're paying four or five subscriptions. I mean, in my house. We've got got HBO, we've got Disney. I haven't stepped up for Hulu yet.

Alex Ferrari 55:24
It's well worth it. Well worth it for Hulu by the way.

Jonathan Wolf 55:26
We've got Yes, we got apple. I've got three apple boxes and a bunch of DirecTV boxes. And you know, it's

Alex Ferrari 55:36
You gotta you gotta cut the DIRECTV. That's just insanity. That's insanity.

Jonathan Wolf 55:40
Well, but here's the thing that I still am not able to timeshift live sports.

Alex Ferrari 55:46
Because you haven't gone to YouTube TV, or, or Hulu

Jonathan Wolf 55:50
But there not. They're not all there yet.

Alex Ferrari 55:53
There you go. We can discuss off off air. But I'm almost positive that you have access to not only live sports, but every live sports if you buy the package. So if you want Major League Baseball, you can buy Major League Baseball, you can I cut off DirecTV alongside nothing against DirecTV, but just cable in general cable and all that stuff. Because I love the ability to do everything on demand and record things endlessly. And you know, all that kind of stuff. But if you're going to invest anymore, and this is not an ad for Hulu, the only reason I like Hulu is not as much for their originals is that they have basically all the all the network television recorded all the time. So it's like you get tons and tons of stuff. So it's really a great channel. Sorry, that's done again, I get I get paid nothing for who

Jonathan Wolf 56:39
AVOD knows God are going to be out there. Yeah, those who, who and and I think the channels that we're seeing some of them doing that, that you can have the non advertising versus the advertising, just do you want to pay the less amount or the higher amount? I think that price points in subscriptions are very important to have multiple tiers of price points and understand that audiences have varying levels of ability to pay during levels of interest, right in the content. And so I could see some people going straight to an S VOD for, for things that they like. I mean, I subscribe to a sports, you know, network sports, a sports league rather? At the same amount, I'd be paying for Disney. But it's important to me and other places. I'll go AVOD because it just doesn't doesn't matter so much.

Alex Ferrari 57:29
Right! Exactly. So it's, I mean, our habits is is changed are changing is generally just I mean, I mean, before it was, I mean, remember cable and cable showed up like oh my god 40 channels. And now it's like literally just 1000s of channels around,

Jonathan Wolf 57:44
And there's going to be more because subscription revenue pays more than advertising revenue. The reason we're seeing so much being produced is because what we are willing to pay and those subscriber fees are much higher than they earn through advertising. So they can make more.

Alex Ferrari 58:04
Yeah, I mean, Disney Disney Look, when Disney finally showed up to streaming, it took them, what 1011 years after Netflix showed up. I mean, they came in and they came in hard and quick. And I'm look what they've done. I mean, they just they've they've killed it, where it's something like HBO, who has been around forever, and has the brand recognition and they have great content. They can't. I mean, they're not close to Disney,

Jonathan Wolf 58:32
Disney and like this. This affects everybody that's listening more as a consumer shouldn't a filmmaker, but Disney has long understood the value of brand. 50 years ago, no one went to a universal picture. Disney universal, or Warner Brothers and Paramount, but Disney had a brand. And and this is their core competency. It's why they bought Pixar, Pixar. It's why the Lucas was why they bought Marvel. They understand the value of brand and they're skilled at how to monetize that brand. So when they stepped up and went to, you know, their their channel, they approached it the same way. We're staying in brand segments, or if you look at this, yeah. And put right across the screen, Which brand do you want? And National Geographic and there? You read my mind? Yeah, yeah. And so they are all about brands, they don't want the independent film. It's got to fit perfectly into their brand and it's all in you know, in house. And that's that's what they're doing. There's only in my view, there's only two brands in the world in film. One is Disney and the other is trauma

Alex Ferrari 59:37
On both sides of the spectrum,

Jonathan Wolf 59:39
Yes, yes. If you're a trauma fan and traumas made a film I think I think you know blue houses is is the Blue House is getting there. Yeah, there are there are a few others here and there. But if you want to look multi decade brands in phone, Disney and promo

Alex Ferrari 59:56
You know that is that is a I've never heard that before but you're absolutely Right, if you're a fan of trauma, you're going to watch whatever trauma puts out. And but you won't, but you won't watch whatever Warner Brothers puts out, or whatever universal puts out. It's just not that and Disney is a brand.

Jonathan Wolf 1:00:12
The benefit of brand is it reduces marketing costs, and therefore it reduces risk. And because I'm a fan of Marvel, you don't have to see a $15 million theatrical marketing campaign. Just if you're aware of the next Marvel films out, you're going to see it.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:29
And it's, especially with what they just released the Shang Shang Shi, who is a no offense D level character in the Marvel Universe. And I mean, it's not I mean, I think collection she comics, it's not even in the top 250 of characters, but yet, it made a boatload of money. It's a very good film, from what I hear, Black Panther was a D level character, C, C, D level character. So it's amazing what they've done. And now you're hooked on their storyline, because you've got to see Black Widow and Shengshi to continue the entire the entire storyline that they've created in the in the phases of Marvel now you have to watch that Disney plus shows, because it's all worked in and all that kind of stuff. It's pretty, it's pretty ingenious. I think trauma should do something like that. But, but Jonathan, where can people sign up? Well, first of all, when is AFM this year, dates.

Jonathan Wolf 1:01:30
The first through the fifth of November, sign up online American film market.com. Um, the cool thing about it is it's just all the education we got, I think 48 or 50 sessions, 150 speakers and just just great people who couldn't always even if they were in LA, it's like, well, I can't spend a half day driving to Santa Monica this. But yeah, yeah, you know, an hour in the office, because let's face it, if you're a studio in Burbank, and we've asked you to be at a at a session 11 o'clock in the morning on it. Oh, who's the Santa Monica? That's a half day commitment. You're absolutely right. And so the the caliber of speakers we have is is is terrific. And it's just fun to network on that platform is as you say, but

Alex Ferrari 1:02:13
And I will be there and I will be there talking about distribution with my with my, my guest, Linda Nelson from indie writes as well. So we're going to be talking all about distribution where we're going to be doing that, and

Jonathan Wolf 1:02:26
In video on demand. So

Alex Ferrari 1:02:28
Oh, she's she's fantastic. She's wonderful. And then And then where do people go? afm.com Americanfilmmarket.com is American American film market.com. Jonathan, it is always a pleasure talking to you. And it's always we always have very interesting conversations to say the least about about the world distribution. So I appreciate you my friend.

Jonathan Wolf 1:02:48
Well, thanks for inviting me. Good luck to all the producers who are out there with all their projects.

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IFH 511: Can You Make Money with Short Films? (Vidiverse) with Alex Proyas

Alex Proyas, Vidiverse

I am excited to have back on the show legendary writer, director Alex Proyas.

The last time he was here, we discussed his career, working within the studio system, dealing with insane interference in his creative vision, why he was shooting short films. At the time, his movie, The Heretic Foundation, and his misadventures in Hollyweird had just been released.

I’ve been following all the cool stuff he’s been working on social media,  his shorts, etc. I’m thrilled for him. It’s nice seeing an artist creating and not waiting for someone to permit them to make.

For those of you who are not familiar with Alex Proyas’s work, he is the filmmaker behind The Crow, Dark City, The Knowing, Gods of Egypt, iRobot, and Mask of the Evil Apparition.

iRobot was directed by Proyas, written by Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Vintar. The 2004 Box Office $346 million grossed film received mixed reviews. It starred Will Smith and was a technophobic cop in 2035 who went on to investigate a crime that may have been perpetrated by a robot, which leads to a larger threat to humanity.

Today, we are talking more about his new streaming platform VIDIVERSE. I really wanted to promote what you’re doing because I know it’s coming from a great place. I need to promote what you’re doing because I know it’s coming from a great place.

VIDIVERSE is a new streaming platform that offers a non-exclusive destination for streaming curated content of all kinds. In time, the platform will partner with creators to help produce content.

Most independent filmmakers are getting away from Youtube, and that was the inspiration behind Proyas’s VIDIVERSE. YouTube seems to have developed stricter policies about who derives any income from content. Even though a few people manage overtime to beat the algorithm, most creators get very few views. Independent creators to continue building through the platform. Vimeo, and others that similarly target filmmakers ease the streaming challenge. Still, there’s nothing between those two ends of the spectrum because YouTube seems to soak it all up through advertising. 

So, someone like Proyas, who has moved effortlessly between helming TV commercials and music videos to feature films, understands the demand for more targeted platforms and fair revenue distribution models. This is what he intends to develop with VIDIVERSE.

Alex also gave us an EXCLUSIVE UPDATE on the development of his Dark City streaming series. This was a fun conversation.

Please enjoy our guest, Alex Proyas.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:08
I'd like to welcome back to the show returning champion, Alex price. How you doing Alex?

Alex Proyas 0:15
Hey Alex, good, how you doing?

Alex Ferrari 0:18
I'm good, my friend. I'm good. Thank you so much for coming back on the show, I was excited to have you back. Because of the cool stuff that you've been working on. I've been following you on social media and seeing your shorts and seeing all the, you know, the cool stuff that you're doing. And it just, it just tickles my my heart to see an artist creating and not waiting for someone to give them permission to create an AI, you are a champion of that. So at first, before we even get started, thank you for being that inspiration to so many people out there.

Alex Proyas 0:48
Well, you're very, very welcome and ditto to you.

Alex Ferrari 0:51
Thank you, my friend. Thank you. So so we're gonna be talking about your new streaming platform video verse. It, which is sounds amazing. And I really wanted to promote what you're doing, because I know it's coming from a really great place. But before we jump into that I wanted wanted to kind of go out a little bit, in your opinion, what are the major issues filmmakers have with getting their work seen? And then also getting paid to get that work seen?

Alex Proyas 1:20
Yeah, well, I think it's, it's kind of pretty impossible, and, you know, YouTube scene for a while to be a kind of a way through, you know, the fact that we could put our content on, we didn't have to ask anyone's permission. It didn't matter what, how good, bad or indifferent. And when money we'd spent how much money we hadn't spent, whether our friends or family were in the cast, you know, it didn't matter. We could get our films out there and get people to see it. But unfortunately, you know, YouTube seems to have kind of developed a stricter and stricter policy about who derives any income from such content, you know, and look, you know, that, you know, there's always a success stories of people who managed to stream their content and get millions of views. But, you know, most people's situations, and there's some good films out there, I know, because I've been looking, they get very few views, they just don't know how to get their, their films through the sort of, you know, YouTube algorithm, you know. So it's really hard for those people who, you know, to keep building their, their films through that platform. And you know, there's obviously platforms like Vimeo, which can be much more specifically targeted, and you can you know, that your films look better on Vimeo, etc. But, you know, there's really nothing between those two ends of the spectrum where, you know, you can, your films can get seen by people, and maybe you can derive what little small amounts of income your film might generate, you know, YouTube seems to soak it all up through advertising, you know, they, they, they make their billion dollars, but the filmmakers very rarely see any of that, you know,

Alex Ferrari 3:12
I think that's a general statement. I think that's I mean, going back to when the United when the United Artists opened up and Chaplin and Pickford and inflammed got pissed off from the studios that paying them that they opened up their own studio. I think that is, it's isn't that kind of the way it works with with, with Hollywood and generally just in the big business, I think big business in general, when business and art get together in any art form. The artist always seems to get the short end of the stick, no matter what medium it is, is that fair to say?

Alex Proyas 3:47
Yeah, always, I mean, you know, the entertainment industry and not just film music and everything else, you know, work on the fact that it's, there's endless streams of exploitable young people coming through who want to be exploited, you know, I want it to be exploited when I was when I was a young pup, you know, I was like, Yeah, come on, exploit me, let me do this stuff. You pay me some sort of, you know, pittance of money, just so that I can do my thing, you know, and that's kind of always been the way and and the industry you know, the, the corporations have always kind of, you know, succeed based on that. Cannon Fodder, I call them you know, and it's still this the same to this very day. I mean, you know, the Hollywood would rather work with some young pup right now then some schmuck like me who's cynical and who gets how the whole business model works and wants to change it, you know, because it's just easier for them, you know, and they'll make all their money and so YouTube, you know, is is sort of a, you know, an offshoot of that it just works on the same Sort of exploitable principles, you know? Yeah, give us your free content, give it to us for nothing. We'll Shut it. You know, that's what you get out of the equation, and we'll make billions of dollars out of it. I mean, what is it about that business model that works for the filmmakers, you know,

Alex Ferrari 5:17
right. And, you know, it's fascinating because even in the 80s 90s, even the early 2000s, a studio would have never given a young pup $200 million, or $150 million to make a temple film. But that seems to happen much more now. Because of what you're saying, like spirit of specifically Marvel. And a lot of they have a machine basically. And I've talked to people who've worked within the Marvel machine, and they just kind of just, they just, it's like, almost the insert director here. Yes, they're guiding the process. And certain directors have more say than others. But generally speaking, they're giving like I remember I read an article with Ridley Scott Ridley Scott's like, I don't even understand how this is like, why would you give a $25 million and not give Ridley Scott or yourself $100 million to do it and you're right is because you guys know how the game is playing. They don't want to deal with you.

Alex Proyas 6:10
Yeah. And it's also because you know, those films not not to spend another session ragging on Marvel. No, no, I do. We do enjoy it. Right?

Alex Ferrari 6:20
I I

Alex Proyas 6:21
certainly enjoy them as well, those those movies kind of make themselves you know, and it's arguable how important the director is, it's kind of like a long running TV series. Everyone knows what they're doing, you know, and certainly the producers of those movies know what they're doing. They've made many countless successes. So they'll just you know, it just kind of rolls along and the director comes in and talks to the actors and you know, hangs out with the actors I guess is what the role is you know, so I'm not my not my idea of filmmaking really. But you know, look good on him I just I just feel like you know, we we need to be thinking of other other ways forward you know,

Alex Ferrari 7:05
yes, but yeah, especially for for Natalie, young filmmakers, for artists in general filmmakers in general that aim to get not only the work seen, but paid for, but I have to ask you, do you have any stories of your misadventures in Hollyweird with with falling prey to Hollywood accounting or something that you know you were like what I what point did you um so I'm assuming somewhere in your journey you got you got a check and you said I'm sorry what?

Alex Proyas 7:33
Yeah, no, it happens to me on a weekly monthly basis still to this day for movies that you've done I I received a you know there were these things called residuals you know that we used to get which were actually really great they kept us alive between movies you know, because the fact is as filmmakers you know, even if you're very successful as a filmmaker you know, you get your payday once every few years and you get paid you know, I was paid very handsomely but then that money is going to stretch out over many many years and it starts to become significant you know, so I was reliant on residuals to keep me alive as were many filmmakers many filmmakers that I knew that I know very well and unfortunately the residuals you know, Netflix in the stream is don't pay residuals so suddenly they've dropped in the last few years to very small amounts of money to the point where you know, I'll get a check for I got a check for dark city a few months ago which was which was you know, of note enough to post on my Instagram account for $7.36 you know, which which is you know, that's a quote that represents a quarter of the all the total residuals that are received for dark city now that's just kind of insulting I personally I'd rather just not get the check. I'd rather they just held on to it. I keep meaning to call the authorities that deal with the residual and say, just hang on to them in your bank account, maybe they can earn a little bit of interest until they amount to something over at least over 50 or $100 you know, because quite frankly, it actually costs me more to cash that check because it's us US dollar Yeah, it cost me $25 to cash it so I actually I actually lose by doing that you

Alex Ferrari 9:22
know oh Mike it's like that Seinfeld it's like that old Seinfeld episode where he got like, you know, 100 or 501 set residual checks he had to sign all of them Yeah.

Alex Proyas 9:33
What are we doing exactly right so that's where that's where we're at you know and and, you know, cut to a few years ago and you know, we could survive between movies on what we were getting from residuals every every year you know, it would pan out to have to keep you you know, pay your mortgage and feed your family you know, so, so that was great. So you can work on your scripts and work on your projects and not be beholden to, to the, you know, the bank manager, the wolves up Door, you know? So yeah, it's it's not a it's not a good situation we're being pushed into creative people are being pushed into these more and more untenable scenarios, you know, at the moment that's been going on for some time.

Alex Ferrari 10:14
Yeah, I mean, if I always tell filmmakers, if you want to see what's gonna, what's happening is going to happen. Let's just look at the music industry. I mean, music is turned into, it's where it has no worth. It's like literally pennies, pennies, wave fractions, fractions of pennies.

Alex Proyas 10:30
Yeah, it's all about, you know, data rates. And we basically follow where music goes, film follows, you know, which is exactly what's, what's going on. You know, the streaming, the music streaming services are doing very well, as are the film streaming services, you know,

Alex Ferrari 10:47
and the labels.

Alex Proyas 10:48
And the and the labels. Yeah, of course. Yeah. As it's always been, you know. And so, of course, you know, we're looking at all this and it's only been exacerbated as we, as we said, it's only been exacerbated by the, by the pandemic, it's become more and more extreme, you know, I went from dreaming of owning a theater one day, like I wanted to, you know, I've always wanted to own like, my own cinema, you know, like a painting, sure, you know, movie house. And I've gone from that to dreaming of owning a streaming service, because I've just got to face the writing on the wall. It's like, it's just not, you know, we're just not there at the moment. You know, we're not when you know, whether whether or not we'll get through this, some, this pandemic, and another some God help us something else will happen. And we'll be locked down again, who the hell knows who can predict the future? Now? You know, it seems like the only certainty right now is on the internet.

Alex Ferrari 11:40
Yeah, and I think that's where everyone's going to eventually I think hopefully, cinemas won't go away like that, the way of the dodo. But I think it will become much more specific, very much like Broadway is, you know, ticket tickets will be better it will be we will still want to have those events, but going to see an independent film in a mass way, other than if it's an art house is not going to happen. It's just too much content.

Alex Proyas 12:04
I agree. And I think that's really the most pertinent point that you've put so so well is it's more, you know, the cinemas will survive sure, but I think they'll be servicing the Marvel's and the and the end streamers. You know, I think though, there certainly is that demand for that big screen experience that will probably never go away as a few recent, you know, releases have shown us but what about everyone else? You know, I think we have to, sadly, embrace the well not sadly, you know, optimistically and hopefully embrace the the, the internet medium and try and make that our own at least, you know, right.

Alex Ferrari 12:48
And there are and

Alex Proyas 12:49
I remember hearing about Radiohead, you know, when, when the music streaming first started hitting hard A few years ago, I remember hearing about Radiohead releasing an album in that way only available over the internet and I'm like, gee, that's kind of a weird thing to do. But now of course I go Well, that was prophetic. You know, they were really trying to wrestle control back into their, into their camp as individual artists, you know, and I think that's, that seems to be the sort of place where filmmakers are out at the moment,

Alex Ferrari 13:22
but I think but the thing is that it's because like you said earlier in the conversation, every filmmaker could put their movie out, and on YouTube, it's tomorrow and anything could go out. But unfortunately, just like the musicians, they have to not only be artists, but they have to be business people, marketers, web designer, sometimes, they have to have so many other things other than being just the artist to be able to survive as as just to be able to survive. And if you're not lucky enough to be a Radiohead that built their entire view their fan base on the backs on the dime of the label that got them to be that big you know like it same thing with same thing with filmmakers. I mean, I've said this many times like yeah, you know, Kevin Smith, a spike lee, you know, Martin Scorsese, we know these names, because they've been working within the studio system for so long. And that was got their name up there. But like the indie guy who has one indie and didn't have, like, you know, studios pushing it, it's hard to get that name going unless you build your own thing up, you know, by yourself.

Alex Proyas 14:26
Yeah, exactly. Right. That's exactly right. It's, you know, and it's arguable, you know, whether, through the current system, will it get any more of those names coming out of the woodwork, you know, it's very, very, it's becoming increasingly increasingly rare. And, and I feel like that's why it's time for something too, for a new a new way forward. You know, you know, the the the the auditor has been kind of watered down over the years, you know, we've been made to the Commercial concerns have tried to diminish the importance of the otter You know, I've actually read so many articles about why the otter theories is wrong. And you know, I grew up with the otter theory that's what I get the sort of filmmakers that I followed as a kid and that's the sort of filmmaker I wanted to become, you know, and, you know, it's been, you know, a pretty difficult road to get to that point through the commercial system. You know, so I think it's, it's, it's, it's, it's very important that we hang on to that original creator kind of approach to things and it seems to me that the indie world is where those filmmakers appear these days, you know, the one that already the, the mainstream otters that are already there have, I think, have done their dash you know, and don't know that we're going to get that many new ones appearing through that system. And I think the indie world is where they're going going to be coming from in the future.

Alex Ferrari 16:03
I mean, I think the only way that happens is an indie person gets a shot of a big studio movie. That big studio movie makes a lot of noise and then they can go back and start doing their own indie stuff like again, although Toro was a good example of that, but that's still we're still going back 1015 years but to Hickey the guy who did Thor and Thor Randall rock to Hickey I can't add new components and New Zealander

Alex Proyas 16:27
yeah

Alex Ferrari 16:28
wonderful wonderful that's a new name that kind of popped up he was an indie guy got Thor and then and then now he's he's but even then we're still talking about handful. We're talking about maybe 234 but it's the 90s when there was like, you know, Robert Rodriguez Spike Lee you know all these names just started popping up every month it was insane.

Alex Proyas 16:49
Those days are gone. Guillermo is not Guillermo has been around as long as I have I mean he's not he's not a fresh

Alex Ferrari 16:56
No he's not he's not you know, he's not a fresh puppy at all. But yeah, he started off in the indie world, but he wished he came up in the 90s. And he didn't really pop until in the 2000s. But he's been around for a long time as well. So it's, it's it's it's it's disheartening for and I think a lot of creators listening now, who didn't grow up in the 80s 90s in the early 2000s don't understand what that world was like. You know, to have someone like yourself, do the Crow and then do the dark city and to do iRobot in these kind of films. It's just you know, I don't know it's just it's sad. It's just sad. I

Alex Proyas 17:37
think we may have talked about this on the last podcast we did but the you know, in those days, you know, I was like, Hey, I'm gonna do a film based on an original underground comic book you know that no one's heard of and it's like yeah, great. Sounds like a great idea you know, here have money to make a movie you know you know, it was like there was no question about it wasn't people you know, the industry was still interested in original stuff, you know, with dark city in particular you know, hey, I'm gonna make a film based on nothing based on something that came out of my head you know, in this weird world that doesn't exist you know? Yeah, sounds like a great idea let's go let's do it you know, I mean, this stuff just doesn't occur now. Not it's that sort of budget range at least you know, so so it's um, yeah, it is definitely a new new whole new world

Alex Ferrari 18:31
right now. And I think the only one really doing the only one out there who could who could be the tour and also work within the studio system system is Christopher Nolan and he's the only filmmaker I know that has the juice that he's got right now. I mean, I don't know if you saw the details of his deal but I was like Jesus he's got he wants everything I think this is fantastic. Give that man whatever he wants

Alex Proyas 18:52
yeah that's pretty funny know it's like you know he's he's a very rare exception yeah to anyone is in that situation but look, you know, I mean, we're you're only as good as your last movie. Really?

Alex Ferrari 19:06
Correct.

Alex Proyas 19:07
you no matter who you are, I'm sure he's worn his deal probably even better than than the one that's been publicized publicize? I think he's probably taken a little bit of a step backwards based on the box office of Denver last film, you know, so, you know, it's it's

Alex Ferrari 19:24
no one no one's bullet rarity. No one's bulletproof. There was a moment in time when I heard people saying, Oh, it's over for Spielberg. He's done because he did a couple of bombs back to back and then of course, he came out with Jurassic Park and Schindler's List in the same year and said and shut everybody up. He's like, Oh, really, let me do this for you guys. But that's just the way the game is played. That's the way Hollywood is. But I wanted to ask you, you know, we talked about YouTube a little bit. Is there a because obviously there's a lot people making money on youtube and you can make money a living is another question, but you can't make money on YouTube. With a massive amount of content in our very specific niche, but I haven't seen filmmakers make money on, you know, like, I haven't seen short films The

Alex Proyas 20:09
real Yeah, yeah, that's, you know, like what you do is perfect for YouTube and and, you know, doing commentary doing reviews, etc, etc It seems to be an information based success story YouTube, you know, and I know from the sort of stuff that I watch on YouTube, I very rarely, rarely go, hey, let's check out someone's short films. I'm only doing it now because of what I'm proposing, you know, but it's not the place to go for short films, you know, having said that, some filmmakers that I know have had, you know, one off huge successes, suddenly their short film takes off, you know, often that's, you know, that's supercharged by, you know, groups like dust, or these these, these companies sort of ideas that basically promote, you know, genre based content, you know, you know, but it's, it's not, it's not a perfect model. And it's, and it's partly because, and nor is nor is Vimeo, a great model, because you never know what you're going to get, you know, you never know as a viewer, what you're going to get when you you know, buy a subscription to, to, to Netflix. You know, it's it's a little less of a crapshoot, I mean, it's that's a bit of a crapshoot. Still, people don't consider it as much because there's so much more available, but you know, there's a certain quality control that goes into what you're going to be able to tune into. And a lot of it's very heavily promoted an advertiser, you kind of know what you're getting, you're getting, you know, when you subscribe, you know, YouTube could never be that because it is a completely scatto random scattershot kind of approach to, to content, you know, so you know, it's always gonna be that little thumbnail, that grabs your attention, someone being angry about something, usually, is what grabs your attention. and off you go, and you're gonna watch the first 30 seconds before you realize, you know, you don't want to watch this thing and go to the next thing, you know, that's a YouTube thing for you, not conducive to watching a story being told, you know. So, you know, look, that's, I think that's really the key. And that's why it doesn't seem to work for people. Other than, you know, some, as we say that some of these stories can be, you know, a guy watch playing, you know, playing computer games, you know, and it's like, well, you know, I don't know I don't being, you know, someone who wants to watch a story being told, it's not really my cup of tea, but it's obviously the cup of tea of many, many millions of people, you know.

Alex Ferrari 22:41
Now, you know, you've you've had the privilege of working on indie projects, as well as giant studio projects, or feature films. But you tend to keep going back to shorts, I wanted to ask you your opinion on shorts as a medium in general, do you think it's something that is valuable, not only for artists to express themselves, but valuable for filmmakers to either grow their careers or experiment? What's your feeling on shorts as a general statement?

Alex Proyas 23:10
I think absolutely everything you've said, I do think they're very valid. I mean, I equate them to being like, you know, as a writer, you write novels, and you write short stories. I mean, people don't turn away from the short story form, once they've written a novel, it's just as valid a form of, you know, create creativity. And I've always liked short films, I like watching them, I've been the many juries to judge short films, I've been to, you know, in festivals all over the world to judge short films and features. But I think they're just as valid in an art form. And the only reason they haven't been considered by the mainstream is developed, or that is, you can't make any money out of them as a as a, as a producer, or as a as a studio. You know. So that's, that's really the reason it's, I believe the art form has ever really taken off. But as an art form, it's completely valid. As a filmmaker, you learn, you know, there's a real art to telling us six things, three, grabbing someone and grabbing an audience and holding an audience for that short period of time is a huge art form. And it's one that you know, I discovered making TV commercials and music videos way back when you know, and one that I continue to explore and experiment with in, you know, narrative, short story short, short filmmaking, you know, and I encourage everyone to continue doing. It's actually interesting. I've noticed a few filmmakers a few feature filmmakers recently, because I've had, I've had a short pop up in a few festivals around the world, and I've noticed others there's some other feature filmmakers out there like me, who also have been, you know, sending their short films out to festivals to, to because it's one of the few sort of outlets for short filmmakers you know, so It's kind of interesting I think a few a few other people are probably think feeling the way I do about them right about the the medium right now, you know?

Alex Ferrari 25:07
Yeah, it's always it's, you know, monetizing shorts has always been the problem, I've been able to do it a couple times. But many times I failed, being able to recoup my money or actually make a hefty profit. It's rare to be able to do if you have something that's focused on a niche audience may be things like that, but it's tough. It's tough. And I've seen so many people try to figure it out, you know, which brings me to video verse. And what you're doing with video verse. First of all, what is very verse And when did this idea come up to you, when you it wasn't when you when the idea came to you? Was it when you decided I can't buy a movie theater anymore? This is ridiculous. I need a streaming service. When did this come up? And what is it all? Look

Alex Proyas 25:49
it's been, it's been on my mind for many, many years. And in fact, I actually tried to create a filmmakers website 20 years ago, called mystery clock, which was, you know, with, with the view to eventually do what we are now embarking on with, with video verse, it's taken all that time for the technology to get to the point where you're not watching postage stamp size.

Alex Ferrari 26:20
Oh, god, oh, so bad. It was so bad.

Alex Proyas 26:23
Yeah. You know, I built a future proofing my my mark world, my filmmaking world going, this is where it's going to go eventually, back then I had that sort of prophetic vision. And I knew that it would take some time, I just didn't realize how long it would take, you know, so that site, sadly failed eventually. But here we are now in in 2021. And this stuff is doable. And I think, you know, for me, the the the idea came from the fact that, you know, we can't you know, it was it was a multi prong thing, what you know, one is very verse wants to eventually be streaming features and everything, you know, but we're starting with short, too, because shorts, to me seemed the real weak point for independent filmmakers, you know, and I and as I say, because I've been judging so many short film festivals recently, a lot of isolation type style film festivals because of the pandemic. I mean, I've been blown away by the quality of the work. It's really outstanding, you know, and I just did one a few months ago here called flicker Fest, that's a big, a big deal in Sydney. We managed to sneak in between the lockdowns and it was a live event, they did it in a sort of open air area in on the beach, near the beach in Sydney. So we could all you know, occasionally pull our masks down and drink our beers as we were watching the shorts, and it was an awesome, it just reminded me again, of not just this power of theatrical presentation, but moreso the power of the short film medium, you know, the audience had a great time watching, you know, a two hour program of short films from all over the world, different genres, different, different ideas, different narratives. But the one thing they had in common was there was a quality to the mall, they were all really high quality. And it was actually really, really hard. I watched, maybe I was judging the international program. And over over about a couple of weeks, I think I've watched maybe 70 movies, short films. And it was really hard to pick winners because there was so many great ones, you know, we actually ended up creating awards prizes for specific films that were the prizes didn't exist, because we liked the quality of the film so much, you know, I think that process I started thinking you know, it's it's just criminal that these films are not seen by a wider audience beyond the sort of the the, the, you know, the film festival circuit. And I started thinking more and more specifically, at that point about creating a streaming service that could program a bit like the way Film Festival works program, a series of short films that were maybe even more had more common threads to them, maybe genre or stylistic threads, that could bring a program of 678 short films together. And then whether there was some way to monetize that for the filmmakers. And also, of course, for the for the platform to exist to create a market and an A for the for this content, you know, but basically saying, Okay, well, we are me and as I said, at the beginning of this call was, you know, at the moment I'm looking at all the films myself, because to me, the curated aspect of this is really important that you know, I initially and her and her Hopefully, eventually others at vt verse can maintain a standard of curated quality so that, that we do have that guarantee to an audience who are coming into it, and paying money to watch these films that may or may not be available in other parts of the internet, that we're saying, if you come to us, we guarantee that you're going to get a package of great content, great film, filmmaking, you know, and that's really the whole sort of, you know, origin of this of this idea, you know, so

Alex Ferrari 30:32
so very verse at the moment, we'll accept you're accepting short films, you're looking at short films, is there eventually going to be a financial, you know, arrangement with for the filmmakers, as far as you know, profit sharing things like that, or right now, is it just purely an exhibition platform,

Alex Proyas 30:51
we wanted to, to have a, you know, a licensing scenario, and we're not, we don't want to exclusively license because, for me, it's all about, I don't want to limit filmmakers, ways of making money. If they, if they're making money from their films in other ways, I don't want to get in the way of that, you know, and some of the films that we're dealing with yet, they are already on other platforms, you know, so we're not about exclusively licensing, but we are about packaging, short film content with other like minded short film content, to kind of supercharge their potential to make money, you know, you know, we'll be cutting trailers that are not just one person's film, but a series of short films that are all part of the program. And that way, as I say, a subscriber or a or a user of this platform, can at least get a you know, if you like, one, you'll probably like the others kind of approach. And, and watch a program that's not just 10 minutes long, that is feature length long, you know, or maybe even longer of short films, but they're buying into the program as such, and any funds that are generated because, you know, the reality is, this is all highly speculative, whether or not much funds are generated or not, of course, now it remains to be proven. But all those whatever funds are generated will be split between video verse and the film makes involved with each with each package, you know, so is this the least So, at least that's what we're embarking upon. And then if we get when we get into features, and we get into, you know, we want to get into, like, if we like specific filmmakers, we want to get into programs of specific filmmakers work, you know, many of these film makers have created more than one short film so if we like one, we'll probably like more. So we're investigating that with a few filmmakers at the moment to to basically monetize their brand and make their brand something in this quest for the otter, the new otter to create a kind of brand identity within video verse, or individual specific filmmakers.

Alex Ferrari 33:07
Now is this going to be is this T VOD s VOD, a VOD, I want to say that it's transactional is a subscription or is it advertising based

Alex Proyas 33:16
what it's probably going to be a combination of things. And we're still were developing it so it's still trying to knock through the the logistics, let's say. And you know, and we're also trying or specifically but it is a process we're going through right now and part of the reason we're still kind of you know, working that stuff out is because we're not certain right now how big a platform we want to launch You know, this study aleksis started off from me going I just want to get my own stuff out there on a on all my shorts, I'm going to take it off YouTube and get it onto a platform let's just launch that and I've got this project called mascot evil apparition which is doing very well on the first level at the moment. use that as a way let's just try it and see right so when from that and like all my other mad projects, it starts off at a very crude fundamental level and then evolves into this monster and so we're in mid transformation into the monster right now with more and more and I was saying I'm a bit fearful about talking to you and you getting the word out because I'm fearful of how many more short films I'll actually have to watch and how much less of a weekend I'll have with my family. So we're trying to balance all those factors before we go yet his subscription model and, and we don't want people to coming be disappointed by how little content there is, you know, I'm saying it's like it's a balancing act, you know, so in May launch, I wouldn't, you know, personally and there are other people involved other other partners involved with this venture who have their word as well, but personally, I want to say See this launch as soon as possible, my, my feeling is to launch it with whatever we have, you know, and make it like a sampler and maybe give people give subscribers a kind of early adopter discount if you decide to subscribe with the small amount of content that we have, knowing that it's going to grow into something much bigger. So we'll probably end up being something along those lines, you know,

Alex Ferrari 35:25
fair, fair enough. And I you know, this seems First of all, he's been fantastic. I love the idea of what you're doing. I love that you're doing it and your taste and your curation is doing this, which is what I love. Because there's been a lot of other streaming services that pop up, I get contacted by streaming services, new streaming services on a weekly basis, hey, we got this new streaming service, hey, we're for the independent filmmaker, and I look at their sites and it just like, I can't even you know, I've been offered like, would you buy our streaming service? Like no? Like, no, I don't want to buy your streaming service. But the but when I saw you doing it, I was like, Okay, this is something more interesting. It just takes everything up to a different level when you're involved. Because I'm such a fan of your taste and of your filmmaking I think what you're bringing in I think your, your, I guess your, your lens, everything's being funneled through your lens and that's what's exciting and like, Okay, he's going out and bringing in this amazing content. I think that's a big selling point for what you're, you're doing but I'd love to ask what do you what do you what's the what's the goal five years from now 10 years from now do you you know, how big do you want to get what do you want this to eventually be for filmmakers?

Alex Proyas 36:43
I hope this can be a real thing. I really think I you know, I hope that we can make it a viable industry that people can actually create their content, put it on this website and earn enough from their content. And that is, you know, that makes it viable for them to keep making content you know, I mean, we're trying to across the board with everything we're doing right now is reevaluate the economic structure of filmmaking, you know, from producing, to making to, to develop from developing to producing to distributing right and very verse for me is the sort of final prong of the of that triangle triangle of creation which allows filmmakers to get their stuff seen by people because as we've always said, if it's one thing that make you film we all this wonderful technology that makes it affordable and easy to do. If no one sees it then it's like the tree falling in the forest you know, so that this distribution part of this is absolutely essential so I hope that this is the final part of that you know, that can make make it a viral ball a new viable way to make films and to survive and to earn a living making films You know, that's a lofty goal and I certainly think that's a few years off because I'm not guaranteeing that any individual filmmaker who's you know submitting their work to V verse at the moment you know, if I if I managed to get them a check for a few bucks every quarter I'll be like yeah, that's a success story you know, but I hope we can build on that I hope as more as we get more subscribers more people interested we can keep building this as an idea you know,

Alex Ferrari 38:38
now but will the residual check be bigger than your dark city residual check is the question well, you can't guarantee but the hope is that you can

Alex Proyas 38:47
make it on those terms right?

Alex Ferrari 38:50
Isn't that scary?

Alex Proyas 38:51
When you when you look at it in those terms you know i i can I've just made this film called mascot evil apparition which is going to be one of our first launched videos so called reverse originals, right we're going to launch it and say you can buy this short film by this this schmuck prayers for you know, 299 or whatever, whatever, you know, 50 cents or whatever we're going to put on a we don't know, you know, or subscribing you get it for free, or whatever we're going to say, you know, and honestly, I would be amazed if I know, there have been so many people reaching out to me from my own followers going, how can we see this film? Yes, we'll pay for it. Yes, let us know. And we'll we're there. And there's maybe a few 100 people and maybe there's more people out there. You know, maybe some of those people are lying. Maybe they won't pay for it when they see the trailer. But it's gonna be more than 795 you know, I mean, I'm gonna get a little bit more I know. So there you go the model already. I believe

Alex Ferrari 39:53
it's already worth the bar. The bar is low at 795 The bar is fairly low that you've got to break for this to be a success yeah you should frame that you should frame that check in the offices video verse like everyday guys every day that's what we're gonna break that 795 yeah now when So when is this when are you releasing this to the world

Alex Proyas 40:19
well that I can't do this with about either we're hoping before the end of the year or early in the new year and again it's about really reaching that critical mass where we go yeah this is great and you know we're we're building the site again we have no there's no financing behind this it's all me waking up one day and going yeah, I'll put some dollars into that I did that stupid idea and I've got my heretic foundation colleagues who helping me create this this thing so it's a it's a somewhat unplanned there's an app it's an unplanned business plan right now so you know that's why it's a little has to remain a little flex

Alex Ferrari 41:03
Of course of course you're still trying to figure this all out but I think the intentions are good of what you're trying to do and the the idea is solid and I can't wait to see what the what you guys come up with every year and I'm so I'm so and cannot

Alex Proyas 41:17
Can I Oh yes, I'll just be clear though, that the the SOP is always open for submissions you know, we are actually accepting submissions from anyone in whoever whoever wherever they are. We were getting submissions from all over the world right now. And language is not an issue for us as long as there's English subtitles on the project. We're getting really cool stuff out of Europe and and Mexico and all sorts of great great filmmaking centers. And so you know, we're open for business in that respect at least to create what that library is going to be before we launch

Alex Ferrari 41:56
that that's awesome. I am I'm excited to see what you come up with i mean i'm so I'm so happy that you know, filmmakers like you are still going up to the plate and taking the big swings where many many don't many just stick to their own work and their own art but you're actually trying to help other filmmakers and try to give other filmmakers voices in the next generation a way to keep doing this in the way that you know you and I were able to do it while we were you know coming up it's like you no way to sustain ourselves as artists so I'm so I'm so happy that you're still taking those swings my friend

Alex Proyas 42:31
Why thank you very much. I mean, I think we have to it's it's a it's a cognitive existential crisis that we're all in you know, we're all together in our respect. So I feel like it's it's it's got to be done, you know, and you know, I I think what, you know, what you mentioned earlier on is important that, you know, my, my, you know, you are seeing stuff through my lens. I've always said over the years, people always ask me what what I think about people's other other filmmakers work and I guide up, I never want to be a critic or a reviewer of other filmmakers work because I don't, it doesn't matter what I think about the work every film is hard to make, it doesn't matter whether it's good, bad, or indifferent, you know, they should be, you know, they should be encouraged because they've made a film, you know, and it's the same with, with every, with every level of filmmaking, I believe, you know, and it's kind of this is kind of my opportunity to encourage films that I really like, you know, it's, it's, for me a really specific way of doing it. I'm not criticizing other films, all I'm saying is that these films are ones that I think are worth looking at. And, you know, they're the, the, the quality varies the the, the budgets vary wildly, the resources are going into it, the acting quality, whatever, it is just stuff that I think is cool, you know, that's really the, at the end of the day. You know, what, what, what comes through all this, this, this stuff, and I hope that we can carry that through. As we move forward, you know, stuff that's cool, and into something that holds you that engages you to make you want to watch the news, because it's doing something really something you've never seen before something it's weird, it's interesting, that's unusual, or just, it's a very, it could be a very, you know, small, you know, real world story that's being told in you know, without any genre kind of influence or whatever. I mean, it really doesn't matter. It's all about just something that is, as I say, cool, you know, the cool

Alex Ferrari 44:43
factor, the cool factor. Now, I really love you to talk a little bit about what you're doing at the heritage foundation and what and your virtual production studio that you're building in Australia and everything because I'm, I'm a huge fan of the technology but you you really kind of spearheaded this technology, so can you talk bit about that. Yeah,

Alex Proyas 45:02
we built this studio. It's close to a year and a half, two years ago now. Which was, it's a virtual production facility basically, it's a way to create Well, it's, it's actually a bigger idea than that it's a way to bring all the aspects of filmmaking under the one umbrella, you know, I say ironically, now, because we've actually just moved into our own VFX facility, which is a kind of a sister company to heretic, it's still heretic Foundation, but it's like, where all the VFX get done, you know, because we're growing, you know, but it's so it's a way to use virtual production to streamline how films are made to still be able to bring enormous great production value, but at a at a lower budget range, you know, when you don't have to move around when you don't have to go to multiple locations, when you don't have to build big sets, etc, etc. You can, you can work faster and more expediently you can bring the the the cost of the production down. Or, more importantly, you can elevate the production value of low budget indie films, which is kind of the real key for me, you know, now that we've actually we've just completed a we're completing our first feature, not my not my film, one for another director, guy called john Curran. It's a film called mercy road, which is, it's basically it's a movie at night, it's set in real time, a guy in a in a truck, it's a thriller, it's a bit like jewel, but it's more Gothic and sort of dark and spooky, you know, and we've created the entire world for this film, we've made the the orders, you know, he's in the truck, a lot of the time that he gets out, and he goes to various different locations, the whole world is basically being created by, by heretic in, in, in virtual space, and we've shot it with a combination of LED screens and green screen in numerous situations, as well, and it's looking fantastic. It's really quite wonderful what the material that I'm seeing at the moment. So that, to me, is a great example of elevating a fairly low budget, thriller, indie thriller, to a level where the visuals are ones you would associate with a very expensive, you know, studio movie, you know. And that, to me is an exciting success story already of heretic Foundation, and one we hope to keep building on we have numerous other projects, lining up that one is a World War Two, film set on a on a battleship, which again, you know, they wouldn't even consider doing it on the budget that they have. And in fact, they've tried to raise a larger budget and be now unable to, and it's the technology that were able to bring to it, that's a making the film actually achievable. You know, and that's really exciting world to be in.

Alex Ferrari 48:16
Now, when you say vert, and for a lot of people listening virtual reality virtual, it's never true, that virtual production. You know, when I think of virtual production, I think of the Mandalorian. And then the volume and stuff, have you if you created similar volumes, and using green screen, so you have a volume. And then you also do some elements in green screen as well. So it's a hybrid, if you will,

Alex Proyas 48:36
correct. That's right. Yeah, we heretic. We're currently building a LED volume, a large led volume with a, in cooperation with a with another company. And we've been doing mainly green screen, our studio has green screen. I mean, it's quite a small, small stage. I mean, our studio is really designed as an r&d stage. But we're building we've just done this one film in another volume, but we're building a dedicated led volume, it will be led and green screen, because it's the combination of the two that works so well. You know, some there are some things that are like Mandalorian LED screens are not actually that great at doing when you're when your scenes are very dark, there's a lot of blacking frame. There, it's not as not as good, you know, as a green screen can actually work a lot better. But, you know, it's certain things it's, you know, ideally you have both at your disposal, we have our our guys who are running the virtual sets in the middle between a green and an LED volume, and you literally move the cameras backwards and forwards, you know, depending on what shot is serviced by tech tech tech, do you know and that's ultimate. That's the ultimate goal and that yeah, that's what You are you're there for the duration of the production, you don't, right? That's

Alex Ferrari 50:03
your, that's your company move. That's your, you're just moving left or right, that's your company move in, that's how I mean honestly, that's happened for a filmmaker, I mean, anyone who's ever been out and you know, on location, and you're like, Oh, we only could do one company move today because we're in the middle of a desert, you know, but you know, but you could, um, this kind of production, you can do that. And a lot of things also in virtual production. I've had friends of mine who've worked on the Mandalorian. And you know, the press about, you know, you just put the camera and you shoot, to a certain extent that's true, but and I'd love to hear what you think. But there is cleanup work. There is seen you have to see the cleanup seems you got it. So there is it's not like you just shoot in the can you're done? Yes, you get a lot more done than you used to. But there is still a visual effects hand that's going to touch it and clean things up a little bit. Is that true?

Alex Proyas 50:51
Yes, that's very true. And you don't hear that from Mandel. Laurie bit the PR, Amanda Lauria makes it seem like it's, it's, it's a really easy to walk in the park, and let's not forget that they have huge budget. Like, I've put this together again, from my own bank account, at least up until this point, you know, and you know, it's very different to having you know, Disney and ILM behind you. But look, you know, I'm grateful to the Mandalorian team, because they've, they've made this, everyone goes ISO Mandalorian, you know, and they're all you know, it's created a whole sort of mini industry, and it's helped my company enormously, so very grateful to you all there a Mandalorian land. But this is not the, you don't need to do all that stuff to, to make a work as we've just proven on a very low budget movie, and we're continuing to prove its ingenuity a lot of its ingenuity. The but but, yes, to To be clear, there is a lot of cleanup work, but it's but you have to be clever about how you do it. Some shots work perfectly well. And other other shots as we say, you swing around in your on the green, and they will work better on green. And the one thing that you have to remember is that it's a double edged sword, having your having your dailies there done in the can on an LED screen, because if you haven't had the time in pre production to, to get your set your environment fully SPECT out the way you want it, you're stuck with it, you know, in the Mandalorians case, they're not because they can just replace it later on, you know, in our case, it's prohibitive to do that. So we have to make sure that we have it to a level of finish that we're happy to have baked in to the to the to the dailies, otherwise, we'll shoot it on grain. And that's our way of keeping costs down, you know, but you know, look, if you do it, right, if you if you do the right kinds of shots on le G, you shouldn't have to do any cleanup work afterwards, you know, it's it should be done, it is possible to bake it all in and get it all done. For example, in this short film that we've just that we're finishing at the moment, a lot of the stuff out, you know, in all the car stuff with a guy inside the car, outside the window is 100% LSG volume. Because there's so many shots to finish all those two composite all those shots in green are would have been really pro hippy expensive and expensive prospect. So we've only stripped out the shots at an absolutely essential that we do on green screen. There's quite a few of those, but it makes it a much more manageable thing. It's just on the Mandalorian they wouldn't care the Mandalorian they do it they go I didn't work out and we'll do it and you know, we'll do it the other way, you know, because they can afford to

Alex Ferrari 54:05
rotoscoped out the shot and and get up and do whatever and do whatever they want. No, it's it's it's pretty amazing technology. And yeah, I'm always I'm always fascinated by all that. And, you know, the thing that's also really interesting is a lot of people think that you have to do if your virtual production has to be this big sci fi world building thing. But no, you're the story you're talking about the film that you're talking about is not it might be genre and stuff but it's not a sci fi world creating dark city style project, which you know, something like reprojection this is basically just really nice rear projection. with with with being able to move the camera and the camera following the parallax on. But I can only imagine what Stanley Kubrick would do with this technology.

Alex Proyas 54:55
Yeah, well he liked he did it. I mean he did it with that's the funny thing about The Mandalorian claiming to have invented I don't know whether they ever did that other people claim that they claim this projection or direction. Yeah, it's been around since day one, you know, and, and look, the thing about virtual production is that what really is the key is not so much of the screen or whether it's led or green is the marrying a computer generated model. That's that to the to the live camera. And as you move your camera, the model will move accordingly. That is what the two production is. And in fact, I know exactly who invented that. And I can't say that it was me, but it was almost me because the first two films that were done using a very early version of, of video virtual production was was Spielberg's AI and my iRobot right now we're the first films to actually use the the technology we you know, at the time that we did iRobot I didn't know that this stuff actually had already been done that I was like, I had a scene with Will Smith running around 1000 robots and I didn't have anything real I only had wheel Smith and one robot which was used as a standard so I go How do we do this scene? How can I move my camera around and now what I'm seeing through these rows of robots you know that we put 1000 cut bits of cardboard our cardboard net cats or something. And they came up with this thing called encoders called encoder care which was the early rudimentary virtual production thing where we had had the model on on the stage my camera on a techno crane could move around town and I'd see this sort of you know, very rudimentary 3d model move as my camera moved and I was like Wow, this is awesome. This is incredible you know? Yeah. So that really was the origins of virtual production and then now that's been combined with as you say rescreen project a new form of risk group project right?

Alex Ferrari 57:17
Because when I robot was around the LEDs, not so much. Not that affordable. This big, this big was about $10,000 Yeah, it was all plasma back then. I hate this I still got my I still have a plasma TV from like 15 years ago and it still looks fantastic and it's still still rockin at 720 p Now one other thing I wanted to talk to you about a little birdie told me that you might be working on a series for dark city is that true?

Alex Proyas 57:52
I have no idea where you look I mentioned that to one to one person and on a podcast a bit like this and I mean it was great to see so many people picked it up as a story so much so much of the the sort of genre based you know industry picked it up as something to have note which is great it just show me that there's a lot of any kind of new there's a lot of still you know interest still strong there in the in the in the wings for for a dark city a continuation of the dark city story but of course you know, I mentioned way earlier than I should have were still with you know, I should have said and I'm trying to sell a dark city and I'm making a dark as opposed

Alex Ferrari 58:44
to like so so when is the streaming and what is coming out November

Alex Proyas 58:49
is it November people assume it's like it's happening already you've shot it it's been in the Can you just imposed I've had some yeah I've had so many actors applying to screen test and and writers applying to write episodes etc so this is kind of me saying Don't you know let's let's take a deep breath down guys and wait a moment before you know before I say anything too much more about it look the only thing because I like you Alex so much as you know the only thing I can say that I know knowing that's the caveat that where we're just where we're working it out at the moment we're not we don't have we're not we're not greenlit we're far from it. You know, we haven't I haven't even written any of it. Yeah, we're still working on our on our pitch on our onset, you know, but what I will say is, it is very much a continuation of the, the original movie. It's, it's not a re it's not a reboot, as a as a more more of a sequel to the original movie. So that's something that that maybe will, you know, is one bit of information that is make people would want to know about and you know I'm trying to I mean it is it's you know obviously in doing a TV series we have to appeal to a bunch of an audience that maybe don't even know about dark city they've got no idea of this film dark city and there's plenty of those people around but at the same time every year that goes pass more and more people are become dark city fans it you know it this has been going on since the first the original release so many people come have come to come to every year going wow we never knew this movie existed This is a great and become new fans you know so I'm also trying to create a story that that makes those people happy you know and be the bit is faithful to the original fans of the series and and works into what they would want to see you know so i think i think we're there I think we've come up with a with a concept that will work for for both sides of the spectrum and and also as I said bringing in you hopefully bring in new a new audience as well you know

Alex Ferrari 1:01:12
well that's exciting news and I I want you to have that that Canvas to play with him to go visit that world because of such a wonderful and rich world and God I would love to see it so I wish you nothing but the best but everyone listening calm the hell down it's he's he's not in post everybody he's not in post in it already. It's not coming out for Christmas everyone needs to calm the hell down.

Alex Proyas 1:01:37
Sadly that's the case and look you know this also feeds into the technology that we've just been talking about because you know dark city was made at the time and I barely could afford it even then they didn't give me a huge budget but they gave me enough where I built the entire thing we had these massive sets built in is kind of aircraft hangar size space in Sydney we built the entire street that we kept reconfiguring much like the film was to service all our all our different scenes you know and you know obviously the The time has gone you know when you could do that on a film like that but now of course this new technology is is enabling me to make that world in an even better way I believe I don't have quite the fun on the set of hanging out on those in those cool spaces but beyond that, you know the virtual production gives you a world that looks every bit as great and again I'm not having to limit my imagination because even on something like this series which will hopefully be financed by you know a legitimate studio with the money to throw at it that that it necessitates that there's going to be a limit there I'm going to you know they're not going to let me go crazy but in the virtual world I can I can do whatever I want I can visualize it however I want to add and so I think it's the right time for continuing the visual aspect of dark city in a in a new in a new form you know,

Alex Ferrari 1:03:18
I have to ask you just out of curiosity when when you are going to pitch a show like this I obviously there's going to be a lot of concept art but would you create like a sizzle reel like using your technology going look this is what we can do kind of Robert Rodriguez did that with Sin City and and you're like when there's new like technology like Look guys, I know normally would cost $100 million, but we could do it for five. And this is what we could do and this is how we do it. Look what it looks like are you going are you planning on doing something like a little sizzle reel or something?

Alex Proyas 1:03:48
No wait because the movie is a sizzle reel. Right? So there's no real reason so so if there are any executives who have my fate in their hands I say to go watch it go and watch the movie you know right right. And you know look fortunately I have I'm I'm involved with some people who who are big fans on the original movie so so that's that's really that's really key. But they you know, yes. If it wasn't for that, that movie existing Absolutely. You know, that would be the The first thing to do. I've got a film called sister darkness that we are there we're trying to finance at the moment. That is we're doing just that with you know, we've created we've actually created a little, a little trailer and all that sort of stuff. And it's all virtual production. Just to show people that the kinds of the way it's going to look, you know, so So. Yeah, absolutely. It's nice having a studio at my fingertips for such things.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:55
Yeah. Very helpful. I've been I was in post for most of my Career and I love having the ability to just like oh yeah I got my VFX team I've got my post team I can just you know do whatever I want I never even on the budget that's so funny whenever I do a project but the budget line for for post I just never even because I use I'm like I'm gonna do the post I'm going to edit it I'm going to sorry Of course it's free I'm going to call I'm going to comment rate it I'm going to master it I'm going to output it for deliverables all that stuff so I never even think about even scheduling How much does that cost? Jesus Christ I've got a lot of value I should charge more for this. Now where it can people submit to video verse and submit their films,

Alex Proyas 1:05:37
it's very verse.com

Alex Ferrari 1:05:41
that's Vi Vi di verse vi

Alex Proyas 1:05:43
d i diverse yeah vt verse. I expect you you'll get a run it underneath

Alex Ferrari 1:05:50
me. I'll put it in the show notes. We'll put it in the show notes. As you do this, I will have my I will have my team if the team is listening the my patina as do it one more time to do one more time. So very, very verse city, the SATCOM makes Yeah, I'll make sure I'll make sure they do.

Alex Proyas 1:06:10
And yeah, so it's all self explanatory. I hope on if you go to their website, it explains exactly what what is required of you. And, yeah, please send us your films and, and, and we can do something great together. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:27
Alex, I appreciate you being on the show. Again, coming back. I appreciate everything you're doing with Vinnie verse. I love that you continue to take big swings at the play for everybody. And you also have a fantastic first name as well. So thank you, my friend for doing all that you do. And thanks again for coming on the show my friend.

Alex Proyas 1:06:48
Thank you Alex. It's been a pleasure again and hopefully we'll do at least one more time,

Alex Ferrari 1:06:53
at least a few that when you when the dark city dark city series releases, you'll come back and then we talk about it that Thank you. Thank you, my friend.

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5 Rules on How You Can Make Money in Selling Stock Video

selling stock footage

That’s the life of a stock filmmaker. You follow your whims across the world, building a portfolio of stunning footage along the way. After editing, you simply upload your clips to the Blackbox Marketplace and wait for your 100% commission checks to roll in.

There’s no catch—thousands of videographers make their living like this. However, capturing random footage on camera does not equate to success in stock. It takes a commitment to the craft and an instinct for shots that sell.

Andreas Hohl, owner of Vader Video, spent years in IT before realizing that he needed a more creative career. He’d shot some footage in his spare time and began selling it through an online marketplace. Since then, Hohl has established himself as a leading contributor, so he teamed up with VideoBlocks to offer advice to new and aspiring stock videographers.

Rule #1: If it’s not fun, don’t do it

Look at it this way—if you don’t have a true passion for the process, then stock video probably isn’t for you.

“If it feels like work, then you’ll suck at it, but if you are consistently striving to improve and having fun, then you could succeed.” says Hohl.

A lot of stock filmmakers start by shooting part-time or as a hobby because they genuinely enjoy capturing footage, whether it be a time-lapse of a desert sky or a friend breakdancing in front of a screen. It’s only after building up a library of clips and steady sales that many contributors fully transition to a career in stock. You can test out the idea, see if you love it, and then decide whether or not to make the leap.

Rule #2: Focus on creativity, not numbers

“This is one of the few industries where you can fly free and experiment,” says Hohl. “The hardest part is not worrying about the numbers game.”

Anyone expecting to make a fortune in stock might want to revisit their motivations. Compiling a critical mass of great footage takes time, and economic success rarely happens overnight.

“It took several years for me to get the number of cuts that I now have. And not all are accepted by stock agencies. But who cares? I don’t. I just keep on keepin’ on,” Hohl explains.

Instead, indie filmmakers should enjoy the freedom and creativity of shooting video. One amazing clip that captures your artistic vision could easily outsell a full library of uninspired footage—and you’ll get the satisfaction that comes from producing work you feel proud of.

“Stock video is one of the most creative things someone can do. Period,” says Hohl.

Rule #3: Develop your eye first

Half of the world’s tourists seem to now carry fancy DSLR cameras with them, often set to automatic and languishing in untrained hands. Top of the line gear cannot compensate for a poorly composed shot, so make sure to spend time developing your artistic eye before spending a lot of money on equipment.

“It’s not the gear that makes one succeed, but rather the person behind the camera,” says Hohl.

Experience in photography and videography is always helpful, but those skills can be taught. Plenty of online tutorials exist for this explicit purpose. The aesthetic aspect is a bit trickier and comes more naturally to some individuals than others.

“When all’s said and done, one must have a really good eye in regards to framing and lighting a shot,” Hohl continues. This can be developed through studying the work of filmmakers and photographers that you admire. You’ll gain a sense for the creative elements behind a great shot by researching how it was captured.

Rule #4: Keep track of trends

Like any marketplace, stock footage is a business of supply and demand. Videographers who keep their finger on the pulse of industry trends will reap the profits.

“You can sway the numbers in your favor by paying attention,” Hohl states.

He tries to stay on top of current events and relevant “metaphors” that may emerge. Timely content is usually a big seller. For example, when a solar eclipse occurs, those who make the effort to capture and upload great clips of this celestial phenomena will likely experience a spike in sales during the following weeks (and around future eclipses).

“The biggest challenge is not shooting, lighting, or getting equipment, but rather coming up with original and unique goodies for the buyers,” Hohl says. He encourages videographers to pay attention to major TV commercials, which come from some of the world’s best ad agencies and provide insight into what’s hot in imagery.

Rule #5: Showcase your portfolio

There are many ways to promote your collection of clips. Hohl uses Twitter and Facebook, in addition to a network of websites. He also posts “shorts” to Youtube and Vimeo, usually alongside some sort of valuable information like tips on capturing similar footage.

Year-end recaps and highlight reels are often popular sources of traffic. One well-paced video compilation of your best work can drum up customer interest and also help advertise your services if you wish to work on an assignment.

A growing segment of stock videographers are turning to Instagram for their personal branding. It’s the biggest multimedia platform of the social world and wily contributors are cultivating audiences that number in the thousands. By providing a link to your portfolio on your profile, you can also drive sales to the clips you upload.

Some filmmakers turn to blogs and industry websites for additional exposure. By networking online and in-person, you may be able to get your projects featured on these outlets.

The possibilities in stock are endless, but it takes to drive and creativity to succeed.

“There’s no one looking over your shoulder,” says Hohl.

If you have the internal motivation and a love for video, then you can find a niche in the stock filmmaking world.

Stock Footage + Everything Under the Sun: Using Archival Material to Make Your Good Film Great is the bible of stock footage. It is the only book that gives an overview of the use of archival footage and how it played an expanding and crucial role in documentary and TV films.

NOW HIRING:Curious adventurers with a knack for videography. Unlimited world travel included. No boss, no dress code, no restrictions.

 

IFH 509: How to Make Money with Short Films with Joseph Alexandre

Joseph Alexandre


Right-click here to download the MP3

It was a pleasure having today’s guest on because, as a self-proclaimed hustler, I recognize another when I see one, and for the best part of his career, Joseph Alexandre has hustled hard in this line of business. 

My guest today is director, writer, and producer Joseph Alexandre. He is most known for films like The Starck Club Documentary-The Final Cut, Back Home Years Ago: The Real Casino, and The Early Inauguration.

He’s made his way in the indie filmmaking world with shorts and documentary shorts. We do talk about his 2021 short, Ralphie’s Blue. But we dive more into his career and how shorts have played a massive part in generating revenue. 

Joe used a lot of filmtrepreneur methods—way before I ever wrote the book.

He’s written, produced, and directed the pilot for the reality TV show, The Body Shop Cop, which focuses on Rocco Avellini, owner/operator of Wreck Check Car Scan Centers, which provides consumers with vital consultations for Auto body collision repair and diminished value.

Joe’s filmography includes, Split Screen TV show, The Devil Takes a Holiday and almost a dozen others.

Ralphie’s ‘Blue’, which he wrote, directed, and stars in is the story of a hapless but likable, regular guy named Ralph Monti, a man with two strikes against him. One, he works nights and weekends as an umpire, but he can’t seem to get past little league. Two, it takes him a fistful of meds every day just to keep it together. Ralph’s game takes a dramatic turn when he meets Chase, the charismatic leader of a “men’s group.” Chase takes Ralph under his wing, introducing him to his group – The Order – at a weekend retreat in the mountains. Ralph encounters a committed band of dangerous white nationalists, more accurately, White Supremacists. (Ironic, because Ralph has a black girlfriend, but Chase has an “alternative” approach to Ralph’s medication, which proves tantalizing to Ralphie.) Chase intends to shape Ralph into a dangerous weapon to be used by The Order as part of their plan of attack. Can Ralph help foil the event before it’s too late?

His work is featured on the SVOD platform Fandor. You can stream them exclusively on there.

Enjoy my conversation with Joseph Alexandre.

Alex Ferrari 0:12
I'd like to welcome to the show Joe Alexander. Man, how you doing Joe?

Joseph Alexandre 0:15
doing? Well, thank you. Thanks for having me

Alex Ferrari 0:18
Yeah, man. Thank you for reaching out, man. You reached out with a witch which normally I would never in a million years read. Like the like the email. Pitching if itching to get on the show. I was like, I mean, it was it was war in peace, man. But then I but in the first few sentences, we have a mutual friend, Joe Carnahan. And then I was like, Okay, let me just give Joe a call. And that was that was and then once I called up, Joe, Joe, this guy just emailed me the Bible. Can I have him on the show? And Joe's like, Oh, no, Joe's freaking awesome. You should have him on the show. Like, okay, let me go back and read everything and that I had to kind of break down like, dude, let's, let's, let's let's pitch and let's get this down to a place where we can have you on the show for something. That was great. So and then as I didn't wear more research into what you do and what you've done, I was like, Oh, this will be a great conversation. So we're going to talk about your career. And also how shorts have played a really big part of that how you've generated revenue with shorts. You were using a lot of futurpreneur method ology before I ever wrote the book, you know, you are hustling hard, because hustle recognizes hustle. So you've been around the business for a little bit. So how did you get started in the business?

Joseph Alexandre 1:42
got started really, it was a lengthy, lengthy even though it was a long circuitous route. You know, I grew up back east. from Long Island, New York originally came from kind of a, you know, upper middle class background. parents went to Georgetown. I went to Marquette University and but I was like a, I was a jock. I was a baller. I was not the kid with the super eight camera. You know what I mean? It was not it was, you know, people to it. My dad would joke. It's like, you know, when we, when I expressed interest in the business, he's like, what do we know about movies? We know to go to a movie. We don't know anything about movie. You know, it was it was kind of like the Upper West Side. Kids are, you know, like, Christine vishawn. Going to brown and studying semiotics. That wasn't I didn't have an end. I didn't know anybody that was really in the business. And like, a lot of us. A couple things happen. One of the big things, of course, was Rodriguez. Right. And then the book that I don't know if as many people talk about, it's this book by Eric Schmidt.

Alex Ferrari 2:49
Oh, yeah, they use car prices. Of course. I spoke I spoke on a panel with Rick years ago. He's an interesting fellow without question.

Joseph Alexandre 2:58
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, it is. And he talks with some guys like john Joseph, who's kind of a, you know, I follow him on Facebook. He's kind of a legendary kind of, you know, ruffle there dude, you know, but was making really interesting, our house kind of criterion channel type films with himself. He was the crew, you know? So, you know, it's like, oh, maybe this is I had always harbor and you know, this is people don't realize like, you know, when I was at Marquette man you know, they had they keep couldn't just go there was they were video stores up blockbuster hadn't really gotten traction. There were local video stores and then you know, you would see like an art house like in a warranty Rafa, God, Hertzog or you would see in a cave, but you couldn't just access any film you wanted. And so if I was interested in like, if I would see, you know, Stanley Kubrick, like, I'd have to read the book and then wait till at one one semester, they really there, they had a special screening of the Clockwork Orange, you know, yeah, it's cool sometimes, but, you know, saw that theatrically blew my mind, you know, and then I would read up on Kubrick or read up on Fellini satyricon, but it wasn't easy to just go.

Alex Ferrari 4:18
Extremely difficult.

Joseph Alexandre 4:21
Right? And that made it almost more intriguing when you finally do get to see the film and he finally you know, you read about it, the making of and all these guys in Scorsese, you know, and obviously, when Goodfellas came out, you know, I was in Milwaukee and this will tie in to the real casino but working in some mob Joyce kind of living that life and seeing Goodfellas and realizing like this is real man, but this guy has you know, the Godfather is great, but it's fantasy. It's like Dude, stop it. There's not a wise guy there is not a mob boss who went to him. Harvard, like Michael, the this is Shakespeare, this is linear. And that's great, right? But if you know that world, it has nothing to do with reality, like, a lot of these wise guys tried to fashion themselves over brand on all this stuff. But really he realized quickly that Marty just play. He nails it, you know. And then that was, ah, this is interesting and Oliver Stone's JFK was another film. And then the year later successive years and it's like, oh, he'll marry it with this guy did you know and then oh, you find out he shot wedding videos and all that. So really, my I was really the only thing I knew about anything even semi related was I did print work in Chicago. You know, my dad was in the retail business. They You know, one of the advertising people saw a picture of me saying I you know, we're gonna fly in these guys from New York. Well, you know, we're just going to gradually I guess I did some in front of cameras stuff. But it wasn't until I saw that there was a pathway that was accessible to make a film that I finally started and took my friend I was ended up in St. Louis took a little junior college class on filmmaking, and they shot super eight. And we actually edit it on the actual super eight delay. It was like a little mini Mineola with the tape, you know, you would make the cuts and tape it, you know, do all that stuff. It was awesome. and transfer it to three quarter one on like voiceover and using and Oh, man. Yeah. And then right from there, right from this kind of mediocre short is when I made my first feature to sit effort to do it. High eight, super 816. reversal color negative. It's still kind of has its own fan door, as it's called psychrotrophic. overload. It's kind of bizarre, Todd Haynes in thrillers, I wouldn't, you know, you probably really need to light up, you know, some hybrid to really enjoy that. You need to be under the influence.

Alex Ferrari 7:19
I mean, so I mean, Robert, I mean, I've spoken about Robert, on the show at nauseum. He's one of the he was one of those guys for me as well. And for a whole generation. I mean, once everyone saw mariachi, everyone was like, wait a minute, this can be done. And then it was just moving after me. It was slacker and, and mariachi and clerks and brothers macmullan. And all those and then even even when you got to Joe with blood guts, in the late 90s, you just started seeing this energy of like, Oh, we can we can get into the into the business. So I completely understand. But one thing that you did with your short film, the real casinos, you actually made money with it. So tell me about real casino and how you generated money with a short at a time it really I mean, shorts are always difficult to make money with. And I was I was able to generate six figures with my short in 2005.

Joseph Alexandre 8:13
I bought about that. It's brilliant.

Alex Ferrari 8:20
It was, it was so so I always love to love giving stories about shorts, power, because I started my career off of a short really, I mean, I did commercials and music videos and stuff. But really that short was the thing that kind of launched me into opening up a post house and all the other things I was able to do with it. So how did you get real casino started? And then how did you generate revenue with it?

Joseph Alexandre 8:43
It's the first thing that was really critical was getting the launch from john and Janet Pearson, you know, they had a show. They were ending their producers rep career I had just done another feature. It was kind of a hybrid doc feature about a struggling filmmaker who loses his mind and

Alex Ferrari 9:06
as we all do, as we as we all do,

Joseph Alexandre 9:09
and I sent that to john Pearson not really knowing where he was in the business big I had read spike Mike slackers and dikes books where he talks about all these films and and his address was on there. So I'm like, you know, I sent him a film with a little trailer, my first feature, and he's like, Look, I'm kind of out of that business now. But I have this show split screen at Initially, it was going to be on the Sundance Channel, but then, I don't know, there was, I guess it was when Redford still control that or whatever it was an issue. And then he went to IFC, and he's like, Look, come up with a short concept and pitch it for the show. You know, this is like the, I think the first season was just coming out. So I watched the show. And one at that time I was up in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and one of the filmmakers up there who It known john as well. did a few he did a film called The real finding the real Fargo. And it was out whether or not Fargo had really liked the idea, you know, as a very nebulous that any of the said says it's loosely based on a true story, but they're like, dude, none of this stuff ever happened. But the Coen brothers are from, you know, Minneapolis and that whole deal. So it kind of spirits something because here it was I had a connection to these guys, you know, in Milwaukee and Chicago when I was in college at Marquette University. This big trial was going on one of the main mob bosses, was a guy named Frank balistreri. He was one of the guys who had was involved in this scam of the Stardust in the Fremont. Right. And, you know, it's Milwaukee. And you know, the main bosses are in Chicago and the trials taking place in Kansas City, but it's like, the movie is far away. Nobody knows what Yeah, what is it just some wise guys on trial doesn't mean anything to me at the time, until years later, and then I ended up in Chicago, I'm getting a lot of sorted characters. And I read the pledgee book, and I realized, Whoa, did I know a lot of these people? directly or indirectly, you know, and I pitched john a few things and nothing stuck. And so this I kind of had in my back pocket. It wasn't my first choice. Because it was dicey. Yeah. I mean, these were really wise guys.

Alex Ferrari 11:28
You don't have to tell me about you. Don't have to tell me about why this guy,

Joseph Alexandre 11:32
sir. Right. Right. And so as I had and I, you know what? Let's do it. piston IDs, like bingo, here. And you know, before he knew it, you know, he sent me a check. And I was trying to get a little more money. And he's like, No, no, this is it. Just make it for that. Let's go. So, you know, I go down to Chicago and Milwaukee, I interview a bunch of people and basically, he only wants a seven minute segment, I cut something longer, because I think it's Marty Scorsese, it's a three hour movie. You want me to boil it down to seven, you know, so I cut it 12 minute version? No, no, no, no, seven minutes. Okay, seven minute version. It comes out on split screen sometime like late or middle of 98. And then I cut my own 30 minute version, I start sending that around the festivals. And I get into a couple but I didn't understand that whole short, short thing. Recommend, like, dude, when you make a long short, done, yeah, it's it's hard, right? But you know, I keep plugging away. And I get it to the PBS affiliate in Chicago. And they see the 30 minute version in there like wt Tw, they have a thing called image union where they had a lot of different local related type stories. Listen, get rid of the Milwaukee angle. Make it about 25 minutes, we'll buy it right. So this is my first sale. This is almost a year after I don't really I got a little bit of money on this company in Burbank Big Film shorts, they sell it on DVD, nothing. Not even worth mentioning. I got the brand, right. That's my first real thing. Then now I'm still doing the festival circuit. Dallas video festival wants to show up. Like they want a shorter version online because they do part of it online. And it's like, I don't want to send them 14 minute version has music issues. So now I cut or the 12 minute version routes. Now I cut 14 members, right? This is I think my fourth version. Right? So the point is, dude, flexibility. hustle. A lot of filmmakers would have just said Oh, hey, I had my moment in the sun. I'm on IFC done. Right, huh? Oh, yeah. It's like, right. Got it. There's something here. There's traction. There's this people are watching this thing. I got to keep going. You know, that 14 minute version eventually ended up with a company called hypnotic. And they gave me an advance. They put it online. It was in the days of like atom film. Yeah. hypnotic, was owned by Universal. And then they sold it to, you know, Air Canada, Air France Delta. I mean, I started seeing some real money quarterly, you know, within this period for a couple years. They had it, you know, several $1,000. Then they were bought by Wellspring, which was owned by Steve Bannon, and then eventually, it ended up with shorts International. This 14 and this was kind of clever. I had so many different versions. I would do a contract that was exclusive to them, but it was just the 14 efforts. And so then I had a longer version that I sold to a company that they put up an official DVD with these different versions, right? It was not a very good deal. I never saw any money from them. But I had a DVD with artwork, right? So now I could just take that and sell that myself, right? on Amazon CreateSpace. And early, like, you know, 506 ish. This is several years after now I've got another revenue stream.

Alex Ferrari 15:25
So let me stop you there for a sec, I want to kind of, you know, kind of break, get dive deep, deep dive in a couple of these elements. Okay, so you have a documentary, and I love that you're cutting multiple versions of this thing and selling multiple versions and licensing multiple versions of this thing. Did you ever get any pushback for that?

Joseph Alexandre 15:45
No, here was the beauty of it. It was you know, I just had a little bit, you know, it's basically the real guys. It was fair used stills and stuff like that I kept, you know, there was a little bit of footage. And then my cover was, which happened right around the same time, probably around two or three, I sold it to tf one in France, a TF one was a co producer casino, they co financed casinos, so they put out and they co financed many American films, right? Well, clues, you know, kind of things. So they had the right, so they bought my film to put on a three disc DVD set. So whenever this came up, I just show my TF one contract. It's like, No, no, I have that. Right. They call finance a foul. Everybody be like, Okay, no problem. Sounds good. You know.

Alex Ferrari 16:44
So what I also love about this is you're using one of the various core principles of a film shoprunner method is leveraging an existing audience with your product, which, I mean, you're literally not only hitting, you're hitting two demographics, one fans of the movie casino, and two fans of mob movies in the real real crime and all that kind of stuff. So that's when you leverage that. Brilliant, right? And now you've been able to continue to do and to this day, you're still generating revenue with that, and didn't you just read license it somewhere else?

Joseph Alexandre 17:19
Yeah, several places. I just, you know, you know, Chuck in, right,

Alex Ferrari 17:24
of course, a friend of the show.

Joseph Alexandre 17:27
We're talking with him. YouTube, just put it on, you know, it's on zoom on TV, all of these fast channels. It's still to this day, from the very time that I did, I always tried prime, right, you know, I got on either through CreateSpace. Or then when it was video direct, I ended up getting years later, cut a final kind of 40 minute version, the longest version of it and put that on, on T BOD. Along with it. The other was a 24 minute version. I own different versions,

Alex Ferrari 18:08
six to seven, there's 14, there's 24, there's 30, there's 40. But did you have the 23 and a 24 minute version, like

Joseph Alexandre 18:19
this seven minute versions on criterion channel on the original day, so it's done all these two? Well, eventually what happened on Amazon? Is they forced you to kind of okay, because that 24 minute version was on TV, and physical for years and years and years. So then when I cut this kind of final 40 minute version, I had the kind of shoot isn't that you know, all that's redundant, you know, so it became the 40 minute version, but from basically Oh, six to now. And I don't know why I can't explain it. It's just t odd. 100 Plus, you know, I mean, we're talking close to 20 grand, every month in and out 150 to 200 a month. 150 160, sometimes less, but then it would be made up every single month for almost, what, 15 years, 14 years TV, TV, I tried prime. I tried prime for three months, it didn't do anything on prime, go back to T VOD. You know, I'd get it like 20 3040 bucks. I mean, it would get more minutes viewed and all that but I was like, go back to prime it would take a month, it would still be low. I'd be back at my 101 5160 you know, 8090 you know, 170 you know, t flat the whole time guys never move traffic. I you know, it was just one of those things where, again, dude followed the money followed the hustle, find, you know, where's the audience put, you know, okay, okay, this is where they're going. Then I'm going to go this way. Right and you know, it was just putting it in again. I see so many filmmakers that Do something that does have an audience, right? Especially when I was in Minneapolis, St. Paul, it was a guy there who was just leaving, he had done a feature, they raised a million bucks. He got a Disney fellowship. And, you know, it was a really nice film and had some real nice names in it. And you can't find that film today. You know, what are they they raised a million bucks, they put it out and got into la Film Festival. And I can't tell you how many filmmakers it's like, they do things at festival. It's here, sir. never see it again, under the next thing, you

Alex Ferrari 20:33
know, and it's I've worked on films like this and post production that I would see them they spent a million million and a half dollars, and then I go back years later to look forward. It's nowhere. It is wrong. They're just gone. And filmmakers don't understand that you can continue to generate, like, I still make money. With my short film from 2005. You know, it's still I still make money with my other short films that I did my animated short, my action short that I did, like 10 years 11 years ago. I still generate revenue with all these things. It's just you got to keep keep hustling. Gotta keep keep pushing it out there. I mean, I can't cut 45 versions of my shorts because their narrative. I mean, that is actually a genius move my friend. I I mean, I do I do applaud you on the the 35 verses that you license to different people. I gotta say, That's amazing. I've never heard that one before. I truly have never heard like,

Joseph Alexandre 21:36
yeah, it was like, for me, it was, you know, I wanted to give it the whole full treatment, but they're like, No, we need some shorter now you need to cut this, you know, we need to do that. No, no, no.

Alex Ferrari 21:46
Why not? You? You had the flexibility to customize per buyer. So if they made it they need seven minutes like john did it seven minutes. But then other people like Okay, get them a walkie stuff out well by Okay, great. So you had the ability to do stuff like that you have that flexibility in Docs much more than you do. And narrative narrative is, it is what it is. But in the doc world, I've always said men, the money is Doc's man you can make. I mean, and in my book, I talk heavily about documentarians who built multimillion dollar businesses around one doc if they hit the right niche, right. Did you did you sell any ancillary products off this? Like,

Joseph Alexandre 22:30
didn't really, you know, I really should have I just never I never really did the T shirt thing or you know, I mean, it was all you know, I mean, you know, the physical, the DVDs, you know, but probably should have done a T shirt. But you know, I didn't feel that it kind of segues into the next Doc, you know, which was about a club which was that was a T shirt crowd

Alex Ferrari 22:57
before we get so before we get to that, how did this short lead you to Joe Carnahan?

Joseph Alexandre 23:03
That was interesting, because that came kind of early. It was really IFC. It was the IFC connection and that you know, out of all this stuff, thank you for bringing you know this, this is one good at this do. Do it Oliver Stone, you know, he's given us all this great stuff, but you want to bring it back to john Daly get back. Why are you really good at this? Thank you, man. Appreciate it. Yeah, no, seriously, I listened to a lot of people it's Yeah, it did. That was the most important thing did I get a six figure script? Right. And, and, and Joe at the time, was kind of blood guts was with next wave films. That was a division of IFC, they were getting money to take following was one of the films they've done several others. And you know, like filmmakers are you know, it's like it was he was hearing a lot of blowback like Ah, this new film, it's just a rip off a talentino you know, and I've been reading you know quite a bit about it. And finally saw it I caught up with it. When it finally gave it the shittiest release, you know, it really should have done much better but I think it was Lionsgate they just dumped it gave him an X lakhs release and saw it on DVD and I was like and I had met Peter Broderick who ran next wave and

Alex Ferrari 24:30
I'm laughing because you just said x lakhs release I never heard the term x lakhs times feeling that it is just No,

Joseph Alexandre 24:44
no, yeah, just you know, just like, you know, and just like Dude, I'm sorry. It is by far I'm not denigrating it blows following away. I'm just a just different dialogue, that action And then he imbues it with like a certain there's some there, you know, it's not just a mindless exercise. He's kind of commenting on those films. And he's putting something in there meaningful. It's interesting at the end, I was just like, Dude, this is great.

Alex Ferrari 25:15
And for everyone listening, he talking about Joe's movie blood guts, bullets and octane. Well, that came out in 9899. If you're on there, alright, so you met Peter Broderick, who's also also friend of the show.

Joseph Alexandre 25:30
Right? Right. So, you know, talk to him. And I just said, you know, hey, I finally caught up with blood guts. I was talking to their people because I had a couple films I was trying to get finishing funds for. And I just say, Hey, man, I just saw blood guts. And like, all these people were shitting all over and I was like, This is great. Like, this is really well known. He forwarded that to Joe until reached out to me, said, Yeah, I was having a bad day. And then I got this, you know, and it was kind of cool to read. And we just formed a friendship and I was ending up going out my then girlfriend at the time was a vet, and she graduated kids that were up in Minnesota and ERISA Minnesota, ended up going to Sacramento. Joe live right now. I was just right in his area Carmichael's real close. And so got to know him pretty well. And that's when he was going back and forth to LA. You know, off writing. Yeah, narc. He was actually I remember talking to him when he was out in the Hamptons. He was working with the O'Connor brothers. He was writing pride and glory you know and that's what Gavin O'Connor drag that's about their dad is in New York City cop and so I was seeing all this from a kind of like a front you know, front line Sure. Front Line view like Wow, man, you know, and you know, it took a while to get an arc off the ground and Dude, that's a whole story.

Alex Ferrari 26:58
He told us he told us the story. Yeah, it's insanity

Joseph Alexandre 27:01
to hear and I mean running out of money while they're shooting and this at the end you know what this and this is why sometimes I wish I would have been right there co pilot you know, it's like, I kind of feel like he got sucked in. You know, I don't know if it's really my story to tell but I'm gonna just tell it you can edit it if you want but when they were doing ticker and I think it's instructive because it's it's relates to everything we're talking about, you know, when the post for ticker is up in Lucas's company and they were talking to in our mutual friend Leon who was approved or that was telling me this story, and they were talking to Rick McCallum was the second in command up there to the whole Star Wars. He's like, Joe, these guys are gonna lick your ass, they're gonna stick their nose so far up, it is going to feel really good. But if you're smart, stay up here and make your own stuff. Don't go for all that big stuff down. You know, and it was just like, first thing out of the bat. You know, it was a walk among the tombstones. You know, it was jersey films. And you know, it's funny because their friend Leon was saying, When Joe was trying to get narc made jersey film, they kind of were kind of decks about as well. It's just an episode of NYPD Blue. Why should we do this? You know, it's like, cool. Dude. This is one of the best screenplays I've ever read. I mean, it's really dark. The screenplays is unbelievable. Oh, absolutely. Why would you get involved? These guys, you shouldn't I you know, but because it's money. And it's this and it's that and then it was, you know, I have my three and then never done. You know, in our case. The film I was writing for him was about this kid who was a drug dealer up in Blaine, Washington, right on the border of British Columbia. And it was kind of like if you could imagine taking the world of City of God and transposing it into like Terrence Malick days of heaven. Jesus Christ. Yeah, that was the teenager right? When I went to research it up there. There was a big bus there's some kid had 60 pounds in his locker, there was like 100 yard tunnel underneath there were like, I had la plates. And I had all this research and they just saw the LA plant in California plates. They pulled me over just because they see this like thick thing or research on this kid about all these drugs. It's obvious like buddy, I hope you don't come back then. You know. And it was like, but there was killing Pablo. Right there was killing to the pig $70 million beast, you know, on the back end, you know, I just always felt like it is a bit who he is because he's the action kind of guy but it's also you know, I think it's kind of like the ocean. It pointed him in this direction. Kind of, you know, instead of maybe I could see him being like a PTA. You know, Paul Thomas,

Alex Ferrari 30:02
man? I'll tell you, I'll tell you what man and I told you this. He is easily one of the most underrated writers in Hollywood today. I think he's a really brilliant writer. And he's a brilliant filmmaker. And I think if they could ever just give him the keys to the f1 car, and let them drive the way he needs to drive it, he he's going to shock everybody, honestly, because he's always had someone sticking their hands in moving things around like it's always that if he could just get like a Netflix deal or something where they just go here Joe, here's the money go make your movie. Get back to us when you're ready. I'm wait jazz. Why jazz needs to be made why jazz needs to be made?

Joseph Alexandre 30:49
needs to Yeah, that looked like the one that could have been that kind of follow you know, late especially. What's when he's at his best is when there's that special like narc has that special meaning of like the guy who's just trying to protect his daughter? Greg is really just the gray is the best case study on leadership because he leads in the completely wrong direction but charge right. He took charge you know, and said thing, you know, Band of Brothers. It doesn't matter if you leave them in there. Right? But you gotta leave. Right? You gotta you know, and it's just that scene with his buddy Frank Rio down where he just comes to peace. Like there's all these this is what makes is it? Yeah, the intense action is always when he's at his best as he has those quiet moments.

Alex Ferrari 31:39
Yeah, no. Absolutely

Joseph Alexandre 31:41
can the shower with a little infant, right? He's in the ocean moment.

Alex Ferrari 31:46
But that's the emotion right? The emotion the best action movies have emotion to it. Like you care about the character. You know, john McClane rigs, you know, these kind of characters that are, you know, epic characters who you just care about. You just care about him and with all this insane action and all this kind of right,

Joseph Alexandre 32:06
but funny minutes to get real quick on on. And this is why I feel like 18 was good. He put what makes diehards, so great hands, hands now and Rick. I feel like he needed that Alan Rickman, and whatever. That's a whole different story. But But you're right, that's, that's, you know, again, Hollywood, kind of getting their hands in it and pushing it another direction. Yeah, you know, you get all these these meddlers and you know,

Alex Ferrari 32:41
it's but it's the game, it's the game that we all you know, everyone plays in Hollywood, there's very few that can be changed. You know, or Spielberg or Nolan, or you know, that they could just come in and just, they have the keys, and like Kubrick before them. And I mean, Kubrick was one of those guys as well. But anyway, so but I just wanted to bring Joe into it. Because this short film led to a relationship with Joe Carnahan, it gave you a gig writing a script. And it all started off with the short, which is, a lot of times filmmakers don't understand it's not only just what the short can generate, by itself, it's what it can generate outside of it. I've said in I think I said it in my book, that my short film not only generated six figures in sales, but also generated seven figures in the course of the next 15 years because I launched my post production company on the back of that, and people kept coming to me because of that short for years. So I got so many other revenue generation off of that, because of all the cool, you know, whatever I did action wise, and visual effects wise and that's short.

Joseph Alexandre 33:48
Think about Jim Cummins Thunder Road, I'll be blunt. I thought to win Sundance, whatever, okay. It's not the point. But okay, so he can't monetize that, because of the song was Springsteen, you know, he just puts it up free. Hey, Bruce, can you just let me put it just for free. But what happens? Oh, Vimeo, hey, do for we'll give you money to do for single tape films. The one I think is best is the one where it's like the guy who's the Department of Corrections who's doing CPR and realize, Oh, he's being transferred to prison or whatever, you know, then it's flipped into a feature. Now he's done another few now. He's done How many? Dude? It's all based on that short, all of it. So it's able to monetize that short but the right then what came has right and

Alex Ferrari 34:38
that's always the dream with short films. The short film is always like, you're gonna see my short film and you're going to give me a shot at a feature, you're going to give me a screenwriting gig or you're gonna it's going to move my career forward. That's what shorts have always kind of been. But what we're talking about here is yes, there's always the upside potential like with any investment, in you know, in real estate or in the stock market. Entering gold bullion or whatever you're investing in. There's always upside. But there should be fundamentals to at least recover the investment in that product, which is the generate the budget of the film. And if you can continue to generate money like you have with that short, yeah, you were able to get the upside and you were able to cover your cover your night, essentially. And that's how filmmakers need to think with shorts. They need to think about how am I going to cover my nut, and great if Steven Spielberg sees it and wants to hire me for the next project, all the better. But you can't plan on that lottery ticket. Because you you getting that six figure deal with Joe to write a screenplay. That's a lottery ticket. That's not that that's a scratch off. That's this guy. Robert Rodriguez won a lottery that's a scratch off. It's a really nice.

Joseph Alexandre 35:49
That's why I love I really love listening to Jay Horton. Jason Hartman, you know, when he talks about that, my strategy is is a different kind of more of boob Tiki kind of thing. He cranking them out like Walmart, right? Like, he's just, you know, I mean, you know, five features in a week, you know, I know. Yeah, yeah. Like,

Alex Ferrari 36:11
he popped them out like water. He pops him out, like, Well, yeah, but he's, he just go he just is like, hey, I need 400 revenue streams making $20 a day. I'm great as opposed to three making $500 a day. And that's right. And it works if it worked for him.

Joseph Alexandre 36:31
And he has in its this kind of specific genre kind of thing, which is that he's trying to run it goes into niche right. For me, you know, my approach was what not necessarily always conscious but what interested me what you know, again, more of kind of setting up a little bit of a boutique on Montana Avenue, rather than you know what I mean, it is but still something that I know I'm interested in because look man, I've made we've all made those films. It's like I really liked this one thing I wrote with a buddy we took a pitcher was a cross dressing Hitman. It was the seven minute piece it was first flub cut it down. Buddy, my commercial director put avid magic on it. And there were a few sound issues. I thought it was I loved it. No, nothing. At the move on just, you know, move on, then cost very much have to write you know, and but when you're really the other thing, too, we get into discussion of warriors of the discotheque. The short giving me the canary in the coal mine. Is there a feature here? And how can I market to that, right? How can I use what I'm learning on this? I'm engaging with the audience. How much bigger is the audience? Is this ancillary? You know is this

Alex Ferrari 37:53
so let's talk about words that the discotheque talk about what the story? How did you get involved with that short and then what did it lead to?

Joseph Alexandre 38:01
So this was happened to be in Dallas, my parents moved down there and split up and my mom stayed. And when I was, you know, still a kid, I kind of snuck into this place the Star Club. It was Felipe starts first design in the United States and being from Miami, you know, all the Ian schrager hotels, start with all those. He designed the mondriaan you know, that became his kind of thing. And so there's that. Speaking of boutique E. There's that cachet right there. Felipe star, right. You know, it's called the Star Club edition that happened to be people debate this, but it's really not. I mean, the truth is, it was ground zero for the popularization of ecstasy. Right. It was there was a guy I mean, it was it was again, you know, ecstasy was actually isolated by Merck pharmaceutical 1914 at languish this dude in the Bay Area, Alexander Shogun us, it became kind of a gay club drug in the late 70s in New York City. But really, there was a seminary and former priests guy named Michael clay who kind of was popularizing it and then when Star Club open it just, it just, I mean, it was on the cover of Life magazine. I mean, it you know, they basically made ecstasy illegal because of what was going on Stark in 1985. Lloyd Bentsen is a senator and the HW Bush was vice president and you know, all these kids that went to SMU or whatnot. Aaron hanging out with trans with Joey areas and you know, drag race whatever Yeah, was was hanging out there. I mean, the music you know, the second kind of British Invasion dead or alive, all these elements were there and it was like, off of the when I was writing this thing for Carnahan, there was a guy who was based in Dallas who was going to do a feature on it. And I kind of approached him he and had a film that had been in Sundance and we went back and forth. We ended up becoming rivals. He ended up making a documentary as well. But I realized, look why. Stick around with a feature screen. Let's just start off and make a short video. I did a little teaser, five minute teaser. Within a week, I had 10,000 this is back in like, Oh, 908 10,000 views on YouTube. Like, that's, you know, I mean, it wasn't a cat video, dude. It's hard to take something of legit. Quick, quickly, right? You know, it's not this little 32nd thing. Like, oh, there's an audience there. Right. Do the short do it like a 19 minutes short. You see a trend here. second version.

Alex Ferrari 40:55
We had the 16 and a half minutes short.

Joseph Alexandre 40:59
Go to USA Dallas, which by the way with your interview with Rick Linklater, Bakker USA was the first festival that he showed slacker in Dallas. Nice. Katie Yeah, you know, so it was great to went down there. Like they they were Academy accredited then. Holly shorts, I think stole their accreditation. I'm pretty sure. I end up getting Holly shorts later. I know Dan's a great guy. Um, so you know, they flew me down there and a whole bit for me to theater was packed, like packed right off the bat. Like oh my god. DVDs, t shirts, posters. They, you know, didn't have any of that prepared, but it was right here. Oh, look at this. Look at what I could do. You know. And as soon as my short was over, more than half the theater cleared out. It was really sad because then film after was a short documentary, kind of a longest short documentary on the legendary commercial director, Jill settle Meyer. He's the where's the beef guy to legend? Great comedic director. They did a thing about that. And then long story short, that experience I ended up doing Holly shorts, I ended up doing quite a few different festivals. But I learned right there. Here's my audience. This is where when I come back, I'm going to do a feature. And I'm going to be prepared this time, because I really easily made a grand in cash. Just having, you know,

Alex Ferrari 42:35
stuff. feature. Yep. So that so then you see you parlayed the short into a feature film right away. And it took the body

Joseph Alexandre 42:43
it took actually two I was trying to raise money but because of this rival tort, they had the original owner investor who was a big corporate CEO, this company, I shouldn't get into detail. Anyway, he they had him and some other guys they were able to go interview Felipe they raised 200k film never came out 200k. And so for lack of a better term, it kind of cock block me from getting money. I ended up having to use some screenwriting money from another thing to eventually go down there and shot the end to like a year and a half later, did most of the shooting down there and then had it ready for I had a date before I had the finished film, which was like the end of April 2011, USA. And it's funny because it still needed some work. I knew I just people just wanted to like the film if I reached a certain modicum of certain level of quality that's only needed. This was not having been down there. It was not a market fest. It was not a distribution fest. It was not like there were all these people are gonna snatch it up. Yeah, I'm gonna meet Malcolm McDowell, which they did for them. Yeah, I'm gonna meet there's tribute, right? You're gonna meet great people. But there aren't a lot of people are gonna buy your film. So it was strictly a marketing opportunity. And I focused on that. I put a lot of my energy on the T shirt, the poster, the CD, the DVDs ready to go a little bit early. Go to a friend. He's like, dude, you should spend a little more time on the film. And I'm like, I'll be able to fix that later.

Alex Ferrari 44:29
And there's multiple versions coming. Right? Yeah. This multiple Don't you worry, sir. I'm gonna have 16 more versions of this damn thing. I just need to get something out now, sir.

So you, you you are ready to come on board. Don't worry about it. There'll be at least six seven more. Don't worry about that, sir. So but so you walked in like off the short you saw that. There was Audience there and you're like, wait a minute, I can leverage this. There. You have a hungry niche audience that wants to see this film. And you're like, I have an audience. Let me feed that audience and not only feed them with the movie, but with all these other products like it, but you did that. You figured that out early on off the short off off that YouTube little four minute pizza five minute video upload, you're like, wait a minute, right? There's something here. And then you tapped into that. And and then how have you still been generating revenue with that film?

Joseph Alexandre 45:33
Dude? Yeah, that's, that's the one, you know, dealing with shotcut. It's Yeah, film hub. Went through multiple distributors microsystem International, they went out of business that I you know, did the prime thing again. I mean, it does, it was doing pretty well via film hub, because they're getting a better Oh, and by the way, when I say prime, I was getting the full 17 Stop it Stop. It still wasn't making that much money. I was still doing way better

Alex Ferrari 46:07
on tv live. That's That's it, doesn't it? It does.

Joseph Alexandre 46:11
It doesn't make sense. But I we experimented with it multiple times. And another one again, it always seemed to be doing better on TV, except for Avon on to being you know, obviously, in that situation, much better. You know, you know, but again, you know, it's this thing. I read another book, too, that was very helpful. This guy named john Reese, he wrote this book called think outside the box office, which is really interesting. And really talks about this stuff. Like, a lot of, you know, it's that old school that you harp on over and over and over this thing about where you go, Oh, you know, I'm gonna just show it, you know, try back on, you know, then I'm gonna get it. Like, don't do

Alex Ferrari 47:00
not 1992 anymore, man.

Joseph Alexandre 47:02
It's great on your merge use this. This is an opportunity, you know, and everybody Oh, I'm going to focus mainly in and it's going to be blah, blah, blah. It's like, Oh, no, no, no. This is your opera. And I wouldn't have known that on my own Really? Had I not done this short first. That was a trial. And also, budget lies. These guys who made that rival doc spent that money they raised they did a Kickstarter alone. 40 something grand for the music rights alone. They were flying blind. They didn't know their their strategy was you know, Sundance. Yeah. On drive back all the big boys. That didn't happen. There was basic it you know, they didn't know it outside of Dallas, unfortunately, even though it has complete national and international implications, and has done well. It was really, I had to taper my budget, and everything around the fact that it was not a slam dunk outside this core audience and this core audience was in New York City. It was in San Francisco, it was in LA Dallas. It was in Europe, people like, right, but Dude, it's not like it was not as big as some people thought it was. But the thing is, reflected that.

Alex Ferrari 48:27
That's another, that's another thing I'd like to point out is that you like okay, I'm not going to spend 200 grand on this, because the audience is not going to reflect that. And as much as I might think it is. It's not you had a niche product, and a niche audience. Now it was an it was it wasn't wide, but it was deep. So you had a lot of people who were interested, but at a certain month at certain, you know, a certain price point, it makes sense. And that's what a lot of filmmakers and I hope everyone listening understands that. You've got to justify the budget that you're spending, just because you want it to be a million dollars doesn't mean that you ever have a chance to get that money back. I consult all the time and coach, and when I when I get some of these sees the filmmakers and they'll come in, they'll go, Oh, I just made a movie. It's a drama period piece, no stars, and we spent 1.5. And it looked and it looked good. It's like and we hired this dp who's beautiful, and I looked at it, I'm like, Oh, it looks nice. You'll never make your money back. Ever, ever. And then they're running around.

Joseph Alexandre 49:33
You may not make any money.

Alex Ferrari 49:36
No, ever No, no, nothing. Nothing. And the thing is,

Joseph Alexandre 49:41
I realize that, like you say that, but I don't think they're filled. They never make

Alex Ferrari 49:46
any money. We are the only business in the world that could spend a million dollars on a product that never generate any revenue or has no it's centric instead. value to it. If you spend a million dollars on a home, you've got the home, you spent a million dollars on a car, you've got a car, it might be an overpriced car, but you still have something that you could recoup your money. There are no parts of the film that you can chisel off and sell, like like that, you know, it same way that you're no product. If the marketplace says no, no. So film, like the example I just gave you $2 million, don't never make a dime. Now if they would have made that more niche, maybe changed genres. And it might be a little bit but that that movie justified a $50,000 budget.

Joseph Alexandre 50:37
Right. And the other thing, other thing too, that's really important is in the research. You know, when you're doing these names, you know, you need someone like our definition of a name is really not like the you know, some kid who's on a 23 year old kid who's on the show, has 500,000 Instagram followers, right? He wants to submit but you have to research that too, right? And I think a lot of people aren't doing that homework. There's a whole level of that where you think why did I never even heard it? So So yeah, he's got 1,000,005 followers. Oh, there are people out right on that right, you know, and the whole film so you've got your so much you have to do. Oh my

Alex Ferrari 51:19
god. Listen, that I know guys who are making six figures a month that you have never heard of, who are just killing it. And they have a million followers, million and a half followers. Some of them even have like three or 400,000. And they're still off of that niche. They're killing it, killing it. So and also Donald and people listening with shorts. Think also about shorts as a YouTube channel, you can continuously make more and more content, eventually monetize it, sell product, if you're within a niche. The riches are in the niches as both those films that we've used as examples here have done. Joy, we can keep talking for a while. Man, I want to I want to give you a couple more questions. I asked all my guests. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into this business?

Joseph Alexandre 52:13
Oh, man, there's so many things. You know, the the one is I think that Ismail Gomez said Don't take it personally. You know, you got to keep going. You got to keep going. And you know, when I got into the Writers Guild, there were three people there in like an introductory talk to the guys had made it written films you'd heard of, you know, with people, you know, there, they'd been there. You know, they were a little older. There was a woman there was a TV writer. And it was so hot. She's like, you know what, find another way to have residual income. I got my real estate license. You know what? I had to wait eight months to 10 months to get paid on a thing because they didn't you know, I took that initial money. I got a real estate. I don't sweat it. I gotta you know, there are stories when I joined the guild there guys who were having a sitting into blobby at the finance office at Fox you know, screen I'm not gonna leave here and like, you know, dude, when you get these deals sometimes. Yeah, you're talking monster. You're talking years when you're getting is that I mean, it drags at a glacial pace. Having something it's hard to create. You are under stress, financial stress.

Alex Ferrari 53:30
Amen, brother. Amen. Amen. You know,

Joseph Alexandre 53:33
I'm move coming to LA to us, Minnesota and table TV, great theater thing the Shubert Theater is you know, Chicago, you're going to St. Louis, Dallas, they're these towns that have you're in one obviously, Austin. I mean, that's gotten really, you know, yeah, the secrets out there. But I'm just saying, you don't have to come to LA unless I had 30 grand in the bank and already maybe had a manager or already had a lot of stuff. I came out here with my eyes wide open. I already been in a couple festivals. I already had a dude, it was five times harder than I thought. And you're all these people who start out wanting to do this and then they're a manager at a catering company and they're bitter and they're this and that because they didn't have time to develop. Right? They didn't on they didn't understand you got to be out every single night and every single event talking to every single person you can and then at the same time, you have to be creating a body of work. It is hard to get stuff together in LA to get you can get actors easily. But to put it all together, there's so many other places in the country.

Alex Ferrari 54:46
Absolutely. You know me being in LA for 13 years I can speak firsthand about this. La is wonderful. It's great and you will be able to grow at a much faster rate than you will in smaller markets. Media. The learning curve in LA is so much faster, because you're dealing with just people who have more experienced than you. I did, I came from a small market in Miami and then went to LA and I learned, like I've said before, the first year in LA was like five years in Miami like it right? It get but but after a certain point, you need to figure out like, Is it worth for me to stay here anymore? Or have I ever established myself enough? Could I go back, bring my overhead down, use that extra money that I was generating? How am I generating my money? Is my money being generated by the City of Los Angeles? Or can I generate an online business? Or am I creating residual income other ways that don't have to live in LA anymore? All that kind of stuff. But it's I agree with you 110%. I when I went to LA, I had, I think you probably have heard this story that I bought out a Hollywood video and I had four or five right? Before five giant boxes of DVDs. And that was like, Well, if I can't get a job, I'll sell these. And I was lucky. But I also was coming into la not with like a dream. I was coming to LA with skills.

Joseph Alexandre 56:06
I was I was opposed to Los Angeles, dude. I mean, what year did you come here?

Alex Ferrari 56:11
I went to LA in 2008. I had already probably had 10 years under my belt. But I was it was 10 years in Miami years

Joseph Alexandre 56:20
after broken, right, which was exactly 2005 anybody heard a broken man? In the business, and you were following these things? You're like, didn't you at this film? And but what I'm saying that's kind of what you needed. And even then, it was like, tough.

Alex Ferrari 56:42
After broken man, I mean, I got I did the water bottle too. Or I got called by Oscar winning producers. I mean, I've gone through the gamut so many damn times, I can't even tell you. But I showed up. I was like, I just need to be an editor. I need to be a colorist. I need to just be able to make a living. And then once I established myself that way, within I think four months. I was at a Holly shorts party, because I knew Daniel and feel from because I was in their first festival with broken.

Joseph Alexandre 57:12
Remember it? Yeah, I remember it because it's going to space and all that dude. Yeah. Oh, yeah, we really needed another festival. Right? Right,

Alex Ferrari 57:18
exactly. So I met somebody there. And four months later, I shot another short, which was kind of a nightmare. But I got something else on my, my, my plate to show people like, Look, I've just shot this thing with a known face that people would recognize and some other actors. And then I and then I gathered enough, you know, nuts to put together my $50,000 ridiculous short film, without thinking of anything that we've discussed in this episode. Just going, Hey, this is the thing. Everyone's gonna recognize my genius now. And it didn't work out that way. But I still generate, but I still generate revenue with that film. And that film got me a lot of gigs as a director doing commercials and music videos and things like that. So it easily paid itself off over the years. But it didn't do what I intended to do, which was to, you know, to do a feature and all this other stuff that I've been, I wanted to do with it. But hey, it's not easy, man. This whole thing is not easy. everyone listening. It sucks. It's hard. And I love what Rick, Rick Linkletter said, When I asked him the question, I go, what's it some advice and he's like, whatever you think it's going to take, it's going to take twice as long. And it's going to be twice as hard. And I was like, such great, great because it's true. It's absolutely true. Maybe three times sometimes three times depending on the project. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?

Joseph Alexandre 58:44
Okay, it's so simple, but you're probably patients. That's mine. Yeah. I mean, it just you know, and also, you know, it's funny Have you seen Val? Oh,

Alex Ferrari 58:57
oh my god. I don't even get me started on Val because Val has a very special place in my heart for other reasons, but that movie is haunting. Right. It dreamlike. It's, I just sat there tear, I was crying. I was just tearful, what he was going through, because I was such I'm such a fan of vowels. I'm just such a fan of vowels.

Joseph Alexandre 59:21
I was at the Chateau Marmont, my sister was there. Shoot, she loved it. And he was kind of holding court at the pool. And to be honest, he is a little bit of it. It was not one of his better days. Hey, and, and I didn't know anything about him. And then the first whatever. 10 minutes of when you realize that brother died, who is like his creative? Yeah, yeah. I mean, it's like you don't know people's story, man. You know, it's it's like, it's like the, you know, the Kevin Spacey thing swimming with sharks, you know, but you know, it's like, yeah, my wife got was you know, she had a flat tire. Someone shot her in the face. He's like, Well, I didn't know your buddy didn't know something, right? It's like, you don't know, like, you know, so and so you don't know what people are going through. And you don't know. You know, it relates to that thing. It's like he might draw an opinion of you, you know, it's like, you know, just kind of just hold back, you know, hold back, pause, you know, pause you know a bit Don't take it personally. Don't get bent. Just keep going keep doing what you can do. You know, and it's so you know, I think we get everything so pretty because it is it's a bitter business in genders a lot of bitterness and this guy FM and that guy, you know, and, you know, it's it's a big thing to keep.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:48
Now and what are three of your favorite films of all time?

Joseph Alexandre 1:00:52
Oh, dude. Goodfellas is one. I'm gonna I'm gonna cheat. Andre tarkoff skis. Andre roob live in this Russian film called common see World War One of the greatest films about World War Two. It's brilliant. And throw throwing period Linden Stanley Kubrick. I got it.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:18
Stanley is Stanley. Don't get me started on Stanley. I could talk for hours hours, Stanley Stanley. I appreciate you coming

Joseph Alexandre 1:01:27
through one more thing in the documentary I met I met Leon Vitaly at the Kubrick exhibit in the Polian very Linden room. Yeah. And you watch filmmaker, this is really important for filming. I understand. It is huge. It is exactly what we've been talking about. It's what you've been talking about. And he spends almost all his time curating his work, right. This thing to view, you know, I mean, yes, he's presumes, you know, but it's not like you just oh, you know, oh, we had a new kid. Oh, it's three months old. Oh, throw it away. Like dude. 40 years later, they're still okay. Well, what are their specs on the 2001? Like, he's like, we have Vitaly was spending almost all his time making sure the ad was right. Making sure the print was right. Making sure the transfer was right, right. And that's something filmmakers need to keep in mind. Do you have something that is going to be out there forever? Keep if there's something there, keep nurturing it. Keep. Keep honing?

Alex Ferrari 1:02:30
I'll tell you what, I'll tell you my story. I actually at Holly shorts saw a 35 print of Full Metal Jacket. And right and Leon Vitaly sat behind me, and I'm watching Full Metal Jacket with Leon Vitaly sitting by me, and then afterwards I stand up. I'm like, I just, I just had this right before. This is around the time filmmaker came out. I hadn't seen it yet. But I'm like, I can't wait to see your documentary. He's like, Oh, thank you. Thank you. He's such a pleasant man. Right? Oh, yeah. Oh, no British hippie is great. Right. Right. Right now where can people look up your work and get a hold of you and and all that. You can

Joseph Alexandre 1:03:10
go to jfa films calm. You can go on one of the shorts and had mentioned the early inauguration. You can hit that on shorts, TV sometimes. often see the other the real casinos on zumo TV Plex, the short, very few have criterion channel. It's on the split screen. One of those seasons, the seven minute version, Amazon, Amazon, of course, you can find all those things on

Alex Ferrari 1:03:42
and all the versions are out there. Right. Yeah. Man, it has been a pleasure talking to man, thank you so much for being on the show. I appreciate you, man.

Joseph Alexandre 1:03:53
Yeah, thank you, Alex. Keep it up.

LINKS

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Film Distribution Survival Guide (How to Actually Make Money)

Over the years, by far, the single most significant area where I have seen most filmmakers stumble on is film distribution. There is not a lot of information out there about the inner working of the film distribution process, let alone indie film distribution.

We have all heard the horror stories about and indie filmmaker signing a horrible distribution deal from film distribution companies, never getting a dime and losing control of their film for ten years to boot. As crazy as that might sound, it happens more often than you might think.

These stories are not outliers or exceptions; they are the rule. Most filmmakers have no idea what to do when they get into distribution of their film. For this reason I put together this Film Distribution Survival Guide to help guide you through these uncharted waters. I hope these few tips you are about to read will not only help you but save you time and money.

Traditional Distribution

As I stated earlier, most filmmakers suffer heartache when they deal with traditional distribution companies because of a few reasons.

    • By the time they get to this point in the filmmaking process, they are exhausted.
    • Filmmakers are ignorant about the entire process.
    • Filmmakers have no idea what to ask for or look out for.
    • Many times filmmakers never did market research to see if their film had any value and when the harsh reality hits them they have very few options, so they sign a predator distribution deal to get a digital release of their film.

Now not all feature film distribution companies are immoral or predatory. I’ve run into many good players in this game, but I’ve also dealt with some predator distributors that I wouldn’t trust to carrier my groceries up the stairs.

Here are some essential tips when looking at a potential film distribution partner.

Please note: You should always seek legal counsel when deciding to sign any agreement. The information I layout in this book is based on my experience being in the film industry for over 25 years and should be a starting point of discussions with legal counsel.

Do Your Home Work

Anytime you speak to any independent film distribution companies, always do your homework. Contact filmmakers, they have done business with in the past and ask them about their experience.

  • What did they do for the film?
  • Did they pay you?
  • How often and detailed are the quarterly reports?
  • Would you work with them again?

This one tip could save you years of heartache. I would call at least 3-4 filmmakers and compare notes. You can go to IMDB Pro (if you don’t have an IMDB Pro account get one ASAP) look up the films they have distributed before and reach out to the filmmakers of those films.

How Long Have They Been Doing Business

One of the easiest ways to see if the company you are talking to is better than most is to see how long they have been in business. This method isn’t perfect since I know distributors who have been around for years that I would never work with, but this does weed out potential problems.

If the company is new and the filmmakers they have worked with are giving them good reviews, then do homework on the key players of the company. Many times the CEO and founder has been in the distribution game for years working for a larger company, and he or she is opening up shop. The key is doing that homework.

The Devil is in the Details

Now you reached out to a distributor, have done your homework and you have a beautiful indie film distribution contract sitting on the table for you to sign, all your filmmaking dreams are about to come true, not so fast. You need to go over this agreement over with a fine-tooth comb.

First, have an entertainment attorney look over the agreement. Please do not use your uncle Bob who is a real estate attorney; he will not be savvy enough to understand the little tricks and fine print you will find in most distribution agreements.

Out of Control Expenses

Distribution companies usually will charge you for expenses they accrue in the process of distributing your film. Depending on the distributor this could cover, trailer editing, poster design, film market travel, final deliverables, E&O Insurance, Close Captioning, and many others.

The key is to demand a cap on expenses, which means that you are not responsible for any costs above a certain point. Let us say we cap the marketing fees at $20,000. If the expenses are $25,000, then you are only responsible for $20,000. So the first $20,000 made from sales of the film go to covering those expenses.

If you do not cap these cost and leave them open-ended, then chances of you ever receiving a dime for your film is extremely slim.

Length of the Agreement

I have seen distribution contracts that are ten years, some ever fifteen to twenty five years long. In a nutshell, the distributor owns your film for the length of the agreement.

If you have not signed a smart deal or made an agreement with a distributor that will try to sell your film, then you have given you movie away as a gift to this distributor. You can not generate any revenue from your hard work, let alone pay back investors, or recoup your expenses.

I have signed film distribution agreements for as little as three years, not the industry norm. Most arrangements are between 5 to 7 years. So make sure the deal you sign is a good one because you will be in bed with this company for years to come.

Audit Rights

In the agreement, you need to make sure you have the right to audit their books. I know of a filmmaker that insisted the company put this in contract and years later that filmmaker went into their office and checked their books.

They found thousands of dollars that owed to them. Most reputable film distribution companies will not have an issue with this.

BONUS PRO TIP:

This tip could save your film from falling into a dark prison that you cannot break it out from. Make sure there is a clause in the agreement that if the distribution company happens to closes, is prosecuted or goes bankrupt that the rights of your film return to you automatically. Again, most reputable distribution companies will not have an issue with this.

I know Sundance, SXSW and Cannes filmmakers that had their films locked up in the courts for years because of a bankruptcy. Trust me you do not want this to happen to you.

Paperwork Deliverables

Here comes the fun stuff, the paperwork. Most film distribution companies will ask for a mountain of paperwork to be delivered with your film. The paperwork is there to protect you, your film. the potential buyers and the distribution company.

Some of the paperwork you will need is the following.

Licensor must provide the following items to Sales Agent:

  • Contractual Credit Block
  • Synopsis
  • Production notes
  • Layered Key Art
  • High-Definition Frame-grabs
  • Digital production photographs
  • Lab Access Letter
  • Quality Control (“QC”) Reports with an “approved” grade must be delivered for all 
      high definition masters
  • Errors and Omissions policy maintained by Licensor for five (5) years
  • Complete chain of title comprising the following:
    • Copies of copyright registration certificate filed with the U.S. Copyright office with respect to the screenplay and the motion picture
    • Copies of a Copyright Report (including opinion) and a Title Report
      (including opinion)
    • A complete statement of all screen and advertising credit obligations
    • A statement of any restrictions as to the dubbing of the voice of any player, including dubbing dialogue in a language other than the language in which the Show was recorded;
    • Copies of all licenses, including, but not limited to: fully-executed master use and synchronization /performance music licenses; contracts; assignments and/or other written permissions from the proper parties in interest permitting the use of any musical, literary, dramatic and other material of whatever nature used in the production of the Show;
    • Copies of all agreements or other documents relating to the engagement of personnel in connection with the Show including those for an individual producer(s), the director, all artists, music composer(s) and conductor(s), technicians and administrative staff;
    • Final shooting script
    • Chain of Title Opinion
    • Certificate of Origin
    • The dialogue continuity script
    • Music cue sheet

What is E&O Insurance

Most film distribution companies need E&O (Errors and Omissions) Insurance. E&O is the insurance policy that buyers of your film need to have in place. If you have a scene in your movie with someone dying at the hand of a Coca-Cola bottle while the killer is wearing a Mickey Mouse t-shirt, you are going to have a problem.

The E&O Insurance policy protects buyers from any legal issues your film might have. The insurance company will watch your movie, flag any problems then sign off once everything is to their liking.

Physical Film Deliverables

Film deliverables are the elements that the film distribution companies need to represent your film for sale. Deliverables is a deep subject, but I will give you a brief overview of the basics you will need to budget for when delivering your film. You will need to plan for the following items.

Digital Masters

You’ll need to deliver a Master ProRes 422 HQ Master Quicktime File of Your Film in 1080p and possibly 4K.

Textless Master

You’ll need to create a textless master as well that removes any on-screen graphics (i.e.: locations, time of day, credits) that are graphically placed on the film. These graphics need to be removed so foreign distributors can replace them in their language.

You audio will need to be in stereo and 5.1 surround. You will also need M&E (Music and Effects) separate audio masters for foreign sales (more on this later).

Trailers and Posters

Many times a feature film distributor will pay for new key art and trailer editing. If you feel that you can present the distributor with both then do so. It will cost much more if you have them pay for these deliverables.

Digital Cinema Package

In its purest form, Digital Cinema Package or more commonly known as a DCP could be seen as the digital version of a 35mm film print. Its main advantage is that you can present it to theaters to enable them to project it via a digital projector.

A digital cinema package is recognized and accepted all over the world. The digital cinema package comes in a briefcase. The case is usually either yellow or orange, but many theaters download the DCP from the cloud.

Does every film need a DCP, no? DCPs are just for theatrical exhibition. Do not spend the money on creating a DCP unless you know for sure you will use it.

Below is a typical list of deliverables you will need to provide to your film distributor.

Schedule of Delivery Items Required

LAB ACCESS: Licensor must provide lab access to Sales Agent throughout the active term of this Agreement for both the Feature and Release Trailer in each of the formats listed below. These elements are in addition to those to be delivered to Sales Agent in the following sections of this schedule:

  • Original Negative
  • Original Soundtrack Source
  • 35mm Interpositive or Digital Intermediate
  • 35mm Internegative
  • 35mm Stereo Optical Soundtrack Negative
  • 35mm Final Answer Print from Negative
  • 35mm Check Print from Negative
  • 35mm Textless Sections Interpositive
  • Reel-By-Reel Fully-Filled M&E
  • MASTER FILE: a 2K or High Definition Apple ProRes 422 HQ
  • PROJECT FILE: Final Cut Pro, Premiere or AVID file (including all sound files)
  • PAL 25fps 4×3 Full Frame masters on Digital Betacam (DBC)
  • 23.98fps or 25fps HIGH DEFINITION (HD) master on an HD-CAM SR tapes


THE ITEMS THAT FOLLOW ARE TO BE DELIVERED TO SALES AGENT

Film Items

All elements listed below must be provided for both the Feature and Release Trailer. These elements are in addition to the prints being kept at the lab and may be used on loan to distributors:

  • 35mm Internegative
  • 35mm Stereo Optical Soundtrack Negative
  • 35mm Textless Sections Interpositive
  • 35mm Release Print

Video Items

Masters must be provided for both the Feature and Release Trailer by Licensor to Sales Agent for all items listed below:

  • PAL 25fps and NTSC 29.97fps 4×3 Full Frame masters on Digital Betacams (DBC).
  • PAL 25fps and NTSC 29.97fps 16×9 Full Height Anamorphic masters on DBC
  • 23.98fps and 25fps HIGH DEFINITION (HD) 16 X 9 Full Frame masters on a HD-CAMSR
  • MPEG-2 files in both PAL (720×576 pixels / min 5000/448 kbps) and NTSC (720×480 pixels / min 5000/448 kbps)
  • HI-DEF Quicktime files
  • CLOSED CAPTION files time-coded to agree with both the NTSC and PAL Digibeta masters in. CAP format (this can be expensive but I have a hack for you, see below)
  • BONUS FEATURES on a DVD video disk in both NTSC and PAL

Sound Items

Licensor must provide continuous audio elements to Sales Agent per below:

  • 29.97fps and 25fps sets of PCM or AIFF digital audio files
  • Sets of 5.1 digital audio files, either PCM or AIFF

As you can see, many distributors will ask for EVERY deliverable in the book. Sometimes the reason behind this ridiculous is just plain laziness. The company has an intern or office assistant email you an old deliverables list from the ’90s. If they are asking for Beta SP masters, then this is a dead give away.

Always ask what they need before spending money on deliverables you do not need to spend money on before writing that check.

What is Closed Captioning?

As any filmmaker who has ever delivered a film or video to distribution knows Close Captioning is a big and expensive pain in the butt. The process is convoluted, confusing and most of all  PRICEY.

The cost to have close captioning created for your movie, television series, web series or youtube video can range from $8-$15 per minute. On a 90 minute film that could cost filmmakers up to $1350!

Closed captioning (CC) and subtitling are both processes of displaying text on a television, video screen, or other visual display to provide additional or interpretive information. Both are typically used as a transcription of the audio portion of a program as it occurs (either verbatim or in edited form), sometimes including descriptions of non-speech elements.

Every feature film that is going to stream on iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, or any streaming service must have close captioning by law. There is just no getting around it. So you’ll need this.

I’ve been using Rev.com for a while now. I tested the service first with my first feature film. This is Meg, and it worked like a charm. I recommend the service to any filmmaker or client that will listen to me.

Every time I receive my close captioning (CC) from Rev, they have passed QC (Quality Control) for all my streaming options, including super strict platforms like Amazon, iTunes, and Hulu.

Good Luck

I hope this guide has helped you on you film distribution path. There are many sharks and predatory film distributors out but there are also many good, honest distributors out there as well. You are ultimately responsible for any deal you sign so do your homework and get ready do some work.

There is no magic film distributor that will come along, pay you a ton of cash, do all the heavy lifting in getting your film marketed and you just sit back and collect check for life. It doesn’t work that way.

If you want to do a deeper dive into film distribution, try enrolling in our FREE Film Distribution Crash Course. You can find how reserve your spot below.

IFH 496: How to Make Money with PSD Self Distribution


Right-click here to download the MP3

Our guests today are filmmakers and developers, Zach Lona and Anthony Gibson. Zach is the founder of Chicago-based film production company, Eleusinian Productions studio that invented the Patronized Self-Distribution (PSD) model. The Patronized self-distribution (PSD) uses NFTs essentially as an alternative film distribution model from traditional Hollywood distribution. It hoists and redefines the status of independent films to that of fine art while targeting the film’s specific audience (art collectors/patrons). 

After finishing up his feature mockumentary film directorial debut, He Who Lives In Hidden Lakes, at the end of 2020, and being reluctant to go the normal film distribution route, Zach sought an alternative and along with his team, invented the PSD model earlier this year. 

The fanatic beliefs of an internet mystic, a cult leader, and a rookie cop who went rogue are tested on the hunt for the “Hidden Man” — an elusive forest-dwelling cryptid that terrorizes their idyllic suburb.

He Who Lives In Hidden Lakes is now listed as Eleusinian Production’s first NFT auction on OpenSea NFT online marketplace. The NFT model is a huge incentive for independent filmmakers because the increase in viewers will lead to an increase in passive income and NFT value.

As you can tell, this is a deep dive topic. So, I wanted to bring them to the show to talk about how all of it works. Efficient ways to implement Patronized Self-Distribution, Who really benefits from Patronized Self-Distribution models, and more.

Enjoy my entertaining conversation with Anthony and Zach.

Alex Ferrari 0:11
I like to welcome to the show Anthony Gibson and Zack Lona. How you guys doing?

Zach Lona 0:16
Doing Excellent. Thanks for having us.

Alex Ferrari 0:18
Oh, man, thank you so much for coming on the show man, I, you guys reached out to me and I get reached out to on a daily basis to be on the show. And I get pitches constantly. But when I saw what you guys were doing, I was like, This is interesting. And of course, you hit a very sweet spot right now, which is blockchain NFT, these new alternative distribution models using technology to empower the filmmaker. Because there's been a slight history of filmmakers being taken advantage of by distribution. I'm not saying many, but some say just just a couple. I mean, it's it's not the norm or anything. But yeah, I want to bring you guys on the show to talk about your amazing new way of distributing through the blockchain through NF T's. But before we even get to that, how did both of you guys get into the business?

Zach Lona 1:13
So we actually met each other. In Chicago, we were a bit both based in Chicago at the time. And Anthony has since moved to LA. So we met through our cinematographers at Green on a feature like project, which was my directorial debut is called he lives in hidden lakes, which is the subject of this project here. And then Anthony, and I have since worked on that very closely with his his production skills.

Alex Ferrari 1:40
Cool. And that's how you guys got together. And what made you get into the business? Anthony?

Anthony Gibson 1:45
Oh, yeah, I mean, what made me get into it. I just love movies. My grandpa used to chase me around his house wearing wolf mask brought me into the world via horror movies.

Alex Ferrari 1:57
Grandpa, that's an amazing.

Anthony Gibson 1:59
Yeah, he was big in horror, big and westerns, it's one of my first memories were like in his kitchen, and he's chasing me around on that mask and would have been, it's interesting to have a first memory of feeling like you're about to be eaten by a monster, and feel like that's informed the rest of my life basically attracted to his exact movie here So

Alex Ferrari 2:17
I think this is, this is where the therapy begins. Anthony.

Anthony Gibson 2:20
Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 2:20
So so. So you guys just came up with this new idea called the patronis self distribution model using NF T's essentially, can you explain to the audience and we've had other episodes about this, but just want to kind of carry it a baseline? What is an NF? t? In the simplest, simplest terminology?

Zach Lona 2:39
Yeah, this is always a tough one, right? Because it's so new. And it's like, I'll give out Anthony. I'll give my definition. And then I've thought a lot about about how to position this. And essentially, how I think of it is it's a immutable function on a blockchain that represents a asset, like a work of art, a film, a house alone, something like this, where it's universally verifiable. So anyone, no matter who you are, where you are, you can come into the blockchain code, and you can verify that this token, this NFT represents this, whatever it is. So basically, that's more confusing than it was before. So now, I'm actually more confused about what an NF T is. And I know what an NF T is. No,

Alex Ferrari 3:29
I'm joking. So you you don't quit your day job? No. Basically, to my understanding, you guys can explain to this and NFT essentially, is a digital baseball card, a digital comic book, a digital painting, as a one off, or multiple versions, or limited edition prints of something. So there's a 5050 limited a 50 of this, or only one of this. And it's just a digital version of spider man number one, but there's only maybe one of them or there could be 100 of the market be 1000 of them, depending on how many you you release out there. Is that a fair? exponential? FTS? Yeah,

Anthony Gibson 4:06
you know, I think like, for me, the term in my mind is like digital, physical, or physical, digital, it's like a thing that exists, like, as itself that you can sell as a singular item, the same way that you would have any other merchandise, you can do that with an entity. It's a way to buy and sell means.

Zach Lona 4:24
Yeah, it's a it's a way to facilitate digital ownership of something.

Alex Ferrari 4:29
Right? And then when you were saying blockchain, I mean, I know what blockchain is. So you know the basics of blockchain. If you want to know about the basis of blockchain and what NF T's are based on, I have multiple episodes, and I'll link that in the in the show notes on on blockchain explanations of it, and what it all means in our world, because that's a long conversation, and I think I've ever had that conversation. So I just really want to focus on what you guys are doing, but I'll put that in the show notes guys. So tell me then what is a patronized self distribution model? Or a PSD model?

Zach Lona 5:02
Yeah, so patronis self distribution is a way to not necessarily actually release your film, but it's a way to verifiably own the film as a work of art. So a lot of projects that have been experimented with NF T's in the film space have been sort of in a in an addition or in a like a, you could like you were saying earlier, you could buy multiple versions of it, like you have like a limited DVD release, or something like this, what patronis self distribution does is that it It means a scarce token of your film. So you're not thinking of your film as a fungible asset anymore, where everyone can go to Netflix or Amazon Prime and see it, now you're thinking of it as almost like a piece of fine art, like a unique one of one painting. So then that is then mapped to the token. And then, on top of that, you can sell that token as a sort of non fungible piece of art. And then the economic aspect of it that we've designed that comes into it grants the owner of that NFT, which is representing your film, in all of its singular artistic glory, and all the blood, sweat and tears you put into it, it also gives utility to the owner. So usually, that's going to be mean like an economic benefit, like a perk. You can also have like crowdfunding type benefits with it with, you know, maybe you can have dinner with the director and producer. But really, what's what's what, what's going to make it the most powerful book for both you as a filmmaker and your patron, is the sort of economic benefit to owning this token.

Alex Ferrari 6:57
Right? So when you're saying, so basically someone, let's say, I buy your movie for five grand, you're NFT, according to what I read in your, on your on your website, you whoever buys that token would also get 50% of all streaming revenue, from here on to eternity, essentially, in perpetuity. Oh, yeah. Okay. So then they would come in, so now, I own it. I bought it for $5,000. And then now after I've purchased it, it releases the film, because the film would have not been released at that point yet,

Zach Lona 7:30
right? Yes, exactly. So there are many ways it really the sky's the limit with what you can do with NF T's, which is really like the power of it is like this is completely untapped potential. And there's use cases for this stuff that no one has even thought of yet. So this is a new one that we thought we would experiment with, where we're saying, okay, we're gonna mint our feature film as a one on one token, which hasn't been done before, to our knowledge. And then we're also going to give an economic benefit to owning the token. And that just exists in perpetuity. So the the potential that that unlocks is you can trade the token again, it's, again, we're thinking of the film as like a painting or a piece of fine art now, where you can now there's now a secondary market for that, for that film. And along with the economic benefit, that which transfers on the resale of the token, the new owner of the film token will then receive that 50% cut. So we can get into a little bit more, but it's, it's, it's powerful.

Anthony Gibson 8:35
Yeah, you know, it's really like an exploration of incentive, and figuring out, like, what we can do within this new technology to explore new models for small business. I mean, I think of myself as like a small business filmmaker, right. And this is like, like, this new modality is allowing people to enter a space and be new and to define it, and to set up new new norms, which is really exciting. And so I think, like, in this case, it's like, well, we had this feature film that we had produced, and we wanted to see what we could do to distribute it ourselves. And that was like, along came this conversation about annuities. And we just kind of racked our brains around like, Well, what does the incentive look like? And what could scenario be that would put something in the hands of the person who bought it, but also give us an opportunity to have an entirely new platform? And that's what's awesome about these aggregators is like, you can self distribute your movie, you know, and the terms that just happened to be attached to our NFT was, we're not going to touch the aggregator until it's purchased. And that was the term.

Alex Ferrari 9:37
Right. And the thing is to that, well, I'm assuming that the budget of the film was at a point where a $5,000 nF t made sense because if you spent a quarter of a million half a million dollars on a movie that doesn't make financial sense to give half of your streaming revenue away, so it's kind of like you know, it But let's say for example, that I have a movie that has a star in it. Even Not, not Brad Pitt, or you know, Leonardo DiCaprio, but just a basic, you know, a star power that has a fan base. And then we put it up for auction, as opposed to locking it in. Did you you guys locked it into 5000. Right? Well, we

Zach Lona 10:19
did. Oh, yeah. We put it to auction. So we actually got a couple bids in. And our starting auction was one ether, which I think at the time was a little under 2000. Yeah. Yeah. So we got a couple bids in there. And it went up to 2.25 ether, which was the strike price. So that was really cool to see the bids come in for this thing. That means that there's definitely like an inkling of a market forming around this stuff. But yeah.

Alex Ferrari 10:44
So Alright, so then, so if we put the bid out, and let's say that bid gets up to 75,000 $100,000, that's a very feasible thing, especially if you're guaranteed 50% of streaming revenue coming in, and that's a massive, it could be massive, depending on the kind of revenue you're creating. Where you're being put up on is that, you know, transactional? Is that a VOD? Is that s VOD, is that P VOD. What you can define all that in your NFT. Is that, is that right?

Zach Lona 11:12
Yeah, that's correct. So with ours, and I'm sure everyone is listening is thinking like, what are these guys doing? Giving a 50%? Like, we haven't gotten into like why we did? That's a good deal, right? But yes, you can define any of that within the economics of your token. It just so happens that we're including, like, you know, a VOD t VOD. Every anywhere it's streamed, the owner of the ift gets a 50% cut of our production company's gross. So not like the entire gross. So just what we take home.

Alex Ferrari 11:43
So the So then the question is, why the hell did you do this? And how does this make it make any sort of financial sense?

Zach Lona 11:50
Yeah, so it's it's an expense, like Anthony said, you know, it's an experiment in incentives. And maybe do you want to take this one.

Alex Ferrari 11:58
But I'm assuming it's an experiment, because I experimented to my first one was five grand my second film was three grand, I experimented because my budgets were extremely low. I didn't experiment with 50 or 100. Grand, because I'm not rolling that deep just yet. So I'm assuming that the budget justifies this kind of, of risk, or this kind of experiment. Does that make sense? Totally. Yeah.

Anthony Gibson 12:18
Yeah. I mean, and Zack can probably share more about where like the budgets coming from and all that stuff. But for us, yeah, we were very much in a place where you know, a, a one ether deal at a certain point for the one to one NFT was more interesting to us than maybe recouping a any money, like all of the funding back within the actual purchase of the NFT. But also to give away 50% of the streaming rights, I think for us with most interesting about it is the experimentation and saying look like we're trying something new, we happen to have something that we're willing to take a risk with. And it's like, hey, like, if this means that more people would watch it, like, the idea of like giving up more money was okay, because it's actually just about the piece of work itself. And also what this could mean for the future. Because everything every project you get out is like a case study in like business and economics and all these kinds of things. And it's every project is going to have a new audience. And it's like, someone who's buying soap and someone who's buying toothpaste, but they buy different kinds of things, you have to find another way to sell to that person. And it's like, well, the only way we're going to get to that knowledge is if we take the thing that we already have and put forth and say we're putting it all we're going all in on our chips here, because something on the other side of this is going to tell us what to do next.

Zach Lona 13:37
Yeah. And to be specific about, you know why we're actually saying this is the utility that we're going to grant with this NFT is the trying to capitalize on the incentive of either someone by an out of the gate, or on the secondary market of someone who it's almost like a like a High Renaissance artists patron relationship where the kind of person who has the money to allocate to this kind of, you know, merchandise or artwork, they might have in influence in the greater world, where we call it in the crypto space pumping their bags, you know, so you're like, Okay, I just bought this NFT I want to show it to everyone. So the more the meme gets out there that this is a movie, and you should watch it, the more valuable that the original NFT becomes. So the idea is the person who buys this, either one has an incentive to sell it to someone with a with a large audience essentially, or some influence, or the person who acquires it outright, can acquire it for a cheaper price. Like say $5,000, which if we're talking about artwork isn't really that much. But then they can say, Okay, I have an audience of, you know, maybe a million people. Maybe I'm like a big YouTube streamer, I could drop $5,000 on this film, you know, shill it to my audience. And then within a couple months, I've made my initial investment back. And also now the now that all of my audience has seen this film, more people love it. More people love it. The more cultural gravitas that the film has, the more countercultural gravitas that the film has, the more value that the original film and ft can capture on the secondary market. So it's almost like an incentive engine to keep things going and pump the bag essentially.

Alex Ferrari 15:32
That's, it's I know, a lot of people who listen to this, like, what are these two guys? What are these three guys talking about? This is these guys are insane. But look, we're and I told you guys, this before we started, I've said this a million times on the show before is that we're in the internet 1996 we're still trying to figure out what HTML is we're still trying to figure out what JPEG is, we're still trying to get faster than dial up modems to log onto the internet without stealing an AOL disk from a magazine in a Barnes and Noble. That's how old I am. So, you know, that's where we are with NF T's with blockchain. With all this, we're at a very, very basic beginning level. And it's been around for how since 2008, when Bitcoin showed up, and the concept of blockchain showed up. It, we were we were around, it's been around that long. And it's taken that long to get to where we are now. And people are starting to figure things out. And again, we've talked about NF T's at nauseam at some of these episodes. So you can go deeper into that. But I'm curious, okay, so obviously, the budget made sense. The benefits make sense for the investor who buys this. Now, something that people might not understand is that if I buy your NFT, I resell it for 20 grand, you get 10% of that for perpetuity, if that sells for 20 grand, and then a year or two later, it sells for 40 grand, you just made another 4000 bucks. And and it keeps going and going and going and going. And hopefully your next movie is you know, taxi driver, you know, circa 2021. And then you blow up as a filmmaker will the value of that NFT astronomically goes up. And I think you use the example of George Lucas, George Lucas added theory M and NF T, what would the Star Wars and if TV and and I've said, What is it? What would taxi driver be? What would be amblin? You know, Spielberg's first short film as an NFT? What would that be worth today if it would have been treated as such? And the technology existed when that came out? So is that

Zach Lona 17:35
right? Exactly? Yeah, we're so I come from a from more of a fine art background, myself, I didn't start in film, I just sort of arrived at film as a consequence of feeling like that, that was the best medium for my creative ideas to live. So I'm coming at it from I'm trying to kind of combine these two worlds, where now we have an opportunity because of this NFT technology to assign cultural value that translates to economic value to like these priceless film cultural artifacts. I mean, film is such a big part of, you know, our culture. And you know, you can argue that it's, it's sort of got a lot of competition these days, which it does, but that's an opportunity for independent filmmaking at this level to sort of ascend socially in terms of its social status. So I see feature films going more of the way of like the opera, or, or the theater where it's kind of more of a niche interest, but it's got a very high, it's got a higher class, social implication to it, which if we're, then if then we're assigning Fine Art value to the film's and that can be traded. Yeah, the value of these tokens could, you know, seriously be worth a lot in the future. And also, because of the technology, we get a creative royalty on each of those secondary transactions. So if you know one day this sells for a million dollars on the secondary market, we just pocket $100,000 you just automatically,

Alex Ferrari 19:04
right, exactly. And I mean, imagine Wizard of Oz, or Citizen Kane or you know, if you want to talk about fine art, you mean that's the equivalent, you know, or you know, of the earlier chaplains first films or something like that as NF T's treating film as fine art, which no one's really ever had that opportunity to because film is a next film has always been something that you needed to sell a lot of tickets in order to make it financially viable. And that's the entire business model. This allows that to continue. But this is just another revenue stream for like, I was telling people I'm like, Wait till Marvel or Disney jumps in on this. Like, what it what is what is the Avengers? What is what's the Avengers? And if t worth

Anthony Gibson 19:49
Yeah, you know, it's interesting, like the idea of like, the the concept of reproducibility is dramatically changing right now. Like there's a seismic shift that is happening. Understanding what like means even are and like essentially what we're talking about is like a meme engine, like a cultural, like cultural currency being added to financial value of like singular internet objects. And it's like, the film has a one to one identity. Now, the film is films have always up until now had this concept of reproducibility films are not plays, you know, right there, they're not a fine art piece. This is that convergence of, it's both now, it's simultaneously both at the same time, if you're approaching it with this model.

Zach Lona 20:33
Yeah. And it's the same exact concept, as you know, the, the Nyan Cat NFT selling for hundreds of 1000s of dollars. I don't

Alex Ferrari 20:42
like I don't understand it in the least. But

Zach Lona 20:45
well, it's that's the cultural gravitas of these memes that are being sold it because it's coming from the people who are actually, you know, who created the meme off the bat. So not only is it like, it's the official sort of meme version. And then the more that people share the memes, the more valuable that original NFT becomes. So it's the exact same concept.

Alex Ferrari 21:07
I mean, you guys are a bit young for this. But Garbage Pail Kids. Yeah. If you don't if you knew what Garbage Pail Kids were, but I was a young guy when Garbage Pail Kids came out. And I remember the first series of garbage, it's a sticker, man, it's a sticker on a piece of cardboard. That was not Mickey Mantle, which was not Spider Man, it was a garbage. And they were selling for hundreds of 1000s of dollars, Pokemon cards, baseball cards, comic books, these things have value to the audience that they're to the to the tribe that is in invested in that to my wife, a number one first appearance of an Amazing Fantasy number 15 first appearance of spider man is a bunch of paper. To me, it's like, oh my god, that's the first appearance of spider man. And there's a complete disconnect. Like she was like, how much is that gonna cost? I'm like, I don't know, probably a million dollars. But you know, but to me that's valuable. And so art is whatever value you put on it, period, regardless if you agree with that or not.

Anthony Gibson 22:09
Yeah, it's funny to think to like, like that the interest economy of how like that's localized, like you have a look like it's like a, imagine a local economy where like, value is interspersed amongst itself and has its own definition outside of something that exists over here. And it's like, things that exists on the blockchain with NF T's like we have this dollar value that we can apply to it. But it's like, it's funny to think, yeah, like, you can have one thing over in this corner. And that can be worth so much to one person. And then you come over here, and it's worthless, but it's validating those interests. It's saying within those communities, these things matter, and they get to matter even more now.

Alex Ferrari 22:46
I mean, all you got to do is go to Comic Con, and you can figure that out real quick. I mean, I mean, like I've I took my wife to my first Comic Con deck a decade ago, and she was just in her mouth was on the floor. She's like, I see these price tags on these on these little books, what is what's going on? She's completely at no idea she that people are dressed up, like these are these are grown adults. And she would stop them like, what do you do for a living is like, I'm an attorney. What, like, but that's, but that is the world and that's the value that that world puts on, on those pieces of art, where you can walk into a fine art museum or gallery. And I wouldn't, I would look at something like that, that doesn't doesn't float my boat, but the person right next to me, like, I'll give you $100,000 for that because he knows or she knows what that's valued in their community. So this is just another the beginning, just barely starting in naeba level of this this market for for films. And I think independent filmmakers have the ability to really cash in and create not only revenue streams for themselves, but to provide some cultural, cultural art for for the society at large. And like, like Sundance like Sundance winners, SXSW winners con winners, you know, these these things that have these kind of labels like what would what would an NF t from the winner of Best Picture at Sundance be worth today cuz that that director could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars later on because of all I got there for Imagine if you had Sex, Lies and videotape. The very first 1989 basically the beginning of Sundance, this is when Sundance blew up at the moment that Steven Soderbergh sold their movie, at Sundance for a million dollars or whatever it was back then. Imagine if there was if you had that NFT what would the NFP be worth in or slacker or El Mariachi or or clerk? Imagine if you had what would those be worth and they would only be worth something to like my generation, your generation people will understand what that is. The older generation will be like that. It depends.

Zach Lona 24:56
Well the fact that we're talking about these films in this context and we're realizing like, wow, how much would that be worth? I mean, it speaks to, I think the viability of this this model that we've come up with here too. Because, you know, we're talking about, you know, why are these you know, pieces of paper worth so much? Not only is it from the the meme and the the cultural aspect of it, it's also the scarcity of it too, right. So like, there's only so many, you know, holographic chars are, there's only so many Spider Man first appearances, like the the filmmakers will do very well to understand these principles around economics, incentive and scarcity. So the decision to mint a single NFT was also driven by the scarcity question. So there's only ever going to be we're not going to mint you know, in addition, after this, of, you know, maybe other kilos and hidden lakes, and EF T's that film is only ever going to be mentioned as a one of one NFT. So that means that that's just automatic built in scarcity, there's only ever going to be one. So that's that the dynamic of that makes it much much different than if we said, okay, we're gonna mint, you know, 50 of these, or 100, or 1000. So what that does is, you know, there's much good work to be done in designing incentives around those types of additions. But what happens then, is that you have to manage each one potentially being worth less and also, in less demand as well. So it's, it's, you gotta you gotta look at your trade offs with with this kind of stuff, too.

Alex Ferrari 26:30
Yeah, and I don't know if you guys knew this, but I jumped into the NFT market. When I did my first in my first interview, and I put out, I happened to be the first film tutorials ever on YouTube. Yeah, which makes me old as dirt. But I happened to be I looked at I looked, and I looked, I'm like, I think I'm the first guy ever to put an eye and I'm, I might be the first movie trailer. I can't. I can't say that for sure. But I beat like Sony classics, which was like four or five months after I released my movie trailer for my first short film in 2004. So I don't I can't find any movie trailers prior to that. But I don't want to say that because I'm like, that would be insane if I actually released the first movie trailer on YouTube. But I don't know I, I can't say I don't have an NF T for it. But But I did put an FCS out for the six videos that I put out on that day tutorials. And I put the first three out just to see what would happen they sold out within two days. If I only sold for 100 bucks, but still was just it was an experiment. Like, let's see what's going on here. So I put the rest of them out. And there's been slowly selling and it's just like, wow, that's because that's kind of cool. Like you have the first filmmaking tutorial now Who is that important to filmmakers, or friends of mine, you know, like something along those lines. You know, again, it's based on the perception of what that is valuable, what's valuable. There's YouTubers, like, you know, whatever, cutie pie, who's got whatever, 150 million followers, I'm like that to his followers, he puts out a scribble on a piece of paper. There's value attached to that, which you and I would pretty much be like, let me put my drink on that. But it's all about perception and value and what people think the value is. It is a very, it is NF T's and your model of NF T's as as ludicrous or genius as a piece of cardboard with a picture of a baseball player. Yeah, and someone attaching value to that. Yeah, it's, it's just a piece of cardboard with a picture on it. But

Anthony Gibson 28:40
the goal is to turn Zach into a human Pokemon card.

Alex Ferrari 28:44
Nice. Except no less than 10. We're working on the holographic shirts right now. That's genius. So So what are some tips that you can put, give the audience when they're creating a using the PSD model? What are certain things that should be in place for for a good successful PSD model? And?

Zach Lona 29:09
Yeah, I would say I would say, again, scarcity is looking very closely at the kind of utility that you're including with, with the NFT because you want to make sure that you're not giving away more than you're willing to lose, right? It's like, you know, the old rule of investing is, you know, don't don't invest more than you can afford to lose. So we went about it, we said, okay, 50% of our streaming revenue is an acceptable trade off for getting this you know, upfront fee, whatever it may be, because we tried to listen for 43 ether and then we put the starting bid at 12 ether. Now, I happen to think that it's still worth that much like we were just talking about, but because it's such a new thing. The market isn't willing to dip its toes that far into it yet. So I would say Make sure that you're that you're the utility is not only beneficial, mutually for you and your patron, but also that your patron isn't. They don't have to try to minimize the work that they have to do in order to capitalize on it. And also, like I was, like I said at the beginning, you know, dinner and, you know, tickets to exclusive premieres and stuff. Oh, that's cool. You can include that. But keep in mind that if you know you resell it, do you want to offer that to the new owners of that? How often do you want to, you know, keep that going. It's stuff like that is less quantifiably valuable to an investor or collector. And I also want to note that when I say investor in this context, much different from your investor, that's going to give you your budget to do the film. So

Alex Ferrari 30:48
to an art invest. It's an art investors different.

Zach Lona 30:50
Yeah, it's it's much different. So you don't you don't owe them any money. Unless you want to like where we're going or investor or patron money. That's why I call it a patron and not not an investor. But there's also the the next project we're going to be doing is kind of exploring how we can incorporate this model and do like a hybrid PSD crowdfunding model because we, we came into this already having the movie done. So it had never been released before. We just finished it in, you know, the tail end months of 2020. So we had already had the budget, and we you know, did it and you know, that's all done. So we were in a position where we could say, okay, we will have to pay anyone back now because we were self financed. But now how do we use this stuff to viably? crowdfund.

Anthony Gibson 31:39
Yeah, well, what does it look like to explore the nooks and crannies of incentive in development? And how, you know, you know, Alex, you were talking earlier, like, you know, if you have a star attached, you know, that's, that's often how distribution deals are made, you know, said, Oh, I was able to attach XYZ actor, which, you know, these kinds of audiences like this actor, here's, here's a way of shoring up your investment, because, you know, you've done the calculus, and you're like, this will fit, you know, the likelihood of this exporting value is higher because of this thing. It's like, Well, what does that look like, in today's age, with so many different corners of value in the internet? Because what does it look like when someone who does, you know, video tutorial podcasts? Or? And also someone who does fashion and makeup videos, someone else? Who does video game streaming? And you say, Hey, I'm going to put you all in the same movie? And what does that look like now, when now you're tapping value from all of these different areas? To say that, yes. And also, we're incorporating the NFT universe. And instead of incentivizing with, you know, like various crowdfunding perks and saying, you get a T shirt and those kinds of things? No, you have an NF, you'd like what if there was a way to create an NF T, that could have value on the secondary market. And so it's all about finding all of those different areas of incentive. And for anyone that's looking to make projects considering this as a model, you know, it's there, there are so many ways, it's ultimately so creative right? Now, you can do so many different things, and work right now are just getting nitty gritty for our next project about what that could look like.

Alex Ferrari 33:21
Right? And you can I mean, in a crowdfunding site, you can use, for example, someone, you could crowdfund an NF T, and then just give them a percentage of based on what they give a percentage of the final gross or the final this or the final that some sort of incentive and that way, so it's almost like more of an investment than a gift of a crowdfunding. So it's now you're you're actually sourcing it out and it's all could be done on the on the blockchain, which would be ideal, and I hope one day we get to the place where all distribution is done on the blockchain. And all payments are done on the blockchain. Yeah, everything's done with smart contracts and and we don't have to deal with this bs anymore that you know, distributors do this or distributors do that or, excuse me, let me rephrase predatory distributors do this. Do that with with not all distributors are bad? by any stretch, there are a lot of great ones out there. But we focus on the predators.

Zach Lona 34:21
Exactly, why let's let's talk a little bit about how distribution actually like functionally comes into this. Right. So like, for anyone who's still kind of like, skeptical a little bit about it, about this model we've done, I mean, we sold it, so we made, you know, $5,000 off of this, which is comparable to a minimum guarantee, you might get it from a distributor,

Alex Ferrari 34:39
if you're lucky, if you're

Zach Lona 34:40
lucky, if you're lucky, if you're lucky. And now, well, now you get the secondary, you know, revenue stream from secondary sales to but, you know, think of it like that, you know, it's like we can because the other thing that's happening with this is that we are retaining all the rights to our film. We're not giving away any rights whatsoever with this Because the revenue stream and the NFT itself are reason enough, obviously, for someone to collect it. So now, we could say, Okay, now we're going to go to a distributor and collect a minimum guarantee from them. So that's, you know, another possible avenue for so yeah, essentially, like you were saying earlier, Alex, this is like a another revenue stream for the film that will also work to hopefully automate some of the marketing lift that you have to do by virtue of being this transferable meme capture

Alex Ferrari 35:33
unit, so to speak, right. And if you had a, let's say, you did 1000 units, let's say, just throwing that out there 1000 units, and that those 1000 units are worth 10 15% of, of your revenue jumping in there, I'm just going off the top here. So you put away 15% of all revenue is going to go to these, this 100 units that you're going to sell on crowdsourcing of crowdfunding, excuse me. And then all of a sudden, all that all those people who buy those 100 people, they're going to be incentivized to market the living hell out of this. Yeah. And get this out in the world. And if you did that with 1000, and broke them that 15% accordingly that way, then you even have more. So it all depends on what you're doing. And then you could also put a price tag on all of that just to get in the game. There's so many different routes you can go on. It's it is it is essentially the wild wild west right now it is. It's the internet circa 96. Man, it is like the wild

Anthony Gibson 36:32
wild west, take a look and see, just like, like what's happening on the internet? How are people communicating on the internet? How are people pointing a camera at themselves? How are people quote unquote, influencing? And then, like, how can an taking a look at that and being like, hmm, there's some serious untapped potential, through this communication mechanism for getting new ideas, getting new films out into the world and seen by people. And it's just about connecting the dots. It's just saying, you come over here, you come over here, let's do this thing. It's, you know, in some ways, uses the same philosophy is like, you're if you're a YouTuber, and you want to, like, go on someone else's show to get to get some of their audience to come see your thing. And you cross pollinate. I mean, that's, essentially it's taking that and it's scaling it up, and using the blockchain in order to do that. And it's, it's all like Zach, and I love to just like, you know, one of our favorite things about this whole thing is that it's just, it's all memes, memes mean, everything is it mean, and like, that is like pretty like, you know, core to our philosophy. In all of this. It's like, what can we do with means? What can we do to make people think about memes? And that's a cornerstone of the mythos that we're trying to create with the bigger world that we're actually working on.

Alex Ferrari 37:45
Now, you guys also created a physical version of the NFT to send to the person who purchased it, which I think is awesome. How do you How did you create it? Because it looked awesome. From the pictures I saw. What was the cost? If you don't mind me asking like that? That's a customized situation. So what was that situation done?

Zach Lona 38:04
how he's done? So it that was a nightmare to put together? But I'll just be upfront upfront and get this. So our collector wishes to remain anonymous for now. But they told me like, hang on to it. I'll redeem it. One I feel like it so I still have it. Like it hasn't left my house yet. Which I'm fine with because, you know, I appreciate that. Like, it's, it's, it's gorgeous. We're pretty proud of it. No,

Alex Ferrari 38:29
it's stunning. I was like, That's gorgeous. Like that looks like a special special, special freakin criterion. The, you know, to the nth degree kind of one on one and drama is beautiful. Okay, you're making us blush. It is.

Zach Lona 38:45
Appreciate that. Um, yeah, very proud of it. But in terms of the logistics, yeah, it was. So not many, you know, packaging manufacturers take one off orders. And then the ones that do are pretty pricey. And see, here's the thing too, is that we didn't have to do that. Obviously, our patron doesn't even really want it right now, which is something it's a phenomenon that's happening in the crypto art, collectible space with NF T's where it's like, you know, there are artists who offer you know, the physical painting with the NFT and collectors will say I don't want any physicals I just want to I just want the JPEG in my wall. And that's totally cool. So we went into a kind of half expecting that but for me, you know, like, you know, I mentioned earlier I come from a fine arts background. I like having like a physical artifacts for for the film that I've created. But you know, obviously though it I'll put it this way, it was a lot of money. Probably more than I would recommend for someone else who's trying to do this, but it is a very cool thing. And when it's in a museum, you know, 20 3040 years. That's a nice little museum. Now. I'm just kidding.

Alex Ferrari 39:50
And when everyone understands my genius by then, I mean, hopefully I won't be Van Gogh when I'm dead and they'll go out Zach I get I guess, no, no, no, I'm sorry. I just saw I saw a clip from I don't even watch Doctor Who. But I saw a clip where they brought back Van Gogh, and they brought him into the museum. Oh, I've seen that. Oh my god, that's so like, you just start tearing up like an art. It's just like, oh my god, it was so cute. Anyway, sorry, geeked out for a second guys. Sorry, apologize. That was so. So did you, but am I wrong? Did you not create any other NFT things for like, you know, stills of the movie? or other things? Or did you? You know, you're getting into sort of the next chapter for us.

Anthony Gibson 40:43
And, you know, we're working on a big part of, I mean, I can let Zach take over sort of talking about like, the content of the movie itself, because I think it's specific to like, it's kind of amazing what work ended up working out what we ended up having in our lap at a time when crypto was around. It's kind of came to the mainstream. And our film is about a cryptid like a Bigfoot esque Sasquatch, Ian, figure cryptid cryptid meets crypto. And it was just like this perfect marriage of like, what can we do with that? And I feel like it led to that kind of take over there.

Zach Lona 41:20
Yeah, I mean, there's so many places to go from that, you know, it's like, so one of the ideas we have is, you know, Bill, so essentially what we're trying to get at now the phase that the project is in, is we are taking this feature film that we have, and we're trying to use these community incentives to build an audience around the IP itself. So you know, we can get into like the specifics of the plan, but we're going to be minting more NF T's around the, the the fiction and the lore of this, of this, you know, essentially a monster movie, mockumentary IP so you know, like minting specific clips from, you know, the film like, oh, here's a found footage. So the cryptid is called the hidden man is a proprietary monster that we came up with, you know, here's a, an eight millimeter still, or a film clip that we that we use, yeah, we actually used an eight millimeter camera for some of it. So, you know, a nice little badge of honor there. But yeah, like minting stuff like that, and then using that to sort of, do, you know, add more value into the IP through those specific items of merchandise, where it's like, at a lower level, you know, you're never gonna you're, you're only one person can ever have the actual film NFT but you can own pieces of the film, you can on merchandise of the film, that also give you like, community benefit within the community that we're trying to build.

Alex Ferrari 42:45
So I'm gonna pitch you guys something for an NF t please bear with me. This is a real thing. This is a real thing. This is not making this up. But there is such a thing called Bigfoot erotica. Now, wait for it. Wait for it. Wait for it. My friend told me about this. And I'm like, oh my god. This is genius. anyone listening right now when you're done? Listen to this episode, type in Google Bigfoot erotica, and just just lose your mind at what you'll you'll find out. There's not it's not just like pictures. It's like stories, like books, novels, ebooks, about it is amazing. I can't believe you guys have known about this. But the best but the best part was I had a friend of mine who's like, man, my brother's really giving me a hard time. I'm like this what you do? Go to his house. And he's married. He goes go to his house and go on his computer and just start doing a lot of Google search for Bigfoot erotica. And leave it on this. Leave it on his on his thing and let his wife find it. It's exactly what exactly what happened. And he left he loved that his wife and like, his brother calls him like, dude, did you was you were you searching Bigfoot erotica on my computer? My wife thinks I'm doing I'm like, I have no idea what you're talking about. You're sick and disgusting. And he hangs up. Wow. So that's sad. That is does savage but that's that's their relationship. I don't get involved. But and it is a tool to ruin a marriage. Yeah. Or just or just, uh, you know, hidden man erotica. I'm just throwing it out there. Just throwing it to the in technically, proprietary world of the IP. Why not? Well, exactly speechless. If anyone listening if it was listed by sees next face, it's just like it all right now he can't even speak. Like.

Zach Lona 44:47
Yes, obviously, obvious is the thing that should happen. Oh, it's funny, actually, in the early days of the film, when I was exploring ideas, I was like, What if we had a romantic interest counter,

Alex Ferrari 45:01
tell there's a whole market that you guys are not serving sir. There's a whole market, you could be just selling this stuff to him just we're not saying there isn't a romantic encounter. There might be there might be there might be

Zach Lona 45:17
like, God, here's the thing. Let's get into me and Anthony have you know, we've got a very specific idea on how we can take this even further. So a new concept, a new blockchain concept that people maybe are not as familiar with is, is a doubt a DA, oh, have you heard of this?

Alex Ferrari 45:36
No, I haven't said

Anthony Gibson 45:38
decentralized autonomous organization.

Alex Ferrari 45:41
Well, I've heard of decentralized for banks, but not for organization. Okay, so talk to me about that.

Zach Lona 45:48
So there's been defy, which is decentralized finance. And that's very cool. The next step after d phi after NF Ts is doubtless, so decentralized, autonomous organizations. And these are essentially corporate structures or business structures, where it's not really run by anyone, there's not really a corporate hierarchy. And the governance of the organization is equally spread out among all of its members. So essentially, anyone can come in, buy the governance token, the, you know, the currency that's native to the Dow organization, and start working on projects and getting paid for it. So is that we're still doing a lot of research on how to

Anthony Gibson 46:30
imagine a decentralized production company where every all the fans get to vote on what the next project is, that's what we're working on.

Alex Ferrari 46:38
And they're paying and they and they pay for, and they'll pay for it by paying into things to help finance it creates a liquidity pool, essentially. Yeah,

Zach Lona 46:46
yeah. And they get rewarded for financing the production. And also what's going to happen is we're gonna we're creating. Now this is this is very early stages here, but we're really excited about it. The core component of how this data is going to work is essentially it's going to manage the hidden lakes IP. So you know, the, our film is just the first installment of this IP, we're going to be making sequels and stuff. And part of how we're going to get that done is that we're going to fractionalize and decentralize licensing to the IP itself. So we're going to say, okay, we're going to mint a set of 10,000 tokens, you buy a token, you can send it back to the Ethereum contract. And so it's, you know, not in our control. It's in you know, the the contract itself. And for as long as that's in the contract, as long as you're, you know, in this tank, you get in return a license to use the IP however you want. Thanks, man. pornography. Yeah, I mean, the

Alex Ferrari 47:49
thing is, like, erotica, sir, erotica, there is a difference. Let's clarify that right now. Between Bigfoot porn and Bigfoot. Radhika erotica can make porn. Very cool. There's a difference. There's a difference, sir. It's, it's, it's what kind of suit people are gonna think like, I like joy. I'm the one that started this.

I know right now I know somebody right now listening to this. It's like curving off the road laughing at like the Bigfoot. Oh, Jesus. No, this all sounds great. But this is the thing where we're so early on in this whole this whole experiment of NF T's and blockchain everything. I've said this before on the show. I'll say it again. blockchain is as or more important than the internet is the human civilization. And people, people who don't understand that statement, you will just the same way. As people in 1996 said, the internet's gonna change everything. Just like that guy who shot that rocket up into space the other day that looked like something that I won't say it looked like Bigfoot erotica. His rocket looked like Bigfoot erotica. That guy said, Hey, I'm going to sell books on the internet. And now he sells everything. That that's the same thing that blockchain is going to do. We're just not there yet. And we will get there. And it's getting there. It's growing fast. And there's issues and I think you said it in your article as well. Zach about you know, theory will become cheaper, it will become greener to sell a lot of electricity that runs through to get all this stuff. So it's gonna it's it's just like dial up man and 9695 and before it's like dial up it's like how can anyone can even think or conceive that I could buy something on the internet? Remember that? How old are you guys are younger that much younger than me? So I remember the time was like, people were like, I'm not putting my credit card online. Like that was people were like I'm not putting my credit card online that they're going to steal my identity all that was the mentality back That's where we are right now with blockchain I think in five or 10 years, blockchain will be at a completely different place crypto I think will be probably at a completely different place. And what you guys are talking about and defy and and dow and all this these kind of concepts I think are really going to help not only the world but an our little microcosm of independent film. It's getting a lot of power back to us.

Zach Lona 50:21
Yeah, that's what I was gonna say is that like this, like the the paradigm shift that's happening that mirrors the internet revolution, that's the the main people who are going to benefit from it are independent creators. So what this technology does, is it it cut out the middleman, it cut out the big centralized institutions that tell you yes or no, it's really going to power the empower the individual creators who want to, you know, contribute things to their favorite stuff and make money in the process,

Alex Ferrari 50:49
and you and use it, so you give away 50% of all streaming rights, but as of right now, you still have to do the accounting. In other words, the money has to come into an account, and then you've got to convert that into aetherium, or whatever, you know, whatever, stable coin or whatever you're going to use to pay. Yeah,

Zach Lona 51:06
that person. Exactly. So that that goes to show how early we are where you know, in five years, that won't be able to be able to get done on chain right now. The there's not really a solution for that. So we ate, you know, for however long that would take, and we'll just say, okay, we're just going to do the accounting ourselves. You know, that being said, you know, it may be that not only is the smart contract upgradeable in that we can automate that, you know, from the token on chain, or we could we could find a crypto powered streaming platform, which is also new territory, where the film will be online and you can watch it for free and also maybe even get paid for watching it. And it also probably give us a better rate streaming wise than, you know, amazon prime or Vimeo on demand. Does you mean a penny a penny for an hour? Is

Alex Ferrari 51:56
that not fair? I think that's more than fair. I don't know. I mean, didn't you hear that? That Jeff Bezos thanks that's all for having him go up into space? Yeah, don't built on the backs of independent filmmakers. Oh, don't even get me started. He made that rocket happen. We made that was all us. We started off at 15 cents. Now he's down to one cents. What happened to those 14 cents boom into space? Bigfoot erotica, anyway. So so another big player jumped on the scene in the NFT world, which is Kevin Smith, and he came on with his film Kilroy Was here, but he did the opposite of what you guys did. He's literally selling or giving his his distribution rights away to this film. What do you think of that? And how do you think that model is gonna work? Didn't even sell it yet? I don't even know if he sold it.

Zach Lona 52:47
I don't think it's online. So we didn't we that was actually his announcement. Or that was actually the reason why we press the Launch button on this project, because we've been building it since like, March. We're like, Oh, no, we gotta we gotta beat him to the punch. But yeah, I don't think it's online. But again, it's like, it's it's very similar to what we're doing. But there's also some key differences that kind of make it I preferred to not take that approach, simply because, like I was saying earlier, you don't want to make your patron work too much to exercise their, their utility that you give them. So with Kevin Smith's NFT, which also is being minted on the fantasma chain, which is different from aetherium, and we can maybe get into, you know, what chain you should actually meant on. But regardless of that, that's very technical knowledge. Essentially, the the the best person who's gonna want to buy the Kevin Smith and if t is a distributor, so like, if you come come at it, from our perspective, where we're our target market for this NFT is a private individual collector, they're not going to know how to how to distribute this thing, right? So if you're giving them the entirety of your distribution rights, that's cool. Just know that your market is much more different. And you're probably it's it's like, if you're selling to a distributor and you're looking to give the distributor your rights with the NFT you probably don't even need an NF t like that's pretty much just the exact same thing is a deal he would strike in

Alex Ferrari 54:15
I think he said I think he's just trying to get some hype over it and that's all it was because he's actually selling like, you know, James Island Bob NF T's and he's making a mint with them. You know, all those like cool little memes and stuff like that. He's not stupid in that sense. He definitely I mean, he was one of the first podcasters he was he jumped on the podcasting bandwagon, years ago, before it was cool. And and everybody had a podcast and people tell me I'm like, Oh, you jumped in early and I jumped in six years ago like Kevin Smith jumped in like a decade or more ago like it's it was insane. Like the oh geez for you got a Joe Rogan frickin he jumped into like, oh nine he like couldn't get the damn thing to stream. I saw the first in the first podcast. He was just like trying To make it work, and it was like, like 320 by, you know, by 40 videos like it was horrible. But, but he just made 100 million bucks and snap at it, okay. It's good, good ROI. So I think

Anthony Gibson 55:16
like, you know, anyone that's doing anything in the NFT space is just like adding to the value of everyone else that's trying to work on it. Like, we're all just trying to, like I said, like, for us, it's an experiment. Like, we're curious about other people's case studies, we want to see what they're doing. We want to see like, what models of incentive, they're developing and kind of like, you know, work some magic. I mean, we're all really excited about the new technology, we need people to know about it. This is still super inaccessible to like, an audience. Like they don't most people don't understand this stuff. And so it's just like, we need more people to be interested.

Alex Ferrari 55:48
I mean, I had to I had to educate myself. It took me like half a day to figure out how to mint something like the technology so plunky it's just so clunky to get stuff done. Now I'm like, Oh, my God isn't someone figured this out to make this a little easier. Like it doesn't seem that difficult, but it was like an I use mental because it was the easiest open seat was like too expensive. They want a gas freeze up front, mental to gas freeze on the on the now we're like talking in languages that nobody else understands. But, but yeah, but it was it just and even then miserable, was still like a pain in the butt to figure out it just it's still so early, then. We're still so so early. Now, one thing I wanted to ask you is, we're talking about all these NF T's and independent film and all that stuff. Not every projects gonna be a good candidate for an NF. t. So what make how do you how does a filmmaker know if their project makes sense for this world?

Anthony Gibson 56:43
They know this is an awesome question. I think Zack and I probably talked about this every day. And I think what makes particularly like, understanding like Internet communities, like if, if and who you're from a development perspective, who are the people who are going to be investing in your project to actually like, make it happen. So you can go into production and those kinds of things. Who is your like, financing audience essentially. And like, our film, specifically is targeted towards like, like, Village Voice mythmaking, and where does that happen? happens on the internet. We're doing that every single day. And so dramatically, our project is designed to be talked about on the internet. And it's like, self conscious of that. And we think that that, in itself is interesting to people who are on the internet, creating and sharing memes and using that as a form of communication. And so specifically for this world that we're building out, which is like, like, like a modern mythos, basically, using the internet as like, as like a community standpoint, people are moving money on the internet, people who are in crypto communities and want to see content that is more directly related to them and their user experience. Those are the people that we think right now, because it's the initial audience in this world that are going to be interested in funding projects and seeing things that reflect back like interesting elements to them.

Zach Lona 58:14
Yeah, I would say if you're trying to build a community like that, and you're trying to build an audience into the IP, and it's like the shared experience, this is definitely NF T's are definitely the route for you. And I think, you know, to for on a moral logistical point, this is definitely geared to like, like the PSD model itself, it's assuming that you already have, you know, you already have a completed film, first of all, and that film is probably going to be low budget, like we were talking about earlier, it's probably going to be director driven. to, you know, take the fine art sort of box. And, you know, like we were talking about before, you know, maybe if you have like a decent name, talent, maybe you don't need you know, the the boost that this PSD model would attempt to give you, but at the same time, maybe that's an incentive to grab an even more, the higher price at the auction, right. So like, oh, Brad Pitt is in this one of one NFT movie, I'm an art collector, I have a Jackson Pollock and and Mark Rothko in my collection, I can throw million dollars at the new Brad Pitt movie NFC, that'll be $50 million in 50 years. So

Alex Ferrari 59:25
what would what would a Kubrick be worth? What would be what would what would it Kurosawa would be worth? And now we have Nolan Fincher Spielberg Scorsese in what what's the Godfather worth? Like? It's just it I think, once mainstream Hollywood and some of these directors start figuring these things out, they're gonna go Oh, wait a minute. We and we can make not only can we make some money with this, but we can actually insert ourselves into the conversation, culturally. But yeah, it's it's it's worth that I think once filming makers are able to these higher end filmmakers are doing things like that. You know, what would a Fincher and FTP worth man? What a no. And what are the Nolan? You know, what would tenant be worth? You know?

Zach Lona 1:00:13
Yeah, like, that line of thinking again is very different from saying, okay, we're gonna, you know, we're gonna have NFT tickets, where you know, that might still be worth something that's more like a like a collectible, you know, Pokemon card or like a Beatles ticket from like, 1969 or something like that. So it's like almost like two different asset classes. You have the scarce sort of fine art and FTS and you also have the fungible, quote unquote, like ticker merchandise and

Alex Ferrari 1:00:40
FTF. Collected collectibles. Yeah,

Zach Lona 1:00:42
exactly. Yep. So there are two different asset classes. And when we're thinking about what is a David Fincher where there was a Kurosawa worth, like that, to me is the fine art. Like chars are for sure.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:54
Yeah. And obviously, Bigfoot erotica. So I'm Pokemon card. Game Freak, guys. So I'm gonna ask you a few questions asked by my guest guys, what advice would you give filmmakers trying to break into the business today?

Anthony Gibson 1:01:11
You take that one. And the advice I would give you is focus on what's in front of you and figure out how to, like build a team around the things that you're stoked about. And, like, don't be afraid to just like, not sorry, I'm blanking ongiving advice. What I'll say about this is that when I was in college, there were classes that were offered to me. And I felt like that wasn't meeting the needs of what I wanted to get out of my education. So I figured out that I actually had the agency to create my own class and get credit for it and bring people on and make the movies that I wanted to make. And I didn't have to wait for anyone to tell it to give me a curriculum to do that. So get creative. There's tons of opportunities out there you don't have to just follow what's given to you.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:05
What is that? Oh, no, go ahead Anthony. And fleet perfect answer for that. What is the lesson that took you guys the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life tax credit financing to say sir, to Shay, to Shay, it's a as a very fine, fine, fine lesson to learn Tax Credit Financing everyone Tax Credit Financing, first time, in almost 500 episodes that someone said Tax Credit Financing is something about how valuable it is. And it's actually big on that. tax credit, and three of your favorite films of all time.

Zach Lona 1:02:49
Oh, mine are weird. I like 2001 I like Napoleon Dynamite and the third one is a toss up between Mystery Men and Badlands.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:00
Well, that's a hell of a combination of films there. I'm trying to put connecting dots I'm like I connected to and I connected to mystery man. Wow, Mystery Men first time on the show Mystery Men. So I love I love mystery minute. What a cast wasn't it? Same cast.

Zach Lona 1:03:17
They had the production design like the writing Smash Mouth Smash Mouth. Smash Mouth, man. Oh, man. Yeah, so that's that's mine. About about you, Anthony.

Anthony Gibson 1:03:29
I'll see Princess Mononoke A Little Miss Sunshine classic indie. And I will say Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone probably if I'm

Alex Ferrari 1:03:42
sure Hey, yes, nice. Nice. Nice. Can I use the magic of childhood in Yes. And it's in it's a nice Christmas movie. It's like every time it's I always watched it during Christmas that's when they get out. So I always associate Harry Potter movies with Christmas as well so and where can people find out about your NF T's about your films about your projects and so on?

Zach Lona 1:04:04
Yeah, so you can learn about the film and the NF t at who is the hidden man calm that's where all of our links are and also follow hidden ones Tao da o on Twitter you can join our discord to to get the drop on that cool Dao project that we're doing which is the next step of this oh and also the film is live on Vimeo on demand too. So you can search for he lives in the hidden lakes on Vimeo on demand and it'll be prime video as well soon

Alex Ferrari 1:04:33
and you're and you're using film hub as well right

Zach Lona 1:04:35
yeah, we are using film have discovered them through indie film hustle so thank you to that

Alex Ferrari 1:04:40
Yeah, there's some good doing some good work over there trying try and everyone's trying. It was trying to like I said everyone's trying to bring you know, you know, break that nut. No one's can crack it No one's cracked the nut yet on on on the perfect model. I think it's always shifting and moving and, and but this is awesome, man. I thank you guys so much for coming on the show. I'm excited anytime I hear new ways that filmmakers make money with their films and especially when it comes to the blockchain I'm, I'm all about it. So thank you guys so much for for coming in and jump in.

Zach Lona 1:05:10
Yeah. Thanks for having us, Alex.

Anthony Gibson 1:05:11
Yeah. Thank you so much.

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IFH 494: Adventures in Bad Distribution Deals with Heather Turman


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I am delighted to have as a guest on the show today, Filmmaker, comedian and podcaster, Heather Turman. She’s the creator and writer of the feature film, Stuck, starring Joel McHale, Heather Matarazzo, and SNL’s Chris Redd. And the host of the Indie Women Podcast on Youtube.

Darby finds herself in trouble with the law and is sentenced to house arrest. Now she must serve 30 days in the home she used to share with her ex-boyfriend, which he now shares with his new fiancee.

Heather has appeared in films like La-la Land, or the 2019 TV series, The Room Actors: Where are they now

At age 18, Heather moved to Los Angeles to pursue her passion for entertainment. And she’s since built a successful career as a comedian, writer, and producer — one that has taken her touring to over 75 cities across the USA.

She is an LA Westside Showdown two times top-finalist and has appeared on the FOX series Laughs and the Seed & Spark original Everything Is Fine! stand-up comedy special.

She is most known for writing, producing, and directing the hilarious original web series, Conversations with Future Stars which you should check out.

Heather shared with me in the interview that she discovered the IFH podcast at the beginning of the pandemic and binged every episode. Now, this is particularly special to me that she recognized and enjoyed the wealth of knowledge the show provides. So, having to sit down with her is an absolute full-circle moment.

I was thrilled to have had such a raw and transparent conversation about her experience with her.

Enjoy my hilarious conversation with Heather Turman.

Alex Ferrari 0:14
I like to welcome to the show Heather tournament. How you doing, Heather?

Heather Turman 0:18
I'm well thank you, Alex, how are you?

Alex Ferrari 0:20
I'm better we are seeing the others. I think we're on the other side of this thing. We see the light at the end of the tunnel. I feel free, I don't have to wear my full hazmat suit anymore to go shopping, which is nice. And other of air, we were talking about how you found me that you discovered my podcast at the beginning of the pandemic, and you've listened to you said all of them. And I said, That's a lot. That's a lot of episodes. And you said

Heather Turman 0:48
it was a long pandemic? Yeah, I started going on walks, you know, every morning with my, you know, overly ridiculous mask. And, you know, it's sort of start my day. So I dug it and became a fan. Thanks for doing this. What a great, just what a great resource and inspirational, I think, you know, tool for everybody. So thank you.

Alex Ferrari 1:10
I appreciate that I appreciate I do what I can I try to I try to help as many people as I can many filmmakers as we can. And we're going to talk about why we have to protect them sometimes from our business and in our conversation. But before we do that, how did you get into the business?

Heather Turman 1:25
Oh, man, I moved to Los Angeles blindly at 18 right out of high school, not knowing I'm one of those I didn't know, I knew I wanted to be an entertainment. But I came from Michigan. And you know, and at the time. I remember I got a book that was like, you know how to break into Hollywood off of like, Amazon was pretty new, like this was 2005. And so you know, it was still like digital media was just sort of starting. And this book did not prep me at all. For me, it was

Alex Ferrari 1:55
shocking for me. Shocking. No,

Heather Turman 1:57
exactly. It was awful. So I came here blindly. And I knew I wanted to write and and make films but and just be involved. So I had, you know, got started, I actually booked a commercial and met a fellow Michigander on it. And we produced a short film together in 2006, called subdivision and so that was sort of my first foray into producing my own content. But then I fell into stand up comedy. And so I spent the last several years I mean, the last decade really, you know, touring the country and that kind of thing, but in the middle of it, produced a web series, and a couple other short films, and then come 2000 in 2015, my writing partner and I had sold a feature script, but it didn't get made. So you know, it's that thing where it's like, well, this doesn't do anything. For me. All it does is give me a check, you know,

Alex Ferrari 2:50
which, by the way, big accomplishment. So that's not

Heather Turman 2:55
Yeah, no life goal achieved. Absolutely. And it's still my favorite script. It's just that sad thing, you know, the thing that most script that was most proud of sold, and it hasn't been made. So there was this feeling of, you know, I did this really difficult thing, but my name is not on the screen. So people don't can attribute my work, you know, to me, and so, I said to my writing partner, let's write a one location that we can shoot ourselves. And so we did that. And we produced we wrote and produced stuck, which we partnered with the director, she came on board as a producer as well. Julian Arman, Dante, and yeah, and that's sort of where since then, you know, it's been it's been more filmmaking drama with a distribution world and all that stuff. But But yeah, I guess I've just been in been in the industry, my whole adult life. And

Alex Ferrari 3:52
yeah, that's awesome. So I can only imagine 18 coming from Michigan to LA. I'm sure that you did you find. Sure. No,

Heather Turman 4:02
nobody was predatory. Nobody was all sorts of stuff.

Alex Ferrari 4:05
Nothing. Everything was I'm sure fine. They gave you work right away. Soon, you were paying all your bills comfortably. I'm sure it just it was a smooth. So yeah, smooth transition.

Heather Turman 4:16
Didn't you know, slave away in restaurants at all?

Alex Ferrari 4:21
Exactly. I came to LA probably three years after you did, but I'd already been in the business for 10 years, at that point. So I came a little bit more prepared. Not much more, but still enough that I was able to hit the ground running, but still it's Oh, God, if I would have killed a team they would have would have destroyed me. Yeah, yeah. I feel lucky to still be standing. No, I want to ask you something. Do you believe in today's world that you need to if you're going to be in the film business? I mean, LA is LA. It always will be LA, I think for people outside. I mean, I came from Miami, you know, so we're both From small markets, if you will, in the film industry markets. So I always felt that when I got here a year here was like five years there for me, it was like almost like dog years, in the amount of experience exposure to good and bad to the industry. Do you feel that is still the case today? Or could you go to Atlanta or a Vancouver or you know, other Louisiana or other Austin, other areas and still be able to build up that career?

Heather Turman 5:31
I absolutely think you can do it anywhere now, especially because of in addition to all the advancements, technology's made in the last 1015 years, but the pandemic has, you know, sort of exacerbated that aspect of it. Like, it's, I guess that's kind of the wrong word, because that's sort of making something worse, but it's, it's, it's made it so that, you know, everything's through all meetings are like this. I mean, many,

Alex Ferrari 5:59
it's more, except this is much more acceptable. Like, I've been recording podcasts like this for a long time. And people were like, Oh, god, it's on zoom, or it's on Skype. It's not, it's not. And now, it's on the news. And in documentaries, it's it's not very acceptable to do this. Yeah. And before, you really need to be you need really to be in the room with an agent, or, or with talent, where now it's somewhat more acceptable early.

Heather Turman 6:25
Yeah. And I feel like slowly but surely, you know, you're seeing with the capabilities that independent filmmakers have in other markets, and how much cheaper it is, you know, California, of course, has employment laws and permit laws and all these things that make it so incredibly costly for on the independent level, it's it those laws are there for big Hollywood, you know, and it's great on that level, we people need to get paid fairly when we're talking about millions and, you know, millions of dollars, but when we're talking about an independent project, it just, it becomes so much more difficult here that it's unreal, you know. And so, as time goes on, I become more and more interested in the cost in the concept of, you know, going to a small town and then making films there, you know, because it's just, it's more possible. I feel like these days than ever before, without feeling like you're not at all connected, you know? Yeah. And also,

Alex Ferrari 7:22
I think when you're outside of LA, people are much more excited about filmmaking, you know, what do you want for free? Exactly. When I shot my last film, I shot at a park city during the festive Sundance, I was shocked at how how many people like all the businesses were still excited. I'm like, oh, you're shooting a movie here? Yeah, well, would you I was shocked. I was shocked. Because I was like, oh, there must be over it because of Sundance. But they're not they were super excited. And, and shooting outside of La because in LA, they're like, okay, even the local deli is gonna go I need I'm gonna need $1,000 for locations for five hours. Like they already know there's, here's the contract, they already have the setup. Like they're all sharp about

Heather Turman 8:02
Absolutely. Anybody who anybody here who has any sort of property or business at home, they are very hip to the concept that that is a filming location. And they will absolutely make sure to exploit anyone who comes to them looking for at least shoot. So I

Alex Ferrari 8:20
had a friend of mine who has a house down the street, and he's like, Oh, yeah, this this new show on this new cable show wants to rent my house. I'm like, Well, how much are they paying you? They're like, Oh, it's 10,000 for two days. I'm like, so that's their, that's their line. That's their barometer. So now when you show up the level, I got paid 10,000 I'm like, that's our budget for the film.

Heather Turman 8:42
Which is it's so interesting that you you know, you say that because that was we when we went to do stuck, it took place in a home. So we needed somebody to give us their their suburban looking home for 10 days for nothing. I mean, how do you how do you? So I know I mean, I went door to door and I knocked and and face to face. Yep. And we found a house and they 300 bucks a day.

Alex Ferrari 9:08
Okay, so it was there was something there was some some

Heather Turman 9:11
jumping, and their child was an actor. So that helped. We were like, we'll throw our part in the movie. That's

Alex Ferrari 9:18
and seen all right, there we go. That's, that's how you do it. No one. My first film I made was all in LA, but it was just my house. My actors houses like it was all friends, you know, friends or acquaintances that we knew that would give us their house for the day or, or a couple days or something. But that's brave. You just went knocking on doors.

Heather Turman 9:39
Yeah, we did. We definitely did. And we had had another house that we really liked. And the woman was totally interested. And, you know, we even we brought the director to look at it and the DP and all that stuff. And then when we whip out the contract, and we talk about money, she's like, Oh, no, like absolutely not for $300 a day. I was thinking more like 10 grand a day. So she knew the neighborhood. Of course, it turned out we had chosen it was it's like in Studio City. And it turned out to be one of the most sought after neighborhoods. Because of the look of it, it really looks like suburban America in the center of LA. And so they do all kinds of commercial shoots there. So all the people in the neighborhood were very aware. And the thing that gave us their home for 300 bucks had moved from Texas, like a year before. So they hadn't been approached yet. You know, so it's really just lucky. You know,

Alex Ferrari 10:36
they weren't, they weren't hip. They weren't hip to it yet. It's but but you're outside of La you don't get those problems outside of LA. They're just so they'd be so excited to like see a camera and a crew and didn't even have to have a star in it. Just any like, that's just an exciting. And we as filmmakers, we forget that there is an excitement for people like when we first saw film set. I got it. Oh, yeah, it was a huge thrill. But we're so like, yeah, it's another day at the office.

Heather Turman 11:02
Exactly, exactly. But it's true. And I'm out of out of state in a small town. Not only is it not only are people excited, but they're just like, Yeah, do you need extras? You know, do you need What do you need? I need food. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 11:15
we'll cook for you. Oh, yeah. Do you need Do you need a police department? We up? Yeah, I'll call my boy up. And he'll come over and yeah, it's, it's it's pretty. It's pretty insane. Now tell me about your film stuff. So you told me that you kind of put it all together in one location? How did it come to be? And how did you like, put it all together?

Heather Turman 11:32
So I'm Dave and I, David, David Michael. He's my writing partner. And he also produced with me as well. I approached him and said, Let's write in one location. So we did have a few other locations, which of course, were difficult ones a doctor's office and courthouse. I mean, a courthouse is hard. But we found a museum in culver city that has a that has a

Alex Ferrari 11:59
pastor standing

Heather Turman 12:02
a standing courtroom and so 1500 bucks, you know, and then I have a friend of medical sales, so she hooked us up with the doctor's office. And so 4500 bucks for locations. You know what I mean? Which is pretty, I mean, that's incredible, you know, in LA. Yes. It actually because of that I got hired to do location scouting for a film right after that, because they couldn't believe what I was able to get. I'm like, I think it's because I'm willing to go knock on doors. You know, you don't get it with the egos in this town. Most people aren't willing to do that. But I was so Um, but yeah, we you know, we wrote this one location and it's about a sort of a adults like a, you know, like a woman child. irresponsible pothead. She's a nurse, and she gets into trouble with the law she sends to house arrest. And she is couchsurfing at the time. So her last legal address was her ex boyfriends house, so cut to her serving out house arrest for 30 days with him and his new fiance. And we a friend of mine, Larry lebeau. runs an organization called New filmmakers LA.

Alex Ferrari 13:11
Of course. Yeah.

Heather Turman 13:12
Okay. Yeah. I love Larry. He's the friend that I met on the commercial in 2006.

Alex Ferrari 13:19
Amazing, yeah.

Heather Turman 13:20
Yeah. I mean, Larry is just the greatest. We like literally we didn't. We tried to cheap out and not get permits. And when you got permits,

Alex Ferrari 13:33
huh, you got permits?

Heather Turman 13:35
No, we didn't. I was gonna say, Amen. Yeah, no, then the cops came. And so we were told we had to, because that neighborhood, like I said, Everybody in the neighborhoods like you guys didn't fire us like, yeah. Oh, Larry. Larry, I know. And all the work that he does, you know, with film LA, he was able to call and and literally have the governor expedite us a permit. You're supposed to be like a 72 hour wait, we got one like immediately, which was, you know, and that just goes to show that your friends in this business are the most important, you know, part of this business? Yeah. And Larry recommended, I asked him about a director, I said, I'm producing, you know, my first feature that I wrote, can you recommend some solid directors and he I said, preferably a woman because I did want to, you know, sort of pay that forward. And especially It was a female lead, I just wanted to go that route. And so he recommended Julian Arman Dante who had been in the business forever, and I had recognized her from her acting work she was in like girl interrupted and bad teacher, all kinds of stuff. And so we met with Joanne and she was like, totally down, but we didn't have enough money to pay her. So she was like, the, the amount she would, you know, be willing to work for so she said, let me partner as producer trying to build up my company. And so the three of us work together as as producers, and you know, I was Initially looking to make a micro budget $50,000 film. And when Julian came on board, it's like, no, we're gonna do this a little more grown up style. And so we ended up doing it for 150k. And, you know, we scored in terms of cast and that really, you know, it starts Heather matarazzo who is now my wife. I met her on the movie, and now we're married. Yeah, the night the one good thing that that's bleeding out of the eyes for an indie film brought me was was that my friends are like, hey, at least you got a wife out of it. I'm like, Yeah, I got double screwed. Um, yeah. But um, but, uh, so Julian, of course, was friends for 30 years with Joel McHale. So she had Joel up and, and said, Will you play with us for a day. And luckily, you know, that we had this role, the role of the judge is, you know, one day, sort of bookends the movie beginning and end. And he was willing to do it. And once you have that name, even though it's a small part of it, we were able to go out to other people from there. So I made direct offers to Kate Flannery. And, you know, Kirsten vangsness, from from criminal minds. Yeah. And just in that kind of stuff. And then Heather, and Heather came on board and agreed, and, and yeah, and then we made the movie.

Alex Ferrari 16:23
So the key to getting getting actors on a low budget film is if you can tag one name and taxon name, yeah, it's about one. That's one thing I've always realized is that nobody wants to be the first to the party. Nobody that's in money that's in cast, that's in everybody. Nobody wants to be the first to come in. But if you can get one other person to come in, that's even somewhat of a recognizable name, or face, or respect, as inactive, because there's that could be worth nothing to the box office, but be very well respected by other actors. Absolutely, that can attract other actors. Without question, yeah. And it's always it's the exact same thing for my first film, I have one called friend called a friend called the friend call a friend. And everybody just showed up and, and played, and it was,

Heather Turman 17:12
yeah, and played. And it's great. I watched both of your films, by the way, thank

Alex Ferrari 17:15
you so much.

Heather Turman 17:15
And I love them, they do look beautiful. And I was especially impressed by on the corner of ego and desire, because you know, you listening to your podcasts that you know that you did shoot it off of a, you know, a script, man, and in Sundance as it's happening, it's just it's cool. The story behind the movie is is especially cool.

Alex Ferrari 17:37
It was absolutely insanity. It was it four days, 36 hours shot an entire feature actors had never met before. It is a really insane story. I don't advise anyone doing it. Unless you have some. If you've got some years behind you, and you can fall back on that experience, then yeah, but I like I like that one. But Meg, for me, even is even more impressive, because I've just shot that thing. And, and and now normally, and now knowing what you went through and knowing that we made that movie in LA for about five grand. Yeah, it's amazing. It's absolutely amazing. It's It's sad. But of course paid. I mean, everyone got paid. But it was all favors and no permits. No permission. Of course. What's the permit run permits? Like, what is

Heather Turman 18:25
it was like it cost us 1200 bucks for the one and that was not telling them we had other locations that was lying and saying, yep, everything's at this house. So if we had if we'd had to get one for Culver City, and the doctor's office, it would have been a different story.

Alex Ferrari 18:39
Yeah. Right. So that's, that's why it's so cost prohibitive to shoot here, especially for an indie and that's why you got to kind of go you got to be a gorilla about it. Yeah. You know, I've known I've had other people on the show who've shot in LA. And I mean, but they there's other there's other filmmakers I'm thinking of, they were brazen, like they'd show up with grip trucks. And like, they would just get out in front of a location and just start shooting. And yeah, they're like, wait to the cops come, we got an hour. Let's see how long it takes before the cops come. And even when the cops show up, our producer sent to hold them back for 15 minutes while we finished the shots. And then they go in. But they got I mean, they shot the entire city is pretty insane. Yeah.

Heather Turman 19:23
Yeah. I mean, that really is how you have to do it. You know. I was chatting with a female filmmaker the other day and she said that sometimes you can sort of that she's like, I'll play the female card with an officer like, Oh, we have to get permits because you know, like, into like that

Alex Ferrari 19:39
like, and then she twirls her hair she doesn't know twirls or has like oh my god, do I need a permit? No, yeah, I could just shoot this amazing. Like, sorry, that's my valley girl. So I apologize.

Heather Turman 19:54
I mean, that's that's that's the performance she would put behind. You know what I mean? Um, Because, you know, you got to play what cards you have, you know, and they're gonna be like, Oh, this is a woman's making this movie. Okay, it's not real Move, move ahead. Well, the other thing,

Alex Ferrari 20:11
the other little trick is for everyone listening, always have a film student ID onset. So you always bring a film student as an intern on set. So if a cop does show up, and you're doing something that's a little bit, you know, not official. You're not hurting anybody stealing anything. It's just unofficial. You can always be Oh, it's a student film. And you bring this thing you show them the student ID and like, we're here to help the student. And yeah, you know, but if Nicolas Cage shows up, that's a problem. So you have to have money. Exactly. wants it? Yeah. No, I remember we shot a film. I was part of a project years ago, that was shooting on a dv x 100. A camera. I think you might remember that. Can you remember that? Yeah. It was a fantastic camera. And I otzi showed this in Florida. I otzi showed up because it was we had, I mean, we had script trucks and everything. But then when they saw the camera, they said, we're good. And they just walked. They just we had big stars that we had an Oscar nominated, but he wasn't there that day, thank God. But when they saw that they're like, these guys obviously don't know what they're doing. It's a camcorder. It's okay. We're fine. It's Yeah, it's it's a dolly but they don't know what they're doing. It's fine. Totally. But, but that is, that is another trick for everyone listening, always have a film student onset just for those occasions? Because they will it will it get you out of trouble and get you out. And don't ever try shooting on Santa Monica Pier.

Heather Turman 21:40
Oh, yeah. I wouldn't recommend those touristy areas. That's probably that's definitely they see you Kai. I mean, you're asking for it. I mean,

Alex Ferrari 21:47
unless you shoot it with an iPhone. If you're shooting with an iPhone, and it's all under cover, you might get away with it for a few minutes. But don't build on top of you so quick. Oh,

Heather Turman 21:56
yeah, it'll swoop in I yeah, I, I remember, for my web series in 2012, we needed an exterior. I'm sitting in with the editor. And we, we need, it's supposed to take place inside the Scientology center. And so we're looking at the cut. And I'm like, we need an exterior we do. So we grab his camera, we can see dp that too, we grab the camera, jump in the car drive to the celebrity center. And he's standing on the corner filming it for like, within 10 seconds, like oh, swarm of Scientology security on bikes, just like that's a pretty serious camera, you know? And he's like, yeah, and they're like, yeah, you better get out of here. And they like, took my license plate was really crazy. But, uh, well, you know, when you're going to those types of places,

Alex Ferrari 22:44
did you get the shot? Just, we got the shot. That's all that matters. That's all the matters. You got to get done out, get out, run, run, run.

Heather Turman 22:52
I might be on some kind of list, but we got the shots.

Alex Ferrari 22:54
It's perfectly fine. It's perfect. It's absolutely perfectly fine. Now, you mentioned that. You mentioned that the manager had a couple issues with distribution. Can you elaborate a little bit about what cuz this movie was originally finished in? This was finished. It came out in 2019. Okay, came out in 2019 originally originally came out. Yeah, that's it. Yeah. So what happened and and everyone prepare yourself because this is I'm sure. Your story?

Heather Turman 23:27
Yeah, um, well, let me just start by saying that, you know, no shade to my two producing partners. But they are definitely from a different generation than I'm from. And, you know, I was really feeling like, I trusted the concept of self distribution. And I felt like, you know, I was doing a lot of research at the time and Sundance had a whole thing about, you know, doing your own, just like they had a whole workshop all this different stuff. And, and I really felt like because of the the cast, I mean, you look at like Felicia Day, she has a huge online presence. And like, all at the time, Joel, of course, you know. And I came from the comedy scene. So I had tapped, Alexis Rizal, who was YouTube presence, who I had cast in my web series. It was her first job ever in 2012. So I had hit her up. And I had cast a guy that I had known at the time, Brian Jordan Alvarez, who after the film, God willing grace and became the character who married Jack's character. So he got an Emmy nomination and he blew up. And I tapped Yeah, and I tapped Chris read from the comedy scene as well. And now he's on SNL. So it was like we got I got very lucky with the comedy scene and the people that I really saw talent and that blew up. And so knowing the, just the reach that all of those people had, and that's like, not even Joel you know, and then not even Kate from the office and not even the crime, Criminal Minds for kearson bands ness and not even Heather matarazzo so I really felt like we could release this on our own. But, you know, the people that I partnered with just, they were a little, you know, they're used to the old school way of like, you find a distributor. And that's the only way, you know. Yeah. And so I even brought like a sales agent friend into the mix, but my co producers, one of them didn't want to give away 20% which I'm sure haunts them to this day. And so we, because it was a sales agent friend of mine who's legit, you know, he sells movies for a living and I really feel that would have been the safest way to go. Unless we experimented and tried to do it ourselves. Um, but yeah, and so this company had approached us through slated, which, you know, I don't I, if an indie distributor is seeking people out, I feel like that's kind of a red flag I entered. Like, I feel like

Alex Ferrari 25:55
unless you're unless you're at a film festival, and you just got down to screening and they walk up to you like, Hey, we're a distributor, we love to film your movie, that's different. But if they're if the soliciting movie if they're soliciting you, which happens all the time, unless it's in even if it's a big distributor, I mean, a 24 is generally in that emailing people.

Heather Turman 26:16
Exactly, exactly. And you know, because they're getting flooded all the time. And they have their connects. And so it's, you said it perfectly. Because yes, if you are at a festival, and you show your film, and somebody comes up to you after and is like, I would love to distribute this, Here's my card. But if they haven't seen the film, and they're just soliciting you, it's probably a red flag. But we met up with them. And the guy, the head of the company, they had a handful of cute films, like I watched all the trailers and it was like, okay, you know, it seems like this company really is looking to, they all sort of fit within this brand. And so it was like, okay, they seem like they know what they're doing. And the contract they offered us was amazing. Amazing. It was tell us the details. It was so we made the film for 150,000. And we crowdfunded a, you know, a majority of that. I would say that about almost 100 was crowdfunded. And the other 50 was the three of us. You know, owning up, ponying. Yeah. Which we didn't expect to do. And then it was like, Oh, shit, we spent too much money. Here's for me, here's from you, you know? And so, we they offered us 300,000 minimum guarantee, which was, you know, we only had to make, we only needed to make like, 60 grand, you know what I mean? So, right.

Alex Ferrari 27:38
So they gave you an mg $300,000 mg in 2019. I'm assuming around that time. Yeah. Because I'm trying to because the game changes so often. It depends on when you got that deal, if it makes sense in 2018, that we got the deal. Released in 2018. Still ridiculous. That's not a thing that happens. But go ahead.

Heather Turman 27:59
Yeah, yeah. And so because at that time, Netflix had stopped, you know, they there was a time that Netflix was giving out 500 grand for an indie film, but that went away, you know? Um, yeah. And so he, so that was in our contract. 300 grand minimum guarantee. And, um, and yeah, and they paid marketing. So they paid marketing costs that was in our contract. And obviously, that's the big thing, like we've done enough research to know that, that's how they get you is that they promise you all this stuff, and then you get the bill. And it's like, oh, they spent it all on marketing. So we get 12 cents, you know,

Alex Ferrari 28:33
what was that? What was the top on their marketing? What was it? Was there a limit on their marketing or not?

Heather Turman 28:38
There was not a limit, it said that. I know. I know. It's bad marketing. Yeah. But he said marketing was a team decision with the producer. So we were supposed to have a say in that as well. So you know, it's like, I mean, this deal sounds I mean, it's in theory,

Alex Ferrari 28:56
in theory, it sounds wonderful so far.

Heather Turman 28:59
Yeah. But yeah, we have not seen a dime. And every other film, that's what this company has, with the exception of maybe like one or two others has pulled their film from them. And you know, gone to court got their money back and this distributor is under investigation with the FBI for major fraud. A friend of mine came out of the woodwork. Oh, go ahead.

Alex Ferrari 29:22
No, no. off off. So they offered you 300 mg. So when you delivered the film, I'm assuming a part of the contract as soon as the film is delivered, some money is really it was

Heather Turman 29:32
after it was after quarter one from exhibition. So exhibition began, may have of 2019 and so once quarter one and he was like, oh, maybe you know might be but realistically, it'll probably be like, you'll get your first checks by the end of it'll be during the second quarter that you'll see. You know, was that money

Alex Ferrari 29:52
was that $300,000 supposed to be broken up over multiple quarters it was going to just won't be one foot one fat check.

Heather Turman 29:58
So that contract was for by 40 months, we would have that 300 grand. So

Alex Ferrari 30:05
spread out mg, it was a spread out over four down months. So you're talking about,

Heather Turman 30:11
okay, August 2022 is when it's up, but we haven't seen a diamond and it's clear we're never going to. So that's

Alex Ferrari 30:18
a pretty it's a pretty, I've heard of flat out people not paying m G's or distributors not paying em G's, but the way they've structured that deal was, you'll get a little bit of the whole 300,000 from now until four years along, which is generally how mg is work. I'm G's work like, you deliver the film, mg is you're here to check, maybe break it up over the first year, something like that. I mean, that Netflix does it over two years, if you can, if you get it, and now they're going to pay you until after the agreements over. So if they licensed it for two years, well, your first check starts at the end of let's because it's Netflix, so they're just, you know, flux they cancel. Yeah, exactly. Okay. And you said your friend came out of the woodwork.

Heather Turman 30:58
So yeah. And then a friend came out of the woodwork and said, Oh, are you we're I didn't know that you had worked with him. She was actually She's a friend of my wife. And she had hit her up and said, I didn't know that Heather was working with this, this, this guy? And she said, Yeah, he's the distributor for the movie. Why? You know, and she said, Well, 10 years ago, I, me and several actors came together to make an indie film. And we'd had about 150 grand that we'd all chipped in, like, you know, three grand five grand, they'd all paid for it. And a week before, and he came on as a producer, and a week before they went into production, the money was gone. And he ran away with it. And so and so then I started doing a ton of that's how that was the first red flag because that was right when the film was coming out. And so I'm calling my producing partners, and I'm like, red flag, red flag, red flag. And one of them thought, one, the distributor had fed one of them. He partnered with them on another project. And so he was basically sitting next to them feeding them all of this. bs about how it's a disgruntled filmmaker, that suing them. And that's probably must be what I'm talking about. And I'm like, that is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about a different thing, like 10 years ago. And I'm, you know, maybe he has turned over a new leaf and is trying to make things right. But I think we need to talk about this and see what if we can get out of this. And I just, you know, my team didn't, didn't agree with me, essentially, at the time. And then later, it came out that that person was, I mean, I guess I can't even really say that part yet. But yeah, um, long story short, the Yeah. So now the distributor is supposedly still going to film festivals I've heard and still telling people that he wants to distribute their films, under this company, that's no longer in good standing. If you look it up, it like doesn't exist anymore.

Alex Ferrari 32:57
But he just opened up a new a new company if he wants to, and that's the whole thing again.

Heather Turman 33:01
Exactly. And that I had read about that I'd read about the bankruptcy, you know, plan where they were filing bankruptcy, and then going and buying all of their assets. And basically, you know, owning your film in perpetuity for nothing. And so when I read up on that, I was like, I think this is what he's doing. But he didn't end up filing bankruptcy. And it turns out that, because he's the only one on the company, and that kind of stuff, he still will end up being held liable. But at this point, it's like, we're kind of just we're gonna wait till the 40 month mark, when if we don't see that money, contractually, we'll get the movie back. But I mean, it's gonna be over four years old. So it's, you know, and we probably will still have to hire a lawyer and spend more money. So it's just something that like, if I can impart any sort of wisdom on any filmmaker who's going through this is just like, do your due diligence and everything that you preach about, about knowing your audience, finding your audience, and, you know, making people excited about the product before you release the product? Like you then can release your own product and you can really have a bankroll if you do things, right. If you crowdfund and you don't owe people money back. Why wouldn't you release it with a knot? give someone that power, you know, what, so?

Alex Ferrari 34:19
So right now, the movie is basically in limbo. You have no idea. It's it's, it's out. It's out there right now. It's out in the world. Yeah, it's around the world. But you haven't gotten a check yet. And it's been a long now, since you were supposed to catch up.

Heather Turman 34:31
I mean, so I mean, two years. We choose we are I know that he worked with an aggregate company. So he then of course, didn't even know how to get films up who was

Alex Ferrari 34:44
who do you work with tri coast, never heard of number 35. Right coast, really never heard. They're an aggregator.

Heather Turman 34:53
They are a distributor, but because he knew them and I didn't think he had the ability to get the films on the platforms. So he signed with them as an app aggregator for as an aggregate for all of his for his whole slate.

Alex Ferrari 35:05
That's another middleman. So that's another middleman that's taking a chunk out of your money.

Heather Turman 35:09
Exactly. Well, which, you know, we owe nothing to them that like, you know, their their contract wouldn't underwrite ours, it's just that thing of

Alex Ferrari 35:21
they'll take money out of his car, which will then take money out of your cut.

Heather Turman 35:25
Yeah, which we're not gonna see a cut Anyway, you know what I mean? Like, he's a criminal. That's really all there is to it. He's, you know, his I know, he had a court date for the FBI thing, like week or two ago, so he could be in jail for all I know, right now. But he, uh, go ahead.

Alex Ferrari 35:41
So where's your film available right now?

Heather Turman 35:44
It's, it's on Amazon. And last I it was on all of them. But tri coast recently dropped all of his films because of all the legal drama. So they ended up cutting ties with him. And so all of their So, you know, they got rid of all of his film. So I don't know if he's how capable he has been of getting it on somewhere else.

Alex Ferrari 36:06
Right now. So right now, it's only on Amazon.

Heather Turman 36:10
As far as I know. Yes. It was on Apple TV. It was on all it was on all these, but I think that it got pulled? And to be honest, I haven't checked it. But I definitely saw on Amazon. Somebody just watched it the other day and hit me up.

Alex Ferrari 36:21
So would you which cases obviously they're in breach of contract? Yeah, term breach of contract. If they're off of all the platforms, why don't you just take control of the film again,

Heather Turman 36:33
and just Oh, so I tried to do this. So I tried to do this. And I, again, you know, my, when you're partnering with people that, that you don't have an existing relationship with, like, I tried to go behind everyone's back and go to try and get the hard drives and do things that way. Like I was, I was trying to just be like, if you if you're a criminal, I'm gonna, I'm playing with a criminal here, I'm gonna go steal my movie back, you know, and, and I went there, and they'd already turned the drives over to him. So he has the hard drives. And he sent me a couple texts saying, like, you know, we are I hold like, I, we still hold the copyright. But the contract, of course, assigns the copyright to him. So where we've left it right now is one of my producing partners, spoke with him on the phone. And and basically, let him convince him that like, Oh, it's it's tri coast fault, I'm in a, I'm at odds with them, you know, and I'm just like, dude, you cannot, he is a criminal, we're never gonna see this money. And they're like, well, I don't want to pay for a lawyer. So let's just wait for the 14 month mark. So that's where we're at now. But it's been such a mess and such a nightmare. And I feel like I was not listened to this entire time by my producing team. Do you know what I mean? And so it's, it's, it becomes incredibly disheartening to and I think that that's the thing if, if you're going to go into if you're going to partner with other creatives on a project, make sure you're on the same page about distribution before you work together? You know?

Alex Ferrari 38:09
No, without question. I think distribution is I mean, I've talked about distribution and nauseum on this show. But I feel that it's just something that it nobody wants to talk about everyone, let's talk about the creative part, and the fun part. And hey, it's cool. And let's all talk about that. And we'll go to the premieres and walk red carpets, and Hahaha, and our egos will be stroked, and it'll be great. But when it gets to this point, everyone just has different views. And most, I'm gonna say 99% of filmmakers are completely ignorant of this process, speaking to 1000s of them, and connecting with 1000s of filmmakers on a daily, weekly basis. And what I hear all the time, most just don't know what even professionals are having issues in today's marketplace, let alone people who have no idea what's going on. Because there's there's a lot of like you're producing partners sound like they have the 9096 mentality. of them. Yeah,

Heather Turman 39:03
you know, Mm hmm. Yeah. And it's and it's changing. You know, it's a, it's an evolving world. And it's changed so drastically. And I agree with what I've heard you say on this podcast before, and that if you want to know what's gonna happen with film, watch what happened with music, and it's 100% true. And in some ways, it's good because we are at that place where everyone can make a film. But you also now you are competing with everyone. And so what you may cast to either you have to know your audience, inside and out, or you have to make something so good, you know, be that rare, amazing, universal story that that touches and reaches everybody. And not everybody is going to be able to write or create that that film. And so, you know, it's just it's changed so much and and it's so important to be aware of the options, and also to think like a business person and I think that's the thing because this As a creative field, so many people don't have like, I feel like I'm like, I'm split brains, like I was always good in math and science and good in English and the creative. So like, this stuff adds up for me, but like, a lot of the creatives that doesn't, and so they get taken advantage of I mean, even just the concept of agents, why agents exist, you know, because the creatives don't in general like that. They're their artists, you know, they're not thinking about the business side of things necessarily.

Alex Ferrari 40:27
Yeah. And I look, I think there are places for, I want to say agents, but managers have, eventually, one day I'll get an agent maybe who knows. But you need a you need some, especially when you add a certain level, you do need someone negotiating for you. As long as I'm not saying you don't, yeah, yeah, you definitely do that. Yes. But reps are great. Yeah, reps reps are fantastic. But it gets silly sometimes. And then then there's also those reps that just sit around doing nothing, you go out and get all the work, and then they take the 10% or 15%, or God forbid, 20 if you've done a really bad job.

Heather Turman 41:01
But at the end of the day, there is that second set of eyes, reviewing contracts and making the deals and a lot of times they make you more money. And so it's worth the money that you pay absolutely, absolutely

Alex Ferrari 41:14
no shade to agents or managers at all.

Heather Turman 41:17
I just the business aspect that like creatives need that some that business brain, you know, helping them along the way,

Alex Ferrari 41:24
you know, without without question, you know, I wish I wish I can tell you that this is a brand new story that I've never heard before. But you've listened to my show enough to know that this is not the case. I'm always fascinated by new techniques, new new scams, new ways to screw filmmakers. It's it just I don't know, I don't know, I guess I just come from a different cut from a different cloth because I just don't want to do that. To Life is too short. Like you're gonna, I don't know, this is my feeling. In 100 years, no one's gonna remember any of us anyway. Right? So you know, why don't you try to do some good while you're here, try to help some people try to express yourself be true to yourself. And that's basically what it is. Because, you know, if you just I don't know, it's not we're going down a whole other conversation. But it just upsets me that that filmmakers are treated this way. And it's, but you were saying something about music. That's what I was trying to get back to. With music. You're saying it's easy to make movies, it is super easy to make an album, like it is, it's so much easier to make an album there's so much more competition in music than there is in film, and watching what successful independent artists like Chance the Rapper, and Drake and these kind of guys who came up completely without an AC label, and did it all on themselves. That's inspiring. And we think we have a lot of competition where nothing compared to music. I mean, there's so everybody, and their mother thinks they can write a song or sing a song and put an album together and sell it. But that's where you need to focus on like what are they doing? What are the successful artists in that field doing that we can copy and you know and model in our world because oh God, and it's only getting tougher, so sorry, guys. No, this is that. I don't want to be that completely downer on this. But it's only it's only getting tougher. Like you just said Netflix isn't buying things like that anymore. And you know, many filmmakers I talk to everyday like, Oh, I just want to get enough that. No, you don't. You're never gonna get on. You know, do you have Jason Statham on? Okay. Yeah, you'll get good. Yeah. Bruce Willis, maybe? You know, yeah. It's it's genre. It's genre based. Big Star vehicle films is the only thing that they're by outside of their originals.

Heather Turman 43:43
Yeah, no, it's, it's true. And I do feel certain, you know, independent artists that are finding, it's almost like, like, when you especially when you look at someone like Jim Cummings, right after winning Sundance that didn't get him. You know, hollywood didn't come calling. Then he crowdfunded the feature that even that didn't get Hollywood coming. Finally, after crowdfunding, you know, this third now, you know, he's with CIA and taken seriously, and they're like, Okay, this guy's legit. But like, nowadays, it's like, you have to do it, you should just take one film, and I just feel like now it's cultivating a like a voice and, and brand through your work. That's, you know, it's like when you were talking about what the music what the musical artists do. For me, it's, they are really good at, at doing them like they know themselves inside and out. And they they have, they are a personality, and their their music fits within that personality. Like I feel like filmmakers have to do that same thing. You know where this these films are representative of my voice. Those films are representative of their voice and build that brand and then you can sort of step outside A little bit and and not just always, you know, then you don't have to always like when you're first getting started, yeah, make the vegan chef movie, you know what I mean? Like, and then find your audience. But then like, it's really funny and people start taking you seriously, like, start being like, that was a funny movie, I never, you know, I caught it because I was dating a vegan were over. But that was a great, great comedy, then maybe they'll tune into your next comedy, you know. And so eventually you can build out a brand and a voice,

Alex Ferrari 45:28
I think, I think you have a much better chance as a niche filmmaker doing niche stuff than you do if you're trying to do like a broad, broad spectrum stuff. Because everybody we talked about, look, there's probably arguably no better filmmaker who has a direct connection to their audience than Kevin Smith, Kevin Smith has cultivated over the last 2025 years. 30, almost 30 years, an amazing relationship with his audience. He understands who he is, he understands the kind of films he makes. And he talks directly to the audience. The thing that a lot of people don't understand is that he had studio backing to get his voice and his brand out there. So did Spike Lee. So to Robert Rodriguez. So to Quentin Tarantino, all of these guys have a big, have a big money behind them to launch this, they might not have it now, like Kevin Smith doesn't do studio movies anymore, really, he does mostly. But his brand is been established out there so much because of the studio system, that that they ride that way, it's the same with actors, you know, actors have one or two big movies, and then they'll ride that for a career, you know, don't really, you know, don't I'm not gonna say name specifically. But there's actors who were in the 80s and 90s, in big, blockbuster films, but then their career kind of petered off. And then now they're, they're working actors, but they're still off, they're still, they're still being paid off of that recognizability off of the big studio pushes. And for an independent, I think the only way you can get noticed is in a niche market. And then hopefully, and then hopefully grow from there. But be happy to stay in that lane at the beginning, and then maybe venture out but if you can, I always tell people, and you've heard this, if you could just make a living doing what you love to do. If you could just do this, Mike,

Heather Turman 47:20
you won. You won. Pick up one and don't know Yeah, I was gonna say yeah, you want like, this is it. And I think that like that's the thing with you know, because of the stories like Robert Rodriguez and you know, Richard Linklater, and everybody that you hear that had that beginning, you assume that that's going to happen for you. And so you have a having an attachment to the outcome of your film is the worst thing that you can do. Just make it because you love it, and share it with the world. And if it makes people happy, then that will make you feel good. And that's it.

Alex Ferrari 47:52
Enjoy the process. Because the end, the end goal is quick. If you're there for the awards, if you're there for the screening for the applause. That's very short amount of time in the whole time, the entire process of what you're making every day in, day out. If you don't love what you're doing. It's it's that's why so many filmmakers are so sad. Like they wouldn't ask you to like now what? Yeah, I mean, I don't have these problems. But many other people have had these problems where there's like, they win the Oscar, they win the award, they they make a hit, and then they're like, Oh, god, this is all I've been focused on my time. I don't know what to do now. Yes, I hope we have this problem. Great. I mean, I got I made 100 million now what do I do? Like I hope I have these problems. But But and I think you've seen it in the films that I've made. I just enjoyed the process. And I had no attachment to outcome. None.

Heather Turman 48:43
Yeah, no. And that's why I think I was so inspired by it. I had, you know, stumbled on the podcast stumbled on your book, and everything you were talking about in the book. I was like, well, which by the way, this was very funny, because when we were doing when we were looking for distributors, I my wife had done us a small film called girl flu. And they were with glass house, I believe is what it was called. And I was looking through their Rolodex of films at the time their slate. It was that who it was, and I saw handled.

Alex Ferrari 49:15
This is Meg. Yeah, they did international distribution for me.

Heather Turman 49:18
Yeah, so I saw this the trailer for this is Meg. And I watched it way before I heard your podcast way before I, you know, read your book. And so then as I'm reading this book that is speaking to me, and I'm like, this is exactly what I was trying to say, when we were building stuff out is I was like, let's really target like, you know, it was just that thing that I had had these instincts but didn't execute and didn't, wasn't taken seriously by my partners. And so when I was reading it, and you said like, Oh, my first film this is mad. I'm like, that's so funny. And that made me then go watch it because I was like, well, this feels a little bit Kismet because I had stumbled on an indie trailer. I mean, who does that you know? And then it turned out to be yours and and I loved it and coming from the comedy community, you know, Sean Paul offski. And oh, I didn't know. Yeah, just Jill. Yeah, I didn't I don't know her, but a friend of mine know her. And so I really enjoyed it. And it both of your films feel like the same director though. You know what I mean? Like, I guess you all have, yeah, I guess you have a style and a voice.

Alex Ferrari 50:24
Yeah, there's an energy, there's an energy behind it. But then if you watch my earlier films, they have absolutely no, like, it's completely different energy than their action and, and, you know, thrillers and things like that. But it's, you know, look, if the Coen Brothers can make raising Arizona, and blood simple. You know, everything can happen then. And we're humans and we evolve. Absolutely. in your life. Yeah. Look at Spielberg. I mean, he hasn't made a really big popcorn a movie in a while. He's a very serious filmmaker now. And they're great. And I love all his movies now, too. I do miss him going back to that. But I think he's, he's like, I've done that. I'm good. I don't need to make et anymore. I'm not I'm not the filmmaker. Yeah, I'm not that filmmaker anymore. Now I have to ask you, what is the right? I know, right? What is filming films like that? I know, what is the biggest lesson you've learned from making this film?

Heather Turman 51:19
One is the thing that I'd say two, I would say. First and foremost is the thing I mentioned about not having an attachment to outcome, because I feel like emotionally, it was such an incredible grief. And as a result of him sort of coinciding with that is the is compromising man. Like, if we're gonna go through the effort, and I think this is what I really learned is that I mean, I have started directing, I've dabbled in some shorts that would cost no money, they were just experiments. But I, I definitely want to direct for sure now, because when you go through the effort of, you know, building a world that you write on, on the page, and then go through the efforts and all the hours and labor that's involved in producing a film, especially when you're the type of producer that's knocking on doors and, and you know, when we can't find patrol cars, I'm going on Craigslist and seeing who's selling, you know, a black crown. Vic, can I pay you to not sell that just yet? And you borrow it for my film? When I hit up an ambulance and say, Can you guys come by for like an hour, I mean, all kinds of different, you know, stuff that I was willing to do when you do that kind of groundwork and you don't have final creative say, it's like, you know, it's a big heartbreak and, and especially if you know, you're just don't compromise that much. Just make sure that you really stick to your guns and you know, the product you want to make, so that you are not bullied or, you know, pushed out a little bit or just, yeah, I mean, compromising with with artists is not is not cool. Don't do it. Unless it's like a small thing.

Alex Ferrari 53:04
It's it's a tough the making film is probably one of the toughest artistic endeavors ever created. Because there's so many different, it has all the arts in it, all of it, it's all wrapped into one thing. And then also you can't do it alone. You need to compromise with others you need. Anytime you have other words, collaborate, you do collaborate, but as any director at any level will tell you, I don't care if it's a $200 million budget, or if it's a $50,000. Budget, you gotta compromise. Yeah,

Heather Turman 53:34
but if you are the and what, but what I'm saying there is that knowing, knowing what to compromise on, do you know what I mean? Is is and so that's what I mean, really know the product you want to put out, so that when those times come, it's like, yeah, I can bend on that that's not important. I think, you know, there's that thing Quentin Tarantino, something about music, like he was not willing, he needed the money to pay for the song because he knew that that for sure was going to really make the scene. And so it's the thing of and make the film and, and so knowing those things, and not bending on on what you know, is going to make the film and what you know that the film really is. But yes, of course, you have to compromise because you are, like you said, it's a collaborative environment. It's so many different moving parts. And so of course, that's going to happen, but yeah, I just mean like the meat like you can't compromise the meat, it becomes a different movie.

Alex Ferrari 54:27
No, no question. There was one. There's a funny story I heard years ago about Michael Bay on his first film, which was bad boys. And there was a shot he wanted and if any bad boys fans out there will know this shot towards the end when there there's a shootout in the airport. This guy explodes out of an airplane and crashes into something and it was like a big event and they and Michael really wanted it and and at that time, Michael was completely disrespected. He's a commercial director that like at whatever. They didn't really respect them and he's like, I need the shot. I need the shot. I want the shot. And it's like, no. And though he's like, how much will it cost to do the shot, he's like, it's gonna cost you 50 grand into the shot. And we'll come in an hour too early and set it up tomorrow, if you want to do it, and he goes, I'll pay for it. The next day before the take, he took the check, and placed it in front of dailies in front of the lens and recorded it. So everybody knew that he was paying for the shot, but he got a shot. And you got to regardless if you'd like Michael Bay movies or not, you got to respect that. You got to respect it.

Heather Turman 55:28
100% Yeah, yeah, I, I ended up having to sell my car to pay off the crew. And I remember, at the time, it was so simple. I know. And so that's why the distribution things even worse, but it's like, so I had done that. And the crew, though, knowing that I was doing that. He had said the kind of things to me and just, I know that I'll always be able to work with them again, you know, because of that. And so, you know, you definitely have to make those sacrifices when needed.

Alex Ferrari 55:57
Yeah, exactly. And hopefully you don't have to sell your car. Hopefully, hopefully, you don't have to sell your car. Now, what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to trying to break into the business today.

Heather Turman 56:11
Just make make make, start small, tell small stories, learn how to how to direct actors in a in a, you know, in a one room story and get bigger from there. And just learn that that's it. Get started and learn and start. Start small. So you don't overdo it. You know, like I said, I wanted to do a $50,000 movie. I'm happy with the movie. It's a rockin little indie. But um, you know, it was much bigger than I intended it to be or get and, you know, it put me financially in a hole for about two years. And so don't go too big too soon, you know? Exactly.

Alex Ferrari 56:46
I agree with you. And three of your favorite films of all time.

Heather Turman 56:50
Oh, man. I'm gonna get laughed at about this. But the Brady Bunch movie is one of my

Alex Ferrari 56:58
favorite first first time after 600 and some episodes of all my podcasts. Brady Bunch never ever one. Everyone should have you ever seen it? Of course I have of love that are so it's so

Heather Turman 57:08
it's great. It's fun. It's great. And just it's brilliant directing because it's you know, the Brady actors are in a whole different world than the rest of the cast. You know, it's it's brilliant. And it's so funny. So I love the Brady Bunch movie is one of my favorite films. And recently and growing up. Oh, man, everything Charlie Kaufman ever did.

Alex Ferrari 57:29
That station? I mean, yeah, yeah.

Heather Turman 57:33
Yeah. Eternal Sunshine. And, and lastly, I'd have to say and then just recently, I think I love booksmart. It was my favorite one of my favorite films in the last decade. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 57:43
Very, very fun. And then where can people watch stuck? Even though you won't be getting paid off of it yet? But where can?

Heather Turman 57:53
Yeah, we watch it because I want people to see you know what? My wife gave a killer performance. And I've seen people say that where they're like, wow, Heather matarazzo This is her first adult lead since Welcome to the dollhouse like she Yeah, what, uh, yeah, you know, and, and she killed it. And she did such a great job. So I want people to see it for her. And so it's on Amazon, and I believe, do a Google search because I haven't done one in a minute. And I'm sure you can find it on other platforms. But it's out there. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 58:23
it's on Amazon. And hopefully, one day we'll, we'll get some money for it. Yeah. I'm gonna

Heather Turman 58:30
write a book about the experience. I'll make my money back there.

Alex Ferrari 58:33
There. That's the film shoprunner method. Fantastic. I love it. Thank you so much for being on the show. I pray and thank you for being so raw and honest and and transparent about your experience in your journey. Hopefully, this will help some filmmakers out there listening. So thank you again, so much.

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