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IFH 023: Crowdfunding Your Indie Film Like a Pro with Emily Best

Crowdfunding has always been a mystery to me. I never really understood how Filmtrepreneurs could raise $50,000, $100,000 or $1,000,000 to make their films. I tried once with the “if I built they will come” idea but they never came.

When I discovered this week’s guest, Emily Best CEO and founder of the indie film crowdfunding website Seed & Spark, I had to get her on the show. I attempted to squeeze out of her every bit of crowdfunding knowledge I could. We discuss:

  • How to create a successful crowdfunding campaign?
  • What are the biggest mistakes indie filmmakers make when crowdfunding their film?
  • How should indie filmmakers crowdsource (building an audience for you or your film)?
  • How do indie filmmakers determine how much to ask for when crowdfunding?
  • How do you build a killer crowdfunding page and video?
  • What incentives should you give when crowdfunding?
  • How do you determine if your film has an audience?

All of these questions on crowdfunding are answered and more. Seriously this podcast is a condensed master class on crowdfunding. I was selflessly asking the questions I wanted the answers to and now you guys benefit as well. Enjoy!

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 1:10
So today, guys, we have a indie film Crusader. On the show, her name is Emily Best she is the CEO and founder of seed and spark the crowdfunding platform for independent film. She's going against the big boys going against Kickstarter and Indiegogo and she's kicking their butts in my opinion, her passion for filmmakers and her passion for getting films funded is amazing. And I when I heard her on another show, I it's like I have to get her on. I gotta get her on the show. So sit back and get ready to be inspired by Emily Best of seed and spark. Thank you so much Emily for taking the time out to talk to the indie film hustle tribe. I really appreciate it.

Emily Best 1:56
You bet I have to warn you that my dog might make himself known at some point during this podcast.

Alex Ferrari 2:02
His name is Alan Alan Allister. Yes, I've heard of him. And he's very famous throughout the indie film world.

Emily Best 2:10

Alex Ferrari 2:10
Yes. We would be honored if he would be here we do a guest a guest spot on the show. Great. So let me ask you. So you're obviously the CEO of seed and spark. So I wanted to ask you first and foremost, how and why did you start Seton spark?

Emily Best 2:28
Well, when I realized that what I wanted to do was make independent films forever. Um, I spent a lot of time researching what that would take. And my so I went to Sundance, I went to American film market, I talked to a ton of filmmakers, I talked to distributors, I talked to finance ears, I talked to sales agents. And I determined that the current climate is far too unfriendly for independent filmmakers. Because granted, this was happening, essentially, at the so we had this sort of conflagration of events in independent filmmaking. Digital technology advanced to a place where you could get really good video footage on your cell phone, but DSLR cameras were starting to make production really cheap. The next thing that happened was DVDs tanked. And there was the rise of digital distribution, except all of the businesses had built up their infrastructure as if DVDs were going to be the way that people consumed things forever, which I might say is rather short sighted. So when you when you thought you would be able to get 1499 for something that now people only thought was worth maybe $1.99 if you're lucky. Yeah, that messed up a lot of stuff really fast, right? And, and so in 2011, after I produced my first feature film called like the water. I thought, well, I really like to do this, but it looks to me like the environment for women and for people of color. And for people who want to tell diverse different stories is particularly messy. But what was interesting is that if you looked at what was getting funded on crowdfunding platforms, consumers were saying I want the weird I want the different I want the diverse I want the boundary pushing, I want the life changing. They weren't saying I want another romantic comedy. That's what they were definitely not saying. Okay, so it was just a really interesting time to come into filmmaking and seed and spark rose out of my experiences making like the water but also my desire for there to be a sustainable filmmaking career in the future.

Alex Ferrari 4:56
Very interesting. So and then when you made like a water, I heard that you had an experience with Ed burns during that process and that it was kind of like, he lied to you in many ways.

Emily Best 5:08
That's okay.

Alex Ferrari 5:10
I don't wanna I'm not setting you up, but I do.

Emily Best 5:12
My best friend Caitlin lied to me. Yes. Edie only sort of partially supported it. So I was making I was in a play. I was co producing a play in in New York called Hedda gobbler. So Norwegian classic. And Caitlin Fitzgerald was playing Hedda. And also, at that time, co starring opposite Ed burns in a movie that he was making. One of the first that he made with the five D, called newlyweds. And he was shooting newlyweds nights and weekends with his friends in their houses on a DSLR camera. And so when the group of women collaborators who made had a gambler decided we wanted to make another piece of work together. We had been thinking about theater because that's what we had been doing. And Caitlin got us all a little tipsy one night and said, Guys, we should just make a movie. It's so easy. And to be fair, Eddie made it look easy.

Alex Ferrari 6:11
No, no, Edward Edward Burns at this point is Edward Burns. He's not like, you know, right off of brothers mcmullin or anything like that. I mean, he's,

Emily Best 6:17
This is 2011. It's three years ago. He's young.

Alex Ferrari 6:21
He's He's, he's Ed burns at this point.

Emily Best 6:23
He's a big deal. Yeah. And so. And of course, because I was the producer in the room, they turned to me, and they're like, you'll produce this feature film. And I was like, Oh, sure, no problem. If it's, there you go. There he is. Yes. If it's easy, sure. I'll do it. And so she invited me to set and I got there and I rang the doorbell of like a cool Tribeca apartment, and the door opens and then, you know, devastatingly handsome man says, Hey, I'm Eddie, come on in. And I get to watch them shoot a film The crew up for which is Ed burns behind the camera directing and like rewriting as he goes, his cameraman who he or his cinematographer, who he's worked with for years, and their sound guy, and that's it three people,

Alex Ferrari 7:16
Three very high, highly experienced and skilled people.

Emily Best 7:21
Correct! Yeah, um, but three people on the left, sure. Zero crew, zero equipment, zero. And I thought, Oh, my gosh, I can totally do this. I just need to find an experienced cinematographer and a sound person. And we'll be fine, right?

Alex Ferrari 7:36
Of course.

Emily Best 7:38
So I did that I went and found an experienced cinematographer, by the name of Eve Cohen. And we told he, what we do, I brought her to New York, I'd met her on a movie in Philadelphia, I brought her to New York, to meet with Caitlin to talk about the movie we wanted to make. And it was a a, an independent drama set in Maine in the summer. And Ede Cohen immediately said, there's no way you will be able to shoot this film on the five D. And we were like, What do you mean, but we don't understand what movie making would be if we don't shoot it on the five D. And all of a sudden, I was off on a very different adventure, right, which is to say, I wasn't shooting a running gun mockumentary in New York City that I might have been able to do on, you know, with a stripped down crew, the kind of movie we were making took a lot more resources and a lot of learning. So in the journey to, you know, learning how to produce a film while producing a film, which is a journey I actually recommend to everyone. It was a great film school. As long as you hire people in the key positions, who already know what they're doing. That was really where I started to see the role of community and audience as essential to the health of the independent film business model, right? There's so much stuff we didn't have to spend money on, because the community was like I'm in, let's do this. Here's a coffee, here, your picture cars from a local car dealership, here are all your locations that were way more spectacular than anything you had imagined. And the reason that we were able to engage a community that way is because we told them specifically what we needed. So we didn't ask for funding, we gave them a list of everything we needed. And we said, support us in whatever way you can. Based on these things, like a wish, like a wish list. It was exactly like a wish list, or a wedding registry. And we sent it to everyone we knew. And we needed to raise $20,000, we raised 23,000 in cash and hundreds of 1000s of dollars in loans and gifts of locations and goods and services. So that was when I started to see Oh, there's a there's a real community organizing aspect around these ideas. I wouldn't know until we went on to the festival circuit, how meaningful that would be what a beautiful audience building tool and audience sort of evangelist tool. The wish list would be and it was only then that people In the industry, who I was meeting and talking to about our journey started to say, well, that's really interesting. Have you thought about offering that to other filmmakers? Which is tantamount to them saying, you know, have you considered a tech startup? And I was like, easy everyone, I only just decided I was gonna be a filmmaker. But as I as I started to really explore it as a possibility. I really, I really understood that. We have a responsibility all of us as independent film creators to change our business in a way that makes it easier for us to build sustainable livings. But we can't expect someone else to do it for us, we have to do it together.

Alex Ferrari 10:45

Emily Best 10:46
That's really I mean, that's really the foundational kind of principle of seed and spark is we're looking for something that is about sustainability for artists and diversity of content for audiences. Those two things are a very powerful economic engine.

Alex Ferrari 10:59
And I've I guess, in recent years is the term like sustainable career or making a living at your art, these concepts are fairly kind of new. I haven't heard them I've been I've been in the business for 20 years. And I, I never heard of that before. Everyone was always looking for the golden ticket. You know, everyone was looking for the lottery ticket, you go to Sundance, and you win. And, you know, you get Harvey Harvey gives you a million dollars. And

Emily Best 11:25
yeah, somebody let's talk about that golden ticket for a second. Yes. Here's the actual economics of that golden ticket, please. You are, there are 15,000 independent feature films made in the US alone, every year 12,000 films from around the world are submitted to Sundance 17 of them make it into competition. So just do that math really quickly, right? 17 divided by 12,000. That's point. Oh, 1%.

Alex Ferrari 11:56
I love that you have a calculator right there.

Emily Best 12:01
4.01%. Now of those films that go into competition, some of them sell for amounts greater than their budget. And those are the ones that get a ton of publicity. And often ones that were earmarked for those deals before they walked into the festival, right. Most of those films end up doing some service deal or DIY distribution, which is not what people think happens to most of the films at Sundance, but that is what happens to most of the films at Sundance. The few films that when the golden ticket, let's say sell to The Weinstein Company, or I mean, that might be one film a year, sell to Focus Features, they so they have independently financed and produced this film. And now they are going to utterly dependently distributed, and they will never get back any data about who watched their films or where or what their email addresses are, they will never get back. Or they certainly won't get back control of the IP. And most importantly, they almost never make any money. So I have a friend who was an executive producer on two of the most lottery ticket like films that went one went through Sundance got picked up by a major distributor hadn't had an Oscar campaign, the other one got picked up out of Sundance was made on a super low budget, bought for a couple million bucks and then did like $15 million at the box office. Beyond the the sale price out of the festival, those investors never saw $1 back from this $50 million box office. Right now. That's because the entire system is set up to preference the distributor, they have to recoup the costs of marketing and the cost of delivery and a lot of other costs. That they won't tell you what

Alex Ferrari 14:01
the hell they are creative accounting, right?

Emily Best 14:04
Yeah. So there's all sorts of creative accounting to make sure that the filmmaker never sees $1. Now, if you are very lucky, that deal might get you an agent and a studio deal, which is cool.

Alex Ferrari 14:21
But the percentages are so I mean,

Emily Best 14:24
we're now talking about point, point, point point, we're not talking about 1% of the point oh 1% in the first place.

Alex Ferrari 14:31
Exactly. It's like so miniscule, it's it's just like lottery tickets. It literally is lottery ticket odds.

Emily Best 14:35
It's almost worse. So so one of the things that I am fond of saying is like I'm perfectly happy saying I'm the 99% that I'm not so special, that my film is going to be the point oh 1% of the point oh 1% and I'm okay with that because actually, I don't like to sit around and wait to be picked. And frankly, I don't think any artists particularly like to sit around and wait To be picky, we're making stuff because it matters to us. And we want to communicate with the people to whom it also matters. That's the whole point. So that we would rely on a system that keeps us as far away from the people who are as aligned with our values because they want to watch our stuff as possible. has never made sense to me. I'm not making films for distributors and making films for audiences, right? And so there's, there's a real this notion that you can go off into a hole and make these marvelous things and then once you emerge, they will just see the merit and pick you a narrative that has kept us small and poor for long enough.

Alex Ferrari 15:46
That's I'm I'm about to like join the revolution with you wherever you go, let's let's go cuz, I mean, it's almost like chegar era. I mean, seriously, it's, it's, I love it. I love listening to you talk about it, because you're so passionate about what you're saying. And it's so true. And like I said, I've been doing this for 20 years, I've been in post and I've seen a lot of feature films come and go Sundance winners and other independent films. And it's so true, like the system is built to kind of keep the artist poor and broke because like you just said there's 15,000 movies made a year. So if nothing comes out this year with others, that's another 15,000 movies coming out next year. And they keep building into this this machine of and never, never allowing they just basically spitting up and chewing out the artists. And God knows what kind of artists or you know, writers or directors or any kind of artists have been just chewed up and never we we made him never, we might have already lost another Martin Scorsese of this generation or another Tarantino because they just couldn't get through, or they just gave up because of this, this machine. And now the technology i think is so like things like seed and spark and you know, the the cost to start making movies is gone down so much that it's now about not as much about making the movie. Do you agree? It is about making good art. But now it's about building your audience, which is my next question. Like how important is understanding your film's audience before you even begin to crowdfund

Emily Best 17:17
it's incredibly important. It's in fact essential. If you don't spend that time before you crowdfund, you won't crowdfund you will friend, fund. And friend, a family friend, right? Yeah, which is what most people end up doing. And then they're like, I don't understand why I couldn't raise more money. And it's like, well, do you know who the people are? Who want to see your movie? Did you spend time finding out where they were on social media? And how they like to be spoken to? Did you do any research into the organism in organizations that service these people? Or did you think that if you build it, they will come, which is the same Pick me Pick me mentality as before, it is really hard work to build a sustainable business, which is what an independent, sustainable film career is. It's a business, right? It's hard to build a business. But it's incredibly rewarding. And you get to go to work every day with the people you care about. And you get to control the creative decisions. And you get to interact with the people personally, who say, Oh, my God, this thing you're doing changed my life. Right? So I feel like part of the reckoning is also to say what is enough? Right? Like,

Alex Ferrari 18:25
yeah, like, do you have to have billions and millions of dollars to be happier? Can you make a sustainable income,

Emily Best 18:31
like if you could make $65,000 a year making the content that you care about, and living in? I don't know, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I recently learned it cost $500 for a really nice two bedroom apartment is beautiful. Oh, my goodness. Like, I actually think the real examples of sustainability are going to come first, as sustainability through these new technology platforms are going to come first and foremost, in places outside of Los Angeles in New York, where access has has been granted in a in a new way to audiences and distribution through technology. And people are not quite so caught up in the pygmy mentality that has driven this city to you know, Botox and lip injections for whatever, nearly a year. Exactly. No, it's I mean, it's, it's true, because I actually think it the so I hear filmmakers get sort of anxious about, well, if I have to get good at marketing, too. Won't that take away from my filmmaking? And I think what about the detriment to the filmmaking or the acting or the writing that comes from being desperate to be picked, doesn't seem desperate to be picked, make you revert to the mean doesn't being desperate to be picked make you want to look as much as possible, like the other people who are being picked doesn't desperate To be picked, make you want to write the thing that looks like other things that have been picked, desperation to be picked does not make you more creative, it makes you more

Alex Ferrari 20:09
desperate and desperate. It makes you

Emily Best 20:12
more similar to other things. And that's not. That's not creative to me, if you look at what gets funded through crowdfunding, like I said before, it's the super creative, daring, interesting stuff. So audiences are demonstrating to us that they're smart, they're hungry, and they're supportive of your creativity. Right? The important thing to remember is it's not audiences, like this big faceless mass, it's your audience. It's the group of individual humans with their own interesting lives, who respond to similar things in the world that you respond to, these are this is your tribe, right? Which is actually the name of the company that we use to make like the water. So it's really about finding your people. And, and I think that gives you much more creative freedom than working in a system where you're desperate to be picked.

Alex Ferrari 21:09
Absolutely. And if you ever heard of a film called Kung Fury, yes, it was brilliant, the way that guy would package that movie. And he crowdfunded. And he did very well, crowdfunding, but but my god, he found his audience he completely sold to his audience, whether you like the audience or not, like the movie or not, but the guy's super successful by you know, it was a short film on top of it wasn't even a feature. Yeah. But so let me ask you a question. What? When should a filmmaker begin creating their audience or following?

Emily Best 21:42
As soon as you have ideas, I mean, here's the thing. We're all on social media anyway, right? Audience obviously starts with the people who like you, as a human, those are your friends and family. It's not like you like or not considering them. So probably, you're on a couple of social media platforms, and you're already starting this. But you have also this world of inspiration that defines your creative art that you're probably, you know, looking at online, and I'm reading articles about and writing things about and making little short vignettes about and cutting things together. These are all ways to see the conversations with people who might be interested in the same things. Probably, if you're a huge fan of kung fu movies, you're aware of where kung fu fans hang out, right? And you can go interact with them, because that's the beauty of online, everybody's participating now. It's really a matter of, you know, being involved in the community of interest that's inspiring you, that's where it starts, it should actually ultimately be kind of natural. Right? Right.

Alex Ferrari 22:47
Not forced,

Emily Best 22:48
yeah, you're already you're already doing it anyway.

Alex Ferrari 22:51
So then, with with the whole building an audience, there's one like kind of, I want to say it's like a dirty secret, but things that people don't like to talk about, which is an email list. It can you talk about how important that email list is in building this, this audience.

Emily Best 23:05
So, you know, I think one place that we can get confused is we can get obsessed with the notion of building the audience. And we'll look at any metrics that indicate to us that people like what we're doing, it'll be things like Twitter followers, and Facebook fans. And the problem is, the ultimate goal is not Twitter followers, and Facebook fans, the ultimate goal is getting people to pay money to watch your movie. That's the goal. That's how are getting them to watch your stuff. I don't know if you want them to pay. Your ultimate goal could be starting a movement, it could be getting as many people to watch your film as possible. It could be getting as many people to pay to watch your film as possible. You have to set your own goals. But I'm pretty sure nobody, no filmmakers out there being like, I want to be big on Twitter, right? Like, my goal, like Twitter is a means to an end, which is I want to be big on Twitter, so I can get a lot of people to watch my movie. Here's the thing. On average, you can expect a conversion rate. That means people who see something on your social media to taking the action you want them to take, like funding your crowdfunding campaign are or signing up to see your movie have about 1%. Right? So if you have 10,000 followers, you can only expect 100 of them to show up and do anything, right. That's not like, that's sort of a jarring idea, right? It doesn't mean the 10,000 people might not be aware of it. But what you really want them to do is take action. With email lists that are appropriately managed, you can see a conversion rate of 20 to 30%. Right? The number of people on your email list is way more important. Well, why is that? Well, it's super easy to follow someone on Twitter, you quickly click one button. What's a little bit harder is to get them to sign up for your mailing list because you either have to interact with them personally and like exchange business cards or hand them a sign up. She did your screening, or you end up, you know, doing something online that's so compelling that they're like, hey, I want to sign up for more updates from this person, you have to create that call to action. And then people have to take that step with you, it means that they want to get more deeply engaged with you. And frankly, you should test your ability to get people to take that action before you ever launch a crowdfunding campaign or distribution campaign, because you need to know how good you are at messaging your audience and getting them to really understand why they should do anything with you.

Alex Ferrari 25:35
That's a great, great, that's great information. What, um, let me ask you another question. What do you think is the state? What are your thoughts on the current state of film distribution as a general statement, oh, this is a whole other podcast.

Emily Best 25:48
It's really messy right now. Um, it's very hard to make money on small films right now. Because most of us have still produced things. I'm kind of in the old model of raising as much money as we can, you know, making it making it for as much money as we can. And then thinking about distribution, or even folks who are crowdfunding are still not leveraging crowdfunding. With distribution in mind. They're only leveraging crowdfunding with fundraising in mind. And again, just like twit, the end game of Twitter is not to get Twitter followers. But to get people to watch your movies. The endgame of crowdfunding is not just to raise money, but to get people to watch your movies, right? crowdfunding is just another slightly more involved social media and storytelling tool. The your crowdfunding page is as much of a storytelling tool as your Twitter profile or your Facebook page. And so I think we're still behind in some senses really strategizing and thinking about our distribution before we make films. And, and part of the reason I think the economics are so tricky is we let the script utterly dictate how much a film should be made for, right, which in some cases is fine, because there's a lot of resources to put to it. But sometimes there are scripts that really have a, you know, a smaller audience, demonstrable audience reach, and if you've demonstrated, you can get, you know, 10,000 people to spend $5 a piece on your film, right? And that's as far as you think it can go? That's $50,000. Right? Right. If you if you want to crowdfund $100,000, and then make $50,000 back, that's not a bad deal. Right? Right. That's a pretty good universe. But if we're, I mean, we just have to also get really honest about like, the capacity and what it takes to really make money on stuff. And I'm not saying that you shouldn't make things that can't make a profit, I'm saying that there are models that are actually built so that you are doing it for reasons other than making profit, and crowdfunding is one of those is if it's really meaningful to people, and it's meaningful to enough people, they will fund you to make this thing that maybe doesn't have huge commercial reach, but is meaningful to a small subset of people and you can still make some money on that because the community has brought it into being um, I just think the longer that we sort of continue to do things the same way the Messier it's gonna be the other thing is like, we just haven't caught up to the fact that most of us carry a device in our pockets every day that can allow us anyone to shoot, edit, distribute and consume a movie. Right? That is a fundamentally like industry shifting technology. And we have not caught up and part of it is because the you know, there are a lot of distribution middlemen who stand to lose a lot of money if we get to what these devices can do for us.

Alex Ferrari 29:04
as as as basically as as, you know, things like VHS and gumroad, and YouTube and Vimeo pro and all these other, kind of like killing the middleman thing out and just going directly to your customer. The technology is changing so rapidly, like, you know, how long How long is he to spark been around?

Emily Best 29:25
Three years,

Alex Ferrari 29:26
three years. So, you know, three years in the indie film world, three years is massive. Things are changing so rapidly. It's nice to find like I just heard of, I've just heard the other day of tug, which I I never heard of before. I just had never come through. I'd never, never came through my ears.

Emily Best 29:47
Yet someone from Ted on this podcast. They're fantastic. And they're incredible. And we work with them.

Alex Ferrari 29:51
Yeah, I know. Can you tell them real quick, can you just just say a couple things about tug.

Emily Best 29:55
Sure, tug is a way to crowdsource your theatrical release. So they have relationships. With 90% of the theaters in the country, and it works on a promoter basis, so anyone in any if you put your film on tugg, anyone in any city can say, I would like a screening of that film in my city. And they can go about pre selling tickets. And if they hit the minimum threshold, and that threshold is determined by how much the filmmaker wants to make, how much the theater wants to make, and how much the promoter wants to make, they sell the minimum number of tickets, that screening is guaranteed, and you have a theatrical screening in the city you didn't even think of, because somebody who liked your movie decided they wanted to do it there.

Alex Ferrari 30:32
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. That's absolutely brilliant. And that's a game changer. Absolutely, in many, many ways. Now, I'm sure you've seen a ton of pitch videos, can you give us an example of a bad one? and what not to do?

Emily Best 30:58
Sure. So um, it is very common. And I don't know why I think it's because we just get nervous about asking for support that filmmakers making pitch videos, forget to apply their filmmaking techniques to the pitch videos, and they end up making pitch videos that like their, their aunt would like but wouldn't care about. So it's not uncommon to see a filmmaker you've never heard of or seen before. Sit down in front of a camera in lousy light with bad sound and say, Hi, I'm Emily, I'm making a terrifying thriller, and I really want you to join me on this journey. And you're like, What? Who are you? Why should I expect that you're going to make a terrifying thriller, and prove it, and then I'll go, um, you know, making movies is really hard, which is why I put together a really killer team, and I can't wait for you to hear from them. And then another person you've never heard of whose opinion you don't know how to trust in His work, you don't recognize like the cinematographer will come on screen and another badly lit interview situation. And they'll be like, yeah, so like, I'm really excited to work on this movie, because like, I've been really inspired by like Eli rock films for a while. And I worked a lot on a lot of those kind of films, like in my thesis in college, and, um, I just like, really, I just think it's gonna be really fun and like, really dark. So I had no script, and they go on forever. Right? Now, I still don't know what the movie is about. I know two people who are involved with it, who've given me zero confidence in their capacity to execute. And then maybe they're going to send me to talk to an actress or an actor who's like, really excited and engaging and probably like nice looking, and they're going to tell you how excited they are to work on the project. But you're like, what is the project? What are we even talking about? Most people except for the parents of the aforementioned like filmmakers, and actors and cinematographer. I shut the video off by this point, because those people are trying to talk to audiences for horror films. And let me tell you what audiences for horror films want horror films, interview pieces, right? So you actually have to start to build up your credibility by demonstrating to people what you can do. So you know now that tangerine has thankfully proven you can make brilliant films on your iPhone. I don't like I don't have to bat down the excuses anymore from filmmakers will look but it costs money to make a good pitch video. No, it does not. No, it does absolutely does not. Because you're a filmmaker, and indie filmmakers are the most creative, ingenious people I've ever met. That's why I like decided to go headfirst for the rest of my life into this business. You can take your iPhone, and shoot something really creepy in a dark alley in the middle of the night with all the same people that we're talking to. And demonsaw make us feel something about your capacity to execute on the thing that you're proposing. And then once you've done that, once you've scared me a little bit, then you can pop your face up on the screen, so that I have a relationship to Ooh, you made me feel something now I see your face. No, I'm interested in you. Right right to give the audience for your film, a reason to trust that you're a person to deliver them what they want. That's super super important and the pitch video

Alex Ferrari 34:33
and it seems after you've explained it it seems quite elementary but most I would imagine most people don't

Emily Best 34:41
Yeah, I don't know what happens I so here's the thing. I wonder if it's not you know, sort of partially our fault and an out by our I mean sort of all the crowdfunding platforms who are like, you know, you have to make a personal appeal. And so they're like, okay, I'll start with the personal appeal and beg Yeah. film, it's a little bit different, right? Because the messaging is not necessarily just to pre sell the film, but to get involved in this experience with me that I'm going to take you on not just for this film, but for a lifetime if you like it enough, right? And so the messaging can't be, we want to make this thing but we're broke, please help,

Alex Ferrari 35:21
which is 95% of

Emily Best 35:25
the pitch video has to be, we are about to basically take a spaceship to the moon, do you want to be the fuel,

Alex Ferrari 35:33
that's a great way of looking at it,

Emily Best 35:35
I offer something that is so exciting that I want to get involved in the journey. Right, where the delivery of the finished product of the film is almost ancillary to what I'm excited about at this point, like, I just want to be so stoked to be involved with you. Now, there's also a whole set of subset of people who will fund things because they're excited about the finished product, you have to keep in mind that, you know, unlike a tech widget, I can just go watch another film next week. So if you're offering for me to get involved in a film that's not coming out for eight or 12 months, you better give me stuff along the way to remind me that I care about this thing. Hmm. So the other thing is like the pitch video is only really the beginning of the deeper relationship, right? So you go from the first date. No, no, no, the Twitter follow is the first date. Okay, gotcha, that the email address is like the fourth date of crowdfunding should be like the engagement. Really, you know, that's when like you, you're really deepening your relationship. And that means you're gonna have you're committing to having a relationship with those people forever.

Alex Ferrari 36:49
Artists, artists and consumer of art, correct? That's, that's a great analogy as well. And I as what would you consider is realist? Oh, can you talk a little bit about realistic crowdfunding goals? Because I know, sometimes I've seen, you know, $1 million dollars. I'm like, really, and they've they've never shot anything in their life. So can you talk a little bit about realistic crowdfunding goals?

Emily Best 37:12
Sure. The first and most important thing is, your crowdfunding goal has to be directly related to what you're promising in your pitch. So if you're promising, we're going to shoot, edit and distribute this entire this movie based on the money that we're gathering right now, you have to have budgeted for all of that, and know that the amount of money minus the fees you're gonna pay is enough to do everything that you're promising. If you if you if you get there, and you're like, holy shit, that's $150,000. That's a lot. Think about breaking it up into stages, and setting goals for yourself that are related to the size audience you've grown. First of all, you shouldn't launch a campaign unless you know for sure where the first 30% of your funds are coming from. Why? Because strangers, people who've never heard of you before your crowdfunding campaign whose first encounter with you is in the crowdfunding campaign, tend not to be interested in getting involved until you've hit about 30%. And that's because momentum shows inevitability of success, and people like to pick winners. So part of the reason you want to spend so much time cultivating the crowd in advance, so that it's easy for you to determine where that first 30% is coming from. And then those people act as your evangelists for the next 30%. And those people act as evangelists for the following 30%.

Alex Ferrari 38:31
Interesting, interesting, so and then when you say the first 30% you're saying like, where it? Can you explain that a little bit? Like, how would How would I know where the first 30% of my funds would come from?

Emily Best 38:42
Is you've been out there talking to people about your campaign products, writing to the people who are most enthusiastic saying, Can I count on you on day one? What kinds of incentives would make you the most excited? How much would you be willing to contribute? If I could promise you, you know, tickets to the premiere? Um,

Alex Ferrari 39:01
well, let me ask you what is some of the most ingenious incentives you've seen in your day?

Emily Best 39:06
Well, I really like incentives that inspire evangelism during the campaign. So my most favorite example is filmmaker named Sean Mannion did a time travel short, called time signature. And I contributed $25 to his campaign, and I'm not kidding, like 20 minutes later, I got a an email that said, Emily, thank you from his campaign page. Emily, thank you so much for your contribution. It means a lot to us. If you could travel anywhere in time, where would you go? And I was in. I don't know what I was doing that day that made me so boring, but I shot back to go to the signing of the Magna Carta. Okay, thinking that that was also like, I didn't know what he wanted it for, but I was like, this is a hard one. Like it was kind of a dick move on my part. Right? Like Half an hour later, I get a tweet that says, we found at Emily best at the signing of the Magna Carta, where will we find you. And it was a some sort of 13th century scroll image of these friars sitting around signing the Magna Carta. And he had found a picture of mine off of Facebook, and photoshopped it in so expertly, it took me a second to find myself because I just looked like I was there, Wow, really excited to be there. And it was, it was so brilliant, because it made me love him instantly, it filled the incentive that he owed me outside of the delivery of his film. And I shared it everywhere. And I know that I am personally responsible for no fewer than seven other contributions to that

Alex Ferrari 40:57
campaign. Right? That's brilliant.

Emily Best 41:01
$25 into $200.

Alex Ferrari 41:04
That's no way but that but also that takes a little bit of sweat equity, elbow grease, which a lot of filmmakers, you know, they have to ask themselves that that deep question, am I willing to do the work? Absolutely. You know, and that's why I think all this the whole crowd for crowdfunding and building up your audience and everything it has to do about the work and, you know, it's sometimes I've dealing with so many filmmakers in my in my life that a lot of them just want to make a movie one, you know, be famous. And you know what I mean? It's not as much about

Emily Best 41:35
movies, no work at all, I'm sorry. Because making no making a movie, that's no work at all.

Alex Ferrari 41:40
Exactly. Like you've killed yourself, you know, for two years, three years, sometimes I'm making a movie and you're not gonna take it to the finish line, you know, you're so close. You know, I always look at marketing and, and, you know, building this audience and stuff like that, as part of the creative process have always said that, it's like, you have you put your creative energy that you would into your art, but make the marketing on art like that guy. That's a perfect example with the scroll. That's brilliant. Yeah, a really brilliant idea. So what is one of the main reasons somebody would invest in a movie in a crowdfunding platform? Like what's what's, what's the main reason they would?

Emily Best 42:24
Ah, you mean into a crowdfunding campaign?

Alex Ferrari 42:26
Yeah. Like, like, I'm Joe Schmo. I just came on to seed and spark, why would someone like throw down 25 bucks to somebody I don't even know, like, what's the main reason?

Emily Best 42:37
Usually, because, um, there's like a really well articulated Why, why do we need to make this thing that speaks to the person's heart? It's emotional. Of course, why does this need to get made. And it could be, because the pitch video made me laugh my ass off. And it could be because the filmmakers are working on a social justice issue that really matters. Or it could be both in the case of a film called quality problems. It could be that I just really liked the filmmakers approach, it could be that I've been following the filmmaker for a very long time. And I'm really excited to finally get a chance to interact with them in this way. So I it's, I think it's above all, that there is a y. Right? That I that I understand and believe in

Alex Ferrari 43:35
now, can I want you to see if you can set a little light on something that a lot of people don't get in regards to, you know, getting the distribution deal, like, you know, if your film is on iTunes, or Netflix or VOD, those platforms, keep all the customer information and doesn't allow you to connect with that audience. Can you said shed a little light on why self distribution and audience building in many ways is even a better situation? In sometimes for filmmakers in the long term for building a sustainable living as an artist?

Emily Best 44:06
Um, say that one more time?

Alex Ferrari 44:10
Can you shed a little light on why self distribution and audience building is a little bit in many ways is better of a situation than getting that big, that big, you know, golden ticket thing, because you are building for the long term because you're building that audience up and have connection with that audience as opposed to, if someone gives you a million dollars at if you're lucky enough to get that deal? You know, that doesn't mean out of out of out of all those out of all those people that do get that golden ticket, like you're saying that point point one of point 1% how many of those actually have a career in the next 10 years? Is and that's the other thing as opposed if they're

Emily Best 44:46
women. Yeah. Right. If there are people of color, very few, um, and I think that's, I think first Well look, the important message here is How hard Do you want to try to be the point? Oh, 1% of the point Oh, 1%. Right? Why try to participate in a system that clearly doesn't want you? You know, what, what piece of validation is so important that you wouldn't just want to do things? You're way sooner? Right? I think I think for me, it's about what can I do that I control?

Alex Ferrari 45:28
Right, exactly. And building your audience and, and your following and things like that, and distributing it yourself. And keeping the majority of the bounty is something you can control. Look,

Emily Best 45:41
I wanted to make a film about with my friends about female friendships that I recognized. And I knew there was an audience for this movie, because I am a woman of a certain age, who was really tired of all of the women my age being portrayed as, like, you know, sort of batshit jealous, need a man to solve our problems. And not the version of the least, like really successful, creative, amazing, interesting women who I was friends with all the time, I needed that narrative. I didn't see it anywhere. And when we took like, the water to the festivals, this was the reaction we were getting were women in their 60s saying, I've been waiting my whole life for a movie like this. Oh, cool, you know, like incredible things. When I took this to American film market, I had more than one sales agent say, Well, you know, if you could sort of bump up like a lesbian erotica element that would really

Alex Ferrari 46:44
surprise me the least,

Emily Best 46:45
this is the point at which I thought I do not want to be picked by these people anyway, because we fundamentally disagree about what is needed in the marketplace.

Alex Ferrari 46:55
It's like, it's like Groucho Marx said I wouldn't want to be a member of a club that would have me as a member,

Emily Best 47:00
I wouldn't want to be a member of a club that they're members of. Yeah, exactly. Like, it's just, it is just that this is, again, it's it goes back to sure, you could try to knock on doors that are built not to open for you. That's great, you can see the creative control to people whose opinions you might not agree with. Or you could in the hopes that you will get the golden ticket and become the duplass brothers. Right? Right. Um, or you could build it yourself, one audience member at a time, and make what really matters to you in economically sustainable ways. I don't know.

Alex Ferrari 47:47
That's perfect. That's, that's actually a perfect, that's a perfect statement. It's a perfect statement. I think it's, I hope this conversation from our listeners understand that it's, it's about breaking the dogma that we've been sold this, this Wizard of Oz kind of, you know, don't look behind the curtain kind of dogma of go to, you know, spend 120 grand to go to film school, and in like, you know, you're not going to get a job and then go make your movie and then you're in debt for the rest of your life and, and then the movie you make is you got to go down this road and gotta go down to the festival route, and then maybe get, you know, put some a little lesbian erotica in just to be able to sell it in Germany, and you have to kind of kowtow constantly, but it's just as dogma that invoices like you. And I hopefully voices like mine, from what we're doing an indie film hustle is to try to break that, like, Guys wake up, like, get out of the matrix, you know, it's in, and that's what I'm hoping. That's why I want to do on the show so bad, I really wanted to shine a light on what you're doing, and the concept that you're trying to preach out there. So where do you see seed and spark in 10 years?

Emily Best 48:59
Um, wow. In spark in 10 years.

Alex Ferrari 49:05
Cuz everything's like dog years here. Because like, every year is like seven. Like, everything's changing so rapidly. So

Emily Best 49:11
yeah, I would hope in 10 years, there are 10,000 filmmakers on the platform reaching 10 to 20,000 audiences each, who are, you know, paying between 60 and $100 a year to spend on those filmmakers and the stuff that they love.

Alex Ferrari 49:36
Right, that would be a wonderful, wonderful world. Yeah,

Emily Best 49:40
it would be a really, it would be a really, really cool world. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 49:46
Now on CD and spark, you actually can distribute your film as well. Correct? Correct. Can you explain a little bit about that? Because that's one part I found really interesting about what Seton spark is doing. Yeah.

Emily Best 49:57
So um, If you crowdfund with us, and reach 500 followers, those are not necessarily people who contribute monetarily. But essentially just high five your campaign. They've joined your email list is what it is. you qualify to take advantage of all of our platform partnerships. So streaming on seed and spark, Netflix, iTunes, Hulu, Amazon, Google Play all the cable, VOD providers, and we can even connect you to theatrical partners.

Alex Ferrari 50:36
So wait a minute, you actually have a partnership with all the those iTunes and Netflix and Hulu and all that stuff as well? Yeah. Oh, I didn't know that. Now. what's the what's the what's the split? If you want me asking?

Emily Best 50:48
Well, so the splits on all the platforms are different, I got it for 20 minutes for me to list them. Sure. Of course, we only take 10% on the pass through. Okay. So that's, that's about half of what most other platforms will take on the pastor. But what we can provide is placement, right, you get if you go there by yourself,

Alex Ferrari 51:07
you're basically you have a door opening, you open doors for filmmakers, I would have had to go through an aggregator or sign some sort of distribution deal.

Emily Best 51:15
And over the next couple of weeks, the crowdfunding tool will get better and better at gathering the data that will help you understand where your audience is watching stuff. So that you can see that I don't know 60% of your identified audience watches everything on iTunes, right? So you can preference the iTunes distribution and you don't have to spend the money trying to market it also on a bunch of other platforms, or, you know, or you find out that it's on, you know, most of your audience is concentrated in these areas. And these are the cable companies that service those areas, you just put it out on those cable VOD platforms, right? Because it's easy right now to just pay money and put stuff on all the platforms, getting anybody to know that it's there way harder. And that's still rides on the backs of filmmakers.

Alex Ferrari 52:06
Which is something that they don't teach you in film school.

Emily Best 52:09
Don't that's, that's our next undertaking. How do we get this information? There are some really really smart people working on the problem of how to how to sort of bring this into film school as well.

Alex Ferrari 52:23
Because it's it's so I mean, that stuff that they're that kids that I see coming out are just like, they're still in a in a haze. They're still you know, they all think they're gonna be Robert Rodriguez or Steven Soderbergh. Or, you know, Spike Lee and the you know, it's not the 90s anymore, unfortunately. A lot of ways. So, um, I have that this is the toughest question of the interview. So prepare yourself. Okay. What are your top three favorite films of all time?

Emily Best 52:52
West Side Story, okay. Some Like It Hot,

Alex Ferrari 52:56

Emily Best 53:00
And the third one is a tie, which is a really weird, like shitty way to shirk the top three, that's fine. Um, there's an Iranian film that came out in 1997. That changed my life called gubbay. It was the first arthouse film I had ever seen, by which I mean, it was the first time I went to an art house, and a much cooler friend of mine was like, let's go see this film. Like, whatever. I'll do it because it sounds cool. And I couldn't leave my seat. I saw it. I just didn't know that film. Could be like that. Um, and then actually, there's a film by filmmaker named Mike odd called Pear Blossom highway that we released through seasons bark. That was a film that I saw at a festival that reminded me why we have to have lots of different kinds of festivals. Because it was it a difficult film, a narrative doc hybrid. That was seamless, that had utterly stunning performances and really disturbing, weird, interesting situations. And I thought about it for weeks afterwards.

Alex Ferrari 54:19
Which is what good art does,

Emily Best 54:21
which is what good art does? Yeah. And Mike art and Nathan silver have just made a new film together, which I cannot wait to.

Alex Ferrari 54:31
It's awesome. And finally, can you give some steps that you can suggestions, some tips, final tips to filmmakers who want to have a successful crowdfunding campaign?

Emily Best 54:44
Oh, sure. Start by going to seed and spark.com and downloading our crowdfunding to build independence handbook. This is very, very important. And you know what? is embarrassing on the brand new site if you go to four films, makers and how it works. It'll walk you through and it'll give you the handbook right there. Read this Handbook, because it will give you the step by step of how to start engaging your audience, how to think about building your incentives, how to make sure that your crowdfunding video is awesome. All of these things will be built in there. But you have to start by doing your research and forming a game plan. crowdfunding follows this sort of the same steps as production, you need pre production, which is planning and scheduling and team building, you need production, which has its own set of planning and scheduling, and team building, building and kind of daily maintenance. And then you have post production, which is all the communication that you're doing all the incentive, fulfillment, all of that, right. So really making sure that you think through all of that strategically, and how it will help your distribution in the end.

Alex Ferrari 55:57
That's awesome. And obviously, people can find you at seedandspark.com,

Emily Best 56:01
seedandspark.com. I'm Emily Best on Twitter or @seedandspark.

Alex Ferrari 56:06
Emily, thank you so much for doing this. I know you're very, very busy, lady. So I really, really appreciate you taking the time talking to thanks for the tribe.

Emily Best 56:14
Thanks for the great question.

Alex Ferrari 56:15
Okay, thank you. I appreciate that. Well, if you didn't know how to crowdfund before, you definitely know how to crowdfund out, I was I've honestly never really crowdfunded a film of mine. So I really wanted to do this interview, because I just want to learn as much as I can about crowdfunding, my next my next project, which will hopefully be coming out next year. And you guys will all hear about it as I do it, trust me. But um, Emily laid out some amazing advice, some real amazing gold nuggets of information there. I think you guys are armed now and ready to do a crowdfunding campaign for your next project. It does take a lot of work. And that's something that a lot of people don't really understand that this is as as intense as actually making your movie is getting it funded and marketed and so on, which is something I constantly preach about on the show, and on indie film, hustle. So I hope this was entertaining for you guys. I hope it was very informative for you. It was for me, so don't forget to head over to film festival tips.com that's Film Festival tips calm, where you can download my free ebook on my secrets on getting into film festivals for cheap or free. So keep that hustle going. Don't let go of that dream. Make it happen. I'll talk to you guys soon.




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IFH 022: Does Your Indie Film Have an Audience?

I’m never surprised anymore when I speak to filmmakers or Filmtrepreneurs and ask them one simple but powerful question,

Does your film have an audience?

I usually just get a blank stare. This is probably the most important question you can ask yourself as an indie filmmaker. Now if you are making film as art and have no intention or care at all about making money with your film then you should stop reading this email.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with that but that is not what I’m discussing here today. For the rest of us that want and need to make money with our films, these few little words should be your mantra in the development process.

Most filmmakers get so excited by the concept of a story, the emotion or just with the idea of making a feature film that they never ask the question. They are scared to because it might stop the fun they are having. Trust me I know the feeling.

Before you waste all that energy on writing a script, getting talent, crew, and money you better know if you’ll be able to sell this puppy when it’s done.

Ask who is going to watch this, then find out where your audience is hangout online. Join a Facebook group, forum, etc. Ask the community if they would be interested in watching a film like yours. Ask what they would like to see in it and which actors get the group excited.

I know this takes out the art and excitement of filmmaking a bit. Well, when you are starting out you need to take advantage of every opportunity you got.

You’re not David Fincher…yet

You’re not Quentin Tarantino with millions of fans who will just go out to watch anything he does. You have to approach your first film as a business, with a bit of art dashed on top.  It’s called show business for a reason.

This is one of many ways to approach making your first film. If your making your film for $2000 then make whatever you want. It a gamble but a small one. I’m talking about filmmakers with $50,000 to $1,000,000 budgets. With that kind of money on the line, you better know who is going to watch and pay for your film.

So before you go off half-cocked to make your first feature ask the question, you’ll thank me later. Listen to this episode and find out some tips and tricks to see if your film has an audience.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
So this week's episode guys is does your indie film Have an audience. And that is a question that every filmmaker should be asking themselves as they go forward in their filmmaking journey. I know so and I mean, I've seen so many people walk into my office, into my, into my post suite with films that are so passionate and so wonderful, and they love what they did, and they just want to get it going. But they have no idea not only where they're going to sell it, how they're going to sell it. But if there's even an audience for it, and that was one of my mistakes, when I made I produced a film called behind forgotten highs was a documentary that I produced gargling almost 10 years ago, what a lot of awards at festivals, and so on, but I didn't know where I was going to sell it, you know, and I just come off, you know, kind of the success I was having the, the minimal successor, I was having unbroken. And I said, Hey, I can market anything, I could just push this out. And that movie was about, it's a very, very rough subject, let's just put it that way, World War two kind of subject matter with between Korea and Japan. And it was a wonderful film very, very proud of that film. But the problem was, I didn't know where to sell it, how to sell it, it was extremely difficult to sell it because of the subject matter. So my, the director and myself, really had no idea where to sell it, you know, and had no idea where to go forward with it, at the end of the day, kind of just sat there. No one ever really did anything with it. I mean, he sold it a little bit here and there. The director did. And we got a couple, some distribution. We sold the to a couple countries for distribution, but nothing major. Not enough to get our money back. that's for damn sure. But it was a simple question that could have been asked prior to making it now, with that kind of film, specifically in that documentary, it was a passion project. It was something that he felt very strongly about. And he wanted to tell the story, and try to help. And that's one aspect. And that's one angle of going through filmmaking, especially with documentaries, a lot of documentaries are just about trying to get the word out about a specific cause, or a story that's not getting enough attention, regardless if it can sell or not for narrative films, and also for documentaries. But it just depends on what what your what you want out of your documentary, or what you want out of your film. If your point is just to get this movie made, and tell the story, great. If your if your point is about trying to make money and sustain a career doing this, then this is a question that you need to ask yourself, every time you start writing a script for a feature film, or for a short film, but more specifically for feature films, short films, you could be much more experimental with. But with a feature film, you have to ask, do I have an audience? And I've had so many filmmakers I've talked to that have a blank stare? I'm like, Who's your audience with this film? Oh, well, you know, as a demographic between 18? And I'm like, No, you do that's not that's not your audience. You can't afford to market to 18 to 35 year old males, you just can't, you can't afford to do that. The Studio's can afford to do that. Because they could just throw millions and millions of dollars at that demographic, and they'll get some awareness for their films. But you won't, you can't do that. You have to be very, very specific about who your audience is. And, and before you go down this long journey of making a movie, dammit, man, you better know that answer. Because if you don't know that answer, you can you can work a year or two on a movie sometimes. And at the end of it all you go some festivals, you get some plays, you might win a few awards, and then what you're stuck with holding the hand, you're stuck holding this film that you can sell. Nobody wants to see it because there's no real audience for it. So you have to kind of ask yourself, what, who wants to watch this? Now again, if this is just art, and you're just making art for art's sake, then my god do it, that's fine. But for the rest of us who want the not only want money to make money, you have to ask this question and answer it very, very clearly. So once you've identified your audience, go find out where they are, and then start marketing to them. It's called crowdsourcing, you should start crowdsourcing your movie. Prior to it even being written in some ways. If you feel really strongly about, you're going to make this movie, start figuring out where your audience is hanging out, and go hang out in the same places where your audience hangs out. Start talking to them start engaging them and you start crowdsourcing these people ask them questions, ask them hey, why would anybody here want to see this kind of movie? This is the kind of movie I want to make. Who's the stars? You want to make it put those in these movies? Do you need stars in this movie? Do you need this kind of topic what that is is a cool topic. And so on man, man. I'm telling you if you understand who your audience is, you're so far ahead of the game. It's not even funny. This is what I did with broken I actually identified who am I to carve my target audience was going to be which I knew was going to be independent filmmakers. Now I didn't know this when I was making the movie. I wasn't that far ahead at all. have time yet. But after the movie was done, I was like, Well, wait a minute, I think I can sell the short film. And I don't think anyone's gonna buy it in the real world. But they will buy it. I think independent independent filmmakers will buy it because they're going to want to know how I was able to do this and just share this information. Because there was a, there wasn't there wasn't anything like this in the marketplace at the time. So I went to the forums, to there was no Facebook at the time, there was my space was crazy. But I went to these places where all these independent filmmakers hung out. And I started talking to them, I started engaging them, I started showing them trailer showing them behind the scenes and people got so excited. But why the time that I launched the DVD for sale, we made almost five grand in the first day. You know, that's that's huge for us, you know, for a little short film that was made for eight grand, that's insane. So ask that question, guys. Who is your audience? A does my does my film, have an audience? answer that question. Go find that audience and start marketing to those, that audience and I've talked before in other episodes, like how to make your indie film into a money market made into a money making machine on how to treat your film, like a business. And how to, to think about it as a business because it's show business. And the business is double the letters of the word show for a specific reason. So I already covered that in other episodes, but in this episode, ask that question and answer it. And trust me, you will thank me for it. And you're not quitting Tarantino or Woody Allen or Martin Scorsese just yet, for people who will just show up to your movie, because you made it that will come. But you first have to figure out who your audience is. So as promised guys, I'm going to give you a coupon code for lipstick and bullets, the gorilla film school edition, it is going to be i f h tribe, that's i f h tribe. And that gives you 20% off the purchase price, not the rental price, but the purchase price. So that once again, that coupon is AI, f h tribe just go in there when you're when you're signing out, or when you're putting in your information, just say get coupon or, and just type in the coupon code. And you'll get your 20% off, man. So thank you guys for your support. I really appreciate it. Let me know what you think of. Please, please let me know what you think of lipstick and bullets. If there's anything I can add to it. If there's anything that's missing what you think about it, what if you like it, what you don't like, I'm here I'm open I want to I want to learn from you guys because I want to serve you guys as best I can and give you great content and great information so you can go off and make your movie so thank you again, guys, for all the support. Thank you for making this podcast. Like blow up. People are going crazy for this podcast, and I'm getting crazy amounts of downloads and crazy amount of subscriptions for this podcast, so thank you so so much. Please don't forget to head over to iTunes and leave me a honest review of the show. And it would really it really helps me out a lot. It helps the show out a lot to get seen by more people who want and need to hear the show. So thanks again guys. Keep that dream alive. Keep that hustle going. Talk to you soon, man.


IFH 017: Indie Film Distribution on VOD with Linda Nelson

The world of film distribution is filled with unknown landmines. Even more mysterious is how an indie filmmaker can get their film placed on these elusive VOD or Video on Demand platforms?

Video on Demand’s definition has been broadened in recent years. Before it only meant VOD on your cable box from Comcast, Time Warner or Direct TV but today that list has grown dramatically.

There are over 170 different videos of on-demand platforms available to indie filmmakers today. Some of the top film distribution/VOD platforms are:

  • Netflix
  • Hulu Plus
  • Vimeo Pro
  • YouTube (Paid)
  • Roko
  • GooglePlay
  • Amazon VOD HD
  • Amazon Prime
  • ViaWia
  • Snagfilms
  • iTunes
  • Playstation
  • Vudu

But just like a fugley teenager trying to get into a hot nightclub on South Beach, there are bouncers at the door who don’t want to let you in.

That’s where this episode comes in, we have a video on demand expert Linda Nelson from Indie Rights, the film distribution arm of Nelson Madison Films. Linda walks us through the maze of VOD and film distribution options and explains what it takes to get your film placed in the potentially very lucrative platforms.

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
So without further ado, sit back and enjoy our interview with Linda Nelson. Linda, thank you so much for joining us on the indie film hustle podcast, we really appreciate you taking the time.

Linda Nelson 0:00
Thanks so much for inviting me, it's always a pleasure to have a chance to share with filmmakers.

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Great. So um, let me ask you a question. I know a lot of indie filmmakers don't understand the term VOD or video on demand. They have an idea of it. But can you explain the kind of what exactly is VOD video on demand and what does it entail?

Linda Nelson 0:00
Well, I think in the past VOD video on demand, I think most people thought of cable and movies on demand on their cable network. But as the digital world has evolved, video on demand just means movie. Well, in our case, movies that you can get and watch whenever you want. There are many forms of VOD while they're still cable, VOD. What has become even more popular, our digital platforms like Amazon and iTunes and Google Play and VUDU and Hulu and that type, which are app based. And so I think that's probably the biggest distinction right now. And and the shift is for people to move away from cable and to these app based digital stores.

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Got it. So then, so the different VOD platforms like Netflix, Amazon, those are the kinds of things

Linda Nelson 0:00
And they're all they're all quite different. There are. There are some very distinct different types of models of VOD. And that's a really, really important distinction to understand something like Netflix, which is a subscription based video on demand platform, people pay a fixed fee, and then they can watch all they want. In the case of Netflix, it's not something we're thrilled about for independent film because they pay very low fixed flat rate fees. And once your film is on Netflix, you won't sell or rent movies anymore because people can get it for what's perceived as free. So we that's something that we highly discourage, especially in the first four or five years.

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Okay, so Netflix is generally not what it's all cracked up to be. I mean, they are the kind of the big poster child for VOD, I guess, in some ways.

Linda Nelson 0:00
You're the thing with Netflix is first of all, now they are already 80% serialized content. Oh, yeah, a TV show they are becoming like an HBO. And that is their business model. And, as far as, as movies, studios will give them their older films, because they can get a decent price from them. If you have a name and your film, if you have an indie film with a name in it, they might offer you a fairly good amount. Say for example, you made a 10 or $15,000, documentary or even a $40,000 documentary They might be willing to pay you something comparable to that if it's either a documentary that is a very important topic right now, or if you have a narrative film that happens to have, you know, you caught a rising star, for example. And this person is now blown up for you know, so those there are some exceptions where they will pay a decent amount for an indie film. But in generally, in general, they pay a low flat rate fee that's payable on quarterly installments over a year. And it's usually so low that that you do cannibalize all of your paid transactional. Now. That's not to say all subscription platforms are not good for indie filmmakers, because there's nothing better than amazon prime. Amazon prime is also a is also a subscription platform. However, amazon prime is pays by the view. So really, yeah. So the more you know, I mean, different distributors have different deals, but on certainly for us, they pay by the view.

Alex Ferrari 0:00
So how does that so how does, how does amazon prime work? Because that's really interesting to me. I've never heard that.

Linda Nelson 0:00
Oh, yeah, no, so that's amazon prime right now is probably our biggest revenue earner for our filmmakers. Oh, wow. And, and the biggest mistake, and this is something that I, I used to advise filmmakers to go on create space and do create space themselves. And there are still people that recommend that like, there are several podcasts that I've heard recently where people say, Oh, you can do Amazon yourself?

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Can you can you explain what CreateSpace is for our audience,

Linda Nelson 1:53
Okay. CreateSpace is a company where you send them a DVD, and they will, they will sell your DVD on Amazon for you, you can set the price. And you also have the option to put it on Amazon Instant Video where people can rent and buy it. So now, there there are several problems with this. And this is something that if you cannot get more traditional distribution, or you can't find a distribution company to work with, as a last resort, you can do this, and you still will have your film out there. And we I always you know there there are a lot of people that are recommending totally do it yourself and direct to audience. I'm think it's a really bad idea unless you absolutely have fully researched and cannot get any other form of distribution. Because what happens with Amazon, and CreateSpace was a was the first company to offer this kind of DVD on demand option for filmmakers. And it was great. And so Well, we certainly started with that. And then Amazon bought them. Okay, so that CreateSpace is now owned by Amazon. But it is an option for anyone, anyone can put their film there. The problem is, these days, everybody is making beautiful HD films, either gyuto 2k, or 4k, and they're in their HD. However, when you go through CreateSpace and make a DVD and go on Amazon Instant that route, you can only go in standard definition. And you cannot get into Amazon Prime amazon prime is only available through partners of Amazon, like our company in the REITs. Hmm. So you have you have to go through an aggregator Gator or a distributor. A lot of people think that we are aggregators, we are not we are actually a distributor. So got it there. And there's a big difference. And what is the difference? The big difference is that we are actually direct partners. And we have a direct partnership deal with Amazon and Google etc. And this is a question that filmmakers must ask anyone they're considering doing distribution by because right now there are hundreds of companies out there saying we'll get your film on Amazon, we'll get your film on iTunes, and Netflix, they are not partners with those companies, they are then going to come to a company like us.

Alex Ferrari 2:12
So it's okay. It's a middleman between the middleman.

Linda Nelson 2:12
What's happening is that the old school form of distribution where there are layers and layers of middlemen is being replicated in the digital world. And the reason that that's happening now is because many of these distributors just couldn't fathom that DVDs would dwindle as quickly as they have. And so their main business was DVDs. And if they didn't get on the, on the digital bandwagon, quick enough and now those doors have closed pretty much. In other words, Amazon, they iTunes, they have all the partners they need. So now you have to goes through one of those partners to get your film distributed. So that's really important. But the thing to go back to the original discussion points of about Amazon being amazon prime being a paid subscription base, they do pay per view. So we teach our filmmakers, how to build engagement with their audience on Amazon, so that they then move their film into the recommendation algorithm. And, and what's important there is that you get plenty of reviews. And and you can encourage that with social media. And so we teach filmmakers how to do that. And, you know, we have a number of films that are very high ranking on amazon prime.

Alex Ferrari 2:14
Now, are those are those pay per views? Is that a standard flat rate? Or is it

Linda Nelson 2:14
It is and I'm not at liberty to discuss that?

Alex Ferrari 2:14
Fair enough. Fair enough. I just thought I'd ask.

Linda Nelson 2:14
And that's because, you know, companies have different deals with different people.

Alex Ferrari 2:14
So fair enough. Fair enough. But it's but it's obviously the best deal that you have right now for filmmakers is amazon prime? Well, one of them,

Linda Nelson 2:59
Okay. There are there are exceptions, we sometimes we don't put people on prime right away if we feel that a film has a lot of potential for paid transactional. Okay, so So far, we've talked about subscription. And Hulu Plus is also subscription. So though, and they do pay by the view as well. So Hulu, plus, Amazon Prime, Netflix, those are subscription based programs. And also there are some new ones that cinedigm has out that were participating in like, documentary Rama, new Dov channel, which just really just started last week, it's great. We should talk about that later, too. Absolutely. And those, those are subscription channels. So that's subscription VOD. And then the next type is called paid transactional or P VOD, or T VOD, as some people call it. And transactional means that people are either they're pulling out their credit card, and they're paying to either buy or rent your film. Now, when I say buy, they're not actually physically buying the media. except in the case of iTunes, you can you you can physically buy the medium and download it to your device. But that's not the way people prefer with when you buy on like Google Play, or Amazon, what you're buying is the right to watch it forever. Okay, it's not like a video store, or wherever a couple of months of DVDs are gone. And that's the end know, once you're up on Amazon, you know, could be there for 20 years or 40 years. Who knows, we don't know yet how long that is. But for as long as Amazon exists, you can go back and watch that movie that you've purchased. If you rent it, and that's for a fraction of what you would buy it for. They each platform gives you a certain amount of time for you to watch it like it might be a week, or it might be you get five views, different platforms give you a different, you know, opportunity to but you're actually paying for that purchase, or the or rental. Well that's a paid transactional and there are some films that really lend themselves to paid transactional. Well, and and so when we see a film that we think has that we might postpone putting it on prime, the reason prime does so well is that people don't have to take out their credit card. And any I don't have to tell you people are reluctant to pay for something where they don't recognize the director, or they don't recognize any of the people that are in the movie, of course, right of course so it's you know, like how often do you do that it's rare

Alex Ferrari 3:00
There unless it's a topic maybe that you're interested in

Linda Nelson 3:27
I'm saying there are documentaries for example, that that that you're interested in, and they're topical, or there's a cause behind it. We have one film like by the name of it's called the title is fray and it's about a young marine that comes back from the war with PTSD. And so that film is done well because there it's not a lot of there are a lot of veterans and families of veterans that are really relating to that film. So you know, so you can take a film like that and and sell a lot of DVDs or you know, purchases or rental. So it just depends on the film and what and what you've done with the film prior to bringing it to a company like us. For example. Frey hat we do a small limited theatrical release on select films. That film got the most superb critical acclaim from the LA Times of any movie I've ever seen. I've never seen a review a more glowing review in a while or something like that just, you know, it really raises the profile of your film. Because other papers all over the country pick up those reviews, if they don't have film critics, it's on Rotten Tomatoes with all of these big juicy red tomatoes. And people look to those places, you know, when they're looking, you know, for a film and trying to decide, do I want to spend money to watch this, you know, right, so so so many of those things. So that's the paid transactional. And then the third type that's quite popular now is ad based. Or a VOD?

Alex Ferrari 4:58
Oh, I've heard of that one.

Linda Nelson 6:13
Well, Hulu, regular Hulu is ad based.

Alex Ferrari 6:22
Okay. When you watch like YouTube, like a YouTube almost,

Linda Nelson 10:24
Well, YouTube, yes, YouTube is totally ad based on my shoe have a rental channel, like us where we have just, you know, just like it's just like iTunes, but it's YouTube. And you can rent all of our movies there, or buy them in SD or HD. So, so but but people that don't have that aren't partners with Google, they can put their films up there, they can put their whole movie up there and then have ads every five minutes.

Alex Ferrari 11:38
I've seen the worst starting to do that. And that is that a decent way of generating some sort of income

Linda Nelson 11:43
Millions of views, you have to really, really get a lot of views, we have one filmmaker who makes quite a bit off advertising revenue on his YouTube channel. But what he does, and cleverly so it is that he will take like the first 10 minutes of his movies, and they're so good and so engaging, that people want to watch the whole movie. So he has ads on those 10 minute clips, you'll have an ad before, maybe two in the middle and one at the end. And then he has links to where you can buy it where we're distributing it. Mm hmm. In the description, and annotated at the back end of the film. Smart. So So somebody watches 10 minutes, he does crime documentaries. Okay. his newest one is called killing Jimmy Hoffa. And it's fascinating. I'm so done. Right? And so he makes quite a good income from those clips. Okay, and at the same time, they're advertising the entire movie, so that this total, so if somebody goes, Oh, wow, I want to see the rest of this. They can just click right on that video on YouTube, it'll take them right to Amazon Prime.

Alex Ferrari 12:26
Interesting. That's a great, that's a great business model for the parent, none of the following you have and so I actually, I actually heard of a filmmaker putting out half his movie, or like, at least 40 minutes of his movie on BitTorrent for free,

Linda Nelson 12:37
Yeah, and that's not gonna run ads. Exactly. They're not making an advertising correct. Do it on YouTube. Not only are you you know, having that as an ad. I just, I'm not a big fan of bit tour. Okay. Because I think that it is so abused. Oh, yeah. You know, we have a very bad time with piracy on our library of films courses, especially ones that we put out theatrical, and they use those as teasers. I'll take that movie fray. And they'll even if they don't have a copy of the film, they will use that to get people's email addresses, and then further market to them for the films that they do have.

Alex Ferrari 13:06
Like every industry, there's always a CD.

Linda Nelson 13:08
And I tell people you once a month should check and have a form letter that you send out to them, telling them to take it down, etc. But don't obsess over it. Because there's no way to get around it. There's always going to be piracy. I mean, even on YouTube, you can find full full versions of some of our movies. And what they'll do is they'll throw it into an editing machine. And then they'll put a red square around it, and then the content ID can't recognize it. That's why they do that, because I actually see a red border or even just two pixels all the way around it. And it's not going to trigger. You know,

Alex Ferrari 13:32
The content, the content. I do. Yeah, because I've actually I've actually gone on YouTube. My daughters have gone on YouTube, and they type in like Finding Nemo. And then I come back later and I'm like, and they're like, why are you watching the entire Finding Nemo movie on YouTube? And I look I'm like, Oh, God, so that makes I was like, how is it? How is it Disney taking this down? Like I you know,

Linda Nelson 13:44
Yeah, there's so many. I mean, the second you can get like even a DVD of your film or a blu ray. All the pirates got to do is play it on their blu ray So you're on their television stick a camera in front of the screen and they can get a really good copy of it

Alex Ferrari 13:54
With a with a good nice with a nice camera absolutely yeah yeah it's

Linda Nelson 13:56
So I mean it's you know and it's always been I mean there's always been piracy with D o 's every you know i mean you go around New York or LA and stores with pile stores you know I've seen them and you know and if they're really sophisticated they'll dump them into Spanish and hit that market or whatever

Alex Ferrari 14:09
It's like a little it's like a little business if you will piracy

Linda Nelson 14:13
A big business right I tried just try to encourage people don't obsess over it because be some some of our filmmakers gets upset about it yeah and just say you know, you have to understand maybe 10% of your businesses you're gonna lose because of that

Alex Ferrari 14:22
It's just it's just it's just yeah there's it's it's like a

Linda Nelson 14:24
Has enough honest people out in the world pay for it if you make it a reasonable price

Alex Ferrari 14:27
Well that's what happened with iTunes in general with music like that's everyone was downloading music for free until iTunes came around and made it accessible easy and affordable like oh buck a song I'll pay a buck a song alright. And and they tried to do it now with movies as well and it's I think helped both industries dramatically. Which brings me to my next question.

Linda Nelson 14:38
Oh, yeah, well say one more thing about the ad base Yes. There are numerous channels that are advertising based like TV TV Are you familiar with TV TV?

Alex Ferrari 14:46
I'm not

Linda Nelson 14:47
Do you are you familiar with Roku?

Alex Ferrari 14:48
Roku I am of course yeah that's Yeah, that's like a little box you buy and there's

Linda Nelson 20:58
A little box it's just like an apple tv except it's got like 3000 channels instead of a couple of 100 so right it's a great deal and a lot of people that are you know have cut the cord like myself or people that have never had cable have Roku boxes there's millions of them out there now and it's filled with I'll bet there's 100 movie channels on there that are advert ad based and like snag or Hulu you get to share in the advertising revenue so so depending on how many views you have, you will get a percentage of the advertising that is placed on your film so Toby TV is a really popular one and so if you go to B TV comm you'll see you know there's a there's the film's Aaron and you know for myself personally I don't like to be interrupted with ads but for people that really don't you know are on a budget and and they don't mind because it's like regular television

Alex Ferrari 22:35
Right old school old school television without the fast forwarding

Linda Nelson 22:40
Well you can fast forward

Alex Ferrari 22:41
Oh you know you can't fast forward through

Linda Nelson 22:43
Oh no, not yet. That's what I mean you can't even change channels during the year

Alex Ferrari 22:48
Of course that of course it's

Linda Nelson 22:50
Just that's it

Alex Ferrari 22:52
You know it's mind blowing to me like how quickly it all changed it's it's it's within the last five years that this this is the whole industry has changed so dramatically and people are it's in many ways is the wild wild west still out there? It's

Linda Nelson 23:07
Definitely still in its infancy

Alex Ferrari 23:08
Nobody knows what like it that's why I wanted to get you on the show because I know a lot of people a lot of filmmakers have no idea what to do with their movies you know I come from a post production background I've been doing it for 20 years and I've delivered I know hundreds of movies and and I've seen been front row to so many of these movies that just go nowhere or they have no idea how to market it or they have no idea

Linda Nelson 23:30
For that now is I believe it's the very best time in history yes independent filmmakers there's so much opportunity even if you are have to do it all yourself you can still do it oh absolutely it's there but you have to work without leaving without leaving your house

Alex Ferrari 23:48
Pretty much pretty often

Linda Nelson 23:49
You have to have you know print a bunch of DVDs and put them in the trunk of your car like people used to do right right a no longer necessary you can do it all from home and not just about being industrious and entrepreneur doing your homework and and learning to be an artist entrepreneur

Alex Ferrari 24:06
Which is what we promote in SAM here that's what we promote because I think a lot of filmmakers just want to be artists or they just want to live the the entourage life as a as as I put it sometimes they just want to be you know they want that oh you make a movie you get into Sundance you when they write you a check and the rest is history. It doesn't happen like that and you and the more and more stuff is out there the more and more you have to become more of that entrepreneur as a filmmaker and really hustle that's why we call ourselves indie film hustle because you have to hustle out there and you can make a living as a film.

Linda Nelson 24:36
Of course you can I mean my partner and I we make a living, making and sharing films we have a production studio that's Nelson Madison films and indie rights is the distribution arm of that studio and exam and it's full time it took us a while to get here.

Alex Ferrari 24:53
Oh no yeah, that's the other thing.

Linda Nelson 24:55
Day jobs for a long time.

Alex Ferrari 24:57
Oh, and trust me, I know this. A lot. A lot of filmmakers don't get that like this is this doesn't happen overnight, it takes it's a long, it's a long play. It's not a short flight. So one question I always get asked, how do you get your film on iTunes? And is it? Is it all that it's cracked up to be? And should you even put it on iTunes?

Linda Nelson 25:16
Well, I will say that iTunes is not our strongest revenue generator. It has huge market share for studio films, or independent films, it's much more difficult to get traction on iTunes. But I have to say the first two places that people ask us about when they come to us to explore distribution is can you get me on iTunes and Netflix,

Alex Ferrari 25:42
Of course.

Linda Nelson 25:44
So I always had to go through that explanation, one about Netflix that I already gave you, and why they don't want to be there, especially the first couple of years. And then I tunes part of the issue with iTunes right now. And hopefully they will correct this is that it is not a true streaming in the sense that you have to download data to your device. And you have to run iTunes software on your device. Okay, that's not true with Amazon, or Google Play, or Netflix. Right? You're not right, right, YouTube. So you know, they're not it's not a cloud based system. So people don't like waiting for stuff to download anymore, people will become very impatient. I mean, God forbid, I mean, five years ago, you had to go to the video store. And actually,

Alex Ferrari 26:35
What is this? What is this? What is this video store? You speak of? I don't, I don't understand what is this thing? What's this concept?

Linda Nelson 26:42
So you know, so we've, we've all become very spoiled. So now iTunes, anybody can get their film on iTunes. If you don't sign up with a distributor, you know, like, indie rights? You can there are some pay paid. Ways To Get on I do there several companies, now you pay them 15 $100. And they will put you on iTunes,

Alex Ferrari 27:09
And you'll never make that 15 $100 back?

Linda Nelson 27:11
Well. It depends on a lot of things. It depends on how much you work your social media with a huge amount of, you know, social media effort. You can, you know, but should

Alex Ferrari 27:26
should, should you have you could go to amazon prime, or you could focus all that energy towards another place.

Linda Nelson 27:31
That's right. I think I think there are more productive places. I mean, we always put our films on iTunes, because people want to be there there is a cachet associated with being on iTunes. But a lot of our films, it's almost impossible to find them on iTunes. You know, because the iTunes has a huge market share when it comes to studio films. Not so with independent film. Everybody wants to be there. But it's really hard to find films there. They don't have good search, right? They don't actually they're horrible, terrible search. So they're so the discoverability is low. So we don't particularly focus on marketing on iTunes.

Alex Ferrari 28:14
If it comes something comes up it comes of it, and then you put it on

Linda Nelson 28:18
Filmmakers or filmmakers that it's really important to, you know, we give them the tools and show them how to market on every platform. But But, but they have to be willing to put in the work. So I mean, you know, I think and here's the other thing, I recommend that I definitely think everybody should put their film on iTunes. I'm not saying don't I think they should all all be. I think that people develop viewing habits. And there are some people that only watch movies on national TV or iTunes. There are some people that only watch on Amazon. I used to only watch movies on VUDU which is Walmart's app, right? But I switched to Amazon at some point. Probably about a year and a half ago or something like that. I love Amazon. It's beautiful. I love it. And then also I use I use m go if I want to watch a brand new movie. And I don't want to go to the theater. m go is great.

Alex Ferrari 29:20
What is m ago I've never heard of them go are you on a computer? I am I will obviously we're recording this.

Linda Nelson 29:28
If you can look at m go.com mg.com m go is up probably a newcomer I will call them still even though they've been live for probably close to two years. Okay. What happened was that the studios, this is my theory of what has happened. The studios woke up one day and they said oh my gosh. The first bite out of all of our revenue is going up north to Silicon Valley. The companies like Netflix and iTunes Should Amazon right? All right, well, why aren't we getting the first bite out of our own films? So the six studios went to DreamWorks and Technicolor, and Technicolor built them a video on demand platform called m go, which is for movies go. Okay, right? Uh huh. And be an all six studios have their films there. Yes. Sometimes they have films that are that are still in the theater. Okay, so there is a premium, but like the people that are willing to stand in long line for the next iPhone, or stand in line for the next new sneaker, there's always people that want to get things first. And so even though they might be a little dazed, they'll stay start out their pricing a little more expensive, because you can't get it anywhere else. But then it goes down to the kind of the same prices as like Amazon, or iTunes, whatever. So, so everything's there, now they decided to partner there's a couple of nice things about that they decided to partner with a couple of independent companies, studios, like ourselves. So indie writes, we have about 30 or 40 Films up there. Okay. And, and on top of that, they are the only one that has a decent 4k library,

Alex Ferrari 31:27
Of course, because they actually, of course, the technology is there, and they own 4k.

Linda Nelson 31:32
So we have five, yeah, five films out on 4k there. Now you have to have a 4k television, Samsung, and then you can rent five of our movies in 4k. The only place right now where we're seeing that

Alex Ferrari 31:49
For at this moment, at this moment.

Linda Nelson 31:52
It's going in that direction, of course, and we certainly recommend every indie filmmaker, to shoot and for shooting master and 4k now. There's no reason not to.

Alex Ferrari 32:03
Except for the post cost.

Linda Nelson 32:06
I mean, we wish okay. Our last feature was called delivered. And it's an action adventure. And it's got some you know, special effects in it. Crime Thriller. We made that movie for $50,000. We mastered it in 4k, we shot Mehsud in 4k at home.

Alex Ferrari 32:29
Okay, of course,

Linda Nelson 32:30
We shot on red. Sure. We beta tested Adobe Premiere when it first came out for them. Okay. And so we were able to do all the special effects everything in Premiere,

Alex Ferrari 32:47
And at a $50,000 budget, you'll it much easier to get your money back.

Linda Nelson 32:52
Yes. So so so it certainly it certainly can can be done. I mean, you know, I think I think what's happened with Final Cut Pro, I mean people that just have abandon it for, you know, either premiere or avid. We happen to like, premiere better, because after effects is totally integrated into the timeline. So there's no in re ingesting composited footage. Right? Right, right. Fabulous. I mean,

Alex Ferrari 33:21
Well, I've what I've started doing is actually I've started cutting on DaVinci. The DaVinci, resolves new, the new version came out with its own editing system incorporated in DaVinci. resolve. And I was like, Oh, this is beautiful. Because now i'm able

Linda Nelson 33:35
For the same reason we use premiere premiere. They're all tools. They're all they are but and premiere is so cheap. Yeah, exactly. Okay, for 2995 a month, you have all the tools you need.

Alex Ferrari 33:49
It's amazing. It's pretty remarkable, right? That emco thing is pretty, pretty cool. I've never even heard of that before. So I'll go

Linda Nelson 33:56
And go, Oh, you know, it's an app. on mobile. It's a mat an app on it. Actually, Mo is the default Movie Channel on Roku.

Alex Ferrari 34:07
That's fascinating. And there are some movies that are in the theater still. I mean, I think eventually, it gets us off the thought this isn't off topic. Yeah, this is off topic. But do you actually think that in the future, we're going to that the studio's want to get away from theatrical, and certainly they want to get that window close closer and closer to like a month, as we've seen, do you think in the future, there's going to be a point where going to the theater will just be much more of an issue, because something you can't get at home, you can't get IMAX at home, you'll never be able to get IMAX at home, or maybe that big, but it's going to be more event films and it's just going to be like slowly, just be going more and more VOD and more almost like a week windows two week windows sometimes.

Linda Nelson 34:48
I think it's already there. Really? Sure. How do you know do you know how few movies make it to the theater wide release?

Alex Ferrari 34:56
You know, it's almost impossible. Yeah.

Linda Nelson 34:58
So To me, in the world of independent film, we're already there. Got you a couple of 100 movies a year, getting the theater. That's it, if you're lucky, if you're lucky in that and that's it and, and and the rest. You know, there's 1000s made every year

Alex Ferrari 35:16
1000s 10s of 1000s

Linda Nelson 35:20
I mean if somebody if Sundance gets 11,000 app you know submissions there no it's like

Alex Ferrari 35:27
You know it's a match so that's only Sundance so then add probably another 10,000 on top of that, and they and they all and they all star percentage and they all star Eric Roberts

Linda Nelson 35:39
Well, we just we just got an aircraft.

Alex Ferrari 35:41
I'm sure they're everywhere.

Linda Nelson 35:44
He likes to work.

Alex Ferrari 35:45
I he does I worked on I just I have three features I just finished with Eric. That's why I'm making that.

Linda Nelson 35:51
Oh, yes, we just were putting one out for Halloween while it's already up on Google Play called Halloween hell.

Alex Ferrari 35:58
Oh, cool.

Linda Nelson 35:59
Nice Dracula.

Alex Ferrari 36:00
Oh, that must be fun. It's fun. It must be fun. So let me ask you a question. Do you still think filmmakers should attempt to sell physical DVDs and blu rays as part of that? Yeah, absolutely.

Linda Nelson 36:10
Absolutely. We, we offer physical DVD, retail DVD to select films that we are distributing? I mean, there, you know, I think some are, are better suited for DVD than others. But absolutely, we are we see DVD sales comparable to

Alex Ferrari 36:34
Amazon sales. Okay. So it's all it's all case by case

Linda Nelson 36:38
It is. And so like what I was speaking about with, you know, platforms in your original question about iTunes, people go on iTunes, and my response about viewing patterns. People get into a habit, right? And you know, what you want your film everywhere where people might want to watch it. And whether that's a VOD platform, or or physical, DVD or Blu ray or something, you know, right, or Blu ray. And, you know, so you definitely, you want to get your film out to as many possible places where there's a good chance that people are going to view now that, that being said, there's probably 250 VOD retail stores, and we only do the top 10. Because that's where all the traffic is, of course, you know, so I mean, we don't recommend you're doing all of those, I mean, doesn't make any sense. You know, so

Alex Ferrari 37:35
You can't market you can't market to all of those, right?

Linda Nelson 37:37
You can't market to all of them. And and the percentage that you would get off of the really small ones is it's not worth putting the effort in. Because the delivery process is arduous. I don't have to tell you.

Alex Ferrari 37:51
I'm gonna ask you a question about deliverables a little bit later.

Linda Nelson 37:54
I'll do the things that I want to make sure. deliverables, QC are starting your social media early.

Alex Ferrari 38:01
Okay. We'll talk about that a second. Because I have it that was a very, I wanted to I wanted to get a distributors point of view, because I've been preaching about deliverables forever. But now I have a filmmaker. I have a personal for my good friend of mine, who won Sundance a few years ago with her film, and she's now going to be releasing a new film coming up. And what her plan is, is to do VH x and video on demand and sell directly to her audience. Now, obviously, she has cachet from Sundance, a very bad idea. Tell me Tell me why she did her first point was going to do that. And then try to do you know, traditional VOD and things like that in at the same time, but at least the sell directly. Right. So Tommy,

Linda Nelson 38:47
It's it? And I'll tell you why. It's a bad idea. One, like I said, if she does, like Amazon on her own.

Alex Ferrari 38:59
No, it wouldn't be fair. No, the only thing the only platform she would do my checks VHS and video of Vimeo Vimeo on Vimeo. Yeah, that's it all the other platforms, she would still leave open. And she wouldn't do anything else by herself. But VHS specifically because of the ability to package hats and T shirts and exclusive content and things like that to make that $10 sale turn into $100 sale because her community has. She has a large social media team

Linda Nelson 39:23
If you want if you want to know if a platform is a good place to put your film. You should use a site called compete comm and put in the name of the site. And you will see how many monthly unique eyeballs go to that site. Or you can make a choice of going to a site that has 100,000 a month or a billion which would Where do you want your film? Right? It's not a hard question. It And I'll have you on, let me see if I can send you a link. Right? Alright, hold on just a second. There. We're very excited about Vimeo we have a new Vimeo channel, okay. And part of why we're, we're excited about it for a number of reasons. One is that it is global. Okay. And, and I think that's really important, you want to be able to have your film available globally, right. It's not important for all films, but a lot of films, you know, can do really well in in a global or international setting. And there's a right time to do that. What you don't want to do is do that early, because then you might really damage your ability to work in foreign sales. For example, we're going to AFM, of course have our office for the first time, okay, usually we just go there and try to sell but this year, we decided

Alex Ferrari 41:11
Oh, you got an office fantastic. got enough. I'm hoping I'm hoping to be there. Hopefully, we can catch a coffee.

Linda Nelson 41:17
And having an office is important, because you get the buyers list and you make while you're set up all your appointments ahead of time, of course, you can't get at the buyers list without having an office. So that that's was a huge step for us, you know, to finally make that jump. But when you have international buyers, and they come to you and they're interested in their film and your film, and they find out that you're you're already selling it on Vimeo, in Germany, they're not gonna they're not gonna go for, they want all rights. Most foreign deals are all rights deals. Okay, so you have to be really careful with that. So if you exploit that too early, you could really damage your ability for international sales. For that, that's that's one reason for

Alex Ferrari 42:04
Like Vimeo on demand. Yeah, Vimeo.

Linda Nelson 42:07
Okay, so so. So, if you did do it, you should limit it. But it's up, but yeah, but um, the second problem is that those sites, you must drive all the business correct. All right. And the pool of people that you're driving to is tiny, miniscule in comparison with the traffic that's on iTunes, and Google and Amazon and Amazon, just miniscule. And, but but it is important so that you do have that foreign option. And what's nice about it, and I like very much about Vimeo is that you can geo block easily with a chicken, just one checkbox, you can turn off a country goddess, so so it's possible that you can salvage that situation for foreign sales, you could say, Okay, well, we'll stop selling. And if it's early enough in the game, then then that still works. I think that they're great adjunct sites to do. But I think if you're going to put all your effort into driving sales to those sites, you're going to get burnout. so that by the time you do the big sites, you know, are you going to have any energy left? I mean, yeah, it's all about Yeah, yeah, you know, and then then you're going to get nowhere. Because because you really, if you put the effort into like Amazon, and the end the big sites, you're going to, you're going to have a really good chance at sales, but you're not going to not if it's a year down the line. Right. So and, and, and you won't get the physical DVD with that. Got it. All right. So I just really think it's a matter of opportunity, your opportunity for revenue is tiny on those sites, absolutely tiny, and it's gonna take a lot of effort to drive, drive sales to them.

Alex Ferrari 44:04
It's a case by case basis at that point. And also, if you want it again, how much energy are you willing to put in? Right? And it's a lot easier to drive people to Amazon, everyone knows it's easier. It's quicker VH x, you know, to drive people to that site to try to buy your product. It's gonna it's a tougher sell, but could be lucrative. It all depends on it.

Linda Nelson 44:25
Can I just Vimeo channel Yep, I got it. And now we're, we've worked very hard with Vimeo to create a channel. And there are very few companies that have this. I think there's only like three or four that have a channel like this. And I think slam dance has won South by Southwest and Sundance.

Alex Ferrari 44:52
So your company and Scylla scope. That's right, you're in good company.

Linda Nelson 44:56
So I think because we're going to mark we're We're gonna market this channel. If you're on this channel, you're going to have a better chance.

Alex Ferrari 45:05
Of course, yeah. Because your

Linda Nelson 45:07
Film scene, right, and it's beautiful.

Alex Ferrari 45:12
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. No, I'm looking at it is gorgeous. I'll put it in the show notes. So everybody could go and check it out.

Linda Nelson 45:27
Okay, yeah. And so so um, you know, we're, we're really excited about this. And Vimeo, I think, finally realize that just working with individual filmmakers was not going to bring enough because they have to depend on on individual filmmakers to market their films. And that's just craziness. Right? So they've decided to start working with select distributors. Perfect. That makes it perfect. Oh, so Indy writes, you know, is very thrilled.

Alex Ferrari 45:59
It looks it looks gorgeous. It looks gorgeous. And again, it's at the end of the day is getting eyeballs on films.

Linda Nelson 46:04
It is and and and you know, it's a, you know, they've done a really beautiful job of it. And, and so we're we haven't officially launched it yet, but we're going to be launching it as part of our promotion for ASM. Okay, because it's a great place for all of the buyers to watch all the trailers.

Alex Ferrari 46:28
Perfect. Yeah, you're right. It's global. Yep, you're right there and just go to it. Alright, so things have changed so much.

Linda Nelson 46:37
You know, so this is, you know, that's our plan.

Alex Ferrari 46:40
I remember when I was I was mailing out demo reels on three quarter inch. Because nobody wanted to watch it on VHS.

Linda Nelson 46:47
It's so expensive.

Alex Ferrari 46:49
Oh, God, the costs are expensive. And now the cost is almost nothing. It's just time. It's about time and internet connection time. So, a couple more questions. What is the most effective marketing plan an indie filmmaker should use if they have a small budget like Facebook or Google ads? Or what would you suggest?

Linda Nelson 47:11
Well, if you have zero budget, social media, right? And, and it's, it is a synergistic combination of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and possibly Instagram. But if you effectively use those for in concert, you can do it for free, you can get it set up so that you don't doesn't take a lot of time, all of them can be scheduled. You know, so, you know, it wants it takes a little while to get everything all set up and working well. But once you do, then you could do it one, or you can do it like one afternoon a week. You know, and if you spent years you know, I you know, pouring your heart and soul into a movie, that's the least you can do is one afternoon a week, right? should be doing it every day, one evening a week, or half a Saturday or half a Sunday, you know you need to it's like you know, like you're you know, I always compare it to you know, having a child because our movies are like our children in some ways. They you know, you go through this pregnancy, and then you go through the birth, which is your release, and then a lot of filmmakers just like ignore their child they neglect their child you have to nurture your your movie just like it was a child and you have to you know, you have to take really good care of it and raise it and and then it it'll be something for you to be proud of that the world can see. The other thing

Alex Ferrari 48:49
A lot of filmmakers think it the process is over when you win, when you lock the cut, and it's up, but not anymore. You that's just like probably 50% of it. And then then you continue to market and push for another six months to a year.

Linda Nelson 49:04
Yeah, even even you know, I think even more do I mean and the time that you spend on it will decrease but but the better job you do early on more attraction it gets send you the less you have to do down the line. Right, exactly. But but we have films that are 20 years old that are making money.

Alex Ferrari 49:23
If it's good content, it's good content, right, the bottom line. Now can you touch upon split rights for a film, I know that that's a term that's been used specifically now in the VOD, and digital rights arena where a filmmaker might have the rights to sell their their movie on their own website per se, like this avh X. But then they give all the rights to everything else outside of that. Can you touch a little bit? No,

Linda Nelson 49:46
We don't. We don't have a problem with that our. Our contract is actually we still consider it a non exclusive contract. However, we do require that you give us the top 10 platforms. Got it. Dan, if you want to do 20 other smaller sites, you know, that's fine.

Alex Ferrari 50:03
Or if you want to push VH x or or do whatever you want,

Linda Nelson 50:06
Here's the thing you can you can you on your website, you could do VH x or, or Vimeo, but then again, you still got to drive the business, of course. Right. So maybe you're better off to embed

Alex Ferrari 50:23
Google Play, right, or Amazon

Linda Nelson 50:26
Or Amazon and use their embeddable. So you might be better off to do that. Right? Yeah, I make more money doing that. We have people selling our movies as affiliates.

Alex Ferrari 50:40
Yeah. That's a whole other conversation. Yeah, right. Yeah.

Linda Nelson 50:44
And they're making money for us. Right?

Alex Ferrari 50:46
Exactly. Yeah, they'll they'll put it on their site, and they get a percentage. And, yeah, it's just got it. The more I talk to you, the smarter realize how much things.

Linda Nelson 50:57
And the thing is, that doesn't cost. Nothing it does, it doesn't come out of our pocket that comes out of Amazon's pack, they pay that. So which is fantastic. So so you know, so it's, we don't mind if people do that. Also, if someone comes up with a broadcast deal on their own, we don't take a percentage of that we don't. We were filmmakers first. Got it. We started making movies. And when we when we found out how bad most of the distribution deals law, charted indie rights, because we didn't want to give our films away.

Alex Ferrari 51:33
And hope and hope to get money one day, maybe.

Linda Nelson 51:36
And so so we started indie rights in 2006. And we started it with a bunch of filmmakers that were on the festival circuit with us.

Alex Ferrari 51:46
Like, hey, let's just put something else

Linda Nelson 51:48
Yeah, let's all band together, you know, and and it just grew from there, you know. And so it's, you know, I mean, we're filmmakers first, we're very conscious of, you know, what filmmakers want to do. And so we try to be as fair as we can sit not require any digital platforms. But we found that people were going and doing Amazon on their own. And then they would that messes up us being able to do it, and then it's not even an HD are able to go on prime. So we we changed our contract slightly just to say that we do need these 10 platforms. Got it. So so you know, Vimeo is not on there, by the way. And part of the thing with that is that Vimeo, will allow multiple people to have movies video on demand, although I would assume that that may change at some point.

Alex Ferrari 52:47
Yeah. So in other words, if you can have it on indie rights, that I could sell it on the side. It's kind of weird, though. I mean, it would be a bit more censorship right now. Well, one thing

Linda Nelson 52:56
Yeah, I think it I think it probably makes more sense to be on a channel if they start marketing these channels. Right? So I mean, if you go to vimeo.com, slash on demand, and click on discover, you'll you see, you know, the ones that are there, although that's not where the traffic comes from. You know, you still have to drive the traffic for this indie right, this site that you saw there, and then we have to drive that traffic.

Alex Ferrari 53:21
Well, one thing I was talking about that other filmmaker, the one that won Sundance, she actually tells me that she has the digital rights for it. So she had it on Vimeo and she's like, I make a check every month off of it, people find VHS, no, you have to actually push there. But on Vimeo, there's so many filmmakers they're looking for and film fans looking for material that she at least with her case, she found that it's easier. People just discover her on Vimeo a lot easier than other platforms.

Linda Nelson 53:49
But it all depends how much she's making.

Alex Ferrari 53:51

Linda Nelson 53:53
Making 20 dollars a month.

Alex Ferrari 53:55
Hey, hey, it's not so much not so much. Exactly. So, um, two more questions. One you wanted to talk about that new VOD platform at the beginning of the show you were talking about that you just started like started a week ago. What was the name of that one? You don't remember if something you just saying at the beginning of the show. You're like, Oh, we got I want to talk about this. This the the new VOD platform that opened up a week ago.

Linda Nelson 54:19
I last week, I said that

Alex Ferrari 54:22
You don't remember. Okay. Um, or something that opened up a week ago. I forgot what it was a marketing something or other that was opening the marketing or distributor. Don't worry about it. I'll edit this out. Can you please go?

Linda Nelson 54:37
I mean, maybe I was talking about Vimeo because,

Alex Ferrari 54:40
No, it wasn't. It was a new It was a new something. But anyway, don't worry about it.

Linda Nelson 54:44
M go is pretty new,

Alex Ferrari 54:47
You know what, I'll go back and listen to it and I'll email you just just for our own clarification, but I'll cut it out the word. So Linda, can you please this talk about the wonderful Have deliverables and specifically as well QC and what that means,

Linda Nelson 55:05
Okay Well, it's kind of a broad topic, but absolutely critical to the success of your movie, and something that you need to be thinking about before you shoot one frame at a time, and we have, we have about close to 350 films in our library now. And I have to tell you, half of them fail preliminary to see that's pretty good, excellent. And it is it's gotten, it's gotten better and better. But, um, we do a preliminary QC here. And then of those ones that pass the preliminary QC that we do once we send them to iTunes who has a very arduous you know, QC program, probably another 50% of those will again not pass that QC it needs some kind of adjustment. So So I think the most important thing to know is that you should have some idea what deliverables are expected from you before you start shooting your film so that as you shoot it as you edit it, you can edit it in such a way that you will be able to deliver what's required and and so, you know, I mean, we were actually thinking about publishing on our site, our deliverables lists so that people can get a better idea that would be what it says because I'll tell you half of the films that we get if they have been edited on Final Cut Pro come to us as dual mono instead of true stereo because the default is not to have stereo pair and we specifically in red type on our deliverable list mentioned this and show you a picture of what the waveforms look like yet still half the films we get our dual mono and no platform will take that so when you when it's and that's that luckily that's something that you as long as you still have your film and can it's on an editing timeline you can render it out in the proper way. But it's very time consuming. You can lose two or three months because about your release date just because of that.

Alex Ferrari 57:47
No I know I've like I said I've delivered I've delivered a ton of movies and I mean before used to be like 15 or $20,000 between just you know HD cam HD SSRS DCP now and then I was doing betas and Digi betas up until last year Believe it or not

Linda Nelson 58:04
Yeah yeah no I know it's like amazing

Alex Ferrari 58:08
It's insanity but nowadays with digital deliverables I mean you just need a good pro rez for to to HQ

Linda Nelson 58:16
Yeah, that's what we use for 4k or not for 2k Okay, oh yeah you know just for just for regular standard HD on like Amazon and all that that's that's plenty if you want to be 4k then you know, I mean there's a new UI HD format spec that we have for 4k films. And but other things that people maybe aren't so familiar with is that it is if you are doing us distribution you must have closed captions and yeah, that's awesome. Captions used to be very expensive you could easily pay 1500 bucks to have a post production house do it oh then the price kind of went down to 800 when it got more more competitive and then 400 and we have for the past year and a half been using a company called rev comm who does it for a buck a minute and they do a fabulous job.

Alex Ferrari 59:10
Wow, that's not many I've heard

Linda Nelson 59:12
Of that. There are $100 and they do a great job and if there's a problem with it, they'll fix it.

Alex Ferrari 59:17
That's That's great. That's actually I'm gonna actually use those guys

Linda Nelson 59:22
So so that's a you know, that's a requirement we have to have it. Most people think that captions are the same as subtitles they are not okay, subtitles do not contain ambient or atmospheric sounds like for example, because captions if a door slams and that's significant to the story you must say in their door slams because captions are for the Deaf. So a phone ringing a door slamming a siren. Those are things that must be in there that would not be in there just for subtitles.

Alex Ferrari 59:57
What was the name of the airline? What was the name of the company again?

Linda Nelson 1:00:00
rev.com rev.com

Alex Ferrari 1:00:03
And they do multiple languages as well.

Linda Nelson 1:00:05
Well they are just getting into the subtitle biz or the the foreign subtitle business and that's more expensive

Alex Ferrari 1:00:12
Of course of course okay

Linda Nelson 1:00:15
So they're great for that so that's that's the number two issue we have if you plan on selling your film foreign you must make separate tracks for dialogue and of course Yeah, and I can tell you this is especially true for small low budget films you get your noise in and dialogue in the same same track Oh, I know you're done yeah. You must isolate your dialogue

Alex Ferrari 1:00:47
And then let's not even talk about five one and a lot of times that whole process as a whole

Linda Nelson 1:00:52
That's difficult because and then probably the rest of the you know what we do now because people have such a hard time with 5.1 is we asked for to progress one with stereo embedded and one with 5.1 embedded if you have 5.1 right because it's really hard to get the 5.1 very few people I can tell you out of 300 Films probably maybe 10 or 10 to 20 have actually mapped the 5.1 correctly so on the first on the first cracks no no I know it's very difficult

Alex Ferrari 1:01:29
It is it unless you hire someone that knows if you

Linda Nelson 1:01:33
Want 5.1 We definitely advise you using a post house

Alex Ferrari 1:01:36
Yeah, or some or post supervisor.

Linda Nelson 1:01:39
Exactly. So so it's you know so that's that's that's really really important. Then there are some other things you cannot people that are used to selling to broadcast filmmakers. They're used to putting color tone color bars and tones on their films. It's strictly prohibited for digital platforms the pro res file that we get cannot have any color cop color bars or tones on the front

Alex Ferrari 1:02:08
But you do slates right of course.

Linda Nelson 1:02:11
You mean production bumper

Alex Ferrari 1:02:13
No just a slate like you know what? No slates either

Linda Nelson 1:02:16
Oh nothing interesting the movie should just start at the end and it can start with your production company

Alex Ferrari 1:02:22
Of course yeah of course of course yeah

Linda Nelson 1:02:23
No nothing on the front okay. Has nothing It should have just a few frames of black on either end

Alex Ferrari 1:02:30
And then information on where all the tracks lead and things like that if there's multiple tracks like I guess not on the video but on the side

Linda Nelson 1:02:37
No, no, no, no, it's you have to map it to our spec.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:41
Oh then that There you go.

Linda Nelson 1:02:42
So then you'll know we're there. Ah, there we have you do eight tracks left toward the left and right stereo.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:48
Got it? Got it. So let me ask you What do filmmakers need to do to submit their films to you?

Linda Nelson 1:02:54
Oh, we have a forum on Facebook.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:56
Okay, simple as that

Linda Nelson 1:02:58
It's very very simple you go to indie writes movies there's a tab that says distribution and then it says submit your film here and you click on here and you'll get a form and you know it's it's that easy and

Alex Ferrari 1:03:13
And where can and where can everyone find you find information about indie rights things like that.

Linda Nelson 1:03:18
You can go to indie writes calm Nelson Masson films calm or you could on you can go to Facebook. But if you just go on Google and you put in indie writer Nelson Madison films we take up the the first five pages if somebody can't find us they got a problem.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:38
I always find that fascinating. I always find that like I couldn't find your mic. Do you not have Google

Linda Nelson 1:03:45
Just put in Nelson Madison films and and if you put in that then it'll take you wherever you need to go.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:52
And so this is the last question is I asked all my guests that come on the show it's a very difficult question. So prepare yourself. What are your top three favorite films of all time?

Linda Nelson 1:04:02
Oh my god. It does.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:04
It can be anything that tickles your fancy at this moment in time because I know that's a really tough question love.

Linda Nelson 1:04:09
We love crime thrillers. Okay. So any of Michael Mann's great we love it. Yeah, you like like True Romance. That type of film. We love. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:26
Oh yeah. Sergio Leone. Absolutely.

Linda Nelson 1:04:29
And of course, we like big films like Apocalypse Now. Blade Runner is one of our favorites. And you know, so we love really, we like big movies. Of course, Blade Runner. And the thing is you can make a big movie and I think it's a big mistake that a lot of first time filmmakers make they think they have to have three people on a couch in an apartment. You know, it's not true. Not $50,000 film we made had had a cast of about 30 and 22 locations and you know, what did you shoot? What did you shoot that by though, oh my gosh all over downtown LA and shot it all LA, all around la out by Palmdale we shot quite a bit of it. And we actually were able to rent this little six room motel for a couple of days to do all of the stuff out there and, you know, everybody slept there and we had all of our equipment there and everything and we shot on red and 4k. And, and using social media was critical to doing that. And we didn't talk much about that. But it's something you better have a Facebook page come day, one of the idea of exactly Okay, not not in production even before then when we like for our next film, the day, we made the first page of the script, and that was our profile picture to start to put it up on Facebook. Because we use social media to help produce efficiently we, we put up descriptions of all the locations we needed. And we told people if you can get us a location for free, put a picture of it up here we gave the descriptions of it. We didn't pay for any of our we had we had sites that charge the studio's $15,000 a day for free. Nice, hey, and then we said you'll get a you get a location scout credit on the back of the film. And that and we did that. That's great. You know, so I mean, just things like that. We did a lot of auditions. We had put upsides for parts. And we had people prepare their own video audition and upload it. Looking at that stuff.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:44
Oh, yeah, of course, the inner workings.

Linda Nelson 1:06:46
No, so you save the cost of you know, like, you know, having casting office.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:52
So you so you cast it, so you cast it everything online,

Linda Nelson 1:06:54
Not everything, but a good portion of it.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:58
Oh, my God, that's accessible. Yeah, it's like thinking outside the box is what you have to do. And that's what a lot of,

Linda Nelson 1:07:04
Believe me, those people are Uber fans. All of the people that you engage during production feel like they are a part of your movie, and they will share your movie with all their friends. Mm hmm. And hopefully, that's something you cannot get after the movies done.

Alex Ferrari 1:07:20
Right! It's harder to build up that momentum. Yeah, that's much harder to build up on that. That's why I didn't we didn't touch this either the crowdfunding thing, but a lot of people go to crowdfunding, and they're like, I just put it up on Kickstarter, but I only made 20 bucks. I'm like, because you have no following you have,

Linda Nelson 1:07:34
I would say you need at least 10 15,000 people ready to go at launch day. If you want a really successful, you know, not if you're only raising like $5,000 No, but I mean, if you want to, you know, raise $100,000 you need you need a bunch of pee, you need a good size audience ahead of time. You can you can get that on by having the page on Facebook and getting as much put together and elements attached as you can early on.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:04
And that's what I think is separating filmmakers. Now as much as much as talent is separating it now because it's so much in quality. It's now who's willing to do the work, who's willing to go out there and hustle that that that get the fan pages up, do all that kind of work. And that's separating people from other filmmakers who just oh, I just wanted to make a movie.

Linda Nelson 1:08:24
And it really factors into our decision on what films we're going to take for distribution I have to tell you why it's so important because what happens is we have a form that you fill in when and then you have to send us a blu ray or DVD screener because we want to watch it the way people are going to walk most people are going to watch it, though we watch it on a nice big flat panel TV. And but in in the information that we asked you for we have a you know quite a extensive form that you have to fill things that that are important. And this is also true when you're trying to get in film festivals. One who's in your film, and just because there's nobody in there, that's all right. To what festivals Have you been in. And it doesn't have to be Sundance or slam dance but we have to see see that you've made an effort to even get it in regional. Sure. So if you if you will come to us and you have no Facebook page, and you're done and no and no festivals, you know, we can see that you're not ready to make the effort that's required. Right? Right. And I don't care how good the film is. It will just disappear into a black hole. Absolutely. Absolutely. So so we those things are important. How many fans do you have on Facebook? It's It's It's important.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:41
It's extremely important. It's extremely important. Linda, I won't take up any more your time. Thank you so so much for being on the show. You laid out so many gold information bombs. On on this on this podcast. I think my audience got a lot out of it. Thank you so, so much

Linda Nelson 1:10:00
You're very welcome. And the more the more they know, you know, the easier Our job is, and the more successful our films gonna be. So we're very happy to share as much information as we can. Thanks again, Linda, thanks for the opportunity.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:14
Hope you guys like that episode man. It was a very eye opening episode. For me, Linda really threw out a lot of gold nuggets and a lot of information about VOD, that I didn't have any idea about before. So I really want to thank her a lot for what for the information she gave us so if you have any questions for her, please head over to indie film rights, or Nelson Madison films.com and get information about her and what her company does. Also, don't forget to head over to film festival tips. com that's Film Festival tips.com where I show you my six secrets to get into film festivals for either cheap or free and helped me get into over 500 Film Festivals myself So guys, thanks again for all the love and all the downloads and all the great comments we've been getting about the show. I really feel like I'm connecting with you guys and giving you guys a lot of great content so please email me or message me on Facebook or tweet me or any other way you can communicate with me. any topics you want me to cover any buddy you want me to try to get on the show any information that you want me to get to you. I'm open to any ideas I really am here to help you guys and give you as much content as humanly possible. Alright, and again if you do love the show, please do me a favor, head over to iTunes and give us an honest review about what you think of the show. It really helps us out a lot and rankings in iTunes. So thanks again guys. And don't forget, keep your dream alive. Keep on hustling. Talk to you soon.




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IFH 016: Getting Attention from Influencers – Roger Ebert Story

I always get asked by indie filmmakers:

“How do I get attention for my indie film?”

This is one of the major challenges facing indie filmmakers/entrepreneurs in today’s noisy independent film landscape. One fast way is to get an “influencer” to focus a little light on you or your project.

Now, this is much easier said than done. When I promote my projects I approach every online indie film influencer I can.

This includes indie film sites, niche sites (around your subject matter), industry news outlets, film magazines, movie fan websites, film festivals, podcasters, conventions, and movie reviewers.

This is how my films have been covered by over 300 international film websites, magazines, and news outlets. I was even featured in the best selling indie filmmaking book “Making Short Films: The Complete Guide from Script to Screen.”

I put my films and myself out there to be seen and consumed. I had many offers, meetings with Hollywood “players” and opportunities purely because I shouted from the top of the mountain about my projects.

BROKEN is essentially a demonstration of the mastery of horror imagery and techniques. Effective and professional.” – Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times)

The number one question I get asked is:

“How the hell did you get Roger Ebert to review your little short film?”

In this podcast, I tell the story of how the legendary film critic Roger Ebert was so amazingly kind to a young filmmaker and my short film BROKEN (Watch it on Indie Film Hustle TV).

For those of you who are not familiar with Roger Ebert’s work, he was arguably the most famous and powerful American film critic during his lifetime. For decades filmmakers prayed for his famous “thumbs up” and feared his “thumbs down.”

He recently passed away but if you want to learn who this remarkable man was I would suggest you watch this amazing documentary on his life “Life Itself.” Check out the trailer below.

As the above trailer states:

“Roger Ebert gave life to new voices and gave life to new visions that reflected all the diversity of this nation”.

There will truly never be another Roger Ebert.

I want to use this story as a way to teach independent filmmakers two things:

  1. Put yourself in a place or arena that better your odds of accessing influencers and gatekeepers.
  2. Be ready when the opportunity presents itself.

My story is as much to do with luck as it does with being prepared. Luck and preparation are bedfellows on your journey as an indie filmmaker, as many successful filmmakers will tell you.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Today, we have a fun show. It's a show that I get a question I get asked a ton about. But before we talk, head on over to free film book.com that's free film book calm, and get your free audio book, choose from over 40,000 different books and download it for free. So today's topic is in the question I get asked a ton. And I've been asked this question ever since it happened. How in god's green earth did you get Roger Ebert to review your short film broken. And it is a fun story. And I wanted to give you a story. So you understand it. Also, there's a lesson involved with this story. So all of you are probably aware of my film broken that we shot for 1000 bucks. And you know, it was 20 minutes long had 100 visual effects shots on and so forth. And we got a lot of attention for it. And one of the we actually garnered some attention by a film producer slash distributor, international distributor, who wanted to talk to us about my partner and I at the time, about broken the feature and so on. So they flew us up to the Toronto Film Festival. And at that point, we already have the DVD in the DVD was selling and we'd probably had it out well, we launched it in June. So November sometime, I think is when we were November, September, I think is when Toronto was in September, October sometime. Anyway, so we went to the festival. And the distributor gave us a couple tickets to one of the screening movies that were screening that day. So we went in to watch the movie and my partner at the time looked up and said, Hey, man, there's there's Roger Ebert. And I'm like, well, let's let's go meet him. And this is before the movie starts. So Roger was sitting in the back, and God rest his soul. We do miss Roger and his voice. And I'll talk more about Roger at the end of this thing. So Roger, we went up to Roger, and, you know, we were like two little girls at a Justin Bieber concert. It was just like, oh my god, Roger. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. And Roger was so just gracious. And you know, and he's like, Look, man, I love you. I'm glad you got to talking to me and everything, but I can't watch your movie. And we're like, I mean, I told them like, of course, you know, like, that was the last thing on my mind. I was never even conceiving the idea that Roger Ebert would watch my little movie that I shot in Florida with no actors, and no one wasn't even in the in, in the theater for guy wasn't even in the festival, for God's sake. Like, why would he take the time out to do anything like that. But the one thing I did do is I kept talking, I kept talking to him and explaining everything about my movie. And like, you know, we shout out for 1000 bucks a shout out on a digital camera. I mean, a shout out on mini DV, and we've been selling on DVD. And I just kept talking to talking. And as that conversation kept going, Rogers head tilted. And he said, Do you mind if I take a picture of you? And then all I said in my mind was, Oh, cool. Now I can finally ask to take a picture with him because I wasn't going to be that guy. So he took a picture. You know, he took a picture of me and I'm like, Roger, can you know? Can I take a picture with you? Yes, sure. No problem. And then he just starts writing down everything. We're saying he's like $1,000 movie mini DV law broken or named everything and then he's, he's like, you know, this will make a nice little blurb for my, my blog. And we're like, I told them, like, what would you like to see, you know, would you like a copy of the DVD, he's like, sure. And I had a copy of the DVD in my back pocket. Now this is a lesson that I want everyone to take with this story. It's a fun story. It's a great little story, and I'll tell you how it ends in a second. But if I wouldn't have had the DVD in my pocket, a full blown you know, full full release DVD in my pocket. I would have never gotten any kind of review or anything from Roger Ebert. The lesson to take away from this is always be prepared. I mean, be the boy scout if you will. If you're being put in a scenario I mean, you can't be walking around all of life with you know, your demo reel with you at all times, though that would be nice. And nowadays, you can can do that with your iPhone. But if you didn't have the movie at the time to hand him not to watch there because he wasn't going to sit there for 20 minutes and watch our movie. He, I would have lost that opportunity. So if you're put in a place like a film festival, Like a mixer, like a place where these these kind of influencers are at, then you always should be prepared. Always have something not a business card. Not enough. If you have a movie, if a situation presents itself, don't be pushy, don't try to jam it in their face. We had built a relationship up within those few minutes that we talked to the point where he wanted something from us once he wanted something from us. Then we reciprocated like, Hey, would you like this to help your blog? And he said, Yes. So anyway, so we gave him the DVD, we sat down, watch the rest of the movie, rest of the rest of the, the the movie, the rest of the trip was fine. And we flew back home by the time we flew back home the next day, when we landed, we had had people emailing us and calling us and oh my god, Roger Ebert just reviewed your movie on his blog. And I was like, What? So I ran in there, I ran to a computer. Because there were no smartphones at the time. And I looked it up, I'm like, Oh my god, he watched the movie. And there was a picture of us, me and my partner. And we were like, Oh, my God. And he basically made it a story about independent film makers using new digital technology to tell their stories. And we were the focus of that article. And then he said, and I happen to watch the movie. And he gave us two lines that I will never forget. It is a broken is essentially he said broken is essentially a mastery of horror imagery and technique, effective and professional looking forward to seeing broken the feature. And I could not be more over the over the moon over this review. I mean, this is a God, you know, he's a film God. But you know, Roger Ebert was one of those guys, he was the film critic in all of the United States, arguably the world, but his influence in the United States was massive, he was the guy, you know. So for him to come down, first of all, to take the time to watch our movie, then to give us a critique about it. That's how much he loved filmmakers and loved movies. He didn't have to be nice, he didn't even have to talk to us, let alone write us a little review, and make us a focus of one of his little articles on his blog. But by doing that, it changed the course of my life. Because when I had Roger Ebert's endorsement, many doors opened up for for the movie. For myself, to this point, to this day, I'm talking about this story right now. And it's been 10 years since that happened. People still ask me how it happened, because it's something that he never did. It was just a moment in time that happened. And it was my lottery ticket, my small lottery ticket wasn't the you know, I didn't win I didn't went to the Super Bowl jackpot. But I, I definitely won something when he did that for me. So moving forward, the the exposure that that got was massive. I put Rogers quote on every bit of material we can, because it has so much weight behind it. So it helped me promote myself as a director helped me promote myself, my movies, it just added a level of credibility to me as a filmmaker that the other filmmakers would kill for myself included. So it was one of those moments in time, but I had, I was prepared. And that's what I want you guys to take away from this story is you have to be prepared for when lightning strike, when that opportunity that door opens, you have to be ready. Because once it's gone, it's gone. If I wouldn't have had that DVD with me that day, with all this behind the scenes stuff, and all this stuff that things that I've packaged the DVD it looked professional, if I wouldn't have had that that day, that opportunity would have been lost for ever. It would have never come back, I would have never been able to get that opportunity back. It was that moment in time that you just have to be ready. And that's, that's what I want you guys to take away. Always be ready to take advantage of that opportunity when it comes. So I hope that helps you guys a little bit. I hope it was an entertaining story. It was a it's been life altering to me. And another thing about Roger is, once Roger passed, he a lot of stories came out about him being so nice and generous to filmmakers. And I was one of those stories that got pushed around Facebook a bit when he passed. And he was he was such a gracious man that I will never ever forget the kindness that he gave me. And it's one of the reasons why I do indie film hustle today is I want to give back want to help the next generation coming up behind me To be better filmmakers to survive as artists, and Roger was an artist, as a writer. He wasn't a filmmaker. But he respected and loved filmmakers. And his art was his criticism of film, and how he wrote it. That he got a Pulitzer Prize, the only film critic ever to win a Pulitzer Prize. And he is, he will always be in my heart. I'm getting a little choked up. He will always be in my heart. And I will always be thankful to that man for being so generous with me in my little movie. So enough of this happiness. I hope you guys got a lot out of that. Please don't ever forget, don't give up on your dream. Keep that hustle going. And it just the business is gonna beat you and beat you and beat you. But you have to keep going. The guys and the girls who make it never stop. And I'm trying to help you guys get there as well. So good


IFH 015: AFM: Selling Your Independent Film with Ben Yennie

If you have ever looked into selling your film at a film market then you more than likely have heard of North America’s largest film market, AFM or the American Film Market.

The American Film Market is a labyrinth of crazy characters, thieves, wannabes, filmmakers hustling their latest film, distributors, industry professionals and of course buyers and sellers from around the globe.

My guest this week is Ben Yennie who has written the only real guide to this carnival called “The Guerilla Rep: American Film Market Distribution Success on No Budget.” You should not go to the “any” film market without reading this book.

It’s a no-nonsense guide to establishing relationships with distributors at The American Film Market or any film market around the globe like:

Ben Yennie is a producer’s rep. Yes I know I did an earlier podcast warning you to stay away from evil producer’s reps (What’s a Producer’s Rep and How Not to be Ripped off!) but Ben is one of the good guys. He doesn’t take cash upfront to sell or represent your film at a film market.

His new book The Entrepreneurial Producer: A Series of Articles on Growing your Filmmaking Career is great as well. Here’s the down-low on this remarkable book:

Film Schools are great at teaching you how to make a film, but not great at teaching you how to make money making film.  The Entrepreneurial Producer: A Series of Articles on Growing your Filmmaking Career is designed to help bridge that gap, and teach the basics of Film Financing, Film Distribution, Film Marketing, and general best business practices for filmmakers of all kinds.

Are you a filmmaker wanting to know the real “skinny” on what goes on at the buying and selling of films at film markets? Then, this podcast is for you. Ben Yennie spits some major gold on the American Film Market in this episode.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Today we have a great guest on on our show today, Ben Yeni. or as we like to call them or he likes to call himself the gorilla Rep. He is a producer's Rep. Now I know I did an earlier episode on the evils of producer wrap up producers reps. But Ben is actually one of the good guys. He's actually a good producers Rep. He doesn't take any money upfront. So he actually goes and hustles for you. Ben also wrote a book called the gorilla Rep. American film market distribution success on no budget is the only guy to ever write a book on the AFM or the American Film market. And it was an awesome, awesome book. So I suggest you read it. We discuss film marketing, distribution, the new world of distribution between self distribution and going after different markets, how you can sell a different markets and how to be successful at film markets. And there's only a handful of them out in the world. And we go over all of that. So sit back, relax, and enjoy my interview with Ben Yeni. Thank you, Ben, so much for being on the show. We really appreciate you taking the time.

Ben Yennie 1:52
No problem, Alex. Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 1:54
Cool. So let's start off with a big question that a lot of people really don't know the answer to. What's the difference between a sales agent and a producer's Rep.

Ben Yennie 2:03
Yeah, I get that question a lot. Um, the biggest difference between a sales agent and a producer's rep is that a producer's rep basically acts as a filmmakers representative to a sales agent or distributors and sometimes international buyers. That that's the big thing on the distribution and but producers reps will sometimes also deal in financing. Like Me personally, I can help steer you in the right direction and help set up your financing mix, although I don't do that much financing myself, but steer you in bad steer you in directions to go as well as tell you what should be like how much should be product placement, how much should be tax incentive, what you should be looking at for pre sale backed debt. And then of course, there's always equity, which is what every filmmaker always looks for. But unfortunately, a lot of filmmakers are often overly reliant on Tom because if you do your entire fight, if you finance your entire film by equity, then first of all it's a really long road and it's really difficult. But it's also when you mean it's also not really good for you in the long run. When you mean investors take too much

Alex Ferrari 3:27
When you mean equity. You mean just like yeah, basically it's it's all cash basically.

Ben Yennie 3:31
Yes, taking like taking like cash from investors got it. That's specifically what I mean on that. And when the industries take an equity position, because there's kind of an emerging trend, especially in places like slated, where investors are taking a debt position instead of an equity position so they own no part of your film, but you are legally obligated to pay the back.

Alex Ferrari 3:54
Oh, that's interesting. So that is that a new kind of trend that's going on.

Ben Yennie 3:58
Basically what it's doing is replacing what used to be called gap financing by banks. And gap financing is kind of going the way of the dinosaurs because there's new private investor debt gap financing. This essentially serves the same purpose is way way way way way cheaper than debt financing was I heard stories that have gap financing being as much as 50% APR. Oh wow. Wow. So that's like sad legal baguettes insane pretty quickly.

Alex Ferrari 4:41
Is that legal? Like 50% APR Jesus?

Ben Yennie 4:44
There's no law against usury

Alex Ferrari 4:48
As as as hundreds of 1000s of years of banks will attest.

Ben Yennie 4:54
Yeah. But no, it is like I've heard stories of that and I can't cite my sources because of course, but there are people, but there were a couple of bigger people in the industry that would sometimes charge that much. So and that, of course, that was back in the 80s. So, interest rates were a bit different in general, of course, like inflation was like 10 to 15% or something. So it's a little bit weird today. Yeah. So, but no, go on?

Alex Ferrari 5:32
No. Um, so the so what is the traditional percentage that a sales agent or producers rep might take form for a deal with a filmmaker or an NFL?

Ben Yennie 5:43
Well, yeah, I think I don't think I can quite elaborate on what a sales agent does a sales agent sells it directly to international territories, and then generally those territories pay cash. And then the territories have the right to distribute that film for whatever rights in whatever territory they bought, and the sales agent, sales agent to sell those rights. Whereas the producers rep acts as a go between between to help you find the right sales agent, who actually has the buyers who can sell it. And because of that, since he's basically a sub distributor he chart he or she charges a lot less like a sales agent will charge anywhere between 20 and 35%. Depending on the size of the film, if your film is more like, if your film is more like 100,000, or less often, you're going to be looking more at the 35% range. Just because in order to make enough money for them to continue to operate their business, they have to charge that much. Because markets are pretty expensive. But especially from a from an exhibitor perspective, but a producer's rap. Generally charges between five and seven, sometimes 10 if they have a lot of cloud. If they have like, very, very high levels of cloud, they might charge 10

Alex Ferrari 7:15
there's not that many, there's not that many guys out there doing it is there are there

Ben Yennie 7:19
there aren't that many real there? There's more than you would expect. But not as not many of them are quite as public as I am about what it is we do. Right. So that's a that's another thing on there a lot of times it's still one of those old you have to know somebody need to get in certain things. Or they charge on godly submission fees and on godly retainers and things I was gonna

Alex Ferrari 7:49
I was gonna ask you what is like, I've heard of sales agents and producers rep I've had experience with some producers rep like that, that they charge obscene amounts of money upfront, what's your take on that? Or sales I

Ben Yennie 8:02
Personally would make my life life a lot easier if I did it, but I don't feel ethically right doing it. Because I know that the people who would be paying me don't really have the money to pay me because I've been in their position before right. So like depending like there are jobs that I will take that I do actually require either an hourly or a flat pay rate for like that for my clients. Like if I'm generating a festival plan and telling and guiding which which festivals submit to which ones to go to, if you go to them all that sort of stuff. If I create that sort of plan then I just charged for that plan. I don't there's no real upside in it for me for doing it on a commission basis. And it takes quite a lot of time to develop a plan like that because it involves a surprising amount of research and a surprising amount of branding knowledge and not it's not low skill knowledge that goes into this either. So if so there are services like that. There's also things that I have that I just think that I just include his appendix to my contract is just a price list. Everything is like oh if you need an EP k if you need some like festival giveaway ideas and budgets on how you can make them because like Chris gore says, if you go to a festival and you want to actually make a splash have something physical to give somebody it's not just promotional material, like at very least attach a piece of candy to your promo material. Like I mean like just something to actually make people pay attention to it right. By there's been like, yeah, there was one film I was wrapping that was black cat whiskey, where I recommended the festival giveaway be A like one of those little 199 things of whiskey with production art taped over it. And then like the screening time, and then the representation contact on it as well

Alex Ferrari 10:14
That might have that must have done well.

Ben Yennie 10:18
It never actually went into production. Oh. But yeah, I imagine it would have been giving away

Alex Ferrari 10:27
Free booze free booze would have all the time worse.

Ben Yennie 10:31
I know. The issue is is like, how do you make sure like, you can't card everybody. We're gonna basically be like, really, really judging somebody.

Alex Ferrari 10:42
Yeah, I see the point. I see where the hiccups might come in. Yeah.

Ben Yennie 10:48
Yeah, there are a lot of hiccups with it. But it was a I don't know, I thought I thought it was a decent idea. And it was memorable.

Alex Ferrari 10:56
And appropriate, it was appropriate for the film. Yeah, no, I

Ben Yennie 10:59
mean, that's the other thing if it like, if you don't um, yeah, I mean, you've got you've got to actually have whatever giveaway you do. It's much better if it's tied into the film in some way. But yeah, so that so that, so that's basically it produce. If they're actually working on a commission, or a executive producer fee, or whatever they're doing, a producer's rep will generally charge between five and 10%. And the other thing that can make a difference is some producers reps are also lawyers, right? So if they're a lawyer, they're more likely to just charge you an hourly and either No, or a very, very low percentage of the deal. So that's kind of and unfortunately, these deals are so speculative, that most producers are upstanding entertainment, tainment lawyers just won't differ. Whereas, and there's such a small amount of money in the movie in the deal that they can't afford to defer their payment on it. Whereas like, a big lawyer in Silicon Valley, if you go to one of their bigger things, and you've got a tech startup, which I do, but you have a and you're talking to them, a lot of times if you have a solid business plan, and they actually believe in you, not only are they willing to defer their rates and not charge you anything, but they'll also introduce you to investors on the understanding that when the investment comes in, their firm gets do the paperwork. So sorry, that going on from tech industry for no reason.

Alex Ferrari 12:46
It's easier for Cisco, it's a pretty it's a prerequisite here in San Francisco.

Ben Yennie 12:50
It does. But yeah, the big so. But yeah, I mean, the biggest reason that I can see paying producers, Rob, is if they are actually a member of the Bar Association. And if they're charging, you ask that because a lot of producers reps are actually kind of full of shit.

Alex Ferrari 13:11
Yeah, I know this. So

Ben Yennie 13:14
yeah. Um, but yeah, I'm not naming names. But

Alex Ferrari 13:20
I know I haven't named any names either. But I completely agree with you and 100%. So let me ask the question, what is the if you get a film, and you got a traditional distributor to handle your film? Well, how do they handle a brand new film they just acquired? What's the process of that they've? they've signed the deal? What do they do?

Ben Yennie 13:42
I'm going to step back a minute. Sure. Because a lot of people use the term, the terms sales agent and distributor interchangeably. And while they're very similar in a lot of sales agents, are also distributors, they actually technically mean different things. Like a sales agent is somebody who sells your film to pretty much any territory besides North America, often including Canada, sometimes excluding French Canada. I'm so sorry. Yeah, that's the sales team, just everyone besides those. And then a distributor generally handles distribution within North America assuming or North American filmmaker. If you're a in then the buyers that they deal with are also technically distributors. It's just they tend to pay rights to pay upfront cash to distribute the territory, the film in their territory through their channels. So but yes, but speaking in terms of AFM, at least, the vast majority of the sales agents I deal with are also to a level distributors at least depending on exactly how big Their cloud is some of them have more capability to distribute than others like some of the sales agents who are also distributors I know can completely handle a fairly wide theatrical run some of them would just sell it on to another us distributor got it so that that's so there is a little bit of a delineation between the term sales agent and distributor but generally if you sign with a sales agent or distributor actually let's just stick into sales agent right now because that's most common especially the lower ends generally what they do generally the time that they're most looking for content is about three to four weeks before the next market um and the big thing that they're and they're looking for content to sell at their mark at the market so if they you sign your rights to them generally they'll want all right sometimes they'll get sometimes you can get away with not giving them North America if you have some sort of distributor or distribution plan for North America especially if they're primarily a sales agent not a distributor and they just be selling it to another distributor but or maybe several other distributors depending on the article and some other things but um the big thing that you the big thing that they do is just starts is get all of the deliverables to them. There are a couple of surprisingly important but often overlooked deliverables that may actually make or break whether you get a distribution deal.

Alex Ferrari 16:51
Now what are the what are the deliverables that a filmmaker is responsible for?

Ben Yennie 16:56
The biggest one is generally a full high quality export like pro res export of the film and at least 10 ADP if you're looking at something with the Africa you might need to do more like two or 4k as well as attend ATP. But the other thing that most makers don't look at is what's called an m&e track. Yeah, and a two and a textless. And, and make sure that all your text is on a separate video track. And when I say an m&e track, I mean the music and effects track, because remember, this is being sold internationally, so there's a good chance you're going to hire other actors to dub over your movie. So if you have all of your music and effects on separate tracks from your audio, then that makes it very easy to export and put in and they just have to dump in the audio. That's the same reason that like, unless you have like fancy credits, in your opening sequence, you need to make sure there are points or if there's ever a point where there's a text underlaid or like, like say, in, in some movie, they just moved to France and it's like Berlin, or they moved from France to Berlin, and then it says Berlin under there, you're going to need to have that on a separate track. So that that can be put into Chinese if it needs to be. So yeah, those are a couple of the things that filmmakers just often don't think about that are incredibly practical, in why you do it. But it seems like a unnecessary complication if you don't actually look at the reasoning behind it. And it's a film school doesn't always teach you as they should.

Alex Ferrari 18:54
Yeah, I've been a post supervisor for about 15 years so I've done I've delivered probably about 50 or 60 features in my day so I completely understand people that a lot of filmmakers just don't get what deliverables are and also the cost involved them and what you're saying is just the the digital aspects of things and there's a five one and there's the five one m&e if you want to get the deeper into it, and then the HD cam, HD s Rs, split track, all this kind of stuff. And all of a sudden, your deliverables will cost you anywhere from 15 to 25, grand DCP and so on. So it gets it gets it gets kind of crazy, and it kind of hits everybody from left field when it happens. I've seen that. I've seen the face go whites. Yeah. When I've told them the price.

Ben Yennie 19:36
Yeah, no, and there are very legitimate reasons for the cost. Again, this is not low skilled labor. But the but yeah, no, I somehow I missed the europos provider so you totally get it. But I think a lot of but a lot of my clients don't quite understand the importance of it. Which is more why I'm saying this because I don't think you're your only listener.

Alex Ferrari 19:59
Absolutely no, no, no That's why I asked the question completely. No, absolutely. It's a conversation between the two of us. But this is more for our listeners to talk about. So that's why I'm asking questions and I might know the answers do, but I want you to, to, to explain it to them. Yes.

Ben Yennie 20:13
So I'm joking. But yeah.

Alex Ferrari 20:18
Now let me ask you a question. We've all heard the big the, you know, the legendary stories of Harvey Weinstein seeing a movie at Sundance and, and every year we hear a movie sells for like 3 million upfront and all this kind of stuff. are the days of big payouts from distributors gone, like I know, like in the 80s, you could just make a feature. Like if you just made a feature, you're going to get some money upfront from a distributor, but nowadays with the gluttony of of product out there, like are the days of like, payouts from distributors gone? Up front at

Ben Yennie 20:49
least? I wouldn't say they're gone. But I would also say that I would also say caution, filmmakers not to expect it.

Alex Ferrari 21:00
They're unicorns more than anything at this point. Yeah, they're

Ben Yennie 21:03
their unicorns more than they're their unicorns more than their horses or even zebras. The Yeah, so they do happen. It's kind of rare they happen. And generally, if you're talking about a micro budget feech, you're probably not going to happen. If it's anything less than about 500,000. It doesn't have any talent in it. Any notable talent in it. Your it's pretty unlikely you're gonna get a minimum guarantee. Now, is there any glitches?

Alex Ferrari 21:36
Yeah, no, is there? Is there a big Can you explain to the audience a little bit how important name talent is, especially in foreign regions, and to the success of your movie, depending on what your goals are with the movie, a lot of people just want to make art, and they want to make, you know, beautiful feature film, and it might get picked up from Sundance and might get this or that. But if you're looking at it as a business standpoint, can you explain how important you are to name talent? And what is exactly named talent?

Ben Yennie 22:07
Okay. Yeah, that's a really good question. There are a couple of things that I want to address on them. If you're making feature film, as art, because you just love movies and you want to make in Generally, the people who say this, I'm stereotyping a little bit, but it only people who say they want to make feature films or make dramas.

Alex Ferrari 22:29
Yeah, not a lot. Not a lot of genre action film guys that,

Ben Yennie 22:33
no, not really. But the. But if you want to do that, you can go ahead and do that. But don't bother calling a guy like me. The way you can make a sustainable living doing that, is you make the best possible movies you can for the least amount of money you can and you get really freakin good and social media. And you become your own source of income and you develop your own following Yep, direct to consumer through social media. That's how you monetize that. And that's how you be. That's how you get to stay in artists and keep your artistic integrity and make what you want to make is by being able to be your own marketing department. Basically, until you get enough of the following that then studios like hey, you have the big following let's let's let's make something and that's how they do it. But um so that's basically how that model works. Now, generally, if you want to make it into a business, what you're going to need is some recognizable face. It doesn't they don't necessarily need to cost that much. I'm often surprised how little they cost. I know this. If you do your if you do the if you do the research and find the right ones. But basically, name talent would be anyone who's got a at least a recognizable face. Ideally, a recognizable name. Who can actually reach out and who's, who's brand will help, will help. Audiences actually recognize your film. Like if they see his face, they'll be like, Oh, I know that guy. I like that guy. I'm gonna go see that movie. Basically, why you need name talent. Um, and there are entire films that exist that were sold solely on the merits of their name talent.

Alex Ferrari 24:39
Majority of them are The Expendables. Of course.

Ben Yennie 24:43
Of course not. Yeah. But yeah, they're, it's, it's an old model. And that's, that's one of the more sustainable ways to make sure you get a distribution deal. There are a lot of them that you can get that are again surprisingly affordable and surprisingly willing to take your Film and I'm forgetting his name there's one who has done this so much and made his brand basically doing anything and he'll do anything that was that.

Alex Ferrari 25:10
Would that be Eric Roberts? Yes That would be I know I know. I know.

Ben Yennie 25:15
So basically don't hire Eric Roberts ever Roberts actually does more to hurt you and help you

Alex Ferrari 25:21
I'm gonna be I'll be honest with you I've worked on for Eric Robert movies in the last year and a half and then I'm not kidding you. I'm not joking. I'm not joking. And then the producer The Director Producer came up to me He's like, I can't sell this movie because I have Eric Roberts in it all the distributors are saying I've got five other Eric Roberts movies this does nothing for me. And I felt so bad and I'm like yeah cuz Eric Robert didn't care He's like, I'll just show up and happens with it. There's, there's there's that list of guys that will just show up. Yeah, there's a handful of them. And got you know that everyone's got a mortgage. You know, everyone got it, you know, and I've talked to a couple of these guys. And I go, you know, what's, you know, what's, why do you do these kind of movies, he goes, he goes, I know, they don't, they're not particularly good. But I've got alimony, I've got a mortgage, I've got to pay my bills. I've heard that straight up from you know, some of these guys. And they're like, Look, man, I just I'd like to, and some of them, like, I just like to work man. And I don't want to wait around a year to to like find the perfect script. I'm like, I just like to go out and work and being on set. And you know, just doing what I do. And if I can get paid something, I'll do it. But some of these guys I found, like you were saying surprisingly affordable. And this is for all the filmmakers out there. You know, and I'm not going to name names because I'm not going to do that. But some of these guys you can hire for five grand for the day. You know, they'll show up and you can knock out three scenes in a 12 hour day. You know, three grand, five grand even for the bigger names 10 grand for two or three days. Well, that's all you need. Yeah, for a certain movie time, like he comes in. And

Ben Yennie 26:59
since we're talking to filmmakers, I think both of us realize that 10 grand is not nothing

Alex Ferrari 27:04
but but in the grand scope of things to get a major star major phase or star that gives you some sort of Mark ability to get out there. Like you said, it's like, oh, I've seen that movie. Do you know how many times I've watched a movie because there's an actor in it that I've known and liked his former work and he's might have never he might have never or director for that matter. And he might have never hit that stride that he hit in those movies that I loved. But they were so big. Like you know, I'll watch you know, I'll watch a Will Smith movie because Will Smith's in it, you know, because I love Will Smith. And then after Earth came out. And everyone said I

Ben Yennie 27:36
Know and I was I was gonna ask her about that. Like everyone

Alex Ferrari 27:39
Everyone was like, oh god, this is Oh, oh, this is horrible. So and then, and then that kind of hurts his brand a bit. And then people will forgive it some Tom Cruise for God's sakes. I mean, Tom Cruise was the biggest one of the biggest movie stars in the world. And then he did a few movies. They're just like, yeah, and the people aren't going on

Ben Yennie 27:57
cruises. For all I don't think was necessary. The Tom Cruise did a couple bad moves. Well, he didn't call

Alex Ferrari 28:03
Tom Cruise. Tom.

Ben Yennie 28:04
I think that was the issue and now he's recovered the

Alex Ferrari 28:07
Tom Cruise Line Tom Cruise, like like, like Chris Rock said in a famous joke about Oh God, the two guys that do the tiger show in Vegas. Sigmund Freud and people were like oh, that Tiger went crazy because now the tiger didn't go crazy the tiger went tiger. So and the same thing with Tom Cruise Tom Cruise they go crazy Tom Cruise is just Tom Cruise he's been that by way all his life they've just had a bunch of people holding them back and then when he got he they'd let him go boom that happened. But he has recovered and the saddest thing about them that we're now getting on a tangent about Tom Cruise but the saddest thing about Tom is he's an amazing actor. He is a wonderful wonderful as as he is he is a movie star he is one of those guys there's a handful of them out there but that he hasn't won an Oscar is fascinating to me you know like seriously

Ben Yennie 28:55
had done anything recently sanely good since like

Alex Ferrari 29:00
Rain Man and Born on the Fourth of July but yeah but still like he's he's yeah good but anyway so like I was saying to like the filmmakers out there you know five or 10 gram maybe sound like oh my god I'm so not there but like, but if you're doing $100,000 movie or $150,000 movie and you spent fine the

Ben Yennie 29:17
five to 10 grand higher base your sale price. Like if you like it's I'll be honest a lot of times unless you've got even if you've got really high production values it doesn't matter in a in the right genre which is which I don't know if everybody knows the genre is actually really important for international sales.

Alex Ferrari 29:42
Action horror, action horror, right?

Ben Yennie 29:45
But the Yeah, action horror thriller family right now. Oh, yeah, family. One of the things is not like the eighth as well. So those are the big ones but um, The but yeah i mean if you don't even if you do have a hot piece in one of those genres, you need named talent and it will pay off immensely when you actually start seeing returns from your distributor it'll also make it a lot easier for you to get a as a distributor and they'll probably give you a better deal so in addition to actually making more money like from the international sales and having a higher buying price, so you get more money that way you also probably get a better deal with the distributor because they're going they know there's less risk so instead of charging you 35% they're more likely to charge you 25 to 30% and so that additional 5% goes it does make a difference it's business

Alex Ferrari 30:47
this is show business for a reason exactly it's show business for a reason but I can't fat I mean I like I said I've delivered over 50 movies and you'd be surprised that you know action movies with high production value or something like that and I'm like there's no stars in it guys you're not it's gonna be rough for you. And they asked me because they know I've done a lot of stuff I'm like guys, I'm just telling you and I tell you what one movie I did that they shot the whole movie shot it on read it was kind of like a cipher. And when I say kind of like a psychological thriller with some sci fi elements in it takes place here and everything but some side kind of some some sci fi elements in it look beautiful, what's nice, great, no stars. He went out, I got I finished the movie. He went out, talk to all the distributors. Everyone said no. He went back hired Tom Sizemore for a day and he hired and I forgive me, but it's the black guy from Stargate. It's a face that you would remember from the, from the TV show, the TV actor, and they hired him for for a couple days. They replaced a few scenes, went back out sold the movie. Yeah, that's he was like, I'm never gonna make a dime without this. And that and there you go. So it was it was a it was a perfect example of how it works, how it really really works. Yeah. So let me ask you to

Ben Yennie 32:05
Go ahead.

Alex Ferrari 32:06
No, no, no, I was gonna ask you. The big question is and I've never been to AFM. Can you explain to the audience what is AFM or the American Film market and how important it is and what you know, what's the, what is it?

Ben Yennie 32:19
Well, I'll give you as candid answer as I can in five minutes, the Chevy or less the, the big thing is that it's it's quite a lot of things for quite a lot of different people. Um, AFM is the is America's only film market. And a film market is very different than a film festival, a film festival is very much about celebrating the art of films in some of the bigger film festivals, like Sundance like TIFF, sometimes films will be picked up for distribution there. But that's more the exception than the rule. Whereas a film markets is very much about a sales agent selling films to buyers. And maybe sometimes towards the end of the market sales agents buying films from filmmakers. But some, but not all filmmakers, sales agents will actually meet with filmmakers in the market, some of them will just some of them only sell at the market. And obviously those often tend to be the sales agents you want because they tend to make bigger sales and sell more territories. So but that's not always true. Sometimes the sales agents that open up at the end acts are able to open up because they've sold all their products and now they need new product. Right so that happens sometimes. But um the but it's much better if you can get your place your film place three to four weeks before the market, because then the sales agent has the ability to sell it for while they're at the market. And you get a return quicker. Basically, the entire international sales game revolves around about eight markets that happen on a yearly basis. What are the What happened?

Alex Ferrari 34:09
What are those eight markets

Ben Yennie 34:11
I'm on I the big ones would be AFM, the European film market, the world content market, which is right after the European film market. Then there's MIPCOM which is more TV based. Then there's Khan which is which is only about two weeks after MIPCOM in the same damn place. Then there's pretty much a break and then there's also MIP TV somewhere in there. AFM and I'm forgetting one, but um, yeah, that's basically all of them. There also and then also some of the festivals have gotten to the point that they've essentially become de facto markets.

Alex Ferrari 34:55
On dance to buy

Ben Yennie 34:59
again, They're late Sundance and TIFF are really the only two that are at all local cons. Khan itself also has the merge to film, which is actually the world's biggest film market. Honestly it kind of makes a little bad given I wrote a book on AFM guys an AFM and I know all the guys over there cons is a bit bigger. But yeah, all right.

Alex Ferrari 35:24
Now do you suggest do you suggest filmmakers go to AFM here in LA without a film just to kind of see how things go in the process that happens.

Ben Yennie 35:38
I a year ago I definitely or a year and a half ago, I definitely would have. Um but I have some knowledge that I don't know all if all of its public or all of its actually happening. I can say it comes from a very high source. But last year they last year they closed the pool to the filmmakers. So the only place you could get in are to anyone not holding a badge. So just as an idea. The the AFM takes place at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica. It also spills over into the the Marigot, which is another hotel that's right next door. The Loews hotel has eight floors. And basically there are two floors below that are more lower level new distributors often exploitation films. The main floor and sorry, there are eight floors. The bottom floor is just an entrance exit and like staff stuff, but then the, to the second third floor or what's good known as the dungeon, which are kind of the exploitation new film new distributors and the cheap offices. They're also actual filmmaker offices that are being put in there now. At least as of last year, you can get a producer's office where you'd be sharing the office with another group of producers. And it was something like $1,000 or maybe 1500. I don't remember offhand, okay. But you could get but with your producers office, you would also get three badges for the entire market that included access to all of the seminars and everything there. So it's actually a really good deal if you're going with three people. Yeah. It sounds great. But yeah, but um, the, I don't know if they're doing yet this year or not. But that was one thing they did. It sounds like, I think it's just

Alex Ferrari 37:42
No, no, it sounds like almost like a Bruce Lee Game of Death kind of thing on on floor one and two is floor two, and three is this and then three. So what happens on four or five, six and eight? What how many different villains Do we have to defeat to get to the next level

Ben Yennie 38:00
four, four is the main lobby. And there's also some distributor offices off in the corner. And then also, the main lobby extends into floor five. And they're like film Commission's and varieties generally they're selling subscriptions as as The Hollywood Reporter, and basically other sorts of things that are trying to attract filmmakers. So like, film conditions, services, things like that are all on the second floor because they don't allow booths on the first floor. And then, so those are the and then again, they're also offices off to the side. But it used to be until last year, that right off the fourth floor, you could walk out and there's this beautiful pool area with an amazing view of beach. And you and like lots of tables face and stuff like that. But this year, they closed it to only air last year, they closed it only badge holders, which given that they gave me a free badge last year I was kind of happy with because I always had a place for meeting. But the but it makes it but it means that the lobby gets pretty crowded pretty quickly. Because they've basically they've more than have the space that used to house all of the AFM for the people who didn't have badges. So in the past, I've recommended going for the entire market and just or just even showing up if you're in LA, even if you don't have the back edge. But it's the value of that is becoming less and less,

Alex Ferrari 39:36
but you do so would you suggest that they actually get a badge and go and see what it's all about?

Ben Yennie 39:42
That I would suggest Yes. What I would do if you're a filmmaker and not as a distributor or buyer or anything of the sort. Even if you don't have a completed film I would get the last three day badge. It's I think it's just called the industry badge or maybe if you want the seminar with the industry, plus Because their seminars are these seminars are actually really good speaking to somebody who organizes seminars, but they are. They they are really good and it's worth it is worth doing that you have the money, but it is about $150 more. Got it. But the but the maybe only $100 a month, but the industry bad gives you access to all sorts of markets for the last three days with markets, which would be Sunday, Monday, Tuesday. And it is. And it's only three, it's only $295. Which is really a steal for something like this on education. It is I learned more my first AFM where that's the only badge I got that I did in my entire four years of film school.

Alex Ferrari 40:54
Yeah, I can imagine I was also there. I showed

Ben Yennie 40:57
up early on because this is when you could just hang out in the lobby. But I don't even know if that's gonna be possible this year. Rumors are asking or rumors are floating, interesting. But the the big thing is just that it is worth going to see how it goes. You'll be intimidated when you go. But it's worth going because this is something you need to understand as a filmmaker, especially if you're a producer. Also, if you're a director or even an actor, you need to understand what happens in the independent film world and how films get sold. And I mean, I've heard a lot of other stories, and sometimes it can get a little depressing because you basically see this guy in a hotel room. Yeah, you may go see this guy, this guy in a polyester suit walking down looking at different catalogs for to buy for his VOD catalog for his chain of hotels in Kazakhstan. I mean, is what if that happens there? So you kind of need to be aware of that. But

Alex Ferrari 42:07
yeah, I had a friend. I had a friend of mine who won, who won a very large festival and the best, like one of the best deals they got after winning these big festivals was the airline license like to sell it to the airlines. And they and they were like that was the deals are still actually pretty strong. Yeah, they're like they make good money off it's like when I was the biggest deal we made off this you like you think airline rights but Yep, airline rights. So um, it's what I try to do with any film hustle also is just try to kind of let people know about how to make a living doing what you love and and knowing the business is a big part of that.

Ben Yennie 42:49
So it really is and you can't make a living doing what you love without actually knowing how to make money doing it. And this is where the money comes in, at least for now. I mean, it's gonna be interesting to see in the next couple of years.

Alex Ferrari 43:05
Now I was I was actually at the Toronto Film Festival a few years back and I was there working with a producer that was interested in some of my projects, and I was taken into the hotel and it was very similar to what you're explaining in AFM that there were like you know, there was a floor not nearly as obviously as organized or as big as AFM is. But I was told then and this is going back probably about five or six years like that Toronto is kind of turned into a mini market kind of like there because there are hotel rooms for that. Yeah, unlike Sundance Sundance there's nothing like that that goes on like Sundance is too small like there's no hotel rooms there's no

Ben Yennie 43:43
Sundance is also Sundance is Sundance is basically a spring break for young entertainment executives

Alex Ferrari 43:50
at this point it is it is I've been there that's

Ben Yennie 43:53
what I've been hearing I haven't been so maybe I shouldn't be talking about it but I have heard that from like three or four different people now have you

Alex Ferrari 44:00
been you've never you've never been to Sundance I know oh my god I've been there I've been there about three times and it is yeah if you're if the one thing was cool about Sundance is when I went I wasn't living here in Los Angeles at the time so it was my access to meetings and things like that because in the end that four or five block radius you've got the town you've got a tremendous amount of influencers that are sitting there drinking coffee things like that you can make money so I always tell people is like it's kind of like Disneyland but instead of the characters walking around you see actors like you know and like you could walk around and at the time you like you get all like you know star gaze where you can you take a picture you can take up all that kind of studio craziness when you're when you're young but but it was a lot it's a lot of fun and there's no other kind of festival like when I went to Toronto Toronto is like this. Just spread out like super spread out kind of festival, but wonderful as well. Anyway So I wanted to ask you a few more questions. What do you think of the new self distribution model versus the traditional, traditional model,

Ben Yennie 45:14
new self distribution model is I have very mixed feelings about it. I think that it's possible to make quite a lot of money during the very least enough to sustain yourself and sustain your world as a filmmaker, if not actually make a decent living. The big problem is that you've basically got to become, on your own personnel, you got to have a very, very keen understanding of branding. Because your art in yourself have to become a brand that you do through social media, if you're going to do it successfully. And all the trappings of managing a brand come along with it. Interesting. And if you went to film, school, and not Business School, these are things a lot of times things you are not necessarily the best understand. So it's not you don't assume you need to have an understanding of everything that goes along with managing a multimillion dollar corporate brand now, but you need to know what you're saying. And you need to have a strong identity in you need to be able to have a brand that at least your core audience strongly identifies with. It enables you to find your end you need to also. So aside from all the branding stuff, really, if you're going to find success in the new self distribution model, you need to stop thinking of yourself as a filmmaker, and you need to start thinking of yourself as a community leader. Also, it doesn't necessarily need to be in your filmmaking community, because honestly, you filmmakers aren't really going to buy your film, because they have no money and they need to sell their own

Alex Ferrari 47:16

Ben Yennie 47:18
But you need to sell you need to become a community leader, or at least a very strong presence in whatever community, your film takes place in. Generally, it's much better to do some sort of well established niche. I've heard of people doing well, in the running niche. I've heard of people doing well, in the In any event, I mean, like the ones that popped ahead to my head, because I'm San Francisco would be like the golf, counter, golf, punk counterculture, knishes, those sorts of things. They're really hungry for good content. LGBT, or particularly queer markets are really hungry for good content, because there's almost no good queer media as separate from LGBT media, because that is actually a different thing. I don't know that. But it is. So it's kind of a. So there's a lot of places like that, that if you really want to make those sorts of movies, even before you start making the movies, you need to become a part of that community. By the time you're actually releasing your movie, you need to have become a leader in that community. Does that make any sense? I mean, otherwise, you don't have a customer base?

Alex Ferrari 48:41
Well, that's the thing. That's a lot. A lot of people when they when they're crowdfunding, they're just like, I'm just gonna put up on Kickstarter. And I'm like, No, you can't just throw it up on Kickstarter, or Indiegogo or seed, spark or any of these guys, you've got to have somebody who's interested in what you're selling. It's like you have to go where as this old old term is, you got to go where the people are. So whatever you're selling, if it's, you know, if you if you're selling a vegan character, who you know, eats vegan is a vegan chef. Well, you know, maybe you should hang out in some vegan Facebook groups, you know, and start building up that, that world, definitely, you know, things like

Ben Yennie 49:16
the vegan world, and also that feeds really well into the Bohemian vegetarian and artists worlds. Right, exactly. So there's an environmentalist to know you can read a lot of crossover from your core demo, but first establish yourself in the core demo. And then from that core demo, you need to thought Actually, this was in a seminar that Maya Zuckerman did on for producer foundry. That's actually available on our website. Pitch now, anyway, but she said that, basically, your community are your early adopters. You're the your diehard fans, those are the people that will actually shell out to buy the movie. before it comes out they're the people who will be in your Kickstarter being all of that and then the next set I forget exactly what she said but the next set is your customer base. And that is your and that's more the rest of that larger community not specifically your community. So basically you need to figure out what your movies about or what you want to tell a story about and find people who identify with it and then actually get in there and it's really just as much work to break through if not more than it was to break through the Hollywood hierarchy and the rewards are in some ways much greater in some ways much smaller because there is something about actually engaging with your fan base and you can't in again coming back to that if you want to do this you can't just be like I want to make movie you should bomb a movie right? Oh don't beg you need to actually engage and become interested in your community and become an actual real part of it. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 51:08
that's what that's what I'm doing with indie film hustle I'm building up my community and giving them content like this to kind of help them make their movies and so on and so forth. And it's just being interested in the community just that like begging to like buy my movie you know like if you if you want a bag just go to your friends and family you don't need to set up a Kickstarter just have them directly give you cash to try to make your movie but you know like why give Kickstarter any percentage at that point that's that's the only people who are gonna give you money anyway. But I think it's just kind of like you know, and that's one of the big things I try to teach as well as learning how to market learning how to sell your brand create a brand whether that brand is you or a company because you can brand a company that does certain amount of films like trauma or those kinds of things, but you have to do that you know you have to do that if you're going to try to do this on your own without question though

Ben Yennie 52:01
and the other thing I think you shouldn't be looking for and I think this is where the markets really heading is that it's basically going to come down to tastemakers just as it did before when did they call in name yeah the guy and that yeah guys with huge followings with huge blogs that can recommend their friends and recommend their other content that means their demographic so PR is going to be a huge it's going to be easier because there are quite a lot of well followed like horror blogs or action or all these different sorts of blogs that you can get to review your movie surprisingly easily really um but that's kind of that's really where it is and so yeah, I think that covers everything

Alex Ferrari 52:55
i was i was i was doing that I was doing that with my film 11 years ago I hit every film blog every every URL and I was able to generate a lot of sales through my DVD that I was selling directly to the customer by doing that and we were covered by 250 websites you know reviews all that kind of stuff Yeah, it was a it was a huge deal back then. And I was selling a DVD directly to the to the consumer and I did fairly well it was a short film on top of that and I did very well but again that back it might be I might have done that 10 years ago but that still works very well today that same concept it does

Ben Yennie 53:33
it's just it's easier to do now much more such methods of delivery.

Alex Ferrari 53:38
Absolutely. And there was via and there's the viral aspect of things to where you put something in it just keeps going and going and going where before it was much more difficult to make things the concept of something going viral was you know i mean 10 years ago what YouTube had just got started you know my space was what might look like a lot of sales out of my space but you know Facebook I remember Hey, you know what I love but it was a look you know what, what what No, I

Ben Yennie 54:11
think you may have been the only person to ever make money on my face.

Alex Ferrari 54:15
I got a lot of sales off my space because I hit those democrat those groups, those people that were interested in what I was selling, but I remember when Facebook was just for college I remember literally go into a room of an office like Oh, what's this? I'm like, this this thing just for college kids. It's called Facebook. I'm like, Ah, I'm old. I'm old. So yeah, let me ask you one last question, then. We'll find out a couple more questions. The process of finding investors for a film nowadays obviously crowdfunding is all the rage but we've just discussed what you really need to do to make, you know to actually get money from crowdfunding, how would you go go about trying to find investors for a film for like a you know filmmaker trying to look for ambassadors and where do you find them? and so on? I know that's a big question, just try to turn to

Ben Yennie 55:04
look for investors. I'm get so often I get asked this question,

Alex Ferrari 55:09
I'm sure we're gonna get money, where can I get my

Ben Yennie 55:15
money where you have to go? The real answer is actually just to go to places where investors are. And the answer to where investors are very much depends on where you live. Like I live in San Francisco, qualified investors are everywhere. Every I have met qualified investors who are now very close friends singing karaoke, and debars. Of course, it happens. And then one day, he picked me up in his Ferrari to show me his Lamborghini and his other Ferrari, of course, so that was, so that was just basically it. But the end. So anyway, there are better places to go. The big issue to networking with investors is

the big trick to networking investors, and not really that much of a trick is to just treat them like people, and actually try to establish a relationship with them. Depending on where you meet them, try to talk talk to them in the, if you're meeting them at an investor networking event, it is more appropriate for you to try to pitch something to them. However, don't start with the pitch just to actually talk to them before you do just get to know a little bit about them. What they do all that sort of stuff first, and wait for them to ask you to pitch.

Alex Ferrari 56:47
They're, they're human beings not bank accounts.

Ben Yennie 56:51
Exactly. Yeah. They're human beings, not ATMs don't treat them like an ATM, because that's a great way to piss them off and make sure they never call you. So basically. And also, it's actually really similar dating.

Alex Ferrari 57:09
It's gonna say, it is yeah,

Ben Yennie 57:13
it's a little shocking how similar it is. And I've heard some people who have raised literally hundreds of millions of dollars for different companies, and different nonprofits, and including some schools here in California. Like huge amounts, just just ungodly sums of money. And he's basically like, Yeah, no, it's really like dating. You just have to kind of like, you don't give it up on the first day. You don't give it up on the second date. Maybe the third, probably the fourth

Alex Ferrari 57:43
wrong. And you don't ask for it. When you

Ben Yennie 57:47
ask for it either. Yeah, ask for a check. No, that's a great way to get slapped. Right.

Alex Ferrari 57:52
And a lot of people, especially, especially us filmmakers, who are desperate bunch, and I put myself in that category, you know, like, I've met a lot of investors. And when I was younger, it was just like, Hi, how are you doing? Here's my movie, here's this, I need. That desperation, it gets you, you get turned off, like right away. So you have to kind of be much more subtle about it and much more.

Ben Yennie 58:13
The last thing you want to do, yeah, the last thing you want to do is sound desperate, is people will automatically assume you're going to fail if you're desperate.

Alex Ferrari 58:23
That's a good that's a good point. It's very, very good point. Yeah. So um, let me let me This is a question that I asked all of my guests. It's a very tough question. So prepare yourself. What are your top three favorite films of all time?

Ben Yennie 58:41
Can I add a qualifier on that? Of course, I'm going because actually this is a question I ask when I'm trying to pick women up in bars. The biggest difference is I say what are your top three favorite films of all time? As it stands, right this second now? Correct? Because I know these mind change

Alex Ferrari 59:03
daily. Of course, of course. So

Ben Yennie 59:07
um, anyway. I would have to go with in no particular order. Gatica Oh wow.

Alex Ferrari 59:21
Okay, yeah, I haven't heard that one on the list before. Good flick.

Ben Yennie 59:25
Thank you for smoking. And the shining

Alex Ferrari 59:35
the shiny is one of my favorites I'm assuming I'm assuming you saw room 237

Ben Yennie 59:41
Actually, I didn't Oh, you've got to watch them

Alex Ferrari 59:46
it's like it just blows it blow

Ben Yennie 59:47
your documentary on the making of the shining Yeah, yeah, it's

Alex Ferrari 59:49
a blow your mind Yes. Yeah. Okay. No,

Ben Yennie 59:52
actually I did see that okay. I got it confused with like room at the end of the hall.

Alex Ferrari 59:56
Oh, no, no, but yeah, the documentary Yeah, on It. Isn't that crazy that documentary.

Ben Yennie 1:00:02
Yeah, yeah. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:00:06
I'm a big Kubrick fan. So the shining is definitely up there on my list. My huge YouTube grants out. So I'm Ben, where can people find you and what you do, and I know you have a book out. So where can people find out? Yeah,

Ben Yennie 1:00:18
actually my book is, it is used as a text and 10 film schools available at Barnes and Noble on Amazon, as well as about 100 different independent bookstores. I definitely don't have time to list any of them. But what's the name of the book? The guerrilla rap American film market distribution, success on no budget, it was actually also the first book on film markets. Oh, wow. Cool. But yeah, there is one other one right now, but I took a lot of their market share before they can publish.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:53
And hence that's another lesson that's another lesson in the in the film world you got to get to market first.

Ben Yennie 1:01:00
Yes. But the so then you can also find me at the gorilla rep calm if you're looking for representation services, or you can find everything else I do. At Producer foundry.com. And you do

Alex Ferrari 1:01:17
you do podcasts as well as, yeah.

Ben Yennie 1:01:21
We do podcasts as well as blogs and we also do in person meetups, sometimes we streaming on Periscope. And we also do them on earn. We also do like full workshops that we do for a very reasonable price. I believe the average price for our workshops right now is only 20 bucks. We have worked up yeah, that's Yeah, I know. Right? At 20 bucks. I

Alex Ferrari 1:01:47
might show up

Ben Yennie 1:01:49
for 20 but they're sorry, they're 20 bucks for the replay. video, which you get to keep forever? That's why. Yeah, the they we have one on from we have one from somebody was to work with Tim Allen and Woody air sorry, Tim Burton and Woody Allen teaching budgeting because she did their budgets before that a transmedia one, then one from somebody who's helped raise more than $3 billion on pitching. And then there's also one that I did a couple weeks ago that's available for pre order because we haven't caught it yet. Um, that's on AFM. Oh, very so yeah.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:29
And when is it when is AFM? It's I know it's coming. November 4 through through 11th. Okay, so it's coming up in a little bit this year?

Ben Yennie 1:02:36
Yeah, it's generally the first to second Wednesday and in November, there have been a couple times where it's been like due to the timing of it. There have been a couple of times where the first day has been Halloween, but most of it's generally the first is second Wednesday in November.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:53
Very cool. So well, Ben, thank you so so much for taking the time out to to speak to my audience. I really, really appreciate it. I hope you had a good time.

Ben Yennie 1:03:00
I'd actually love to have you on film inside at some point.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:02
Absolutely. My friend. I'm available anytime. Thanks again, my friend. Thanks for Ben for taking the time out to talk to us. I learned a ton about the American Film market, I plan to be going to 2015 American film market and checking that out and reporting back to you guys about my experiences there. So I'm going to put all of Ben's information, links to his books his he has some video courses as well on distribution, put them all in the show notes. Ben's a good guy. So definitely check out what he's got to say he's got a lot of great, great information. So don't forget to head on over to free film book calm that's free film book calm. So you can download your free audible.com audio book, we get over 40,000 different audio books you can download from so head on over there as soon as you can. And also please don't forget to head over to indie film, hustle calm for slash iTunes. And leave us an honest review about the show. Any review that you guys leave us help us out a ton on iTunes. So it'd be really, really helpful for us. Thank you guys again, so much for all the support, all the love. I'm gonna keep putting out this great content for you guys. If you want anything that I'm not covering, send me messages, send me emails, send me Facebook, and I'll start trying to give you guys as much as much as I can. I'm doing as much as I can. And I'm gonna keep doing, providing you with great content so you guys can survive and thrive. And this film business so don't give up the hustle. Keep pushing forward. Don't give up on the dream. Okay, no matter how hard this business cracks you over the head. Got to keep moving forward. I'll talk to you guys next time.


IFH 012: How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Business

So many independent film creators just want to think of themselves as artists. That’s perfectly fine but it’s called show business for a reason. If you don’t understand the business you won’t be able to create the show. Filmmakers need to think more like a filmpreneur if you will. Put the business back into show business.

If Coca-Cola comes out with a new flavor do they do market research? Do they create a marketing plan to introduce the new product? You bet your butt they do.

Now when indie filmmakers or filmpreneurs create a new independent film or “product” most of the time they just throw there finished baby into the marketplace and hope for the best.

This is NUTZ! All that time, hard work, money, pain, blood, sweat, and tears that go into creating an independent film is for nothing. Do they just hope for the best? It’s insanity.

In this episode, I share with you what it takes to change your mindset and start thinking of your independent film not just as a precious piece of art but to also think of it as a product that needs to do well in the marketplace in order for you, as the filmmaker, to continue putting on that show!

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
So this week's I want to talk about something that's kind of been dear to my heart for a long time. It's one of the core pillars of what indie film hustle is about. indie film hustle is about giving you guys the tools to survive and thrive in the film business. One of the big misconceptions about making a movie is that it's only art. And there's a reason why it's called show business. It's it's a business to and there's a reason why there's double the letters in the word business than there is show because it's twice as important as the show. Because without the business, there is no show without the show, there is no business. But the business side of it is what allows us to continue the show to go on and continue to make more shows, and so on and so forth. So I want you guys to change your mindset a little bit and start thinking about film, and your projects as product. And that's a very, very key point to make. Because you have to think about your film as product, how you can monetize it, how you can sell it, how you can continue to make a living, doing what you love. First step is create an understand that your film is your product, when Coca Cola is going to release a new flavor, they don't just throw it out in the marketplace and wish for the best. That's what most filmmakers do, they raise the money, they put the money out of their pocket, they put it on credit cards, they have no idea where the movies gonna go, how it's going to be sold, what's going to be sold, how where if it's going to be sold overseas, if it's going to be sold online, if it's going to be sold to a distributor, if it's going to get into a film festival, if it's not, if it who's going to be I don't even know who their audience is, most of the time, they just make the movie because it's like I gotta make my movie. And that's great. And you need that energy to be able to make your movie, but you need to know how to sell that movie, you need to know how to be able to make a living doing this. So by thinking of your film as a product, like Coca Cola would do with a new product line, they do market research. So when you have an idea for a movie, or you have a script that you're thinking about making into a movie, do product research, call, talk to talk to your friends, talk to people on Facebook, on Twitter, on message boards, just go to where the topic of your movie is about and figure out if this is a movie that's going to be even sold. If people are even interested in watching this or even buying this. So you have to do some market research on your product before you release it. This is product release 101. Once you find out if the product is a viable product, then you have to go and find where your audience is. So then go and find what the audience is. So like if you're making a movie about a romantic comedy about vegan chef, and he happens to be a main character the whole thing's not about being a vegan chef, but he's the main character in it. Let's say he or she is a main character in it. And now your audience is not only for ROM coms, but if you're smart, you can go after the vegan movement, the vegetarian movement, the the organic movement, the gourmet food movement, the chef, the chef, crowd, the foodie crowd, there's so many other avenues of places and customers that you can look for for your film. Now I'm talking about this in the assumption that you're going to try to sell your own film, if you're going to try to sell to a distributor or things like that, this is also very important, but I'm coming, I'm coming at it from you. Because if you honestly if you if you're going to go sell to a distributor, and you don't know if this is going to be a viable product, more likely it's not. So I've had a lot of films that I've worked on, that never didn't have a star in it, and they just kind of put it out there. And the distributors like Well, there's this is not a viable product that can't sell it, it's not an genre, it's not this, it's not that it's a drama, with no stars in it has very few awards, it really doesn't matter even if you want Sundance, that you're not gonna be able to sell this. So I'm coming at it from a point of view of you're going to sell your own product. So you go to where the audience is, and you start marketing to the audience about what your product is. So if you're making a movie, I would get an I would start marketing the movie, in the pre production stages, start getting people excited about it, start putting out a poster, putting out obviously the website's most important part. And on the side note, guys, I'm going to, I'm going to come out with a lot more information about this, I'm kind of just going over it right now. But I'm going to be coming out with a lot more information about how to market your film, how to create a brand about your film and things like that. And I'm actually thinking about creating a course, specifically about an online course where people can, I can, you know, show people how to create a brand, how to sell it, how to product, launch your film, how to gain social, social media, following how to build that audience, how to sell to that audience, how to package your film, how to package your brand, and so on. So if you guys are interested in that, please give me a shout out, I'm going to do some market research right now I'm doing this on the fly, hit me up on my email or my Twitter or my facebook or my Instagram or wherever, and hit me back and say, Hey, I would love to, to buy that product. And I would really be interested in that product. I'm thinking about putting it together, it's something that some people talk to me about and say, you really should put something like this together, I'm still thinking about it. So because it's such a it's gonna be a tremendous amount of work, anything I do, I'm gonna do 110% video, audio worksheets, workbook ebooks, the whole ball of wax. So um, let me know if you guys are interested in that. So on this, I was just on a side note, sorry, sorry to go on a tangent there. But so create your find out what your audience is go market to that audience, then start building up hype about the production while you produce a while you're shooting it while you're in post, and then start talking about the product launch, which will be if you're self distributing it, I would stay away from doing a DVD or Blu ray alone. But if you're going to self distribute it through VHS or gumroad, or Vimeo pro or any of these places, start hyping it start hyping up the release date and all that stuff, and then start looking about how to package that movie because the movie itself, in many ways is just advertising for a larger product line. Let's all take a note from George Lucas. Star Wars made money. But where he really made money was his his other ancillary products, whether that be the lunch boxes, and so on. I'm not saying that you guys got to make lunch boxes for your independent film. But if you create enough hype around it, depending on what the kind of what kind of movie it is, what kind of genre it is, who's the stars in it, if there are any stars in it. You can create t shirts, hats, and package them all together to make your let's say a normal $10 sale turned into $100 sale because someone was really excited about who's in your movie, what your movies about. If they've been invested through this entire process. They will they will pony up 100 bucks. A lot of movies have been doing this product, this kind of marketing plan and it's worked great because instead of having 10 people buy 10 movies, you need one person to buy one package, t shirts, hats behind the scenes, how tos, soundtracks, autograph posters, all sorts of different things to give your audience what they want because they want to do they want to buy this. So that is one way of going about treating your movie like a product. I'll give you more tips coming up in further shows but I really just wanted to kind of go over and start the conversation about treating your film like a product and a lot of people don't talk about it like this. It's also an artistic You know, this is an artistic medium. But you know what the people who survive in this business and I keep saying business because it is a business. People who survive being a filmmaker in this business all understand the business side of it. Every single big movie director that you ever admired. Under stood the business even the most art house directors under stood the business Woody Allen has been making his movies for the last 30 years now 40 years, he keeps them under a certain budget, he attracts very, very amazing cast. And he does his movies the way he wants to do them. But he understands that the business is that I mean, he couldn't make a movie for $100 million, or Woody Allen movie cannot be budgeted $100 million, it'd be very difficult to make that money back. But at a $5 million movie, he could. And he did that over time. He built that up over time, he has a huge following of people who would just show up to a woody allen movie, because Woody Allen made it. And, and so a lot of other filmmakers as well, especially in the indie world, like Mark duplass, from the mumble core crew, and a lot of other filmmakers who keep their budgets low. And they just keep selling to their audience because the audience loves them. This happens, this is the same, this is the same thing that goes with indie rock bands, indie music, people that they just have a following. And that following pays them. And they love them. It's a wonderful exchange, I'll make art for you, you pay for my art, so I can continue to make art for you, and so on and so forth. This is the way it should be. So I hope this episode was helpful to you guys. I'm going to be doing more of these kind of episodes, kind of talking about certain topics that I feel passionate about, and hopefully give you guys great content by doing that. So please hit me up in the comments of the show notes. And let me know what you think. Also, let me know what you think about that idea about creating a product line based about how to market not only you film yourself as a filmmaker, maybe your company as a brand, all sorts of different avenues that I'm going to be going down in that course. But I want to see if you guys are even interested in me talking about it or doing the course so please hit me up. Thank you so much for all your support. Please don't forget to head over to the iTunes Store and give me an honest review. It really helps out the show a lot. Getting getting higher ranking and more people can actually enjoy the indie film hustle tribe, as you will so thanks again so much guys. Keep hustling. Keep making your movies. Don't forget, make your key Don't forget that your movie is your product that you need to sell to keep doing more movies. I'll see you guys next time. Thanks.


IFH 004: What’s a Producer’s Rep and Can They Help You?

A good producer’s rep is an advocate for your film. They can get you indoors that you wouldn’t be able to get into by yourself. They can be an amazing part of a marketing and distribution team for your independent film if you got into some of the major festivals.

Like in every part of the film business there are good and bad people. I was burned by a producer’s rep many years ago, early in my journey as an indie filmmaker and producer.

This producer’s rep, which will remain nameless, took me for over $10,000, the standard upfront free for the bottom dwellers of the profession, though it can range from $5000 – $15,000. She promised me and the director I was producing for that the HBO deal was all but a lock and that she could definitely sell it overseas.

The rep has since left the industry after being sued multiple times. Her actions have left a bad taste in many filmmakers mouths, including me but this should not sour you on producer’s rep.

I suggest you do a ton of research on the producer’s rep you plan to work with. Call other filmmakers that they have represented. Do your research. As I said before

“A good and respectable producer’s rep can do magic for you and your film.”

Good luck out there!

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
Today we're going to talk about producers reps, I've had different experiences with producer reps. So I'll give you a little bit example what a producer rep is. a producer's rep is basically an agent for your film. So let's say you're going to a film festival that's going to Sundance and you have a movie, a producer's rep would actually represent your movie to different bidders and things like that that would come across to you. So I have a film at Sundance, Harvey Weinstein wants it. A Paramount wants it, Disney wants it. Warner Brothers wants it and there become a bidding war. Well, your producers rep will act as the middleman, negotiating deals talking to you and basically being your agent. And it's a wonderful job, and they do a great job when you find a good one. Unfortunately, like agents, they're good ones, and they're bad ones. And then they're scum buckets. And I unfortunately had to deal with some scum buckets in my day. If an agent ever comes to you, this is not a producer's rep or an agent, an agent ever comes to you and says, I'll be your agent, but I need your retainer. I need you to pay me up front. You would say go to hell, that's not the way it works. And that would be illegal. Well, for a producer's Rep. most reputable producers reps, do not ask for any money up front. They do the work like an agent, and they get paid on commission. Many producers reps will ask for a retainer upfront. Whether they sell your movie or not, you lose your money. So let me tell you my story. I was a producer on a film a few years back a documentary. And I was approached by a producer's rep, apparently a well, a well respected one. I was still kind of wet behind the ears. And I had no idea what really what I was doing. She told me I sold I just sold this movie to to HBO had Mark Wahlberg in it, we got you know, $60,000 $100,000 and then I sold it overseas, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Well, fast forward to when she's like, Okay, well, I'll be more happy to represent your movie. I think I could do really great things with it. My retainers. 10,000. So I talked to the director of the film, and I decided because I wanted to be the producer and really wanted to give this movie the best shot I could. I paid the $10,000 and as a retainer fee. And needless to say, I did not get my money's worth. I lost money. I did get some money here and there. I think the deal that we did get the director actually finally got us I'm not sure. I don't remember exactly. But it was a couple grand if that. It wasn't anything big. So when I told her this, she was like, well, that's just the way it is, you know, we did our best. I'm like, well, that's great. But now I'm out eight grand or 10 grand. And you didn't do me you didn't you didn't do anything that you promised me do. And I was pretty much out of luck. So I lost that money. So I've been I've been actually approached by other filmmakers who saw that I dealt with this specific company on this specific person and asked me if what happened and I tell them the truth exactly what happens. So my advice to anybody in the in the in the indie film world, if you're going to get a film a producer's rep, make sure that they you do not pay a dime upfront. most reputable producers reps will not ask for money up front. If they believe in your movie truly, then it's it's you know, it's them worry about they will make their money back. So it's the ones that go well I'll just do it and you know, whatever. It he'll make a few phone calls. And if nothing comes up, nothing comes up and they got 10 Grand 15 Grand 20 grand in their pocket. And you as an indie filmmaker, that's a lot of frickin money. It still hurts even talking about losing that kind of money on a movie that I didn't even direct I was just a producer on it. Which was really, really frustrating. And to this day still bothers me. But you live and you learn its lessons that you you learn during the journey. So hopefully this podcast I can help you a little bit not to make this mistake. So please stay away from any producers rep that tells you I need money up front. They're generally scammers, or they don't believe in your movie and they're just going to take your money and just kind of throw things away and see what happens, throw some, some something at the wall and see what sticks. Now with that said, though, there are places for good producers reps. So if your movie is going to Sundance Toronto, Cannes or Tribeca, you need to put together a team, a PR person or company, your agent and possibly a high level producers Rep. They will put together there will be putting together a whole premiere for you. They're doing a lot of preparatory work. And this is where producers rep is invaluable. They can be trimmed out tremendously helpful. And if you have to pay a little bit upfront at that point, it's a different ballgame. You have a team around you. And you're not just dealing with a predatory producers rep who's just trying to steal your money. Because basically again, once they once they do take your money, they're just gonna shotgun it into a with a stack of 30 or 40 other movies that they're representing to Miramax or Lionsgate or any of these places, and your movie will be one of many movies on that pile. So buyer beware when dealing with producers reps, sometimes they're awesome. Sometimes they're just just there to take a suckers money. So I hope this helped you a little bit. It's a short episode this week, guys. As always, if you want to know the six secrets to getting into film festivals for free, I'll head over to film festival tips.com that's Film Festival tips calm. I'll show you how I got into over 500 film festivals, international film festivals for cheaper free over the course of a few years. And please if you love the show, please go to iTunes Subscribe, leave us a review and give us a five star rating You have no idea how much that helps us in the rankings of iTunes and helps more people get access to the show. So thanks again guys so much for your time. And as always keep on filming. Keep the hustle on and I'll see you guys next time.



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IFH 003: Are you an Indie Film Marketing Spammer?

This week I ask, are you an indie film marketing spammer? Do you ask people you just met online to support your film or Kickstarter campaign without taking the time to build a relationship? Do you blast your latest reel or trailer on every online outlet you can post it on? Then you might be an indie film marketing spammer.

When I first started marketing myself and my films I was a spammer. I would spam all my links, videos, and pictures aiming them back to my desired webpage. This did get me some traffic but I also upset a lot of websites and people in the process.

They pretty much blacklisted me and it made that much harder to promote my films in the future.

Now, when I started promoting my work in a more cohesive way, in a give and take manner,  I saw my traffic and sales go way up without alienating people.

You must provide value to people before you ask them for anything. When I promoted my short films I made sure to have a kick-ass trailer that would provide value to websites so they would be willing to post my material for their community. It makes the webmasters look good to their community if they can show them an underground treasure.

Many filmmakers and Filmtrepreneurs don’t take the time or energy to create enticing marketing materials for themselves or their film projects.  I’ll be going into more detail on how to create impactful film marketing materials in a series of future posts.

In this episode, I’m here to help you get eyes on your films, your reel, or yourself without being an indie film marketing spammer pissing everyone off in the process.

Right-click here to download the MP3

Alex Ferrari 0:00
So today's episode is going to be a little bit interesting because I've been getting a lot of contact. And this this goes on for this has been going on for years. But generally now since I launched the indie film, hustle, I've been getting contacted by a lot of filmmakers. And I thought it'd be appropriate to let some people know because they just don't know. Are you a filmmaker spammer? People don't want to be called spammers. But when filmmakers are starting out indie filmmakers, we all all a desperate bunch, me included, I am in no, I am in that same group with you guys. What I've learned over the years is you have to be a little bit more sophisticated in your approach to how to talk to people how to ask people for things, how to ask people for favors, how to ask people for their time, especially the bigger the person you're asking for, for their time and attention, the more you have to work that relationship more you have to give and take. So I'm gonna go over a little bit about how you should approach decision makers, influencers, people that you're trying to either watch you talk to you give you their give them your time, whatever, but it all it's all about building a relationship, you have to spend the time to build a relationship with whoever you're talking to. So if you're going to a party, and you meet somebody at a party, and you know that their let's say their big stuff, you know, they really are, you know, they just won Sundance and they have some connections and their agent is the agent you want. The first words out of your mouth shouldn't be Hey, man, how you doing I'm I'm so and so I'm jack and I got you know, I got this great script. And, you know, I'd love to you get if you get it to your agent, and maybe I can. That's complete turnoff. Let me just put, let me give you an analogy. Imagine you're going out on a date. And then when you meet the girl, the first thing you say to her goes, you want to go back to my place and you know, go to sleep together, it doesn't work that way. She'd be disgusted, slap you in the face, and you would move on. That's the same equivalent of emailing someone very aggressively talking to someone very aggressively at a party. So if you're going after a blog, let's say, or approaching a website, and you know, movie website to try to promote your movie, there's certain ways of going about it, you have to kind of start building the relationship, you have to give them something, if they give them time to build a relationship, see, if they even want to talk to you, you have to be much more low key about things. When I get you know, I've been getting emails from people. And, and you know, messages sent to me saying, Hey, watch my real, hey, look at this, look at that. And, you know, I'm happy to do so. And I'm happy to help any filmmakers that come by and I have no problem with that whatsoever. But, you know, it's kind of like you don't know me? I don't know you. I have a lot of things on my plate. Why should I devote time to do it? There's only so many hours in a day. I don't know if you guys know this or not. But I have I'm a father and I have twin girls, as well as trying to run indie film, hustle and a post production company and trying to get my own projects off the ground as well. You should work you know, just introduce yourself like Hey, man, I really like what you're doing, you know, keep up the good work, and you drop that seed. And then maybe in the next few days, you go, Hey, man, great article, it shows me that you're reading something, or you're showing that person that like, you know, hey, this is a great article you just wrote about this. Thanks so much. It's been really helpful. And it starts putting you in their eyesight, their eyeline and you start giving them something if they have, if they have a newsletter that that they're suggesting you should sign up for it. If they have a group that they're asking you that it's part of their group you could sign up for to go ahead just sign up for your group. Wow, it's so much interesting stuff. Great. It's time it takes time to build these relationships. In order to get something and I'm not using myself as an analogy by any stretch of the imagination. I am no power player or influencer by any stretch. But when you're talking to people that have Millions and millions of people coming to their blog, or millions and millions of people coming to the websites who if they do a review of your movie or do a shout out on their Facebook is a huge deal. I don't care about the Kickstarter thing I get it, you're like, Oh my God has two days left, I gotta go and you just start spamming everybody because you're so desperate to get your your movie, man, you're so desperate to get a finance, and you just go boom, boom, boom, and you just start hitting people hitting people, you're just turning people off. And people can smell desperation from a mile away. That's why when you're at a club, and you walk up to a girl, and you're really like, hey, a girl's feel it. That's why the guy in the corner cool, chill looks like he doesn't really care. You know, he could probably the biggest ass in the world, but he's the one that's getting the girls. You know, so try to be a little bit more aloof, try to be a little bit more just professional. And start building that relationship with people before you start asking them for something right away. Or before you start begging them to finance you or to, you know, send you $5 or post your own thing. Just think about it, you have to build these relationships. And I know, if you are a spammer, and you feel like, well, I'm just gonna throw everything against the wall, I can, and something's gonna stick. I want to tell you from my own experience, when I first started doing web marketing and promoting of my own movies, I did that for a long time. And it does piss people off. And it does, it doesn't get you where you want you to want to be, you know, out of 100 people, maybe one or two might give you something positive, but you've pissed off 98. And that's not a good thing to do. Especially when you're trying to come up and build relationships. These relationships are we're going to help you in the future. We're going to help you develop your movies, hopefully, promote your movies, introduce you to the agent introduce you to the financier, introduce you to the crew member that you might need that has that camera. But you you can't do that by spamming. You can't do that by just taking taking taking from people you have to be able to give them offer them something if it's not money, it should be your time, you're taking an interest in them. People want to feel like you're interested in them authentically, not just because you're trying to get something from them. You know, I was at Sundance A few years ago, promoting one of my movies. And I wasn't a little desperate. I wasn't you know, it was my first Sundance, I was a little desperate. And I had finagled my way into some big parties, where there are some really big players, you know, Harvey Weinstein and a lot of big directors and stuff like that. And they saw me coming from a mile away. It was fascinating to watch how they shot me down so quickly and so effortless, effortlessly. It was a it was amazing. And only looking back now years later, I understand why. Because, you know, they get bombarded daily, hourly, by the minute, anytime you see, can you imagine how it's like to be Harvey Weinstein at a film festival, you know, that that has this legendary status of, you know, bringing filmmakers up and imagine you being Quentin Tarantino, or being Robert Rodriguez, or being Steven Soderbergh or David Fincher at a film festival without anybody around them. And they would get bombarded by by, by everybody who wants something from them. And it's very uncomfortable. Believe me, I felt that myself. And then I've now seen over time how I've done it to other people. So just start to build the relationship a little bit. And think about what you're doing when you're going after going after certain influencers, certain people, certain blogs, certain agents, things like that, you just have to figure a way in. Also a shows me, let's say, let's use me for an analogy. If you're taking interest in what I'm doing, it shows me that you're putting in time you're putting in effort. And that means a lot in this business. That means you're taking the time that that says a lot about your character as a filmmaker, and as a person, that you're actually thinking about this not you're just not just another filmmaker, with another short film, or another feature film that you just like, do watch this, watch this, I need a break. I need this. I need that, trust me, I was that guy. I was that guy. 10 years ago, I was that guy all the time. And it was annoying as hell, I could only imagine how annoying that was to people. And that's probably one of the reasons why I didn't build the relationships as I should. And then when I did take the time to build relationships, which I've had, I did build a lot of good relationships, with websites and with bloggers and with influencers in the business agents, managers and so on. Once I built those businesses, those relationships up, they have flourished over the time. And it does take time. understand something that indie film, it is not a short game. It is a long game. It is not a checker Smash. It is a chess match. is going to take you time, lots of it. So under, if you understand that going in, you won't be as frustrated, being an independent filmmaker, as I am, or as as I was, in the early days, because you're taking the time and understanding that this is a long game, this is a long play, some some relationship, you start building now might take a year, to even flourish, might take you five years for anything to even come out of it. But you never know. And those are the kinds of relationships you want to build. And keep building and keep updating them and keep doing things like that. But you have to show interest in what they're doing, you have to give, as well as take, and that's with any relationship in general. So I hope this helped you guys out a little bit. It really is. It's I think it's a big problem in the indie film world, that people are just so desperate that they just kind of throw things off. And it just, I feel bad for the person who's trying to get attention who's trying to get their movie financed, or the movie looked out or their trailer looked at or their real look that or I need a job or I need this or that there's ways of doing it. And if you take the time to do research, to, you know, take take interest in what they're doing, see what you can give them back, then you'll be a much happier filmmaker, and hopefully a more successful filmmaker. So I hope that helps guys. Please let me know what you feel about this episode. In the comments. We've got a bunch of interviews coming up and a bunch of really cool episodes coming up in the coming weeks. Also guys, don't forget to subscribe on iTunes. And please leave us a great comment on on iTunes and give us a good rating. If you like the show. You have no idea how helpful it is to us that you do that. So thanks. As always, if you want to learn the six secrets to getting into film festivals for cheap or free, head on over to festival free festival tips. Film Festival tips calm sorry about that film festival tips.com and you can download an ebook that I wrote about how I got into over 500 international film festivals all around the world with paying little or no entrance fees. Thanks so much guys for taking a listen to my ramblings. I hope they were some. So a little bit helpful to you this week. So thanks again and we will see you next episode. Have a good day and always keep filming. Bye.




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