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

Alex Proyas, Vidiverse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Please enjoy our guest, Alex Proyas.

Right-click here to download the MP3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 6:20
I I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 10:47
and the labels.

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 12:48
And there are and

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

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

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

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

Alex Proyas 16:27
yeah

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 19:06
Correct.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 38:50
Isn't that scary?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

selling stock footage

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

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

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

Rule #1: If it’s not fun, don’t do it

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

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

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

Rule #2: Focus on creativity, not numbers

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

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

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

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

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

Rule #3: Develop your eye first

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

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

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

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

Rule #4: Keep track of trends

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

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

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

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

Rule #5: Showcase your portfolio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Joseph Alexandre


Right-click here to download the MP3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy my conversation with Joseph Alexandre.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 4:18
Extremely difficult.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 31:39
Yeah, no. Absolutely

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 47:00
not 1992 anymore, man.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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IFH 496: How to Make Money with PSD Self Distribution


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

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

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

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

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

Enjoy my entertaining conversation with Anthony and Zach.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anthony Gibson 2:20
Yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Alex Ferrari 45:36
No, I haven't said

Anthony Gibson 45:38
decentralized autonomous organization.

Alex Ferrari 45:41
Well, I've heard of decentralized for banks, but not for organization. Okay, so talk to me about that.

Zach Lona 45:48
So there's been defy, which is decentralized finance. And that's very cool. The next step after d phi after NF Ts is doubtless, so decentralized, autonomous organizations. And these are essentially corporate structures or business structures, where it's not really run by anyone, there's not really a corporate hierarchy. And the governance of the organization is equally spread out among all of its members. So essentially, anyone can come in, buy the governance token, the, you know, the currency that's native to the Dow organization, and start working on projects and getting paid for it. So is that we're still doing a lot of research on how to

Anthony Gibson 46:30
imagine a decentralized production company where every all the fans get to vote on what the next project is, that's what we're working on.

Alex Ferrari 46:38
And they're paying and they and they pay for, and they'll pay for it by paying into things to help finance it creates a liquidity pool, essentially. Yeah,

Zach Lona 46:46
yeah. And they get rewarded for financing the production. And also what's going to happen is we're gonna we're creating. Now this is this is very early stages here, but we're really excited about it. The core component of how this data is going to work is essentially it's going to manage the hidden lakes IP. So you know, the, our film is just the first installment of this IP, we're going to be making sequels and stuff. And part of how we're going to get that done is that we're going to fractionalize and decentralize licensing to the IP itself. So we're going to say, okay, we're going to mint a set of 10,000 tokens, you buy a token, you can send it back to the Ethereum contract. And so it's, you know, not in our control. It's in you know, the the contract itself. And for as long as that's in the contract, as long as you're, you know, in this tank, you get in return a license to use the IP however you want. Thanks, man. pornography. Yeah, I mean, the

Alex Ferrari 47:49
thing is, like, erotica, sir, erotica, there is a difference. Let's clarify that right now. Between Bigfoot porn and Bigfoot. Radhika erotica can make porn. Very cool. There's a difference. There's a difference, sir. It's, it's, it's what kind of suit people are gonna think like, I like joy. I'm the one that started this.

I know right now I know somebody right now listening to this. It's like curving off the road laughing at like the Bigfoot. Oh, Jesus. No, this all sounds great. But this is the thing where we're so early on in this whole this whole experiment of NF T's and blockchain everything. I've said this before on the show. I'll say it again. blockchain is as or more important than the internet is the human civilization. And people, people who don't understand that statement, you will just the same way. As people in 1996 said, the internet's gonna change everything. Just like that guy who shot that rocket up into space the other day that looked like something that I won't say it looked like Bigfoot erotica. His rocket looked like Bigfoot erotica. That guy said, Hey, I'm going to sell books on the internet. And now he sells everything. That that's the same thing that blockchain is going to do. We're just not there yet. And we will get there. And it's getting there. It's growing fast. And there's issues and I think you said it in your article as well. Zach about you know, theory will become cheaper, it will become greener to sell a lot of electricity that runs through to get all this stuff. So it's gonna it's it's just like dial up man and 9695 and before it's like dial up it's like how can anyone can even think or conceive that I could buy something on the internet? Remember that? How old are you guys are younger that much younger than me? So I remember the time was like, people were like, I'm not putting my credit card online. Like that was people were like I'm not putting my credit card online that they're going to steal my identity all that was the mentality back That's where we are right now with blockchain I think in five or 10 years, blockchain will be at a completely different place crypto I think will be probably at a completely different place. And what you guys are talking about and defy and and dow and all this these kind of concepts I think are really going to help not only the world but an our little microcosm of independent film. It's getting a lot of power back to us.

Zach Lona 50:21
Yeah, that's what I was gonna say is that like this, like the the paradigm shift that's happening that mirrors the internet revolution, that's the the main people who are going to benefit from it are independent creators. So what this technology does, is it it cut out the middleman, it cut out the big centralized institutions that tell you yes or no, it's really going to power the empower the individual creators who want to, you know, contribute things to their favorite stuff and make money in the process,

Alex Ferrari 50:49
and you and use it, so you give away 50% of all streaming rights, but as of right now, you still have to do the accounting. In other words, the money has to come into an account, and then you've got to convert that into aetherium, or whatever, you know, whatever, stable coin or whatever you're going to use to pay. Yeah,

Zach Lona 51:06
that person. Exactly. So that that goes to show how early we are where you know, in five years, that won't be able to be able to get done on chain right now. The there's not really a solution for that. So we ate, you know, for however long that would take, and we'll just say, okay, we're just going to do the accounting ourselves. You know, that being said, you know, it may be that not only is the smart contract upgradeable in that we can automate that, you know, from the token on chain, or we could we could find a crypto powered streaming platform, which is also new territory, where the film will be online and you can watch it for free and also maybe even get paid for watching it. And it also probably give us a better rate streaming wise than, you know, amazon prime or Vimeo on demand. Does you mean a penny a penny for an hour? Is

Alex Ferrari 51:56
that not fair? I think that's more than fair. I don't know. I mean, didn't you hear that? That Jeff Bezos thanks that's all for having him go up into space? Yeah, don't built on the backs of independent filmmakers. Oh, don't even get me started. He made that rocket happen. We made that was all us. We started off at 15 cents. Now he's down to one cents. What happened to those 14 cents boom into space? Bigfoot erotica, anyway. So so another big player jumped on the scene in the NFT world, which is Kevin Smith, and he came on with his film Kilroy Was here, but he did the opposite of what you guys did. He's literally selling or giving his his distribution rights away to this film. What do you think of that? And how do you think that model is gonna work? Didn't even sell it yet? I don't even know if he sold it.

Zach Lona 52:47
I don't think it's online. So we didn't we that was actually his announcement. Or that was actually the reason why we press the Launch button on this project, because we've been building it since like, March. We're like, Oh, no, we gotta we gotta beat him to the punch. But yeah, I don't think it's online. But again, it's like, it's it's very similar to what we're doing. But there's also some key differences that kind of make it I preferred to not take that approach, simply because, like I was saying earlier, you don't want to make your patron work too much to exercise their, their utility that you give them. So with Kevin Smith's NFT, which also is being minted on the fantasma chain, which is different from aetherium, and we can maybe get into, you know, what chain you should actually meant on. But regardless of that, that's very technical knowledge. Essentially, the the the best person who's gonna want to buy the Kevin Smith and if t is a distributor, so like, if you come come at it, from our perspective, where we're our target market for this NFT is a private individual collector, they're not going to know how to how to distribute this thing, right? So if you're giving them the entirety of your distribution rights, that's cool. Just know that your market is much more different. And you're probably it's it's like, if you're selling to a distributor and you're looking to give the distributor your rights with the NFT you probably don't even need an NF t like that's pretty much just the exact same thing is a deal he would strike in

Alex Ferrari 54:15
I think he said I think he's just trying to get some hype over it and that's all it was because he's actually selling like, you know, James Island Bob NF T's and he's making a mint with them. You know, all those like cool little memes and stuff like that. He's not stupid in that sense. He definitely I mean, he was one of the first podcasters he was he jumped on the podcasting bandwagon, years ago, before it was cool. And and everybody had a podcast and people tell me I'm like, Oh, you jumped in early and I jumped in six years ago like Kevin Smith jumped in like a decade or more ago like it's it was insane. Like the oh geez for you got a Joe Rogan frickin he jumped into like, oh nine he like couldn't get the damn thing to stream. I saw the first in the first podcast. He was just like trying To make it work, and it was like, like 320 by, you know, by 40 videos like it was horrible. But, but he just made 100 million bucks and snap at it, okay. It's good, good ROI. So I think

Anthony Gibson 55:16
like, you know, anyone that's doing anything in the NFT space is just like adding to the value of everyone else that's trying to work on it. Like, we're all just trying to, like I said, like, for us, it's an experiment. Like, we're curious about other people's case studies, we want to see what they're doing. We want to see like, what models of incentive, they're developing and kind of like, you know, work some magic. I mean, we're all really excited about the new technology, we need people to know about it. This is still super inaccessible to like, an audience. Like they don't most people don't understand this stuff. And so it's just like, we need more people to be interested.

Alex Ferrari 55:48
I mean, I had to I had to educate myself. It took me like half a day to figure out how to mint something like the technology so plunky it's just so clunky to get stuff done. Now I'm like, Oh, my God isn't someone figured this out to make this a little easier. Like it doesn't seem that difficult, but it was like an I use mental because it was the easiest open seat was like too expensive. They want a gas freeze up front, mental to gas freeze on the on the now we're like talking in languages that nobody else understands. But, but yeah, but it was it just and even then miserable, was still like a pain in the butt to figure out it just it's still so early, then. We're still so so early. Now, one thing I wanted to ask you is, we're talking about all these NF T's and independent film and all that stuff. Not every projects gonna be a good candidate for an NF. t. So what make how do you how does a filmmaker know if their project makes sense for this world?

Anthony Gibson 56:43
They know this is an awesome question. I think Zack and I probably talked about this every day. And I think what makes particularly like, understanding like Internet communities, like if, if and who you're from a development perspective, who are the people who are going to be investing in your project to actually like, make it happen. So you can go into production and those kinds of things. Who is your like, financing audience essentially. And like, our film, specifically is targeted towards like, like, Village Voice mythmaking, and where does that happen? happens on the internet. We're doing that every single day. And so dramatically, our project is designed to be talked about on the internet. And it's like, self conscious of that. And we think that that, in itself is interesting to people who are on the internet, creating and sharing memes and using that as a form of communication. And so specifically for this world that we're building out, which is like, like, like a modern mythos, basically, using the internet as like, as like a community standpoint, people are moving money on the internet, people who are in crypto communities and want to see content that is more directly related to them and their user experience. Those are the people that we think right now, because it's the initial audience in this world that are going to be interested in funding projects and seeing things that reflect back like interesting elements to them.

Zach Lona 58:14
Yeah, I would say if you're trying to build a community like that, and you're trying to build an audience into the IP, and it's like the shared experience, this is definitely NF T's are definitely the route for you. And I think, you know, to for on a moral logistical point, this is definitely geared to like, like the PSD model itself, it's assuming that you already have, you know, you already have a completed film, first of all, and that film is probably going to be low budget, like we were talking about earlier, it's probably going to be director driven. to, you know, take the fine art sort of box. And, you know, like we were talking about before, you know, maybe if you have like a decent name, talent, maybe you don't need you know, the the boost that this PSD model would attempt to give you, but at the same time, maybe that's an incentive to grab an even more, the higher price at the auction, right. So like, oh, Brad Pitt is in this one of one NFT movie, I'm an art collector, I have a Jackson Pollock and and Mark Rothko in my collection, I can throw million dollars at the new Brad Pitt movie NFC, that'll be $50 million in 50 years. So

Alex Ferrari 59:25
what would what would a Kubrick be worth? What would be what would what would it Kurosawa would be worth? And now we have Nolan Fincher Spielberg Scorsese in what what's the Godfather worth? Like? It's just it I think, once mainstream Hollywood and some of these directors start figuring these things out, they're gonna go Oh, wait a minute. We and we can make not only can we make some money with this, but we can actually insert ourselves into the conversation, culturally. But yeah, it's it's it's worth that I think once filming makers are able to these higher end filmmakers are doing things like that. You know, what would a Fincher and FTP worth man? What a no. And what are the Nolan? You know, what would tenant be worth? You know?

Zach Lona 1:00:13
Yeah, like, that line of thinking again is very different from saying, okay, we're gonna, you know, we're gonna have NFT tickets, where you know, that might still be worth something that's more like a like a collectible, you know, Pokemon card or like a Beatles ticket from like, 1969 or something like that. So it's like almost like two different asset classes. You have the scarce sort of fine art and FTS and you also have the fungible, quote unquote, like ticker merchandise and

Alex Ferrari 1:00:40
FTF. Collected collectibles. Yeah,

Zach Lona 1:00:42
exactly. Yep. So there are two different asset classes. And when we're thinking about what is a David Fincher where there was a Kurosawa worth, like that, to me is the fine art. Like chars are for sure.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:54
Yeah. And obviously, Bigfoot erotica. So I'm Pokemon card. Game Freak, guys. So I'm gonna ask you a few questions asked by my guest guys, what advice would you give filmmakers trying to break into the business today?

Anthony Gibson 1:01:11
You take that one. And the advice I would give you is focus on what's in front of you and figure out how to, like build a team around the things that you're stoked about. And, like, don't be afraid to just like, not sorry, I'm blanking ongiving advice. What I'll say about this is that when I was in college, there were classes that were offered to me. And I felt like that wasn't meeting the needs of what I wanted to get out of my education. So I figured out that I actually had the agency to create my own class and get credit for it and bring people on and make the movies that I wanted to make. And I didn't have to wait for anyone to tell it to give me a curriculum to do that. So get creative. There's tons of opportunities out there you don't have to just follow what's given to you.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:05
What is that? Oh, no, go ahead Anthony. And fleet perfect answer for that. What is the lesson that took you guys the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life tax credit financing to say sir, to Shay, to Shay, it's a as a very fine, fine, fine lesson to learn Tax Credit Financing everyone Tax Credit Financing, first time, in almost 500 episodes that someone said Tax Credit Financing is something about how valuable it is. And it's actually big on that. tax credit, and three of your favorite films of all time.

Zach Lona 1:02:49
Oh, mine are weird. I like 2001 I like Napoleon Dynamite and the third one is a toss up between Mystery Men and Badlands.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:00
Well, that's a hell of a combination of films there. I'm trying to put connecting dots I'm like I connected to and I connected to mystery man. Wow, Mystery Men first time on the show Mystery Men. So I love I love mystery minute. What a cast wasn't it? Same cast.

Zach Lona 1:03:17
They had the production design like the writing Smash Mouth Smash Mouth. Smash Mouth, man. Oh, man. Yeah, so that's that's mine. About about you, Anthony.

Anthony Gibson 1:03:29
I'll see Princess Mononoke A Little Miss Sunshine classic indie. And I will say Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone probably if I'm

Alex Ferrari 1:03:42
sure Hey, yes, nice. Nice. Nice. Can I use the magic of childhood in Yes. And it's in it's a nice Christmas movie. It's like every time it's I always watched it during Christmas that's when they get out. So I always associate Harry Potter movies with Christmas as well so and where can people find out about your NF T's about your films about your projects and so on?

Zach Lona 1:04:04
Yeah, so you can learn about the film and the NF t at who is the hidden man calm that's where all of our links are and also follow hidden ones Tao da o on Twitter you can join our discord to to get the drop on that cool Dao project that we're doing which is the next step of this oh and also the film is live on Vimeo on demand too. So you can search for he lives in the hidden lakes on Vimeo on demand and it'll be prime video as well soon

Alex Ferrari 1:04:33
and you're and you're using film hub as well right

Zach Lona 1:04:35
yeah, we are using film have discovered them through indie film hustle so thank you to that

Alex Ferrari 1:04:40
Yeah, there's some good doing some good work over there trying try and everyone's trying. It was trying to like I said everyone's trying to bring you know, you know, break that nut. No one's can crack it No one's cracked the nut yet on on on the perfect model. I think it's always shifting and moving and, and but this is awesome, man. I thank you guys so much for coming on the show. I'm excited anytime I hear new ways that filmmakers make money with their films and especially when it comes to the blockchain I'm, I'm all about it. So thank you guys so much for for coming in and jump in.

Zach Lona 1:05:10
Yeah. Thanks for having us, Alex.

Anthony Gibson 1:05:11
Yeah. Thank you so much.

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IFH 494: Adventures in Bad Distribution Deals with Heather Turman


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I am delighted to have as a guest on the show today, Filmmaker, comedian and podcaster, Heather Turman. She’s the creator and writer of the feature film, Stuck, starring Joel McHale, Heather Matarazzo, and SNL’s Chris Redd. And the host of the Indie Women Podcast on Youtube.

Darby finds herself in trouble with the law and is sentenced to house arrest. Now she must serve 30 days in the home she used to share with her ex-boyfriend, which he now shares with his new fiancee.

Heather has appeared in films like La-la Land, or the 2019 TV series, The Room Actors: Where are they now

At age 18, Heather moved to Los Angeles to pursue her passion for entertainment. And she’s since built a successful career as a comedian, writer, and producer — one that has taken her touring to over 75 cities across the USA.

She is an LA Westside Showdown two times top-finalist and has appeared on the FOX series Laughs and the Seed & Spark original Everything Is Fine! stand-up comedy special.

She is most known for writing, producing, and directing the hilarious original web series, Conversations with Future Stars which you should check out.

Heather shared with me in the interview that she discovered the IFH podcast at the beginning of the pandemic and binged every episode. Now, this is particularly special to me that she recognized and enjoyed the wealth of knowledge the show provides. So, having to sit down with her is an absolute full-circle moment.

I was thrilled to have had such a raw and transparent conversation about her experience with her.

Enjoy my hilarious conversation with Heather Turman.

Alex Ferrari 0:14
I like to welcome to the show Heather tournament. How you doing, Heather?

Heather Turman 0:18
I'm well thank you, Alex, how are you?

Alex Ferrari 0:20
I'm better we are seeing the others. I think we're on the other side of this thing. We see the light at the end of the tunnel. I feel free, I don't have to wear my full hazmat suit anymore to go shopping, which is nice. And other of air, we were talking about how you found me that you discovered my podcast at the beginning of the pandemic, and you've listened to you said all of them. And I said, That's a lot. That's a lot of episodes. And you said

Heather Turman 0:48
it was a long pandemic? Yeah, I started going on walks, you know, every morning with my, you know, overly ridiculous mask. And, you know, it's sort of start my day. So I dug it and became a fan. Thanks for doing this. What a great, just what a great resource and inspirational, I think, you know, tool for everybody. So thank you.

Alex Ferrari 1:10
I appreciate that I appreciate I do what I can I try to I try to help as many people as I can many filmmakers as we can. And we're going to talk about why we have to protect them sometimes from our business and in our conversation. But before we do that, how did you get into the business?

Heather Turman 1:25
Oh, man, I moved to Los Angeles blindly at 18 right out of high school, not knowing I'm one of those I didn't know, I knew I wanted to be an entertainment. But I came from Michigan. And you know, and at the time. I remember I got a book that was like, you know how to break into Hollywood off of like, Amazon was pretty new, like this was 2005. And so you know, it was still like digital media was just sort of starting. And this book did not prep me at all. For me, it was

Alex Ferrari 1:55
shocking for me. Shocking. No,

Heather Turman 1:57
exactly. It was awful. So I came here blindly. And I knew I wanted to write and and make films but and just be involved. So I had, you know, got started, I actually booked a commercial and met a fellow Michigander on it. And we produced a short film together in 2006, called subdivision and so that was sort of my first foray into producing my own content. But then I fell into stand up comedy. And so I spent the last several years I mean, the last decade really, you know, touring the country and that kind of thing, but in the middle of it, produced a web series, and a couple other short films, and then come 2000 in 2015, my writing partner and I had sold a feature script, but it didn't get made. So you know, it's that thing where it's like, well, this doesn't do anything. For me. All it does is give me a check, you know,

Alex Ferrari 2:50
which, by the way, big accomplishment. So that's not

Heather Turman 2:55
Yeah, no life goal achieved. Absolutely. And it's still my favorite script. It's just that sad thing, you know, the thing that most script that was most proud of sold, and it hasn't been made. So there was this feeling of, you know, I did this really difficult thing, but my name is not on the screen. So people don't can attribute my work, you know, to me, and so, I said to my writing partner, let's write a one location that we can shoot ourselves. And so we did that. And we produced we wrote and produced stuck, which we partnered with the director, she came on board as a producer as well. Julian Arman, Dante, and yeah, and that's sort of where since then, you know, it's been it's been more filmmaking drama with a distribution world and all that stuff. But But yeah, I guess I've just been in been in the industry, my whole adult life. And

Alex Ferrari 3:52
yeah, that's awesome. So I can only imagine 18 coming from Michigan to LA. I'm sure that you did you find. Sure. No,

Heather Turman 4:02
nobody was predatory. Nobody was all sorts of stuff.

Alex Ferrari 4:05
Nothing. Everything was I'm sure fine. They gave you work right away. Soon, you were paying all your bills comfortably. I'm sure it just it was a smooth. So yeah, smooth transition.

Heather Turman 4:16
Didn't you know, slave away in restaurants at all?

Alex Ferrari 4:21
Exactly. I came to LA probably three years after you did, but I'd already been in the business for 10 years, at that point. So I came a little bit more prepared. Not much more, but still enough that I was able to hit the ground running, but still it's Oh, God, if I would have killed a team they would have would have destroyed me. Yeah, yeah. I feel lucky to still be standing. No, I want to ask you something. Do you believe in today's world that you need to if you're going to be in the film business? I mean, LA is LA. It always will be LA, I think for people outside. I mean, I came from Miami, you know, so we're both From small markets, if you will, in the film industry markets. So I always felt that when I got here a year here was like five years there for me, it was like almost like dog years, in the amount of experience exposure to good and bad to the industry. Do you feel that is still the case today? Or could you go to Atlanta or a Vancouver or you know, other Louisiana or other Austin, other areas and still be able to build up that career?

Heather Turman 5:31
I absolutely think you can do it anywhere now, especially because of in addition to all the advancements, technology's made in the last 1015 years, but the pandemic has, you know, sort of exacerbated that aspect of it. Like, it's, I guess that's kind of the wrong word, because that's sort of making something worse, but it's, it's, it's made it so that, you know, everything's through all meetings are like this. I mean, many,

Alex Ferrari 5:59
it's more, except this is much more acceptable. Like, I've been recording podcasts like this for a long time. And people were like, Oh, god, it's on zoom, or it's on Skype. It's not, it's not. And now, it's on the news. And in documentaries, it's it's not very acceptable to do this. Yeah. And before, you really need to be you need really to be in the room with an agent, or, or with talent, where now it's somewhat more acceptable early.

Heather Turman 6:25
Yeah. And I feel like slowly but surely, you know, you're seeing with the capabilities that independent filmmakers have in other markets, and how much cheaper it is, you know, California, of course, has employment laws and permit laws and all these things that make it so incredibly costly for on the independent level, it's it those laws are there for big Hollywood, you know, and it's great on that level, we people need to get paid fairly when we're talking about millions and, you know, millions of dollars, but when we're talking about an independent project, it just, it becomes so much more difficult here that it's unreal, you know. And so, as time goes on, I become more and more interested in the cost in the concept of, you know, going to a small town and then making films there, you know, because it's just, it's more possible. I feel like these days than ever before, without feeling like you're not at all connected, you know? Yeah. And also,

Alex Ferrari 7:22
I think when you're outside of LA, people are much more excited about filmmaking, you know, what do you want for free? Exactly. When I shot my last film, I shot at a park city during the festive Sundance, I was shocked at how how many people like all the businesses were still excited. I'm like, oh, you're shooting a movie here? Yeah, well, would you I was shocked. I was shocked. Because I was like, oh, there must be over it because of Sundance. But they're not they were super excited. And, and shooting outside of La because in LA, they're like, okay, even the local deli is gonna go I need I'm gonna need $1,000 for locations for five hours. Like they already know there's, here's the contract, they already have the setup. Like they're all sharp about

Heather Turman 8:02
Absolutely. Anybody who anybody here who has any sort of property or business at home, they are very hip to the concept that that is a filming location. And they will absolutely make sure to exploit anyone who comes to them looking for at least shoot. So I

Alex Ferrari 8:20
had a friend of mine who has a house down the street, and he's like, Oh, yeah, this this new show on this new cable show wants to rent my house. I'm like, Well, how much are they paying you? They're like, Oh, it's 10,000 for two days. I'm like, so that's their, that's their line. That's their barometer. So now when you show up the level, I got paid 10,000 I'm like, that's our budget for the film.

Heather Turman 8:42
Which is it's so interesting that you you know, you say that because that was we when we went to do stuck, it took place in a home. So we needed somebody to give us their their suburban looking home for 10 days for nothing. I mean, how do you how do you? So I know I mean, I went door to door and I knocked and and face to face. Yep. And we found a house and they 300 bucks a day.

Alex Ferrari 9:08
Okay, so it was there was something there was some some

Heather Turman 9:11
jumping, and their child was an actor. So that helped. We were like, we'll throw our part in the movie. That's

Alex Ferrari 9:18
and seen all right, there we go. That's, that's how you do it. No one. My first film I made was all in LA, but it was just my house. My actors houses like it was all friends, you know, friends or acquaintances that we knew that would give us their house for the day or, or a couple days or something. But that's brave. You just went knocking on doors.

Heather Turman 9:39
Yeah, we did. We definitely did. And we had had another house that we really liked. And the woman was totally interested. And, you know, we even we brought the director to look at it and the DP and all that stuff. And then when we whip out the contract, and we talk about money, she's like, Oh, no, like absolutely not for $300 a day. I was thinking more like 10 grand a day. So she knew the neighborhood. Of course, it turned out we had chosen it was it's like in Studio City. And it turned out to be one of the most sought after neighborhoods. Because of the look of it, it really looks like suburban America in the center of LA. And so they do all kinds of commercial shoots there. So all the people in the neighborhood were very aware. And the thing that gave us their home for 300 bucks had moved from Texas, like a year before. So they hadn't been approached yet. You know, so it's really just lucky. You know,

Alex Ferrari 10:36
they weren't, they weren't hip. They weren't hip to it yet. It's but but you're outside of La you don't get those problems outside of LA. They're just so they'd be so excited to like see a camera and a crew and didn't even have to have a star in it. Just any like, that's just an exciting. And we as filmmakers, we forget that there is an excitement for people like when we first saw film set. I got it. Oh, yeah, it was a huge thrill. But we're so like, yeah, it's another day at the office.

Heather Turman 11:02
Exactly, exactly. But it's true. And I'm out of out of state in a small town. Not only is it not only are people excited, but they're just like, Yeah, do you need extras? You know, do you need What do you need? I need food. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 11:15
we'll cook for you. Oh, yeah. Do you need Do you need a police department? We up? Yeah, I'll call my boy up. And he'll come over and yeah, it's, it's it's pretty. It's pretty insane. Now tell me about your film stuff. So you told me that you kind of put it all together in one location? How did it come to be? And how did you like, put it all together?

Heather Turman 11:32
So I'm Dave and I, David, David Michael. He's my writing partner. And he also produced with me as well. I approached him and said, Let's write in one location. So we did have a few other locations, which of course, were difficult ones a doctor's office and courthouse. I mean, a courthouse is hard. But we found a museum in culver city that has a that has a

Alex Ferrari 11:59
pastor standing

Heather Turman 12:02
a standing courtroom and so 1500 bucks, you know, and then I have a friend of medical sales, so she hooked us up with the doctor's office. And so 4500 bucks for locations. You know what I mean? Which is pretty, I mean, that's incredible, you know, in LA. Yes. It actually because of that I got hired to do location scouting for a film right after that, because they couldn't believe what I was able to get. I'm like, I think it's because I'm willing to go knock on doors. You know, you don't get it with the egos in this town. Most people aren't willing to do that. But I was so Um, but yeah, we you know, we wrote this one location and it's about a sort of a adults like a, you know, like a woman child. irresponsible pothead. She's a nurse, and she gets into trouble with the law she sends to house arrest. And she is couchsurfing at the time. So her last legal address was her ex boyfriends house, so cut to her serving out house arrest for 30 days with him and his new fiance. And we a friend of mine, Larry lebeau. runs an organization called New filmmakers LA.

Alex Ferrari 13:11
Of course. Yeah.

Heather Turman 13:12
Okay. Yeah. I love Larry. He's the friend that I met on the commercial in 2006.

Alex Ferrari 13:19
Amazing, yeah.

Heather Turman 13:20
Yeah. I mean, Larry is just the greatest. We like literally we didn't. We tried to cheap out and not get permits. And when you got permits,

Alex Ferrari 13:33
huh, you got permits?

Heather Turman 13:35
No, we didn't. I was gonna say, Amen. Yeah, no, then the cops came. And so we were told we had to, because that neighborhood, like I said, Everybody in the neighborhoods like you guys didn't fire us like, yeah. Oh, Larry. Larry, I know. And all the work that he does, you know, with film LA, he was able to call and and literally have the governor expedite us a permit. You're supposed to be like a 72 hour wait, we got one like immediately, which was, you know, and that just goes to show that your friends in this business are the most important, you know, part of this business? Yeah. And Larry recommended, I asked him about a director, I said, I'm producing, you know, my first feature that I wrote, can you recommend some solid directors and he I said, preferably a woman because I did want to, you know, sort of pay that forward. And especially It was a female lead, I just wanted to go that route. And so he recommended Julian Arman Dante who had been in the business forever, and I had recognized her from her acting work she was in like girl interrupted and bad teacher, all kinds of stuff. And so we met with Joanne and she was like, totally down, but we didn't have enough money to pay her. So she was like, the, the amount she would, you know, be willing to work for so she said, let me partner as producer trying to build up my company. And so the three of us work together as as producers, and you know, I was Initially looking to make a micro budget $50,000 film. And when Julian came on board, it's like, no, we're gonna do this a little more grown up style. And so we ended up doing it for 150k. And, you know, we scored in terms of cast and that really, you know, it starts Heather matarazzo who is now my wife. I met her on the movie, and now we're married. Yeah, the night the one good thing that that's bleeding out of the eyes for an indie film brought me was was that my friends are like, hey, at least you got a wife out of it. I'm like, Yeah, I got double screwed. Um, yeah. But um, but, uh, so Julian, of course, was friends for 30 years with Joel McHale. So she had Joel up and, and said, Will you play with us for a day. And luckily, you know, that we had this role, the role of the judge is, you know, one day, sort of bookends the movie beginning and end. And he was willing to do it. And once you have that name, even though it's a small part of it, we were able to go out to other people from there. So I made direct offers to Kate Flannery. And, you know, Kirsten vangsness, from from criminal minds. Yeah. And just in that kind of stuff. And then Heather, and Heather came on board and agreed, and, and yeah, and then we made the movie.

Alex Ferrari 16:23
So the key to getting getting actors on a low budget film is if you can tag one name and taxon name, yeah, it's about one. That's one thing I've always realized is that nobody wants to be the first to the party. Nobody that's in money that's in cast, that's in everybody. Nobody wants to be the first to come in. But if you can get one other person to come in, that's even somewhat of a recognizable name, or face, or respect, as inactive, because there's that could be worth nothing to the box office, but be very well respected by other actors. Absolutely, that can attract other actors. Without question, yeah. And it's always it's the exact same thing for my first film, I have one called friend called a friend called the friend call a friend. And everybody just showed up and, and played, and it was,

Heather Turman 17:12
yeah, and played. And it's great. I watched both of your films, by the way, thank

Alex Ferrari 17:15
you so much.

Heather Turman 17:15
And I love them, they do look beautiful. And I was especially impressed by on the corner of ego and desire, because you know, you listening to your podcasts that you know that you did shoot it off of a, you know, a script, man, and in Sundance as it's happening, it's just it's cool. The story behind the movie is is especially cool.

Alex Ferrari 17:37
It was absolutely insanity. It was it four days, 36 hours shot an entire feature actors had never met before. It is a really insane story. I don't advise anyone doing it. Unless you have some. If you've got some years behind you, and you can fall back on that experience, then yeah, but I like I like that one. But Meg, for me, even is even more impressive, because I've just shot that thing. And, and and now normally, and now knowing what you went through and knowing that we made that movie in LA for about five grand. Yeah, it's amazing. It's absolutely amazing. It's It's sad. But of course paid. I mean, everyone got paid. But it was all favors and no permits. No permission. Of course. What's the permit run permits? Like, what is

Heather Turman 18:25
it was like it cost us 1200 bucks for the one and that was not telling them we had other locations that was lying and saying, yep, everything's at this house. So if we had if we'd had to get one for Culver City, and the doctor's office, it would have been a different story.

Alex Ferrari 18:39
Yeah. Right. So that's, that's why it's so cost prohibitive to shoot here, especially for an indie and that's why you got to kind of go you got to be a gorilla about it. Yeah. You know, I've known I've had other people on the show who've shot in LA. And I mean, but they there's other there's other filmmakers I'm thinking of, they were brazen, like they'd show up with grip trucks. And like, they would just get out in front of a location and just start shooting. And yeah, they're like, wait to the cops come, we got an hour. Let's see how long it takes before the cops come. And even when the cops show up, our producer sent to hold them back for 15 minutes while we finished the shots. And then they go in. But they got I mean, they shot the entire city is pretty insane. Yeah.

Heather Turman 19:23
Yeah. I mean, that really is how you have to do it. You know. I was chatting with a female filmmaker the other day and she said that sometimes you can sort of that she's like, I'll play the female card with an officer like, Oh, we have to get permits because you know, like, into like that

Alex Ferrari 19:39
like, and then she twirls her hair she doesn't know twirls or has like oh my god, do I need a permit? No, yeah, I could just shoot this amazing. Like, sorry, that's my valley girl. So I apologize.

Heather Turman 19:54
I mean, that's that's that's the performance she would put behind. You know what I mean? Um, Because, you know, you got to play what cards you have, you know, and they're gonna be like, Oh, this is a woman's making this movie. Okay, it's not real Move, move ahead. Well, the other thing,

Alex Ferrari 20:11
the other little trick is for everyone listening, always have a film student ID onset. So you always bring a film student as an intern on set. So if a cop does show up, and you're doing something that's a little bit, you know, not official. You're not hurting anybody stealing anything. It's just unofficial. You can always be Oh, it's a student film. And you bring this thing you show them the student ID and like, we're here to help the student. And yeah, you know, but if Nicolas Cage shows up, that's a problem. So you have to have money. Exactly. wants it? Yeah. No, I remember we shot a film. I was part of a project years ago, that was shooting on a dv x 100. A camera. I think you might remember that. Can you remember that? Yeah. It was a fantastic camera. And I otzi showed this in Florida. I otzi showed up because it was we had, I mean, we had script trucks and everything. But then when they saw the camera, they said, we're good. And they just walked. They just we had big stars that we had an Oscar nominated, but he wasn't there that day, thank God. But when they saw that they're like, these guys obviously don't know what they're doing. It's a camcorder. It's okay. We're fine. It's Yeah, it's it's a dolly but they don't know what they're doing. It's fine. Totally. But, but that is, that is another trick for everyone listening, always have a film student onset just for those occasions? Because they will it will it get you out of trouble and get you out. And don't ever try shooting on Santa Monica Pier.

Heather Turman 21:40
Oh, yeah. I wouldn't recommend those touristy areas. That's probably that's definitely they see you Kai. I mean, you're asking for it. I mean,

Alex Ferrari 21:47
unless you shoot it with an iPhone. If you're shooting with an iPhone, and it's all under cover, you might get away with it for a few minutes. But don't build on top of you so quick. Oh,

Heather Turman 21:56
yeah, it'll swoop in I yeah, I, I remember, for my web series in 2012, we needed an exterior. I'm sitting in with the editor. And we, we need, it's supposed to take place inside the Scientology center. And so we're looking at the cut. And I'm like, we need an exterior we do. So we grab his camera, we can see dp that too, we grab the camera, jump in the car drive to the celebrity center. And he's standing on the corner filming it for like, within 10 seconds, like oh, swarm of Scientology security on bikes, just like that's a pretty serious camera, you know? And he's like, yeah, and they're like, yeah, you better get out of here. And they like, took my license plate was really crazy. But, uh, well, you know, when you're going to those types of places,

Alex Ferrari 22:44
did you get the shot? Just, we got the shot. That's all that matters. That's all the matters. You got to get done out, get out, run, run, run.

Heather Turman 22:52
I might be on some kind of list, but we got the shots.

Alex Ferrari 22:54
It's perfectly fine. It's perfect. It's absolutely perfectly fine. Now, you mentioned that. You mentioned that the manager had a couple issues with distribution. Can you elaborate a little bit about what cuz this movie was originally finished in? This was finished. It came out in 2019. Okay, came out in 2019 originally originally came out. Yeah, that's it. Yeah. So what happened and and everyone prepare yourself because this is I'm sure. Your story?

Heather Turman 23:27
Yeah, um, well, let me just start by saying that, you know, no shade to my two producing partners. But they are definitely from a different generation than I'm from. And, you know, I was really feeling like, I trusted the concept of self distribution. And I felt like, you know, I was doing a lot of research at the time and Sundance had a whole thing about, you know, doing your own, just like they had a whole workshop all this different stuff. And, and I really felt like because of the the cast, I mean, you look at like Felicia Day, she has a huge online presence. And like, all at the time, Joel, of course, you know. And I came from the comedy scene. So I had tapped, Alexis Rizal, who was YouTube presence, who I had cast in my web series. It was her first job ever in 2012. So I had hit her up. And I had cast a guy that I had known at the time, Brian Jordan Alvarez, who after the film, God willing grace and became the character who married Jack's character. So he got an Emmy nomination and he blew up. And I tapped Yeah, and I tapped Chris read from the comedy scene as well. And now he's on SNL. So it was like we got I got very lucky with the comedy scene and the people that I really saw talent and that blew up. And so knowing the, just the reach that all of those people had, and that's like, not even Joel you know, and then not even Kate from the office and not even the crime, Criminal Minds for kearson bands ness and not even Heather matarazzo so I really felt like we could release this on our own. But, you know, the people that I partnered with just, they were a little, you know, they're used to the old school way of like, you find a distributor. And that's the only way, you know. Yeah. And so I even brought like a sales agent friend into the mix, but my co producers, one of them didn't want to give away 20% which I'm sure haunts them to this day. And so we, because it was a sales agent friend of mine who's legit, you know, he sells movies for a living and I really feel that would have been the safest way to go. Unless we experimented and tried to do it ourselves. Um, but yeah, and so this company had approached us through slated, which, you know, I don't I, if an indie distributor is seeking people out, I feel like that's kind of a red flag I entered. Like, I feel like

Alex Ferrari 25:55
unless you're unless you're at a film festival, and you just got down to screening and they walk up to you like, Hey, we're a distributor, we love to film your movie, that's different. But if they're if the soliciting movie if they're soliciting you, which happens all the time, unless it's in even if it's a big distributor, I mean, a 24 is generally in that emailing people.

Heather Turman 26:16
Exactly, exactly. And you know, because they're getting flooded all the time. And they have their connects. And so it's, you said it perfectly. Because yes, if you are at a festival, and you show your film, and somebody comes up to you after and is like, I would love to distribute this, Here's my card. But if they haven't seen the film, and they're just soliciting you, it's probably a red flag. But we met up with them. And the guy, the head of the company, they had a handful of cute films, like I watched all the trailers and it was like, okay, you know, it seems like this company really is looking to, they all sort of fit within this brand. And so it was like, okay, they seem like they know what they're doing. And the contract they offered us was amazing. Amazing. It was tell us the details. It was so we made the film for 150,000. And we crowdfunded a, you know, a majority of that. I would say that about almost 100 was crowdfunded. And the other 50 was the three of us. You know, owning up, ponying. Yeah. Which we didn't expect to do. And then it was like, Oh, shit, we spent too much money. Here's for me, here's from you, you know? And so, we they offered us 300,000 minimum guarantee, which was, you know, we only had to make, we only needed to make like, 60 grand, you know what I mean? So, right.

Alex Ferrari 27:38
So they gave you an mg $300,000 mg in 2019. I'm assuming around that time. Yeah. Because I'm trying to because the game changes so often. It depends on when you got that deal, if it makes sense in 2018, that we got the deal. Released in 2018. Still ridiculous. That's not a thing that happens. But go ahead.

Heather Turman 27:59
Yeah, yeah. And so because at that time, Netflix had stopped, you know, they there was a time that Netflix was giving out 500 grand for an indie film, but that went away, you know? Um, yeah. And so he, so that was in our contract. 300 grand minimum guarantee. And, um, and yeah, and they paid marketing. So they paid marketing costs that was in our contract. And obviously, that's the big thing, like we've done enough research to know that, that's how they get you is that they promise you all this stuff, and then you get the bill. And it's like, oh, they spent it all on marketing. So we get 12 cents, you know,

Alex Ferrari 28:33
what was that? What was the top on their marketing? What was it? Was there a limit on their marketing or not?

Heather Turman 28:38
There was not a limit, it said that. I know. I know. It's bad marketing. Yeah. But he said marketing was a team decision with the producer. So we were supposed to have a say in that as well. So you know, it's like, I mean, this deal sounds I mean, it's in theory,

Alex Ferrari 28:56
in theory, it sounds wonderful so far.

Heather Turman 28:59
Yeah. But yeah, we have not seen a dime. And every other film, that's what this company has, with the exception of maybe like one or two others has pulled their film from them. And you know, gone to court got their money back and this distributor is under investigation with the FBI for major fraud. A friend of mine came out of the woodwork. Oh, go ahead.

Alex Ferrari 29:22
No, no. off off. So they offered you 300 mg. So when you delivered the film, I'm assuming a part of the contract as soon as the film is delivered, some money is really it was

Heather Turman 29:32
after it was after quarter one from exhibition. So exhibition began, may have of 2019 and so once quarter one and he was like, oh, maybe you know might be but realistically, it'll probably be like, you'll get your first checks by the end of it'll be during the second quarter that you'll see. You know, was that money

Alex Ferrari 29:52
was that $300,000 supposed to be broken up over multiple quarters it was going to just won't be one foot one fat check.

Heather Turman 29:58
So that contract was for by 40 months, we would have that 300 grand. So

Alex Ferrari 30:05
spread out mg, it was a spread out over four down months. So you're talking about,

Heather Turman 30:11
okay, August 2022 is when it's up, but we haven't seen a diamond and it's clear we're never going to. So that's

Alex Ferrari 30:18
a pretty it's a pretty, I've heard of flat out people not paying m G's or distributors not paying em G's, but the way they've structured that deal was, you'll get a little bit of the whole 300,000 from now until four years along, which is generally how mg is work. I'm G's work like, you deliver the film, mg is you're here to check, maybe break it up over the first year, something like that. I mean, that Netflix does it over two years, if you can, if you get it, and now they're going to pay you until after the agreements over. So if they licensed it for two years, well, your first check starts at the end of let's because it's Netflix, so they're just, you know, flux they cancel. Yeah, exactly. Okay. And you said your friend came out of the woodwork.

Heather Turman 30:58
So yeah. And then a friend came out of the woodwork and said, Oh, are you we're I didn't know that you had worked with him. She was actually She's a friend of my wife. And she had hit her up and said, I didn't know that Heather was working with this, this, this guy? And she said, Yeah, he's the distributor for the movie. Why? You know, and she said, Well, 10 years ago, I, me and several actors came together to make an indie film. And we'd had about 150 grand that we'd all chipped in, like, you know, three grand five grand, they'd all paid for it. And a week before, and he came on as a producer, and a week before they went into production, the money was gone. And he ran away with it. And so and so then I started doing a ton of that's how that was the first red flag because that was right when the film was coming out. And so I'm calling my producing partners, and I'm like, red flag, red flag, red flag. And one of them thought, one, the distributor had fed one of them. He partnered with them on another project. And so he was basically sitting next to them feeding them all of this. bs about how it's a disgruntled filmmaker, that suing them. And that's probably must be what I'm talking about. And I'm like, that is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about a different thing, like 10 years ago. And I'm, you know, maybe he has turned over a new leaf and is trying to make things right. But I think we need to talk about this and see what if we can get out of this. And I just, you know, my team didn't, didn't agree with me, essentially, at the time. And then later, it came out that that person was, I mean, I guess I can't even really say that part yet. But yeah, um, long story short, the Yeah. So now the distributor is supposedly still going to film festivals I've heard and still telling people that he wants to distribute their films, under this company, that's no longer in good standing. If you look it up, it like doesn't exist anymore.

Alex Ferrari 32:57
But he just opened up a new a new company if he wants to, and that's the whole thing again.

Heather Turman 33:01
Exactly. And that I had read about that I'd read about the bankruptcy, you know, plan where they were filing bankruptcy, and then going and buying all of their assets. And basically, you know, owning your film in perpetuity for nothing. And so when I read up on that, I was like, I think this is what he's doing. But he didn't end up filing bankruptcy. And it turns out that, because he's the only one on the company, and that kind of stuff, he still will end up being held liable. But at this point, it's like, we're kind of just we're gonna wait till the 40 month mark, when if we don't see that money, contractually, we'll get the movie back. But I mean, it's gonna be over four years old. So it's, you know, and we probably will still have to hire a lawyer and spend more money. So it's just something that like, if I can impart any sort of wisdom on any filmmaker who's going through this is just like, do your due diligence and everything that you preach about, about knowing your audience, finding your audience, and, you know, making people excited about the product before you release the product? Like you then can release your own product and you can really have a bankroll if you do things, right. If you crowdfund and you don't owe people money back. Why wouldn't you release it with a knot? give someone that power, you know, what, so?

Alex Ferrari 34:19
So right now, the movie is basically in limbo. You have no idea. It's it's, it's out. It's out there right now. It's out in the world. Yeah, it's around the world. But you haven't gotten a check yet. And it's been a long now, since you were supposed to catch up.

Heather Turman 34:31
I mean, so I mean, two years. We choose we are I know that he worked with an aggregate company. So he then of course, didn't even know how to get films up who was

Alex Ferrari 34:44
who do you work with tri coast, never heard of number 35. Right coast, really never heard. They're an aggregator.

Heather Turman 34:53
They are a distributor, but because he knew them and I didn't think he had the ability to get the films on the platforms. So he signed with them as an app aggregator for as an aggregate for all of his for his whole slate.

Alex Ferrari 35:05
That's another middleman. So that's another middleman that's taking a chunk out of your money.

Heather Turman 35:09
Exactly. Well, which, you know, we owe nothing to them that like, you know, their their contract wouldn't underwrite ours, it's just that thing of

Alex Ferrari 35:21
they'll take money out of his car, which will then take money out of your cut.

Heather Turman 35:25
Yeah, which we're not gonna see a cut Anyway, you know what I mean? Like, he's a criminal. That's really all there is to it. He's, you know, his I know, he had a court date for the FBI thing, like week or two ago, so he could be in jail for all I know, right now. But he, uh, go ahead.

Alex Ferrari 35:41
So where's your film available right now?

Heather Turman 35:44
It's, it's on Amazon. And last I it was on all of them. But tri coast recently dropped all of his films because of all the legal drama. So they ended up cutting ties with him. And so all of their So, you know, they got rid of all of his film. So I don't know if he's how capable he has been of getting it on somewhere else.

Alex Ferrari 36:06
Right now. So right now, it's only on Amazon.

Heather Turman 36:10
As far as I know. Yes. It was on Apple TV. It was on all it was on all these, but I think that it got pulled? And to be honest, I haven't checked it. But I definitely saw on Amazon. Somebody just watched it the other day and hit me up.

Alex Ferrari 36:21
So would you which cases obviously they're in breach of contract? Yeah, term breach of contract. If they're off of all the platforms, why don't you just take control of the film again,

Heather Turman 36:33
and just Oh, so I tried to do this. So I tried to do this. And I, again, you know, my, when you're partnering with people that, that you don't have an existing relationship with, like, I tried to go behind everyone's back and go to try and get the hard drives and do things that way. Like I was, I was trying to just be like, if you if you're a criminal, I'm gonna, I'm playing with a criminal here, I'm gonna go steal my movie back, you know, and, and I went there, and they'd already turned the drives over to him. So he has the hard drives. And he sent me a couple texts saying, like, you know, we are I hold like, I, we still hold the copyright. But the contract, of course, assigns the copyright to him. So where we've left it right now is one of my producing partners, spoke with him on the phone. And and basically, let him convince him that like, Oh, it's it's tri coast fault, I'm in a, I'm at odds with them, you know, and I'm just like, dude, you cannot, he is a criminal, we're never gonna see this money. And they're like, well, I don't want to pay for a lawyer. So let's just wait for the 14 month mark. So that's where we're at now. But it's been such a mess and such a nightmare. And I feel like I was not listened to this entire time by my producing team. Do you know what I mean? And so it's, it's, it becomes incredibly disheartening to and I think that that's the thing if, if you're going to go into if you're going to partner with other creatives on a project, make sure you're on the same page about distribution before you work together? You know?

Alex Ferrari 38:09
No, without question. I think distribution is I mean, I've talked about distribution and nauseum on this show. But I feel that it's just something that it nobody wants to talk about everyone, let's talk about the creative part, and the fun part. And hey, it's cool. And let's all talk about that. And we'll go to the premieres and walk red carpets, and Hahaha, and our egos will be stroked, and it'll be great. But when it gets to this point, everyone just has different views. And most, I'm gonna say 99% of filmmakers are completely ignorant of this process, speaking to 1000s of them, and connecting with 1000s of filmmakers on a daily, weekly basis. And what I hear all the time, most just don't know what even professionals are having issues in today's marketplace, let alone people who have no idea what's going on. Because there's there's a lot of like you're producing partners sound like they have the 9096 mentality. of them. Yeah,

Heather Turman 39:03
you know, Mm hmm. Yeah. And it's and it's changing. You know, it's a, it's an evolving world. And it's changed so drastically. And I agree with what I've heard you say on this podcast before, and that if you want to know what's gonna happen with film, watch what happened with music, and it's 100% true. And in some ways, it's good because we are at that place where everyone can make a film. But you also now you are competing with everyone. And so what you may cast to either you have to know your audience, inside and out, or you have to make something so good, you know, be that rare, amazing, universal story that that touches and reaches everybody. And not everybody is going to be able to write or create that that film. And so, you know, it's just it's changed so much and and it's so important to be aware of the options, and also to think like a business person and I think that's the thing because this As a creative field, so many people don't have like, I feel like I'm like, I'm split brains, like I was always good in math and science and good in English and the creative. So like, this stuff adds up for me, but like, a lot of the creatives that doesn't, and so they get taken advantage of I mean, even just the concept of agents, why agents exist, you know, because the creatives don't in general like that. They're their artists, you know, they're not thinking about the business side of things necessarily.

Alex Ferrari 40:27
Yeah. And I look, I think there are places for, I want to say agents, but managers have, eventually, one day I'll get an agent maybe who knows. But you need a you need some, especially when you add a certain level, you do need someone negotiating for you. As long as I'm not saying you don't, yeah, yeah, you definitely do that. Yes. But reps are great. Yeah, reps reps are fantastic. But it gets silly sometimes. And then then there's also those reps that just sit around doing nothing, you go out and get all the work, and then they take the 10% or 15%, or God forbid, 20 if you've done a really bad job.

Heather Turman 41:01
But at the end of the day, there is that second set of eyes, reviewing contracts and making the deals and a lot of times they make you more money. And so it's worth the money that you pay absolutely, absolutely

Alex Ferrari 41:14
no shade to agents or managers at all.

Heather Turman 41:17
I just the business aspect that like creatives need that some that business brain, you know, helping them along the way,

Alex Ferrari 41:24
you know, without without question, you know, I wish I wish I can tell you that this is a brand new story that I've never heard before. But you've listened to my show enough to know that this is not the case. I'm always fascinated by new techniques, new new scams, new ways to screw filmmakers. It's it just I don't know, I don't know, I guess I just come from a different cut from a different cloth because I just don't want to do that. To Life is too short. Like you're gonna, I don't know, this is my feeling. In 100 years, no one's gonna remember any of us anyway. Right? So you know, why don't you try to do some good while you're here, try to help some people try to express yourself be true to yourself. And that's basically what it is. Because, you know, if you just I don't know, it's not we're going down a whole other conversation. But it just upsets me that that filmmakers are treated this way. And it's, but you were saying something about music. That's what I was trying to get back to. With music. You're saying it's easy to make movies, it is super easy to make an album, like it is, it's so much easier to make an album there's so much more competition in music than there is in film, and watching what successful independent artists like Chance the Rapper, and Drake and these kind of guys who came up completely without an AC label, and did it all on themselves. That's inspiring. And we think we have a lot of competition where nothing compared to music. I mean, there's so everybody, and their mother thinks they can write a song or sing a song and put an album together and sell it. But that's where you need to focus on like what are they doing? What are the successful artists in that field doing that we can copy and you know and model in our world because oh God, and it's only getting tougher, so sorry, guys. No, this is that. I don't want to be that completely downer on this. But it's only it's only getting tougher. Like you just said Netflix isn't buying things like that anymore. And you know, many filmmakers I talk to everyday like, Oh, I just want to get enough that. No, you don't. You're never gonna get on. You know, do you have Jason Statham on? Okay. Yeah, you'll get good. Yeah. Bruce Willis, maybe? You know, yeah. It's it's genre. It's genre based. Big Star vehicle films is the only thing that they're by outside of their originals.

Heather Turman 43:43
Yeah, no, it's, it's true. And I do feel certain, you know, independent artists that are finding, it's almost like, like, when you especially when you look at someone like Jim Cummings, right after winning Sundance that didn't get him. You know, hollywood didn't come calling. Then he crowdfunded the feature that even that didn't get Hollywood coming. Finally, after crowdfunding, you know, this third now, you know, he's with CIA and taken seriously, and they're like, Okay, this guy's legit. But like, nowadays, it's like, you have to do it, you should just take one film, and I just feel like now it's cultivating a like a voice and, and brand through your work. That's, you know, it's like when you were talking about what the music what the musical artists do. For me, it's, they are really good at, at doing them like they know themselves inside and out. And they they have, they are a personality, and their their music fits within that personality. Like I feel like filmmakers have to do that same thing. You know where this these films are representative of my voice. Those films are representative of their voice and build that brand and then you can sort of step outside A little bit and and not just always, you know, then you don't have to always like when you're first getting started, yeah, make the vegan chef movie, you know what I mean? Like, and then find your audience. But then like, it's really funny and people start taking you seriously, like, start being like, that was a funny movie, I never, you know, I caught it because I was dating a vegan were over. But that was a great, great comedy, then maybe they'll tune into your next comedy, you know. And so eventually you can build out a brand and a voice,

Alex Ferrari 45:28
I think, I think you have a much better chance as a niche filmmaker doing niche stuff than you do if you're trying to do like a broad, broad spectrum stuff. Because everybody we talked about, look, there's probably arguably no better filmmaker who has a direct connection to their audience than Kevin Smith, Kevin Smith has cultivated over the last 2025 years. 30, almost 30 years, an amazing relationship with his audience. He understands who he is, he understands the kind of films he makes. And he talks directly to the audience. The thing that a lot of people don't understand is that he had studio backing to get his voice and his brand out there. So did Spike Lee. So to Robert Rodriguez. So to Quentin Tarantino, all of these guys have a big, have a big money behind them to launch this, they might not have it now, like Kevin Smith doesn't do studio movies anymore, really, he does mostly. But his brand is been established out there so much because of the studio system, that that they ride that way, it's the same with actors, you know, actors have one or two big movies, and then they'll ride that for a career, you know, don't really, you know, don't I'm not gonna say name specifically. But there's actors who were in the 80s and 90s, in big, blockbuster films, but then their career kind of petered off. And then now they're, they're working actors, but they're still off, they're still, they're still being paid off of that recognizability off of the big studio pushes. And for an independent, I think the only way you can get noticed is in a niche market. And then hopefully, and then hopefully grow from there. But be happy to stay in that lane at the beginning, and then maybe venture out but if you can, I always tell people, and you've heard this, if you could just make a living doing what you love to do. If you could just do this, Mike,

Heather Turman 47:20
you won. You won. Pick up one and don't know Yeah, I was gonna say yeah, you want like, this is it. And I think that like that's the thing with you know, because of the stories like Robert Rodriguez and you know, Richard Linklater, and everybody that you hear that had that beginning, you assume that that's going to happen for you. And so you have a having an attachment to the outcome of your film is the worst thing that you can do. Just make it because you love it, and share it with the world. And if it makes people happy, then that will make you feel good. And that's it.

Alex Ferrari 47:52
Enjoy the process. Because the end, the end goal is quick. If you're there for the awards, if you're there for the screening for the applause. That's very short amount of time in the whole time, the entire process of what you're making every day in, day out. If you don't love what you're doing. It's it's that's why so many filmmakers are so sad. Like they wouldn't ask you to like now what? Yeah, I mean, I don't have these problems. But many other people have had these problems where there's like, they win the Oscar, they win the award, they they make a hit, and then they're like, Oh, god, this is all I've been focused on my time. I don't know what to do now. Yes, I hope we have this problem. Great. I mean, I got I made 100 million now what do I do? Like I hope I have these problems. But But and I think you've seen it in the films that I've made. I just enjoyed the process. And I had no attachment to outcome. None.

Heather Turman 48:43
Yeah, no. And that's why I think I was so inspired by it. I had, you know, stumbled on the podcast stumbled on your book, and everything you were talking about in the book. I was like, well, which by the way, this was very funny, because when we were doing when we were looking for distributors, I my wife had done us a small film called girl flu. And they were with glass house, I believe is what it was called. And I was looking through their Rolodex of films at the time their slate. It was that who it was, and I saw handled.

Alex Ferrari 49:15
This is Meg. Yeah, they did international distribution for me.

Heather Turman 49:18
Yeah, so I saw this the trailer for this is Meg. And I watched it way before I heard your podcast way before I, you know, read your book. And so then as I'm reading this book that is speaking to me, and I'm like, this is exactly what I was trying to say, when we were building stuff out is I was like, let's really target like, you know, it was just that thing that I had had these instincts but didn't execute and didn't, wasn't taken seriously by my partners. And so when I was reading it, and you said like, Oh, my first film this is mad. I'm like, that's so funny. And that made me then go watch it because I was like, well, this feels a little bit Kismet because I had stumbled on an indie trailer. I mean, who does that you know? And then it turned out to be yours and and I loved it and coming from the comedy community, you know, Sean Paul offski. And oh, I didn't know. Yeah, just Jill. Yeah, I didn't I don't know her, but a friend of mine know her. And so I really enjoyed it. And it both of your films feel like the same director though. You know what I mean? Like, I guess you all have, yeah, I guess you have a style and a voice.

Alex Ferrari 50:24
Yeah, there's an energy, there's an energy behind it. But then if you watch my earlier films, they have absolutely no, like, it's completely different energy than their action and, and, you know, thrillers and things like that. But it's, you know, look, if the Coen Brothers can make raising Arizona, and blood simple. You know, everything can happen then. And we're humans and we evolve. Absolutely. in your life. Yeah. Look at Spielberg. I mean, he hasn't made a really big popcorn a movie in a while. He's a very serious filmmaker now. And they're great. And I love all his movies now, too. I do miss him going back to that. But I think he's, he's like, I've done that. I'm good. I don't need to make et anymore. I'm not I'm not the filmmaker. Yeah, I'm not that filmmaker anymore. Now I have to ask you, what is the right? I know, right? What is filming films like that? I know, what is the biggest lesson you've learned from making this film?

Heather Turman 51:19
One is the thing that I'd say two, I would say. First and foremost is the thing I mentioned about not having an attachment to outcome, because I feel like emotionally, it was such an incredible grief. And as a result of him sort of coinciding with that is the is compromising man. Like, if we're gonna go through the effort, and I think this is what I really learned is that I mean, I have started directing, I've dabbled in some shorts that would cost no money, they were just experiments. But I, I definitely want to direct for sure now, because when you go through the effort of, you know, building a world that you write on, on the page, and then go through the efforts and all the hours and labor that's involved in producing a film, especially when you're the type of producer that's knocking on doors and, and you know, when we can't find patrol cars, I'm going on Craigslist and seeing who's selling, you know, a black crown. Vic, can I pay you to not sell that just yet? And you borrow it for my film? When I hit up an ambulance and say, Can you guys come by for like an hour, I mean, all kinds of different, you know, stuff that I was willing to do when you do that kind of groundwork and you don't have final creative say, it's like, you know, it's a big heartbreak and, and especially if you know, you're just don't compromise that much. Just make sure that you really stick to your guns and you know, the product you want to make, so that you are not bullied or, you know, pushed out a little bit or just, yeah, I mean, compromising with with artists is not is not cool. Don't do it. Unless it's like a small thing.

Alex Ferrari 53:04
It's it's a tough the making film is probably one of the toughest artistic endeavors ever created. Because there's so many different, it has all the arts in it, all of it, it's all wrapped into one thing. And then also you can't do it alone. You need to compromise with others you need. Anytime you have other words, collaborate, you do collaborate, but as any director at any level will tell you, I don't care if it's a $200 million budget, or if it's a $50,000. Budget, you gotta compromise. Yeah,

Heather Turman 53:34
but if you are the and what, but what I'm saying there is that knowing, knowing what to compromise on, do you know what I mean? Is is and so that's what I mean, really know the product you want to put out, so that when those times come, it's like, yeah, I can bend on that that's not important. I think, you know, there's that thing Quentin Tarantino, something about music, like he was not willing, he needed the money to pay for the song because he knew that that for sure was going to really make the scene. And so it's the thing of and make the film and, and so knowing those things, and not bending on on what you know, is going to make the film and what you know that the film really is. But yes, of course, you have to compromise because you are, like you said, it's a collaborative environment. It's so many different moving parts. And so of course, that's going to happen, but yeah, I just mean like the meat like you can't compromise the meat, it becomes a different movie.

Alex Ferrari 54:27
No, no question. There was one. There's a funny story I heard years ago about Michael Bay on his first film, which was bad boys. And there was a shot he wanted and if any bad boys fans out there will know this shot towards the end when there there's a shootout in the airport. This guy explodes out of an airplane and crashes into something and it was like a big event and they and Michael really wanted it and and at that time, Michael was completely disrespected. He's a commercial director that like at whatever. They didn't really respect them and he's like, I need the shot. I need the shot. I want the shot. And it's like, no. And though he's like, how much will it cost to do the shot, he's like, it's gonna cost you 50 grand into the shot. And we'll come in an hour too early and set it up tomorrow, if you want to do it, and he goes, I'll pay for it. The next day before the take, he took the check, and placed it in front of dailies in front of the lens and recorded it. So everybody knew that he was paying for the shot, but he got a shot. And you got to regardless if you'd like Michael Bay movies or not, you got to respect that. You got to respect it.

Heather Turman 55:28
100% Yeah, yeah, I, I ended up having to sell my car to pay off the crew. And I remember, at the time, it was so simple. I know. And so that's why the distribution things even worse, but it's like, so I had done that. And the crew, though, knowing that I was doing that. He had said the kind of things to me and just, I know that I'll always be able to work with them again, you know, because of that. And so, you know, you definitely have to make those sacrifices when needed.

Alex Ferrari 55:57
Yeah, exactly. And hopefully you don't have to sell your car. Hopefully, hopefully, you don't have to sell your car. Now, what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to trying to break into the business today.

Heather Turman 56:11
Just make make make, start small, tell small stories, learn how to how to direct actors in a in a, you know, in a one room story and get bigger from there. And just learn that that's it. Get started and learn and start. Start small. So you don't overdo it. You know, like I said, I wanted to do a $50,000 movie. I'm happy with the movie. It's a rockin little indie. But um, you know, it was much bigger than I intended it to be or get and, you know, it put me financially in a hole for about two years. And so don't go too big too soon, you know? Exactly.

Alex Ferrari 56:46
I agree with you. And three of your favorite films of all time.

Heather Turman 56:50
Oh, man. I'm gonna get laughed at about this. But the Brady Bunch movie is one of my

Alex Ferrari 56:58
favorite first first time after 600 and some episodes of all my podcasts. Brady Bunch never ever one. Everyone should have you ever seen it? Of course I have of love that are so it's so

Heather Turman 57:08
it's great. It's fun. It's great. And just it's brilliant directing because it's you know, the Brady actors are in a whole different world than the rest of the cast. You know, it's it's brilliant. And it's so funny. So I love the Brady Bunch movie is one of my favorite films. And recently and growing up. Oh, man, everything Charlie Kaufman ever did.

Alex Ferrari 57:29
That station? I mean, yeah, yeah.

Heather Turman 57:33
Yeah. Eternal Sunshine. And, and lastly, I'd have to say and then just recently, I think I love booksmart. It was my favorite one of my favorite films in the last decade. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 57:43
Very, very fun. And then where can people watch stuck? Even though you won't be getting paid off of it yet? But where can?

Heather Turman 57:53
Yeah, we watch it because I want people to see you know what? My wife gave a killer performance. And I've seen people say that where they're like, wow, Heather matarazzo This is her first adult lead since Welcome to the dollhouse like she Yeah, what, uh, yeah, you know, and, and she killed it. And she did such a great job. So I want people to see it for her. And so it's on Amazon, and I believe, do a Google search because I haven't done one in a minute. And I'm sure you can find it on other platforms. But it's out there. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 58:23
it's on Amazon. And hopefully, one day we'll, we'll get some money for it. Yeah. I'm gonna

Heather Turman 58:30
write a book about the experience. I'll make my money back there.

Alex Ferrari 58:33
There. That's the film shoprunner method. Fantastic. I love it. Thank you so much for being on the show. I pray and thank you for being so raw and honest and and transparent about your experience in your journey. Hopefully, this will help some filmmakers out there listening. So thank you again, so much.

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IFH 489: Using Blockchain to Make Money With Your Film with Kim Jackson and Jake Craven


Right-click here to download the MP3

Learning about new and improved ways to navigate archaic structures in our line of business is always very interesting. So, this week, I wanted to take you on a deep dive into blockchain entertainment financing — refined by entrepreneurs and producers Kim Jackson and Jake Craven of Breaker.io.

Kim is a member of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, co-owner of SingularDTV, and CEO of its umbrella company, Breaker Studios, where Jake serves as Vice President of Content Partnerships.

Breaker, founded in 2017, is a leading blockchain development and services company in the Media & Entertainment industry. It provides an innovative, intuitive, and user-friendly end-to-end royalty management platform for independent creators and distributors. Simply put, it uses blockchain and cloud-based technology to enable creators to maximize their revenue by automating revenue collection, backend accounting, and royalty payments while ensuring transparent reporting. 

I discovered Breaker when I stumbled upon Alex Winter’s award-winning feature documentary, Trust Machine: The Story Of Blockchain produced by Kim. Trust Machine trailerThe film explains how Blockchain technology is already being used to change the world, fighting income inequality, the refugee crisis, and world hunger. 

If you are new to Blockchain or have felt overwhelmed by all the information Google threw at you in an attempt to learn the rudimentary theory of Blockchain and cryptocurrency, check out Vinay Gupta‘s ‘A Brief History of Blockchain, Kim referenced during our chat.

Breaker’s concept is definitely the future of entertainment finance and, dare I say, global financial transacting. Being ahead of its time, Breaker is introducing products that allow for media revenue and royalty to be tracked via blockchain technology, which allows for an open-source network of data.

Basically, Breaker provides a better model for instantaneous recording and eliminating mistrust, especially for independent companies that want to sustain a business and revenue model for themselves.

I wish we had more time to continue the conversation because it was packed with filmtrepreneurial and blockchain knowledge bombs, and we could all do with the extra crash course. But I made sure to ask many important questions for you guys from today’s experts.

So, enjoy my conversation with Kim Jackson and Jake Craven.

 

Alex Ferrari 0:01
I'd like to welcome to the show Kim Jackson and Jake Craven. How you guys doing?

Kim Jackson 0:19
Great.

Jake Carven 0:20
Doing great.

Alex Ferrari 0:21
Thank you. Thanks for coming on. You guys are doing some really interesting stuff with your company breaker. And I saw them film by Alex winter about blockchain because I've now obsessed about blockchain pretty heavily and about NFT's and all that kind of good stuff. And, and then you guys reached out to me, and I was like, Oh, interesting. I like to see what you guys are doing. So for the audience who is not familiar with this new magical world, that is blockchain and crypto and tokenization. All this stuff. What is blockchain?

Kim Jackson 0:59
Wow, that's a ginormous question. So in relationship to media and technology and film, we'll I think we'll put it in that context.

Jake Carven 1:11
Sure.

Kim Jackson 1:12
Jake.

Jake Carven 1:12
Right.

Kim Jackson 1:12
Well, seeing that avenue.

Jake Carven 1:14
Yeah.

Kim Jackson 1:15
But essentially, blockchain is the technology that what we're all familiar with, as Bitcoin runs on, right. So Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency. And it operates on blockchain technology. So it's a at its simplest form, it's a protocol that runs programs. And so at a basic level, the programs Oh, that's why they're different than centralized systems is because this network is called decentralized. And that means where there's network, there's data and where there's data, there's network, unlike centralized systems that we currently work with. So when you apply that to basic concept to certain, maybe challenges and problems that different industries, like media, and film and television have, we have been building and are launching products that allow for media to be, you know, rights, revenue and royalty of media to be tracked via blockchain technology, which allows for a decentralized network of data. So I'm going to stop there, because Jay can go a little more specific into what breaker is, is building from that more general description.

Jake Carven 2:43
Yeah, thanks for a good intro into the big picture of blockchain. How I like to refer to someone's asking what is blockchain? What is a blockchain? It's really just a record of information. Right. And what makes it different from other records that we use, if you think Google sheets or Excel, or just databases, right, is that when when you enter in a new row of data, that information is encoded, so that nobody can go in and change the information later. So it's locked in place and set in stone. In addition, instead of the data being stored on one person's hard drive, or one company's servers, it's held and hosted, maintained by hundreds of people all around the world. So when we say decentralized, it's what we mean, it's there's people all over the world that are hosting and maintaining this network. And this is a record of information. So no one party is in control of that information. And it's all open source so that anyone at any point can go and view this record, they can pull up a website, and you know, put into information and actually see, you know, proof that information was logged and entered into this record. Now, it's all done using, you know, cryptography and long numerical chains that the average person can't decipher, or any person can say can decipher really. But what it does is it creates this opportunity where when you have data that's coming in from one source, instead of that data, just living on someone's computer, and then some human is like entering data and changing the information and sending it via an email. That information is automatically recorded and set on this public record the blockchain that people can go back to.

Alex Ferrari 4:56
So to simplify it is basically a database That has pages in a ledger, those pages are blocks inside of that chain. And they're hosted cop, there's 1000s of copies of that exact thing around the world. So even if you hack into my computer, and, and you know, try to do something, you can't, because there's multiple copies all around around the world, that could be verified by 1000s. And 10s of 1000s of people around the world as this continues to grow and grow is essentially and you can't adjust. And then like any chain, if you block it in the next chain, if you affect this chain, it will affect the rest of the entire chain. So that means it's literally locked in stone, digital stone and cannot be adjusted. So that's the security aspect of it. Is that a fair explanation?

Jake Carven 5:47
Yeah, absolutely. And I think I think most people, most people, you don't need to be tech savvy to, to, you know, reap the benefits of this or to appreciate how all this technology sort of works. You know, I think a lot of times, especially with the blockchain world, we kind of get a little too, we start talking about all the tech and code and all that stuff, when you know, really think of the internet and email, don't need know how email works in order to like, reap the benefits of email. So, you know, there's always this sort of element of the blockchain world where things get too technical too quickly. But we try and just break it down into kind of very clear concepts. And I think that's, that's an important element of just understanding that normally, when you send an email to someone, the record of that email is being held by the company who owns your email address, right? The email server like Google, if Google were to cease existing tomorrow, you would lose all of that information that's on your email, because it's stored by this private entity. So what blockchain does is takes that data and puts it up in a way where it's not subject to like one private entity who can take and use that information however they want or just disappeared, delete it.

Alex Ferrari 7:06
Fair, fair enough. Now, there are obviously the the origination of blockchain was with Bitcoin, and Bitcoin coming on. And that's when the whole concept of blockchain came to came to be, I think, in 2008 and December of 2008, if I'm not mistaken, and there are multiple blockchains out there because a lot of people think there's just this the one blockchain there's multiple blockchains out there, Bitcoin has its own blockchain, which is based around its cryptocurrency. But then another blockchain came out, which is arguably the silver to bitcoins gold, which is aetherium. And aetherium, was created as a blockchain not as much for money, though it has a component of that, but as a platform to kind of piggyback on is that, is that correct?

Kim Jackson 7:54
Correct. Yeah, it's its intention is to have more functionality and more dimension than just operating currency, which is Ethereum is the is the operating protocol that we're building our applications on top of

Alex Ferrari 8:12
now with, with Go ahead,

Jake Carven 8:16
I was gonna say, to go back to your analogy, instead of saying the theorem is silver to bitcoins gold, I think a better way to think of it is a theorem is the oil to bitcoins gold, because well, Bitcoin is a, you know, an asset that can be used as currency. Fair enough theory is, is a system for running applications and to be built upon.

Alex Ferrari 8:39
Now with that, with Ethereum, you because there isn't a monetary aspect of theory, there is an aetherium coin, which runs everything. So with, with the theorem did some of the issues that I've been hearing and seeing myself in the NFT world, is that it takes a long time for these things to get all these all these processes to get registered, because it takes time to physically get it on there. Also gas fees and things like that. Can you talk about that? Because that kind of goes into a larger conversation about what you guys are doing? And how are you going to kind of, because we're at the beginning, where I've been telling people there's like, we're basically in the internet 1994 right now, there, people are still trying to figure out how to build a website, people are still trying to figure out JPEG, because it's that, you know, I remember downloading an image that took four days to download one picture because no one understood JPEG yet. Things like that. Were in that world right now. So there are these kinds of issues that and that we're all figuring out and will be figured out in the next five years, if not faster, because there's so many people going in there. But what do you think? How do you approach and I can you explain gas fees and the speed and things like that with aetherium? Because there's just so many people jamming into it.

Kim Jackson 9:57
Jake

Jake Carven 9:58
Yeah. In order to understand, you know, if you're someone that that, listen to this and you're not familiar with sort of how blockchain actually works, when we say we're recording a new piece of information or data on the blockchain, what we're doing is you're submitting, let's say, transaction with this data. And then there are all these people that are maintaining this network in order to get people and this is what makes blockchain innovative, is, in order to get people to actually maintain that network of information. And to update it, you have to incentivize them, right, they're not just going to do it out of altruism. And because they like the idea of a decentralized network of information. So they have to get paid to maintain all this, right. And so they're just using computing power and their computers. But what happens is, they get paid a fee to update the blockchain to record your data, right, like you pay a fee for a notary public, if you will. And so those, that fee is what's called a gas fee. So when you go to transact blockchain, or you're going to use an application that is interacting with the blockchain in some way, you have to pay a gas fee in the form of cryptocurrency that goes to the individual who's actually like logging that transaction. So that's what keeps the system going. And moving forward, as you know, people are being incentivized because they're getting paid to do it. And, and that's, that's what we refer to gas fees. Now, there's a lot of development that's taking place and a lot of different approaches to blockchain technology and updates, the original mechanism of it was built in serve one purpose, but it had limitations. Were at a phase now where there's a lot of updates being made and switching to some different systems that are more efficient and cost less and are faster. And those are going to be implemented. And some of them are already implemented. Some we're going to be going in the next year, a couple of years. So the whole landscape is changing pretty dramatically right now in terms of just like the nuts and bolts and how of how it works. But for us, the key thing is looking at just that underlying the value proposition of just a blockchain and then this core concept that of what we like to call tokenization. What is tokenization?

Kim Jackson 12:35
Well, Alex, I want to say one thing. You have it, right? It's early days, it's like 1996 in blockchain right now. So it's like the dial up date. Oh, settings, take

Alex Ferrari 12:47
money for 100 bucks. 2400 baud? Yeah.

Kim Jackson 12:49
Yeah, exactly. So it's very, it's a very early, it's still early days. It really, really is. And so, you know, the, the architects of Ethereum are well aware. And they are, you know, they're there. You know, I listen to conversations on clubhouse that, you know, they pop in and out of, and, you know, they're, they're very much aware and their solutions that they're working on, and they're very confident in the future of the etherium protocol, being able to handle the number of transactions that would would be necessary for it to work properly for the general public. Just like the internet, you know, had to figure that out, too. So, yes, so you know, it's, it's, it's definitely a good horse to bet on.

Alex Ferrari 13:39
No, exactly. It's like, if you would have told me like, you know, this internet things really gonna take off. You know, I mean, I still remember dialing, you know, logging in with my AOL free disk that I got, yes, I got my free connection to the Internet.

Kim Jackson 13:54
Made the sound on sound effects. Oh, fantastic. It was, you know, you couldn't wait and we just sat there and we waited and a little chat rooms would come up in the windows, you'd be talking to people in like Vietnam and it was just like amazing Thai was was exceptionally good, incredible. Time. And then you had I put in my name and didn't work and you know, getting your email address. For the first time in a while. I tried like a zillion things. And then I ended up putting some really random thing in there. Just like, okay, I give up. And then of course, it took it so then that was my AOL. I Oh, well, address was something weird and random for a very long time. Yes, it's sort of like that. And, um, I recommend this really great about 25 minute video that Vinay Gupta recorded some years ago that essentially talks about the history of computer science leading to blockchain. And it is super, super important, especially those who maybe came a little bit later in the game and don't maybe have holes in their knowledge of computer science. Leading up to today it was extremely it's like one of those things that we have a required viewing for people who work with us. Because it's very important to understand this moment in time of computer science, which is where we are, which is extremely exciting.

Alex Ferrari 15:16
No, exactly. Please send me a link to that. I would love to put that in the show notes for everyone to watch as well. But I feel I feel that blockchain is as important if not more important than the internet. And it's just such a that's such a that and that is such a massive statement to say, I'm not alone in that, by the way, I'm sure there's many I think both of you agree with it. It's, it's seeing the vision of work and go it's not there right now. But seeing the vision of where that can go. They mean cryptocurrency and we could talk about cryptocurrency, and that is a long game. It's a long in 100 years, we're all going to be dealing with some form of cryptocurrency. I mean, the dollar paper money and all of that, is it. I don't I don't think that's going to happen. I mean, it keeps going for the next 100 years. I think that's very archaic way of doing things. This is and I think that the D five movement and the decentralization and all that stuff is great. But Jake, remind me Did you? Did you answer the question on tokenisation? No, okay. Okay. Okay. I was, I was like, I don't remember him answering it. So took a decision, because I don't know, that's a big part of what you guys are doing with breaker.

Jake Carven 16:22
Yeah, so you to bring it all back around to film and entertainment and how blockchain can be used in the entertainment industry. You have to think of this concept. And this is what when people hear of NF T's or they hear of, you know, different companies and tokens, what we're what we're really talking about is taking a piece of intellectual property and creating a digital identifier with it, which is what we call a token. So it is a unique code that is an address that is recorded on the blockchain that is then associated back to that asset. So what we're doing is taking, let's say, a film, and creating a digital token that represents that film, and the ownership shares of that film, same time. So instead of having just like a contract, then each person has their copy of the contract. And, you know, you kind of have to rely on attorneys to confirm all that. And then some, some accountant will look at it and determine, okay, this person gets this amount, what you're actually doing is you have this digital identity identifier that's recorded on the blockchain. But with that is in associated smart contract, which is another key concept in the blockchain world, which is you're taking the terms of, let's say, a film finance agreement, and you're turning it into a logical formula saying, if X amount of dollars, then it goes to this person, then any money after that goes to these people. And so now, when something happens, let's say there's a transaction or someone sends money to, or records it on the blockchain via a platform, that token, so the asset, right, the money flows back to that address, it's associated with it tied to that address, and then the code based on the smart contract knows how to then to split up the money and who to send it to automatically, because of the terms that you put in place. So what we're doing is looking at how we can tokenize an asset, right, take intellectual property, create a digital token that represents it, and the shares and the back end, and then also apply a smart contract where we can then automate the flow of revenue and the management of rights for that underlying asset

Alex Ferrari 18:48
in a complete transparent way where anybody can go in and look at it, as opposed to the shady world of distribution today.

Jake Carven 18:58
So instead of relying on, you know, an entity where it really comes down to some, you know, accounting associate, manually putting numbers in a spreadsheet, and even if everyone is acting with the best of attention intentions, they're still going to put you know, run the formula incorrectly or miss human error type number, you know, all this stuff, and it just so much error and so much money is lost, and, you know, all because of the sort of human and, and really archaic methodology and practices for entertainment, accounting and rights management, which is really hasn't changed since this all started in the turn of the century. Alright, so this, you know, a way of bringing this new technology to create more efficiency, automation, transparency, for what is otherwise a very inefficient process.

And that is your so some key elements that you Using our tokenization and then smart contracts, can you go? You mentioned smart contracts? Can you explain the smart contracts are to the audience?

Well, yeah, smart contracts are really, it's a set of code that is embedded on in the token. But really what that code is, you're taking the terms of an actual paper contract that you sign, and then taking the logic of like the flow of funds and who receives what and when, and then applying that into actual, like, logic, like math of. And that's what smart that's really all a smart contract is it's that logical formula, that is reflecting agreements between parties that are done outside

Alex Ferrari 20:45
like the waterfall, it's normal waterfall funds, yeah, on the back end, correct. First in like first in financers, get first monies in all that kind of stuff. But it's broken up through using basically smart contracts and blockchain. So when a happens, then B happens, and then once B is done, then it goes out to C, D, E and F. And then you can just lay out however you want the smart contracts to play out, essentially

Kim Jackson 21:09
correct so that when revenue flows in to that token, from the external sources, it automatically will get split into those buckets that you know, you know, this this shareholder that shareholder that member this, you know, that you have your writer and your director or your let's say, you know, you have guilds that need you know, all of it, you can do all all of the anyone who's sharing revenue, in a particular piece of content, or intellectual property. It will automatically when revenue comes in the revenue be pushed into all of those

Alex Ferrari 21:46
different entities. Because right now, there are a handful of companies around the world that do this but in a manual way, not an A and I have had those those companies on the show have spoken about that sounds great. Like they make sure all the you know the the unions get taken care of and, and all entities are very comfortable with that, because there's a centralized kind of almost escrow account that handles the money that has not been handled by anybody else. And they know that they're going to get paid because this entity is going to do it. But the way you're proposing it would be essentially humorless, in the sense of it's going to be set up in a completely transparent way where you can literally log on, check the check your site and go Okay, this is how it's coming in. But the question I have for you is, this is all of course, based on blockchain and cryptocurrency because that's how these these payments have to be moved through has to be moved through aetherium. cryptocurrency, correct. I mean, you're not writing checks, essentially, are not doing wire transfers, or are you

Kim Jackson 22:43
know, no, there is a mechanism that it can be turned into Fiat. It can be turned into, you know, USD. And so we're using a stable coin in this case, so that that deals with the fluctuation that will happen right with cryptocurrencies. So, you know, when revenues come in and something gets, you know, pushed into the token, it will be pushed into the stable coin. And then those stable coins can be held on to or transferred into, you know, exchanges,

Alex Ferrari 23:16
however you however you choose, so that, when you say stable coin, is that an actual name of a coin? Or is that just a generalized name of a coin that you are creating, to make sure that that if $10 comes in $10 comes out, as opposed to $10 comes in Ethereum bombs, or explodes? And then they got $100. Or

Kim Jackson 23:35
no, we didn't invent that. Okay. It's it's a mechanism that, you know, others it's an issue, right? That's a problem, right? You to pay people in crypto, just playing crypto, I mean, it's gonna rise and fall in a millisecond. So So how do you deal with that? So, you know, it's been figured out and, you know, Jake, you can shed some a little bit more light on that one, because I know you're, you know, we're working on our SaaS product right now. And, and that's one of the mechanisms that we use, but no, we can't take credit for.

Alex Ferrari 24:04
Because I've seen that, but there was a point that's a USD coin that's just basically tracks. So that's the point you're using, essentially.

Jake Carven 24:12
Yeah, so we use usdc. There are a number of other stable coins, but the core idea is, you know, it's getting the benefits of, you know, sending funds via the blockchain and but without the volatility or the risk of interacting with cryptocurrency, so it's tied to the value of the US dollar. And, you know, what we really look at is, and this is something that we encounter, you know, there's a lot of companies that have been in this space that came around, we've been doing this for a lot for a while now, men have really learned what are the pain points and some of the limitations to really for broad adoption of this technology. And so we build tools, taking those learnings and applying that. So you know, when you're a filmmaker You need to be able to exploit your film, anywhere where there's a revenue opportunity, right. And there's only if the number of avenues that you release a film is just growing, right? Because audiences are more spread out, there are more new platforms every day. And it's important to be able to, you know, reach those audiences wherever they are to find those opportunities to have your film stand out. So we've built a tool that we call it an on ramp, right, like fiatter, crypto on ramp, so you're able to collect payment in dollars, right? Usually, it's processed via bank account transfer, so a ch. And then our technology automatically converts that to a stable coin. And by doing that, once the funds are in a stable coin, then they can be sent to the film's token. And the smart contract can then do its job, send the funds to all the different participants, and they can then claim their share of the royalties and the revenue immediately. Right then in there. So we look at this sort of full chain of funds, and and how do we make it as smooth and easy as possible, while still still actually getting the benefits of the technology? At the same time?

Alex Ferrari 26:20
So and then. So let's say you have a Netflix deal, you've got some transactional on iTunes, and you sold Germany for a few 1000 bucks, let's say you did all those three things, you would basically have them send checks or wires, essentially into a an account that then automatically turns them into a stable coin.

Jake Carven 26:42
Well, yeah, so what it is, is you will in one way to think of the to kind of step back, when we talk about tokenizing a film, think of it in the way that we would go about and create like a ppm, right? If you're trying to raise private equity for a film, you need a private placement memorandum, which breaks down what is the equity structure, what is the person who's investing in the film, getting all that sort of stuff, and tokenizing, the film is taking that waterfall, putting it into the smart contract and deploying that. So it's recorded on the blockchain. So now you have this token that has been deployed, it's in place, and then begins time to like, Alright, let's start collecting revenue. So for Netflix, and if you're releasing from on iTunes, you're like going through an aggregator or distributor, those payments, most likely are going to come the NAC h transfer, right? A direct bank transfer. And so we are you, a filmmaker can then share the link to our payment portal, if you will, and that that distributor or license or can then submit, you know, remit payment, VA ch directly on that, and that those funds will then be automatically associated with the filmmaker with that film. Right. And so all of the like, you know, the manual, all the like, the counting stuff is all happening behind the scenes automatically, that international, probably, you know, there's a good chance that that might come the wire payment, but also, you know, bank transfer. So we're looking at, you know, how are the ways that filmmakers actually get paid today? And how can we evolve this technology to be able to

Alex Ferrari 28:26
address those different use cases, and you as breaker don't hold any of the money coming in. Because that's been one of the big issues with aggregators and things like that, that they hold the money and might miss spending money, money comes in automatically, with instantly once the money hits that account, turns into a kit at the stable coin, then goes down the waterfall into the thing, you guys never touch anything regarding. I mean, obviously, regarding whatever the payment is for your service might be taken off the top or there's a pain. I don't know how that works. How do you make money with this all?

Jake Carven 29:02
So I mean, we're providing this service, right, it's a software as a service. So you know, there's a mechanism of people, you know, paying for via, like, you would pay for any technology that you use. Got it. And so, but the goal, the the core goal for what we're doing, and this is something that goes back to something that you brought up, collection account management services, and one of the big, the big cards with them is that they are expensive, very often prohibitive, especially for independent film. So, you, us using this technology allows us to provide this service to creators at a much more affordable rate. Right then the legacy systems that are in place today. Very, very cool.

Kim Jackson 29:48
And then, you know, another goal that's worth mentioning here, is that, you know, is to have everyone in this ecosystem participate With blockchain technology utilizing this, so not just the content creator, but also the media companies who are distributing the work, because we talked with a lot of them, and we are approaching, you know, a lot of them at the moment in very exciting conversations because they're backroom accounting is extremely inefficient, cost them millions and millions of dollars, and they lose millions and millions of dollars all the time based on just either error or error, you know, error in accounting, or just the inability to really track stuff, especially when you start getting complicated with multiple, you know, territories that you can imagine a piece of content will go to especially like, you know, Netflix now and all across the world. So the long term goal is to, you know, really have everyone participate in, you know, with this software and building a bridge between the, between the two, because it can benefit both sides. It's baby steps, and it's it's new. So, you know, everyone has to start to get comfortable with the concept of telling the truth.

Alex Ferrari 31:16
Anyone who's anyone who listens to my podcast understands my feelings in regards to traditional Yeah.

Kim Jackson 31:24
Right with you all, it's one of the reasons that this is happening is is I got tired of being shortchanged, I get tired of not having revenue reports, not being able to report to my, my investors, and good, bad or indifferent, you know what I mean? Like you, okay, sometimes a picture doesn't, you know, do well, but at least you'd have numbers to be able to, you know, justify that and show why we don't even get that information. And so, when we learned about the potential of blockchain, on media and content, it's really what inspired myself and my co founders to, to do what we're doing right now. And realizing that it is a long game and realizing that we would be disrupting and interrupting, you know, quite quite a system. But just like the internet happened, it was undeniable, and people are not going to use that I'm not going to do that. It's one of those things where you're all we're all gonna be using it, whether we realize it or not. Someday soon. And so, it by introducing the power of this and the efficiency, I think that organically, I'm hoping this is my pie in the sky, you know, but, but I'm hoping that organically, everyone just adopts this. And then we don't even have to have a conversation about the truth anymore. It's just it just happens. Because it's just more efficient.

Alex Ferrari 32:45
Right? And that's what this whole. That's the whole beauty and genius of blockchain is that two strangers can do business without knowing or trusting each other. And that's been the issue from the beginning of the humanity high, since beginning of time, it was like, I want to give you my goat. And you're gonna give me a cow. But how am I sure you're not going to kill like, there's, there's no, there's no way of doing and that's why fiat money and gold and all these kind of things of getting, we've tried to figure it out over the years. But in this digital platform with blockchain, it completely erases everything.

Kim Jackson 33:24
And it's completely transparent. You don't have to have a like a moral or philosophical or ethical position, it's just gonna be in is it just gonna happen? Because it makes more sense. It's logical, you know, and this is, like, Jake said, it's math, it's man get down to the core of all of it. And it's math. And it's just with with the acceleration of technology and media in particular. It's going to make sense, just from a logical perspective, because how do you account for all this content? And this content sharing? I mean, it's like, it's insane how much is out there. I mean, just from the perspective of the viewer, I get we're over, we're overwhelmed with choices. And if you think about it, from a content creators perspective, the competition out there is insane. And the lifespan of your of your content now, is much, much longer and much greater, much grander than it ever was before. And it's going to just keep accelerating.

Alex Ferrari 34:17
Right, exactly. And I, you know, I'm in the weeds with this all the time. And when you're saying all these films are out there, most of them aren't getting paid. And it's not, it's either, you know, I did just not they're just not most most most of them are not getting paid, because of these kind of weird distribution agreements or shady practices or error, human error, as well, or Amazon's which is from 10 cents a minute, an hour to one penny, of streaming and things like that

Kim Jackson 34:49
get acquired and somebody else buys them and then they have a new department and then they have to transfer all that centralized data and I've got a new person and I'm looking at this first time and I don't know what I'm looking at. I Since it's insanity, it's really insanity. And when we talk to a lot of the, you know, CFOs and accounting types who put these media companies, you know, a lot of times the one departments are talking to the other. So the the department is doing distribution for television is not talking to the department is doing distribution for for traditional film and they have data that's separate and those that data should be connected, and it's not being connected, and it's in the same company within the same company. So the inefficiencies are getting the gap is getting wider and wider. And so they know that something's got to give because they're losing money. And so, you know, the blockchain is an incredible solution. And, you know, we're very, very excited and very motivated by the promise of blockchain. And, and, you know, it's very exciting that you guys and the listeners, and everyone, you know, get this and, you know, it's like talking, it's kind of boring on some level to talk about it a blockchain, because it's like talking about JavaScript, it's like, Who cares? It's like, what's going on underneath of the hood. But you know, what you really care about is, you know, what's, what's the bottom line for, for you, and what the bottom line is, is understanding the core that you're using is actually going to level the playing field, you know, take away, you know, the mistrust, and be able to give you instantaneous recording, these are very important and powerful things, especially for independent companies that want to sustain a business and revenue model for themselves. Because it's, it's almost impossible, you know, you'll get a bunch of funding, you'll make, you know, half a dozen movies, and then you're closing your doors four or five years later. This happens all the time. And so there's got to be a better model. And we're hoping with with this technology, we hope to be able to provide that to these, these filmmakers and these companies.

Alex Ferrari 36:52
Now, there's another thing I saw on your website in regards to financing a film, how do you use this technology in the financing game on how to get your independent project financed? Because there's some very, very interesting benefits that could possibly come from it?

Kim Jackson 37:10
Sure, it's a bit complex, right at the moment, it's not black and white, as you know. You know, I think if you're in a perfect world, and in the future, I can see that you can tokenize your movie, do a token raise just almost like crowdsourcing in a way. But the differences is that instead of getting a T shirt, you're actually getting revenue participation in that movie. And in real time, just like we're talking about through the same mechanisms we were just discussing. And that's in a perfect world. And that's what we we envision for tokat. In the future, it's not possible for various reasons, right? Right now, really, from that perspective of, you know, we can't be it, we can't hold money and be a bank for people like that there has to sort of be that separation. And so it's not as easy. And also, on some level it's crowdsourcing. So you're kind of faced with that same kind of situation with, you know, the Kickstarters of the world, right, in terms of like, getting people's attention, to be able to, you know, raise the amount of funds that you need for that your, your picture. And so, there is a mechanism that I could see in the future that would kind of combine those two efforts where people, especially if you're a well known filmmaker, and you have a track record, and people know, you, you're already going to have a fan base. And so imagine, imagine if there was the Star Wars token, like a mad magic. And but but all those token holders who were fans got to participate in the success almost like the NFT type of model. Right, right. But but from from more of an intellectual property and a revenue sharing model. So, Jake, yeah, I'm sure you got.

Alex Ferrari 38:52
It's like, it's like equity crowdfunding, essentially, almost. But using blockchain and tokens, it's called,

Kim Jackson 38:59
it's complicated because of ky seeing. And because of all of these, these these sec rules and regulations that are from like, 1948, or something that don't really apply to technology today. And so it makes things a bit challenging, but how about this for this specific moment,

Alex Ferrari 39:17
but what about IPOs? So wouldn't this be similar to an IPO? Well,

Jake Carven 39:23
it would be but we forget, I mean, we don't forget it. It's a very small pool of people who actually get to participate in IPOs. Right? It's not IPOs are not something that every person gets to participate in. We might be able to buy a stock after a bank purchases X number and then they sell it again.

Alex Ferrari 39:44
initial point an Ico excuse me, an Ico not an IPO but Ico when they like Dogecoin for God's sakes, or something like that when they put out a coin codepoint initial coin offering could that be kind of like a movie initial movie offer

Jake Carven 39:58
so well. That's the thing, I mean, that we're at, we're at the stage to go back to the knowledge of where we are in the evolution of the technology. Right? There's, we're at the stage where Yeah, it's, you know, 1996 internet, but the SEC has caught up enough learned enough about the internet, right, that they're on, on c span, calling it a series of tubes. But, you know, applying their existing framework to this, and causing a bit more, you know, you know, it's still an evolving process. So, you know, we've gotten to a threshold where, you know, 2017 2018, is where you had the sort of Ico boom. And that's where the technology was very new to a lot of the regulators in, in, you know, countries around the world. But now 2021, it's much more familiar, it's on the radar. So they've limited stuff to a point that you really not seeing those happening as much right now. The coins that are released very often it's, it's not something where people are raising funds through a release of the coins, where people are purchasing them, it's usually more, the new currencies or tokens are being utilized, where they have some utility to them. And they're being distributed to a community of people who can then you know, use them for different purposes, but it's not being used as something to you know, crowdfund in the same way that it was in 2017 2018. So you know, where we look at in terms of if you're a filmmaker, and you're going to raise money. And one of the big aspects is, where's the money coming from, and you can still go out and raise equity and get investors. But what happens more often than not is you're a filmmaker, you get an investor to help you with your first film, you make that film, but from the investor standpoint, the experience of being an investor in independent film is is so bad, because there isn't a lot of information, right? There's, you know, they don't, it's not even that they didn't make their money back. It's just like, there's the black hole, right? There's no data, there's no, it's very hard to get a sense of like, what's going on, you know, what is the act? How is money actually being used? Where's How is the film doing? What was the value of my investment in this. And so it becomes incredibly difficult to get people to investor invest in a second film. And you what we really see is this technology being a tool that creators can use when they go out to investors saying, look, using this, and the technology ensures that you're going to have this access to information. And, you know, we're addressing these sort of pain points that a lot of film investors encounter. And that makes the you as a creator. more intriguing, you know, option for someone to invest in, because there's this level of like, I don't have to trust that you're going to write me a check and pay me back. It's, it's we're utilizing technology that's going to automate all of that. So you're going to get everything as soon as we do. And that our aim is for that to be something that helps these conversations when filmmakers are talking to investors. And that's how it right now without getting into regulations, and sec stuff is a way today that it can be used as a tool to help with financing.

Alex Ferrari 43:20
Well, where can people find out more about what you guys are doing?

Jake Carven 43:26
Well, you can find out on I mean, on our website. So breaker.io is a website. For our technology side, we have a website called tools.breaker.io. We also have our studio side where we produce and finance our own slate of films. And that's breaker studios. And actually, I'll add that those films are our own testcases. So we're using this technology to manage the revenue in the rights for the films that we're producing ourselves. So we're not just asking people to use it, you know, and we're also not just technology people that are trying to build something for the film industry, because we think the film industry is cool and sexy. People that happened to be technology people at the same time, I'm an entertainment attorney. And I spent my career as a distributor working with new distribution mechanisms and new tools and platforms, and Kim's a producer in producing films her whole career. So we're also you We come from the entertainment side and have that background and knowledge that has informed how we guide this technology.

Alex Ferrari 44:34
And the old joke is how do you how do you make millions in the film industry? You start with billions. Yeah. You did. Actually. You don't? I mean, it's Yeah, I mean, and you say that you know you when you define the film industry, Alex Well, the film industry is very there's so many aspects There's the independent film industry. There's the people who, like Marvel. There's Disney, there's, you know, then there's the back back alley, you know, predatory distributors. There's so many aspects of the film industry on the just performance side, then there's the production side, then there's the this, there's, there's so many different aspects of it. But yeah, so you can't make money in the film industry. There are definitely places you can make money in the film industry. But

Kim Jackson 45:30
yeah, if you're a pirate, and you know, I've met them on all beside you're talking about I've met them in production, of course, we'll go We'll go What's your budget, okay. And then they do their own creative accounting on the production budget, so they can filter, you know, filter money over to some other entity, whatever happened. And you're like, you know what, I'm a line producer. I know how to count. I don't think you kidding me? And they look at you with a straight face. Like what do you mean,

Alex Ferrari 45:59
crafts? craft services cost? $20,000. a day on $100,000? movie? I don't understand. You know, $100 bagel?

Kim Jackson 46:12
Yeah, you have? Yeah, there's, there's four extras and you have, you know, $100,000. And for extras, like, you know, like, what? No, extra. So, you know, like these types of things. But yes, you have to be a pirate you do, you have to be a pirate. And, you know, I've definitely made a movies with my fair share of them. And I had to say it was a lot of fun. However, I want to make money, I want to make money, I want enough a business revenue source, you know, that's reliable, that allows me to sustain a business model for myself. And you know, one of the other interesting things that I always bring up to is a lot of colleagues who've been in the business a long time who have survived longtime survivors of you know, independent films specifically, you know, they are coming up against Where are the rights to these films that we sold 15 years ago, where are these are who owns the rights to these films, because they're expiring now and right, and technically, they should be able to, you know, repackage and redistribute these films, especially the sweetheart films that have, you know, an ability to be repackaged in a really, you know, classics or whatever, how or whatever you want to package it. And they're finding that they have no idea where the rights live anymore, because a lot of times the companies that they first sold to were bought, the libraries were bought and sold maybe multiple times, and the the resources that would take them to do the research is just not they're not it's not available to them. So they just kind of have to let things you know, go. And it's a it's a missed opportunity. It's a missed business opportunity, especially if you're a longtime, you know, producer, it's our director, you know, a creator it's, it's, it's a lost opportunity.

Alex Ferrari 47:56
And if you have smart contracts, that kind of voids that situation. if everyone's on a smart contract, like 15 years, it automatically goes to this person's account again, and blah, blah, blah, or whatever it is. All right. I mean, if everything in a magical world, eventually we'll get there. I think we're still years away. from everybody jumping on board, it could because it's, it's like the internet. And how long did it take? I still remember going on line and going Paramount calm? Nope. disney.com? Nope. Like there was I remember those times that there's How long did it take before everybody jumped online before anyone had a website? So this is the same thing I think it's gonna take it's gonna be faster than it did with the internet, though. And Bitcoin is kind of like, done a lot of the heavy lifting over the last decades. It's It's, it's, it's it's come out. It's like, they've kind of refined the idea. And now it's starting, I think he's starting to pick up a little bit of steam. Would you guys agree with all just blockchain and everything is that people are starting to become much more aware of it. Sure.

Jake Carven 48:56
Well, technologies evolved to a point that it's, you know, there are, there are certain hurdles that we encountered and chosen a team that limited our ability to do certain things that were are no longer hurdles, because technology is evolved. So it's growing and improving really, really fast. And that's a great thing. Because, you know, we see the potential use cases and the potential is becoming the actual very quickly.

Alex Ferrari 49:22
Yeah, I mean, if you remember 1996, and then you remember 2006. I mean, YouTube was a year Oh, you're you're too old. And the compression of video was horrible. And it took them another five or eight years before. Oh, look, 720 p. It takes time for this to go. But I think that's I think it's a very exciting time. And I think what you guys are doing is really exciting. And there's there's a lot there's a big learning curve coming. There's a lot of hurdles we have to get over. for everybody involved including the old school dinosaurs and the new young kids coming up who understand is much better than your flitz.

Kim Jackson 50:04
But, you know, don't Don't sell yourself short. I mean, you know, we were there in the beginning. So we have more knowledge, you know, because we were at the sort of the, the beginning of the internet craze. And sure, I think that being around for that and witnessing that and sort of being turned on by it, you know, kids today they just automatically come into it. They don't know they don't understand. They don't this they did not get, you know, like I had a bag phone. I had a phone in my car that was in a bag. Like That was my I was talking about this past weekend with somebody like cell phones was like this giant if anybody

Alex Ferrari 50:39
wants it in a bag, if anybody wants a reference to that watch lethal weapon. And at the end towards the end of lethal weapon, Danny Glover is outside on a bridge talking to rigs on one of those phones.

Kim Jackson 50:51
One of those phones and it was like the $900 a minute like it was really it was seriously like you get you only it was an emergency situation, you know. But you know, the internet was it's very interesting, you know that the whole thing? I mean, I I was in college and I was dating a guy who was a computer science major at BC any I always joke he bought me my own URL for like Valentine's Day and I was like, What is? Where were the flowers? What is the nerdiest the nerdiest,

Alex Ferrari 51:22
dirtiest romantic gesture in the history of?

Kim Jackson 51:25
I have my name calm? Because of him? Yeah. Yeah. And like, there's a million Kim Jackson's on the planet. I mean, I've ran into him. I've had people email me saying, Can I buy my Oh, you're out? Because I I'm like, No, I kidding. Like, that's amazing. But I have my own URL. But I mean, you know, back in the day, if I would not have thought of that, I would not have even thought it. I was like, what's the URL? What do you mean,

Alex Ferrari 51:50
I was lucky enough. I bought Alex Ferrari calm and like late 90s. So I was I was I was, I had a website, business I had, I had an online business in the 90s. I used to make, I've sold this a couple of I used to make like, five, six grand a month. The problem was my server bills were five or six grand a month. Because of bandwidth, bandwidth.

Kim Jackson 52:14
Yes. So that's where we're at now. Yes, this is where we're at right now. And, you know, it's super cool to be talking to you. You're so knowledgeable about it, Alex, and it's really awesome. Because you know, more than you let on that you did. So.

Alex Ferrari 52:32
Like I said, I've been doing a lot of research about this, because I'm really fascinated by the whole concept. I do think it's, it's the future of it's gonna it's gonna affect so many different industries, ours, our small little corner of the world, which is we think it's really big, but the film industry is so small comparatively to medical records and, and just yet, and just just infrastructure on like tracking food and, and manufacturing and finding parts and everything will be on the blockchain eventually, eventually GE medical records everything, everything.

Kim Jackson 53:03
I mean, imagine like, that's one of the examples, I use a lot of medical records, because we will say I don't I don't quite understand. And I say well think about like, you go to the doctor, and then your insurance changes you and you got to go to another network. And that network didn't talk to that network, and you got to fax your faxing, where it's to 2021 were faxing medical records right over to another thing and they didn't get it, you get there and like, we never got the fax and you're like getting it to fax. And I mean, you know, it's like insane the inefficiency and data sharing in the health industry. I mean, it should just be a decentralized network, you can just go Okay, which is a little scary, because then, you know, give the Think about that for one second. I mean, there's some security, and some, you know, privacy things that would have to be it for me to be comfortable to. And by the way, there are blockchain companies who are working on the security and the privacy issues around, you know, the fact that it is decentralized, and you know, anyone could find the hash tag that would be this long that you would have to understand that there's, you know, Jake's hash tag for that particular thing. Unless he told me I wouldn't know that but people don't quite understand that but but and when people's names and more private information is gonna start being shared. I think, you know, it's good to know that there are blockchain companies that are working on the on the privacy and security protocols around that because it will be necessary.

Alex Ferrari 54:34
Now, just really quickly, those What do you think of the NF t situation because I mean, I've done I've done three episodes, I did a series of episodes on NF T's because I was fascinated with them. And once I understood what an NF T was, which is basically a digital baseball card. Like Okay, got it. It's a baseball card. It's a comic book. It's what it is. So I put up some NF T's just for fun and sold out. I was like, wait a minute. How does this work and In my NF T's that I sold, where I have the distinct honor of having the very first filmmaking tutorials ever uploaded to YouTube. Cool, I have a series of six of them. And they were all up there. And I showed the link and everything and they I sold the first three and then I uploaded the other three. And I've had, I had interviews with the the guys that a lot of wanna, who NFT their, their, their feature, and they're not selling their distribution rights, but there's, you're able to buy basically shares in their movie. And then whatever money comes in, gets out there. And then Kevin Smith is selling his entire distribution for his latest film on that, whatever he's doing there. What do you guys think of NF T's and how it affects the film industry? Just out of curiosity? I know, that's not what your company does. But this is just a curious question, Jake.

Jake Carven 55:48
Well, you know, and it's funny, I wouldn't say that we don't do anything with NF T's because NF T's are tokens. And we operate in tokens, right. And so while we see greater application of fungible tokens to a film, where you're creating the, you know, Jake's movie token, and you're creating 100 of those, and each one represents 1%, of the total share of Jake's movie token, it's still a token. And I think that the core concepts that you need to understand to buy and interact with NF T's are the core concepts you need to understand to use any blockchain application. And so to that regard, it's uh, you know, rising tide raises all ships, because the more people that learn about this and become comfortable with the fundamentals of the technology, the better I think, at the end of the day, you know, there are things that come up with NF T's where people like NF T's can do this, they can do that. tokens can do that. It doesn't have to be an NF t to do it, it's tokens. And so we focus and NF T's are flashy, because of the, you know, the dollar amount that comes up with some of the sales. And, you know, I think there's a very particular audience that's very excited about that. And, you know, it's a specific pool of people that are actually transacting and purchasing NF T's it's not, you know, it's a very, it's actually a very small number of people in the whole, you know, of the total population that are actually purchasing. But they're collectibles, right, it comes down to collectible item, merchandise, things like that. And that's great. It's really interesting how it's evolving in the gaming space, you know, and how these tokens can be used to unlock different things. And that's exciting to see that evolve. And I think that's going to be in the next couple of years, where it's going to continue to get exciting is in, in gaming, right? Because video games, the whole world of you know, I bought this game for 150 bucks, I'm playing it and now I have to purchase, you know, in app purchases, I need to play it yet. But then you don't own those things. Right. It's stuck. It's limited to just that game. These are not transferable. That's, that's a, you know, problem in itself. But we just keep going back to you know, the more people become comfortable with tokens, the better for our standpoint, because that is what grows the technology. We, at this point, you know, you mentioned, you know, that that's a lot of the boring stuff, you know, or the boring aspects of blockchain or applications, like with healthcare, we focus on the boring stuff in the film industry. And I'm fine with that. Because, you know, we're nerds and, you know, I said, I'm the attorney and I like the boring stuff. I find it fascinating. And, you know, so what we do is necessarily sexy, you know, you know, videos and flashy stuff that selling for, you know, millions of dollars, but we think it's a tool that can can really help this industry and help independent creators across the board. Whether or not you're tech savvy.

Alex Ferrari 58:55
Yeah. And look what the NBA has been doing with NBA hot shots and, and Major League Baseball's coming out with their like digital packs. And those digital packs are like flying off the shelves and things like that. When do you think when do you think we're gonna see, you know, Marvel's NF T's? Like, you know, when are we going to start because it's coming? It's coming in? There's no question tomorrow it

Jake Carven 59:19
yeah, it might be tomorrow. I think fox is announced they're making a big investment. And, you know, it's, it's, it's an inevitability. But when you look at in that regard, it's it's just an extension of their merchandise division, and it's just more merchandise and with no cost.

Alex Ferrari 59:35
It's very little cost of manufacture.

Jake Carven 59:37
Yeah, exactly. So you know, I think it I think it's a good thing in the long run,

Kim Jackson 59:44
because, you know, what, it's, everything's digital now. Right? So, you're, we're going, we're going been going into the digital world for decades now. And so, one, I think challenge especially for art, you know, is how do you rare Buy and make digital art meaningful and worth something. And so I think that NF T's are, you know, valuable in that way, because then you can, you know, create value in a new in a new way, especially for digital art. And I think that, you know, studios, they've got all the that, you know, they're the, they're the, you know, 1000 pound gorilla sitting in the room, and they just sort of wait till everybody else figures it out, and then they just go, Okay, we'll do that. And here's the money make it happen. Let's do it.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:28
It also took it also took them 12 years to a major studio to come up with a streaming service. So there's that they aren't, they're not fast, they're not fast. They're not path

Kim Jackson 1:00:36
because it's bureaucratic. And there's operasi, inside of the studio, if you've ever worked at one I had the pleasure of doing when I first came out of the gate, you know, with my career and realize that that didn't think I could remain employable in that atmosphere. So I, you know, just thought the indie road would be would be better, but I feel that what we're the road we're on with building applications on blockchain technology is going to aid in the evolution of our industry. And that's really what we're what we're dedicated to. And and in you know, that that that slow and steady wins the race?

Alex Ferrari 1:01:23
Right? On, there's no question and to bring it back to where we started with the 1996 analogy. Remember, when when the internet first popped out? How many people were scared to put in their credit card? Oh, yeah. And that's the same thing with like, how many people are afraid of buying an NF T or, or buying a token or putting their you know, that's where we're at right now? And yeah, I think it will, it will change probably faster than any of us think it's starting to already grow in self. I mean, even in the small time that I've been aware of this avenue about Bitcoin, obviously, like everybody else has probably, but understanding this, I've only been really got into this deeply, probably the last six months to a year. And just in that time, things have changed so dramatically, and will continue to change as things go forward. So it's exciting. I'm excited about what you guys are doing. Thank you for fighting the good fight and try and help creators and filmmakers out there so I appreciate you guys again, where if everybody wants to check you guys out where they go.

Kim Jackson 1:02:23
breaker.io and watch trust machine the story of blockchain

Alex Ferrari 1:02:28
Yes. With with is it. tetanus tetanus bill, bill from Bill s Preston Esquire. Let's do it correctly.

Kim Jackson 1:02:37
Indeed. He's the director extraordinare.

Alex Ferrari 1:02:39
Yes. Thank you so much.

LINKS

  • Breaker.io – Website
  • Kim Jackson – Linkedin
  • Jake Craven – Linkedin
  • Trust Machine: The Story Of Blockchain – Amazon
  • Vinay Gupta – A Brief History of Blockchain – Youtube 

SPONSORS

  1. Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
  2. AudibleGet a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook
  3. Rev.com – $1.25 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)

IFH 487: How to Avoid a Bad Film Distribution Deal w/ Guy Pigden


Right-click here to download the MP3

I’ve said many times before on the show, sometimes you just don’t know what impact these conversations will have when I put out an episode. I mean, it’s just me with a mic in a room with a Yoda statue behind me. 

I’m honored to have on the show today, a long-time IFH tribe member who has appreciated and utilized the knowledge bombs we share on here. I’m glad to have on the show today, New Zealand director and writer, Guy Pigden.

After years of working with several production companies in the UK and freelancing in New Zealand, Pigden wrote his directorial debut feature film in 2011, I Survived a Zombie Holocaust, with a grant from the New Zealand Film Commission in 2011. The film was nominated for Best Feature Film Screenplay and Best Emerging Writer by the New Zealand Writers Guild in 2015.  

I Survived a Zombie Holocaust is a zombie horror-comedy about a young runner, on a Zombie film set, who ends up having a set day from hell when real Zombies overrun the set.

Pigden has written and directed a couple of TV series and films since his breakout comedy-horror feature including Asylum, Harrow, Older, No Caller ID, etc.

Filmmaking and storytelling had always been a passion for Pigden. At 16 years old he shot his first short film, on an eight-millimeter camera camcorder. He moved to London where he landed jobs as a runner, script reading, and writing.

Once he felt much more confident in his understanding and skills as a writer, it was time to make his transition to the dream. Being a director. Pigden returned to New Zealand and freelanced directing and writing.

After the release and performance of his first feature film, Guy sought out means to grow revenue from low-budget indie filmmaking—-particularly the business aspect of the industry. He found his answers here at the Indie Film Hustle and from my book Rise of the Filmtrepreneur: How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Profitable Business. Everything from making deals, to the actual journey. With these tools, he was able to make a turn-around with his second film.

Just this year Guy directed and wrote his latest comedy show, Immi the Vegan which you should check out. Immi the Vegan dreams of finding a good vegan man and gaining the confidence to perform her songs in front of a live audience. But lately, her dates have mistaken her for a vegetarian or tried to send her photos of their meat and two veg.

It was humbling learning of how impactful Guy found our work here at IFH and knowing that what we do here is serving bigger purposes, glad to be of service.

Guy is raw and transparent on the horrible distribution deal he got into on his film and shares how you can avoid the mistakes he made on his filmmaking journey.

Please enjoy my conversation with Guy Pigden.

 

Alex Ferrari 0:14
I'd like to welcome to the show Guy Pigden. How you doing guy?

Guy Pigden 0:18
I'm great. Thank you for having me, Alex. great pleasure to be here.

Alex Ferrari 0:21
Yeah, man, thanks so much for coming on the show. You've we've been shot. First of all, we've been trying to do this for a while now. So I appreciate your patience. It's been very busy. At the podcast, the last six years,

Guy Pigden 0:32
man, you've got a couple. I was planning to do like a joke on Twitter or something where it's like, you know, what does all of a star and Richard Linklater and Guy Pigden have in common? They're on the

Alex Ferrari 0:46
Indie Film Hustle podcast.

Guy Pigden 0:47
Exactly.

Alex Ferrari 0:49
Exactly. Exactly. So I could say the exact same Joe. What do these guys have in common? Yeah, they were just all on same podcast. That's it. That's that's the that's where the that's where it all ends. But thank you so much for your patience. Brother, you you you reached out to me a while ago, talking to me about First of all, one of my favorite topics, which is unfortunately one of my favorite topics, a horrible distribution situation, which we're going to get into, and also a seven year independent film, which I always love to get into the details of why it takes seven years to make an independent film. Yeah, and all that stuff. But you've been following me for a while you've been listening to the podcast and stuff. When did you start listening? And then use the books had an impact in your career? Tell me a little bit about how you just found me.

Guy Pigden 1:38
Well, that's right. So I, I was coming from a space. So I was sort of finishing up my second feature film, and I had my first feature film, which is called ice Viper, zombie Holocaust, which came out in sort of 2015. And it came out around 2015. And while had a great festival run, and you know, got some great reviews did not financially do very well for me, for a number of reasons, which you sort of documented in your podcast. And but I was sort of wondering is like, Is this just the experience of all low budget indie filmmakers? Is this what we all go through? Or is it just me? Am I missing something? Am I missing some key piece of information about how because this business seems broken to me that like all of it seemed quite broken in a lot of ways. And and how these firms were distributed, how these deals were done, and also sort of the the cost of making a film versus how much it's actually likely to make back all of that stuff. And I was asking other filmmakers, and no one seemed to have a good answer. And then I came across your podcast where you sort of really broke down the steps. As an indie filmmaker, you sort of broke down how these, these deals can can screw you over, you sort of broke down your own journey with what you were working on with, you know, on the corner of ego and desire. And this is me and all that sort of thing. But you really sort of, I guess, put into context, and framed everything that I had been thinking about that when I need to make my filmmaking a more of a business, I need to stop thinking like, it's just an art form, and then I'll just be discovered, we all we all have to throw away that lottery ticket mentality, all of those things have to, like, you just need a whole shift in perspective, really, if you want to be like, because we can't all be Spielberg. Even though we start off, imagining that we will be sorry, how can we have a sustainable career and without maybe those heady heights, but still get to make our films and so everything that you were talking about, just struck this huge chord with me because it made me sort of really understand, okay, so I'm not crazy. And actually, there's this, this world out there that I need to understand more, and I need to sort of develop these skills, that stuff that you sort of try to educate people on, I need to employ all of that stuff in my filmmaking if I want to continue to grow and develop and so I sort of following yours and and also, what I found is a lot of the principles of my second feature film The way I made that as a micro budget and all that sort of thing, apart from the seven years I failed in the in the in do at the quick turn around, which is again, one of your sort of things turned around quickly. I did not do that. But apart from that, a lot of the principles were you know, I had in mind a lot of these ideas that you you actually put into words ever in your book or on your podcast and, and so that's how I sort of came across you and him have been a sort of loyal follower and subscriber ever since then. And, you know, what a fantastic thing that you have provided for filmmakers like myself, to sort of better understand how we can equip ourselves in this film industry, which, you know, does punch you in the face all the time, as you mentioned, you know, what are you going to do? You're going to keep getting like, yeah, you're going to flinch or you get a, you're going to learn to get your guard up just a little bit to protect yourself. Right, as opposed to just getting just walking straight into those punches.

Alex Ferrari 5:36
Constantly, Constant punches. Yeah, no, and I don't care what you are, you're gonna get hit. You're always gonna get hit all throughout your career. Yeah,

Guy Pigden 5:44
yeah. So So those are all things that, you know, really, yeah, sort of resonated with me. And that's why I sort of have been listening and reached out. And now my film was out, I thought it'd be a great opportunity, hopefully, to talk about some of my experiences and, and how they relate to all of these things that you're, you know, trying to educate people about.

Alex Ferrari 6:07
I appreciate them. And thank you, you know, thank you so much for the kind words, it's it is, like I've said many times before on the show, sometimes you just don't know what impact they'll have when you do an episode. Or you're I mean, it's just me with a mic in a room with a Yoda behind me. Some, you know, somewhere in in Los Angeles, and you just put it you put it out there and hopefully it read it. But look, you're coming from us. Where are you calling from? New Zealand? Yeah, New Zealand. So if you couldn't tell by the by the accent, you know, New Zealand, it was New Zealand or Australia. But God forbid, God forbid you. I know that. You can't do that. No, don't do that. Don't do that. It's like It's like calling all Latinos, Mexicans, and I'm Latino. So I can say that, Joe. But yeah, it just depends on where you are in the country of the US. If you're in New York, you're Puerto Rican. If you're in Miami, you're Cuban. And if you're in LA, you're Mexican, but doesn't matter. So, but thank you for thank you for that. I'm glad I'm glad. What I do is helped you a lot. And that's, you know, also wanting to kind of dig deeper into why Why? What happened with your first film. So before we do that, though, how did you even get started? Why did you Why did you choose this painful, ridiculous path that we call filmmaking?

Guy Pigden 7:20
I love how you call it a like a virus like a sickness. And sometimes you get better and you feel like you've sort of semi recovered, but no, it always

Alex Ferrari 7:29
comes back.

Guy Pigden 7:31
always come back. And that's always what it sort of been like for me. So I sort of got into the business. I started off I was actually lived in London for a couple of years. And I worked as a runner at a production house there. And that was my sort of like break into the industry I'd already made I'd already had that sort of that indie filmmaker spirit prior to that. So when I was 16, I made my first short film, I you know, I bought like a high eight millimeter camera camcorder to shooter Dinah carried on to VCs, all that sort of thing. And, you know, so that's where I started the idea that I wanted to make films, and I really wanted to make films and tell stories, because I have come from a, my, my background, my parents, you know, would read stories to me and my dad is a huge movie fan. And he would sort of talk to me about also how movies were made and directors, not just, hey, check out this film. And so that certainly sparked my interest and sort of filmmaking, I started to do it. And I did the short film when I was 16. And then again, as soon as we'd shot that as even though it was obviously still quite a painful process, even back then. I was like, Oh man, I have to do this. And so I went to London, and I got a job as a runner. And then as a runner, I also started being a script reader for that same production house there. And I started started reading a lot of scripts. And again, I had quite a strong background, the only thing I did well in school that was was writing creative writing. And so I really started as a writer who wanted to be a director. So I read all these scripts, and I thought, look, these are coming from, you know, these are coming from agents, these are coming and I think I can do as well as most of these scripts of, of, you know, the, you know, sort of, I don't know, a couple of 100 scripts I read only ever recommended, like three. So I didn't I just so I could get to this level. And so I started writing my own scripts and developing my own scripts. And some of those, even as a very young, you know, a young writer at like 2021 did sort of get some, I think I got one of them to Columbia, TriStar in the UK and it got very favorable coverage and they sort of, they're like, Look, this is really good. We don't, we're not going to make it but here's a bunch of agents and maybe you can get representation through The script, and I didn't get representation because I didn't have any follow up scripts, you know, they were like, Hey, this is good. This is promising, but what else have you done, and I sort of like, Well, nothing really. And I didn't have that foresight and that sort of thing to just start writing like crazy and just go, let his five others you know, and really get the ball rolling then. But it did sort of, again, give me some confidence that, hey, I can write and I'm a good writer, and hopefully I can transition to being a writer and a director. And so I came back to New Zealand I started making stuff again, just making stuff and my friends, a lot of those friends that I still work with To this day, started shooting stuff with a slight with a slightly, I guess, a more of an education and film, I have never been to film school or anything like that. But I, I had a bit of knowledge and a better understanding of kind of the business and, and the way things worked a little bit more and obviously, story and structure and all those things from being a script reader. And I started to get actual paid work as a writer. So I developed a few different things that sort of didn't get produced, but you know, sort of took me and again, it's like, Okay, I'm getting paid for writing now. So I know that I must be doing something right. And I must be on a certain level, if, you know this can happen. And what happens in New Zealand is, we have a government body called the New Zealand Film Commission. And they provide essentially grants for films to make movies over here. So very, very, very different. You know, the US and, you know, the studio system, and all that sort of thing. But essentially, this these, these grants given out to make films, and they hope that these films will sort of breakout and I had, you know, made many submissions to the Film Commission, prior to this one. But I made a submission for a new scheme. Around this time, as I was still making my own projects, which was what would become a survivor, zombie Holocaust. So was the zombie horror comedy. And it was for this new initiative called the escalator scheme. And the escalator scheme was essentially they give 250,000 New Zealand dollars to an up and coming filmmaker who has not made a feature film, so you couldn't have already made a feature film. And they give you that money. And through a series of steps, you then give them the money to make the film, but you have to sort of do all the pre production first. So you have to without anything, so you write the script, you do the pre production, you do the budget, you do everything, and you present that to them, then they sort of narrowed down to another group, you go back, you read all that stuff, and you get given the money. And so we were, you know, what went from sort of like maybe 20, or 30, or 40, teams, down to I think 12 teams. And so four of those 12 teams were going to be picked. And fortunately, we were one of those four, four teams that were picked to make that thing. And that was back in 20 2010, the end of 2010 2011. When when that sort of initial thing happened, and there was a couple of rules around it. But you know, one of them was that you kind of had to start production within six months of getting the grant, which we did. And the other thing is that you couldn't get any extra money. So you couldn't get more financing, or try and get more people on board, or people that kind of top that up somehow you just had your 250,000. And that was it. And so we were given that funding, and we sort of shot in 2011, early 2011. And then it was another sort of three years before the film actually came out which we can we can get

Alex Ferrari 13:56
Of course, of course. But we're doing it What are you doing from that you were doing posts, you were doing film festivals? You were getting it out there in other ways. That's right. So so I'd love to I'd love to dive into man. Okay, so what happened with I saw the zombie Holocaust with this distribution situation like you, you told me that there's a horror story here. And we'd love to share those here at the show. Yes, to help and educate filmmakers. So what So what happened? Exactly?

Guy Pigden 14:24
Well, I mean, a lot of it comes down to, to not understanding, you know, a lot of it come down to ignorance on on our behalf as sort of filmmakers. And then, you know, there wasn't something you know, this was back 2014 2015. This is before you really brought blown the lid off this kind of this practice, right. And I think there's also an inherent fear from all of us filmmakers, if we speak out, like if we say something about, yeah, we'll never get another opportunity. And not just from them, but from any other people that know them. And so there's This all well, I can't say to anyone, you know, this, you know, they, they screwed us because we'll just get screwed, or it will only negatively impact us. And so we will stay quiet about what happened. But for us, we sort of, I mean, there was a few issues. But, you know, just, again, we're talking about, I'm from a very small town. And although I've been to London, and I've done all this stuff, and I've done everything I could possibly do to educate myself about filmmaking, there's actually very few books on that. The post production and finishing business at the end, like you're really one of the only and certainly one of the first. And so I didn't understand, like, I didn't even understand, okay, what's a good film festival? Why is the A, B and C, I didn't understand, I got into a good Film Fest was like, great, I got into a bad Film Fest was like, great, I didn't understand the difference. I didn't understand why one might be more important to go to than the other. I didn't understand about festival fees or anything, I was just randomly submitting to random things, and FA got in cool. All of which then sort of leads to obviously, when you have a successful festival run, you start getting approached by sales agents and distributors. And we were approached by a sales agent. And again, there's a lot of things. That sort of real un because they're playing on your naivety to find it,

Alex Ferrari 16:31
and also your dreams. Don't forget, they lay your dreams, they love to dangle the carrot like Hey, hey, this could be the one Spielberg is Mr. Spielberg Come this way. Yeah.

Guy Pigden 16:41
And so we so the first thing they did is, are we haven't even finished the film yet. But we just wanted to come out of the screening and say, we love it. And we think it's amazing. And we we know, we want to sign up straight away. So automatically, wow, you want to sign us all that say like me? Exactly. This, this huge company. And again, we were banking on the fact that they were big, they have all this huge catalogue of films. So well, they must be good, because they're big, which is again, not necessarily at all true. And so we were definitely caught up in that, because we had multiple offers. This wasn't the only offer. But it also wasn't the only bad offer, you know. And so there was a lot of the sort of back and forth over it. But essentially, we sort of did all the things wrong, that we normally that that you have talked about. So marketing sales cap was atrociously high. What was it? Well, I don't think I can't get into specifics, but I can definitely tell you that it was well just put it this way. It was over. It was over $50,000. Okay. And then, you know, there was just a lot of things, but there was a lot of smaller details in that deal. That just mean that there was very, it was be very unlikely, or that's not true. I suppose if it made as again, if it made millions of dollars, great. Of course, you're gonna see that money come back to you.

Alex Ferrari 18:15
Maybe in a minute maybe look for a cup of coffee, according to Paramount Forrest Gump is still not making any money.

Guy Pigden 18:21
So Exactly. And so. But even in that, in that marketing, there was no accounting for that marketing as an there's no way for me to go, Well, can I see where you spent that money? Because they didn't spend that money. They didn't spend any of that money that didn't spend? I would go as far as to say they, you know, spend? I'm sure less than $1,000. But also a marketing sales cap is really, to me more for your distributor than it is a sales agent. Why does a sales agent need?

Alex Ferrari 18:53
Well, wait a minute, this was a sales agent. You haven't even gotten to the distributor yet. We haven't even got to the distributor. Oh my god, I'm sorry. You see what I'm yeah. hurts. It hurts. Okay.

Guy Pigden 19:05
But But that was the problem was we didn't even understand the distinction between the sales agent distributor, because now my first question would be like, why do you need $50,000? What are you doing with that? I'm providing you all these deliverables. So you don't have to make anything. So you're now just giving it to a distributor who will do anything that is required? What is this marketing? You know, what is this marketing sales kit for? And so that was a huge, huge thing. And then there was like other little things built in because you know, it's also Okay, so we've got to recoup that $50,000. But we're also going to take our percentage from that before, so it's not $50,000. So we're taking money for ourselves while we bring back that, that however much money it is so we're not just bringing so it's not just $50,000 it's actually more like 70 or $80,000 because we're taking 20 or 30% or whatever it is. out as we go. So, so then it's like, okay, so it doesn't have to make it has to make $90,000 before we see any money. And then there was just this whole, like what I sort of heard, you know, subsequent, you know, because you also try and speak to filmmakers before you make these deals, but you often speak to filmmakers who have just made a deal with that sales agent, you don't speak to someone that has that three years in, you know, and also, they may be reluctant to tell you, Hey, you know, because of this whole thing, because, you know, thank God for, you know, indie film, hustle, hustle to, you know, to say, like, Hey, you know, this is predatory thing that's going on. It's terrible, it's got to stop, and it's happening. And we're gonna shine a light on it. And I think it's just very, very important. So around that deal around that, that sort of marketing cap was a big thing. But I also sort of then heard rumors later on that this wasn't even a and in terms of, you know, what they made back is always just, whatever that marketing sales cap is, like, almost exactly whatever that is magical. So, so magically, so when you look at that, you go, Okay, so actually, what they're doing is they're getting all these sort of lower budget, you know, horror films, genre films, and they're doing exactly the same thing to all these different first time filmmakers. And they using that pot of money to actually pay for the bigger films, and maybe treat those slightly, you know, better. But so essentially, they had never had any intention of making any more sales, than they're all they wanted as that, that guaranteed, that guaranteed first chunk of money from like, you know, a big bunch of places. So, you know, they This is for, you know, television, and all that sort

Alex Ferrari 22:00
of thing, and there's certainly different territories out in different deals here and there. Yeah,

Guy Pigden 22:04
yeah, like big territories, they just make those sales, and then they don't even push it again, it's like, it's not even part of the thing. It's just, we just needed that, that $50,000 that we don't have to pay back or that, you know, 70,000 $80,000, whatever we have to make, we get that. And we don't do anything more, because it doesn't make sense for us to start really giving much back to the filmmakers, we only deal on those big deals up front with our certain people that we have. And then we sort of walk away and find the next filmmaker and do the same thing, find the next naive filmmaker and do the same thing. And so really, that was, you know, the hardest part for me is that we'd been on this journey for five years, you know, I had passed the the $250,000 that we were given, I had actually invested heaps of my own money into, you know, getting that finished, I'd shot pickups, and I'd been living this thing for so long trying to get it made and get it done. And then just to watch the kind of other people, like, slowly collect money, and then have none of it come back. And we also had like, there was also lots of other things going on. So, you know, one of the other things that they they did is that they said, you know, essentially you have to, like when you give all your deliverables over, as you know, there's sort of something in the contract that states once you've received these certain things, and that's confirmed, right? That's, that's done. You know, you're you're good, you have no more obligations. Well, in the contract, one of the obligations was a letter that said, we have delivered all of these things. Right. So just just a letter that says, You have delivered these things, we delivered those things. We sent a letter to them, not worded in their official way, just worded in a different way. And then sort of a couple of years into our thing, when we realized that, essentially, we'd been screwed. We had one loophole, which was if it hadn't made a certain amount, by a certain time, we could ask to get it back. It was like the one good thing that we sort of put in the Yeah, yeah. And the contract. And so I was like, cool. We need to exercise this right now. And so we go cool. We'd like to exercise this and they go, Oh, no, you haven't handed in all your deliverables. And we're like, well, what are you talking about? You've been selling the film for two years. You've got all the deliverables. We confirmed it. You know, there's been absolutely no issues and they go, Oh, yeah, but if you look in the contract, you'll see that we need this confirmation letter to confirm officially that we've received those. And so that then goes so so they go cool. So So then we sent that letter and they go, okay, the contract starts from now officially and You could absolutely,

Alex Ferrari 25:02
like, what happens all that money that they've been making? Well,

Guy Pigden 25:05
yeah, is that null and void because we hadn't officially delivered the film, you know, there's, and this is the thing, and this is what I hate the most about, the whole thing is, obviously, you could go after them with a lawyer and say, question, but, you know, they know that we're going to bring our lawyer, and however much it's going to cost you is not going to be worth it. And also, we know you're a poor filmmaker, because we've taken all your money. So we know that you can't get a lawyer, we know that you can't afford a lawyer, and we'll just happily sit back and, and do our thing, and, you know, kind of keep your film in purgatory. And that's, that's kind of what happened with that thing. And, but it definitely came from, you know, I'd love to say, it was absolutely a predatory situation. And it was absolutely what you talk about so often here on on the podcast, but it was also, you know, that ignorance of naivety that is exploited when you're a first time filmmaker. And that's where we were sort of at with a lot of that with a lot of that those negotiations as we just did not understand you know, how this could go wrong. And yeah,

Alex Ferrari 26:30
and the you also had, so, you needed something you had a sales agent and you had a distribution company.

Guy Pigden 26:35
So, the sales agent then was the issue that we do have to you know, it did then go on to distribution

Alex Ferrari 26:42
on staff that the sales agent

Guy Pigden 26:44
but the but the sales agent was the one that did this deal that was you know, the this you know, and so you also have to put it into again that perspective of like, what is a sales agent marketing? Like Yes, they taking your film, well, what does that involve? You know, if

Alex Ferrari 27:02
you're there, they're obviously buying giant billboards, near highways, they're spending they're spending at least 10,000 in ads on television and Facebook, you know, targeting your your niche audience Robbins, obviously, they're, they're doing all of this because the ROI makes all the sense in the world. It is, it is terrible. I'm sorry that you had to go through that. But you learned, like, you've been listening to me long enough, you've read a lot of my stuff. You know, I've been through some stuff myself, with the mafia, family, all sorts of different things that I've gone through. So but when you come out of those kinds of events, you are a lot stronger, and you're a lot smarter. You've got that armor that trap note that I talked about so much. You got you've got you've got shrapnel all over you, brother. I could smell it. I could smell it across across the world, sir. I can smell that that that's wrapping those there. But hopefully that that store that you just told will help other people listening right now. Go Oh, wait a minute, I might be getting screwed on this or a damn it. I just got screwed. It there has to be something has to change, man. I don't I don't know what that is yet. I don't know how that. how that's gonna work. Um, I trust me. There's not a day that goes by that I'm not thinking of how I can crack the nut myself, too. I'm like, how can I do something? You know? How can a small podcaster a humble a humble podcaster? You know, with with a Yoda behind him, you know, do do something more than what I've already been doing. because something's got to change, man. Something's got to change. And it's been going around, man. It's been going around since Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin's days. I mean, it's literally been going along with that long. It's crazy. Yeah, I

Guy Pigden 28:47
mean, and that's the thing is, I know that my story isn't new. I know that, you know, we were sort of talking about something that happens a lot, but it's still happening. And I'm still you know, even my experiences people have come to me and said, Hey, you know, what's your experience? And I've told him my experience and then I sort of go so what do you do? Oh, well, we signed with them. Well,

Alex Ferrari 29:09
you know, there's because there's because they didn't have any other options. They don't know any better. And they're like, well, this is the only guy or gal who was willing to date me. So because exactly and it's an abuse in this abusive relationship. So let's put it in that it's an abusive relationship, but this is the only person that loves me so I guess I'm just gonna go with them because you don't believe that there's another option out there for you.

Guy Pigden 29:31
And I also think that we all as filmmakers you go, Ah, well, you got screwed guy you know why? Because your film was just not good enough to make the all that money that you thought you were gonna make. You know that the end there we sort of as naive young filmmakers, we got our you got screwed, but my phone's gonna make a million dollars. The reality is that, you know, that's not gonna happen. That's just exactly that's not gonna happen to me. But it's like, just Consider that your film isn't going to make a million dollars, consider that you just want some good returns on your film. And when do you want to start making back money from that? Do you want to start make? Does it? Does your film have to make you know, 70 $80,000? Before you see a cent? Or do you want to really think carefully about this? And also, you know, the world is changing, right? streaming has changed everything. Even the way that the idea of like, well, we need all this money for marketing. Well, why because for you put something up on, you know, Amazon, or, or Netflix or wherever it's like, you don't need all that marketing, the marketing is done. The viewership is already there, you know, Now, I'm not saying marketing isn't super important, but it's not for a sales agent or, necessarily, or distributor to be to have to spend, you know, that comes when the film is out.

Alex Ferrari 30:56
I just tell you know, I've known a lot of sales reps, and producers reps. I've never heard of one ever spending money for marketing. Maybe Maybe they'll pay something to get a trailer done. Maybe they'll get a poster made if the posters not done, but to like buy ad somewhere. Does it make sense? I mean, I can't even I can't even compare. I mean, the only thing that would make sense is if they bought like, you know, front page ad on Hollywood Reporter during AFM, you know, or that kind of ad buy. That's a big maybe, but for sales producer to drop 30 grand out of their purses out of their pocket. You know, for a frog. That's it's not like it's magic money, that's money that they're putting up and hoping to recoup. Yeah, it doesn't make business unless they think that that 30,000 is going to be an easy sell. Why would they spend that money that generally when a sales rep picks up, picks up a film, or a distributor picks up a film, if they give you an mg, which is rare nowadays, but even if they let's say if that, let's say you got a deal for 50 grand, yeah, that's your mg, you would have probably been like jumping out the way like, Oh my god, I got 50,000 for the MG. And that's just the start of the massive amounts of money, like just massive amounts. First of all, you'll probably never see another dime. First of all, right. But the distributor knows that with two phone calls. with little effort, they'll be able to sell this film, in certain territories based on their relationships, or automatic output deals that a lot of the they have, that they'll make that money instantly. But what I've heard happen is like, let's say your your marketing cap is 75 grand, or 100. Grand, yeah, the moment they hit that 100,000, they literally stop selling it, because they don't want to deal with you anymore. So like, I'm sorry, and they will just stop because like we got our 100 out, we're done, and the filmmaker, and then they hold on to it for the next seven years, and every single time and then because you've signed a horrible deal. And then after that, anytime a new streaming service comes out, or a new cable station in Germany opens up and they're like, we need a lot of content, they'll sell the whole library and licensed the whole library as a package deal. And by the time you try to do the math of how much your movie is worth and not, it's gone, it's gone. It is such a ridiculous business, how the only reason that we are still able to do what we do, or the business survives, is because there's a fresh new crop of films, and filmmakers coming in monthly. And these distributors and these predators know that. So they know that they don't have to build a relationship with you. Because there's 30 more of you right around the corner who are willing to give up. And I've actually consulted filmmakers. And when I was coaching them and consulting them on projects, where we know we're not going to go with the distributor, and some of them are big name distributors who will remain nameless, but I know that their deals suck. And, and the deal that they send over suck, okay, we're not going with them, we're gonna go with these other guys. But let's push them to see how far we can go. And we'll start asking for things like, you know, accounting on a marketing and let's talk the marketing cap or, you know, get a little bit more mg upfront or add, if you go bankrupt that the movie automatically goes back to you, as opposed to sitting in arbitration for the next, you know, five years and you can't do anything with a movie. And I saw it go back and forth once and then afterwards you like it, we're done. Thank you. They didn't want to negotiate anymore because they're like, this obviously is going to be a headache. The film's not worth it. There's 40 more around the corner.

Guy Pigden 34:40
And also they know they go Okay, this person actually knows what they're talking about. Therefore, we cannot use our regular exploitative tactics with them. And we can't make you know, 100k up front that we want off them before we leave. So yeah, we'll just go to the next and there's always another person because You know, we can't we don't know not yet at least we don't all listen to any film hustle, you know yet yet. And so, but I think the most important thing is we have to talk about it, we have to share these stories. Yeah, and we have to kind of converse with other filmmakers, you know, and really say, Look, just, you know, you need to take it to more experienced people, when you've got those deals on the table, you need to take it to more experienced people to comment on it, and like, you know, even paying like, you know, and we did have a lawyer and all that stuff. Look at Look, look at this deal. And we also, you know, crazily we had the foam Commission, the body, you know, the person there looked at the steel and was like, Yeah, looks good. And that still blows my mind. But they don't know, they don't

Alex Ferrari 35:48
know, they don't know any of this, you need to have, like, I say it in the book, I'm like, don't get Uncle Bob, the real estate attorney to look at this, because he won't know what to look for. That's why having a consulting session with me for half an hour, could save you half a million dollars. And that's it, it's actually happened actually happened with me or with with many, there's many good people out there that do what I do as far as consulting and helping filmmakers, with their projects. That will, I literally had a filmmaker reach out, I think he was on the show, at one point. He said, like, dude, you, you saved me a half a million dollars, because of this deal was so bad. And I went with this other deal. And I was able to control my rights and all this kind of stuff. And it was literally a half an hour or hour consultation that I gave them. And I should charge obscenely much more than I do. And that's why I put together that course, that that six hour distribution course on every little detail and trick that they use to screw you over, that was a new one that paid that paper, that that letter thing, that's a completely new level of skirts, summary. Exactly. And, and eventually, eventually,

Guy Pigden 36:59
yeah, and I, you know, sort of recently or not that recently, but I sort of said, so, you know, the deals coming up, this is my, the official leader that would like to terminate our agreement and get the rights back at this time. And they're like, Oh, thanks, but you know, how you didn't send through that letter. So actually, it's an extra two years, you know, because of the leader, you know, and as much and, you know, part of me wants to totally lose my shit. And, and, you know, go after them with everything I have. But the other part of me has to be a bit more Zen about it. And I just hope, like I said, I just hope that we can share these stories, and we can stop people from getting into these busy, you just do not want to be the kind of the low budget, indie horror, which they always do kind of, they always do sell a certain amount, and they always can make money for people. And so you don't want to be that person that's bought up by this big sales nation or distributor, and used essentially, your, you know, they suck the life out of you, they, because they don't just take that film from you, they take that opportunity for the money you make from that film to develop your next film. And, and that's a really key thing is that, you know, you can't just spend five years on something, and then get absolutely nothing to show for it, and have no and then it's like, COBOL, I'm rebuilding from square one. Now I'm back to, you know, obviously, I know a lot more, I've got a lot more experience, but, you know, you've taken the opportunity for me to develop my craft and continue on. And obviously, they just don't care. So that's so it's a very good, I guess, lesson that I learned and I, and through this podcast and through your books has sort of made me really be much more aware of that side of it. But you know, the key to contracts as transparency, you know, transparency, and all the things you know, if you're, if the spirit of they're giving you a marketing, why need to know where that marketing is going, and I need it in the contract that I see everything that is being spent, and maybe that I even approve certain things, you know, and even these marketing captures, like, you know, really, how much are they going to be spending on your low budget, indie film, if we're all making indie films? Are they real? Are they really dropping? You know, $30,000 on your marketing your independent film, like, forget about it, the spending a tiny fraction of that and getting a lot back with these guaranteed places that they always take these two that they know they can sell. And yeah, it's it is borderline criminal, but you know,

Alex Ferrari 39:43
well, it's definitely immoral. And yes, the problem is, first of all, they're destroying lives. They're literally destroying people's lives. I've seen I've seen it time and time again. But what's the most disgusting part about this is that it is just so inherent in side of the distribution world, that this is just the way business is done. And it's like, they don't even think twice. They're like, Oh, sorry, you're gonna have to do another two years because you didn't do that one little thing. And you're just like, wow, like, it's just, it just rolls off their tongue. And I've said this on the show before. And I'll say it again, the same thing that happened with me to where the casting couch was business as usual. It was a running joke in the business. It was in movies that people were like, oh, if you want that part, you're gonna have to go on the casting couch, like, you know, sleeping with the producer or the director. So that was a thing. For throughout. Throughout Hollywood's history, it was just business as usual, to finally some people started standing up and now thank God, that is not the way business is done. As usual. That moment is yet to happen in this space, because it is still I feel like a financial raping of the independent film community. Yeah. Without question. It is a physical abuse, that this that the whole distribution infrastructure is doing to independent filmmakers, and the whole community in general. And again, I've said this again, it's not everybody. They're not all predators. They're not they're I know good people. I've worked with good people. I've talked about them. I've had them on the show. There are good people out there trying to help filmmakers. But a lot of them aren't. And one thing people listening have to understand, it is harder now to make $1 with an independent film, than it has ever been in the history of filmmaking. For independent filmmaking specifically, it is really, really tough. And even with people who know what they're doing, it's tough. So walk in with that being walk in humble to this brother. Like you were saying, like, you gotta walk in humbly like I'm going to be the next Spielberg. Like I had that conversation. You read it in my book. Yeah, like it shooting for the mob. I was just like, it's my time I it's obviously going to happen to me, I'm, When are they going to recognize my genius? Back up the truck with the cash and in my house in the Hollywood Hills? And let's let's let's go have lunch with Spielberg and Cameron. Like, how is like that was the mentality so many filmmakers have? You've got to walk in humble, very humble, because if you don't walk in humble, it will humble you.

Guy Pigden 42:22
Yes. As it has done many, many times.

Alex Ferrari 42:28
And by the way, will continue to carry out your career it will humble you. Look, Jeff Katzenberg, arguably one of the more successful producers in history, you know, with Disney and DreamWorks, and, you know, he worked with, you know, partner with Spielberg and Geffen to create DreamWorks, and, arguably a legend. He just got humbled by kwibi. He thought he could come out, he thought he could come out, he thought he could come out. It's like, you know what, we're gonna throw billion bones in this, we're gonna do this. And we're going to be the next big thing and pop up. And you know what, it didn't work. And a lot of people lost a lot of money. And he was humbled. I don't, but I do give him credit for getting up to the plate and taking a swing. I don't think he walked in thinking that he was the end all be all. I don't know the man. I don't know how it worked. But at least he gave it a shot. But look, a man of literally a legend. In our business, absolute icon. In our business humbled. It happens to every big director, every big director has has a flop Hey, Steven Spielberg, Steven Spielberg, but he had 1941 he did 41 I still loved the movie, but it did not do well in the box office. And he was humbled. If you don't walk in humble to every project, you promise you, you will get humbled at one point or another in your life. And it happens to everybody, everybody.

Guy Pigden 43:54
And I think that's a also a really important distinction to make is that it is very hard to make a good film. And it's even harder to make a good film, and then have that good film, especially in the indie world, find its audience, it's not even just making a good film, you got to make a good film. And then you have to take that one step further and connect to that audience. And that is something that costs money, you know, and marketing and all that stuff, which is, again, we just think, hey, we'll just make this film. It'll be so good. That one, you know, we don't have to worry about the good, bad thing, because it's going to be so good is that is to genius. The audience will just connect to what's true, I'll find my audience. And that was another thing is that we, you know, with zombie Holocaust, we had, you know, like I said, it was on Showtime for years, you know, people were saying, Hey, I saw your film, you know, it was, you know, pirated like, you know, over, you know, millions of times sometimes would pop up on YouTube, and then three, you'd catch it under About 300,000 views on YouTube and go, can we please take this down. So it's not that people weren't watching it. But even that did not truly Connect, like, I could not connect to my zombie fan base, like people that love zombie films still don't necessarily know that that film exists. I couldn't connect to my audience, I couldn't, I didn't have that sort of that marketing push, or that clout, or that sort of even that grassroots thing, to really join those dots to make it a huge success in that way. And these are all things that we don't think about, when we're sort of starting out. So but you have to, and like you said, like the, you know, to use, and I think about this, when I made my second feature, older, which was a micro budget film in 2013, is when I started that film. And in 2013, if you made a feature film, it was still an achievement. People were still like, hey, that's, that's pretty Oh, you you made that you just did that you you sort of put it all together out. That's impressive. And 2021. That's cool. It's like, cool. Well, I think my neighbor did that. He's, he's, he's put I'm pretty sure he's put together a feature film.

Alex Ferrari 46:13
And I think and I think and I think he has Eric Roberts in it. So sorry, Eric. Eric, I apologize. I do love you, man. Best of the Best was awesome. I'm sorry.

Guy Pigden 46:24
That the technology has has made it more accessible and easier to do, which may has muddied the waters to the point where, hey, you know, how you finding those quality indie titles now, because it's not just that they're not just sticking out anymore? right in, in this whole sea of other stuff. And so, you know, that is another challenge that we have to think about and face and, and sort of work on if we want to connect?

Alex Ferrari 46:51
No question. And if anyone listening out there thinks they're going to make an independent film, and your audience is going to find you. I also have some land to sell you or a bridge to sell, as well. Some swamp land in Florida. It's fantastic. I mean, it just that's mentality from 1990 to 9394. When someone could find a clerks, someone could find a brothers but but do you think brothers macmullan, if it showed up today, would make a dime I talked to Ed, and that's Bs, a douchey. La guy who's dropping names. But when we talked when we had that on the show, I asked him like, Did you think he's like I? Probably? Probably not. It's just it would be so difficult to get any sort of attention for a film like that in today's world. So it was about timing and mariachi to I'll you know, when Robert eventually shows up on the show, which he will want to be when Robert shows up on the show go do you think of mariachi would have a chance today? Like, truly, truly do you think you know my reaction? Not that it's not It has nothing to do with the quality of the film? It's the marketplace, can it find its audience. So I hope people listening, take your story, hold wholeheartedly, and realize, and trust me, you've got to be a special kind of person, especially depending on what age you're at, to really look at yourself and go, maybe I'm not the next Spielberg. Because I promise you, every every big guy that you've that you think, or every big director you followed, in the last 30 years all probably thought if they were younger, or another generation from Spielberg thought were the next Spielberg. And they ended up being something else. Like the features of the world. And the kitten, the Nolan's and even Cameron Cameron was inspired by Lucas and he went on to do his own thing. But everyone aims for the masters. Everybody wants to draw like Picasso, or Van Gogh, we, you know, if you pick up a paintbrush you like it has to be Picasso or Van Gogh, yeah, we'd love to get to that place. But the hard reality and the truth is, you're never gonna get to that you more than likely will never get to that place, because it's impossible to get to that place, because there's only one backup period. But you can get to your van Gogh place, whatever that place might be. It could be right there next to him. Or it could be just making a living as a painter and loving your life. And that's O. K, you don't have to be rich and famous. You don't have to be Tarantino to to be a successful filmmaker. I know filmmakers have had on the show, who direct all the time, and just make their movies and aim it at their audiences. And they make a good living. And they're not living up in the Hollywood Hills. But every day they wake up and they get to do what they love to do. And I think that that is the success that is the dream, not making millions of dollars and making a Marvel movie, which by the way, as I always say, Kevin Fay, I'll take the I'll take the meeting. But but that's not. That's not the only definition of success. And I think, hopefully in the show, I've put that out there enough that filmmakers especially younger filmmakers will understand that and I'm glad you've shared this story with us. But before we go, I do want to touch upon the seven Yours, it took you to make your neck your next film older. What happened?

Guy Pigden 50:06
Yes. So, um, after the experience with zombie film, and to be honest, I still going through it, because in 2013, I was still wrapping up the post production on the zombie film. And I was still sort of chipping away at that. But I sort of was like, Okay, cool. I've made this kind of, you know, again, one of my other mistakes is that I tried to make a film that should have cost a, you know, several million dollars for $250,000. So I was not working within my budget in terms of like, so that made every single scene every single thing harder, because essentially, I was asking much more of the resources that I had. So I had to be, you know, much clever about my approach, which I wasn't always, but I am much, but all of that just made it extremely difficult. And I thought, Okay, look, I just want to do a walkie talkie film, I want to do a film, you know, there's much more modest than scope and scale. That is, you know, something that I love, which is, you know, who you've had on the show Richard Linklater films, but I was thinking about before sunset, sunrise, just people talking and hanging out real relationships, all that sort of stuff I loved, you know, those early Woody Allen films as well, that sort of dealt with that sort of thing. And so I wanted to do something like that, which was just as far away from zombies and exploding heads and sort of gore and all those sort of things that I'd been sort of, you know, knee deep, and I wanted to just do the opposite. And that was really my inspiration for shooting old and just do a real relationship drama, because I love those films as well. I'm not just a horror guy. And so I sort of said about, we did some crowdfunding. And this again, this was kind of before crowdfunding was cool. This is when it was sort of in its infancy, like, not everyone was doing it, we did it Indiegogo. And we raised, I think about 5000 US dollars, I also have, with my production partner, Holly nevel, we have this successful YouTube channel, we use some money from our YouTube channel, and we kind of pulled all those resources, and we were just like, it's going to be three weeks, we're gonna shoot it, I'm going to have it all done within a year, just within a year,

Alex Ferrari 52:21
I'm sure that's the way it worked out.

Guy Pigden 52:24
And so, and we shot it, we shot it in three weeks, but with the idea that we'd shoot like 80% of it, so that 80% was like the hardest part of the film, we're doing three weeks, and they would pick up some of the little bits that I didn't have time for that 20% over weekends following on from that. And that was always the way I do it. And I was sort of inspired because, you know, at that time 2013, the five D Mark three had come out in the Mac two, and I'd shot some pickups for the zombie film on the mark two and I was like, holy cow, this camera can almost replicate what I had with a crew of 20 or 30 on the zombie film, but it's just me and another guy, and some photography lenses. And so, you know, obviously, it was this kind of revolutionary moment for indie filmmakers at the time, with that type of gear to get this kind of this shallow depth of field look is really what we're talking about. And so I was like, Okay, we'll get that camera, we'll use that I had a friend over in Australia who was doing photography, he actually flew over for three weeks to shoot, to do that shoot. And we sort of really went back to basics, whether it's super small crew way more, like, you know, we're talking three or four people. And keeping it that small scale, because it gives you a lot of freedom, you know, it gives you a lot more freedom. Sometimes when we're not all thinking about our max and our the focus puller is but out today, you know, all of those things that kind of kind of sometimes stagnate a shoot, when you have a big team and a big crew, you can just go back to the basics. And just it's all about the story. It's all about the performances. And it's it's about character and relationships and all that sort of thing. So we shot that we continue to do those pickups straight afterwards. But what happened is that I kind of then got bogged back down and creating the deliverables and post work for the zombie film, and then the promotion and marketing of the zombie film. So from that sort of end of 2013 and 2014 and 2015 I was really very preoccupied with getting my first feature out there and sort of didn't really start back up editing older until sort of, you know, 2016 ish, really. And then I sort of had some more ideas about maybe I want to change this maybe I want to adjust some things because a I'm a perfectionist and you know you have a love for Stanley Kubrick I have a love for Stanley Kubrick. It's not right until it's right and so when you have such a small crew and such a small team You're on good terms with all of them. You one of the big benefits you have is you can go, you know what, the scene isn't quite right. Let's go back and redo it. Let's, let's, let's shoot it again. And so I sort of did a little bit of that I did a little bit of rewriting of some sections, which again, could have been avoided had I'd done more thorough work on the script to begin with, you know, I was sort of rewriting after the fact and sort of rewriting beforehand, and saving all that time to shoot it twice, you know. So I wouldn't say that, like, essentially, the majority of the film was still that, that 2013, shirked, but there was these bits from 2014, and 2015, and 2016. And actually, all the way up to 2900.

Alex Ferrari 55:45
How did you how did you were the star of this as well. Right?

So how did you like, keep your flike? I mean, you're aging. I mean, I yeah, I'm aging rapidly, rapidly as filmmakers, too, we do not age.

Guy Pigden 55:58
I always joke about this too, is that filmmaking is like staring into the dead lights. And it you know, when it and it turns everything gray, that's, that's filmmaking ages, you years and years, I'm 25,

Alex Ferrari 56:10
I'm 25 years old, look at me looking at, you're like what 17 I mean, look at

Guy Pigden 56:15
you. Sorry, it was a bit of a problem, I sort of went from having here, that was graying to gray here. So I had to keep dyeing my hair for it, I also had to maintain a certain weight as well, because that sort of got in shape, because I knew I was doing these, you know, six scenes and stuff like that. And I was like, Okay, I don't I want to look good on camera, obviously. And so that was a struggle. So it was a battle

Alex Ferrari 56:39
like this, it kept you healthy, it kept telling you, you look better than you ever did for seven years. And now you've completely let yourself go. So that's faster.

Guy Pigden 56:49
Now, totally different. And I'd like look now that time can catch back up. So it was a little bit of a challenge to keep that continuity. And we had actresses, you know, with here twice the length that was you know, and they were like, Well, I'm not cutting it again for this film, guys. So you better figure out a way to dress my hair. So it doesn't look like this. And so there was lots of issues like that. Some of that, like the house that were originally filmed, we no longer live there. So we couldn't film there anymore. So we had to go back in and there was all sorts of stuff.

Alex Ferrari 57:22
So all of this, all of this is all of this is the insanity of it. This is this is the definition of insanity of being a filmmaker. It is and it's wonderful. It's beautiful. And it's just destructive and terrifying. At the same time. It can't be can't be wasn't in this case, but it can be Yeah, imagine if you would have put not 1000, but 80,000, and you would have mortgaged your house. And then all of a sudden, you can't pay the rent. And all of a sudden you lose your house because you've this film, and I've heard these stories, man. So but at least you were smart enough to go, you know, let's keep this micro keep it small, keep it small, keep it small, the worst thing is I'm gonna not have the I can eat those french fries.

Guy Pigden 58:02
look good. And that's and the other battle too was just the Edit because I also edited it myself. And I got busy with other projects, you know, I you know, if someone would come on and say, Hey, can you shoot this web series? It's like, Okay, cool. Well, that's, you know, the next four months of me working on that web series, you know, we're going to, we're going to shoot this other little short film. Okay, well, let me do that. And so I certainly got into having to put put a pause on the film, to do these other projects, which I was very grateful for, because, you know, sort of earlier, maybe in 2013, I wasn't being asked to do those things. So, you know, it was a progression in one respect, but it was also holding up the film. But I think that, you know, that's, again, something that if I had to do over, and I could afford it, I wouldn't eat it at myself. Because it's a lot of work. It's a lot of work. In fact, to me that is the most time intensive part of of the filmmaking you think it's the shoot you, maybe you think it's the writing of it, you think all those things, but as soon as you're in that edit room, and you're chipping away, and you're looking at take six, and you're like, Oh, well I actually did a little bit from here and a little bit from take one a little bit from Tech, you know, to it's it is it's a grind. And so all of those things, because also, you know, I have, I also work other jobs as well. I'm not just a full time filmmaker, sadly, people aren't paying me enough to, you know, just be directing or freelancing. I do like, I do camera stuff and edits for other people, for other people. So all of those things kind of just would put a pause on the film until we sort of finally got to the end and sort of 2020 and sometimes you will started like I'd been through it once I'd been through that whole process. So I was a little bit more patient and understanding of that process. And really the focus was obviously trying to make the film as as good as It could be, but but that seven years goes by pretty quick.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:04
I look, I tell you like I just woke up and I'm 46. Now like, I just I'm like, I just like, last last night, I just got into film school. Like they mean, it was just like, I still remember like just walking onto the soundstage for the first time going, Oh, this is where I'm going to bring in the crane here. And we're going to get the techno over here. And we're going to do this, and none of that could afford. But Richard Linklater said something was such a profound statement. And I've heard a few people tweeted out, after that interview came out, he says that our skill set eventually catches up with our ideas. Because when you're young, and when you're starting out, you've got massive ideas like I can do Avengers. Yeah, I could do this or that. But the skill set the craft, takes time to catch up. And he was the first to admit it. Like when he did slacker, he, you know, there was things and every movie that he kept doing from dazed and confused, and so on, he got better and better and better. And I haven't, you know, told him that and he's like, yeah, you know, after after the fourth or fifth, I'm solid. Like, after the fourth or fifth movie, I was like, you might not like my movies, but you can't argue that I can make movies, you know that I can finish a movie, say like, it took me about four or five movies to get that under my belt, and I'm solid. You can't argue with that. At the beginning, you can like is this guy even going to be able to make this thing work? It takes time to get that craft to catch up to those ideas. And it's patience, brother, it's patience. But listen, I have a couple questions. I asked all my guests, and you will probably know these. Since you listened to the show I should, then you'll be able to do better be prepared, sir. What advice would you give the filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Guy Pigden 1:01:43
Well, to be honest, because, you know, we've we've mentioned a couple of these. And I actually did try and write down a couple of these things. But, you know, for starters, yeah, forget the lottery ticket mentality, as you say all the time. And think about long term sustainability, view your films as a brand, and business as well as an artistic endeavor. So that's something that I would would definitely throw out there. I would also say, you know, don't assume that people will recognize your talent. Right? So focus on connecting with an audience that appreciates, but stop assuming that I'm a genius. And you know, what I do will just be at that level that I want it to be with all my, you know, all those greats that I look up to. So, you know, you got to shift that mindset a lot. So those are the things I take what I mean, to my younger self, I'd say, Look, man, don't be depressed. But it is gonna take a lot longer than you think. Obviously, it's

Alex Ferrari 1:02:52
gonna take too, it's like, again, I'll go back to Rick as he said this another quote is like, it's gonna take twice as long as you think and it's gonna be twice as hard.

Guy Pigden 1:02:59
Yes. As and, and you know, you know, I know that I can't remember who it was that said, it takes 10 years to become an overnight success. Well, maybe I think it takes 20 years to become an overnight

Alex Ferrari 1:03:14
it turns, it depends on your path. It all depends on the path, you walk some Look, man, some people hit it out of the park, like Robert Sure, without mariachi, and he was given a gift. And a lot of these guys have had on the show, were given gifts, like they happen to be at the right place, right time, right product. And you know what, you know, everyone has their path. So you just kind of walk your path the best way you can. And maybe you're destined for greatness, or great things in the way that you think they're great. Or maybe you're destined to make a beautiful living, doing the art form that you love. And maybe no one will recognize you other than that smaller audience that that loves you. And that is an amazing accomplishment. Or maybe this business isn't for you. And that's a sad reality of, of what we do. Because as we saw in the beginning, that punch comes. Either you know how to take in and keep going forward, or you're knocked out. And I've seen a lot of filmmakers get knocked out. And the only goal I have with this show is to make sure that you know that that punch is coming to let you know, because I wish I had that podcast when you were trying to get this distribution deal made. So I wish I was listening to this. I wasn't even started yet. I hadn't even started yet. So I was in my own turmoil selling olive oil and vinegar and that's a whole other conversation for another day. But But yeah, okay. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in film business or in life?

Guy Pigden 1:04:38
I think it goes back to you're not entitled to success. You are not there is not an entitlement. how good you think you are or how talented you that you are not entitled to success in your own entitled to appreciation. No matter how good you think you are. I think there was a big lesson for me to learn as a younger filmmaker Even though I'm still trying to have to remind myself from time to time, when you know, I, I get into these conversations with, with filmmakers or producers, and I'm like, Man, I've made two films by the effort, you know, like, I know what I'm doing. But you can't look at it like that, you have to come into it humble. And so that was a big thing for me. As you know, there are no entitlements here, you know, and you're not, you don't deserve any of that. That's, you've got to, even if you're the hardest worker in that, because I also thought it was to do with hard work, I thought, if you're the hardest worker in the room, and you've got some talent, you know, it will come together, I actually don't think that's true. Like you can do all those things. And it's still not it come together. At that time. You know,

Alex Ferrari 1:05:45
what I would say, as far as that is concerned, I think if you're the hardest worker in the room, and you have a little bit of talent, something will eventually happen. Yes, it could happen in a year, it could happen in 10 years. But only good things come from that in one way, shape, or form. If you stay if you stick with it. That has been my experience, that's been my experience talking to so many filmmakers, if you show up and just keep working every day, something will happen. And I use, I use the example of the podcast when I launched, nobody knew who I was, no one knew indie film, hustle, I came out of it literally from scratch. And I just showed up every day, and just did as much work as humanly possible. And I've been able to build up what I've been able to build up over the last six years, but purely because of just straight up, hustle, straight up just grinding and grinding harder than anybody else. And good things do eventually happen. But it takes time to do it. But it might not happen to the way you imagined it in your head. And that is the lesson because you're not gonna grow. If you if you say, Oh, I'm gonna win the Oscar, you're done. You're done. Pack it up, you're not gonna win the Oscar, it's not gonna happen. But you know, like, Oh, I'm gonna make a million. Maybe, I don't know, doubtful depends on the movie. Maybe not, who knows. But just, if you can get out of this out of what your vision of your success is, and just let it unfold in front of you, and be open to whatever comes to you. That I think is a much more better recipe for success than trying to plan this open grant this grant thing, because I promise you and I've spoken to these guys on the show, every one of them that had these grand things happen to them, not one of them planted.

Guy Pigden 1:07:32
And it's such an important distinction, isn't it? Because we're coming in seeing these people and expecting the same type of success. You know, the Robert Rodriguez, the Kevin Smith, we're going to go that journey, we're gonna make these then we're going to, and it's like, but they didn't have that plan. They're like, I've just got to make my thing, I got to tell my story, and hope that something comes from it. And then all of this stuff came from it. But, you know, we I think that's, again, goes back to that sort of entitlement thing. Right. And, and, you know, what we are adjusting our expectations. Because I am sort of very proud of the things that I've done in my career. Very proud of having made two feature films and I'm super excited to be you know, just about finishing another one and, and all the opportunities that have come with that all the people I've got to work with along the way. I am incredibly grateful and thankful for that. But it was not, you know, it's not the giddy heights of Hollywood's and and that's okay, as you said that's okay.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:37
Robert, Robert wanted to make a mariachi for the for the Spanish VHS market. He had no intention of ever it being anywhere else other than straight to video to the Spanish market, not even straight to video American market students. And look what happened to him. None of them expected. None of them expected. Do you think Spielberg expected jaws to be the beginning of the blockbuster? To be the biggest movie of all time of its that? No. None of them do. So hope that gets in there. And last question, sir. Three of your favorite films of all time. I mean, this is the hardest one, but you've had time you've had time. I've written times I've written down. So let's go.

Guy Pigden 1:09:18
I've written down I've cheated. So I'm going to but I'm going to throw out so my first top three is the three that I can just off the top of my head, the shining number one original Star Wars trilogy. And back to the future. I know that's a cheat, but there will there will be but now the three the thing, john capita, the original Indiana Jones trilogy, and the dollars trilogy so so you've

Alex Ferrari 1:09:43
cheated all sorts. I mean, you

Guy Pigden 1:09:47
cheat one more time. One more set of cheats as this is a little bit off the beaten path because I know that people always give those ones The Big Lebowski sure the labyrinth Labyrinth I know Yeah, ever in the library.

Alex Ferrari 1:10:05
I don't think Labyrinth has been on the show before sunset, I don't think is a domain made the list either. But But to be fair, you have cheated. So I'm gonna I'm gonna have to do this. I'm gonna have to disclose I'm gonna have to disqualify the sir I'm sorry. But the guy that it has been an absolute pleasure talking to you, man, thank you so much for being so raw and honest and transparent with your experience. And, you know, putting it out there for the world to hear and, and hopefully help other filmmakers out there. It takes a brave filmmaker to come out and just kind of like, Hey, man, look, I learned these lessons. Hopefully, it's gonna help some other people. But I do truly appreciate you coming on the show. And it's been a blast, talking to you, my friend. So thank you so much and much success on your journey, sir.

Guy Pigden 1:10:47
Well, thank you, Alex. Thank you for having me on. I am a cautionary tale for other filmmakers. But I hope that one that people can take a lot and learn from and go cool. I'm not going to make those mistakes, because we all make mistakes, and we keep making mistakes. What do we take and learn from those. So I really hope people learn from my mistakes. And I'd also just like to say, please go and see my new film, which is available now amazon prime to be Google Play, which is older, it's, it's free on most of those platforms. And we begin to some awesome feedback. And, you know, we want to keep making films and long may continue. So please check that out. And you can also find me on YouTube. The savage filmmaker.

Alex Ferrari 1:11:27
Fantastic, man. Thank you again, brother. Thanks a lot.

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IFH 476: Building Long-Term Filmmaking Revenue Streams

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Not many of us get to tick off ‘sailing around the world’ off our dream to-do list. But our guests today, Brady Trautman and partner, Alex Blue, have been living their ultimate best life at sea for the last ten-plus years while creating video content for their business, Cruisers Academy

The adventure began with Florida natives Brady and his older brother, Brain, with whom he initially started the youtube channel, Sailing Vessel Delos, back in 2008. It wasn’t until 2012 they received their first check from Youtube, which was basically ‘bear money.’  Soon after, they joined Patreon. 

Eight sailors, filmmakers, and adventurers pile into a 48 ft sailboat with the goal of exploring and capturing the beauty of Svalbard, the northernmost settlement in the world, only 600 miles from the North Pole. The sailing expedition brings 24 hours of sunlight, dangerous glacial ice flows, and up-close encounters with polar bears, beluga whales, walrus’ and much more! After 2.5 years of post-production and over 2000 hours of editing, it’s time to bring YOU our biggest project yet!
Alex, a media student running her film and photo company shooting on party boats across South America, joined the Delox crew in 2017 on a sail across the Atlantic to South Africa. 

Alex’s valuable skills helped tell their story of adventure and friendships, dreams more skillfully. 

SV Delos has sailed 45 countries and over 70,000 ocean miles since 2008. 

Ever wondered what goes into making a documentary series? Well here’s a behind-the-scenes look at how the 80 North Series was created! Andy Schell invited us to be on his podcast which was the perfect opportunity to film the chat, share some sneak peeks, and relive funny stories from our sailing expedition in the Arctic Circle.

Finding your niche in the film or creative space, in general, can be a struggle, especially since it is becoming more and more competitive by the second. But the Delos crew modeled their business to service a niche audience and have created multiple revenue streams from sailing around the world and doing what everybody wants to do.

Due to the COVID pandemic, Alex and Brady have halted sailing for over a year now. They have had to adjust production strategy by outsourcing editing and diversifying their output.

Six months ago, the couple, along with a business partner, Sean, launched the Cruisers Academy—offering sailing lessons, charters, and they released a four-part docu-series, 80° North. It is a compilation of two years worth of videos honoring the beauty of the sea and their journeys. 

Enjoy my fun conversation with Brady Trautman and Alex Blue.

 

Alex Ferrari 0:08
I like to welcome the show Brady Troutman and Alex, how are you guys doing?

Brady Trautman 0:15
Good. Thanks for having us on the show today.

Alex Ferrari 0:17
I said it right right. I said the name right.

Brady Trautman 0:19
Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 0:21
For a second I went, did I say the wrong name again. It's been a long day, guys. I apologize. Hi, guys. How are you guys doing, man? Thanks so much for being on the show.

Brady Trautman 0:32
Yeah, we're doing good. We're, we're currently in Lake Tahoe and California. And the seasons are transitioning from spring to summer. So we're kind of in in a really good spot and excited for the summer in the lake.

Alex Ferrari 0:43
So very tough life is what you're saying? Very tough life.

Brady Trautman 0:46
Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 0:47
it's rough.

Brady Trautman 0:47
Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 0:48
very tough.

Brady Trautman 0:48
It's rough.

Alex Ferrari 0:49
So, It's rough out there. It's rough out there in Lake Tahoe, the main streets of Lake Tahoe. It's tough.

Brady Trautman 0:53
Yeah. Pretty bad, actually. But

Alex Ferrari 0:57
Wow.

Brady Trautman 0:59
Sorry.

Alex Ferrari 1:01
So, um, I want to get you guys on the show. Because you've had you, I've had other you know, youtubers on the show, and other people who kind of use this futurpreneur method. Not specifically that you use it for me. But you might have modeled it after some, someone like yourselves, who do that kind of like building content and creating multiple revenue streams and servicing a niche audience and all that kind of stuff. But you're very, you have never really kind of spoken to anyone with a niche like yours, which is boating. And I want you to explain a little bit more. But how did you guys leave the normal world and go straight into like boating around the world and just following basically doing what everybody wants to do other than like, going off and joining the circus? I think basically swit sailing around the world essentially would be on the top of people's like, dream to do list. So how did you guys go, I'm assuming you didn't just come out of the womb like that. Got your boat at five and just kept going? From what I read. You guys started in the normal world and said, You know, I'm tired. So can you tell us how you got in there?

Brady Trautman 2:06
Yeah, for sure. I guess I'll start first because Alex joined the journey a little bit later on. And she had her own journey before we met. So I grew up in Orlando, Florida, and I was going to college there. And my brother at the time was up in Seattle, Washington. He's 10 years older than me. And he had a web design company that basically he left it. And we were both getting into sailing at the same time. So neither of our parents were into sailing, we didn't grew up sailing. But we were both getting into sailing at the same time. He was 32. And I was 22. And we ended up getting a 53 foot sailboat. And the plan was to basically hang out Mexico for a little bit, and maybe eventually cross into the South Pacific and go to Tahiti, because it was just like an incredibly big dream. And so that happened, I had one semester left of college, and we made a decision that we were going to leave Mexico and sail out into the South Pacific. And I took out all my student loans that I could sign up for as many classes as I could took out all my student loans and then dropped all the classes and figured I'd use my student loans to go to university of life, I guess. Wow. So yeah, that was that was in 2010. And I was only supposed to help him because he was kind of a little bit in a better financial position to travel long term than I was at the time. So I was supposed to help him for like three weeks, the passage from Mexico to the mark cases was about three weeks long. And we got the mark cases. And they were like, oh, a couple more months. I'll say a couple more months. And then we got to Tahiti, and it was a couple more months and then yeah, that eventually turned into 10 years and a circumnavigation so that that's kind of the the journey and then along the way, a lot of things happened, you know, are we ran out of money a lot, of course, but our family and friends we had a blog and photos, but it wasn't enough for our family and friends. They were always just still like, What the fuck are you guys doing? Like, I don't get it? Like, are you camping? Or got a motorboat? Like does your boat have an engine? It's a sailboat, but just people didn't really understand. So we just started filming our journey, little clips at a time and uploading small short videos to YouTube. The first videos were even like pictures with music behind them. So they were just complete like family slideshow kind of things. Which is great. Our family loved it. But then as we started to film and progress, other people started watching. And it was kind of at a really interesting time in YouTube where it was new and fresh. And it wasn't like click Beatty. It wasn't really you didn't have to try as hard if you had good content. It got put in front of people naturally I think so yeah, people kept watching and we eventually saw that there was a opportunity to make like a full on production from it. And keep filming and keep sailing and and yeah, here we are now.

Alex Ferrari 4:54
And Alex How did you leave the normal world enjoy this psychic, psychotic pirate on his Island

Alex Blue 5:02
Well, I got pretty lucky Actually, I don't know if I ever quite entered the normal world. Nice play. Yeah. In in college, I started Yeah, I was studying like media. And so I started my own film and photo company and got basically what the goal of wanting to travel I had this random dream I don't know where I got it from, but I really wanted to work in Central and South America with my camera. So pretty much once I graduated, I made my way down there and was able to get paid pay my way with my camera. And one summer I ended up on in Colombia, and I got offered a position on a sailboat that sailed between Cartagena, Colombia and San Blas islands, Panama. And so I lived aboard this 5052 foot catamaran for a summer and we would take like 20 backpackers from Panama, spent five days in San Blas Salem to Cartagena and then have a couple days pick up 20 more backpackers from Colombia sailing back to Panama. And anyone that's ever been on a 52 foot sailboat will understand how ridiculous it is to have 20 plus people sleeping on a boat like not just people but backpackers. Yeah. So it was pretty much a big party. But it was beautiful. I mean, yeah, I slept outside every single night in the hammock for the entire summer and pretty much fell in love with living on a boat and started to see other people on boats to at the anchorages and realized that people were living on their boats and that cruise cruisers were a category of people that I have come to know a lot about and become one myself. But yeah, pretty much after that came back to Tahoe for a winter. And then a sailing friend of mine sent me a Delos episode on the YouTube channel and said, Hey, I think you'll like this. So I gave it a watch. And they were Yes, sailing, scuba diving, which I had also been getting into and filming, which is pretty much all the things that my life revolved around as well. So I just sent them a random email. And they actually now in retrospect, I know that they get, you know, I don't know, probably 1000 of those a year or something like that if people didn't want to join through with them. But for whatever reason, luck was on my side and Brady's older brother Brian caught the email and said, cool. If you want to be in Africa and South Africa in two weeks, then you can cross the Atlantic with us. So I just went again, I didn't have to like quit a job and sell my house or anything. a transitional phase. Yeah, I already worked for myself. And I was just floating around anyways. So what I did there, and then within like a month we were we were dating and yeah, I like to say our first date was crossing the South Atlantic.

Brady Trautman 7:47
How romantic?

Alex Ferrari 7:48
Yes, it's very intense. I'm imagining it's an intense first date, to say the least

Brady Trautman 7:53
I was I was away, I was away at a wedding. And my brother called me He's like, hey, this guy, Alex, he's a videographer. He's a sailor. And like, you know, we're looking for crude to go from South Africa to Brazil. Like, what do you think, man? And then we had we had a video call like Alex isnt, a dude. Perfect. guy was good here in a week and a half. And she made the decision. And then yeah, we were we sailed on that book for three and a half years together before we moved to town.

Alex Ferrari 8:21
You know, it's, it's, it's insane. Because I love the way you guys talk about these trips, like, it's, it's just like, I'm going down to get a cup of coffee, like we're going to just going across the Atlantic, or I just want to go to Tahiti, you know, in going into the South Pacific, like when I think of the South Pacific, all I think about is just like this massive amount of water. And this and this little little island called Tahiti or Fiji, or you know, like, like Hawaii is essentially a monster complex comparatively. And you're like, yeah, you know, just just gonna just keep going and I love that mentality because for you, that's normal. To me, that's insane. But in a great way, and I admire that so much because you are truly living you living the dream because you guys are doing what you love to do. You're making a living doing it, you're helping other people, you're you're providing value to people around the world. And you can literally travel the world on your own dime and do whatever the hell you want to do. You have complete freedom and I think that's I think we all that's the one that's going to the you know, running away with the circus, essentially, we're gonna go with the circus, but I'm wondering

Brady Trautman 9:36
thank you for saying that. I think I don't know after doing it for 10 years. I definitely got a little bit jaded and you know, as pretty as it is like anything in movies or documentaries it or series whatever. It feels incredible and you're watching it. It's like oh my god is the dream but there's there's hardships and there's a lot of difficulties that go along with living on a small sailboat with five people at a time. It's amazing. I wouldn't trade it. For the world, and I'm so grateful that I did it. It's just yeah, it's nice to hear again, people from the outside, like you say stuff like that cuz it's like yeah, I'm really lucky. I was able we were able to do that.

Alex Ferrari 10:11
Yeah, absolutely. And but, you know, I couldn't look you're traveling to South Pacific you're traveling, you know, across it, you know shits gonna happen, you know, I'm imagining it's just that like crystal blue sales and everything's running in the dolphins are jumping over next to you like the entire way. You know, I'm assuming you run out of money, you run out of food, you run out of gas, or whatever you're doing, like things happen, like, oh, there's a hurricane showing up. Like, I have to imagine things like that happens. But that's life. But you're but you've taken life by the kind of horns and just done what you want to do with it. Which is, believe me, I talked to a lot of people. And I talked to filmmakers, which we're all nuts. We're all we're all nuts, filmmakers. And filmmakers are insane people. I mean, I'm insane. We're all insane. My family looks at me like, what do you do? 20 years, 25 years. And you make and you do what? And now they see me on YouTube. So now they're just like, oh, he talks to famous people. I'm like, Yeah, okay, that's sure. That's what I do. That's all I do in my life. And I was that Sure, why not? But there's an insanity that comes along with being a filmmaker, but you guys just amped up that insanity. Like, instead of shooting a movie, let's shoot a movie on the open sea for months at a time. And oh, let's open up a YouTube channel. And you can like, Oh, my egg. You can never leave set. Yeah, exactly. It's always going. So when you guys started doing the videos that sent back to your family, because they just wanted to make sure you were alive and doing well. How, by the way, how do you communicate like carrier pigeon? Or like How? Like, I'm assuming the cell reception? I'm assuming the cell reception is not so well down there, especially 11 years ago?

Brady Trautman 11:52
Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 11:53
In the middle? Yeah.

Brady Trautman 11:55
I mean, yeah, the best way to communicate really was, was when we get to an island and you'd find a random computer, somebody would have a computer with internet and you'd sign in checking emails. Really, that was it. I mean, we didn't even have cell phones weren't really a thing through the South Pacific in 2010. Now you can find the cell phone pretty much anywhere you go. And you buy a SIM card, a local SIM card, and you can get you can get calls and data and stuff. But back then yeah, it'd be months before we'd we'd reach out or do anything and even uploading stuff to YouTube, right? Like there was times where, where we couldn't we leave the laptop in like a cafe somewhere for like two weeks to try and upload, like a 500 megabit video, and it just wouldn't upload. So we found we buy the small little USB thumb drive, put an episode on it, ship it across to my friends in Florida, and they would upload it for us and then post it for us. So that was faster than actually uploading a video at that time.

Alex Ferrari 12:51
Jesus. And you certainly you started doing this for your family, essentially. And you just opened up a YouTube channel just like start doing things. But then eventually, people just started finding it. And you're This is about 11 years ago?

Brady Trautman 13:02
Yeah, yeah, really, it was 2010 is when we first started uploading the little picture slideshows, and then 2011 there was a bit more video involved. And then, yeah, I think 2012 is when we really decided I think we we ended up getting a check from YouTube at some point for like $18 or $20. I don't remember the amount and we're like, holy shit, what is this? Like they made a mistake or something. And we didn't realize that they were monetizing our videos. So we realized that there was a way to make money on youtube, even if it was small. That was like a case of beer, which is awesome at that time when you have zero money. So yeah, we just kept doing it. And then once we realized that there was a way to grow it, it was growing and growing. And we found out that as long as we were consistent, and we were ourselves and being authentic and honest, and we just kept growing. And then the real real change happened when one of our one of our followers, one of our viewers on YouTube reached out and said, hey, there's this new thing called Patreon. It's perfect for you guys, you should check it out. And it must have been the first six months patron was was a lot. And we signed up for a Patreon account. And then yeah, people really, really understood that because there's something really special about giving directly back to an artist or somebody you like it's a personal connection, instead of giving it to a cable company or a network, and maybe it'll trickle down to them, like literally giving $5 or $10 to that creator. It has an emotion attached to it. And that's 100% why we were able to be successful.

Alex Ferrari 14:30
So so with YouTube, you start making some money with it you realize that there's an actual something there at least it's you know, beer money, we can work for beer money, basically. Yeah. You start working with beer money. And I put what Alex At what point did you like coming? What year did you jump in with him?

Alex Blue 14:46
Let's see. It was 2016 or 17.

Alex Ferrari 14:51
I think 17 March. So you guys were off and running already. The YouTube channel had already been Oh, yeah.

Brady Trautman 14:56
Yeah, we were full on by then we're just started. Like probably right then is when we started making a profit, I would say, like our expenses were paid for. So like, the boat was paid for insurance, food fuel, like cameras, it was kind of breakeven, like our lifestyle was paid for. And then right around that point that Alex joined us when it kind of kept going, and we were able to pay ourselves $500 a month.

Alex Ferrari 15:21
I mean, obviously. It's all Alex is 100% but Alex joy, the videography got better. The storytelling got better. The editing got better. Yeah, perfect.

Alex Blue 15:33
No, I mean, it's actually funny. Yeah, to look back, because when I once I realized I was going, I didn't watch any more episodes or anything to me, it felt weird to know that I was going to show up and know these people and they weren't going to know me or anything. So I kind of just went and didn't really look into it much shows like they seem legit, whatever, just go

Alex Ferrari 15:54
Okay, so let's, let's stop there for a second. I want to because my daughter's not see this one day, and I'm gonna say no, this is not the way to do it. I looked at the video, it seemed legit. I flew to Africa. This is not a statement that I ever want to hear my daughter say.

Alex Blue 16:11
Yeah, my mom had some doubts.

Alex Ferrari 16:14
I would hope so.

Alex Blue 16:17
But No, I didn't. I didn't know that. That Um, so the tribe is what they they kind of tell us refers to as the the people that watch their videos, and I'm telling you people are so inspired and like touched by these videos. I had no idea. It's like a it's like, it's almost like a cult classic in a way with Delos. The Delos episodes like people are so into them. And they've people have altered their lives so much like so many people have sold everything they own went and bought sailboats move their families aboard, like I'm talking hundreds, if not 1000s of people from these episodes. So they really touched people in a lot of ways. And yeah, and I just had no idea any of that before I got on the boat. Some people like to think that I saw Brady online buddy was cute, and like, came came in to swoop a map, but I did not have that much foresight

Brady Trautman 17:09
I was a lot skinnier and Tanner.

Alex Ferrari 17:14
No, it's it's it's really interesting, because as a creator, you know, with with what I do on a daily basis with podcasting, I've done hundreds and hundreds of podcasts. And you as a creator, you don't know what effect it has on people. You really don't you just put it out into the universe. And only when I'm at an event or at a film festival or a if I get emails or something like that. Do I realize the impact that Yeah, an episode? Did you found me listening to podcasts? You're like, Oh, yeah, yeah. And I have people who follow me like, Oh, my God, you know, you saved you saved me from losing $500,000 because that predatory distributor was gonna screw me, or those kinds of things all the time. So but as a creator, you just don't know, man. So I can imagine I understand that feeling of just putting it out there. And it really does affect people lives. For me. It's just like an interview. Like, I'm having an interview with you right now. And then I promise you somebody will just like, Oh, wait, what's that? What? Let me click on that YouTube channel, boom, all of a sudden, and they sell their boats. They sell their lives, they get a boat, and they go with a strange man. With a strange man with a strange man. Oh, no, she's a strange men. Exactly. But you don't know. But I promise you probably something like that will probably happen at one point or another, someone listening to this will happen. So it's, it's really, I always tell people, it's so important to put whatever's in your heart to put it out there. Because you just have no idea what effect it will have on another human being. It could be nothing to you. And you could say something like I say stuff on the show all the time. That to me, it's just not that's something I just it's just part of my vernacular, but it will blow someone's mind who's never heard it. And I'm assuming this, like, if I started watching your videos, if I wanted to get into boating, you'll probably save me years, FPA years of pain and suffering on how to run a boat or take one of your courses or, or you know, or something like that. It's it's pretty remarkable. It really is. Now you started once you speak regard, you started doing the YouTube channel, you started seeing there was a real thing. How did you build the audience? Or was it just strictly like I'm just going to create content? or How did you start interacting with them? How did you build that tribe? Because I called my guys the tribe as well.

Brady Trautman 19:28
I don't know our when we first started getting followers besides our parents. There was something inside of us like I knew something was I just knew it was gonna be big. Like I knew we were the first sailing YouTube channel in the world. And now there's, I don't know 10,000 or something, or I don't know how many there are, but I just knew that it was gonna go big, like, it was gonna be something big and we made kind of a rule just to only make videos that made us smile. So to be authentic to be ourselves. 100% never make A video based on a comment or, or what other people think. And and only only do it if it makes us happy. So if it ever came to a point where it was just too much and too stressful, which those times definitely came, then we had to take a step back and reassess. And that combined with the consistency is I think what grew the channel like we were releasing one episode 20 to 30 minute episode every Friday, still to this day, it's a brother scene. It's it's, it's ridiculous. And now I've been off the boat for full time for a little over a year now. And my brother and his wife and they have a baby on board now. And they're still doing it. And we have we have outside editors and stuff helping out but it's just like seeing it from the outside. Now I'm like,

Alex Ferrari 20:43
How the fuck did we do that for 10 years? Like I don't it was just 30 minutes of fresh content shot and edited every week is obscene.

Brady Trautman 20:53
The content was probably five months behind real time. Sure. So is backlog but yeah, it was every Friday 20 to 30 minute episode,

Alex Blue 21:03
sometimes maybe even longer labs every five minute episodes, double releases to try and catch up. Yeah, ridiculous.

Alex Ferrari 21:10
It's insanity. That's insanity. That's absolute insanity. Now out of sight out so you've mentioned a couple of revenue streams, you've created the YouTube advertising, which generally from my own experience on being on YouTube and just from other other youtubers I know. You got to have obscene amount of numbers to make, like people think like you're making a million a month I'm like, Dude, are you out of your mind? Like maybe in the beginning that was like it was a lot easier to make money when it started. But now you know, you got to really work to make and it's an it's not make make a living off of YouTube. Unless you've got millions of them. You got to have a lot a lot of us. So but you able to build that revenue stream? And then Patreon How did Patreon do for you guys? Is that really supported you?

Brady Trautman 21:54
Yeah, that's been the main revenue stream. By far. I mean, the ad revenue in the beginning in 2014 15. It was good. I think around 2016 it just started to drop even though our numbers grew, our ad revenue didn't really go up very much, because it was just so flooded. But Patreon yeah has continued to grow since we started it. I think we started it in 2013 is when we first started our Patreon account. And yeah, people find us on YouTube. And they watch a couple episodes. And of course, we push it in our YouTube videos like these videos are free. If you really want to support us head over to Patreon. And we give them rewards of course, t shirts, and sometimes we pick somebody's name out of a hat and they get to come sailing with us. So the rewards is it's a really cool platform. And without Patreon, I don't think we'd be where we are, we would have found a different route to continue. But I don't know if it would have been as big or successful as it is at all. We also have another revenue stream, which is really fun. Is our it's not a donation button because donation seems so like

Alex Ferrari 22:51
oh the give me buy me a beer.

Brady Trautman 22:53
Yeah, Bobby and beer. Exactly. And we came up we were sitting down having beers when this is before Patreon existed and we're like, yeah, people should like they people want to give us money. They're asking how to donate but you're like, come on, who's gonna donate to two younger dudes on a sailboat living living a great life in the South Pacific. Like, I wouldn't donate to those guys. But we we kind of formed it more in the way of if you're at a bar, and somebody tells you to good question or tells you so it tells you a good story and makes you laugh. Then you buy him a beer, right? It's like, Oh, that was a great story. Let me buy you a beer. So that's kind of how we did the whole thing. And that was a huge success. And it still is Yeah, cuz

Alex Ferrari 23:30
you guys start building out your website and yeah, I mean, all that all those kinds of things. And then obviously have some merge that you submerge and Oh, the one other other the US now do tours. You also do is you don't you have a course or like some sort of training Do you do as well,

Brady Trautman 23:48
I have a separate now like, since since we left the boat, Alex and I have started our own. I'm still part of Delos. But we're not involved in the filming or the editing of it. So we've kind of done our own thing. And instead of relying solely on YouTube to create an income, and to constantly pump out videos as much as we can. We've taken our experience of sailing around the world and all the stuff we've learned and we've made sailing school. So we're teaching, it's not through Delos, it's not through the YouTube channel. It's just something we're doing. So that way we can go back to filmmaking as a passion instead of a constant like, how are we going to make money off this next film?

Alex Ferrari 24:24
Now is that is that is that online? Is that an online course? Or is that an in person course? in person? It's an in person course. Alright, so do they fly in? And yet? Oh, wow. So I must be Yeah, solid. And then you could just film when you want to film and it's good. It's It's remarkable how you guys have been able to just figure it out in a way that like I'm just gonna keep doing what I want to do. And I'm never going to work with a man and, and just and just live the life you want to live and it's really inspiring truly, truly honestly as filmmakers and it's just a human being To be able to just I don't think you could ever get a chocolate could you get a chop? Like could sound like

Brady Trautman 25:05
why we there's no way I could get a normal job. I just don't I wouldn't know how to do it. I'd fail. I get fired probably right away.

Alex Ferrari 25:13
I always I always tell people, I'm unemployable. I think I'm psychologically unemployable. I cannot I there's no way I can have a boss. No, I get. I just got rid of my clients like three years ago. When I when I close my post, I was done. I was like, yeah, I'm done. I can't do this all full time now. And it's, it's been great. Now, you also did a documentary series called 80 degrees north. Where, because you know, this opposite, it's not enough. And of course, the Atlantic is not enough in the Indian Ocean. And you're like, well, where Haven't we gone on this planet? On the Arctic? Oh, there's that's so. So let's go up to the Arctic and do this adventure. And you did this movie called 80 degree movie, but a series called 80 degrees north. Can you tell everybody a little bit about that? That project? Good.

Alex Blue 26:02
Yep. So we have a couple of friends who are also sailors, they have more of a it's not a charter. It's kind of like a blue water ocean experience school where you can go make long ocean passages with them. And they were going to be up in small Bard for anyone who doesn't know who that is, which is good chance probably.

Alex Ferrari 26:25
Yes.

Alex Blue 26:26
Yeah, it's, it's north of Norway. It's about 600 miles from the North Pole. It's a group of islands. And yeah, they're, they're very, in the in the summertime, it's 24 hours of daylight, and polar bears and all kinds of wildlife up there. And they recently have become more of a tourist attraction because a lot of the ice the pack ice the normally kind of packs them in, even in the summertime has been melting. So they had this idea they wanted to go up there, it was kind of between trips, and they invited the Dallas crew to come out and meet them, which definitely isn't something normally that the Dulles crew does, like we're always on Delos sailing around from place to place filming kind of doing our own thing. But it was an opportunity at that point where I think that everyone is pretty ready to try something new. And Delos has spent most of her life, you know, at the equator. And so everyone was like let's go see what you know, Coldwater sailing is all about. try this out. So yeah, we all flew there and hopped on their boat. They have a 40 foot swan. So it was them too. They had a ship photographer and then five of the Dallas crew came. So there's eight people on a 40 foot boat for three weeks. And we sell like 15 cameras. Oh my god, so much camera gear flying everywhere. So yeah, hopped on board with them sailed around and pretty much just filmed our experience everything from sort of what it took to prep the boat to the encounters that we had with glaciers to seeing polar bears, beluga whales, walrus, the sailing conditions, everything. And yeah, maida ended up making a four part documentary series with it.

Alex Ferrari 28:08
So I got I just want to go back to that for that scent that you said, hey, let's fly up to the Arctic and see what that's about. Again, that's something that is normally set by a normal human being. I just want to let everybody know that right there. Cuz you say it's so weird. Like, it just rolls off the tongue. I just want to stop for a second just so you're aware. That's just not the way we're normally used to living living in our underwear and bikinis in Brazil. Right? Oh, let's

Brady Trautman 28:32
try and fancy Yeah, let's do that. What a great idea. It was a great idea. It turned out to be a great idea. But looking back, it was like, we had no idea what we're getting ourselves into. It was just a completely opposite thing than what we knew and what we're used to. And I think that's why it excited us because at that point, when you're constantly filming your life every day and and editing the same footage, you kind of you don't get burned out, so to speak, but it's not as you're not as passionate about showing it anymore. You're like, Okay, get it doing the same thing we've done 200 times getting in the dinghy go into an island. So the idea of going to the Arctic someplace we've never been with totally different conditions, reignited our passion for filming and exploration. And we knew we wanted to do something different with it than the YouTube channel. Like we didn't want to have it just a normal Friday release and one of the time grows is filmmakers and just learn more and try different things. So we spent a ton of time it took us about two years to finish editing it and we did tons of interviews and yeah, so full on little mini series.

Alex Ferrari 29:33
That's That's awesome, dude. And I was gonna say, I don't know how you guys edit yourselves for over a decade because if it wasn't for me talking to other people, I can do this. Like I could not edit my source My life is boring as hell, but nothing nearly as cool as you guys do. But like just seeing myself all the time and doing the same thing after like, it might be cool for a little bit but after a while, like you said like okay, we get The thing again, we're gonna go to the, you know, I know everyone everyone watching is like, Oh my god, but for us, it's like, you know, like, Okay,

Brady Trautman 30:08
before she joined Bella, she was behind the camera like, 100% of the time. And she got on the boat until Africa. And there's a camera in her face. And she's like, Oh, so that was the last thing for you to get used to. Right?

Alex Blue 30:19
Yeah, I think it's actually there's a lot of value in you know, people always say if they have to listen to voicemail that they leave or, you know, watch a video clip of themselves. And they, they're like, I hate my voice, or I hate the way I look. And for me, it was really, really interesting. Because Yeah, I'd always been behind the camera and but there's a lot of value, even though it's straight up sucks. And it's really hard to like, watch yourself on camera, you realize a lot of I realized two things, I realized things about myself that I never realized before, from not new perspective that I wanted to change. And then I realized things that maybe you know, weren't perfect about me. But that's who made me who I was. And I was never going to change those things. So it actually really helped me grow as a person and see myself from, you know, someone else's point of view. And I think I became a better person for it from it. But it's, it's brutal.

Alex Ferrari 31:10
Most human beings go the other way. They go like, Oh, my God, this sucks. I'm just a horrible, I can't do this. And it just you don't find the positives or even the constructive. You just look at the negative. I took me years before I can listen to myself, like I know. Now I've got a little more accustomed to listen to my voice. But all was proved. It took me forever to get on. It took me forever to skim. If you if you go to my YouTube channel, the first videos, it's all just audio, I just threw up the audio. I just took me like two, three years before I started putting myself on video. I just I'm like, Oh, I want to be buying the camera. I don't want to do it. So it is brutal. It's brutal. So I tip I tip my hat to you guys, for doing it for as long as you have. Now the really interesting thing about 80 degrees north is that you have a very unique distribution model. And how is that working for you? And what is it?

Brady Trautman 31:57
Yeah, it's actually turned out we took a big risk, and it worked out very well for us. Luckily, when we first Yeah, when we first started editing this thing together. And we had three parts and four parts and we knew it wasn't going to go on YouTube. I started reaching out to you know, distribute distribution networks. I started listening to your podcasts like what other avenues other What do people do? I started talking to aggregators, I talked to people at all the major streaming networks that I won't name but all you know all the big ones that are out there. It's a short list. Yeah, yeah. And the most common thing that I heard back from them was where where's the arguing? Like, where's the drama where I'm like, we're fucking sailing in the Arctic, we have to carry a rifle. Because polar bears can attack us for protection. Like, is that not enough for you? Like it's not enough drama, you really need to the Alice to throw like they just wanted like, they're like, when did the crew argue? You know, if you argue with your brother, there had to be eight people on a 48 foot. You had to have argued? Like no, like, we didn't actually it was perfect. We didn't have any arguments. We didn't have any disagreements. So

Alex Ferrari 32:59
they were they were looking for the housewives of the Arctic is basically Yeah, no. Don't make a spoof of that now. Oh, my God, oh, Housewives of the Arctic

Brady Trautman 33:10
glaciers, beluga whales. Let's just you guys argue in a small space. It was a I don't know, it was a wake up call and a turn off really because as a as an independent filmmaker or something you feel like getting on one of those streaming platforms is like this is that's where you want to go. That's you get in front of so many people. And it's almost like a notch on your belt. But then I realized that we have such a cool, dedicated audience already, like our YouTube following our Instagram accounts, everybody is so engaged and so interested in what we're doing, we realize that no matter where we release it, people will want to watch. So instead of Yeah, instead of going with the streaming platforms or, or even charging, like on amazon prime, where you charge a certain amount for the for the episodes, we decided to give the people the choice and how much they wanted to pay. So we did a pay what's fair model, who built their own website, put up a trailer of it at North series.com is where it's all at, which is a podcast and people started hearing about it and then there's a little box where you can go and you type in whatever amount you want. And then you get to watch you get to stream all four parts of the series for as long as you

Alex Ferrari 34:22
have to ask you I mean, I don't want like accounting but like what's the average? Let's see. I was $15.35 Wow for two visitors and almost a little bit over two hours that the full series if I'm not mistaken.

Brady Trautman 34:35
Yeah, yep. So it's about 30 minutes so it's Yeah, a little over two hours. So I thought more people would watch. I mean, I'll tell you the amount of people that have watched it is right around 14,000 people right now are sorry that I paid 14,000 people

Alex Ferrari 34:50
so you can do this amazing.

Brady Trautman 34:52
It's great. We were able to cover our production costs like the flights of the crew, all the camera gear you know, all the all the stuff that goes into that. But it didn't reach as many people as I thought it would. Because we get, you know, in our in our YouTube channel, we get close to two to 300,000 views in a week span, like from the first Friday release. So it's a small percentage of people that are watching, but they're actually paying more than I thought, maybe I thought it would be 100,000 people or they pay $4.

Alex Ferrari 35:20
But I'll tell you getting 14,000 people off of a 200,000 like audience is a massive amount of conversion. That's it. Yeah. Really massive. And at that price point that you're talking about, is massive, because I've seen guys who have guys and gals who've got a million. And like, if they can get, if they get 10,000 off of a million, it's you're you're winning, it's again. So that's a that's a really big conversion. That says a lot about the passion of your audience. Now, you know, when I saw the pay to play model, I was like, Okay, this sounds great. But without an audience, this is really a tough sell. This is a hot, you know, if you if you got nobody, and it's only your mom and your uncle and maybe your best, and all the actors, or all the crew, people's parents and friends, yeah. This is this the pay, it's not going to really work. So it's so important. I've been yelling at this from the top of the mountain for so long, building that audience, connecting with that audience, and then feeding that audience, giving that audience what they want, providing a service to them, through your videos, through your services, through your products, through everything that you create. And you didn't go off and make you know, a movie about the carnival. or running off with a circus. You didn't make that movie because that movie wouldn't sell to your audience, maybe maybe a handful who just want to like, Did Davos, just join the circus. Which, by the way, would probably be an interesting documentary. It's a documentary but but you focused on the niche and you stayed within that niche, which is a niche you love. And you've maintained your life livelihood for the last decade by doing what you love. And isn't that every filmmakers dream?

Brady Trautman 37:06
I think so I never thought I would be a filmmaker or make documentary films. And then it just kind of came to fruition by necessity, I guess then yeah, it's 100% energy, my talk to a lot of other YouTubers, a lot of people that have YouTube chat sailing YouTube channels. And it's always the same question like, how do you create revenue from your YouTube channel or for making films, and it's so hard, it's really hard. And that's why we're really grateful to have such a good audience. And that audience was born out of going back to what I said before, being authentic, and just being ourselves. And you can see, you know what, the minute somebody is fake or does something to think that audience will like or something for money, the audience can see it right away, like the viewers will notice right away. And they'll be like, Okay, this person's not not real. They're only doing it for these reasons. So being authentic, really helped us all the way through, even for this documentary series, because people really stood behind us. And they're like, yeah, screw those guys trying to make you argue, do your own thing, and we're happy to support it.

Alex Ferrari 38:06
Now, did you just do you guys do sponsors as well? Or no?

Brady Trautman 38:10
No, no, we do. We do like gear sponsors and stuff. We don't do any big paid sponsorships? We've kind of stayed away from all that. If somebody wants to send us something like a dinghy or or sales, and we use it organically in the YouTube series, then awesome. It'll show up, like, organically, we don't have to blatantly put it out there. So we've never actually done really big paid partnerships. And for the at North series, we didn't do anything. No,

Alex Ferrari 38:35
no. Is there? Is there any reason? Would there have been a partner in the at North series that might have been a good like a maybe a couple brands or something like that, that would have aligned with your message of what you're trying to do? And help that also help pay for it? Yeah, I mean, the whole the whole series is pretty much alley hands and commercial. Yeah.

Alex Blue 38:54
We had a, we had a pro deal with Helly. Hansen. And yeah, we got like, 50% off. Yeah. And none of us had any snow gear or anything. We all a bikini, so we had to get literally fully fitted out all of our gear, all of our valleys and Helly Hansen. So like Brady said, the whole thing is a Helly. Hansen, essentially, but I mean, yeah, maybe if we tried to work it before, but at the end, it's like, well, it's already there. So yeah. Look what we did, it's already released.

Alex Ferrari 39:22
Do you want to give us money? Give us some money now for it. Now, what do you guys what do you guys planning in the future? I mean, obviously, obviously, this season, you're going to be at Lake Tahoe and sailing. I'm assuming you're doing courses or training. Now. You're gonna be doing that this summer. So what's up next for you guys now?

Alex Blue 39:40
Yeah, so Well, actually, me and Brady had the the idea of starting our new business, the cruisers Academy, which is the sailing school, when we were still on Delos. We really like teaching people. And yeah, like Brady said, just take a little bit of pressure off the filmmaking so that we can kind of you know, Enjoy it again. Not put so much not not put so much pressure on it. So yeah, so doing the sailing school and our original idea with it was to teach people how to live on boats how to cross oceans, Offshore Sailing, yeah, how to provision for six months at a time. And that still is our goal. But you know, given the last year and the travel restrictions and everything, we just decided to keep it local on taho. So we're kind of getting the Tahoe chapter set up. But we also are in the works of buying a blue water boat that can sail around the world. So we're going to be hopefully buying that boat this summer, and expanding the cruisers Academy to the ocean side as well. And then yes, still making films. We actually just got back from a dive trip in the Galapagos Islands for weeks. He told me

Brady Trautman 40:49
how was that? Like? It's like everything you see on Discovery Channel. There really is it's not? We're Galapagos

Alex Ferrari 40:57
is we're off of South America. Ecuador, right? Yeah. Yeah. It's off of Ecuador. Yeah,

Alex Blue 41:01
it's actually right at the equator. So yeah, we're diving with schooling, hammerheads out there and sea lions all around the streets, like, you know, dogs and everything like that. So we shot about four terabytes between the two of us two weeks. And that's going to be Yeah, the next film project that we put together, again, not putting a huge amount of pressure on when we're going to get it done. But hopefully by the end of summer, we'll have either some kind of long format product from it, or a few different episodes on our new cruisers Academy YouTube channel, but pretty much just still doing sailing and filming, but switching it up the amounts that we're doing of it, I guess.

Brady Trautman 41:38
Yeah, it was the first time this Galapagos trip was the first time we really picked up our cameras. And we're so intense with filming in about a year. When we when we left Delos and came to Tahoe, we kind of put our cameras down and we're like, okay, let's take a break from filming everything all the time. And then this Galapagos trip, we were right back in it with all of our cameras. So it felt really good. And it was like rejuvenating to film again, and be creative behind the camera. So I'm excited to see what comes in the footage. We haven't looked at any of it yet. But I think it'll be pretty cool. If it's not if we don't get cool footage from that trip, then we should not have ever again. Yeah.

Alex Ferrari 42:13
All you gotta do is basically just turn it on and expose it. You should be take the lens cap off, and you should pretty much good.

Brady Trautman 42:20
So yeah. And then apart from the sailing school, we did because we've kind of branched off of Delos, because like I said, my brother and his wife and baby are still on board doing that. So we started our own YouTube channel called Crusaders Academy, same name as the sailing school. And that's what we'll be posting our short little stuff like, like, we're not going to do stuff once a week, like we talked about before. But whenever it's just a place for us to release our creative energy and to film and to edit stuff, but not in any way. Trying to turn it into a big business.

Alex Ferrari 42:50
Right, just just enough to kind of keep the ball rolling, just to keep the ball Yeah, and that's the thing a lot of a lot of filmmakers always think you know, that you have to be, you know, living in the Hollywood Hills making millions and millions of dollars as a filmmaker or as a YouTuber. And at the end of the day, like, is your is your is your roof paid for? Is your free pay for? Like, you know, can you buy a couple nice things if you need to go to the Can you go on a trip? You're living the dream, man. Like if you're making you know, even more importantly, do

Brady Trautman 43:21
you enjoy what you're doing? That's a huge value cleaning a lot of people forget about is maybe you can get a job paying double what you'd make for yourself, but that value of enjoying eight hours a day, 10 hours a day doing what you're doing is worth way more than double your salary.

Alex Ferrari 43:37
Oh, that's huge.

Alex Blue 43:39
And so are you proud of what you're making? You know, like, it's so fun to be able to go to the Galapagos and film exactly what we want edit it together exactly how we want like, we're the final. Like when I worked for production houses when I was first getting going in video, I just remember making an edit on something and someone coming in and telling me to change it to some horrible way. I was like, I cannot do this. This is literally ripping my soul out of my body. And that was when I decided like I'm making my own things and I'll make way less money but I'll be so much happier and yeah, it's a good path. Oh, trust me.

Alex Ferrari 44:17
I was in post for 25 years all I know I did everything so I Oh dude, dude, I direct and then I would do post that my post was like my day job. So like I always had post to pay the bills and then I would go off and direct stuff. But man all from color grading, editing post supervising VFX ah

Brady Trautman 44:39
brutal, brutal, brutal. A lot of a lot of your listeners are in those fields. Now.

Alex Ferrari 44:44
They're like, they're like, damn it. Damn it. Hey, but some people love that. Like I've interviewed I've interviewed Academy Award winning editors who are just like love that collaborative process. I'm too much of an entrepreneur. I'm too much of my own boss. I like collaborating, but I can't, I can't man. And as you get older, and I think you guys can feel this, as you get older the tolerance just actually go down of what you're gonna put up the shit that you'll put up with, it just starts, because you'll put up with a lot of 22. But a 32, things start getting different at 42, things get really different. And that's why you see the 82 year old guy walking out with his with his underwear half off his shirt to pick up the paper in his eye, he doesn't care. He's done, done. Now, I'm gonna ask a few questions asked all my guests, what advice would you give a filmmaker tried to break into the business today?

Alex Blue 45:41
I think it's interesting, because the business has changed so much from what it traditionally used to be. And there's so many different things that you can do within filmmaking, whether you're interested in writing or directing, or editing or, you know, filming or vlogging, you know, is a huge new one. So I think it really depends. But, as we've said multiple times over the last hour, I think staying true to yourself, even if there's less of an immediate reward is the way to go. And you know, in the long run, you're you're really shaping your your career path. As you go every job you take every client, you take every decision you make every project you work on, that's going to lead you to your next step. And if you can make good choices and kind of make sacrifices along the way to stay true to yourself, I think that's going to get you to where you want to go.

Brady Trautman 46:32
Yeah, for sure. I think besides like what I said about being authentic, it depends. If you're behind the camera, and you're on a set, you know, you're not filming yourself, you're not creating a vlog but for for a filmmaker that has total control over everything, to be authentic, and do what makes you happy. Like I've said many times during this, but also, I think a lot of people nowadays, especially in the YouTube world get caught up on the most expensive gear and the craziest transitions and, and stuff like that. And you're just like, just tell the story. At the end of the day, like that's what it's all about is is editing something that makes somebody else feel something on the other side of the screen and focus on that, like I've followed some people that film their YouTube channel with like iPhones the whole time. And it's incredible because they are who they are. And it's it's not very cinematic, but it's real. And they're great storytellers. So focus on that first and not the big effects and the big cameras in the transition the slides.

Alex Ferrari 47:31
I like the star wife personally, that's just made up stocks. Fantastic. Let's do one finds all the blinds the blah you could do it this way if you're if you're fancy you could do it angled wise this way. Yeah. Oh, hey, let's not get crazy man. That's like that's actually that cost a little extra? Yes to start wipe. Fantastic. Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life? lesson to learn? That's a tough question. You're both looking over to your right. So I guess the answer is over there. That's just a window. That's a beautiful window. It's because I was wondering are the answers there?

Brady Trautman 48:14
The first thing that popped into my head with taxes. I wish I learned all that shit earlier. Like, I still don't get it. I still .

Alex Ferrari 48:25
Dude. We were just talking about that. You know, California. Hey, man, taxes. It's like the second and that's the second highest second or third highest place to live after New York and New Jersey. As far as taxes are. It's insane. It's insane. It's insane. But you know what remaining? Yeah, thanks. Thank you so much, sir. Hey, man, hey, I'm with you. But I'm still I'm still on this boat. I'm still in this boat. Sir. I am still in this boat for the time being. But you know what, that is probably one of the best answers I've heard on the show. taxes, learn taxes, learn accounting, what everything does and how to do stuff. How to deduct, how to legally deduct, like, I'd love to. I'd love to see your itemized list like, Oh, yeah, everything. Everything is deductible, everything, food, the whole thing. It's all part of the show about you, Alex.

Alex Blue 49:16
Let's see. I think something that I've learned is that when you find good people, like treat them right and do what you need to do to hold on to them. I think that one of the hardest things about being an entrepreneur probably no matter what business you're in, even if it's not filmmaking is that it's hard to find another one of you, you know, and if you can find someone like that, they are worth their weight in gold and like, you know, make sacrifices to keep them on board and keep them happy and value them because, you know, together you can do way way more than you can separately. So that's that's a big thing that I've learned and something that I am definitely going to carry through As we start this, this new venture,

Alex Ferrari 50:02
and three of your favorite films of all time.

Alex Blue 50:06
Oh,

Brady Trautman 50:08
that's a really good question two out the window. What do we got?

Alex Blue 50:14
I really went by the ones that I've watched the most. I'm going to go old school and save 10 Things I Hate About You like Heath Ledger five years and put it on and still no, like every word that movies I had. I remember how to like I recorded it off TV on like a VHS tape when I was little and I used to watch it all.

Alex Ferrari 50:32
I don't know what I don't know what VHS is our way to that.

Brady Trautman 50:41
The first one that comes to my mind is The Goonies it's always holds a special. My heart sounds probably a classic that many people say The Goonies Yeah,

Alex Blue 50:49
there's actually Yeah, one of my favorite films, also, like independently made it's called chasing bubbles. And it's about an absolute legend named Alex rest. I think you can watch it for free on YouTube. Go watch it and just be prepared, you're going to want to like sell everything and buy a boat after it. But it's so worth a watch. It's really really good.

Brady Trautman 51:11
Yeah, Chasing bubbles. That's a good one. Um,

Alex Ferrari 51:16
one more.

Brady Trautman 51:17
That's really tough.

Alex Blue 51:18
I have one more I have one more. It's actually a film about the wild mustangs in the US, but it's called on branded. I read horses and I have a Mustang. But even if you don't, the film is really, really well made. And it tells the whole story of Mustangs and it's about these cowboys that actually go get wild horses and put a little bit of training on him and ride them from all the way up the PCT from Mexico to Canada. so crazy story. really well done. Go watch it.

Alex Ferrari 51:47
Wow. I see that you is which one? Yes series. Of course.

Brady Trautman 51:54
Probably not original, and everybody probably loves it. But I've watched It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia like 10 times over. Like I put it on I'm going to bed in the morning. I don't know he's got to just geniuses.

Alex Ferrari 52:05
The the two shows that I do that too. And that's also not originalist. Seinfeld and friends. Like I'll just I was I was just watching Seinfeld the other day. And I'm like, so good. It's just so good. I can't I can't believe they got away with this stuff they got away with. And then I and then my daughters now are obsessed with friends. They're, they're like young, like super young. And they just sometimes you're like, no, that's not appropriate. It's not appropriate, and appropriate. But now like it was so funny, Jennifer Aniston we watched Marley and me the other day, and they go, is that is that Rachel from friends? I'm like, my wife and I both looked at each other. Like, we've done something right or wrong. I'm not sure what it is. We don't know. Yeah, we don't know. Something. And where can people find out more about what you guys are doing and follow you guys.

Brady Trautman 52:55
The best thing is cruisers Academy. So you can find that on Instagram cruisers Academy or YouTube search cruisers Academy, or cruisers academy.com for a sailing school. So if anybody's interested in coming up to Tahoe and sailing, we're pretty booked up. But we'll find some space to do some charters and whatever, just stay in touch. So cruisers Academy on all platforms, is the best to stay in touch.

Alex Blue 53:16
And also Brady mentioned it before, but 80 North series.com if you did want to watch the docu series that we made about our adventures in the Arctic.

Alex Ferrari 53:27
Yeah, very cool. And we're looking forward to the Galapagos series coming soon. Well, maybe not that soon. Because you guys will take by two years to come into

Brady Trautman 53:35
It will come when it's supposed to come.

Alex Ferrari 53:39
As, as a true filmmaker, as a true record filmmaker would say, guys, thank you so much for being on the show you are an inspiration on how to live life to its fullest and follow the dream follow the bliss and you guys are definitely examples of that. So thank you so much for being on the show, guys.

Brady Trautman 53:54
Thank you so much for having us. It was really nice.

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IFH 474: How to Protect Your Film from Online Piracy with Evan Zeisel


Right-click here to download the MP3

Movie piracy has hurt the pockets of every filmmaker. But indie filmmakers are often affected worse. Today on the show we have Evan Zeisel and he has been systematically tracking down piracy sites for years. 

Ten years ago, Evan made his first feature film and landed a distributor. Within a week of being on its first VOD site, his film was already popping up on numerous piracy sites.  He quickly learned through rigorous research to combat piracy and copyright infringement through the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, of 1998.

Basically, the DMCA instrument protects copyright holders from piracy or infringement and it protects the First Amendment of users who, unknowing of the illegality, uses copyrighted contents online for commercial purposes. 

How do you counter online piracy and what is the DMCA?

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a U.S. law enacted in 1998 in an effort to combat piracy while also protecting freedom of speech. The pitfall of the DMCA is that in order to “protect” free speech, it notes that any content put online is considered not to be copyright infringement unless the copyright holder, or representative thereof, directly informs the site or the individual who posted the content that the content is indeed copyrighted.

After being informed, the site has “a reasonable amount of time” (deemed 48-72 hours, by de facto enforcement by the courts) to remove the content before it is considered to be an illegal act. What this means is that a content creator needs to find every occurrence of infringement on the Internet and then find the site’s contact information, or Web Host/ISP’s contact information, and send a very specifically formatted letter (as defined by the DMCA) to that contact, before it will ever be considered needed to be taken down.

Once received, if the content is not removed, then the content creator can use the Violation Notice sent, and a screenshot of the piracy, as a basis for legal action. The issue is, attorneys cost money and there is an endless number of sites pirating content, so for the standard copyright holder taking legal action would be a Sisyphean act, costing them endless time and money, only to run up against pirates that hide behind fake email addresses and false contact information. A lot has changed in the computer and Internet world in the last 20+ years since the DMCA was enacted.

Evan dissects in this interview the technicalities in reclaiming copyright, contacting violators, the language, or must-mentions required by the act. 

Evan tackles the mechanical challenges of tracking down his contents on piracy sites through an automated system, Copyright Slap, curated with help from a friend of his with a coding background, to efficiently contact these sites and have contents taken down in seconds. To date, they have identified the 1946 sites and taken down 6212.

Every filmmaker, big and small deals with online piracy. Hopefully, this episode can help.

Enjoy my conversation with Evan Zeisel.

Alex Ferrari 0:09
I'd like to welcome the show Evan Zeisel, man, how you doing?

Evan Zeisel 0:14
I'm doing great. I'm doing great. Thank you for having me.

Alex Ferrari 0:17
Thanks for coming on the show man. We're going to talk about piracy and copyright infringement and all sorts of sexy beautiful, cool stuff that filmmakers love to talk about. but

Evan Zeisel 0:29
Johnny Depp being on the internet pretty much right exactly,

Alex Ferrari 0:33
exactly. It's a really I mean, it's it's it's one step above financial breakdowns for for feature films, no, but it's so much fun. But the bottom line is it is something that's affecting so many filmmakers not just the Avengers and Game of Thrones, but also

Evan Zeisel 0:53
a lot of money and cant afford

Alex Ferrari 0:55
can't afford to right exactly but then the Indies like myself like I had my my film pirated I think 11 hours after it got put up on on online that was already on the pirated board. It was like that's

that's pretty fast. I mind just took under a week.

Yeah. mine was 11 hours I counted. I was like, holy cow. So I did a whole episode. I'm like, this is what happened to my film and,

Evan Zeisel 1:20
and there are fake ones too. They're amazing. They're fake ones that pop up on films that are in festivals that are just up on IMDB, and they pull from IMDb, the the name and the description and everything they and then they say, you know, click to watch. And then you have to get all description to watch. But it's all about, it's all about the traffic for them. It's about the actual watching of the film, they just want either the ads or the person to show up to the site so they can add malware to their system and then you know, sell that or they've got these weird click through things. I mean, it's so many will get they make their money. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 1:58
yeah, I want to get into the the whole piracy business as well. But first of all, how did you a mild mannered filmmaker? You know, the Clark Kent a filmmaker? So how did you get into the copyright? You know, piracy game, like how to protect filmmakers from copyright piracy?

Evan Zeisel 2:15
I feel like, I feel like we all as filmmakers start off as I would say, instead of Clark Campbell, go young Bruce Wayne. Even better, even better. And then somebody comes in and murders our parents in front of us. And then guess what Batman shows up. And then Batman is never gonna leave. And Batman gets angry and Batman tracks people down. But yeah, I sort of the story of every indie filmmaker, I did my first feature film about 10 years ago now. And we, you know, my two festivals, got a distributor. And then within a week of going online, I think we started on back in the day when Apple TV was the big thing. We started on Apple TV, but then went to all the other ones. But yeah, within a week of being on our first subscription video on demand, or add whatever, I guess it is a VOD site. I we started popping up on all these piracy sites, and they had to film in with modern technology. You know, people just record though somebody rented it once and then recorded the whole thing. So it's pristine quality. And instead of people going to our site, or even when it's on amazon prime, it's free to watch. So but we get money when people watch it. But when they go to other sites, it's there. And so I was like, Well, I'm gonna stop this. So I did my research and sort of the positives and negatives of the copyright world, especially online. Because it all goes through this. This law, this US law called the DMCA, which stands for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which was enacted in 1998. To give you a reference for how old it is. Back Back when people were on. AOL, AOL. Sure,

Alex Ferrari 4:02
right. compuserve sir, compuserve, sir,

Evan Zeisel 4:05
yes, exactly. So, you know, as created then, and it's got this sort of double sided blade. So on one side, it is meant to protect copyright holders from their works being stolen. On the other side, it is meant to respect the First Amendment and to protect people who don't realize what they're doing. Unfortunately, that opens up the door for people to essentially run amok. And what the what the DMCA says is, if you put somebody's copyrighted items online, and you don't know it's copyrighted, and it is not illegal, until the copyright holder contacts you and says, hey, that's mine. That's illegal. If you use it for commercial purposes, then they can say you know, okay, you've, you've used it to so now you owe me for that benefit. But Until you're contacted by the copyright holder, it is not illegal. And so what happens is these piracy sites, put them online, and then you as the copyright holder, have to track them down, and then figure out how to contact them, and then send a very specifically worded document that matches what it says in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to them. And then when they receive it, they have to quote, the DMCA, a reasonable amount of time, which the court has deemed, I think, between 48 and 72 hours to comply. And if they don't take it down, then they are in violation of law. But essentially, when I was seeing I spending, I don't know two hours a day finding sites, looking and finding the contact info filling out this form, emailing it to them. And then, you know, usually they take it down because they don't care about my film, they just care about people coming. And we got to, but I was doing two hours a day, and I burned out. I mean, as you know, as indie filmmakers are not, we don't have the Warner Brothers army of attorneys, we don't, we're often small, if not individual, kind of productions. And it's just overwhelming. And I think that's one of the things that sort of the pirates bank on. And so I with no coding knowledge, contacted a college friend of mine who's in it, and I was like, Hey, I got this idea. Let's Let's help indie filmmakers, like fight this thing that screws them. It's mainly focused on these, you know, the Avengers, the the big budget films that make all their money in the theaters, or make them on, you know, their HBO, Max's or whatever, and it doesn't hurt their bottom line. But, you know, I remember calculating at one point, if I got a 99 cents, actually, I think I calculated if I got like, 50 cents for every view, I would have made back the entire budget easily in the first year, if and, and had excess. But, you know, you go to these sites and people like, Oh, I don't want to pay, and they just and they watch, and they've got more and more advanced. So they look like a Netflix, they look like a professional site until you sort of delve into them. But the normal user isn't going to delve into them. They go Oh, this looks awesome. I can watch this for free. And so yeah, so we so my friend and I, we created copyrights lab comm that essentially, automates the process, so that it's so much faster to do so that we can send you know, hundreds of these takedowns in seconds. So that producers don't get overwhelmed.

Alex Ferrari 7:45
So, okay, so the when you're when you're doing copyright infringement, so like, there's that we're it's a gray area, and it seems like the the the pressure is on the copyright holder, not the pirate or the person who just doesn't know any better yet, because

Evan Zeisel 8:04
there's there's people who upload to YouTube, you know, the Avengers, the entire movie, because well, yeah, and will you run into? And so one of the things that balances out is this idea of fair use versus copyright infringement, which I was looking for. Yeah, yeah. And so fair use is if you use a piece of copyrighted material, but it's either I believe, transformative, or it's used for commentary. Yeah, or for kind of reporting.

Alex Ferrari 8:37
Reporting I think edge is educational even in there.

Evan Zeisel 8:40
Yeah, I think educational I think educational. Yeah. Is is one of the big ones in there. And that allows you to to use it but you can't upload an entire film because it

Alex Ferrari 8:52
just put a commentary on it. Yeah, like that's

Evan Zeisel 8:54
not but you know, you know, the ones that the YouTube channels that do the breakdown of the films, right, and sort of like Well, this was wrong, this was wrong, this was wrong. They're not using the whole film. They're using clips and they're talking specifically about it and it's not people are watching that video not to watch the film they're watching it to watch that video that is the commentary

Alex Ferrari 9:14
right and then they actually in YouTube is become very ridiculous about it now where now these copyright holders like Warner Brothers and stuff like that they'll just start they just blanketed go after anybody that even has a second of Avengers and one of these talking points that's no one's talking over. Because I've gotten hit with that we have a series on on an indie film hustle that's it's called the director series which is it's a commentary series about breaking down famous directors and their work and I've been hit with that constantly. I'm like dude, it's it's completely fair use but then the big boys will start pushing back on you and just like what we don't care.

Evan Zeisel 9:50
If you want to be you have technically you have the law on your side there. I'm so I am a big supporter of protecting those who have the cops Right, and then not getting screwed out of earnings. But I also believe fair use is fair use. And there are times and places for that that are appropriate. And one of the things that we we sort of say to our our users is, know the difference between copyright infringement and fair use. If somebody is doing a commentary on your film, people gonna watch that and then watch your film. Like, you want that that's a positive thing. It's, it's kind of goes to the, you know, the Disney copyright thing related to cosplay, where they used to, I don't know, if they still do, but they, they don't allow people to dress up because they don't want the name, you know, injured or whatever. And at the same time, if you think about it, everybody watching these cosplay, people are like, Oh, yeah, I love that film. I'm gonna go rewatch it. It's free advertising. And it's, and YouTube is only started doing that, because they've been losing lawsuits. They would they don't do it on their own until they're pushed, it's it's all about the money.

Alex Ferrari 11:01
It's always it seems to be always about the money. But that's this, as as they say, a tail is all this time.

Evan Zeisel 11:08
I mean, that's, it's both sides at the boat, the piracy is not about them actually caring about your film, it's them making money, and YouTube, they make their ad sales, regardless of if it's a copyright infringement or not. until some giant copyright holders start suing,

Alex Ferrari 11:26
when then that's the thing was that before before the internet, it was just DVDs. And people would just burn out DVDs or burn out VHS is or copy and then sell them on the street. And it was a lot harder to kind of break that down. But it also was a very limited amount, like you weren't losing. It's not like well, in China, they do that still. And you know, it's insane. But ever since the internet showed up now, it's like, few hours later, it's around the world and you're done. It's a second it hits so that's why like all these big movies are hitting HBO max right now. You know, I mean, Godzilla versus King Kong, which is a quote unquote theatrical release. That's that's been pirated moment it hit the online. Oh, yeah. It's gone. It's like,

Evan Zeisel 12:09
I mean, I remember. I remember back in the day, well, remember back in the day, the handheld videos in the theater. Oh, my Seinfeld. Down in

Alex Ferrari 12:18
town, there was like, there was like a Seinfeld episode where Jerry accidentally became like, the ultimate bootlegging a tour, and he would just like, you know, it's like how he shot it and everything. Yeah, and those are Riddick Yeah, you just see, do you see people get up in the scene and

Evan Zeisel 12:33
walk around, but those are still those are still available, those are still being done in other cities in other countries. And then I mean, but now unfortunately, with with modern technology and computer

Alex Ferrari 12:45
a lot easier, you can

Evan Zeisel 12:46
just screen record, and it's a perfect copy. Unfortunately, I'm not. I'm not telling anybody anything they don't know. Sure not telling pirates how to do the job. But it's, it's easy, and, and really annoying, because at least when there's somebody standing in the way, the viewers like, okay, maybe this isn't legit. Or maybe, maybe I'll buy the real thing.

Alex Ferrari 13:07
But the thing is, I think one of the things that I found that piracy, what the studios have done, and I think independent filmmakers need to do as well is they've made it so easy to consume the content, that it's harder now to go out and bootleg something for the for the most part, like go in scope, find the file, download the file, get that file to play either on your computer or try to figure out a way to play it out on your TV. there's a there's a technical process there. Most everyday people aren't going to this is just my my opinion.

Evan Zeisel 13:44
Yeah, I'm biting my tongue on this one. What do you think? I think on certain things, and I don't want to tell people how to hire it. Of course movies. Yeah, I mean, you're sort of talking about torrents which are one of the aspects of it. But these days, unfortunately, this streaming websites,

Alex Ferrari 14:02
oh, yeah, I saw my movie. Oh, yeah, I saw a movie there's

Evan Zeisel 14:06
my partner will kill me. So when I, when I sort of say this, so I'm going to be very careful of how I say there are three levels to piracy. The first one is streaming content, which is the most easily accessible. The second level is torrents, which is the second level of accessibility. And then there's a third one, which I'm not allowed to talk about, because it is very hard to access, but many hackers are the ones who access it. And so if I bring that up, I get in trouble.

Alex Ferrari 14:34
So Fair enough, but what i mean but there's

Evan Zeisel 14:38
so there's nothing returns, I think the the torrents, you know, it takes a little bit of know how to do but to go online and just search for a movie, unfortunately, is really easy, and it'll pop up a lot of sites. I know Google just recently because of a lawsuit change their search engine so they should the illegal sites show up less

Alex Ferrari 15:00
Because before you could literally just Google and you know, you googled My name of my movie, and boom, there's some site and the Malaysia pops up. And it's like with my poster with all my IMDb information in there. And then I press play. I'm like, Are you kidding me? Like it's there. I'm like, I'm honored that you thought of my little film, but it's it was just pretty eye opening. I was like, wow, like I get Avengers I get Game of Thrones, I get that that's there's big there's big numbers big people are interested in but like to go after the Indies? Like it really

Evan Zeisel 15:36
so the thing is the the streaming slash online piracy industry is a multi billion dollar industry. It's not a multi $100,000 it's not a couple million. It's a multi billion dollar industry, because they've got so many different ways to make money when people show up so that all they care about is traffic.

Alex Ferrari 15:59
So how so how do you make how what's the business? The piracy business model piracy business?

Evan Zeisel 16:05
So there's, there's a bunch of different approaches. So one, there's the subscription model, they but it's, uh, you know, the thing they say is like, pay $10. And you get every movie ever. Right?

Alex Ferrari 16:22
per month. And it's illegally, but obviously, those servers are not here in the us there.

Evan Zeisel 16:27
Yeah, well, they're Yeah, they're not. It's not illegal at all. Yeah. Yeah. Like people don't, but they set them up. So it looks like a Netflix. It looks like a Hulu. So it's so professional. The average, you know, person who's searching online for movies doesn't know. So so one route is the subscription. Second route is Google ads, right? The more traffic, the more ads are worth on sites. So if they can get a millions of people to come by their web website every day, then the ads that they are posted making money that are posting on their site are worth more.

Alex Ferrari 17:09
So there's How is Google allowing us?

Evan Zeisel 17:12
Yeah, how is Google allowing this? Because Google doesn't have a no fly list for websites.

Alex Ferrari 17:18
And even then, if you if you close 115 pop up in its place. Yeah.

Evan Zeisel 17:22
Yeah. And then there's a tangent on the the Google Ads one, which I find really interesting. And I only know about because I had sort of a tutorial shown to me by one of the sort of copyright alliances, that's also helping fight this. And what what happens is you go to a website, and in the background, another window automatically is opened up without you knowing it, Randy, it scrolls up and down. And then a little pointer comes and clicks on an ad. And so it looks like you're browsing the site. And clicking through an ad, which is higher dollar pay to the west, is click throughs are more than just traffic. So they have that. And then there is the the sort of last route, which a lot of people unless you have a virus software on your system, that's pretty good. Then you go to any of these piracy sites. The last one is malware. So the sites also try and put malware on your system while you're watching. When you go, oh, click to view Yes, you click which is also an acceptance of whatever permissions, they add a little Trojan horse, you know, backdoor thing on your computer, and then they sell in bulk bundles of essentially zombie computers, to nefarious people who want to use them. And that's one way that you know, these people can do what is it a DD? DDoS. The when you brute force attack? Yeah. Oh, yeah, a website with a lot of different computers at once. Essentially, they're buying these packages of all these computers that people don't know. And it's very small. That's, you know, that's happening in the background so that people don't even know their computers are being used. And they can make money off of that. Yeah, that's so and so if you look at how they make their money, the actual content doesn't matter. Oh, no, the people to the site. So they go, they go, Oh, I've created a bot that can scrape all of IMDb. And then it finds if they find one thing, one version of the movie, put it up and boom.

Alex Ferrari 19:36
Done. Done guy. And this and this same system goes with any kind of content, whether it's piracy of software, piracy of music, piracy of porn, porn, any anything that people are interested in to download, or watch the it's just so movies are just one of many forms of media that are being being used for this business model.

Evan Zeisel 20:00
Just just like to say if anybody's in the porn industry listening, porn is also a movie. So that is not a separate category, you are a filmmaker to

Alex Ferrari 20:10
just a very particular sub genre. It's a it's a very particular sub genre. So so much of a sub genre in a deeper voice for this, we should be talking. There should be it's a very particular sub genre. But yeah, oh, I think a pizza a pizza man just knocked on my door. Give me a second. No choice.

Evan Zeisel 20:31
But actually, piracy online piracy is a big issue for the porn industry. Oh, she says, Yeah, you know, again, they make a lot of their money on either I believe subscription services for like a porn star or their particular production company, or coming to their specific site, and they make the content for their site, right? I mean, it's kind of like a social media influencer, you gain by people coming to your site and you or your your page or handle whatever, with I think a lot of porn sites, it's going to those sites and viewing the content because they make their money, quote, unquote, legitimately via Google ad sales or things like that, but they, you know, probably particularize their content for their, the niche group that is going to those sites. But when it's when it's pulled away, there's just another piracy come to the site.

Alex Ferrari 21:26
So let me ask you a question. What is the actual effect of online piracy to an independent filmmaker? Like, I mean, look, with the people that were watching it on a pirated site actually ever? Like, were they really ever gonna be a customer? Is the question I'm asking.

Evan Zeisel 21:41
That's a that is a very good question. And one I have thought about a lot and I think is always asked, and I think there are tears, right? There's the people who will never pay for anything. And those people might not go to watch content. However, if that content is on YouTube with ads, if that content is on amazon prime, to gone too big to be TV, you know, a Roku channel, the IMDb TV is coming out, and it has, you know, ad based content that's free to watch. So would they go to those which are also free? The, then there are those that it's easy to find a search online, if it if the first one was a to b TV, you know, Amazon Prime, they click it, but it's not. So the idea essentially, is if you can whack a mole enough of these sites, so that your your main content that you want people to go to is on that first search page or the first or second search page, the chances that somebody is going to click one of those, you know, a VOD ad based video on demand streaming sites, which they don't have to pay for. But you do make money off of that percentage chance of them clicking on that goes up dramatically. I mean, yeah. How much? That is a good question. So I think I think the number of people who watch online is an insane number. I had some statistics, I think, well,

Alex Ferrari 23:15
I remember, well, I don't mean to cut you off. I remember when Game of Thrones was which was the number one pirated? Show, I think history in history, I think ever, something like that. But it was one year specifically that it just dominated. And the producers of the show said publicly that they're very thankful for the piracy because it wouldn't have been as popular of a show without the piracy. And so many people would either pirate a season or two. And then to get the latest thing instead of pirates pirating each episode, they just went ahead and got a subscription to HBO Go or whatever it was, at the time, that he said it was extremely, it was extremely helpful to building the brand because so many people bootlegged it, and so many people watched it that at the end of the day, it actually helped them now again, that's a very specific case. I'm not saying copy, you know, piracy. So here's,

Evan Zeisel 24:11
here's my, my, my asterisk if we're gonna Barry Bonds it Yeah. My asterisks is HBO makes a lot of money on merchandise. That Yeah, thrones makes a lot of money on merchandise that their bottom line is, the more people they get to watch, the more people are you gonna buy the shirts, hats, what dragon a mug or the, you know, whatever, that they make a lot of money on that. So part of their pitch is get the most number of eyes. Yeah, hbos and hbos model has very often been and they've sort of figured it out in a nice in a smart way. If it's not about the greater audience. It's about a niche audience and if we can get a viewer who says I got to see this show It's nowhere else really, other than I mean, it gets on piracy, but they want to see it in the moment, then they can do it. And they'll get some swag for that. But I've also I mean, back in the day, I remember talking to a friend, and I think I was watching Game of Thrones. And, you know, they were in another country, and wasn't as easily accessible. And I was like, oh, did you see that episode? Like, oh, we're, you know, we're 10 minutes behind because we got to watch it on a piracy site. I was like, you know, they're recording. They're like, Oh, it was long and putting it online, pretty much immediately.

Alex Ferrari 25:35
Yeah. And that's, and that's another thing as well, that I've mentioned, I mentioned that in my book, and I mentioned it elsewhere that if you can use your movie as a lead generator for other revenue streams, the actual exploitation of the film is not the business. That's not the main business. Because all the studios have done that Disney's main business is not making movies. It's everything else that they have in their ecosystem. It's now HBO and Warner Brothers is kind of picking up on that Disney is still the king of that their system is so interesting. They're their foundation and infrastructure is so well put together that i think i think it's Disney Warner Brothers and maybe universal and I think that's pretty much it. Then the other guys are still trying to catch up Paramount still trying to catch up. They don't they don't have the infrastructure that Disney does. But you know, sure they make the big ones like oh, you made a billion dollars off or $2 billion off of Avengers or whatever the hell it was. That's nice money. But it's nothing compared to what they sell in March. It's nothing to compare it's nothing compared to the the parks rides and all the millions of other things that they sell. My buddy worked at Disney as an animator and they brought him in brought his the whole team in to tell them how they made their money. And they said frozen Okay, which made a billion dollars at the box office. A billion dollars at the box office. The dresses the Anna in what's your name is a lot of what I forgot her name also. Thank you. Elsa, how dare you? How dare me I know. I'm sorry. Elsa, and Anna's dresses alone. The ones that my daughter bots my daughter's brought like seven times because they kept growing and breaking and ripping them off because it won't take them off a billion on the dresses alone.

Evan Zeisel 27:22
Oh, I bet I bet there's some some digital dress that you can buy on some game that an address or an address that they've also made a billion dollars off of that and it costs just the coding. I mean to to make a nod to that little guy over your shoulder.

Alex Ferrari 27:39
I miss Yoda Yes.

Evan Zeisel 27:40
I mean Star Wars and Lucas were the first to do it. It was he said you know, it's not about it's not about merchandising, it's less boxes. That's I mean, that's what a Mel Brooks in spaceball society, right?

Alex Ferrari 27:54
Oh, you want to come to the you know, he has the whole thing and it's because that's the truth. Spaceballs the flame thrower. I still want to still want flame still wants baseballs a flame thrower. It's for the kids. They love it. You know the deal. Do you know what the deal was with Spaceballs? How George Lucas gave them rights to do it? Because he asked. Do you know the whole story? No. I'm here. On a side note, everybody. So Spaceballs? If you haven't seen his baseball, go watch baseball, because it's amazing. But he called George Lucas and like, I'm gonna make this parody film on on Star Wars, and I don't want to get sued. So what do we need to do here? Because he could arguably make it but he goes, you can make it, but you can't sell any merchandise. That's why you can't you never see Spaceballs merchandise anywhere. And that's that was the deal. So that's why you and that he completely made a joke of it. Because all those cool things that you saw in the movie that all that merge I would have wouldn't have killed against. I think there's some stuff now that comes out every I'm sure I'm sure if I look on Etsy I could find Oh, you could find something but no mass, no mass at the time of the year searching Etsy for. I'm sure somebody has made this baseball flame thrower. Oh, I can only get it if it's attached to a drone. Obviously, you know how that goes. Alright, so with Oh, so we've obviously told everybody The world is coming to an end. We'll never make any money online anymore.

Evan Zeisel 29:13
I get all the way. So no, but I do. I do agree. Wait, I want to just want to just want to pause and just jump back to something that you said, which was talking about the bigger industry but I also think it applies to indie filmmakers, where the easier you make it for users or audience to view your content, yes, the more audience you're going to get. Yes. And and so I you know, I initially was not the biggest fan of sort of ad based video on demand because you get paid pennies. However, the amount of people who watch that because they don't want to spend you know $5 $10 299 for something that if you can get them to those free sites. That's how the indie filmmakers I think I'm going to make the money. And as you said, sort of leveraging, right, leveraging one film to make the next one. And so in that, that's, that's one of the things, the goal of corporate slap was is to sort of play whack a mole and make it much easier to to whack that mole. If anybody knows that game. If not, then I'm just making really weird

Alex Ferrari 30:22
references.

Evan Zeisel 30:24
But but to sort of send out as many DMCA violation notices as easy as possible to get these things taken down.

Alex Ferrari 30:33
If this is this, so this is the counter, this is how you counter online piracy. He's just sending out these notices. But do they actually take them down? So so there's,

Evan Zeisel 30:43
we are running statistics, but we'd say about 60%, if not a little bit more, take them down. As soon as they get it. Now, will they put it up the next week, we don't have the numbers on that. But they will take it down pretty easily because they don't care. Literally, it's more hassle to them to potentially deal with somebody bothering them than to just comply. And they know they got to get they put it up again a week or two weeks or a month later than that has to be found and it has to happen, but then they can take it down again. And so how it works is Yeah, you get the DMCA violation. Notice now, as you sort of said at the beginning of this podcast, depends what the server is, though, because the DMCA is a US law. However, there are many international treaties that then relate to copyright. And so a lot of countries respected, some don't and are super annoying. I won't name those countries, but they're like, if you have, you know, a two signatures by a notary and you have a court document, then we'll consider taking it down. Like, uh huh, well, don't worry, because governors app also sends all these sites to the intellectual property division of the United States of defense. So yeah, well, you just talk to them. Exactly. But yeah, so you have that if they do take it down, great. If they don't take it down, then technically, if you as a copyright holder have a copyright for the for the piece. So this is this is one sort of aspect of the law, you cannot sue for copyright infringement unless you have a copyright on the the item that you are you want to you want to take legal action on. Now you do own the copyright, but to take legal action, it needs to be copyright registered, and we do need to read registered. Yeah. Which is, you know, $20 it's

Alex Ferrari 32:40
3035. Now, yeah, okay, it's gone up. Back in my day, back in my day was $20. Yeah.

Evan Zeisel 32:49
And by the way, just so everybody knows, in regards to copywriting, when you when you apply for the copyright, you're protected from the moment you've submitted and paid for the thing, because it will take six to eight months to actually get if you're lucky, the actual copyright certificate back. And and on top of it, I believe it's 90 days, I have to verify that. But if you have copyright infringement, if you register the copyright, within 90 days of the infringement, you can still take legal action from something that happened 90 days ago. So a lot of photographers do that. Because photography is get huge piracy online.

Alex Ferrari 33:27
Yeah. And you know, it as far as Paris photography is concerned, like, if you have a DMCA notice and like a man, you're using a photo of mine on your website, take it down. That's pretty much the end of the conversation, right? They know, can they sue you?

Evan Zeisel 33:44
So? Well, here's, here's where it gets interesting with photographers. If a website is using it specifically for commercial value, then you have So essentially, some company, one of the famous ones company is selling skateboards, and a photographer took a picture of a skateboarder. And the company, used the photo, took the photo from Instagram of from that professional photographer, and then essentially made an ad and posted it to Instagram. I was like, yeah, blah, blah, look at our, our, you know, our skates. And just because it had their, you know, skateboarding wheels or board or whatever in it doesn't mean that they have the right to use somebody's photograph. So this person contacted them as like, hey, you're using my content in an ad. So either this is a reasonable amount that you should pay me for that use, or I'm going to sue you. And even if they take it down, they've already used it in an ad they are generating income for a company. Right? So you can see that gives us photographers get a little bit more leverage. It's a little bit harder for in the filmmaking world because it's not really an ad it's content that they're reposting.

Alex Ferrari 34:58
Right, exactly. Yeah. But like If you have but like a lot of news organizations use, you know, blogs use images constantly from

Evan Zeisel 35:05
Yep. anywhere, anywhere. And yeah. And so then you can, you know, DMCA or you can sort of DMCA slash, to have, you know, an attorney friend write a note saying, hey, you use this, we would like to be compensated.

Alex Ferrari 35:18
And then that's when it becomes a question like, is this going to be worth going to court for?

Evan Zeisel 35:22
Yeah, yeah. And so usually you ask for a little less than you might give settlement, and therefore, you have an advantage. So the DMCA says, if somebody is violating your copyright, you can sue for up to $30,000 per occurrence. Yeah, and one of the great things of the COVID-19 relief bill that was passed this past December is something called the case act. And that initiated for the first time in the United States, a small claims copyright court. Now it's, it's in the process of being set up right now. But it essentially allows smaller kind of indie copyright holders to go put forth a claim to I believe it's three, not just judges, three judges, who are, you know, people who Judas g8, this copyright content, and then the defendant can send in documents, and this three judges make a decision, and they can then find in favor of the copyright infringing, the person whose copyright was infringed. And it can be up to $15,000. So one of the biggest hurdles, usually for copyright holders, in going beyond just a simple DMCA violation notice is you have to pay for an attorney, you have to pay a lot of court fees. And so that was hard. So this small claims court sort of opens the door and allows the smaller guy to, to be able to fight against these. Now, the hard The other aspect I'll throw in there is finding who is behind these streaming sites is hard, right, because you got to figure out who you're suing, right. Now, if it's, you know, it's sometimes if you, if you dig into the who is information on a site, somebody is not smart enough to hide the fact that their email address and their and their name and address are the admin email address kind of buried in there, you can, you know, screenshot, keep that and then maybe use it as as an attack. But it's hard because you have to have a lawsuit against somebody to be able to get money, right, you have to figure out where those assets are, and they hide a lot. So one of the other. So that is the hard side of it. One of the other things that we try to do is different is since we care more about Batman style revenge on these pirates, then necessarily making a lot of money. Beyond the fact that we, we we, I guess sell our servers for very inexpensive, we also compile a blacklist of piracy sites that we find from our users interact interactions anonymously, sort of figuring out which ones are just pure piracy sites. And then we take that list and once a month, we send to essentially the internet crimes division of, of the United States and say, Here is a list of the, the sites that we know are illegal, please take action. And they've been known to that. We it's, it's hard to keep track of like if they do anything, but they are open to us sending a file and we give it in a format so they can integrate it into their system very easily. So we sort of are pushing to do things like that, because that'll have more of an impact if we can just take down a whole site.

Alex Ferrari 39:03
Well, of course, because it takes out 10s of 1000s, if not more films that have been put up there. It's it's fascinating. And so, so copyrights lab calm. What's the process? What does filmmakers have to do to use your service and how does it work?

Evan Zeisel 39:19
So it's as simple as we possibly could make it. So yeah, copyright slap.com. And you just go and you register as a user. And then once you've registered, you can initiate a new project, or start a new project project essentially, is your film or we're expanding into books, because online literary piracy is a big thing. Yeah, we're slowly sort of expanding as much as we can to protect different copyright holders. So you register your project and you essentially, we asked you for the specific information needed to fill out a DMCA violation form. As you know the title of the film when it was published the original location of where the film can be found via the film's website. Or the Amazon Prime link or something like that. And then you submit that it saves and you started this new project. And then we run in 30 day cycles, they can click and activate the project. Our normal 30 day cycle is $20, for unlimited number of takedowns. To put that in perspective, one of the reasons I, when I was starting out didn't go to a site like this is, it was essentially our competitors charge, just under $200, I believe it's $199 per single takedown of Jesus Christ. Yeah, there are some that are a little bit less expensive. But then you have to enter all of the information that we asked for once every time and you have to do like jump through a number of hoops. So our goal is like, make it as simple as possible. So for us, it's $20. And then whatever you find online as a URL, that's an infringement, you can just copy and paste that into a forum we have, you hit Enter, and we take care of everything. And then we also keep track of it. And essentially, we have a system where if there's a contact info directly for the website owner, they get a DMCA violation. Notice, if they don't comply, then we escalate it, or allow allow the user to escalate it. And that goes to the online service provider, the person hosting the website, totally sure. And one of our goals is if the website owner may ignore it, but the online service provider doesn't want illegal content on their their server. And there are certain laws that say, if you're aware that somebody is hosting illegal activity, you are not allowed to host them.

Alex Ferrari 41:41
Or you're gonna get your you're liable.

Evan Zeisel 41:46
And there's a so I'm going to add to it, there is a bill sort of coming out or up for discussion, an update to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. So Senator Tom Tillis, from North Carolina had put forth at the beginning of this year, the end of last year, the digital Copyright Act of 2021. And that is aiming to update the DMCA so that these online service providers can't hide from when they know there's illegal activity, that the loopholes that a lot of places get away with, because the copyright DMCA was written in 1998. Sort of closing those. So it's not as easy for them to hide without it being illegal immediately. And yeah, so we sent Yeah, so we send to the the website, owners, then we send to the the online service providers, sometimes there are multiple. And if so, if there's sort of two levels there, the website owner, sometimes they reply back, and they're like, we took care of it, it's gone. Stop bugging us. And then if they don't, sometimes the service providers go well, we've removed that account. And so then that actually ends up taking down the website, or taking down the the page at least, but not even the website doing it just these the online service providers like we're going to, we're going to remove this entire website if you don't comply with this. So then they comply. And one of the features that we are in the works of adding right now. So this will be dated, hopefully in within the next couple to a few weeks is the ability for if the online service providers don't respond and help get it taken down, that users will be able to send every 30 days violation notices to everybody associated with the website. And the goal of that one is if every 30 if we can be annoying enough that they get enough notices saying they're in violation that they will just take it down to the day. They don't have to deal with the users.

Alex Ferrari 44:02
Interesting. Well, you're you are you are the Batman of Copland. Oh man, I am a you are

Evan Zeisel 44:08
vicious. It makes me angry I'm and the more ways you can we can you know, go and help get them taken down. I just I you know, it's it's when when you see how it impacts your film, right? I mean, these indie when a lot of these anything, straight to straight to video on demand. And it's like you put your sweat and blood into this, and this is your passion and you care so much. And then somebody is going to come and steal it and then they get it for free. And you already are making it free for people like come on. It's enough.

Alex Ferrari 44:41
It's no

Evan Zeisel 44:42
Yeah, well, and they don't need to make their billions of dollars. You just need to be able to make, you know, make your money back and make sure you've paid all of your cast and crew and that they've been happy and that maybe you make up potentially. I mean, fingers crossed. This is not the thing that always happens. Fingers crossed. You make a profit So that you could then put that towards the next film.

Alex Ferrari 45:02
Stop it. Stop. No, you're you're talking. You're talking about crazy talk. It's crazy talk. Crazy Talk. The same book, Ferrari.

Now, is there a you mentioned that might be? Because I was referencing it for commentary? Yes, exactly. Wow. Wow. Let's all sing the Happy Birthday song.

Evan Zeisel 45:29
So it's now legal though that's now legal. Is it legal? Oh, yeah. A couple years ago, it turned out that they, the author of it had released it publicly, like hundreds of like 100 years ago, and they were illegally collecting copyright for it.

Alex Ferrari 45:46
Oh, wow. So now you can use it. Happy Birthday again.

Evan Zeisel 45:49
You can sing Happy Birthday without owing anybody money.

Alex Ferrari 45:52
Jesus Christ. Now, you said earlier, off air that you have a promo code for any indie film hustle tribe members, if they want to get their film. You know, work copyrights use copyright slap to help protect their films online.

Evan Zeisel 46:09
Yeah. So as I said, we we make a very inexpensive, so it's $20 a month, but we created a special indie film, hustle, promo code. So I'm going to tell you that code should be pretty easy for everybody. It is indie film, hustle, all one word, all lowercase. Yeah, that is the promo code. And that's entered when they activate a project. And that will give them three months at 50% of the actual, so $10 a month for three months, and then use three months, you could use it one month, then and you know, stop. And truthfully, if you if you use it for even a single day, you can you can enter and send DMCA violation notices to every single person infringing on your, your site, or your content in that day, because there's no limit, and it's no extra cost, you know, per one we have, we have a number of users who they use it every three months, they sign in for one month, they spend a few days and they enter every single illegal thing and they update, you know, things that haven't been complied with, they escalate. And then they you know, they stopped using it for a couple months, and then come back, you know, three months later and say, Okay, can you use it again? And is another 20 bucks? Let's rock and roll? Yeah. Um, yeah. And it has had an impact with my films in getting them off of streaming sites. And it's, you know, I think it also it depends on the genre of film, and, and also the length of time it's been online, you know, the longer it's been online, if you've been able to squash these sites from adding the content and they've taken it down, then they're less likely to put it back up. But if it's, you know, if it's newer, and they've been there for the last number of years, you know, it's probably already been up and people keep adding it. One thing we have seen is because of the pandemic, and people are at home more know what to say, it's not just, it's not just the action or horror films that are gaining the content, it is. It's sort of everything, everything is up in getting pirated. When we had one person who it was, yeah, a documentary, and they were like, We are seeing so much piracy. I mean, you know, I won't toot our own horn, but it was, you know, we'd love your site, because we can put in so many, you know, takedowns every single day, but like, Is this normal to have this much piracy? And unfortunately, because of the pandemic and sort of the switch over to to people watching a lot, you know, at home. It's up so much. It's I mean, it's also it's also up more on the, on the Amazon Prime's on the to be TVs as well, which is good for filmmakers. It's just frustrating because it's like, Just give me one penny, just give me one penny for every hour you watch. And it'll help

Alex Ferrari 49:04
which is essentially what it which is essentially what amazon prime is paying you for your film on Amazon Prime anymore. And that's a whole other conversation. But there's a lot of there's a lot of ways you can still make money with with your film, especially a VOD is the future. I think that is where a lot of money is being made. Right now. It's the strongest sector for independent filmmakers doing or trying to make money in VOD, because s VOD. If you can get a deal. Great. But that's rare. T VOD is dead. It's essentially almost dead. xtiva. Exactly. transactional like paying 299 I always tell people like t VOD is just a holdover from the blockbuster video store days that's all it is. It's just you're holding it over it's an older concept. And I don't know how you know how do you have any numbers on how these these Disney because I know Disney is like releasing the premium for like 20 bucks a pop or something like that. Like They're going to do that with black widow, like black widow, I think might actually get some money. Like a good amount of people might might pay to see Black Widow cuz it's a Marvel movie. So it's, it's the first real test, because it did it with, you know a couple of Wonder Woman 1984 but that wasn't a paid 1000 paid no, no, that was free. Yeah, that was free. No, I'm talking about like paying 20 bones upfront right away, and the only place you can get it is by paying the 20 bucks for that 30 year 60 day window. I think the Marvel movie will pro and we're so hot like, we're hungry for Marvel.

Evan Zeisel 50:34
I think all the people with their home theaters in there, I do think it's I do think that will be more popular once the once we get over this hurdle of the pandemic where you can actually watch things as groups. You know, like, I'm gonna pay $40. But we got, you know, seven friends over and we're chilling. That works a lot easier than I'm gonna pay $40 and it's me by myself or like, you know, me my significant other, right? It's a little bit harder. Yeah, I mean, I think I don't have any specific numbers. But I know for the HBO Max is they've been pretty happy on their individual releases because it gets people to join the subscription. And usually it's, it's all about getting people to join because maybe their retention rate is 40%. But they got support more than they normally would have. You know,

Alex Ferrari 51:24
know what HBO max with HBO Max is done, man is is is I mean, it's pissed off a lot of filmmakers a lot of big time filmmakers and actors and stuff because they're not getting their normal paydays. But I off. I've got off record on but I can't say who, but the payment that I've heard from people on the inside of these actors, because they all get bonuses based on box office, when that was taken off to like, Look, we're just gonna give you x dollar to just be happy. You could put that

Evan Zeisel 52:00
well. Well, I mean, so yeah, there's, well, there's a number of things. I'm pretty active in the sag after the film and TV radio union. And one of the big gains that they gained in their last TV theatrical negotiations, was they had the foresight to say, Okay, yeah, we're, we're cool with, you know, theatrical, and we and releases, and we, you know, that's important. But we want to talk about streaming and online usage. And that was their big focus, and I think it is going to is paying off a lot better, because that was their shift in, okay, we got to make sure that actors are covered here. And that was before the pandemic. And it was just, you know, that's the trend that things are going I think, I think the movies that will be big for, you know, the releases directly online, like the Black Widow are going to be the same movies that will do well in theaters that you know, you want to see with a, you know, a big screen and surround sound that I mean, I went, I saw, I remember seeing Captain Marvel in the theaters. And in the last 10 minutes, somebody let their kid run up and down the aisles, screaming and I was like, Are you kidding me? Like, I'm here is my movie experience.

Alex Ferrari 53:16
And I paid I paid good money to be here. Oh, no, don't even get me started.

Evan Zeisel 53:19
I mean, I'm like an Alamo Drafthouse. This is not an ad for Alamo Drafthouse. I have no association with them. But the fact of the day at the beginning are like, if you answer a cell phone call, we will kick you out. If you open your cell phone, and we see the screen on, we'll give you a warning, and then we'll kick you out and you don't get your money back. I'm like, Yes. Because it's like, I'm paid pay to be here. And I think, you know, it's it's changing the types of movies do you need to see, you know, a comedy, you know, big screen. But like, you know, end game? Ah,

Alex Ferrari 53:52
I mean, can you Oh, God,

Evan Zeisel 53:54
like avatar back in the, you know, back in the day when that came out? Like I saw avatar in 3d twice just because oh, there's it's an experience. You know, it's a riot. Yeah, you

Alex Ferrari 54:03
can't get that at home. No matter how insane I mean, unless you have literally an IMAX at your house. It really is not. Yeah, I

Evan Zeisel 54:10
mean, I I'm not gonna lie. I've got a I've got a projector. And it's, it's probably set up for a 15 foot diagonal screen. And I've got 5.1 surround sound Well, 5.0 because I removed my subwoofer because of neighbors. You know, I've got like, it's, you know, if I'm watching a movie, I make my own popcorn. We can you know, we can we can chill. There's nobody screaming and it compared to some of the smaller theaters in New York, actually, the screen size might be comparable

Alex Ferrari 54:43
compared and the sound experience might be comparable. Look at the end of the day. I don't think theatrical is ever going to go away completely. I think they'll always go somewhere. Just like like Broadway. Still Broadway. People still pay X amount of money, but I think it's because the price of those tickets are going to go up. It's going to be much more of an experience the days of going to go see You know, a comedy of like Dumb and Dumber at the theater and spending 25 bucks to go see a comedy or even a drama at the theater. Unless you're hardcore cinephile. Most people know what I'm good. I'm good at home.

Evan Zeisel 55:15
Unless the theater industry pivots, if they pivot and everything becomes like the Alamo Drafthouse, how Alamo Drafthouse where there's you know, a restaurant link to it or a bar, you can bring your food and you can bring your drinks and they make money off of the food sales like they do now, except for the you know, the theaters that make money off their food now it's popcorn and candy that's not necessarily for everybody and way overpriced, but if it's reasonably priced, and they're making their money, because people want to come and they want the experience, it's that's a way to keep it going.

Alex Ferrari 55:47
It's gonna keep going. It's gonna keep going anyway, we have veered off the copyright path a bit. It's just now to film geeks talking about the business but anyway, Evan, man, thank you so much for you know, being that night Avenger for copyrights you are, you are the Dark Knight. I appreciate what you're doing man and helping filmmakers out when I when you reached out to me a while ago now. We've been trying to do this interview for a minute. But But when I saw it, I was like, Man, this is so desperately needed. And I want to get the word out on this. So thank you so much for what you do, brother and keep up the good fight my friend.

Evan Zeisel 56:22
Now keep and keep making films. anybody listening? Keep making films. Don't let him keep you down.

Alex Ferrari 56:27
Thanks, man. Thank you

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IFH 473: NFT, Bitcoin, and Creating Indie Films for a Niche Audience with Torsten Hoffmann


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I’ve discussed the importance of finding a niche audience and serving that audience with your films and content in my book Rise of the Filmtrepreneur. Today on the show a filmmaker has done just that. We have Australian filmmaker and Filmtrepreneur, Torsten Hoffmann. His niche audience is people interested in crypto, blockchain, and NFTs.

Torsten’s interest in cryptocurrencies dates back to a paper on Alternative Currencies he wrote while doing his MBA.

By 2013, Bitcoin piqued his interest and soon after materialized into his 2015 directorial debut documentary, Bitcoin: The End of Money as We Know It. The documentary is a concise and informative crash course about Money and Crypto Currencies.

The success of his first film documentary slanged Torsten into high-profile speaking engagements at MIPTV & MIPCOM, AIDC, and Medientage, to speak on blockchain-related trends.

Last year, he produced and directed a subsequent documentary, Cryptopia: Bitcoin, Blockchains and the Future of the Internet.

Basically, he revisits Bitcoin and sets out to explore the evolution of the blockchain industry and its new promise. It asks the fundamental question; Can this technology, designed to operate independent of trust and within a decentralized network, really provide a robust alternative to the Internet as we know it?
This film has since gone on to be one of the most consumed pieces of content in his niche. From the way, he marketed the film to the title Torsten used the Filmtrepreneur Method in every aspect of making the film.

He has also launched numerous entrepreneurial ventures to support independent content creators with his passion for media and technology. If it’s one person who can break down the sometimes intimidating ideas of blockchain, Hoffmann is the man. We also do a deep dive in NFTs as well. 

So, enjoy this unofficial third-part episode on NFT with Torsten Hoffmann.

Alex Ferrari 0:12
I'd like to welcome to the show Torsten Huffman, how you doing Torsten?

Torsten Hoffmann 0:16
Thank you, Alex. Thanks so much. I've been following your work for a long time. This is an honor. Thank

Alex Ferrari 0:19
you. Oh, thank you so much, man. I appreciate it. Yeah, you reached out. And you said, You watched you've listened to a lot of my podcast and also read my book. And then I saw what you were doing. And I was very fascinated, and wanted to kind of dig into the numbers of what you've been doing with niche, niche marketing, and it's filmmaking. So it's pretty cool, man. So but let's, before we get started, how did you get into the business?

Torsten Hoffmann 0:42
Yeah, I'm coming from the evil side of the business. As you like to say, I used to be a television distributor, like a small shop that I opened in 2012 when 3d was the latest hot thing where I'm like, avatar came out there was producing 3d. And I became like, in the documentary market, one of those distributors specialize in 3d documentaries, and then switch quickly to 4k development in VR, virtual reality and 360 videos as well. So I've been in kind of the the emerging formats, part of the documentary distribution business.

Alex Ferrari 1:13
So very cool. Now, you've made you've decided to be a filmmaker who kind of chose chooses niches and the niches of two films that you did, where Bitcoin and blockchain kind of like a high tech audience that you've kind of cultivated Why did you choose how and why did you choose that niche?

Torsten Hoffmann 1:35
Yeah, I, you know, I've heard some of your other guests say this, that it's kind of like your niche sometimes chooses you or whatever, whatever the saying is, so for me was I have a little bit of a finance background. I heard about alternative currencies many many years ago, then heard about Bitcoin and it kind of clicked immediately for me because I had a little bit of a financial background and wrote a paper on alternative currencies in 2010 so when I heard about Bitcoin 2013 it was immediately clear Wow, this is gonna change the world. This is the project I should make my first film on. It was kind of like like not not much more thinking about this. And then later turned out there was a really good idea a really good time. 2014 15 to Yeah, find this niche audience and and create a fan base.

Alex Ferrari 2:20
So what so tell me the film that you created for this for the for this niche?

Torsten Hoffmann 2:26
Yeah, so the first one was Bitcoin, the end of money as we know it, I made it in 2014 with a partner, Michael, and released it in 2015. And that was Kickstarter funded and self funded, I would say mostly, it went viral on the internet and was doing okay, on on video on demand. And now, five years later, or four or five years later, the new film is called cryptopia, Bitcoin blockchain and the future of the Internet. So all the buzzwords are in it for sociability and that one is much bigger, so much bigger production budget, supported by Screen Australia, supported by German broadcasters, and again fans on on Kickstarter and self

Alex Ferrari 3:01
funded so those films so let's get into the weeds a little bit. So with Bitcoin, obviously, Bitcoin is one of those things that everyone's talking about. And it's, it's, you know, polarizing one way or the other people either love it, you know, it's the future or people think it's a complete scam. I'm on the I'm on the fence. I have no idea. It's like, I see it go up and down on like, you know, I would have liked to have bought it when it was five bucks. Like, you know, like that one poor guy who's got like $70 million or something like that locked away for God his code or something like that. So insane. But the whole concept of Bitcoin how So first of all, how did you raise funds for it? You crowdfunded it?

Torsten Hoffmann 3:43
Yeah, so we're talking about the first one all right, yes, back in history and 2014 Yep, um, that was crowdfunding a half half of it crowdfunded half of it of my own money, let's say relatively low budget, lots of archive footage and interviews that I shot in five or six cities. So I'm I should actually say I'm based in Australia. I'm originally German and of course a lot of the content is produced in America because that's where a lot of the industry happens. So I'm usually we you know, spread three continents or cryptokeys in four continents.

Alex Ferrari 4:13
And did you did you start targeting and building your audience with the crowdfunding campaigns?

Torsten Hoffmann 4:19
Yep, that was exactly the start and the way to do it and I heard you say this before just an idea do not get funded so you need to show people something right so creating the first sizzle we have some of the interviews some of the drama already and making making this story may be grand as it is more dramatic as it is because just as you say, people love it and think this is like you know the best thing since sliced bread or it's a total scam right? And if you use all that drama you and you have some some material, and that's how we funded the first case,

Alex Ferrari 4:50
in the whole concept of Bitcoin, I want to just kind of get into the weeds a little bit about Bitcoin because, you know, the technology itself is very His very utopia, very kind of like, you know, Shangri La, where like a decentralized currency. You know, it sounds fantastic. Obviously some people are taking seriously there is a lot of money in Bitcoin, there's a lot of serious players jumping in. What do you feel that is going to happen? Do you think I mean, there is the only problem I have with Bitcoin is that there is no tangible value, it's a digital value. So there's a there it is like gold, it's digital gold, you know, there's a limited quantity, all that stuff, but it's all digital. So there's like, if the power goes out in the world, you've lost everything. But if you have a bunch of gold, and people could argue gold all day long, but it's still been money since the beginning of time. There is there's something about gold and silver and those kinds of things. But it's an asset, it's something you could physically hold. What do you I'm just curious on your take on it. Yeah.

Torsten Hoffmann 6:01
And I look at everything that you said, is worth a whole show. And I've done these two shows before, by itself. Let me maybe I'm not quite sure how to tackle it. But let me first say, in 2014, Bitcoin was a crazy thing. Nobody really took it seriously except a few libertarian on a case and like, like people who bought drugs on the on the internet, totally true. very risky. But that time Bitcoin was still $200. Right? I mean, those those people took great risks were very well rewarded. It's $60,000. Now, right? And today, if you look at it, it's actually been so it has failed in a lot of use cases, for example, people don't really use it as a as a currency, right? I don't think you've you've paid for your last Amazon book or something on Bitcoin. But it really has succeeded as as digital gold. And now every single investment bank, every single government, right, and some big companies are using it to put it on the Treasury or something like that. So I think it's much less risky now, and much more serious, big money. It's not worth a trillion dollars or a trillion dollars.

Alex Ferrari 7:08
Yeah. And it's only getting bigger and bigger and bigger. So you're able to tap into that phase. Have you seen a boost in people watching that documentary? Because it's been in the news pretty heavily in the last few years. And, and the just jumped up to like, you know, the heights and a drops down, it's just so volatile, it's a very volatile thing. Cannot be manipulated, you know, is it being manipulated? It's hard to manipulate something that has a price point of $60,000, you need to be players to come in and manipulate that stuff. Yeah,

Torsten Hoffmann 7:41
I mean, in 2014 15, sure, you can like one one rich whale, as they call it can probably manipulate the price. But at the moment, it's so liquid, there's so many players all around the world. And Coinbase, the largest crypto exchange in in America. And the second biggest in the world is going on the stock exchange, right, and the New York Stock Exchange this month or next month, and that company alone is worth more than the NASDAQ. And why is he as investor companies already? So there's, there's hundreds of millions of people using it and trading I thought sort of, it's hard to manipulate. But to to your earlier point, this is actually interesting, right? Because I chose maybe it was just lucky, I chose a topic that people hate or love or just are confused about so they need to get education about it. And every time it's in the press, right? I see a pickup in my video on demand. revenues. And yeah, it's one of those topics that people just deal first time you hear it must be a scam. Second time, you know, who's trying to scam me, right? And then fourth, fifth, sixth time, maybe they watch a documentary, and then they maybe dig deeper.

Alex Ferrari 8:47
Right? And then so the the value of so you are seeing the jump. Are you seeing it on Amazon? Are you have you been kicked off of Amazon yet? Or did you because I know documentaries have been kicked off and you know where you making most of your revenue from in in the VOD space. Avon or teavana. restaurant?

Torsten Hoffmann 9:06
Yeah. Um, so, again, two films, right. The old film was on Amazon, but then was a victim of that company that we don't like to talk about, but you uncovered the scandal and the whole thing. Well, thank you for your Yes, for your journalistic work there. So I was a victim of that. And then got back in with Phil Hart, both both films actually, via film up onto Amazon and then got kicked off so that because it's old, it's kind of, you know, lower budget kind of film, even though it did very well on Amazon. Most of my revenue, I think came back in the day on Capitol Hill. And now a little bit on Vimeo, it's it's five, six years old. So now change it to Avon. And it has, I think, maybe 2 million views last year on YouTube alone, which is also a nice bunch of money, right? But but with cryptopia award winning film brand new. That one again with film hop is on the major platforms, and we're doing quite well on on Amazon and we're lucky enough to be kicked off.

Alex Ferrari 10:02
Yeah, exactly. So so cryptopia Now you've kind of like amplify that but now you through blockchain and there you through all these kind of keywords which is extremely smart. So anyone look I've seen your your documentaries come through my my feed many times because I've done research on blockchain and research on Bitcoin and, and kind of going just doing research just out of my own morbid curiosity about what blockchain is and the technology and the future of it and all that stuff. And you pop up, and you have a great poster. Great, great poster. Great title. And I was always curious and how you were, how you doing? financially? Like it wasn't making money?

Torsten Hoffmann 10:42
Well, you know, the calculation is always difficult, because if we were to calculate our own time, right, no,

Alex Ferrari 10:49
no, no, you can't do that.

Torsten Hoffmann 10:52
Right now. But But luckily, so for the for growtopia. I had many funding partners, right. So the German broadcaster came in, they get the German rights, but get get get me a bunch of approximately, so that was good. Again, Kickstarter. That's, that's non diluted. Capital, right. So I'm able to, largely funded with other sources, right, and then everything that's now coming in, not everything, but a large share of that is his profit, if you will. But I'm also spending on Facebook ads, I'm also spending on film festivals and all these things that you keep talking about. And it takes a long time to build that audience. And that

Alex Ferrari 11:26
that platform, do you have a central hub where everything's coming in as far as like gathering customer information, emails, things like that? Or is email a big thing for you? Or are you literally just hanging out in the other platforms? Are you driving people to a website, where you can capture their email, so you can have a direct relationship with the customer?

Torsten Hoffmann 11:45
Now that's, you know, Alex, that is the key question. I mean, honestly, I'm probably doing a better job than average, but not not not good enough. And people listening to this thinking about their filmmaking career. This is actually where you should start your whole journey. So yes, I do collect an emails, I might have maybe 4000 email addresses by now. But most of the viewership, I just saw the statistics, we have 6 million minutes viewed on on Amazon last month. So over a year, like I don't know, 15 million minutes views. So it's a huge audience that is totally lost. So other than, you know, five star ratings and some of that, and a good IMDb score, I'm not really getting anything, I can't tap into that. platform. But you know, some people end up at crypto crypto.com some people do sign up for a newsletter, some people then go to my Udemy course on blockchain. You know, that's, that's one of the things that I took from your books as well. It's not that, you know, the Udemy course doesn't make me rich, but it's just you know, it's one of those little pieces of the puzzle. And please, let me remind me to tell you about Television Distribution, because that is now kicking in, which is a very, very promising as well.

Alex Ferrari 12:53
So yeah, tell me tell me about the Television Distribution.

Torsten Hoffmann 12:56
Yeah, so um, it's kind of funny, even though that's kind of my background, this television market and licensing, I didn't really quite understand it. And until and now that I always focused on making cryptopia film The Best Film possible for my audience for those crypto nerds and those blockchain lovers, right. And so it ended up being an 86 minute film, but the television market, they need a TV hour. So so it took me much more time than it really should have taken me down to four reformatted for the television audience, television audience much more mainstream, much less technical, you know, all the bullet points, all the technical details needed to be stripped out but now that I have finally finally have this TV, our the deals are coming in. So we've closed maybe eight or nine television deals a total of 450 million TV homes. The biggest one is LG zero, and the biggest TV channel in Germany, they pre bought the rights but then you know that the top TV channels in Poland and Russia and Israel and places like that so and all these license steals, and they end up with nice, nice license fees.

Alex Ferrari 14:05
That's fantastic. Now how are you reaching your audience? Do you are you doing any marketing and a huge I like I said, Are you driving people back to your website? Or you you just basically hoping that people watch the movie and then just come to cryptopia? Calm?

Torsten Hoffmann 14:20
Yeah, I mean, by now it's a lot of word of mouth, right? Because if, let's say whatever the amount is, maybe 50% of people that watch the film really liked it, because they are interested in the topic and they learn from it. Right? And then they talk until their friends and family so I think most of it by now is word of mouth and doing a little bit of on Twitter, I'm doing a little bit of Facebook. But I wouldn't say that um, I just started actually with fire TV as as well that there's a there's a program we can advertise on on Amazon as well. But I don't think any of these marketing activities are actually ROI positive. So it's good for branding. So when you see you see my films before so clearly, I've done some Right, but it's not that $1 spent on Twitter or Facebook will get me 1.1 dollars in VOD revenue, that that doesn't work.

Alex Ferrari 15:07
But if you had other revenue sources like a Udemy course, like something else, that you can drive people into your into your ecosystem, and because this is a perfect example, I think that growtopia is a amazing case study, if you were able to have your entire marketing campaign driving people into a website, where because it's such a technical thing, and such a thing, it's such a people are very passionate about. So if you had a Bitcoin course, if you had a blockchain course, and if you had multiple different online products that could help with that you become affiliates to coin base, I don't know, I'm just throwing that out there, whatever that is, to, to incorporate them into what they're looking for the revenue that you can generate. The month the moving money is, it's it's relevant. It's a it's a, it's a loss leader at that point.

Torsten Hoffmann 15:57
Yeah, and that's true. And every 50th person seeing it right there, a CEO of organization, or they run an association, or they're university professors, so they start contacting me and say, let's do an event, right, and that event might suddenly bring me $500. Right. So so there's, there's this effect as well. And another point that I really want to stress is, this is not really about one film, it's more about like your whole career, like your body of work, right. And you talk about this Ryan Holiday has a fantastic book called perennial seller, it's all about your building from one to the next. So as I'm lucky so I have Bitcoin, the end of money, that's like a intro thing for our money and Bitcoin. Now, this blockchain or the new development, my next one about the next technology, it just keeps getting bigger and bigger, right, and what book authors do, for example, they have the series, right, and then they can discount when something new comes out, they can discount the the earlier farms and sell it as a package. So you can do much more when you have more than just one film.

Alex Ferrari 16:58
Now do you have you thought of putting together a special edition where you put an edited interviews up in a course or in a special edition where people can buy like people who are really interested in like, hey, if you like the movie, here's eight hours of unedited interviews with all of these experts, and sell it, I've seen that work extremely well. Because, again, your audience is so passionate about that tech audience is first tech savvy. Secondly, generally they're going to be a little bit higher, they're going to make a little bit more money. So they're going to be a little bit more affluent, and willing to spend money on a digital product, because their their interest is digital product. So it is it was a no brainer to create as many, many online products as you can and bring them into this ecosystem where you can consider and considering like you just saying, you're building a career around the technology space, doing like first was Bitcoin cryptopia. And now your next film, you're building a library, you're building a bunch of stuff you really could be cleaning up, sir.

Torsten Hoffmann 18:06
Yeah, and I should be doing a better job of that, you know, that there's, I mean, I agree with everything that you just said. But I think there's three or four reasons why I want to be careful. So first of all, you don't want to be the person, you know, just selling you whatever cryptocurrency, right? I mean that that will just hurt the reputation. That's number one. Number two is the process of making a deity wearing the film and then having it marketed. And now that the shelf life of it is many, many years so that those interviews that I did back then, are maybe not that relevant. Third point is there's so much free content, especially in that space, few podcasts and video views. So I'm not sure how much value it can be, especially because it's kind of out of date. And the last point that I would make, you know, documentary filmmakers know this, you know, out of the two hour interview with someone who's super interesting, like a university professor or a billionaire investor, or like a startup entrepreneur, or have two hours, you might really only be interested in four or five minutes. And for a film, you cut that into two times 20 seconds, that this is the energy, the laugh the energy, right, and then the rest might not be that

Alex Ferrari 19:14
useful. But but but the cryptopia interviews, I'm assuming they're all updated, right? Those are all up to date interviews, right? So that's all there's some value there. I'd argue that you could put together, you know, extended 30 or 40 minute interviews with all of the key people package it all together. And the one thing you might underestimate and this is turned into a coaching session, which is fine, I have no problem doing it. This is very educational for people listening. I feel that you under you're under estimating the emotional attachment to your film, because when I watch a movie, you know I've been vegan for a long long time. And I used to watch all those like you know food for food for for fork over knives and food for thought and all those kind of good stuff. Dorothy cowspiracy all those kinds of things, right? When I would go after I watched the movie, I was so emotionally attached to the film, because it gave me so much information about something I was emotionally attached to. That emotional attachment is extremely powerful. So if I watch cryptopia, and it's given me a lot of information about blockchain about Bitcoin about things that I'm passionate about, if I've gone online, and I've gone to your website, the chances of me being open to purchasing something to extend that experience is extremely high, the the close rate, if you will, would be extremely high, much higher than a cold read that you know, some like I would be considered a hot, a hot customer a hot lead, because I'm coming to your site to investigate what you are about what else you have. And chances are that if you have something else for 4999 9999, maybe a private coaching session about Bitcoin, maybe you know a course about blockchain or Bitcoin, all these other products, if I'm going to be really game, to probably go down that rabbit hole, because I'm emotionally attached to so yes, there's 1000 podcasts, and 1000 other videos about stuff. And you know what, there's 1000 other podcasts that teach about filmmaking, there's 1000 other podcasts, 1000 other books about filmmaking out there, but for whatever reason, you started listening to my podcast, then you bought then which was free, then you bought my book? And then when did he break down,

Torsten Hoffmann 21:42
and then I recommended it to five other people. So

Alex Ferrari 21:45
it works. Well, the concepts work, but then you got emotionally attached to the information I'm giving you because I'm helping you on your journey. So now there's an attachment to to this. So all these other things that I might be able to come up with, like let's say, I come up with a film shoprunner course which I should be doing, but I don't have time. But if like after you read that book, and you're like, oh, at the end, like, by the way, if you want to take the entrepreneurial course, which we can dive in deeper into all these techniques, what are the chances that you're going to go out and probably buy that? Do you see what I mean? So that's why I think you I think you might be leaving a little money on the table. That's just my opinion, just my opinion.

Torsten Hoffmann 22:23
Not 100%, right. It's also time management and things like that, actually, you example about the vegan documentary. I actually, like when I speak at film festivals or something I go, I always mentioned that as a perfect nice group, because they are so so passionate, right? And I think in your book, you had this example, I'm not sure. Was it a cooking folk organized? Or did they have like Homer knives?

Alex Ferrari 22:44
Oh, yeah, family, food matters has their own Empire, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead juicing guy, he built an entire business around two documentaries, basically off one documentary. And then he built out two other documentaries, feeding that space. And then he's got coaches now and people who wanted to learn about juicing, and he has product placement deals with the juicing company, and it's just, it's built all this off of one fairly low budget documentary, it wasn't that great. But there's an emotional attachment. And that's when you when you're able to tap into the emotion with a customer. That's why documentaries are so much easier to sell than a narrative film. Because the narrative and it's so much harder.

Torsten Hoffmann 23:30
Yeah, and especially if you know, your audience, and my audience, luckily, is also pretty clearly defined. And these are great examples. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 23:37
yeah. So it's something that you might want to think about in the future, you know, cuz you already started doing it with the Udemy course. And it's like, little bit by little bit. But I like I even literally, in my, in my book, if you remember, in my book, I use the book, as a callback for you to go to my websites, constantly throughout the book. I'm inserting, like, if you want more information, go to this link here some more. And I have bonuses that I have on my website. And once I have you on my website, then I can further service you, I could provide more service to you whether it's free, obscene amount of free content, obscene amount of right, I give away way too much content. But I give away a lot of free but I'm like, if you want a little bit more here, you can pay for something.

Torsten Hoffmann 24:20
So So is there a good rule of thumb in terms of how often do you send out offers or promotions or an up sale email to your email list? And because isn't isn't the fear that people will get annoyed and then unsubscribe. But I'm on the other side, I have 4000 email addresses and I've never emailed them because, you know, this is all cryptopia until my next book comes out in two years, I don't really want to make them get annoyed at me.

Alex Ferrari 24:47
So what you would do is if you have a list, you need to start building a relationship with them. So I would I would either be building content, whether that be videos about about blockchain Conversations bonus video interviews that you can post somewhere on YouTube and send it to them like hey, or even better posted behind a paywall, but you're giving it to them for free. And like, if you want to see more, come over here and we have a new, you know, we had another eight hours of this stuff. And you'd be surprised what you find boring, added that to our conversation, somebody else might find fascinating. As long as there's value there, you're not you're the game at the end of the game, you've got to provide value to your audience, you got to provide value to your customer. And as far as selling to them, the way I look at it, because you know, I've my entire business is online, and I have multiple brands and I do multiple things. I provide so much free value, that that's never a question. So I am constantly I mean I produce, I'm so far ahead of anybody else in my space, in regards to the amount of content that I put out. And at the quality that I put out that there's just no one that even comes close to me. It's just because I've been doing that for the last six years. So when I, when I sell, I'll go Hey, guys, we got a new course, if you're interested in distribution, I just did a six hour distribution course that will teach you how not to get screwed by distributors. And I took and I did it personally and it's me going through the whole thing and, and that that course has done extremely well for me for me. But um, but at the end of the game is not about the money. That's the thing, where a lot of people forget that that's where a lot of people fail, is because they're like, Oh, I want to make money with no money. I'm gonna try to get money out of my audience. No, it's not that, how can I serve the audience. So your audience is looking for information about Bitcoin about blockchain, about that kind of technology, I want to go deeper down that rabbit hole, I want to go deeper into the weeds about that. So if I don't give it to you, if you don't give it to me, I'm gonna go find it somewhere else, I'll buy someone else's course I'll so it's up to you, if you've got someone's attention, which you have a great calling card, which is your film, then it's your honestly, it's your job to provide better service to me as the customer, and give me what I'm looking for. Because if I'm going to your website, off of a movie, and I actually took the time in today's world to search for you, and I land on your website, and you don't have something to capture my email, you don't have some sort of free giveaway, you don't have a course, or a special edition, or coaching or courses or anything a mouse pad that says crypto piano, I don't know, whatever it is, I think you're not only failing yourself, but you're filling me as a customer because because it's high intent, right? It's the highest intent

Torsten Hoffmann 27:49
you can ever have that people come and search for your film or for for for you. And then you have to have product and

Alex Ferrari 27:56
and yeah, and I honestly think it's just been I've learned this over the course of my time doing what I do is you've got to prioritize this, you have to prioritize creating product and creating value for your audience that they can pay for. Because they want to reciprocate they want to give back to you. And if you can help them along their journey, you know, as long as you're not, you know, stealing from them or like, you know, charging them obscene amounts of money or something like that for something that there's no value for. But if you're being fair with them, and you're putting in your time, and I'm telling you, they'll be happy so that 4000 people on your list, I would right now just start emailing them like, Hey, I just found this article, even if you curate other people's content, other articles have seen that you provide value to to the audience and then in that you go Oh, by the way, if you want to go deeper down the rabbit hole on blockchain, I just released this. If you've been giving away free free content, content content, when it's time for you to ask for something, it's it's what Gary Vee, Gary Vaynerchuk says, you know Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, you give, give, give, give, give, ask give, give, give, give, give, ask. And that's, that's the way it goes.

Torsten Hoffmann 29:08
Yeah. And you know, the other thing that's obviously coming up soon is that your world in my world will kind of converge soon with with the creator economy and blockchain technology enabling all sorts of new models, right for filmmakers, and creatives, including those NF T's that everybody is now talking about at the moment. So, no,

Alex Ferrari 29:27
I was waiting for you to say NFT I was just waiting to have a conversation about an fd. We'll get to it in a second. But

Torsten Hoffmann 29:33
yeah, no, I'm just I mean at the moment, and people talk about you know, those little NBA clips or maybe a digital piece of artwork, but as soon as soon enough, filmmakers will NFT like, make their mint, their film and maybe even have the royalty streams all on the blockchain. So I think things like that will, let's say give it a year time and then this will become a real model for us.

Alex Ferrari 29:59
So Alright, so For everyone listening, can you explain what the NFT is because now it is exploding after that $70 million art by and the NBA and I've just been I've been personally I've been just watching YouTube video after YouTube video explaining to I think someone's mentioned NF T's to me a little like maybe three or four weeks ago, and then all of a sudden it is exploded in popularity and in design of, of society. Now, everybody knows what an NF T is. And now everyone's like, wait a minute, what's what's going on? I'd love to to just explain what an NF T is for the audience.

Torsten Hoffmann 30:35
Yes, um, so NF T stands for non fungible token. And I will get to what it means a little bit later. But I think the best way to explain it is actually the major major innovation that Bitcoin brought along. And Bitcoin is using its own blockchain as a as kind of like the database is to create something that's digital, but also stops right before that you can copy paste any digital file anything that's available copy paste, there's no value in anything digital, because you can you can multiply it with a blockchain, which is just a shared database that that's run on computers all over the world. Everybody agrees on the same database, who owns what Bitcoin in this case, we suddenly have something that's unique and scars, right? Something digital, in bitcoins case, it's money or digital gold, but it could be tied to something else. So now people are starting to do is they basically tied the ownership or the right, or the authenticity of a digital piece of art into the blockchain. And that's what's called as non fungible. So there's only one unique one token. And there's now this craze going on about people buying into all sorts of NF T's, from hard work to NBA moments to songs, and so surely movies as well.

Alex Ferrari 31:56
Yeah, so that was the thing. So how would a movie work? So let's say I have my my last film on the corner of ego and desire that I shot? Let's say I created an NF T for that, how would that work? Do I need to pull it off all the other platforms? Or is it become a piece of art? Maybe I put something special in it that there's only one of and people or people buy if someone buys it is are they buying it on the basis that I might one day explode as a filmmaker and the value of that goes up? So like if I would have bought the following Chris Nolan's first film, his independent film as an F t, that would that and I own the NF T of the following that I would imagine would be extremely valuable as as a piece of art, because it be like, Oh, my God, they own the work. But how would How would that work in a distribution way? Do I need to pull it off everywhere? How does that work? Well,

Torsten Hoffmann 32:55
let me slip into a slight detour on the answer there. So I think that the thing that will be more relevant for us filmmakers relatively soon, is to use this technology as sort of like a royalty system. So let's say instead of doing a Kickstarter where people give you 10 bucks, but the filmmaker keeps all the rights to themselves. And you could imagine that people buy shares in your film, just like they buy shares and testament, right. And then suddenly, there's, let's say, 1000 people, on your investments, right? And then whatever that Phil makes, it's all recorded and then paid out in real time to your 1000 investors. So I think that as a crowdfunding mechanism, we will see this this happening. That's not an NF T, per se. But but that is, that is something I think, maybe the easier to understand right?

Alex Ferrari 33:44
Now, separate there for a second. So okay, so I've made my movie, I've crowdfunded it through through 1000 people. Now, how am I generating the revenue that's not off of Amazon views like that? Is that people buying that movie? How is how is the money being generated?

Torsten Hoffmann 34:01
So I think, I don't know in the past year or maybe two years, I've probably seen a dozen platforms, usually based in Los Angeles, who kind of do this as a service for filmmakers. They say, Okay, put put your film here, we monetize and then pay you out or pay however many investors you have, in whatever share you have. It's sort of similar to what musicians have done for the longest time, right that the songwriter gets X X percent, and that's collecting societies and this and that, and I think for the movie industry will soon see this. But this has nothing to do with an NF t NF t. So request was kind of kind of different. So NF T is basically you sell the ownership, kind of like to one person to your film, and the idea is if your film becomes a global viral hit, and he talks about it, the value of it goes up right so so that's why there's people because he's a celebrity people think well, his notoriety and his virality and his being famous is just going to increase increase. So that's why his body of work and including that one will increase. So it's kind of like a speculative buy on this thing. And what there's like is this saying in this credit economy that says, well, we're starting to monetize memes. So maybe it's a tweet, maybe it's an idea, maybe, maybe it's a, it's a song, and you can now make money with it,

Alex Ferrari 35:26
you can sell it, it's insane. That's insane. So if I made my movie, and I sold it to you, so your your, you buy my movies, NFT for $5,000, let's just say, Now, you own the rights to that movie, and you could do whatever you want with it, or you just own the right to the NFT. And I can still continue to sell it and do other things with it.

Torsten Hoffmann 35:51
And this is where, you know, you shouldn't buy all the BS that the industry because what do you actually own right, especially when it comes to painting, like the painting is something physical, and you only have like this digital receipt that you also so you have to be very careful. And that's why I say I don't think this is quite ready, especially for filmmakers. So these marketplaces are starting to get real traction for art for artworks. Also just a piece of you know, the digital poster, or maybe some some GIF, right. But for film, this doesn't really exist yet. Plus, we also need platforms that we trust, because if you sell me an NFT, on your on your website, and then you go to two different blockchain and he had here, I mean, I wouldn't trust that process yet, but maybe in one or two years, and that's going to be much more mature as an industry.

Alex Ferrari 36:37
Got it. Okay. But so in theory, in theory, let's say that we we create, we create an NFT, for my film on the corner vehicle and desire, there's going to be a physical representation of that NFT, because I've seen physical representations of it for some of the more higher end art, where they actually send you a package and there's like a digital, like, a little like an iPad, I guess, or something like that, that they give you it's you feel like you own something. And it's not just a digital thing. Like when you split that guy who spent $69.7 million for that insane NFT there is value and I saw what the art the art was, and the guy had been doing it for 13 years, and it's a collage of all his art, like I get, I get it, I don't know if it's worth $70 million, but I get it's not it's not a tweet, that was silver. It's not a banana taped on the wall. Kind of artwork. So let's say we figure out a way to basically give an iPhone that plays my movie in a very special bulletproof sealed case that I shipped to you because you've paid $5,000 for it. And you now own The only NFT of that film. Now my move just like Van Gogh's work, or just like other artists, there's multiple copies of it, there's and there and it's everywhere. It's not like you're the only one, you have the original, but you don't have all the copies that are being sold all over the world. So the only two questions I have for you then is one, you have the original. So you have the bragging rights to say, I have the only NFT of this film. And by the way, Alex just won an Oscar for his latest movie, cry, shooting for the mob, and his latest louver shooting film, he just won an Oscar for it. How Much Does somebody want to pay me for on the corner, he goes out and now you go put it back on the marketplace. And you sell that for a million dollars, let's say. And at that million dollars, I get 10% of that billion dollars as the original artist automatically, and you get 900,000. And now the new art the new owner has that piece of art, which is the film can I I guess I guess I can because if I'm selling you my art, I'm not selling you the copyright to the art I'm selling you the print the the limited edition version of it. It's It's its own product that cannot be replicated. And there is no other NFT. So there is scarcity in it. So like if it is a piece of art, like that guy sold the seven, the 69 whatever the $70 million. I assume that there's versions of all of that art that he sold all of it because

Torsten Hoffmann 39:24
Yeah, because that would make it more valuable right the more this piece of artists in virtual reality universes and and your newspapers, the more it gets talked about, just like with the big Picasso paintings or whatever, the more valuable the more famous and it gets, right. I mean, I think there's no doubt about it. But what you just mentioned Actually, I should have mentioned myself, so thanks for that. The key one of the key inventions is not that this digital thing is suddenly worth something because it's a unique, more fungible token. invention has also value as the original creator in that smart contract. Can all be compensated, because in the traditional art world, right, so that artists sells it for $1,000 to the art gallery, and the art gallery makes a million bucks, but the original artists will never see any of that million. But but but with this digitized kind of proof of chain chain chain of title, you can always get a kickback of 10%, which makes you and a lot of other creators join these marketplaces. Right? And then the community of investors comes along because it's suddenly it's a thing so so I guess what I'm saying here is this with these emerging things, is not like one one silver bullet. It doesn't happen overnight. But look at fortnight fortnight is a multi billion dollar economy, right? People buy thoughts or capes or whatever on fortnight's and Bitcoin and other digital good, right that maybe 100 million people all over the world now own, and it's worth a trillion dollars. So it is it's not just one thing, the whole puzzle piece must must fit together.

Alex Ferrari 40:54
There is a place for independent film, there is a place for film somewhere in this ecosystem in this economy. It there's still I don't think there is I think you're right, we're still a few years away. I think it's going to take a minute to get there. But I think there is something there that look, I've been saying it from the top of the of the mountain for a while now. Our the system is broken, the distribution system is broken for filmmakers, and for artists in general. And there has to be some sort of change. And I think that blockchain Bitcoin, that technology is the future, there's no doubt about it, just just no doubt about that. It's going to be the future. What that future is, though, is going to be the question, who's going to who's going to crack that nut, because that's going to take a minute to crack and and there's people working on it as we're speaking right now. But once it's cracked, it could really change the game for for us as independent artists, because right now, he's like, you just said you're getting kicked off of Amazon and you were, you were being insulted with one penny per hour of viewing it was an insult. I mean, if they could pay you fractions of a penny they would have. So even at that point, they're like, yeah, you're still not good enough and still not going to be there. So to have this ability to be able to be paid every time the art gets sold again and again and again, in perpetuity, in perpetuity. This is all going to constantly be coming in it sounds very utopia. As for artists I mean it sounds extremely utopia like but

Torsten Hoffmann 42:31
yeah he maybe cryptopia

Alex Ferrari 42:33
maybe maybe even a cryptopia sir if you're if I may take a very popular films named title. But no, I think what you're I think you are doing great great stuff with your films and what you're thinking of. I'm assuming there's an NF t movie coming out soon if not you should be working on it right now.

Torsten Hoffmann 42:53
So you need to provide me with some drama so either you will become the first independent billionaire independent filmmaker billionaire all you lose your whole empire with some sort of hack

Alex Ferrari 43:06
and that's the thing and that's a way for people listening who are not really familiar with blockchain there is no way to hack this to haven't there hasn't been a hack for this yet is there there is no way to there's it is as secure as anything that's ever been invented purely because it's so transparent, right?

Torsten Hoffmann 43:25
Yes, it's so the the big blockchains like Bitcoin and aetherium are virtually unhackable for sure. Otherwise, somebody would take this trillion dollar value immediately out so that's impossible. However, I mean, to be careful your you can lose your your private keys, or you can transfer to a third party, right? You trust it to Bitcoin bank to these cryptocurrency exchanges, who of course can be hacked. So so it's always a little bit tricky. That's part of my story in my film, so so we are kind of getting rid of middleman the banks and the governments but we're creating other like dependencies, like new elites, crypto elites, right, that we have to trust on so and there's always human nature and greed, you know, all these all these kinds of elements that make the film

Alex Ferrari 44:09
right now if you if you purchase a Bitcoin, it needs to stay in a Bitcoin bank, it can't It can't just live in a in an account, like, how does that work?

Torsten Hoffmann 44:18
Yeah, good question. So So you go to a central service like blockchain.com or coinbase.com in America, but the the common practice among people who are really into this technology and movement is to then store it, just by yourself. So literally, you can just basically remember your your past quote unquote, code, which is 12 security words, or you write down your, you know, private, private key, and do not rely on a third party. So that's the whole point of it. But most people don't do that. Most people keep it on exchange and those exchanges can be act

Alex Ferrari 44:56
a god and so that's the problem. So and that's where that guy who's got like, 70 million 100 mil whatever, whatever ridiculous amount that he because he started off early on, he lost his number and he lost the hard drive that had that key and can't get out. So he literally has it's impossible for him to get that back. He can't call anybody, there's no, there's no support number. So there is that there are those risks involved? Like Imagine if you had $100 million worth of gold in a vault that can never be opened? is essentially what he's got?

Torsten Hoffmann 45:32
Sure. But I mean, look, if you try to tell me that gold is better, you know, it seems like the people that try to leave Venezuela with with lost savings in a few gold coins, they get stopped at the border and the police takes take the gold away, right. And with Bitcoin, you can cross the border with 12 words in your head, right? Whether you're in North Korea, or in America, it's permissions right? So it's always pros and cons.

Alex Ferrari 45:57
It's there's, there's there's pros and cons with all of it. And also like, you know, you can walk into it, you could basically go anywhere in the world right now with a gold coin and get into cash, because it's gold, if they can prove it's gold, gold is accepted pretty much everywhere on the planet. Bitcoin isn't just yet. So there's pros and cons for all but you're right, like, how are you going to walk out with, let's say $60 million. With a gold you're not walking out. You're not walking out with it unless gold skyrockets to $100,000 an ounce, you're not walking out with that much gold. But you can walk out with that with goodwill.

Torsten Hoffmann 46:36
And look, the other element here. That's why it's big, becoming bigger and bigger. Right? It's the the idea that all the governments including the Fed in America are printing trillions and trillions of dollars and look, whether you're a fan of wars or social security or COVID really funny, no matter your politics, there's just you know, the the chart of money supply is just going like exponentially up. Right? And in that environment, the value proposition of a very finite amount of Bitcoin that actually gets less and less every year is the appeal. That's why it has become sort of like a digital gold. Potentially. Yeah,

Alex Ferrari 47:11
yeah. And there's mining right now there's people mining as we speak, trying to find the other Bitcoin out there. And in there's, there's, like I saw, I mean, I've saw your documentary, I've seen so many others, that there's farms, there's like mining farms, that is just use an obscene amount of power, just to just constantly hack, hack, hack until they find a hack. But you know, mind mind, mind, too, they get a Bitcoin, and they get so many bitcoins a day. But if you get three bitcoins a day, that's 180 grand in current, a current market, but it costs you maybe 50,000 pounds worth, like, it's obscene, like, you know, the infrastructure, all that stuff. Yeah.

Torsten Hoffmann 47:50
And that's actually a good good note, because common criticism, a valid criticism against Bitcoin, that is a blockchain that runs on this proof of work system. So you need powerful mining computers, which consume a lot of energy. However, you just mentioned, that the trick, the trick is you need to be ultra efficient. The more energy you have, the more computing power, the more of these Bitcoin rewards you're going to find. That means those mining farms are usually located with the price of energy is cheapest, which is wind farms, solar farms, geothermal, so they are basically not not in the city. They're kind of where the power generation is. And the cheapest power generation nowadays is solar in I think, 120 countries in the world. So yes, it is energy intensive, but it is a little bit greener than maybe, you know, the Skype call that we use.

Alex Ferrari 48:39
Oh, it's and it's also probably greener than mining for gold. That's for sure. Yeah. I mean, mining for gold has become so so difficult and so, so expensive, and just hurting me because I have to go dig deeper, deeper, deeper, deeper, deeper to find it. So it's it's a fascinating conversation. I think we've gotten a little bit off topic, but I think we're but but this is this was a really good conversation. There was one thing I wanted to ask you, there was another movie you did. And we talked a little bit about this before we got on called marketing the Messiah that you did as a production. And you were telling me that that didn't that didn't really find its its home yet. Can you talk a little bit about that, if you don't mind?

Torsten Hoffmann 49:18
Yeah, sure. So marketing, the Messiah is a film that I reached out to a podcast, a history podcaster. And he has a good network and a good platform for history nerds, I would say. And so he made this film as a director and writer, his first film, and I was the producer on the background, a background, and I had actually high hopes for the distribution of it. Because I knew it's a it's a topic that might be interesting to people who want to know about the real story of the first couple of years of Jesus's kind of work before you know the whole religion was built around it. But for some reason, I mean, look up, it's always hard to kind of understand it completely. But the film was too long for TV. I mentioned that earlier with with cryptopia. Also, maybe too controversial for for American audience especially. So we have lots of 10 nine stars on IMDB, but also quite a few zero and one star. So maybe maybe that also hurts the distribution. And so what we're doing now is Avon, so we are on IMDB TV, we're doing a little bit of Amazon and now YouTube. That's that's the way to go for this one.

Alex Ferrari 50:27
Right and, and the thing is, when I saw the trailer for it, I was like, I first of all, I'm fascinated, I can't wait to watch it. But because I'm into that kind of stuff, I'm like, I love marketing. And I'm like, arguably, Jesus is one of the best marketed you know, people in history. I mean, you can't argue mean literally, when the Vatican is hiring Matt, Michelangelo to paint? You know, I mean that that was the marketing of its day. So I was fascinated with it. But when I saw it of the Who the hell's the audience for this? Because people who are believers and follow Christianity are not going to probably want to see it maybe if you will, but not a lot. And then who is the audience? I think that's where you kind of fell into that, like, Who? Who are we targeting here? It's a little bit, it's not as easy as cryptopia, which is like, okay, now, here's my audience. Here's the thing that it's done. Where this is about.

Torsten Hoffmann 51:22
Yeah, at the same time, I mean, it's, it's so tempting to, to, like make these assumptions or like, analyze it after the fact. But I mean, I just recently rewatched searching for sugar man, right? This totally unknown 60 singer. Nobody has heard of a fantastic story. Fantastic Film won the Oscar. But who would have thought that before you make us who is the audience for this? Right? It's three people in South Africa. Right? And the biggest hit of the of the year? So it is a little bit tricky. That one, but yeah,

Alex Ferrari 51:55
it but that's, I think the thing that caught it's just a comeback. It's like a comeback story. It's it's rocky Yeah, with with a musician, you know, and the whole search in the hunt. And it's like, oh, my God and all that. It's just such a such a brilliant if you haven't guys haven't seen searching for sugar, man, please do so. But But you're right, though, it could have just fallen flat on its face. And, you know, it could have been huge in South Africa where he was huge. And that's essentially it. So you really don't know. But I think something like we're topia is so specific, and you really understand who that audience is. And if there's, I'm going to bet better than not that it's going to reach an audience because that audience is very hot right now. It's very interested. It's kind of like if you were, if you did an audience as you did a documentary on compuserve and the future of AOL, like that probably wouldn't, wouldn't hit really well today. It might have hit well, years ago, but it wouldn't hit well today. So anyway, um, I appreciate appreciate you coming on the show. Let me ask you a few questions. I asked everybody. What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

Torsten Hoffmann 53:01
Yeah, just start start with something small start on tik tok start on Instagram or YouTube. That's the nice thing about our our age that you don't really need much budget or much skill, so to speak, there's so much available for free.

Alex Ferrari 53:14
What lesson took you the longest to learn in the film business or in life?

Torsten Hoffmann 53:23
I'm going to give a different answer here I am on like a counter intuitive one, my partner Michael told me about cryptopia that don't be afraid to put your personality in the film and on the film. So is kind of the journey of me asking these people controversial questions about you know, my own confusion, my own excitement. And I became, you know, the host of the film, which was never the idea originally, but I think it was a good decision. It helped the film and it helped my profile right and and hopefully will build my platform later. So I think that one took me a long time to learn.

Alex Ferrari 54:04
Yeah, put it that's the only secret sauce you have brother is you like that you are the NFT of of yourself. Like there is no you are non fungible, you are non fungible, there is no other you in the world. So that's what as artists, that's the only currency we have in our art is to put ourselves into it, and express who we are, because

Torsten Hoffmann 54:26
that's what what Americans do so much better than the rest of the world are much better at self promotion. And I wasn't perkara it was for me it was the right decision. And I assume for many independent filmmakers it will be and if you look at those big Netflix deals nowadays, it Konya not just sell like a $30 million documentary to Netflix or something. I mean, this is all about like big egos big personalities, but the big platform and and yeah, you have to be someone to get those kind of big deals, right.

Alex Ferrari 54:53
Yeah, I haven't gotten mine yet. But I'm I'm hoping for my $30 million deal with Netflix. It's coming soon. It's coming soon. And lastly, a one are three of your favorite films of all time?

Torsten Hoffmann 55:03
I'm gonna with matrix I'm going to go with inside job, Bob the financial crisis and you know, just something Star Trek, something like positive sci fi kind of, you know, like everything is good humanity's striving towards a better future.

Alex Ferrari 55:22
I think I think the combination of matrix and inside job is a perfect, perfect utopia origin story. It's really really great. Torsten, thank you so much for being on the show, man. It's been a pleasure having you and I look forward to seeing your next few next films and what's up what's going to happen to our whole business with this technology. So I appreciate you shining some light on it man. Thank you so much.

Torsten Hoffmann 55:46
Thanks, pleasure watching you work and you grow and we'll be in touch maybe next year and talk about NFT's or whatever

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