IFH 379: Coronavirus Indie Film Q&A – IFH Tribe Questions Answered

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It has been a crazy few days in the world, my friends. With film productions being shut down around the world, movie theaters sitting empty, and film festivals/events canceling because of the Coronavirus pandemic it might feel like the end of days. Hell, there's even a locust outbreak in Africa, no seriously!

I even canceled my Make Your Movie Bootcamp out of concern for my students. I wanted to do a follow-up episode updating the tribe on what is going on, how it will affect them and what they can do during these insane times. I also answer questions I've been getting from the IFH Tribe. I go over:

  • Should I submit to film festivals now?
  • If I had a screening for my film what do I do?
  • Can I get my money back from SXSW and other film festivals for canceling?
  • Can movie theater chains take this hit?
  • Will some studios and distribution companies be able to weather this storm?
  • Tips on what to do while staying home

There’s a lot of fear and uncertainty out there. Stay informed and stay safe. Sit back, pull up another stiff drink and take a listen.

Alex Ferrari 1:33
Hey, guys, I wanted to do a follow up episode to what I did on Monday about the Coronavirus and a lot of questions I've been getting from the tribe in regards to how it's affecting our industry. And a lot has changed in just a day. Actually, yesterday was a massive day of just bad news just coming at us at 1000 miles a minute. And I was emailed and damned a ton of different questions. And I've been seeing different questions on the Facebook groups and boards and stuff. So I wanted to kind of come on and talk a little bit about what's going on how it's affecting our business, answer some questions that a lot of the tribe have. And hopefully this will help you guys through this a little bit more. Now the one thing I wanted to say right off the bat is I cancelled my making your movie boot camp that was going to be scheduled for next weekend, I decided to cancel it because I'm a responsible human being. And I don't want to put anybody in harm's way. And there were people flying in from out of town. And I just, I just didn't want to put anyone at risk. Regardless of what financial damage it might do to me, I decided against it. So I refunded everybody's money immediately. And we will postpone it don't know when it will happen. because not many people know what's going to happen in the next handful of months. But what I will be doing is doing a online version of that course or that boot camp. And I'll let you guys know about it later on. Because I know a lot of people who were coming to the boot camp or were upset but completely understood. And were asking me about the online version. And I know a lot of the tribe around the world who did couldn't fly in for the boot camp. Were really asking about it as well. So just everybody know I will eventually make the make your movie bootcamp available online. So now if you haven't heard and I'm sure you have but I'm going to review a couple of things that happened yesterday. Not only have all of every sporting event here in the US been canceled basically or postponed. Broadway got shut down. productions have been shut down throughout LA and in British Columbia I did a news guest spot talking about I'll Riverdale I think was being shut down and the productions going up there are being shut down out of a precautionary measure as they should. But unfortunately, when these productions shut down, it is going to affect not only the cast and crew of those shows, but the hundreds if not 1000s of people around those productions who are support companies support services that these people rely on just like when you know a major sporting event happens is not just the players and the owners and this the stadium that makes the money but it's also all of those employees all of those support services all support businesses around it even the bars local bars around and restaurants who depend on that revenue to keep their doors open. So it is pretty devastating is a very devastating time. And generally speaking, and I'm just going to clarify this. It's a devastating, devastating time in general, this whole Coronavirus, and how it's affected the world and the deaths and people being being affected by is horrible. This podcast is talking about specifically about our little corner of the world, which is the film industry and how it's affecting us. This is an unprecedented time in history, the film industry has never gone through something like this, only time will tell how many of these major studios will be able to weather the storm. I mean, they're taking a massive hit. And a lot of these companies and specifically distribution companies were flimsy or being held together by a house of cards essentially. And one brisk wind could knock some of these down. So Only time will tell to see how these companies do weather the storm. And I want to say something really clearly here, our industry is extremely resilient. It kept going through major wars, major economic downturns, recessions, depressions, our industry continues, because people out there depend on us, to entertain them, to have them have a way to escape the horrors that they might be going through in life, the issues that they're going through in life, the reality that they're going through in life. And that is our job as, as members of this industry, is to keep that going. And our industry is extremely resilient. I don't think this will ever end. I think this industry will continue to go and go because humans need stories, it is built into our DNA. And that's why I think our, our, our system, our industry will never completely break down. But it will change and it will change multiple times. Now unfortunately, the box office is taking a major hit and movie theaters around the US and around the world are taking massive, massive hits and losses, because people don't want to go or they're shut down in general like they were in China. And you know, billions of dollars are being lost. the studio's are pushing back their releases. And it you know, I just heard Fast and Furious got pushed back up into entire year. And many of the other productions going on are stopping or being suspended until further notice. You know, the movie theaters were already taking a hit before this, you know, the box office numbers were down, but this could really devastate them. I saw many filmmakers had independent film screenings in the coming weeks that they were really depending on for some revenue. And of course, those those revenue streams have now been shut off, they're not going to happen. And even if they did have the screening, how many people would actually show up. So it's devastating not only to the big studios, but even to the independent filmmaker. I mean, I even canceled a screening that I had scheduled for the next couple of weeks. And in two weeks, I was going to have a screening of on the corner of ego and desire in Hollywood. But again, I cancelled that screening because I didn't think anyone was show up. And I also didn't want anyone to be in harm's way. And I cancelled it a little while ago. So that was revenue that I wasn't going to be able to make as well. I know this is tough, it is extremely tough for not only the world, but in our little corner for filmmakers. Because it's tough enough being a filmmaker and trying to generate revenue for your films without having to deal with a pandemic. I mean, no one saw this coming. No one, no one was prepared for this. There is no playbook for this in our industry. There isn't like oh, well this, you know, this happened. So we can do this. And this. There's just no no one. No one saw this coming. Another big area that's been hit in our business is film festivals. As many of you know, South by Southwest has canceled their event, which has been devastating to the Austin market, where I read it was like about $350 million that was going to be generated by that event for the local economy is now gone. And not only that, but unfortunately because there really is no insurance on an act of God which is what this is. Then South by Southwest has no way to refund all of those ticket holders because they've already been spending it that machine has already that that train left the station already months. When they started selling tickets, and those, that revenue was helping them run the machine. But if all of a sudden that machine has runs out of track, which is exactly what happens, there's no way to put to pull back, there's no way to refund everybody that there's just no resources. And south by is going to take an immense hit on this. And, and you know what will happen next year, we have no idea. You know, I wish south by nothing but the best. And I hope that they are able to recover from this, I hope they can figure out a way to refund people, or give them some sort of deal or something. But again, nobody saw this coming. It's insane. It is massively complicated. To cancel an event once it's in motion, even my small event, which was the making movie boot camp, when I cancelled it, it caused a lot of havoc for a lot of people that were involved with the event. But and now I'm so much smaller than a big monster Festival on event like South by. So I could only imagine what they had to go through. But they from what we I've heard, they are going to still give out awards to the filmmakers. But I can only imagine how those filmmakers are feeling. If you are one of those filmmakers listening to this right now, guys, I My heart goes out to you. It is a dream of most filmmakers to get into a major festival and get their film screened at a major festival to see if they can find a home for it through the traditional route. Or leverage that screening into self distributing or something along those lines. And to have your whole life work up to that. And then it be cancelled, is absolutely devastating. So my heart goes out to all of the filmmakers that unfortunately had their films canceled. And my brother from another mother RB bato, from stage two is trying to help all the South by Southwest filmmakers screen their films here in LA, when those screenings will happen, I don't know. Because things have gotten a little bit more serious since I think they launched that. But you can I'll put a link in the show notes that you can go and sign up. If you're a filmmaker, they're a film at South by Southwest filmmaker and go down the path with with stage 32 to see if you will be able to screen those films here in LA at least, to see if we can get some people to some people in the industry to take a look at and possibly sell your film. Or find a home for your film, or leverage it to self distribute it as well. Another question I've been getting a lot is should I submit to film festivals currently because you know, if I'm going to spend 50 to $80 for a submission, and then three months from now, it's canceled? Well, the chances of you getting that money back are going to be nil to none. So should I submit to film festivals at this point? And I know a lot of you out there have a film locked and loaded ready to set out to all the film festivals. The question the main answer I have is nobody really knows how this is going to play out. Nobody knows. So if you're going to submit to a festival, you are taking a risk because right now, as of this recording, who knows where this virus is going to go? How how much of an impact is going to have on the US population or the world population. Nobody really knows there's estimates but nobody really knows what will happen. Nobody knows if it's gonna go down in the summer, which is generally what happens and then it might come back out in the winter. Nobody really knows. But the only things I could say as far as tips on that is look at when those film festivals are taking place. If they're taking place in the summer, odds are that it might continue to go on. It's taking place in the winter. It's a 5050 if it's taking place in the next couple months. Who knows. The next question you have to ask yourself is where is it taking place? Is it a place that is being affected heavily by the Coronavirus right now, if it is and probably not a good idea to submit to a festival that's going to play there because more than likely it's not going to play. So these are the only things I could say I do know of a few festivals that are happening in the next few weeks that are still going on. I think it's absolutely irresponsible of those festivals to do that. And I think that the states that those festivals are in already forcing everybody that has more than 500 or even 100 people gatherings to be canceled. So they might be forced to cancel because again, you know, if you're two weeks away from a film festival, you've spent a lot of your sponsorship money. You've spent a lot of ticket money that's already come in. And now there is no other option. There's no other way to keep that thing going. Just like the studios guys. This might hit film festivals, very well known Film Fest. devils in ways that they might not be able to recover from Only time will tell. Now, I know a lot of you, especially here in the States and around the world, depending on where you are, and what country you're in, are going to be either self quarantine in yourselves, or being forced to be in quarantine, meaning that you're just not going to go out for safety reasons you're going to stay in, you're going to hunker down, and hopefully this thing will pass over may pass by you. So what to do when you're at home for possibly a week or two, you know, I know a lot of schools are being canceled. So there's going to be kids at home. And, you know, the guys the world is upside down right now. It's a very weird time to be alive. So one of the things I wanted to talk to you guys about is like what to do when you're home. I know the first instinct is to stay watching CNN, or Fox News, or MSNBC, or whatever, wherever you get your news from watching it. 24 seven, probably not the best idea. Stay informed as much as you can, through sources that you feel that are reputable, and stay as informed as you can online about what's happening in your area. But when you're not doing that, take this time, because it's an opportunity for you to take the time to do stuff that you might have never been able to do. Whether it because you were working, or you had a commute or you had other responsibilities. Now, you might be stuck at home for a week or two or longer. So take advantage of this time and make it as productive as you can for yourself. You know, take this time to educate yourself as much as possible. You know, take an online course, listen to an audio book, listen to a podcast. Educate yourself as much as you can about what's going on in our industry right now. And and educate yourself about what you want to do if you want to learn how to make a movie. My god, there's hundreds and hundreds of 1000s of videos on YouTube that can maybe walk you through that process. Or take an online course that's a little bit more structured, and maybe will cut your hunting and pecking time online. Do that if you're if you're a screenwriter, right? write a screenplay, start writing your story. Start working on that script, start doing that rewrite that you've been waiting, waiting to do take time take advantage of this time. One thing that happens to me a lot is when I get ill, I get a flu or normal flu or a cold, or I twist my ankle or something like that where I'm stuck in bed where I normally wouldn't be. I use that time as much as possible, because those are opportunities to do things that I normally wouldn't. And yeah, sure you can binge Netflix, you can binge prime, or Hulu or HBO or wherever you watch your stuff. Watch your latest shows and movies. And sure there's time for that. But if you take this time to move yourself forward in your career, that's a positive thing that can happen from all this craziness that's happening in the world. You know if you can Skype with other filmmakers in your area or around the world, discuss projects, ideas, maybe create a writer a writing group through Skype, create a filmmaking group, through Skype with all your other friends from around the country to talk about, not only about what's going on, but about maybe movie ideas about things are happening in something new, create a support group around your friends, your filmmaking, friends, your screenwriting friends, these are things that might have not been able to happen if you were only focused on the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Make this time that you might be in quarantine or self quarantine or locked up in your house as productive as humanly possible. If all your other needs are met, then this might be you have free time on your hands. So use it as productively as possible. You know, there's a lot of fear and uncertainty out there right now. And it's a scary time. It is a very, very scary time right now to be alive. But I know the media has kind of really Hakan this to a hyper level in regards to the fear and creating a little bit of hysteria. Hence why people are buying toilet paper like it's gold Boolean. I don't know. I mean, that's just me. I value a clean but as much as anybody else, but I think canned goods might be better. I don't know. But you can tell that there is a hysteria there is something you know, obviously people are going a little a little nuts. So once everyone gets hunkered down and you know you're in your house, you've got your toilet paper castle that you've built for yourself and your hoarding. Spam. You know, once all that's done, you've got time to, to hopefully focus on yourself, maybe do some, some deep thinking about where you want to go. And hopefully educate yourself as much as possible. You know, when I've had these kind of times in my life where I was stuck in bed or locked up in a house or something where I didn't have access to where I normally would have access to, that's where some of my greatest ideas have come from that as one some of my greatest thoughts have come from regarding my business, my career, everything, it's it's a time that should not be wasted. If you can all help it. You know, it is it's good to crazy out there. And again, stay informed as much as you can. But don't don't go nuts, guys, you know, it's, it's scary. Yes. Be safe. Do you know wash your hands, stay inside, do things that are smart. This is all basic stuff here, guys. Just do all of that. And when all that's done, you have a lot of time on your hands that hopefully, you can turn it into something positive for you, and your career and your path in the filmmaking or screenwriting space. So guys, thank you for listening. I hope this helped hope I answered a couple questions for you guys. Next week, I will be releasing a pretty epic interview I did with film financing expert Franco sama. And we do talk a little bit about the what's going on in the world. But we also talk about the industry. We also talk about how to raise money in today's crazy world, like right now, not a year ago, not 20 years ago, but right now. And it's it was just an amazing interview and I cannot wait to share it with you guys. So that's going to come out next week. someday I'm not sure which day I'm gonna release it yet, but it will be coming out very very soon and I cannot wait for you guys to hear it. If you want to get links to anything I spoke about in this episode, please head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/379 Please stay safe out there guys. I wish you and your family nothing but Safe travels during this crazy time in human history. So thank you again for listening guys. And as always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.

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