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Indie Film Producing – The Craft of Low Budget Filmmaking with Suzanne Lyons
Today on the show we have returning champion producer Suzanne Lyons. Suzanne was one of my first guests on the Indie Film Hustle Podcast. Her episodes are some of my most downloaded episodes so I had to have her back on to talk shop.
Suzanne will go over a ton of information on how to produce an indie feature film. She covers:
- The dos and don’ts of Low Budget Filmmaking
- What is Soft Prep?
- Working with unions
- The hell of deliverables
- and much more
In 1999 Suzanne Lyons launched Snowfall Films and to date has produced/executive produced twelve movies. These included A BAFTA award-winning British comedy(aka “Plots With A View”), with actors Christopher Walken, Brenda Blethyn, Alfred Molina and Naomi Watts with Miramax Distribution. British/Canadian thriller JERICHO MANSIONS staring James Caan, Genevieve Bujold, Maribel Verdu and Jennifer Tilly. was an official selection at the Montreal Film Festival and the Hollywood Film Festival. British/Canadian family comedy $ which stars Dean Cain, Laurie Holden, Tim Curry, and Jon Lovitz.
A drama, based on J.T. LeRoy’s novel, starring Asia Argento, Marilyn Manson, Winona Ryder, and Peter Fonda. The film premiered during the Directors Fortnight at the Cannes Film Festival and screened to high acclaim at the Toronto Film Festival.
In 2012 Ms. Lyons published her book through Focal Press (Taylor and Francis Publishing) titled Indie Film Producing: The Craft of Low Budget Filmmaking which is the #1 book on Indie Film Producing on Amazon.
We also discuss Suzanne’s new online workshop The Complete Indie Film Producing Workshop.
Here’s some info on the workshop:
Have you ever wondered what it really takes to produce an independent film? How to raise money, dealing with contracts, SAG agreements, and putting together sales presentations for investors? Then this masterclass is for you.
Award-winning film producer Suzanne Lyons is about to take you from script to screen and beyond in this Mastermind workshop. After producing a number of bigger budget features Suzanne thought producing the SAG ultra-low and modified budget films would be a piece of cake. Boy, was she wrong? Wearing 100 different hats was a challenge and she learned so much. And now she will be sharing all that great info with you.
In this Mastermind workshop, you’ll learn from her experience and benefit from her success. Suzanne will take you through a structured crystal, clear step by step process that will actually make low budget filmmaking easy and fun!
This workshop is unique in that it will literally guide you through the entire process of making your film. From her own hands-on experience, she will be addressing every detailed facet of filmmaking.
“Suzanne has that rare ability to combine artistic creativity and smart business sense… she’s proven that by taking a SAG ultra-low budget and somehow squeezing out a quality film that looks like it cost a million!”
Academy Award® Winner Mark L. Smith, Writer/Director “Séance” Writer, “The Revenant”
“Suzanne is brilliant… take her workshop and put her suggestions to work and you’ll be amazed at the extraordinary results you’ll produce.”
Ross Grayson Bell, Producer “Fight Club”
From option a screenplay, development, designing your business plan, opening your film company, hiring your line producer, and director. Finessing your budget, schedule, and film timeline. Being smart about contracts and paperwork. Casting and working with actors. The details of pre, principle, and post, choosing your sales agent, preparing for film delivery and festivals, and so so so much more.
You’ll also get a DOWNLOADABLE BONUS PACK of the real world used contracts, agreements, and business plans word and PDF worth over $20K.
Enjoy my conversation with producer Suzanne Lyons.
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- The Complete Indie Film Producing Workshop with Suzanne Lyons
- Suzanne Lyons – Official Site
- Suzanne Lyons – IMDB
- Suzanne Lyons – Production Company
- Indie Film Producing: The Craft of Low Budget Filmmaking – FREE AUDIOBOOK VERSION
- IFH 010: Suzanne Lyons: How to Produce Your First Feature Film
- IFH 105: Secrets of Indie Film Producing with Suzanne Lyons
- Streamlette – Looking for the Best Indie Films? (Coupon Code: HUSTLE2018)
- BlackBox – Make Passive Income From Your Footage
- Rise of the Filmtrepreneur®: How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Moneymaking Business
- Rise of the Filmtrepreneur®: FREE AUDIOBOOK
- Indie Film Hustle TV (Streaming Real-World Film Education)
- Alex Ferrari’s Shooting for the Mob (Based on the Incredible True Filmmaking Story)
REAL-WORLD STREAMING FILM EDUCATION
- Indie Film Hustle TV (Streaming Real-World Film Education)
- Hollywood Film School: Filmmaking & TV Directing Masterclass
- Filmmaker in a Box – Learn How to Make an Indie Film – 18 Hours+ of Lessons
- Storytelling Blueprint: Hero’s Two Journeys
- The Dialogue Series: 38 hours of Lessons from Top Hollywood Screenwriters
- Filmtrepreneur® Podcast
- Bulletproof Screenwriting® Podcast
- Six Secrets to getting into Film Festivals for FREE!
- FreeFilmBook.com (Download Your FREE Filmmaking Audio Book)
Alex Ferrari 1:58
Today on the show, guys, we have returning champion Suzanne Lyons and today we're going to be talking about indie film producing the craft of low budget filmmaking. For those of you who have not heard of Suzanne before, she has been a guest on the show multiple times. And she is one of the favorites of the tribe. She has downloaded more times than almost any of my other guests. So I love having her back on because she is a wealth of information when it comes to producing an indie film. And today I wanted to have her back not only just to talk about the craft of low budget filmmaking and what's changed since last time we spoke, but also about our new course that we did together, the indie film producing masterclass, and the course has been selling very, very well people are really really enjoying it and giving it some very good marks. So we're going to talk a little bit about that as well towards the end of the conversation but really this is its own masterclass on Film Producing for free because she is amazing gives away so so many knowledge bombs in this interview. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with the lovely Suzanne Lyons. I'd like to welcome back to the show Suzanne Lyons. Suzanne, thanks for being back.
Suzanne Lyons 3:18
Oh, you're welcome. I'm excited to be back.
Alex Ferrari 3:21
I mean, you were one of my first guests. I think you were Episode 10 and 11. Because
Suzanne Lyons 3:29
I love being a 10. I'm gonna go let's go with the 10. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 3:34
You were your first interview was so long, I had to cut it in half. We just kept talking. So much good stuff in that. It was It was great. But I wanted to bring you back. It's you're not we're now as of this recording. We're over 250 episodes of the podcast. So it's been? I would, I would guess it's a success. We've been doing I've been doing three years now. So now. It's doing okay right now. But I wanted to have you come back so I can pick your brain a little bit more about specific, specific things about producing independent film in today's world, because a lot has changed in the last three years since last time we did this.
Suzanne Lyons 4:18
Alex Ferrari 4:18
So first and foremost, what is the biggest mistake you see filmmakers make when they're producing an independent film?
Suzanne Lyons 4:25
Oh my God, that's that's a good question. We could probably do an hour on the phone. Maybe a day. Yeah, let's do a day. You have time.
Alex Ferrari 4:32
Suzanne Lyons 4:35
Cuz God knows I I've made I've made some of those, whatever those that list is, I'm in there. But I think the main one is, and this is one that I I probably didn't do for some reason, because maybe because of my business background or whatever it is. I think the main thing, the main mistake that film producers do is that they don't put the business hat on Alex. It's kind of like Well, I'm the creator. Type, you know, maybe they're a writer before that, or maybe their writer during this time. You know, they're directing as well maybe, or acted. You know, I remember one one of my girlfriends Oh, Suzanne, I've been acting for 15 years now, believe me, I've been on enough sets to know, you know how to produce a movie, come on, you know, and she would not take my class because she's argued and argued and argued with me that, um, no, no, I know. But I gotta tell you being on a set is not the same as all the business stuff that comes before being on the set. And even the stuff that is happening on the set is a producer's hat versus, you know, somebody else's hat. So I think the business stuff is so important, and people forget to do it. I had somebody who could never sell their movie afterwards, because she didn't get any of the paperwork done. There was no chain of title, no option agreement, nothing.
Alex Ferrari 5:51
What did you speak of chain title option? You're speaking like another language? What is dumb joking? Go ahead. No, exactly. No, but but that but that's it, though. And they would look at you like, Oh, I don't need to know that stuff. Yeah, I actually stole something from you from our first interview, and I said constantly, the word show and there's the word business. And the word business has twice as many letters as the word show. I give you credit, most of the time, not all the time. Not all, most of the time I give you credit. But people people just love it. Because it's so true. It Yeah, you really have to understand the business of it.
Suzanne Lyons 6:29
It's Honest to God, you're right. I mean, it's it's just and nobody does, because they think oh, well, you know, how hard is it? Right? But if you if you're now what if your movies all done? You know, you've got a 50,000 from your family or your visa or worse, you know, you know, people that are investors in your movie, and it's 100,000. And now it comes time and your sales agent says, send me the option agreement, send me the cast, you know, deal memos, send me all the chain of title stuff that you did, you know, through Washington, send me all this stuff, and you're sitting there shaking your head? What does that mean? You know, then you're in trouble because they can't go and sell it unless there's a clear chain of title unless they have all the paperwork. But as producers is, well, I'm the creative types is and I don't need that, sorry, the creative type. In the end, they'll never ever ever see your movie because there's no paperwork, so that I think I'd have to underline a million times, Alex, in terms of the worst mistake.
Alex Ferrari 7:26
I mean, I'll be honest with you, when I did my first feature, this is mag, which was a micro budget feature. You know, I I knew all these things you were talking about. And I'm like, I'll get to them. I'll and you know what, at the end of the day, when we sold it to to a couple territory's they started asking where's the chain of title? Where's this? Right? Oh, shoot, I gotta I gotta go do that real quick. You know, I pushed it off as long as possible. But it was, but at least I knew what these people were speaking of. So I got to go get them and I can provide those deliverables for them. But he saw a lot of, you know, filmmakers listening now like, Oh, that's only for like, you know, big movies like 50,000 or 100? No, no, no, if even if you got a $5,000 movie, and you're trying to sell it, and you do sell it, and you don't have those things, you can lose the deal. Without what yeah.
Suzanne Lyons 8:17
Oh, yeah. Well, I mean, one of the girls, what happened is she said to the sales agent, they were she was actually at can when a sales agent said we really love it. And you know, and we'd like to, you know, we were here now we'd like to start saying we'd like to pick it up. And that's when she called me crying on the phone. She was crying. And she told me the story. And I said, Oh, congratulations. Is that what you're calling? This is so great. And she was crying saying no. She said, I've just called the writer to do the agreement, even though it's now what a year and a half, two years later, right? And and she said in the writer said that in the interim, she had had a fight with the director and together and she said, and what I decided is that film can burn in hell for all I care. And hung up. Yes, I promise, Alex. And that was not a 50,000. That was a couple 100,000 it was a few years ago. And that was with investors. And like I say to people, if it's your own visa, I don't care. I don't care. You know, show it as your home movie, you know, to your family. I don't care. But if it's somebody else's money, oh, man, you don't mess around with that, you know, you do the paperwork. And that's what she was crying because she said she'll never ever, ever, and that's got to go back 10 years, you know, and that movie will still and never see the night light of day normal. The investors ever make their money back.
Alex Ferrari 9:29
Oh, so sad. That's sad. So what is so let me ask you, what is the business plan and a mission statement? I hear those words so often, and I know what they are, but I'd like you to explain it to the audience.
Suzanne Lyons 9:41
Okay, um, with with the business plan. And it's interesting. You mentioned that because I just read one yesterday, someone sent me a business plan yesterday, and I gotta tell you, it was so long, so so so long, and gave information that I don't need, you know, I mean, I was thinking I was sitting there thinking if I was my dentist who I know goes golfing every Friday, right? And what's he going to do if you're going to give him this business plan? And he sees in I thought, My God, he would go blurry eyed and probably throw in the garbage, right? Because what's he going to do is you're going to read something that's 70 pages, or 60 pages, or is he going to go golfing? Guess what, he's going to go golfing? However, if it's about 10 or 15 pages, and very clear, very to the point. very succinct. He's going to read it.
Alex Ferrari 10:29
No. So what's so let's start from the beginning. What Why do you need a business plan? What's the purpose of the business plan? When trying to raise money for a film?
Suzanne Lyons 10:37
Okay, well, what I do is some people do their business plan, which is kind of like your, you know, what people call a pitch deck nowadays, you know, where it's your basic, here's your, you know, maybe it's a quote, to start with, I would often start with a quote of the movie that was quite successful that somebody had talked about, you know, such and such was done for 200,000 and made 250 million or, you know, I'd start with a nice quote on the front page. And then what what it really is about then is then, you know, maybe the synopsis the bot, maybe your bio is the people that are already on your team. And the, what may be the comparables, you know, like film that Halloween was done for 350,000. And made, I don't know, 120 million, whatever. So you know, you give those comparables and you'd kind of do your pitch, you know, your marketing pitches, this is how it could go. And here's the demographic and, you know, all of that kind of usual stuff. However, what I add to mine, because I don't usually do that, I usually wait and send my business plan out to investors, period. And that's why I always include with my business plan, my ppm and my operating agreement, so therefore, my business plan, has a few additional pages to it, which is the investor proposal, which you wouldn't put in a normal business plan if it was just going out to everybody online, right. And it also has what we call the revenue scenario, which is another page that enticed the investors, which says, If you know, if this is what you know, that these are the estimates, we got, you know, the low end is going to be the movie will make, you know, it only cost 200,000. And it's going to make 1.2 million in the high end, it'll make 2.5 million for example. And here's what it's going to cost, you know, the sales agent may charge 40,000 for expenses and 20% for commission, and then we kind of minus that, and, and then we show that and those those pages they were very, very interested in and of course, everybody loves comparisons, even though they're bullshit just because Halloween did that. Is that mean? It's gonna make
Alex Ferrari 12:41
Listen Halloween paranormal activity, and The Blair Witch is on every comparable horror business plan. There you go. And once from 1970 something whenever we come out, like, like 79 80 81
Suzanne Lyons 12:56
Probably doesn't matter. 100 years from now, we're still going to be quoting Halloween.
Alex Ferrari 13:04
They use it constantly. So it is via so but but it's nice. It's It's It's fluff. It's cotton candy, it's, you know, just kind of Yeah, it's sparkles.
Suzanne Lyons 13:11
Exactly. And if you're the investor, you're thinking, you know what, yeah, it's every 10 years. But guess what, this is the 10 year, maybe this is the one you know. So so. So in mind this to give you exactly what's in mind is that quote on the first page, the second page is the investor proposal, because that's really what they care about. If they're reading this business plan that is going out to the investors here. That's all they care about is how much am I going to make? You know? I mean, what I mean, what not, how much am I going to make? But how, what percentage of ownership? Am I going to have kind of thing? And then how does it all play out in my 5050 partner like, it explains it in mine is literally a half a page. The bottom part of that page is explaining risk, risk, risk, risk, risk, risk, risk and capital letters all over the place on the bottom of the page. Right. And I love that word. And you would not believe how many people forget to put that word in all the time. Anytime I do what I think it's in capital letters, you know, mean, you know, what you're saying is you'd be stupid to invest in this, right? You know, because of the risk, risk, risk, risk risk, but
Alex Ferrari 14:10
The bigger the bigger, like, the uglier you make it look, the more they're attracted to it.
Suzanne Lyons 14:16
Yeah, exactly. Because a lot of times they're investing not just for the money, they're investing for the fun of it for the prestige, especially in the lower budget, they're wanting to come out and kind of maybe be on set maybe be an extra maybe have one line in the movie, have some fun with it, you know, maybe sing a song like we had two or three of our movies. The song in the federal credit was one of our investors or one of our investors daughters in one case, or son in another case. So right you know, for us, it's not for the fun, you know,
Alex Ferrari 14:42
For us, it's not a big deal to be on set or you know, be it but but to people outside the business. It's still a thing we still we still have, you know, hollywood still has that kind of sheen on it still.
Suzanne Lyons 14:53
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And then the rest of my business plan. The next piece is the project objective. You know, like what we plan to Do Is it just going to be a one off horror film? I'm just going back and thinking of some of mine 10 years ago, 12 years ago? Or are we doing a slate of them? If we are, here's, you know, and that was one paragraph, once again, probably about 150 words, then the next page was the marketplace kind of explaining this is what's happening in the world of horror films. And, you know, this is what Hollywood Reporter is saying about it. And I just chose quotes from, you know, different variety and, you know, different industry magazines and put those quotes in there, you know, horror films make a killing at the box office does not at all, you know, hollywood reporter. So I did that kind of page. The next page was its own comparisons. As I mentioned, the next page was the company summary, here's what's going on with snowfall films, kind of our company bio. And then after that was the team, you know, who were the people who are on board, you know, maybe the bio on me, the bio and Cade at the time, the bio on the writer, you know, little by little, once again, those were half page BIOS. And then maybe you might have your composer even though it's early, but maybe your composer is a friend of yours. And he wanted Sundance in the case of ours, he had just won a Sundance award. So it was worth putting in there. Even our makeup person on makeup costume designer at the time, had won some big awards. And it was another friend. And so we put her bio in there. So you know, a few pages on your team, and then the synopsis. This is what the films about and then I mentioned that revenue scenario that the investors loved. And then I put an article from the LA Times that talked about how great horror films were doing at the time. Now I'm not doing horror films anymore. I'm talking about this as 1012 years ago, when they were very popular. And then at the time, Alex, we had what was called section 181, in this country, which offered, you know, you know, the accredited investors the opportunity to go as high as 100%. Tax write off, actually. So I had that two pager in there that I just pulled down from the job creation act online. I pulled down the two page or page and a half on section 181. That's gone. yesterday. Yes. Yeah. It's gone. It's been gone for two years. Well, you were grandfathered last year. I'm sorry? No, I think you were either grandfathered into it. If you finished in 2016 Yes, 2017, you were grandfathered. If you did a couple, even five or 10 minutes, I think of shooting or one day of shooting with some stipulation. But then it ended, of course, you know, January 1 2017, in terms of ever coming back? I don't know, I've heard rumors that it may be coming back. But at this point, I don't know. But I do keep checking every now and then I'll go online. Corky Kessler was one of the attorneys that I you know, spoke to, and so to speak to from time to time about it. And I would advise getting in touch with him because he's the guy who, you know, was the big advocate for it when it was all happening. I believe you and at the time.
Alex Ferrari 17:46
And then so then also, what's the mission statement and regard?
Suzanne Lyons 17:49
Yes, you're right. Then there's the last thing and I didn't do this in the first one. Just so you know, the mission statement. I didn't put it in, even though Kate and I had a mission statement, which I'll mention. And Heidi and I had a mission statement for flash forward Institute years ago as well. But I didn't put it in I didn't think it was important, which is crazy. But I put it in the second one. And do you know that we had an investor come on board, just based on the mission statement alone, which if you go online and check, if you check on snowfall films right now was snowfall films calm. My mission statement is there. And it's I got to tell you a mission statement, what it does is it really kind of gives the basin's basis of what you're all about as a company. It's almost like an actor sharing about themselves of the kind of roles that they love to do or writer above the kind of scripts like it's the essence of who you are in a way right. And why you love to do something or why you're passionate about that. It's really like that. And some people it's only like a logline one or two sentences. In the case of Kate nigh, it's about a page. And with Heidi and I when we did the flash forward Institute one I don't know if that's online, but that was phenomenal as well took us a week to write it with Kate Nye, it took us a week to write the one for snowfall, it's really kind of sharing about this is the essence of what this company is all about. And this is what our commitment is to you and to the world, you know, in the area of entertainment and this is what we plan to bring to the world, you know, whatever it happens to be for you. So I think it's very important. And when I I teach at Columbia College, just the last month of the master's program, when they get students come down from Chicago, it's really fun every April and and I had them write as part of their homework, a mission statement, you know, and I think it was the first time I think the person in charge actually said it was the first time anyone had asked for that. But I said it will give them I said I wish somebody had asked me to do it. You know when I first started in the in the world of business, you know, after university because it's settled something within yourself that forces you to kind of look deep and go what Yeah, what really am I Committed to do I want to make a difference too? I just want to have some fun is to kind of about money for the for like it has you look at what is what's driving you, you know, what is it that you really are passionate about? And what do you want to do? What is that purpose? And I tell I have them do a one personal and one for their career. And I advise everybody to do one of each actually, it kind of, it's interesting, because the years ago, when I first did my first one, I think I was around 30 or 30. Yeah, run late 20s, early 30s. And I was doing a personal one. And I wrote down on my mission statement who I want to who I was because I kept writing who I am all the way down. Who I bro, who I am, is the best daughter in the world. And what I realized is I hadn't talked to my mom in three weeks. But I hadn't woken up to that, because I was unconscious of that until I wrote that. That's who I am in the world. So I wrote down and I grabbed my day timer. And I wrote down in my day timer every Sunday morning at nine calling your mom. You know what I mean? So it kind of created an existence system system for me that didn't exist before because I wasn't even conscious of who I was being Do you know what I mean? Does that make sense? Like once I got that I was the best daughter in the world, then I could take action to be the best daughter on the world. So if you're writing down, like I don't have it in front of you that but say for snowfall films, if whatever Kate nice commitment was to you, as an investor or to the industry, and this is what we wanted to bring to the party, you know, in this world of entertainment from our playground here, you know, in our sandbox, then it kind of had you really look deep and to you know, what was that going to be? And then once you realize what that was, then you could bring that into existence into being and then create an existence systems system for it for ongoing, you know what I mean? Yeah, isn't that cool?
Alex Ferrari 21:48
It is very cool. And it's a really good way for you to kind of figure out what you stand for who you are and what you want to do. So yeah, very cool. Now, should you? Should you speak to a sales agent or distributor, before you start production?
Suzanne Lyons 22:01
Oh, my God, I'd say start now. While you're thinking about the idea, if I'm even thinking of moving to Hollywood, if I'm even thinking of producing a movie, I'm not kidding, they are your first best friend, okay? Your first one, if you don't know them, what I always say to people, if you need to know people, you know, quickly, then call one of the gills or Women in Film or whoever, whatever, any organization, and say I will put a panel together of sales agents for your organization. And then you'll get to meet you know, the five or six, or whatever sales agents that you want to meet. They're important, even if you end up not using them. They're important because you In fact, I went through this with a friend of mine, a producer on the phone yesterday, because he had not done that. And he already made up his list of actors. And I said, What did your sales agent say about those actors? And he's going well, what do you mean, I'm not going to have a sales agent for another years? is in the movies not even done? We're just looking at? And I'm going Yes, you think those are great actors? And maybe they're really great on that TV show that you happen to love. But are they going to sell the territories around the world? So you've got to get to know those sales agents. That's the first thing is because you're going to need help with that. I'm not saying they're not gonna, they're going to guide you through that whole thing. No, you do your homework, you know, my movies. $200,000 It's a sci fi movie. Obviously, I want some people of note from the sci fi world on you know, here's my list, then you'll show yourself your potential sales agent a year from now. Show them now, you know, and they may say no, no, he doesn't mean anything anymore. No, this person Yeah, they sell Asia, but they don't sell the rest of the world. Well, is Asia enough? Well, maybe it is. Okay, you know, let's let's keep them on the list. You know, like, have that conversation with them. Now. That's one thing. The second thing is sometimes they can even guide you as to what you might want to even put in your script, what might be selling what you might want to highlight? Is this genre selling right now, of course, you don't know what's selling a year and a half from now, of course, but I mean, sometime they can say listen, there's a glut of those right now, I would probably step back and maybe do your rom com instead of your horror film right now. You know, so they have a good sense of the of the business that you don't know about, you know, fairly
Alex Ferrari 24:18
You know, the funny thing is, is that because you can tell sometimes now specifically in Hollywood, or that they are catering to the Asian market so much more heavily now. Yes, we're like a movie like Pacific Rim the sequel to Pacific Rim. Only recently we got greenlit for a sequel because it did very well in China. So when you win the sequel, it takes place near China. It has Chinese heroes it has like I mean, you know, it was just like so over the top that was like wow, they just in Transformers did the same thing. And, you know, Iron Man sneaks in, you know, a scene in Asia, you know, with an Asian character, but they're selling that territory. It makes them help sell that territory.
Suzanne Lyons 25:02
Exactly. But see, you might not know that you as the producer, or the creative type or whatever, right? Or the writer who wants to produce or actor who wants to produce or director wants to produce, you're thinking, you're not thinking that you're focusing on the script. I'm not saying don't take off Alex, I'm never saying, don't take off the creative at Jesus, you need to go through development. And you need to look at who you want and who your director is going to be in your line producer and your budget. Yes, of course, you want to be smart about doing all that stuff. But at the same time, you've got to do this simultaneously. Because it could mean, you know, making changes in your script, it could mean, you know, putting in an actor, like you said, Who's Asian right now, but you might not know about what's going on in Asia to the degree that your sales agent knows. And they know, I remember one time I had I didn't have an actor on my list. And I remember when the stage with the sales agent, this when Germany was the biggest country not long ago, obviously. But when when the sales agent and I and the sales agent said, Well, how come so and so I can't remember what was is not on your list for this budget? And I said, well, because he's, like, 20 years ago, what are you saying, like, haven't even heard of him in 20 years? They said, Suzanne, he's the biggest name in Germany, the biggest country the biggest sale, and I said it was it was me,
Alex Ferrari 26:14
Suzanne Lyons 26:17
No, it wasn't. No, but that's funny, because yeah, could have been, but it wasn't. Um, but I mean, it's still you. I didn't know that. Right. So I added him to the list, you know, and then obviously, you discuss all that with your director, because then you're you know, you might say, did the director, here are the five names that the sales agent approved? You know, who do you want in order of 12345? You know, especially on the under a million a lot of time, you know, we think it's a sales, it's a director's medium? Well, certainly not under a certain budget level, because it's well, I think, at any budget level, you know, your sales agent will help guide you in terms of in terms of the cast. But, but you know, certainly you as the producer have got to be smart. And I had somebody say to me recently, well, well, though, Suzanne, why can I even talk cast, the director is not even on board yet. And I said, Well, no, but you can at least have your list ready for him or her when they do come on board. So get to know the sales. The other thing to get to know the sales agents is, so many sales agents, now, Alex are actually production companies. So they're a lot of time providing not just the pre sales, but I mean, they're actually putting equity in. So I would really get to know a lot of them as many as you can. I think I know probably 80% of all sales agents in the world, honest to God. And in many cases, I still stay in touch with a lot of them. I mean, there's certain ones, obviously, depending on the genre, right now, I'm doing a thriller. You know, the next one is a family film. So you might be dealing with different different sales agents, you know, depending on the genre, of course that you're doing and the budget sizes that you're doing. But still, you know, the trick is to stay in, you know, in touch with them know, even if you're thinking because somebody said to me recently, Suzanne, I have no intentions of going that route, none. I'm going to self distribute self distribute, self distribute. I'm not saying that's not a good thing. I'm saying it's still a good thing. I've In fact, self distribution is probably the way to go these days. And we can talk about that too. But what I'm saying is do both, you know what I mean? Yes, prepare your script for this, prepare your marketing to that, if you're self distributing, prepare yourself for that. But at the same time, you still need to, you know, it's still eventually going to get to the world. So you still need who that name actor is in that genre at that budget level. So you still need to hear from the sales agent, you still are going to need estimates for your investor, right? That sales agent, you may change your mind down the road, when you realize just how much work it might be to software. That's what happened to a friend of mine. He said to hell with this after a few months, and that's when he gave it to a sales agent. But he ended up making some wrong choices because he didn't know any sales agents because he was so determined to self distribute. So I'm saying do both, you know, find out? Yes, you know, find out everything about self self distribution, of course.
Alex Ferrari 28:59
Now, we'll be right back to the show in just a minute, but we got to pay some bills. So I'd like to thank today's sponsor, black box black box is a new platform and community that is all about financial freedom for filmmakers like you. If you join black box, you will be transformed from being a worker to being a maker of your own content. And you'll be making steady passive income from the global market. Black Box currently allows you to upload your stock footage once, get it to many global agencies and then allows you to share that passive income stream with your collaborators. Whether you want to submit old footage that's been sitting around in your hard drives or create brand new content black box is for you. It's really quite revolutionary. With black box filmmakers can concentrate on making great content, while black box takes care of all the business BS. Just visit WWW dot blackbox dot global to find out more. And now back to the show. Well, let's let's talk a little bit about that. You know the pluses and the minuses of self distribution because I talk a lot about self distribution and, and empowering the filmmaker. And there are so many more options now than there was five or 10 years ago for filmmakers. But it is, it's not for everybody, and it's not for everybody or not for every movie. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. So can you talk a little bit about your experience with that?
Suzanne Lyons 30:27
Well, yeah, I mean, I won the last one. We We, on time toys we did. We did plan ourselves for both. And I am I had the kind of the the pleasure of interviewing RB you know, who owns the stage? 32 because he was writing a book at the time, we're from the same publishing company. So we all kind of know each other, as you know. And so we're all with with Michael focus. Know what we're actually focused press. Yeah, I've got a whole bunch of us together. So we, so it was I was I brought him in to teach my class at Columbia College, about crowdsourcing, cuz all I ever heard of was crowdfunding. Right? And he's had a book coming out. So I said, Would you come in. And, and of course, I got to read the first four chapters, because we all have to read each other's work right at, you know, because we're with the same company. So I was blown away, blown away. And I brought him in to speak to the class blown away again. And then, you know, we I ended up introducing him to the person that I was working with the director on time twice, because I was so impressed. So what he recommended in one of the chapters that I read, was to start early, super early in the world of self distribution, by even affecting your script. And in the book, it's, and I'm gonna get this wrong, because this was a few couple years ago, because I read it way before it came out. It's out now, by the way, it's phenomenal. I'm crowdsourcing. So what I did is what he said in the book, one, one of the people he interviewed and I'm no, I'm gonna make a mess of it. But anyways, the bottom line of it was, they were keeping this in mind during the script stage while they were doing the rewrites, and they decided to make one of their characters. I believe it was a vegan, either raw, vegan or vegan? Well, just so you know, veganism went up just last year alone in America. I am.
Alex Ferrari 32:12
Suzanne Lyons 32:14
In America, Alex, one thought we're talking to America. Oh, yeah, that's all capital of the world. Right? Sure. 1,000%, okay, in America. So these guys, this was a few years ago, but that's what they were planning for. They knew that kind of explosion was happening. So they decided and they started, then they started a blog. And by the time that blog was done, and by the time the movie was done, you know, a year because the movie comes out, like a year and a half later, right? Because they did this in the very early stages of the rewrites of the script. They had a couple 100,000 people in that psychographic. You know, years ago, when Kate and I started, it was called demographics back then, right? Nowadays, it's like a graphics, and it's how many psychographics? Can you get to a year to two years before your movie even comes out? And then maybe you make another character such and such or whatever, and you start a blog about that, or that's one way. I mean, I've gotten, I've interviewed people myself, actually, there's many, many ways to be smart about this. But what I'm saying is, and that's one of the talks I had yesterday to the producer, I was talking on the phone is starting now, you know, yes, I know the rewrites done, but maybe really look at who is that demographic that's like a graphic, you know, if you if there's that chance for self distribution, you know, who How can you start now, knowing that you could have a half a million people a year and a half from now. And maybe if enough at the time that you decide you don't want to self distribute, it's too damn much work. You say at the time, it doesn't matter. Because if you've got a half a million fans waiting for the movie, then you're going to have sales agents knocking on your door, of course, it did better chance to negotiate and bring their percentages down and so on. So you know, it's only a win win for you. But I'm saying it starts in the script stage. So that's the first that's the main thing I have to say about crowd about sorry, self distribution. But the other thing would be to get Alex to get RBS book, obviously on crowdsourcing,
Alex Ferrari 34:06
He's been on the show already. And we thought, well, he's been cool. He's a record by the way. He's been on the show seven times. Ah, times he's on the show. And the last one was to promote his book. So that was great. He's great. RB's, great. And of course, he's in my movie, on the corner, desire as a producer in it, and he kills it. Cool. I love that. He's, he's, he's amazing. But that's a whole other story for another time. So okay, so that's enough on that. So how, how do you deal with sag on a micro budget feature? Because sag is this big monster that a lot of filmmakers think about? They're like, Oh is the union I don't know what I'm gonna do. They're scared to death of sag. And I was one of those guys that when I first was coming home and I never dealt with them before, you know, I literally fit you know, you literally feel You know, the sag police is gonna come and get you. everything right, and it's not that way. And I want you to come out at all, I want you to demystify it a little bit for everybody.
Suzanne Lyons 35:11
Okay, good. Now, let's be really honest, even if it's a low budget, let's take candy stripers, for example, our first horror film, it was this AIG ultra low $200,000. Right? At the time, I think it's 250 now, but back then it was 200. So, but here's the thing, when you read the script, you know, it's like, definitely a five to $10 million movie. And we were going to do it for 20,000. So Kate, and Jill rewrote it based on our table read, and took it from 68 characters to 33. But we couldn't get it less than 33. So if it's 33 in quite a few locations, just so you know. So that is obviously not sake. Okay. That's not saying, you know, if you're going to get over, you know, 15 actors, and then you want to start to look at, you know, and new budget size is the ultra low or below the ultra low, then you want to be very smart is does this have to be saying what we did, Alec in the case of candy stripers is and Kate had been an actor, thank God before this. So she was I learned a lot actually, on candy stripers in terms of the casting, because I've been so used to doing it ourselves. But you know, in the movies that were five to 10 million, this was the first time we'd ever dealt in this world, right? So with the 200,000 anyways, so she said, Suzanne, it just means instead of seeing two or 300 people in the week, we're gonna see 500 this week, and we're gonna see them about every two and a half minutes instead of every five to 10 minutes. And I'm going okay, and we also because sake had something at the time, I don't know if it's still around or not. That was called my camera was called, where the actors don't have voting rights. But they are a SAG member without the voting rights, but it means that they can work on non sag movies. And I can't remember what the word is called,
Alex Ferrari 37:00
Is that it's not sag eligible.
Suzanne Lyons 37:02
No, no, no, no, no, it's a word. It's a it's a different word at the beginning, guys, anyway, anyways, got it. We I can't remember anyways, it's in. It's in my book. And I think we mentioned in the video, I'm not sure. But anyways, um, God, I actually mentioned it to somebody the other day, and it's so funny. So but until we ended up seeing some phenomenal actors, not it, but some of those weren't even the StG, whatever that word is, um, some were just, you know, happened to be just really good actors. Now, we have to see 500 actors in order to pick our five or six kids, you know, or a 19 year old or whatever, right? Um, because these were supposed to be I think, first or second year university students or whatever. So, but we saw 500 people, but we did it ourselves. And it didn't cost anything, and it wasn't saying, and it was, you know, it was fine. So, um, however, if your movie is something where you don't want to go through 500 people kind of thing, and do all that stuff, where you're saying, No, no, you know, it's only you know, Suzanne, it's, it was written, you know, for this purpose. So it's only nine characters like seance. There's a perfect example. seance was, you know, a big, big writer, you know, obviously at the time, and, and he was directing his first film. And so we thought, you know what, let's go a little fancier with this. And let's make it you know, easier for him to so that's when we said let's do StG. And because it was a we were able to it was only nine or 10 characters? Well, so it was easy.
Alex Ferrari 38:28
Oh, let me let me get through the scenario here. Because a lot of people listening are not even in the world of 200 200,200 $50,000 movie, I'm talking about more about a micro budget, meaning a $10,000 movie a $50,000 movie. And they in let's say, they don't want to populate the entire show with sag. Well, maybe they have, maybe they're getting Eric Roberts, and Eric Roberts to sag or Danny Trejo or one of these actors right that help sell the movie and the rest of them will be non union but that one actor in the whole movie is going to be sag. How do you deal with that? what's what's the process about of becoming that sag signatory? You know, you need to do
Suzanne Lyons 39:08
Well, that you might want to talk to them about because I would probably not do that to me. If you're I don't know if you can do a half signatory. You know, you don't you don't do a signatory for your company. Not ever never not, not not ever. It's only for the the company of the film like candy stripers LLC, seance, LLC, right. Like that. Never snowfall films, you know, right. You know, we're a signatory. So first of all, there's that. Then secondly, with you decide that seance is going to be signatory, its signatory. The nice that now you can talk to them about can you just do the one actor and do all non sag? You know, talk to them about that? They're very good. I know you said it was kind of to demystify. They do classes. I believe it's every second Thursday or one Thursday a month or whatever. The first thing I did when I knew when when we knew we were doing the StG movies here in United States is I decided to go and get educated and I as I had a whole list of questions, so I would recommend that go and go to that, that seminar that they give, it's free, right? And we're gonna go. Okay, so that's the first thing I would say. And then get to know some of those people. We had great point people, I never had any issues ever was saying. So for example, let's get back to the to the signatory. So then, let's say say on signatory, but because it was low budget, because it's under a certain amount and your case, you're talking Mike, you know, the micro budgets was definitely under a certain amount, we were allowed quite a high percentage, I have to tell you, Alex, of, of non sag, you know, so for example, let's just take a look at listing portal just because that's in my mind as well, there was 16 characters in portal. And I remember distinctly one of the one of the characters that was I think, I forget who it was, but it was only four or five days that he was going to be coming in. And I remember looking at these two actors were equally as good. They were in our top two, right of everyone who audition. And I turned over their their headshots, and one was non sag, and one was sick. So we went with the non tech, you know what I mean? So we were just very careful to go with as many non StG as possible, and as many as we could, that they gave us the percentage to do. But you can talk to them if you want to do where it's just Eric Roberts period. Can they do that? Or when your signatory is it full signatory with the percentage
Alex Ferrari 41:35
And also, I've heard of other movies. I know this for a fact that we're when you have a budget of five or $10,000, that's not considered a serious movie in many, many, many hallways in Hollywood is and sad would not even look twice at you. What they do a lot of times, and this is again, I've heard is that they, they kind of go out and shoot the movie, then become a SAG signatory after the fact because at the beginning, they basically say, Look, I don't even know if we're gonna make how this movie is going to turn out if it's gonna even be a movie, because it's literally so low budget, that we really are. Don't know what we have. No. And I would say absolutely not. I would say no, and Gonzaga has no problems doing that. And when we spoke this at when when they spoke to sag, they said, Look, it happens all the time, especially with comedies, when a bunch of comedians get together on the weekend and start shooting a bunch of footage. And all of a sudden, oh, look, we have a movie kind of thing. So there is that avenue. And it does that. I have heard that work as well. But I just want to hear your thoughts.
Suzanne Lyons 42:35
Yeah, I wouldn't do it. Here's the thing. If a bunch of comedians get together on a weekend, you know, and do it Sure, absolutely. And then call sag first thing, nine o'clock Monday morning, not a moment later, okay. However, if it's not a bunch of actors, sorry, comedians getting together, if it's actually something where the script is being written, and it's being thought out as to Yes, this is a 10 minute movie, I hope it turns into something, whether it be a series or whatever, then I would say no, to me, I don't care if it's once again, if it's your visa, and you don't give a shit. It's gonna be just some fun for you to put on YouTube, whatever, or however you want to do it. Once again, maybe I don't care as much. But if you are using sag or union people, I would still be cautious to me, I treat the unions like I do the government. I don't mess around if they've got rules and regulations that have been running for 100 years. I will follow those rules and regulations. I may not agree with them, but I will follow them. So I am all about the paperwork. If you would say to me, oh Susie and you know what? It's gonna cost you $45 to send to Washington, you know, to get your script. What do you you know, to get the copywriting? You know, don't bother. It's not worth the paper it's written on, you know, save the $45 put it on the screen. What would you say to me, Alex? Why don't you say, well, there I you know, it, would you Yeah, absolutely not, you know, because it's like, you're you just want to do things right? And what's the what's the problem? Why not call sake and say listen, I this is only 10,000 it's not my visa though. It's my family's visas. You know, it's kind of thing it's like if it's somebody that you do want to pay back, if it's yours once again, maybe you don't give a shit. I don't even know if I'd put it on YouTube. I think I'd be nervous if I were saying actor. But um, but anyways, um, you know, maybe say to them listen, here's the situation you know, it's only 10,000 you know, as I've got Eric Roberts because he's a friend of mine. But, or whatever I do, or my girlfriend is gonna play in it and she's a she's the same person. So you know, I want to honor that I want to find out what are the rules and if I need to do something, even if it's one letting me off the hook, you know, like I did one time with the W ga you know, where we couldn't come to terms because of the low budget. We ended up just doing a nice letter together where it was like okay, here's how we're going to make it all work for you. You know, and
Alex Ferrari 44:52
From what I understand nowadays, sag is not the sag of yesteryear. They Oh very open. They are very helpful. Especially on low budgets and they will guide you through the process. So it is definitely something that you can go after. What exactly hands on what you're doing it exactly how to do it does. Yeah. What is an APK? And can you explain why you need one?
Suzanne Lyons 45:14
Oh, yeah, the APK I know it sounds old fashioned does not say it. I'm going back to Wales like shooting in Wales, UK people, they
Alex Ferrari 45:22
Also need a beta SP master. I mean,
Suzanne Lyons 45:26
That's all the information. I remember all that good grief. Oh, God. So yeah, the PK is, um, but you still need it today. In fact, a few years ago, you even needed it, when you sent your everything off for film festivals for heaven's sakes, they would even ask for the ebk. Basically, nowadays, it's more social media, you know, back then it was, you'd wait, nothing went out in advance, everything was secret of In fact, remember? Sure, in the old days, so you might remember my first one, you know that, you know, your EP k person, your person who came in your electronic press kit, by the way, is what it is. So she would come in your PR person who was handling all that stuff. And she would be interviewing Chris Walken, for all the various you know, radio or TVs around the world. Or Nomi wants and whoever we were shooting at the time, and she would, but none of that stuff went public until we were going to be starting pre production. I'm sorry. So we were starting the teasers, like a month before the movie came out or whatever, right? That was the old days, where it's like you did all the pictures, you got everything already, but nothing happened until a few months before the movie was coming out. And only then would a website go up? And then would all that stuff start to go around to the press and so on and so on. Nowadays, we start like two years before, right?
Alex Ferrari 46:42
If you're smart, absolutely.
Suzanne Lyons 46:44
Yeah, absolutely. So you start getting all that ready. For example, with time toys. We brought on a social media person. Something like four months before we started shooting four months before, because we said to her, we want to like create a strategy. What can we do? Can we have a contest during the during the movie? Can we do like we started picking, you know, kind of kind of coming up with all kinds of things. It was almost like pre marketing, but stuff that we were going to be needing to shoot during the movies. And how do we do any PK nowadays? For example, years ago, you would do a 15 minute interview with Chris Walken. Now, on time toys, we did a little 10 second 32nd Shout outs 22nd Chodos two minute interviews I don't know if anybody was interviewed longer than two or three minutes like so because now you're starting to you know put that stuff on Facebook or Instagram or whatever during during the shooting like she would do a little you know shout out for the movie while even though the movie not gonna be out for a year during the shooting here she was each day you know putting stuff out there like building that audience you know? And using there is you know, we had some some stars you know, some of our kids on I hate to call them kids now Oh my god, on on time toys. They were already you know, stars in in various TV shows and stuff like that. So they were then you know, twittering all over the place. And so you start early, so that ebk your electronic,
Alex Ferrari 48:16
Sorry, the Twitter twittering all over the place? Let's just find out when you say it is so for some reason, it's just funnier when you say it. Cuz I can't say I can't stand saying the word. I tweeted him. It just drives me nuts. But it's a world. But it's the world we live in. But you were like twittering everywhere. It was very nice. I continue I didn't mean to interrupt.
Suzanne Lyons 48:37
That's funny. Oh, God. And then the other thing with your kind of your APK in a sense, I would kind of put in with that are the photos that are happening because your APK person a lot of time on this set will be talking to your photo person. And for me, sometimes it's that photographer who was doing all of it, you know, it just depends on your budget size. But are your iPhone and you are using your iPhone? Or your own iPhone?
Alex Ferrari 49:01
I'm telling you
Suzanne Lyons 49:02
Yeah, nowadays, I think she's probably using the iPhone more than anything, but but I just wanna get back to the photos for a minute. What happened on one of our movies a few years ago is um, I wasn't paying attention to the photographer and I had not discussed it with him in advance because sometimes you just assume that people know but he was new. You know, he was a friend of someone's or whatever. And he was very new. He was he was a phenomenal photographer but new to the industry. So came time for course the wrap party. We had over 500 phenomenal photos out for the round on a on a whatever he ended with a loop hitting the ball at the wrap party right then thought a month or two later. We get the sales agent to sales agents part of the delivery is Suzanne Can I have your photos? I said oh god photos no problem. I got over 500 photos. They said well no you know just the money shots all we care about really are the money shots no behind the scenes. No nothing just you know the money shots. Alec of those over five 100 you're supposed to send 60, right 60 are supposed to go to sales agents, I had 22. That's all. All the rest were behind the scenes. Nowadays, however, they do want some behind the scenes. And nowadays with your own social media, you want to send in a bunch of behind the scenes all over your everything Instagrams in the whole thing, right? However, your sales agent still needs 50 or 60 money shots. So just make sure when you are hiring your APK person, your photographer, your all of this interviewing kind of all that stuff happening in the photos and everything. Make sure you are not just getting them doing Oh, isn't that fun? You know, the cameras behind her, let me get her here. No, make sure you're getting what are called the money shots, I was a monster, find the kills the person or they finally capture the monster. So make sure you're getting that. Here's the other thing too, is we didn't have a publicity photographer budget, and a lot of those low budget movies. So what we did is I brought a white sheet in from home. We put it up on the wall. And our photographer who was actually a good photographer, did everybody dressed like one by one, you know, looking left looking right, looking down looking up. So you want to get all of your actor, your main actors that are going to be on the potential poster. Also, not just in the money shots you're shooting during the day, but also is stuff that you'll need clean to send to the sales agent who will be using it then for the poster. So you know, so that's why that stuff's important, you know, to look at, I think, you know, one of the bottom lines is, as we're talking, this is a lot of information going out to people, you know, make sure you get a mentor, make sure you watch, you know, the video that Alex and I did or get the book, you know, I wrote on indie film producing, and the books on no budget Film Producing or micro budget filmmaking, you know, you know, get to know the language. For some reason in this industry. Alex, I think what happens is people think, Well, you know, I've been a lawyer in New York, you know, for 40 years, and now I'm going to go out and make some movies, and I'm going to do this or that or whatever. I'm a smart guy. I'm a smart gal. I know what I'm doing. You know, so I mean, we kind of have that mindset. And I'm saying that would be like me buying a new knife set. Right? A really good quality knife set and going. You know what, Alex? I've always wanted to be a heart surgeon. I've never taken a class and I don't think I need to
Alex Ferrari 52:25
I've seen it on TV.
Suzanne Lyons 52:27
Seen it enough? It says fine. Yeah. And I've got a good sharp knife. It's pretty sharp, actually. And Alex, if you don't mind, I'd like to practice on you. Is that okay? This afternoon? Are you free? You know, you would think you'd want to call the loony bin right? Well, that's the same thing. When people are out here saying I want to make I talked to somebody the other day, and she was saying she wanted to produce, she knew nothing, not one word that I mentioned. Did she know know what that meant? So get educated, do the research, get a mentor? Watch the videos, watch, you know, nowadays, everything is available. So I mean, you know, go into this with your eyes open?
Alex Ferrari 53:01
Was it speaking of that? You have a course don't we? Amazing? I know, I know, the tribe has heard about the course that we've that you and I made I've spoken about it a bunch of times on the show. But I want to I want you to talk a little bit about the independent independent filmmaking producing masterclass with Suzanne Lyons. And I do a guest spot. So talk a little bit about the course and what we did with it.
Suzanne Lyons 53:30
Okay, good. Of course, the main thing is the guest spot without,
Alex Ferrari 53:33
Obviously, obviously, that's why you want to get 30 minutes of gold. I'm just throwing that out there.
Suzanne Lyons 53:38
And actually, guys, it really is because he really emphasizes post production, which is another area Alex that most of us as producers don't know anything about. And we
Alex Ferrari 53:48
That's a whole other podcast.
Suzanne Lyons 53:49
That's right, exactly. Um, anyways, so what had happened is to start it off, as I had written a book for vocal press back in, I think it came out in 2012 on indie film producing, because it was actually none. Nobody had written a book on the under a million, you know, the Sega ultralow, the StG modified, you know, all that kind of thing. So I wrote this book, and I taught a shitload of courses, and independent courses and courses of 50 people and so on. But I was getting busier and busier, and I just didn't have time to teach anymore. And, and people said, Oh, I love the book, but I, you know, I want more, I want more I want the program. I want some of the stuff that's in the book, some of the contracts. So finally, I talked to Alex about it and told him I was pulling my hair out, right? And you said, Okay, let's videotape a class. So we actually did if I did a class of about 20 people, and Alex came in and did an amazing job. Thank you, Alex, of videotaping it and making me look good, which was a challenge in and of itself. And so it's probably around five or six hours and it's really me going through every piece Have the book once again, you know, most the time when we say, Oh my God, I've got to make a movie. You know, it's 150,000. And this is so exciting. You know, it's like saying, Alex, I want to lose 20 pounds this year as my new year's resolution. And the first thing I do is go to the fridge, right? You know, it's kind of like when you when something is so big, you know, when you're looking at only the big picture, sometimes it's so daunting and so scary and so terrifying, that you kind of run in the other direction. So or, or go blank, like, like I did one time. It's like Elvis, you know, months went by, and I went, Oh, yeah, what was I doing now? I mean, you get scared. I'm gonna go down the rabbit hole. So anyways, um, what I did in my book is I broke it down into what are called bite sized pieces, little blocks, if I'm looking at the cover of the book now. So it's little tiny pieces. Okay, let's just worry about the option agreement First, let's just look at that. Yes, like break it all down? Yes, you're going to be, you know, a year and a half from now you're going to be at AFM selling your movie. But let's back time, that whole thing exactly, whatever about what would that be 14 months? Great. You know, from today, July 3, so you know, let's bathtime at all. And so that's what I did is once it's all broken down into little pieces, and that's what the video does. The video literally says, Okay, everybody calm down. Yes, we're all gonna make a movie. But let's go through and do piece by piece by piece, given the background at all, obviously, the first thing is that option agreement, that script that we love, then the development comes after that, then like, we kind of go through it all. And what's so great about the and I take my time, as I said, it's around five and a half to six hours. So I'm guiding you through the whole thing, literally from the moment we optioned that screenplay. Alex, I think I even went in to not just delivery and getting you know, your sales agents and all that stuff that I even did accounting and taxes, right. I even went like another year later, I think film festivals, and we we did the whole gamut in that class. And it was great, because it was me kind of talking to them. There were real students with the real questions, and they were getting the full binder, you know, on everything. And what Alex and I decided to do for you guys, is this the the cost of the usual mastermind, which is $90. But what Alex said is let's throw in a bonus packet for free. So that's in there. And that's got to be three to $5,000 worth of stuff. It's your Castiel memo and you know, various deal memos and grand Oh my, my whole business, Alex, the business plan we talked about at the beginning, that when that's in there, that's one of the 20 there's 20 items that you get for free as part of that packet. And I think we did it in Word
Alex Ferrari 57:32
We did a PDF so you can go in there and change things up and add it to your own cool it is it really is literally a treasure trove if you're making a feature film of everything you need contracts agreements, obviously always want to talk to a lawyer first but it's a it's a good starting off point. And just stuff like it's basically turnkey, almost, yeah, follow these steps. This is what will happen.
Suzanne Lyons 57:57
Yeah, very good. My god that is true. And it really is true. I mean, and I started teaching this oh god A long time ago, around 12 years ago and I've there's been hundreds of movies made I get calls all the times coming to the screening I followed your class here Here it is, you know, so you know, it's it's been proven through all the courses I taught over the hundreds of people and then all the books that have sold and people that have used it to make their movies so this is even better than all of that because it's all a concise five and a half to six hours of me going through the entire thing and you get that nice packet and
Alex Ferrari 58:34
A couple bonus things in there as well. The podcasts and stuff like that they oh cool that you can learn some more stuff from as well so I'll put a put a link to the show in the show notes for the course but if you just want to go right away it's just producing masterclass calm, and you can go right now it's 90 bucks. And it is my god of bargain at that price point. It's crazy. When I want to and and i and i hounded by the way guys I hounded Suzanne, to do this. For years. While I'm like Suzanne, just let me film. Please let me film you please, we got to do this. Please let me you'll never have to do another one of these again. Just let me let me fill you and we'll put it up. And it took us like almost a year and a half to get the whole thing done even been some busy producing, doing things. I'm shooting a movie, you're shooting movies. And it's just been like, slowly like every three months like so how's the course going? Like we're getting there. It's gonna happen one of these days. I promise you. It's done. It's done. Finally, it is definitely well worth your time. So thank you, Suzanne. Thanks again for being on the show. I really appreciate it. I'm gonna ask you some rapid fire questions.
Suzanne Lyons 59:43
Yeah, first of all, I just want to mention the blog to Alex on your site. Alex had 20-25 blogs guys on all industry related stuff. So please go and check out the blog, which is under my name on Alex's site as well.
Alex Ferrari 59:54
It's in the producers corner. So if you go into film production in the indiefilmhustle.com you You'll see in the corner at the top it says producers corner. And that's all of her articles and they are amazing. It's like a book in itself. So it's really really valuable information that's free that you can just take a look at. Now I'm gonna ask you some rapid fire questions and ask all my guests so prepare yourself what is the advice you would give Quick quick answers? What is the advice you would give a filmmaker wanting to break into the business today?
Suzanne Lyons 1:00:26
Get a mentor. Okay, absolutely. That would be the bottom line get a mentor somebody you don't have to be a lone ranger. There's over what almost a billion of us on the planet now that's a clue from God saying you don't have to do this alone. You know get a couple of mentors God's given you a clue right? Exactly a detective?
Alex Ferrari 1:00:44
Can you tell me what book had the biggest impact on your life or career?
Suzanne Lyons 1:00:49
Oh shit. You said no hard questions Alex.
Alex Ferrari 1:00:55
I said nothing. I said nothing.
Suzanne Lyons 1:00:58
God I would have oh god there's oh my god there's so many it's so funny. The first one that popped into my head I would have to say is jack Canfield yes seven was it seven seven secrets to secrets to success or
Alex Ferrari 1:01:13
Something along those lines?
Suzanne Lyons 1:01:14
Yes, it's a great book. I've read it a number of times and I'd say the other one is creativity Inc if you haven't read that oh Lord God I did I read it like I don't know three times. Three times. Oh my god by the present the head of one of the heads of Pixar capital. Oh my god on Billy if you even if you're not in the entertainment industry, you've got to read creativity Inc or get it I got it for everybody for Christmas couple years ago as well as jack Canfield. All my nieces and nephews got that one too.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:43
Now what is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film industry or in life?
Suzanne Lyons 1:01:49
Um, I think I'm still learning Well, I'll always be learning I hope till I'm 97 I went on had my thing done for based on your health 97.8. So I'm gonna be still learning hopefully right up until that time, I would say it's still to be more present Alex not just present to details, because I think that goes along with just to be in the now. Yeah, I mean, I know And luckily, I did landmark, you know, back in the 80s. So I'm well aware of all the be are now stuff. But as well aware as you are of it, it's still something you got to work on on a daily basis. Be present, be present to your friends and family in meetings that, you know, the more present you'll be, I think the more you'll have a joyful life and be successful in life. You know,
Alex Ferrari 1:02:37
The only thing we're promised is now, now that you're promised because tomorrow Tomorrow is not is not promised at all. And three of your favorite films of all time.
Suzanne Lyons 1:02:49
On absolutely love little romance. Like teen 79 when the Oscar for the best music is whatever call Diane Lane. It's when my husband and I first fell in love and one of our first films together 1979 Another one would be Oh my gosh. Probably anything with Bruce Willis? Love Die Hard. wapsi Die Hard. Probably more than any other first Christmas movie of all time. Yeah. Oh, and speaking of Christmas movies. Oh god. Oh my god. There's so many good. Oh my god like love actually. And oh, I say the ref. I'd have to put the ref on there on my favorite.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:26
Dennis Leary. Yeah, just to make Denis Leary amazing. And of his powers at the height of his power
Suzanne Lyons 1:03:32
At the height. Yeah, it's really amazing. Yeah, but I'm so so many movies, but and of course mine I would have to say, and this is truth under undertaking Betty. I have to say that was a
Alex Ferrari 1:03:44
I remember that.
Suzanne Lyons 1:03:45
Oh my god. I love British quirky comedies. It's my favorite about my whole life. And that happened to be my first movie. Uh, you know, a crazy British quirky comedy with a
Alex Ferrari 1:03:55
With a pretty big cast back then. No question. That was fun. Yeah. Where can people reach out to you if they want to get ahold of you or follow you?
Suzanne Lyons 1:04:04
Um, for me, I know I haven't updated my own personal sites actually in ages but certainly a lot of my stuff is on your site, snowfallfilms.com. Suzannelyons.net of the updated ones should be going up shortly. Actually, I've got my wonderful guy looking after that now. So snowfallfilms.com and Suzannelyons.net. And I think all my phone number and everything is on there. Not in that office anymore if that's there, but my phone numbers there my email address is all of course they're on snowfall films. And on I haven't had a time that a lot of time this year, but I've been busy and last year I was in Toronto most of the time, but I can do privates. I've just don't have as much time as I used to, but I still do some private coaching. And some people still insist on even a couple of hours. based on the book in the video. I still get a few people saying I still have to have some private time. Whatever. So I still do a bit of consulting with that. So a little bit. Yeah, exactly. And also don't forget my YouTubes. I have 100 and 120 130 YouTubes. On the YouTube that are all industry related. Suzanne Lyons, you know, youtube.com/Suzanne Lyons.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:19
I'll put it.
Suzanne Lyons 1:05:21
Alex Ferrari 1:05:22
I'll put it in the show. Suzanne, thank you. Again, it's always a pleasure show. I know that we could talk for another three hours because I easily could talk for another three hours and make it into another course. But thank you again, so much for being on the show and sharing all these knowledge bombs with the tribe.
Suzanne Lyons 1:05:41
Thanks, Alex. All right. Thanks for having me. Talk to you later, everybody. Bye bye.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:45
I want to thank Suzanne for coming on the show and dropping the major knowledge bombs on the indie film hustle tribe today. Thank you so much as in if you want links to her book, the course that we discussed and anything else we talked about in this episode, just head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/265. And if you are interested in taking Suzanne's course, just head over to producingmasterclass.com. And guys, we are getting closer and closer to my big announcement on what I've been working on in the lab. I cannot wait to tell you guys what's going on. I'm so so excited. So stay tuned for more. I know I'm teasing you guys. I'm sorry. But you know how I am I just do things like this. But you guys are going to be really really excited once I tell you what's going on. So thank you for listening. And thank you for all your support, guys. And if you have not subscribed on iTunes, please head over to filmmakingpodcast.com subscribe, leave a review. It really really helps the show out a lot. Thanks again. And as always keep that also going keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.
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By Alex Ferrari |
By Alex Ferrari |
WATCH A FREE 3 PART LOW-BUDGET FILM PRODUCING VIDEO SERIES
Taught by veteran award-winning film producer and author Suzanne Lyons. The filmmaker behind over a dozen profitable low-budget feature films.
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WATCH A FREE 3 PART LOW-BUDGET FILM PRODUCING VIDEO SERIES
Taught by veteran award-winning film producer and author Suzanne Lyons. The filmmaker behind over a dozen profitable low-budget feature films.