Today on the show we have writer/director Daedalus Howell. Daedalus’ film Pill Head is the definition of being a Filmtrepreneur. So much, in fact, I used his film as a case study in my book Rise of the Filmtrepreneur®: How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Moneymaking Business. The method he used was the “regional cinema model.”
This model is based around developing, producing and distributing a film project targeted to the niche audience of a geographic area. He essentially made an Art House film for his hometown.
Pill Head was entirely a hometown affair — from discounted permits to merchant buy-in and a recent theatrical release through a consortium of local exhibitors (no four-walling!) accompanied by tons of local press.
After an overdose, art student Theda becomes an unwitting specimen in her university’s experimental psych program. There’s a side effect, however — she sees the branching possibilities of reality in an alternate universe. Moreover, an alternate self wards her off the program’s enigmatic researcher Dr. Ashe. Determined to escape, Theda’s salvation lays through the looking glass of quantum quandaries, romance revisited, and the jagged little pill of her own nature.
In this interview, we go deep into the regional cinema model, how he creates multiple revenue streams and how he got that group of local theater owners to four wall his film for free. Enjoy my inspirational conversation with Daedalus Howell.
Alex Ferrari 0:00
I'd like to welcome the show Daedelus Howell man, how are you?
Daedalus Howell 0:14
I'm Grand man, how are you?
Alex Ferrari 0:15
Thank you so much, man. I appreciate you reaching out to me and coming on to the to the podcast and hopefully being you know, dropping some knowledge bombs from your experience because I always look for unique as you know, unique ways of looking at film and you you you hit something I hadn't heard before. Hey, how about using your hometown as a backlot, I'm like, that's a podcast so.
Daedalus Howell 0:38
I had nowhere else to go Alex had nowhere else to go. And I'm with you.
Alex Ferrari 0:43
I appreciate it. But so first of all, man, what made you want to become a filmmaker? Like why did you want to become a carny?
Daedalus Howell 0:52
Well, that's a great question. I, you know, I should back up until you I'm from Petaluma, California, and what you may or may not know about Petaluma, we're north of San Francisco a little bit. This is a movie town. And so we were surrounded by all kinds of film phenomena beginning with like American Graffiti, which was shot here. Lucas, Peggy Sue Got Married was shot here, Coppola and then through the 90s, in many of the Abbotts phenomenon, the leader remake flubber. I mean, it was crazy the amount of like cinematic immersion, just in production that was here for a while. And so growing up in that you get the bug compounding that Lucasfilm was just over the hill in Marin, right. And then you throw in Winona Ryder going to Petaluma high. And this is like Super film consciousness in terms of town. And so a lot of us grew up with, yeah, my cohort and I, with this fantasy that we could do it too. And of course, that was summarily crushed, you know, once we all went to Hollywood and, and, you know, as everyone goes through that process, and so, so I had the bug pretty early. And I had to really figure out how I was going to like, deal with having that in my system. I became a writer pretty early on for local newspapers and that kind of thing. So I was able to kind of build a film adjacent career I could, I could interview film people. And when I did finally go to Los Angeles in like the early 2000s, I was principally, you know, an aspiring screenwriter had some minor breaks, that kind of thing. But you know, I washed out and I was left with the disease, you know, the virus was in me, I wanted to make a film. And it got so bad man. That after, I mean, the infection was really,
Alex Ferrari 2:30
I always refer to the bug or the thing to become a filmmaker. It's like herpes. Like it literally, it once you get it, you've got it for life. It will flare up sometimes, but sometimes it's dormant. But no matter what, it will flare up eventually again, and then you'll and then sometimes it's really bad. You just start like, oh, man, turn into a crack fiend. But go ahead. Yeah.
Daedalus Howell 2:51
Well, that's yeah, that's a great metaphor, because it's really what happened in the gut, it got to the point where it began to forbid myself to like read about, you know, read film books, to look at anything about any film because I didn't want the flare up to come back because I was feeling so negative about myself from never having done it. Yeah. And then I just, I, I got in a situation where I was between jobs in my my partner, girlfriend said, Hey, what do you really want to do now? You know, what, you just kind of wide open and I said, Well, what I really want to do is direct. And she didn't know much about production, anything like that. So she didn't know it was impossible. And so she became a film producer and I became a writer director. And it was just it was just the the drive to do it. That that compelled me but it was really just a you know, after you know you did this with this is Meg 15 years or whatever, you know, you're like, why haven't I done it? There's no really excuse not to apart from manifesting the drive to do so. And so that's what we finally did.
Alex Ferrari 3:49
No, I mean, I mean, I had a I had a horrible experience with a mobster and Hollywood. So that kind of that kind of that kind of stain to me. And so
Daedalus Howell 3:57
I havent read that book Yeah, I'm going to though Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 3:59
It is. It is it definitely I realized it subconsciously stopped me from ever going back into like, why would you go back to the most painful time in your life, and you associate making a movie with the most painful time in your life? So I had an excuse. It was a horrible one, but I had an excuse. Why I didn't do it, but at a certain point, you know, you and I are both have similar vintages. You know, at a certain point, you just go dude, I'm not 20 anymore. Like I can't keep I can't keep doing this.
Daedalus Howell 4:25
Yeah, but the problem is when you bring that filmmaker identity into your consciousness, and you're carrying it that long, and you haven't made that, oh, you know, the feature film, your life is all plot no story, man, you start like you start questioning who you are. And of course, all your friends are like, Dude, are you you're so you're a filmmaker. Really, dude. I mean, where's your movie? And you've got a bunch of shorts on YouTube. Who are you? You know, it's like it's so you just have to do it. You just have to do it. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 4:51
Yeah. And then I hid behind. You know, I did direct like little commercials or music videos and things like that, but it wasn't what I wanted to do and I hid behind post So I was like I was it was kind of like nice. It's adjacent. It's you're kind of you're still a filmmaker, but you're not doing exactly what you want to do. So it's a great experience but your hide you hide in that in that world. So for me, I hid there for god knows about 20 years. Yeah, dealing. Yeah.
Daedalus Howell 5:16
And then you did a podcast and that, you know,you hid behind the podcast,
Alex Ferrari 5:20
And then I hid behind the podcast and behind this. I'll be honest with you, though, I'll be honest with you if it wasn't for the podcast, and if it wasn't for the tribe, I don't think I would have made this is Meg. The reason why I there was two reasons I did it was because one I wanted to prove to the tribe that it can be done. I wanted to prove to myself it could be done. I also wanted to use the tribe as something to keep me to keep me what's that word? Ah, not compatible, but when you're trying to when you're trying to do something and someone tells you like was watching you. I forgot that word. That term I losing my will never find it now. We'll never find it over. I'm sure someone's yelling at it in their car at the moment. But, but, but I did it for that reason. And then also for whatever odd reason, because I was still doing indie film hustle on kind of a side hustle. Still, it wasn't my full time gig yet. I just said, Well, if it doesn't work out, I always have indie film, hustle, I can just go back to that. So it's like my safety blanket, you know, and it's become this kind of like, oh, I I'm good. I'll just go i It made me more brave to just go out there where it might scare other people because you're like putting yourself out there. i It's the opposite. For me. I find it very comforting knowing that I have an I have not only an audience, I have a tribe, I have a community that I could always go back to. And if it doesn't work, doesn't work.
Daedalus Howell 6:41
Yeah, no, that's that's really I think that was one of the smartest moves you clearly one of the smartest moves you've made, you know, and you did I mean, you've definitely galvanized the community. I mean, I'm, you know, how they say like the Velvet Underground had 100 fans, but each one of them started a band, you know, you've got well more than 100 fans, but I there's gonna somebody, some film historian is going to trace back this explosion of independent film, they're gonna be able to blame one man. Oh, they're gonna go oh, sorry. And that would
Alex Ferrari 7:09
That be amazing. You know what I honestly that would be the most wonderful thing ever. Because if I you know, I'm here just to help and I want to I want to I want that and I get these stories like yours and, and other people who've listened to the podcast for a long time. Like I finally made my movie I finally did this thing. But now it's my my job to teach you how to make money with it. But that's why you're here because because you have a unique story behind it. Now tell me about your film pill head? Because great name, great name.
Daedalus Howell 7:33
No, thank you. Yeah. The the general gist is a young art student takes too many pills in wakes up in what's probably a parallel universe. And it's all about finding her way back to her reality, whatever that may be in a sort of redemptive Alice in Wonderland kind of phenomena. However, we went out this sort of fit, you know, typical sci fi style plot, I think, with an arthouse vengence in so I call it an arts floatation film, this thing I just, it's like your first year in film school, you take a survey course, and it's all shot on Luc Godard and Truffaut and I kind of thing I checked every box, I could man, it's black and white. It's it's moody, it's handheld, it's it's an aesthetic kind of like, hat tip to, you know, the French New Wave and all the films I grew up on and that kind of thing. And so it scratched a lot of itches, you know, that, that the flare up was real. And so it's it's a very different kind of movie. And it doesn't really fit into the general indie landscape, which is a stumbling block, in some ways. It's sort of its differentiator in other ways. And, and I was able to play that to my advantage once, once I accepted that this is my aesthetic, there's no way around it, I have to make the film I'm going to make. But I have to make it in a way that it's meaningful to my audience. And I know and I knew pretty much who they were because I'm in local media and that kind of thing. And I knew that I wasn't going to make the kind of film that's going to scale and explode, I was making a regional film, I was making a film that's going to be meaningful to where I'm from, and the people in my community. And that sounds a little backwards because you want your film to be as big as possible often you want to go everywhere. But I'm really hooked on this notion of regional cinema the way that you know, they used to like regional theater, right? There'd be a you know, like a play house and then they'd put on a regular program that kind of thing. I wanted to start something wherein I could credibly create films and know that I had an audience here and do it on a regular basis. And the trick of that of course is making them inexpensively making them profitable and making it for an audience that you know is going to come back in so I knew was gonna make a Petaluma film.
Alex Ferrari 9:43
That's that's that's a really so that's what regional cinema the regional cinema model is for you because that's the first time I've heard that term. And it might be out there in the zeitgeist, but I've never heard of it. Yeah, I've never heard of it. And generally speaking, if I don't hear it, I've never heard of it. It's a weird thing. cuz I'm pretty much inside of this world all the time. So when I heard that I was like, interesting. So now that's the definition of it. And honestly, it's, uh, you know, we're we're taught as filmmakers, especially our generation, but even younger filmmakers, that everything's got to be huge. It's got to be big, it's got to be blockbuster, you've got to make $100 million. And, you know, what film entrepreneur is about is to start bringing it down, bringing it down to niche audiences to bring it down. Now you've created the, the regional aspect of things, which is awesome, because now you are, you're doing basically what I've been preaching, but doing it on a regional standpoint, as opposed to a niche is a niche, but it's a regional niche. Yeah, but it's a regional niche. And if you as a filmmaker have a region that you know, that you can sell movies to, and you can make those movies for a budget, and you can recoup your money and continue to make that's a business, that that's a business and if it goes somewhere else, and it goes International, or sells outside online, somewhere to a bigger audience, fantastic. But your core audience is what is going to sustain your career. That's a really powerful thing. And it also gets out of your gates, that lottery ticket mentality out of the filmmakers head, which is like I need that make something this movie's got to pop for me, I need to go to Hollywood I need to do you don't, you don't, you could keep it small. And as long as you're cool with not living in the Hollywood Hills, and you could just have a lifestyle, buy, you know, buy a house, you know, pay your rent, you know, and enjoy it, like make money, make enough money to sustain you and your family comfortably and make your art well. Hell That's the dream.
Daedalus Howell 11:41
No, that's that's you're totally right. And that's the metrics of success. Can you do it again, it's a supporting you, versus like you're saying a lottery ticket where it's supposed to make your career overnight? That's just not going to happen anymore. You know, unless you're in a dat system, which you know, I would have I would gamble most of most everyone listening is not clustered in Hollywood. Maybe they are but
Alex Ferrari 12:00
But even if you're here, but even if you're here, it's a lottery ticket. There's one guy like, like you and I were raised in the 90s. Like we came up in the film industry, like in the 90s. When independent film like every frickin week, there was Talentino Robert Rodriguez, Kevin Smith, Richard Linklater, Spike Lee, John Singleton, it just kept the Steven Soderbergh every week, there was a new magic lottery ticket being handed out. And
Daedalus Howell 12:25
Sundance was just stamping these guys out, oh, it led us to believe that that's the system, that's what you do you show up, it happens, and it doesn't. And that could be that could really derail your life artistically. Yeah, tell me about it. So yeah, so So I, you know, I had to get really pulled back and figure that out. And once you scale stuff, to, to not just a level where you can actually make it but you know, who's going to watch it, and you know, that you're going to earn it back and in beyond it, it changes your mindset. And there's a lot more freedom in it, you know, especially if you know, your niche, or you know, you're doing now and I totally agree with you regional cinema is a nation that is the region in this case, and I grew, you know, this where I live is, is it's a very special place. And so I knew this fairly dependable and, but there are ways to, to galvanize that and make it happen. And so we set about with our production, and I have to tell you from the like, I was talking earlier about the exploitation factor, this, I knew this is going to be intrinsically not a mass market film, there's just no way about it. But I knew if I did anything other than that, I wouldn't, I wasn't going to be, you know, my artistic integrity and all that BS wasn't gonna be intact. But if you're going to make a film at RH, after not having made a film, you're gonna make your guide and film the way you want to make. Absolutely. So I had to dovetail that into a concept that would work in so I was on a radio program yesterday, and guy pointed out, because hey, you can pedal it's kind of a character and like, that's right, you know, the town, I made the town look, I wouldn't say beautiful, but I gave it a vision that, that this town hasn't seen itself that way before. And and I think that had resonance, you know, and that's something that's talked about a lot. But to kind of like roll back and like how to do this kind of thing. You're going to do a lot of favors, you're going to need a lot of a lot of buy in from like the sort of civic, you know, like bureaucracies that you have to participate in. And you're going to have to become friends with the local press, and you're going to have to have to have a story that's beyond local filmmaker does good, you know, because they've seen that story, right? It's not 1982 Yeah, no one cares. No one cares. Everyone's making a movie right now. You know, they'd rather write about the YouTube kid than they would use so. So I just hunkered down and wanted to tell the story that I told and but I wanted to make the film. I didn't want to do too much guerrilla stuff. I knew that I had to do it legally. by that. I mean, like permits and insurance and all the things and I needed to keep it cheap, lean and fairly invisible because I couldn't afford to close off streets I couldn't afford To I couldn't ask any businesses to stop their business from me, that kind of thing. And so the first thing was, you know, to ensure the production you have to be permitted. And to get that permit, I had to appeal to the city of Petaluma and I go to them. And you know, so in Petaluma, as I mentioned before, has been has seen a lot of film, right. And they're used to big budgets coming in and they make this cities make money on movies through transitory occupancy tax. That means heads and beds, right crew comes in 50 plus people or more, they, those people are put up at hotels, they're eating local restaurants, local services, so films can be a big moneymaker for a city. So when you come in and say, I got this little itty bitty film, please give me a film permit. They're like, Well, okay, sure. We're not going to deny your your freedom of speech. But what's in it for us, especially since in my case, I wanted a discount. And no one thinks that you can negotiate with the bureaucracy, but you totally can, especially the smaller town because the mayor is your neighbor, right? So I wrote a letter to the city manager, they wanted I think, 200 bucks a day, or 225 a day or something like that, you know, that was their deal to 222 25. And I had like a 20 day shoot, right? That's not a significant amount of money to the city. It's like, what, four grand or so like that. But to me, that was like a budget breaker, right? So I wrote a letter to the city manager an email and I said, Hey, here's the deal. I'm a townie. I'm a local, everyone here is local, it's locally cast. It's all this. Here's the general pitch. And the guy wrote back and said, Have it 300 bucks flat rate. In dying, I'm like, isn't that great? You can do that. Right. And so then I went through Fractured Atlas, which is a nonprofit, sort of fiscal sponsor, you know, there, if you can't receive donations yourself, because you're not a nonprofit, they'll they'll vouch for you and receive those funds. And they have an amazing insurance policy policy situation where they worked out, they broke out some deals, so they get discounted insurance for production. So I was able to take that get discounted insurance, which is what the city wants to do want to want you to mess up anything and they weren't insured. So then I had to go most cities will ask you to go to the local merchants is usually like a chamber of commerce or a downtown merchants society or something like that. Because their main concern and this was a concern in Petaluma. And that kind of led to a lot of productions being shut down or not even shut down, like blocked from coming in. Merchants complain about streets being shut down, sidewalk traffic, ending foot traffic gone, no customers, right, even if they're compensated by a studio or whatever. It's never enough. Everyone's grumpy, and it's so disruptive to local business. So when you have a lean little production like ours, you're not going to impact in that way. But you got to tell them that. And that was the weird part. I didn't expect to go to the local business and say, Hey, man, we're gonna be shooting here. Here's my flyer, you have to, you know, announce it that way. That's where I got the first bit of, like, pushback. I was like, Dude, we're just a small. I mean, we were gonna look like tours. There's only five of us, you know, and I camera, and they were so suspicious. And so kind of like, we remember what happened last time, you know, like, you know, I can't remember the film, but I can't I think screen was shot locally, and it ruined the town for a few weeks. Right? So they're pretty chapped about that. And, and I just had to sit down and talk with him. And eventually I surfaced up to the, you know, the the chairperson of the Downtown Association, and I just, I just pled my case, I made it clear to them that we're not gonna shut anything down. This person happened to be a Mason. And I threw that person's influence. Everyone just jumped in. And then the Masons said, Do you need a building to shoot in and like, yeah, and they gave us their building, we shot in a Mason Temple at one point, it was crazy, man, so awesome. It's so it's that it's that local boy makes good angle. But more like, we're doing this together. We're doing this for these reasons. This is how it aligns with what you're trying to do. And we're not going to cost you a thing. And and we're not going to tell you we're going to make your business look good. It's going to be an advertisement for you or anything like that. But we are going to respect you and your business. And we're going to make this as seamless as possible. And we're gonna make it fun for you. You want a cameo? Great, you know, that kind of thing. And so that's
Alex Ferrari 19:08
The power of the cameo. Oh, yes.
Daedalus Howell 19:10
Which is the most Yeah, as everyone else the most BS thing ever because usually it's the first thing gets cut, right?
Alex Ferrari 19:15
That in the associate producer credit
Daedalus Howell 19:20
Got a couple of those.
Alex Ferrari 19:22
So that's when a merchant buy in is is like that's
Daedalus Howell 19:25
That's how I would characterize it is because you're going to need the streets of your small town as if you're shooting the exteriors you're using their storefronts and their backgrounds and that kind of thing. You're going to get location releases from them you know and that kind of stuff and you're going to you want them to to love what you're doing versus being afraid that you're going to cost them money by blocking their customers from getting an intimidating people or people don't want to be on camera. People are afraid of being caught up in something people that want to be in a movie called pill head I get it, you know and so, so you start just literally on the street level going door to door saying This is what we're doing. We're insured, we're playing by all the rules, we're not going to make a mess. And and we're going to, we're going to try to make this a pleasurable process for everyone. And in most of the time they they get into it, we actually we gained more locations than we were a threat of losing because people said, Hey, why don't you shoot my building to? You know, when we had a place that just scheduled wise wasn't gonna work out? Another guy stepped up? Because he's like, Yeah, this sounds like a lot of fun. You guys are, you know, doing a great thing here and that kind of thing. And so that's, that's the place to start on the street level right. Now, what was the what was the budget of the film? Just a smidge under $30,000?
Alex Ferrari 20:38
Okay, so it's a it's an it's a low budget without What am i It's a argue or people will argue micro budget.
Daedalus Howell 20:44
Totally. It's, I don't even think it qualify for the micro budget sag agreement. Be ultra low. I mean, we didn't we paid. That's the thing. Here's the to keep within the budget, we flat rated all the performers. And so everyone got 100 bucks a day, across the board. And that, and that's great. Because that kind of that keeps the spirit of the thing alive. These people are getting paid, or paid actors, that's huge for them. Because we're often in small towns, just starting their careers. And that kind of thing
Alex Ferrari 21:10
That's huge is normally they wouldn't even get paid to be in a feature in a small town. So that's a big plus,
Daedalus Howell 21:16
You have to do it. You know, in hit us, we used a casting director remarkably, we have one up here, I guess, because there's a lot of extras needed when the big films come in. So and so this was the chance for the casting director to break some talent, and it was great for everyone. But we paid everyone which make some accountable. Right? They show up they take it seriously. But at 100 bucks a day where I think the minimum for a SAG agreement 125 I just couldn't make it pencil man. So they didn't get there, you know, sag units, but they don't care.
Alex Ferrari 21:46
Yeah, it's not about the second is how many days did you shoot, by the way
Daedalus Howell 21:50
20 and so here's the thing, man in the middle of our production, the big California fires in Northern California happened. And Petaluma wasn't affected necessarily, but all the surrounding area was and so we were smoked out and we had to shut down and reschedule which was pretty traumatic for a small scale production. And there's a moment of course, where I'm like, we're never going to get this done. This isn't gonna happen. But it's a Karen has a producer was able to like, triangulate, work it out, get all of the merchants to come back on board on different days. You know, the first thing that happens though, when there's a catastrophe like that is that all of the money's all of the donation kind of stuff, like the free catering kind of thing that goes right out the window, because they're diverting that energy and resources to, you know, people who actually need it, you know, fire victims, and that kind of thing completely makes sense. But that that was, that was something we never accounted for, of course, and we had to figure out how we're going to patch all these holes. You know, fortunately, there's a local woman who makes tamales. And so we, we lived on tamales for a week or so. But it was it was a
Alex Ferrari 22:52
Look can I, I want to tell you a quick story. My first film broken was my first short film in 2005. We shot in a like, it's arguably an abandoned hospital. But we like there's four floors that are abandoned, but the rest of the hospital is functional. So the basement was like in it's like from the 40s. In the 50s. There was like ancient stuff. And like there was entire entire, like floors full of props. Basically, they've just been sitting there for four decades. And they're like, go have it go at it. And they eventually originally, were going to be for 500 bucks. And at the end of it, they had such a good time with it. So like, yeah, don't worry about it. So we got the whole place, we got the whole place for free. But the problem was the week before we reshoot, a hurricane hit us because we're in West Palm Beach. So hurricane hit our area. And when we drove up there, like everything was destroyed. A lot of a lot of flooding happened, all of this stuff. So we just incorporated it all into the story. We just said screw it, we'll just we got a roll where we're shooting in five days is happening. But the best part was that FEMA, because it was a hospital set up shop there. And there was hundreds of 1000s of people in line outside while we're trying to shoot a movie, so you gotta roll with the punches sometimes
Daedalus Howell 24:07
Like now you have great production design and a cast of 1000s. Right. Yeah, that's yeah, that's that's the thing that when you're lean, small production, you're you can pivot like that, you know, and so if you do have a natural disaster, you can actually either incorporate it or at least in our case, reschedule and make it work. But so that that was a setback, but But generally speaking, everyone was appreciative and understanding of it and that kind of thing. And and so throughout our post production, we kept everyone abreast of what was happening, that kind of thing. Because once you go into post production, like, it's like, your film disappears. If you're in the cave for once, totally, and no one knows what's happening, or if it's ever going to or if it's ever going to happen. So we've been driven out.
Alex Ferrari 24:48
Well, I was gonna ask you, did you, you obviously understand who your target is, which you're very it's a very it's a niche audience, but it's a very broad, you know, you got a lot of spectrum of people there. So how did you realize that Your movie, which is an art arts floatation film, would would resonate with this audience. Did you do any mark? Did you do any market testing? Did you? Like what was the other than just being shot in that town? Do you think that was enough to gather everybody to come to see your movie?
Daedalus Howell 25:18
That was a start, that was definitely a platform that we could start with. But that's a great question. I knew that given the sort of demographic makeup here, it's a pretty rd town, we're very close to San Francisco. And there's a lot of a lot of people who go back and forth between here in the city. So it's sort of it's a suburb, so it's got a kind of a cosmopolitan edge to it in some ways. In the local movie theaters are multiplexes and and have the usual stuff. And so there's no arthouse films as such. So I always knew that I was going to pursue some kind of local theatrical distribution to kind of like to slake that thirst for that kind of content in this area, right. And so we're blessed that in that we got a couple of like old school venues that used to be old movie theaters that can still do it, that are now music venues and that kind of thing. And so, I always had an eye to like reviving this art house phenomenon in town. And
Alex Ferrari 26:18
So it's a consortium, if you will, a consortium of local local exhibitors.
Daedalus Howell 26:23
So yeah, that's my job. Because it's, you know, every small town has, most small towns have movie theaters, most movie theaters are gonna be owned by somebody, right. And that's often a local business person. Or if it's a chain, you can figure out where the basis of that chain is. And oftentimes the regionalised in, because of the nature of how these businesses put together, they're often they could be like a big AMC theater, but they're actually local franchisees, that kind of thing. And so, or something, I'm not sure for that particular chain, but that's how it often works. And so you can find through just through some internet sleuthing, like who actually owns the theater, right. And it's usually a small company, that kind of thing. Up here, we had, for, you know, a fairly small market, relatively speaking, two separate exhibition companies, right, that between the two of them represented most of the theaters in town. And so I knew that those guys had to be my friends. Right. And I needed to make a case that our film would be worth the risk of, of slotting you know, against the Avengers in this case, you know. And so, what we did was, I knew that a good healthy cast and crew screening would would, I just at this point, I had faith in the film, it was cut, we had a great mix, I knew that I knew that we had something that was really going to make the town lose their shit, right. And so I booked a theater in town called the mystic, which is one of these used one of these old single screen funky, fairly large venue, beautiful place that has turned into a music venue, but they still had the screen. And I approached them. And I said, Well, you know, what's your rate for single night screening, we're near casting crew, and it was like 3000 bucks. And again, you know, deal breaker for me. And so I made the case, hey, this is a local film, it's local talent. It's local, this local that I just really sold them on. This is your opportunity to be a hero to the cast and crew of this film and their friends and family and bring new eyes to this theater who haven't seen it in this capacity in 30 years. Right? I saw so they're like, yeah, it totally, exactly total muscle in and, and they saw the merit in that and they shaved it down to like 1000 bucks, then, which is great. Still, that's 1000 bucks, right? So then, in fact, I have one here. I got myself, a designer, my producer, and we made a program. And then we sold advertising in that program, right, to underwrite the production, or sorry, the the presentation of the cast and crew screening at the theater. So we sold 1000 bucks worth of advertising. Then, of course, he said to be printed, I go to the print shop, and like hey, man, I could go to you know, FedEx Kinkos or whatever. Or we could keep it local, you know, Petaluma printing, and, and we'll throw an ad in there and the guy just shaved it down to like, practically zero. We had to staple them ourselves. But we totally hustled it, and we pass these out, and everyone was happy. And so, you know, they're it, you know, it's like could put him in a special thanks. I did, you know, the credit roll, but the film was pretty locked to that point. But But all in all these advertisers were like, you know, and of course, they got to come the screening because as the thing, man, I wasn't selling any tickets. Right. I told the casting crew, come on down. Bring as many friends as you want the theaters capacity of 300, something like that. And I set it up on Eventbrite. So I can I could register that capacity and I wanted the on Eventbrite. You know, they show you how many tickets are remaining, even though they're free. You want to see that number like, dwindle and get down, down down in the surges, right? And so we packed that place beyond capacity. Right? We had a line out the door, which everyone wants to see, I invited all of the local press to see that line and the local exhibitors. So they come and they they see this film. And of course, you know, it's casting crew, everyone's cheering every time some new face pops on. It's a round of applause, right? It was a really spirited fun up great event, you know, the film's 80 minutes, so you're in and out, right? But we kept the party atmosphere going, it was really great. And in that what happens is the press the exhibitors, they come up to you like, that was really great. That was really exciting. You know, what's your next step? Next step is a bunch of lunches. The next week, we do a bunch of interviews, and we do some deals, right? We negotiate it with the exhibitors, they have, you know, theatrical exhibition, sorry, exhibition is kind of weird, where they, they need to, they kind of lost lead on the film, right. And so I'm films, right. So they're, they're moving popcorn concessions, that kind of thing. For the first few weeks, right, big film comes in, they take a dive on the ticket price, it but they're there. And then the longer the film stays there, the more their percentage of the box office goes up, as you know, and so I knew that I couldn't really tolerate that threshold, you know, because I needed to make the money now at this point. And so because of the nature of of our sort of awareness aware, the where the awareness we'd created in town and all that, and because I knew some press was coming up and all that, I was able to tell the story of getting into it, how we're having local exhibition, it makes the film seem successful, because no one gets distribution, right. And, you know, if unless you go out of 40 Mile Square radius, you don't know the film's not everywhere, right? It's in the movie theater. Right? And so we did a straight up 5050 split. Right, which is a sound for them. It's huge for them. Yeah. And so they got more money up front, on a Thursday night from our little film than they did with endgame, which is playing the theater next door, because there's five guys in there, right? Because yes, I film it been played out a little bit. And so it was a win for them. And it was a win for us. And, and they have all their stuff wired. So like, you know, they, they're taking the tickets and all that and we had to invoice them at the end of the month, they sent the money in the money shows up. And it's great. And so we ran for a couple of weeks in four different cities. That's the thing. That's what you don't want just one theater, you want it, you want to leverage your press, as as wide as you can. And in as many markets as you can, even though it's ostensibly the same community in the same type of audience. They live in different places sometimes. And we have enough regional media that I was able to, like, push that. And once you get one story, you can push that story to other places. I got lucky because one of the newspaper chains here has reported that, you know, they're cheap on the reporter. So they get the one guy to write it, but they run it in three different papers, right? Mm hmm. Fine by me. So here, here's an example. You know, here's, there's one clip. Right. You know, and this is, of course, the hardcopy, it has more of a life online, you know, is another clip, right? Same article, same exact article, this one was different. This is a shot from the movie, this is the cover man of a local alternative news weekly. And they, they just jumped on it, man, we made it a story. Because we had 300 People who had a great time talking about how great it was, and then looking for the paper. So then that's how you did it, man, you start small and you keep it focused and you and you knock on the doors that you know will open for you in your town and and you keep the spirit alive with it. And so so this all snowballed to our Amazon released but anyway, that's that's kind of like the
Alex Ferrari 33:46
So how much did you make on this theatrical release? What was the kind of revenue generally speaking,
Daedalus Howell 33:51
We were making about 1000 bucks a week. Right? And so it made a dent in in our, our initial outlay, and I say the thing that all the film was in part, underwritten by Indiegogo, right, not significantly but a few 1000 bucks, we got a private donor, right who came in for a couple grand to begin with. And then midway through I'm like, I need more money and and I so I just asked him again and he was cool enough and kick kick down into the few grand and our post we did ourselves we built our own you know system, you know, out of bits and pieces and use Premiere in this case. We got a real break though in the mix Central Post la down there up up arm did our did our mix through. I did some music videos for these guys back when they're running some label stuff. And my brother is kind of a mid level Rockstar worked with those guys. And so they did the mix for free. I mean, that's that was huge. Wow. Yeah. And so I shouldn't say for free they they
Alex Ferrari 34:49
Daedalus Howell 34:53
And they're great associate producers. I'm very happy to work with them. And if you ever need good postman that's where it's at. Good I see producer credit. But so we we made a dent in that and then or so that's that's for one theater. So that so we had four theaters, some theaters do better than others in ran multiple nights in in most of them. Let me backtrack a little bit. We didn't have enough money to make the film when we started. But we knew that we could keep making money while we're making the film to keep paying everyone and paying it off. And I
Alex Ferrari 35:27
I think that's a dangerous business plan, sir.
Daedalus Howell 35:30
Well, is it though, because you can either not make your film, you can either wait till you have your whole budget and not make the sum or you can know that you're going to you know, you have your day job, and you're going to sink a little bit of your paycheck,
Alex Ferrari 35:43
As long as you have if you have a revenue stream that you know, it's coming to cover your nut, then yes, yeah, I've seen too many filmmakers start, like we got 10 grand, but we really need 50, we're just gonna start, we don't know where the other 40 are coming from. That's dangerous.
Daedalus Howell 35:58
No, that is dangerous. I don't advise that. But I do advise making a film if you know that you that if you don't have the budget all at once that you're at least going to accumulate the budget, actually accumulate it not pretend you are but actually know you're going to earn that money or acquire that money through production and post mostly in archives so that you actually are still making that film, there's nothing worse than having a you know, a film on your hard drive, and waiting for somebody to write a check, that's not going to happen and you never do it. It's better just to keep moving as best you can, and then keep it as cheap as possible. So we're so this is 30 grand, but this is this is 30 grand over 18 months, that's still a lot of money. But that's a lot of money in in smaller chunks.
Alex Ferrari 36:38
So what was it? What was the total that you actually had to recoup? After everything was done?
Daedalus Howell 36:45
Oh, of our own actual outlay? Yeah. Right.
Alex Ferrari 36:48
And investors are donation? Is it all donations? Or
Daedalus Howell 36:52
It was all it was all donations or Indiegogo kind of stuff.
Alex Ferrari 36:55
So like actual money you had like, what was the what was the the, to make this go into the black?
Daedalus Howell 37:01
To recoup our personal out of pocket expenses, we only needed about eight grand. You know,
Alex Ferrari 37:09
If you can't make eight grand with an independent film, then you really shouldn't be making an independent film.
Daedalus Howell 37:14
Right in and you can do that. And the great thing is, you know, we own it, too, you know, and it's part of that. Yeah, and it's part of this growing library. And now it lives online. And you know, Amazon sends us little statements every you know, and so if well, did I need to send it I check every day. But but there's it's better to have done and do and start building your your intellectual property empire and have something to leverage. And here's the thing with Pierhead. It's not a standalone property, the way I constructed it, it speaks to in an actually features other things that I've done. So there's this character who has a book called Quantum deadline. That's a kind of a MacGuffin in the movie, which is also a book that I wrote that's published in so I'm selling the book, in conjunction with the movie product placement product. Yeah, but it's, but it's not just product placement. It's it's a plot device. It's it's transmedia. You see, it's, it's it, they share the same story world. So the movie and the book are kind of exist in the the Luma verse for lack of a better term. And so that's, that's, that's how I'm kind of thinking this long term. It's like keep building in keep building the world and properties that exist within that world, in own all of it. And so it could be a longer game, but it's a better game to play. I think.
Alex Ferrari 38:34
So then how did you How was your online marketing game? Like? How did you guys you know, you have this audience that you're trying to reach? How did you reach this audience? How did you, you know, reach out to this audience, your regional audience, and then also beyond?
Daedalus Howell 38:50
So what I did first for the regional audience, because we did that cast and crew screening, through Eventbrite, which, you know, it's just a, you know, it's a free ticketing service at the level, we were doing it that allowed me to capture all of their emails. So not only did I have my cast and crew emails, I had all their friends and family at that point. And so, so that was a list of, you know, 300 plus people, which doesn't sound huge, but it is huge. When you want your numbers to spike on your on your first day of releasing, as you say, Hey, everyone, remember that great time we all had last month or a couple months ago. If you missed it in theaters, here's here's the chance to really deep dive into this film. And I hope that the film can endure repeat viewings. And so because it's got a lot of easter eggs and stuff like that in it. And so that's how we did it. We just did a blast, encourage everyone to share it. Of course, we leverage social all that you can triangulate through emails, like you know, where people are on different social platforms, and you can invite them to fan you know, like your fan page and that kind of thing. And so that's how I started and then I started with press releases and just sending them out to places that I thought would cover the film. And I'm still in that process in trying to try to Push the online. But that's a little. So that's a little outside of the regional model. That's a whole different kind of, it's more traditional in that this
Alex Ferrari 40:10
It's another revenue stream. It's a hybrid. It's a hybrid model.
Daedalus Howell 40:13
Yeah. And you have to keep doing that and keep that alive, because it keeps in the consciousness. And so I send out a press release, or some sort of appeal to a reviewer or a blogger. And then it doesn't have to be like, you know, a huge place any, any mention helps, you know, and so that's what I do. And it only takes you know, it's templatized at this point, so it takes a couple of minutes every day, or every, every week in my case. And that's what I'm doing
Alex Ferrari 40:36
Now. And do you did you use? Like, have you built an online community on Facebook at all or on different social media platforms?
Daedalus Howell 40:44
Yeah, so I because I was a local author and all that I was able to use my my own kind of presence, right. And so I'm generally the face of the film, even though there's a wonderful cast and crew. This I got to push it right. And so through my own Facebook, you know, I've got like, only 1500 followers, but they're really great. And they're really responsive. And so they're not like your tribe where they you know, if you ask them to, you know, march in and take bullets for you.
Alex Ferrari 41:08
I don't I don't know, you given way too much credit, sir. Giving me a way too much credit
Daedalus Howell 41:13
My tribe goes, Oh, this guy, this asshole again. All right. But it keeps it keeps it moving. And, and I know it's working. Because I see I see the you know, the hockey stick, you know, in my Amazon results, but I also get really great feedback. For whatever reason, pill head is the kind of film that people if they get into it, want to talk about it and tell me about it, which is really great. And so I've I've met people online and just hey, I watch your film, man. I really dig it. Did you mean this by that? That kind of thing. They're trying to decode some things. The dude I was speaking with yesterday on the radio, kind of nerded out on me. I didn't. He was putting out things that were in my opinion in the film, but I was like, Yeah, dude. SURE that you believe that? Let's go for that. And I don't mean that like in like a cynical way. I just mean, like, you know, you know what it's like people find something that you didn't maybe intend, but that's important to them. And it's important to let them have that.
Alex Ferrari 42:06
Oh, there's no question. I mean, I know Kubrick understood that very well.
Daedalus Howell 42:12
Yeah, he was brilliant. Not even talking about anything, you know,
Alex Ferrari 42:14
Exactly. Just like you guys figure out what I meant. I you know, it's much more interesting. Now, did you at any point, did you consider doing traditional distribution? Did you go down that road at all? Or was this planned from the beginning and like, we're doing this all the way?
Daedalus Howell 42:32
Okay, it was planned from the beginning that we were going to make a cause like, a completely comprehensively unmarketable film. Right. In that was in I mean, it sounds weird. It sounds like a like a rational after the fact. But truly, Alex, my producer, and I were like, we had done some conceptual art installations. We were, we were all about the creative, and which can be healthy thing, but also it's not going to make any money. Right. The idea was to make the film, we wanted to make a bout this place for this place. And that was the audience. So as long as we stood, you know, kept kept to the the principle like this is Petaluma film for Peda lumens. That was going to be enough to take it over the the, you know, the hump, but but there is that little part of you. Of course that goes. It would be cool, though, if this got picked up, and it would be a hell of a lot easier if it did. And, and so early on, I looked at the distributors that were distributing the kind of films in the A, the arthouse films have a peculiar kind of psychedelic nature, like like this one. And, and, you know, comes down to like, there's the big ones like Annapurna, and a 24, that kind of thing. And there's like a little ones like oscilloscope, none of those guys want to talk to me, it's, it's so and and I knew that and I kind of needed to lob that out there to confirm for myself that I'm, I gotta stay on my path, right? And even if they wanted to pick it up, if they I don't think there's the investment for this kind of film. And this film was so regional in its in its scope, that it wouldn't make sense really outside in some ways. However, I found it a little more universal mathematically than then. I'm probably giving a credit for but but no, I, you know, there's there's the, the darkness is always lurking, right. And it's in the seduction of, you know, breaking through somehow, as always there but you gotta stick to your own thing. It's the only, you know,
Alex Ferrari 44:34
And then how about film festivals, you didn't decide to go down to film festival route either.
Daedalus Howell 44:38
I considered it and I remember looking at the Filmfreeway you know, lineup and thinking this one looks good. That one looks good. I did the you know, I took pleasure in submitting to Sundance and giving them my $100 to sit.
Alex Ferrari 44:56
So it's a fantastic donation. Yeah. And that's and
Daedalus Howell 44:59
I knew going in. I had never submitted a film to Sundance, I had no delusion that it was going to get in. But I wanted to have participated in that. Finally, does that make sense?
Alex Ferrari 45:09
It's worse. It's such a strange such a strange Sundance is such a unique Film Festival in the in the scope of the world. I mean, unlike any other film festival anywhere in the world, especially for people in the US, Sundance is it, and we know that it's astronomical to get accepted. We know we have almost a better chance of winning a lottery or a scratch off than we do of getting our film in was last year, it was like 15,800 submissions. and 120 P films got in including shorts. So if you go go on the features, it's even less like the chances of you getting in are so astronomical. But then we all turn it to Jim Carrey in Dumb and Dumber you're saying, but there's still a chance. But you're saying there's a chance. And that little dream is what kind of, you know, look, I fell into it. Like when I made the ego and desire, which was a film about Sundance at Sundance, yeah, at Sundance without Sundance permission, I waited a year to submit to them, because I was like, if I'm ever going to get a chance, this is it. And I wasted a year, you know, I wasted a year of my time, you know, chasing that film festival dream. So I always find it fascinating when film, filmmakers now are just saying, You know what, I don't think the film festival route is for me. And it's not for everything. And it's not what it was in the 90s. Like, you know, like Sundance was stamping them out. They don't do that anymore. There is no festival that does that anymore.
Daedalus Howell 46:42
Right in festival, the festival culture has changed quite a bit to in what's considered a festival where the film is way different. Right? And not just in terms of, you know, production value and that kind of thing. But you know, a lot of the one stars a lot of them want
Alex Ferrari 46:56
They want asses and seats, they want asses and seats, they want press and that's look at start, you need star power. There's two ways you get into a film festival star power so that you can prove that you can fill that that those seats in those showings by your audience, whatever, that if you're a YouTuber who made a film, and you say, hey, look, I got 5 million subscribers. And I'm going to get how many seats do you need? 300 filled? Yeah, that's not a problem. Yeah, that's yeah,
Daedalus Howell 47:23
I didn't have that. And so I knew that I would have to, like, make my breaks. The other thing was, I was I put myself on this timeline, right? I booked the first screening before the film was done. Right? Because I needed the deadline. And I needed to, like really push it. And I know that sounds a little risky. But we have the technology, you know, it just takes the drive to finish. And so he did. I mean, like up all night, you know, that kind of stuff. But it was worth it. And it's exciting, you know, but no, this is not a festival film, man. And that was that was kind of a weird thing to accept, you know, because I, you know, I'd been everyone we've been through these festivals, we've seen what the culture is like, it's fun, but it just has changed. And there's such a delusion of content now. And our little black and white weird art flick is just not the kind of thing that's gonna play.
Alex Ferrari 48:13
It's not and trust me, like I, you know, with ego and desire, I was rejected from all the major festivals. I mean, I got into rain dance, I got a world premiere at Rain Dance, which was huge. That's pretty great. Yes, it was really, I was so blessed about that. But I was rejected by every other one. And I realized I was like, you know, I think other festivals just have a big stick up their butt about promoting Sundance at their festival. Like you don't want to be thinking about another festival while you're at my festival. That's interesting. Yeah. And I was like, Yeah, because anyone who watches the film really enjoys it. It's a filmmaking movie. It's about filmmakers selling a movie at a festival. Like why? Why wouldn't that play? It's a perfect film festival movie. Yet it didn't sell. It's odd man. I've seen I've look. I've been in over 600 festivals throughout my career with all my projects. It's changed. So so much in your
Daedalus Howell 49:05
Yeah, tastes are different to me. Like the people who go to film festivals. It's, it's usually an older demographic now. And there's a lot of baby boomers. They're kind of looking for the thing that speaks to them. You know, no one wants your punk rock or your movie, you know, it's better to project it unless Brad Pitt's in it unless Brad Pitt unless Brad Pitt's in it. And if Brad Pitt's in your punk rock movie, it's not a punk rock movie anymore, man. See, I mean, so.
Alex Ferrari 49:24
Exactly. So you've got
Daedalus Howell 49:27
Brad Pitt he's great but
Alex Ferrari 49:28
But there's there there's that whole thing is well, it's It's remarkable, man. But look it also I wanted to say I saw on your website, you have some merch? Have you been selling that merch? Has it made any money? Have you created any revenue off of it?
Daedalus Howell 49:41
Yeah. And so that that's the thing, I put it all on the front page of D howell.com. And that that's a constant stream. It's really great man. It's not like huge, but it's definitely buying groceries. You know selling Yeah, I'm selling the film. I'm selling the books that are related to the film and on the site. You can you see that I kind of make explaining What I'm doing this is all one world. And these are the different pieces and you can you can dive into the book or you can watch the movie and there's more to come and stay with me and that kind of thing. It's just the beginning. But it's, it's, it's like the foundation, you know, for like a personal content empire, you know, it's like,
Alex Ferrari 50:17
But that's that's where the future is man. That is, that's, I believe, truly believe that's where the future of independent film is going. It's not this one movie that's going to get me to where I want to go, it's like, it's going to be the grind. It's the film after film, building a portfolio, not selling out to distributors, or creating some hybrid distribution deal where you maintain some sort of control over your your film, not for 15 years, but for five or three things that there's so many different ways of going about it. And this is the future, I think that what you're doing is fantastic.
Daedalus Howell 50:51
I think that one of the tricks though, is to keep it coherent in its own universe, because people want you know, we see this with binging on Netflix, and that kind of thing, I find that audiences if they're going to invest in your your thing, your story, they want to, they want to be like rewarded for for that investment. And you got to do that by giving them another story. Just like the other one. I'm not saying the same plot thing. I'm saying like the same world, allow them to dive into something that you keep building out for them, that keeps them in, in interested in that world. I think the as filmmakers, we want to always do something new and novel and all that. But if you can commit to a story world with characters within it that you can explore, I think that's better. I think it's better to corral everything under some kind of some kind of unifying concept. Like, you know, I'll use the obvious example of Star Wars. Star Wars is like a world and all this universe, frankly, and all this stuff is in it, right? And there's no dearth of story material, you can, there's always a new spur someplace to go. I think if I can encourage anyone, if you're if you want to build a foundation, that blossoms into a business, keep it consistent unto itself. And another that can feel like you're locking yourself into something, but if at all possible, because synergies develop, right. And I'm not like selling like, you know, millions of copies of quantum deadlines that I've sold more this year with this movie, because of the relationship between those two projects than I that I have prior to that, you know, and hopefully one feeds the other that kind of thing. And as I roll out new material that speaks that place in the same playground, it'll keep growing exponentially.
Alex Ferrari 52:22
And it's similar to what I've done with my films with like, this is mag, and you know, what this is mag is not specifically a filmmaker movie, but it's a movie about the industry. It's about an actress. Yeah, it's about the industry. But it's also, you know, really, it's part of my ecosystem of indie film, hustle. So I created multiple revenue streams off of it, in addition to just the actual sales of it, and licensing and things like that. But now with ego and desire, which is coming out, as of this recording, it's coming out in in less than a month. Hopefully, that is going to be real product placement. And real interesting, because that is a product that is designed for the tribe like it is designed for a filmmaker, an independent filmmaker, like if, I mean, I wanted if I would see this commercial, I see this trailer, I'll be like, I've got to see that.
Daedalus Howell 53:12
Right, right. No, that's Yeah, totally. That's exactly what I'm talking about. You've you, that's your niche is kind of turning the camera back on the camera, you know, and exploring the nature of independent film, that's a perfect sweet spot for you. It's great in everything dovetails perfectly, right, it's a coherent brand proposition, I think you're onto something
Alex Ferrari 53:30
And that's it. That's what I've been trying to do. And I you know, and shooting for the mob, which is a book about my filmmaking, and then I've got the new book, whereas with films like it, there's a there's, you could see the film entrepreneur aspects of my business, you know, I and you have, to an extent, you've created multiple revenue streams coming in, and you're not getting you're not retiring off of them. I'm not retiring off of anything. You know, it's it's work, it's a hustle, but it's, it's a keeps the roof off over my head. Lights are on family is fed, we go on a vacation here or there. Life is good, you know, you know, and I live in Los Angeles, for God's sakes. So I mean, like, I wish I lived somewhere else that you know, house costs, you know, but I'm here and in this kind of world that I'm building out as a film entrepreneur is something that's able to sustain me and my family and and you're doing you're doing something similar so that's one of the reasons why I want to jump on the show, man it's really great stuff, man.
Daedalus Howell 54:29
Oh, cool. Yeah, there's that threshold I think for me it's about 18 months, maybe two years out where I hope that the revenue from all these endeavors begins to catch up in Eclipse you know the other work I have to do you know, I'm a writer so I write regardless so you know, I write for clients or write for magazines or newspapers, that kind of thing. And but I I feel a tipping points coming and eventually it's gonna you know, and that's, that's, if you can make it like that. That's the best way to make it man where you made it yourself. And we all have help along the way and all that Yeah, we help others along the way, I hope but But ultimately, you built your own kingdom you built your own empire Alex and and I think that everyone should endeavor to do that, because I think that we're gonna be a bunch of micro studios in 5-10 years.
Alex Ferrari 55:12
But that's but that's the go to the 100% we have to be our own businesses, we have to be our own corporations, we have to be our own studios. And I got to that tipping point, probably around two, two and a half years in, is I got to that tipping point where I just said to my wife, I'm like, I don't think I need to do post anymore. I you know, if a directing gig comes along, I like it, I'll take it, you know, but I don't have to do it anymore. And that is most wonderful feeling. For someone who's been hustling for 20 odd years in this business to just wake up every morning and go do what I love to do. It's the dream. It really is the dream. I'm so blessed and humbled by it. And and that's what you're doing on your end with your films, man. So congrats, man. Seriously,
Daedalus Howell 55:55
Thank you appreciate it. Yeah. I have to say, though, the way you do things, I really appreciate the openness and the way that you share how you accomplish these things. That's something I'm trying to engineer figure out a way to incorporate into what I'm doing. So because they're the give back factor is pretty huge. I mean, as we talked earlier, I without listening to indie film, hustle all that and kind of keeping the spirit of film alive in my head. I don't think I would have gotten to this point. And I think that if there's a way that filmmakers filmmakers can bake in some kind of way of acknowledging or helping kind of keep the community growing, all the better. I don't know what that is for me yet. Perhaps I'll figure it out. But
Alex Ferrari 56:40
The as as I don't know who said this, but if I forgot who philosopher said this, but he says, If you want to, if you want to succeed, help someone else succeed, right, and steal from them, and then obviously, then knock them over the head and take no, but but I've discovered by giving is, the greatest strength I have is because I am of service to my community, I give as much as I possibly can. Sometimes I give give too much, I give away 95% of my information for free. And I only charge for about 5% of what I do every day on a daily basis. You know, I could easily there's some podcasts that I do some interviews with some people that I'm like, I could charge 20 bucks for this is amazing information. And I give it away for free. Because I just found and I discovered that when you pay it forward, man, it comes back to you. And now it's addictive for me like I can't not give I cannot be of service. It's part of my DNA now. So wherever I meet someone, right, sure, you know, there's only there's only one of me, so I can't do it as much as I would like. But as much as you can give. And as filmmakers, you have to find that, that thing inside of you, that you want to be of service. And that be of service could be making a regional movie for your community of a film, that's a mark, that's a that's a a need in that in that marketplace. And you're being of service to that community, giving them a light that they haven't seen before. It doesn't have to be grandiose, it could be something very small. But when you discover that being of service aspect, and you should incorporate that in any way shape, or form you can through your work it is it's so much better than the Me me me vibe that I had back in the day when I was coming up when my ego was out of control and all sorts of craziness that I've gone through in my my career. That's why That's why anytime I meet a filmmaker, which I'm sure you've met too, who are just so ridiculous. That's why I may be going desire because I just had to had to make fun. It's so ridiculous. That I say it's all good man, don't I there's nothing I need to say to you. The business will take care of you. Life will take care of you. Yeah, it's and you might have some success here there. But I promise you, the hammers coming. It always comes and I don't care who you are, it always comes. So you will be humbled. If it's not. It's not me to do it. I won't humbly tell you, do you.
Daedalus Howell 59:11
I think that there's a tick in filmmakers, I think filmmakers, especially in the indie realm are intrinsically problem solvers. Right? constantly figuring out how to do something, or fix something or whatever, patch the holes of somewhere. And I think when you see problems in, in, like, the community, like in terms of like accomplishing something or making a film, that kind of thing, you there's an impulse to want to fix it or help somebody like, Dude, you're doing this wrong, man, this is how you do it. And I think maybe that's where it comes from. At first. Were you just like, Oh, I gotta help this guy. He's, you know, he's gonna waste everything here and I don't know, it's it's, it's a fascinating place to be and maybe it's just maybe I'm just getting older, you know? And then
Alex Ferrari 59:51
Don't underestimate the power of age, brother. I'm telling you, man, I mean, I look when I was 20 Oh, oh, I would I would slap my You know, it takes years of shrapnel it takes that that that kind of that rhinoceros skin that you've got to develop because of all the just the bruising and the battles and the and the punches and the, you know, the cuts, and the scarring that you have to go through in this business and I'm not being dramatic, it's the truth. Like we all go through it. And as you get older, you just start figuring things out. And that's what I try to do with this podcast. I try to like, give them a little bit of a shortcut. I still want them to go through their pain, but it's one thing to be sideswiped by an MMA fighter who's sitting next to you. And another thing is if someone says, Dude, there's an MMA fighter right next to you, you will be punched any minute now. There's a huge difference between you're gonna get punched, but understanding it preparing for that budget is a whole other story
Daedalus Howell 1:00:51
Well put. Yeah, good. The MMA metaphor. I love it. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 1:00:54
It's I always call ego is the MMA fighter that sits on your shoulder that that's what ego is because it'll be he'll be quiet. Sometimes you'll be like, quiet down quiet. He's fine. But he's just waiting for that moment, where there's an opening, and there's always that moment, you're like, Hey, maybe I am not that, boom. And that's it. You're out like, Hey, maybe I am really this good. Boom, there you go. You're out. And ego is always there waiting for you. And you've got to kind of flatten it and it takes forever. So I use that analogy all the time that MMA fighters always on my shoulder.
Daedalus Howell 1:01:28
That's good. That's good.
Alex Ferrari 1:01:29
Now I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all of my films or printers, sir. What advice would you give a filmtrepreneur starting a project today?
Daedalus Howell 1:01:37
Really focus on the writing, that's the one thing you can do for free yourself and get right with enough practice and dedication to it. Make sure that script is story worthy and shoot in shooting where they first just, you can't fix, you can't fix bad writing and post you can edit it around some stuff. But even in my own experience, there are scenes where I go eat if I just spent one more day on a draft, I could have cleared up a lot of problems for myself. Just make sure that things written first write it
Alex Ferrari 1:02:06
Fair enough. Now what is the biggest lesson you learned from building your company building what you're trying to do with your film company.
Daedalus Howell 1:02:15
So go in on getting professional advice for setting it up correctly. If you're going to do an LLC, or, or a sole proprietorship, whatever you're gonna do, just make sure you actually set it up as a business and do it legitimately. Sometimes, if you're going to have your business is going to have what they call a fictitious name. And by that it's like again, it's not your own. Yeah, DBA go through the hoops. Just check all the boxes, it's worth it and and it sets you up for success. You don't want to have to like mess with your taxes. You don't want to have to mess with all this stuff. That's just gonna slow you down artistically. Do it right. And if you have to pay a little bit for it, do that.
Alex Ferrari 1:02:52
And get an account.
Daedalus Howell 1:02:54
That's a great point. Accountants, you know, cheap. Total bookkeepers is way cheaper than you think, you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:03:01
A lot cheaper, than you're doing it yourself man. I could tell you that much.
Daedalus Howell 1:03:04
Especially when you mess it up. Yeah, it especially in production. Having a bookkeeper? I didn't didn't have one until ahead. I really wish I did. Because it would have been so much easier just to have it happening every week. Everyone gets paid. Versus do I get my check? It's midnight. I'm you know, like, well, let me get let me get the book out. Yeah, no, just pay the 200 bucks, whatever. It's nothing.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:24
Yeah, it's no, it's it's, it's a good ROI. And an ROTC return on time and return on investment Ah, yes. Yeah. Because, you know, a lot of us, as filmmakers, especially us guys, here at the micro budget level, we always want to save a buck, but you got to be smart on where you save it. Because if you save $5, but if you pay that $5, not $5 will save you an hour or two in work, or time does it makes is your time worth more than $5? Right? Could you be doing something else that could generate more revenue, or help the project farther along? That is such a huge, huge thing.
Daedalus Howell 1:04:03
That's a great point. Let the pros do the pro stuff, you know? Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 1:04:07
Fair enough. Fair enough. Fair enough. Now, what what did you learn from your biggest business failure?
Daedalus Howell 1:04:13
Hmm, well, that wasn't necessarily this project.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:17
No, no, no, no, in this business in general.
Daedalus Howell 1:04:19
Um, there's a lot of people who are often not invested in your success. Shocking. Yes. And it's, it's important to recognize that and get rid of them early. Not that anyone may be intentionally sabotaging you, but they may unconsciously have a grudge and you might be carrying them with you and you want to drop them as soon as you can. We see this in creative stuff. Sometimes, you know,
Alex Ferrari 1:04:48
Some just not all the time just sometimes.
Daedalus Howell 1:04:53
Just sometimes. This guy suck. You know, there's just there are energy vampires, you know that they want to be close to you Because you got the thing and they don't and they're gonna take it from you. Bit by bit drop by drop papercuts death by pet. Yeah, in they may not even know they're doing it, get rid of them. It's okay to get rid of them.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:13
It took me a long time to figure that out a long time to figure that out. Now in your opinion, what is the definition of a filmtrepreneur?
Daedalus Howell 1:05:23
A filmtrepreneur is someone who endeavors to make filmmaking their live their live in livelihood and by pragmatic and judicious execution of the their, their talent in the cinematic space.
Alex Ferrari 1:05:43
Sorry, you're a wordsmith, sir. Obviously,
Daedalus Howell 1:05:45
No that sounds a little put on. That again, I was I was reaching their films I film a filmtrepreneur is is somebody who, who knows that to make films, they have to make films that that sustain them ultimately. And so by by being smart as as, as well as pragmatic, is the way to go.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:08
Now where can people find you your movie and what you're doing?
Daedalus Howell 1:06:12
Yeah, I'm at DHowell. It's Dhowell.com. And if you want to go directly to the business, it's culturedepartment.com culturedept.com. I'm on Facebook at Daedelus Howell don't even bother Dhowell.com. There's links everywhere I swear. And until hits on Amazon, go to Amazon watch pillhead You can see how I did it.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:33
Yeah. Is it on prime? Or is it on just rental? And
Daedalus Howell 1:06:36
It's on prime yeah.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:37
Nice. Fantastic. Are you finding that you're making? You're making good money on prime as opposed to rental and purchase?
Daedalus Howell 1:06:43
That's a great question. I I'm finding it's not quite as juicy. In terms of prime. But I'm prime is kind of a long term play for me, because I'm trying to push it a lot. And it's easy to get people to watch it if they're not paying out of pocket. Sure. Like, it's a little frictionless. And so I'm kind of in a in a marketing push right now. And so I'm sending out links to, you know, bloggers and stuff like that. I want them to be able to click it, watch it, love it, talk about it. So that's kind of where I'm at right now. So yeah, there's a bit of a little bit of decline. But you know, the great thing about prime though, it's like it's opened up in the UK now. So the film's kind of getting a different audience, that kind of thing. less friction, long term play. I'm a little I'm still on the fence about it a little bit to be honest.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:24
But you're but you're huge in Turkey. So that's all really that matters. You can't walk the streets in Turkey, sir. So
Daedalus Howell 1:07:32
I can't anyway, but yeah,
Alex Ferrari 1:07:35
Brother, man, I appreciate you coming on and being so transparent and forthcoming with the tribe, man. So thank you so much for dropping those knowledge bombs, brother.
Daedalus Howell 1:07:44
Oh, thanks for having me. This is a real privilege and pleasure. I really truly appreciate it, man. Thank you. Yeah.
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- Daedalus Howell – Official
- Pill Head
- Daedalus Howell – Medium
- Rise of the Filmtrepreneur: How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Moneymaking Business