I’m so excited to have on the show this week Dov Simens, founder of Hollywood Film Institute. He created the remarkable 2 Day Film School and has launched the careers of Quentin Tarantino, Chris Nolan, Spike Lee, Kevin Smith, Queen Latifah, Guy Ritchie & more.
“Listened to Dov Simens, Shot Reservoir Dogs and became a director.
– Quentin Tarantino
Dov Simens’ teaching style is entertaining, in your face and straight from the street. Real-world, practical film education.
“Took the 2 Day and launched my filmmaking career!”
– Will Smith
When I took his course over 15 years ago I was floored. He spoke about things I never heard in “film school.” He teaches you how to make a feature film, not how to be creative, not why you choose a camera or lenses, and not how to write the great script.
“Dov Simens has Revolutionized Film Education”
– Roger Cormen (Legendary Indie Film Producer)
Without taking his course I wouldn’t have been able to make my first film BROKEN (Watch it on Indie Film Hustle TV). He laid the foundation for my filmmaking career. It sounds nuts that you can learn everything you need to know to make a feature film in 2 days but you can.
Sit back and prepared to be schooled in the ways of Jedi Film Teacher Dov Simens.
Right-click here to download the MP3
Alex Ferrari 0:00
So today we have a great treat for you guys. You're going to be listening to an interview with Dov Simens. Dov Simens has been called America's greatest film teacher. He actually taught Quentin Tarantino he went on to took his course prior to making Reservoir Dogs. And quitting actually said I took his course. It was awesome. I made it I made Reservoir Dogs right after so along with other notables like Will Smith. Damon Wayans I think Chris Nolan, bunch of people took his course. It's a kind of prerequisite here in Hollywood and around the world. And Dov has been doing this since the late 80s. And he comes from a really kind of, you know, kind of like what indie film hustle is about, you know, straight from the kind of street from the real real action the trenches, if you will. He worked with legendary film producer Roger Corman for many years, where he picked up a lot of his tricks of the trade and his technique for his two day film school. He trademarked the two day film school. And I also took it as well a years ago, before I made broken so I know firsthand how amazing his course is. He really just kind of gets into your face and tells you what the realities of the film business are how to actually make a movie. He doesn't teach creative. He doesn't teach any of that stuff. He teaches you the nuts and bolts of making a movie. And his his technique is very entertaining. To say the least. He was generous enough to to do an interview for us. So without further ado, here is Dov Simens guys. So Dov you there? Welcome!
Dov Simens 2:14
Yes. Hi, Alex. And thank you very much for introducing me to all your members at indiefilmhustle.com. Hi, guys. Hello, filmmakers. Hello, writers. Hello, directors.
Alex Ferrari 2:20
Thank you, man. Thank you. So um, so just the indie. So the so the the listeners know, I actually took Dov's course, about 15 years ago. So I was still I still wet behind the ears back then. And his course was monumental in my, my formation as a filmmaker. I did my right after I did it. I shot my first short film that went on to do a lot of different things for me and kind of launched my career. So it's a big, big thrill having you on the show dog and to speak to you. So again, thank you so much for doing the show.
Dov Simens 2:42
Alex, thank you. You're welcome. Very much. Hello. So let's carry on.
Alex Ferrari 2:43
Okay, so um, let me ask you a question. You got your start in the film industry with Roger Corman, is that correct?
Dov Simens 2:49
Yes. Little bit before him I was about two years before I met him. I was naive and romantic came to Hollywood thought I saw movies thought I could do better. Never really realize, you know, this place called Hollywood. They know what they're doing. They're in the business of making money. And it's corporations and I came romantic and naive. I had a lot of ideas, but nobody owns an idea. I chased the deal chased the deal, it didn't happen, then add a necessity in order to pay rent, I became what's called an independent reader. And over two years, I read probably about 2000 screenplays and did what's called coverage. In those days I was paid 25 to $35 to read a script and do a two page book report analysis on it. And while doing that, then I stumbled into doing a no budget commercial. Then I stumbled into a one day shoot with somebody that was hired by Roger Corman. then a month later I did a weekend shoot for him and actually got a check for $200. Then I did a one week shoot as a production manager. Then a three week shoot, this is over six months to one year. Okay. And then I eventually became what's called a line producer for Roger Corman. So glamorously, I can say I was in the script development business, and I read 2000 scripts and did coverage item, but paid 25 to $35 each. And I was a loan producer for Roger Corman sounds exotic, and it by the way it is. So I've read scripts, and then I stumbled into working for Roger as a production manager, and he allowed me to have a nicer title on the next shoot, but he didn't give me any more money. And he allowed me to be called a line producer, which is nothing but a production manager on the next shoot. And during that time, I stumbled into doing a teaching gig at UCLA. Then, six months later, USC asked me to do the class, then NYU and I stumbled into teaching. Nobody plans on being a film instructor. We're all usually a bunch of failures, who tried producing, writing and directing. Everybody knows the saying those that can do and those that can't teach. I want to be a great producer. I want to be a great director, I still want to be but I really don't have the talent. But I have enough experience. And I stumbled into teaching I found out Oh, I'm a very good communicator, teacher. And I have the sound bites of this mysterious an industry. That is called a business. It's called show business. It's not called short. And then I just started informing people that have the passion, have the desire, have the talent, but need some structure. And I gave that to them. Hopefully, God bless. I don't know if I answered the question. I rambled.
Alex Ferrari 4:33
It's okay, it's okay. So you just start with Roger. Now, can I ask you a quote because I, I've studied Roger Corman and all his work and he's launched I mean, many, many, many film careers, monster film careers in Hollywood. What did you learn going through the Corman film school? I know a few people who've actually gone through it as well. Some crew members, DPS and so on that went through it as well that projects with Roger, what what did you learn about that kind of crazy filmmaking process that he goes through?
Dov Simens 4:50
One, it's a business to get it done. Don't make it great.
Alex Ferrari 4:55
That's it. That's it. That's nice.
Dov Simens 4:56
Now get it done. And get it done means you only have enough money for one two or three weeks shoot at the most with three weeks shoot a 90 page script. One location Roger jokingly said but it's correct. When you don't know what you're doing your first feature film take a kid's toy house and chop them up. That's a 90 page script eight kids one house Wait a second. One house take your eight actors to one house. That's a stage play. Oh, that's easy to do. No props, no location moves. No exterior night. Roger also said if he ever sees the two words exterior night and a script, he throws the script out. Don't try to shoot anything exterior, no with no turnaround. So Roger it business get it done. Sell the poster, call it a million dollar feature but I never saw more than $150,000 to make one. But he calls it a million dollar feature. And then he goes to a film market not a film festival. And he add a market he license it sells it to Italy, Germany, Japan, Korea, Ecuador Brazil, Hong Kong, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand. When you make a feature film that is genre oriented, and visual oriented, and it's made in America with American teenagers, American people and American Jean for the American Ray band, and an American house in American car, you can do even though it might be poor acting. It's a genre, you can do 35 sales at a film market, at ballpark 10th out to $60,000 per nation. So let's talk business. Roger stage, he just made a million dollar feature. However, I'm the line producer, I only spent $150,000 to make it and I stopped trying to figure out where the other 850,000 goes to. So he made a million dollar feature. That's what he calls it. But he spent 150,000 then enter fill market he does 35 sales at an average price of 20 to $30,000 per nation. Do the math that means he made a profit of course. And then he comes back next year with part two and part three. And if they make profits then next year he does part four and part five. And what he said is if you want to do art does you want to send a message call Western Union. I'm not in the message business. I'm in the business of renting seats and selling sugar. That's the movie business.
Now that movie business has changed a bit as far as distributors
It's gotten better and better with social media and on demand and all these platforms. They're about 20 on demand platform so maybe you as the one night you out but your audience you have two choices audience actually three make you know budget micro budget ultra low budget feature go get your two iPhones, do it again. And let's see if you get into Sundance Toronto Telluride, Cannes or Berlin. Any other festivals are useless. Anything get into one of them. No, nowhere near a guarantee that is marketable, you will get a distributor that will probably offer you 200,000 a million dollars to walk away that one game plan. A second game plan is do it but go more not for dialogue story and plot point. Go more for the poster and the genre. And then you take it yourself to Cannes, not the film festival, the market or AFM book a room that'll cost you 20 to $40,000 to do sales. And let's see how good salesmen are. You are to Italy, Germany, Japan, Korea, and do it yourself or get a foreign distributor and a producer's rep to do it for you. But they're the middlemen, and you're going to see some creative bookkeeping. And the third way is the one that has just started really becoming real bad two years ago, is because of social media and all these different on demand platforms, being subscription on demand transactional on demand or add support on demand you yourself, nevermind going theatrical. Nevermind trying to make a print and put it in theaters. Nevermind billboards and newspaper ads, nevermind even foreign sale. Let's just go on the internet. And do it that way and cut out the middleman and you want to call it the old word of self distribution. I'll call it be your own distributor through the internet
Alex Ferrari 13:42
Now and do you suggest that filmmakers build their communities to be able to sell like build a community to be able to sell directly to them? Like you know to make up to do a VHS or or Vimeo pro on demand or or even YouTube on demand or any that's kind of stuff? do you suggest that they try to build a community of some sort to be able to start selling more or good
Dov Simens 14:01
Or good or good? Yes, yes. piglets, talk the magnitude of building a community. Okay. And not just a couple of little Facebook friends. Of course, we're talking about get to 132 million people. And if you can do that, absolutely. Absolutely. Other than that, it's just a nice exercise.
Alex Ferrari 14:22
Got it? Got it. Yeah, cuz out of 200,000 if even if 500 people 1000 people buy your film at a certain price, point it either rented
Dov Simens 14:31
Downloaded $2 $4 whatever. There it is, then go knock another one out next week. And so no knock another one out next week. Then you're going to build your database. You're going to build your community. Absolutely, absolutely. Yes, build a community but be realistic about what quantifies our community. 500 friends is not a community that barely a neighborhood.
Alex Ferrari 15:01
Exactly, exactly. So let me ask you, why did you start doing the two day film school?
Dov Simens 15:07
Had to pay rent
Alex Ferrari 15:09
Dov Simens 15:10
Yeah. It's hard for me to talk about me because then it comes out ego. But I'm proud of being brutally honest, are straight. Yes, you are and add a necessity. I wanted to be a big producer, I want to be a big director. But then I've got a wife and children, I had to pay rent. So first is reading scripts, reading two scripts a night for coverage to 25 to 35 bucks and for scripts on the weekend, then getting some production managing nickel dime jobs with Roger then getting a gig at UCLA right then, and they paid me only $250 for the first teaching gig for a day at UCLA. Then USC offer me $2,000 for a two day class. Yeah, I bet that's like 40 scripts reading that's 80 scripts reading Sure. Then NYU in New York or for me, $5,000 for a weekend class. Wow, a coach ticket and staying at a cheap hotel in Manhattan. But then I stumbled into somebody and I did each of those schools I did about four or six times. This is over a three year period and during the time of finding out do you know I like teaching Do you know I actually have the information from the school of hard knocks and the ability to put it in sound bites that first timers understand where I don't say the romantic things like you got to have heart You got to have passion, you got to have talent. You got to believe in yourself and air go take an exotic class on lighting. Lighting. Oh Killian, your first feature film you got let's go your first feature film you got enough money at the most for three weeks shoot, maybe it's micro budget, no budget a one week shoot. So a three week shoot is 18 shooting days. You have a 90 page screenplays. So you have a shooting schedule five pages per day, you only have about 12 hours of daylight in a day, one hour to get there get set up one hour for lunch. So in 10 hours of shooting by the way would you like good production value are covered, then each page or scene you should shoot with about six angles. The master shot to over the shoulder reverse angle medium shots, three or four close up cutaways, and a close up of the actors action. That's about six setups. So if you're getting five pages and six setups, that's 30 setups. So getting 30 setups and 10 hours that 600 minutes, you have 20 minutes per shot. Now pick up the camera move, find your new place, set it down. Now get the actor Blackcomb put them in the right frame composed properly. Let them read the one page seen through two or three times with the two or three actors you have now run out of time Don't even think about lighting. Make sense? There is no time. Okay, go to USC films go there, you're gonna look at all the beautiful movies. And you're going to think I want that to look like then go get $10 million. Which you're not going to get for your first second and third feature. Anyway, you see what I do I know you know what I do, sir? Is it real? I break it down and real. I do a two day film school day one, I teach how to make your first independent feature and dependent means get your own money. So you're not going to hear about studio financing. You're not going to hear about government funding program, you're not going to hear about product placement, you're not going to hear about Cannes and pre selling and International Co production. That's not independent financing. That's the Hollywood system. It's crowdfunding or it's legalized begging, and you're going to come up with 10th out at the absolute most 200,000 make your first feature. So you better forget the idea that you have right now because you can't make it for minimal money. Now let's come up with the 90 page one location stage play. jokingly Roger says take a kid's two outs and chop them up. It's a stage play. Put your idea that you have right now and the hustlers that you have right now I'm sure your ideas great. Get the script now put it aside for your second project. Now let's come up with a project not a short, a feature film that will get you the credibility out of fast food and get the financing for that project. And your first project is going to be a 90 page one location pretty close to a stage play the dinner for a hit from hell. The class reunion, the courtroom drama, you'll figure out something creatively everybody out there, and you're going to have enough money for a one, two or three weeks shoot. So in day one I day try to get the script. I teach how to do the shooting schedule. I teach your vendor and equipment deals assuming you have 10,000 to $200,000. I show how to spend the money for a one, two or three week shoot, but leave money leftover for post your picture, edit your sound edit your ADR, your Foley, your musical score, and how to get your output right now going through a festival, your DCP and keeping $10,000 back for promotion and social media for that one premiere at the festival and better get into a major fest worth 3000 festivals in the world. 2980 are useless.
Alex Ferrari 20:52
Dov Simens 20:53
They are social. They're not useless. They're good social functions. They're parties and everybody gets an award at every festival. Usually it's an invoice but people call it an award. Yes, very much so. But what you've got to do is have 3000 festival Why do you want to go to a festival everybody knows why to sell your film be discovered get a distributor? Well, you're not going to sell your film going to the Columbus Ohio Film Festival because no distributors send their employees there. Have 3000 festivals the buyers that are the technical phrase are called the acquisition execs. You should do an archer article or podcast on the acquisition execs their names and who are they okay? Because those are the ones that write the checks and buy. And nobody wants to seem to know their names. Were in my class ago, here are their names here, their emails, start blogging, I'm start blessed amount. And so have 3000 festivals in the world. Those 20 to 40 acquisition execs only got about 12 festivals a year. Sundance, Toronto, Telluride, Cannes, Berlin, maybe a phi, maybe Los Angeles independent festival. So you got to get into one of those major festivals where the odds are very poor. And if you can get into one of the major festivals, now you're in, that's the key, get into a major festival of 3000. There are only 15 of them that mean anything. All the rest are nice social functions. There's nothing wrong with them. But you're not going to sell your film at a
Alex Ferrari 22:43
Very, very true I've gone through many festivals myself, and I've seen a lot of filmmakers go to hundreds of festivals. And at the end of the day, they're like not are you are you? How's your career going? Is it moving forward or not? And they generally, generally not.
Dov Simens 22:58
In poker, it's a tough one. Because when you make your film, it's your baby. Oh yeah, you're so emotionally attached to it, and it is your baby. And you know how hard you worked. And I really believe anybody that makes a feature film, especially with no money deserves an Oscar, not an award and Oscar, nevermind people that get Oscars when they're given all the money in the world and all these amazingly talented people. There's that's not tough. What's tough is to take little, the hardest thing anybody's going to do in the film industry ever is their first independent micro budget, no budget feature film, you will have little to no money, you don't know what you're doing, you will have relatively inexperienced people both with attitudes, because they went to film, schools, furniture, and somehow you got to get this thing done, done. And everybody thinks it's supposed to be perfect. And I guarantee you when you're writing the check, and it's your dad gave you the money, you're in a position of I gotta get it done. And somehow you got to get it done. And if you can get that done and get it into Sundance Toronto, or telluride or Cannes, you really are amazing. You really do have talent. And now you're going to get a lot more money for your second feature film, which is easier, because now you know what you're doing. Now you have more money. Now you can afford to pay crew what they believe they're supposed to be paid, and they like the gig. It gets easier and easier and easier. The hardest thing to ever do is the first no budget micro budget feature. And that's your community Alex and you're informing them the best you can from the experience that you have. God bless.
Alex Ferrari 24:53
I appreciate it. So I can I can ask you a few more questions. Of course. Alright, so Um, you've discussed in I online and also on your course, what are the four different kinds of budgets? Can you kind of break down real quick what the four different budgets are?
Dov Simens 25:09
Yeah, mega budget, medium budget, low budget and no budget. Let me qualify that. But those, those are the four. Okay. First off, let's get a reality check. Everybody in the world when they're say they're making a feature film, everybody always asked everybody, what's your budget? Where the correct answer is, it's none of your bloody business. Right? But it's amazing. Everybody wants to know everybody else's budget. And 70 years ago in Hollywood, I'm sure the Hollywood executives found out that people are always asking them, what's your budget? Now Hollywood gives out the budget. Wait, let's get a little common sense. Can you name me any other industry in the world that manufactures products, where the manufacturer actually tells the consumer what it costs to make their product? No, only the movie industry is the only industry in the world where they actually tell the consumer what it costs to make their product. Now let's have a little common sense and a moment of clarity. Hollywood Warner Bros, Paramount, 20 century universal Disney, Sony, when they tell you the budget, you think they tell you the truth. Of course, what the budget is to make their movie is nobody's bloody business. But because people a want to know and be, it seems to be a good marketing thing. They say the number. And my opinion is the number they say it's probably 20 to 40 times bigger than what it really costs to make it. So a mega budget is a studio feature film, where you're going to hear numbers like the budget is 100 million or 200 million. My opinion, it doesn't cost that. But my opinion is it's a very expensive movie. And nobody's going to make that for the first feature film, the mega budget feature. The next budget categories, what I call the medium budget feature, which is when you're trying to finance a thing, but not going directly to a studio. I call it the medium budget features the two number budgets. When you ask somebody, what's the budget, and then they say two numbers arrange? Don't you think they know the exact number? What's the budget? Who the budget mode feature films, two to 3,000,003 to 5,000,005? to seven, seven to 1010 to 1212 to 1515 to 2020? To 30? What do you mean don't you know the number but it's an amazing how many people say the budget or announce it and they say two numbers. That means it's not going to be 100 million or 200 million studio feature film. So what they have to do, if they say a number, they inflate it, then they stretch it. That marketing. Now, a long time ago, I worked for Roger Corman Remember what I said about 30 minutes ago, and I worked on what he would call a million dollar features. But as the line producer, I never saw more than 150,000. So basically, I believe most budgets have been inflated 600 to 1,000%. When we start playing the let's market to the consumer game, because they don't even know how to rent a camera. And we're going to tell them how expensive is and the bigger the number we tell them, maybe a better chance of them coming to check it out. So the mega budget hundreds or $200 million feature that's the studio feature. The medium budget to number budget one to 2,000,002 to 3,000,003 to 5 million. They're usually made for about 300 to 500 or 500 to 7000 which is a lot of money for probably a five week shoot. But that money is used the raised at Cannes, not the Cannes Festival, the Cannes market, or AFM or the European film market at Berlin, which is Berlin festivals, the Berlin alley, but next door is a European film market. So the two number budgets are usually raised from foreign sales with product placement and maybe a government financing program put in and you hear numbers like two to 3,000,003 to five, five to seven, seven to 1010 to 12. The low budget is where I worked for guys like Roger Corman at that time, crown trauma. curb entertainment cannon cannon app Absolutely. The early days of Lionsgate the million dollar feature, but a million dollar features not made for million dollars. If you actually Have a million dollars in cash and spent it to make it and somebody asks you What's the budget? Alex, I'm going to tell you say it's a three to $5 million feature. And then if you want to go to heaven that's lying. If you want to go to heaven, you sneak in the words just sender. So when you have a million dollars to make a feature, and somebody asks you What's the budget, and you want to go to heaven, but you want to make money, say the budget Oh, it's somewhere just under five to 7 million.
Alex Ferrari 30:33
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show
Dov Simens 30:43
Is a million dollars just under five to 7 million Absolutely. Oh, you're that lie in your marketing, you're gonna go to heaven. So the low budget features are usually three weeks shoots. Non guild non union may be sag. With no movie names in it may be an over the hill television name. And their million dollar features but they're made for about 200 to 300. And they're pretty close to the one location sort of genre stage play. Then the micro budget, or the true ones where your listeners and your community should really be thinking about going that's the you want to call it the no budget, the micro budget the many budget the ultra low budget, it ballpark between 10 and $100,000. A one or two weeks shoot with you have 100,000 you can do a one week shoot with two 4k reds. You got 10th out forget about the red. Go down to two iPhones, you can do a one week shoot with two iPhones. What's the one that hated Sundance?
Alex Ferrari 31:58
Oh, yeah, yeah, exactly.
Dov Simens 32:01
So what are you asked me? What about budgets make a budget is when you're thinking about doing a studio feature. Don't think about that until your third or fourth feature film. Medium budget is usually pre selling at Cannes, once you have a track record. And think about that for your second or third feature film. That's the two number budget. The low budget is the million dollar feature. You can get that either from crowdfunding or a small private placement, raising 200 to 300,000 offering 50% not ownership a profit. big caveat. If there are any. And the micro budget feature, is get your own money. Go get a job at Starbucks and save some money. Let's see how great and how much talent you have. But the great script that takes place in one location, a five to seven person crew a one week shoot with a bunch of pizzas, burgers and fries. And now let's see how good the actors are and how good your script is. And the camera will probably bounce all over the place. But the key and micro budget filmmaking is not the camera. It's the microphone. Make sure the audio is great. Everybody wants to read about a new camera and then read about a new app with a new lens. It's the audio I don't care how great the script is and how great the acting and how great the props and great the wardrobe and great this and great that if the audio is mediocre report stinks. Yeah, though anyway,
Alex Ferrari 33:39
They'll forgive us. They'll forgive a bad picture way before the if you get bad audio.
Dov Simens 33:42
Yep. What if the audio is poor? Nobody cares. Nobody will listen to it. Nobody will hear it. That's it. So the four budget she got him Alex, I got a good I got a medium, low and micro. And where your audience should be focusing on is think micro and may be low. Think crowdfunding equity, crowdfunding donations, or saving up 10 or $20,000 in a one week shoot, or thinking about a private placement, raising 200 to 300. But don't make a short to demonstrate your talent that's going backwards when you're an adult. Find your cinematographer where you live. That's a real cinematographer. He will have or she will have an eight to 10 minute demo reel. You're going to use that demo reel to demonstrate your talent. Your talent was Look, look who I'm hiring. Look what he or she does. When you make your own short it's going to look worse than the demo reel of that cinematographer. How about that one?
Alex Ferrari 34:52
That's very good. That's actually really good advice.
Dov Simens 34:55
Alex Ferrari 34:57
So um, can you share some of some of the Hollywood Big lies. I know a lot of a lot of filmmakers are completely bewildered by the magic of Hollywood where some just a couple of the big lies that that you've talked about.
Dov Simens 35:08
But the biggest lie is we're looking for talent.
Alex Ferrari 35:13
They've got all the talent.
Dov Simens 35:15
I love all those people saying, we're looking for talent. No, we're not. We're looking for money. And we're looking for marketable names. But if you if you think anybody out there, Thanks for looking for talent, get on a plane, fly to LA, rent a car, drive over to Paramount, go to the gate guard. And when he says hello, who are you say, I'm talent? I'm here. Who do I see? I heard on television, you're looking for talent? Please tell them I'm here.
Alex Ferrari 35:50
That's awesome. That is truly one of the big lies, no question about it.
Dov Simens 35:56
And the next one is, the budget is and they tell you the budget. Sure. It really it's not your business and stop asking people what's the budget, it's not your business. And when they tell you a number, it's going to be massively inflated to create a higher perceived value.
Alex Ferrari 36:15
Or lower or the it's either the most expensive of the all time or the genes
Dov Simens 36:19
That drive it up or drive it down. But the drive down doesn't work anymore. Now that we got iPhones tangerine, what what's the budget of your feature film? $82? That's been used too many times already.
Alex Ferrari 36:31
That's Yeah, it's been it's been beaten. It's been beaten up a bit.
Dov Simens 36:35
Can you know that? No other Hollywood lie. We're looking for great scripts. Go to the movies. Yeah, go look at Batman, Superman. Iron Man, pizza man, burger, man. Are those great scripts? Now? I'm not yelling at you.
Alex Ferrari 36:58
I appreciate it. No, I've seen I believe. Yeah, I'm familiar with your style of teaching, sir. says no problem at all.
Dov Simens 37:06
Carry on. Next question.
Alex Ferrari 37:07
Sorry. Sure. Um, is there any any advice you could give young filmmakers about publicity for their film for their first film?
Dov Simens 37:17
It's a new world for me. I'm not that educated with social media. But yes, you got it. First. You got to make your first feature film. Got it? 90 pages one location. And yes, get some sort of poster, a billboard. But you're not going to print it and put it out on street corners. And now let's see how you do YouTube. Let's see what you do on a campaign and make something called viral. Let's see how you get a curiosity factor. Let's see how you do Twitter. This is the new world. I'm 72. I know this world exists. It's not a gimmick. It is the real world. But I can't teach it. Because I'm not savvy enough. I always hear Yes, it's very important, especially when you're micro budget, ultra low budget, no budget. And you're doing things for 5000 to $30,000. And we have all these on demand pride forms from the who's from the Netflix from the distributors, from the indie flicks from the snagfilms, etc. that if you can get the word out and have people more than the phrase check me out. All right, want to pay to see it? for beer? microblogging, micro charging, 59 cents each dollar $2. But you can make profits now, you can make profit. But the key is what you said that I can't fake it. I don't know how to teach how to get the word out within social media. I know the phrases Facebook, I know you too. I know social media. I know Twitter, but I'm not savvy enough of how to create campaigns forum. Got it. I know how to market to bring people to my class to sell my product, my DVD film school, or my two day film school or on my website, I have a streaming film school that I charge only $89 for 20 hours. So I got to drive traffic to it right. So I know how to do a blog and how to send that out and how to get the blog on to every Facebook group. I've got 140 Facebook groups I put it on. Then I'm on LinkedIn groups, they only allow you 40 decide put it there. Then I know how to do spot ads sponsored links on Facebook, and Google and by keywords and targeted properly. So my average click to my website cost me 28 cents, not bad. Now, I'm happy with that I learned that my conversion rate though from my landing pages, it's not that good one, I have 150 people that come to my landing page with the 28 cent click means it cost me about $45 to get one person to buy my product at $89 to 389. Right? I make a profit. But I think I can be more efficient at it. But that's what I'm doing. I think I just gave a class by the way to your listeners.
Alex Ferrari 40:48
Yeah, that's kind of like where I'm that's my specialty is that kind of creating landing pages and optimizing sites for SEO and all that kind of stuff. That's kind of where I came from. I actually came from post production originally. And I still do post production for last 20 years. And that's how I made that's how I make my living as post production and directing commercials and music videos. But then I started getting into
Dov Simens 41:11
I wanna stop right now, the nonstop, I want to applaud you. I think number one, if you understand picture editing, and post production, oh yeah, then if anybody out there is looking for director, Alex is the person to hire, I appreciate not hire a stage director that knows how to talk to human beings actors. I'm not saying that's not important. We want to hire somebody that knows, has learned from seeing how other directors screwed up. And editors are always they don't tell anybody, but they always save the film.
Alex Ferrari 41:48
That's absolutely absolutely true. Absolutely true. And now, color and editorial
Dov Simens 41:52
Knows how to what the basic is of get a master get to over the shoulder medium shots, where is the B roll, the cutter, roll roll, or the close up, or the sometimes they call it the cat in the window shots to close ups. So Alex understands that. And he also understands the mechanical making of the film, which is post production, what the steps are, which are so important. And let's go back, I add that thing.
Alex Ferrari 42:23
I appreciate that, that that
Dov Simens 42:26
I'm not blowing smoke, you're not giving me any money. I know, I know buddy up there. Alex knows how to direct. Now you guys come up with 50,000 or 200,000. And I'm there, get the great script and call him up and he'll get it done for that money.
Alex Ferrari 42:40
Actually being in post production for so long and delivering full deliverables all the way through distribution, international distribution, everything. I've seen how the process runs and post production and seeing the soft underbelly of independent film doing this. And it's true, the whole movie is saved in in post production, either today,
Dov Simens 43:01
I'm going to tell all your listeners right now. You want to break in you want to be rich and famous. Okay, here's what you do. Make the first movie virtual reality there. Yeah. Who's doing and nevermind, Oculus Rift, that's by far the best. Go for the cheap one. Go with the Samsung and the cardboard glasses. But do it in virtual reality who's doing the first movie? And the key is audio? added do 360 degrees sound
Alex Ferrari 43:37
Interesting. I have to do some more research on on the virtual reality.
Dov Simens 43:41
Do it. Yeah, don't do research thing. You're too late.
Alex Ferrari 43:47
So I just have a couple more questions for you. Sure. Why do you think the two day film school has been so popular all these years? I mean, it's been around since the 80s correct? 80s or 90s?
Dov Simens 43:59
I think I did the first one after I did us teaching at UCLA USC then NYU then somebody in the class said you know your acts together bring it to Cincinnati bring it to Portland, and then I entrepreneurs, and that would have been bout 89. So the 90s guy. So it's been successful because then there was such a void. Yeah, for film education for adults and professionals. Now, there are so many people doing their variations and very many of them are very good at it also. I've just been around long. I have the straight experience. I have a little bit of an unusual personality. And I've learned that sound bites that people can understand. And I'm still an entrepreneur, and I still I truly love movies bore me the movie business It's it's fascinating fascinates me. Yeah. And it's still business. And I teach everybody who's out there is thinking art, and it is an art form. But I teach the business of making the art and the business of selling the art. And I think that sustains with my personality that delivers the product properly. And I stay abreast I can explain product placement revenues, now, I can find the government programs be a tax credits, tax credits, reforms, rebates, which ones to go with and where the money is in what states have it, then I can explain how to start tapping China, China is this 800 pound gorilla that is not going to go away. And it's just getting bigger and bigger, and etc, etc. So I stay abreast I stay abreast of which right now virtual reality of how to make movies and virtual ramps, yes, everybody's thinking virtual reality gaming, it's absolutely perfect for it. And yes, there's going to be virtual reality for put something on a telescope and put it in outer space. And then every nation and city doing travelogues and the real estate people doing virtual reality for come and look at the $10 million house. But the key for us is virtual reality and movies. And the key is figuring out sound. The cameras are there with the 16 little you know, there's 16, little GoPros and little segments around the camera 32 of them, right? The key ID by normal sound, and how to come up with a script in real time with by normal sound that has 10 people in a room. And when your eyes go to one person talking, you can also hear that one person talk.
Alex Ferrari 46:52
Yeah, that is that's a challenge. It's a challenge at first to do it. Now.
Dov Simens 46:56
Let's have one of your community do it. Like somebody a year ago, Jason Blum is that contemporary genius. He funded a couple people with a couple of iPhones. And that was tangerine. Wow. The next story is not going to be making movies with iPhones. It's been done and keep doing. It's now the next virtual reality movie.
Alex Ferrari 47:23
Vertical. One more question. What is the future for independent filmmakers? And the changing industry? Like it's changed so much in the last 10 years? What do you see it going forward?
Dov Simens 47:35
There are two, two industries. There's the studio system, as long as the family stays together. On the weekend, kids got to get out of the house, where they're going to go, the cheapest form of entertainment will always be movies. I don't know what a movie theater is going to look like 20 years now. But kids are always going to have to get out of the house. And movies compared to live theater. Music, concerts, and sporting events are the cheapest form of entertainment. So movies, movie theaters will always be there. Plus, by the way, kids, as parents come weekends want to get away from us spoiled little breaths. And the cheapest form of entertainment is the movie theater. And the more. So I believe movie theaters and malls will always be there. So I don't accept everything has changed. I will argue that forever. What I go is there's a new media, the social media, and the iPads and the on demand. That's a new revenue stream. I go it's a golden era, there's you can make something and hope to get into the theatrical demographics, that becomes a movie and then cash in from the other revenue streams. Or you can go for something directly for the on demand platforms and know how to get the word out specifically within the social media. And the community. As you mentioned, Alex, that you build up. So the old world is still there. It's not going anywhere. And it got bigger because of China. And there is a new world that it's not replacing the old world. It's an addition to kind of like
Alex Ferrari 49:35
Rome, Rome, okay. Yeah, Rome still has the ancient buildings lying around but there's very modern in many ways. So it's not replaced that completely but they live hand in hand.
Dov Simens 49:45
Now let's start though here's my formula in on my I did a blog yesterday on it. I posted it today. You want to $100 million, makes it $20 million feature. Get your opening total credit. Get it out there. It makes money, then the studios will line up to give you 200 mil. But you got to start with 20. Now, Alex, do you have $20 million in your pocket that you can write the check? I don't think so.
Alex Ferrari 50:11
Not, not at the moment, sir.
Dov Simens 50:14
How do you get 20 million? You make the 2 million?
Alex Ferrari 50:18
How do you get your I lost you there?
Dov Simens 50:22
Oh, how do you get 200 million you make the $20 million? sure that makes?
Alex Ferrari 50:28
Make sure I'm sorry. I'm losing your job. Can you make sure your connections in?
Dov Simens 50:32
Oh, I put the mic down? Am I better now? Yeah, you're there you better? No, it was me putting it across my body. I've got the microphone and covered it up. So how do you get $200 million? You make a $20 million feature that makes money. Wait, how do you get $20 million? You make a $2 million feature that makes money? Well, how do you get $2 million? You make a $200,000 feature that makes money but you call it a million dollar feature? Well, how do you get to one of their you make a $20,000 feature? And how do you get 20,000? You get a job? You save money? Do not go to NYU film school? Do not go to USC or UCLA, or the best film schools in the world? Yes. Are they great if your parents have a billion dollars in equity? If not, it's not worth it. Take your money, go make a micro budget fee, taking money and learn screenwriting. Learn how to tell the amazing story that takes place in one room. 90 pages one location, then you'll come up with your iPhones, your cast unknowns. And now we'll see how much talent you really have. And my it's just my heart torquing I believe that product will get out there and can make it for 510 20. You'll probably make your money back. And now you started to get a game plan a business plan. Start at the bottom start at the bottom. My Alex do a little commercial.
Alex Ferrari 52:06
Yeah, I was actually just that was the next day. I'm like so where can Where can we find the two day film school?
Dov Simens 52:12
This going, you're bright
Alex Ferrari 52:15
You're breaking up? The so okay.
Dov Simens 52:17
So there's a very good and quick My website is webfilmschool.com. webfilmschool.com on there you'll find my noble film block webfilmschool.com on webfilmschool.com I have a 20 hours streaming film school that you can get for $89 for 20 days, or 149 for 60 days. Can you hear me out?
Alex Ferrari 52:46
Yeah, I'm perfectly fine. It's perfectly fine
Dov Simens 52:47
Thank you very much. Also, if you want to own it, I have it in a DVD format that I'll mail out. It's 249. It's 16 DVDs, 30 lessons, budgeting, scheduling screen or interacting cinematography, lighting, etc, marketing, distributing, and also I do my two day class three times a year in New York three times a year in LA, but I'm doing it four times in China four times in Australia, Croatia, and a couple other nations. So web film school.com, you'll find me, you'll get my blog, and you'll hear my personality. And I believe though with my weird personality, I get you focused and give you the straight information. But what I can't teach is talent. It's so important. I don't know how to teach it. I know how to give you the nuts and bolts. I know how to demystify this mysterious industry. So you go, Oh, I know what to do. But you've got to do it with a work ethic. And you've got to do it with something I don't know how to teach talent. I know it after I see it. But I can't teach it. I wish all of your community the best. I recommend to get your 90 paid one location stage play and start with a micro budget one week feature film one week feature God bless. Happy filmmaking
Alex Ferrari 54:18
God thank you so much for being on the show. And guys please Go on. Go to web film school comm it is awesome. I highly highly recommend it. I've been actually promoting it on indie film hustle since we launched indie film hustle doesn't give me a dime for that I do it just because I love him and I love I love the kind of work that and the information is there and it's so in your face and exactly what you need to hear and there's no BS there's no romanticizing which a lot of people do. He gets straight to the point and tells you exactly what you need to do to make a movie. And like he says he can't teach a talent but he teach you how to make it. So definitely head over there. So thank you again so much for for coming on the show. We really appreciate it.
Dov Simens 54:59
You're welcome and All you out there you got 20,000 200,000 the Great's grip and want to hire a director out so get it done but if you paying them nickel dime money he better have an equity in it. If he loves the script, God bless happy filmmaking everybody.
Alex Ferrari 55:14
So that was Dov Simens guys. I hope you guys enjoyed it. I know I did. It was a big treat talking to Dov. He is as as you can tell a master at what he does. He's one of the first guys actually the first guy if I'm not mistaken in the in the game of teaching filmmakers, independent filmmakers outside of film schools. So I really am a big fan of his and big fan of what he does. So you guys got to go check out what film school comm where you can find his course, I would definitely take his course, if you're going to be a filmmaker, it is awesome. It teaches you It really is a two day film school. Like you come out of there and you use that you really feel that you have a good grasp of how to make a movie. Technically, not the creative, not the cameras, not any of that stuff. But actually the nuts and bolts of making a movie. So definitely go check them out. And thanks again to Dov for being on the show. Now if you want to get my six secrets to get into film festivals for cheaper free, head on over to film festival tips.com that's Film Festival tips calm. I'll show you how I got into over 500 Film Festivals for cheap or free and I only paid for a fraction of them. So I give you all my secrets on how I did it. That's Film Festival tips calm. And again guys. If you liked the show, please head over to iTunes and leave us a review. You have no idea how much that helps the show and helps us get to more and more independent filmmakers and spread the gospel that is indie film hustle. So thanks again guys for listening, and I'll see you guys soon. Bye.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.
- Dov Simens – Official Site
- BROKEN (Watch it on Indie Film Hustle TV)
- Bulletproof Script Coverage – Get Your Screenplay Read by Hollywood Professionals
- Audible – Get a Free Filmmaking or Screenwriting Audiobook
- Rev.com – $1.25 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)