IFH 382: Filmmaking Side Hustles to Survive the Pandemic



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Many filmmakers thinking is based on two months ago. They believe that the world will go back to exactly how it was before on this pandemic blows over. That might be true and I truly hope it does but hope alone will not pay the rent. Our industry is going through an unprecedented shift. If I may quote the Ghostbusters,

Dr. Peter Venkman: This city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, “biblical”?
Dr Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. Mayor, real wrath-of-God type stuff.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Exactly.
Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling.
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes…
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together – mass hysteria.

We as filmmakers need to start thinking about how we can pivot your business, skills, knowledge into the new reality that we are living in and very well might be in for some time to come. 

Things that already are pivoting in the film industry:

  • No theatrical screenings, release on TVOD Premium
  • SXSW teamed with Amazon for a Virtual Film Festival (this could do more harm than good)
  • Drive-ins are making a comeback
  • Can’t screen your film in theaters, set up a virtual screening
  • AMC Theater’s stock has been downgraded and isn’t expected to recover

You have to think about what your customer needs are right now and address them. The companies that are sitting on the sidelines fearful of making any moves will be left behind. You as filmmakers need to change your mindsets. Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Entire new industries will rise from this turmoil and if you are smart you will be ready to be a part of the new world.

WATCH the COVID-19 Film Production Webinar Masterclass

In this episode, I breakdown some side hustles that will help filmmakers and screenwriters not only survive the pandemic but thrive in the new world we will be walking into.

Filmmaker Side Hustles

  • Shoot Stock footage
    • Drone Stock Footage
    • Every day around the housing stock footage (cast your family)
    • Go to locations to shoot (Social Distancing) where people aren’t
  • Online gig economy 
  • Offer Virtual Post Production Services
  • Offer Virtual VFX, Motion GFX Services
  • Create GFX Templates
  • Create Color Grading LUTS
  • Offer Consulting

Screenwriter Side Hustles

  • Write commercially: handbooks, corporate brochures and the like
  • Researchers
  • Blog Writing
  • Write for a website
  • Advertising copywriting
  • Editing copy
  • Write grant applications
  • Offer Gigs on Fiverr 
  • Create an Upwork Profile to sell your writing services
  • Create a comic book (partner with an artist) – Could turn this into a short or feature once the air clears

Online Moneymaking Side Hustles

  • Swaybacks.com (Get paid to watch videos)
  • Become a virtual assistant
  • Virtual Tutor (VIP Kid – $14-$22 per hour) Chegg.com
  • Transcribe Audio or video (Rev, Scribe, TigerFish)
  • Review Software (SoftwareJungle)

I go into more detail in the episode. Think outside the box because the box you knew is not coming back. It will be a new box. Don’t be Blockbuster Video and fight to keep what you know while you reject the reality of what is.

Stay safe out there.

Alex Ferrari 0:33
Well, guys, I hope you are all hanging in there in this insane time in human history. I am quarantined here at home with my family have been for now going on three weeks. It is an interesting time to say the least. And being quarantined gives me a lot of time to think to work on stuff. But I've been watching and seeing what is happening in our industry and how filmmakers are thinking how screenwriters are thinking and people in our industry are approaching this unprecedented time in our history. Now before I get to all the side hustles that filmmakers can do in us to help them get through the pandemic and even thrive during this time. I wanted to put together this podcast to hopefully shine a light on an issue I see happening in the mindsets of a lot of filmmakers and screenwriters out there right now. And it is something that is completely in 100% natural, but it's something that I want to bring to your attention to maybe if you can think about it, you can change it. But right now, so many filmmakers and screenwriters in our industry, our thinking, or their mindset is based on what was two months ago, what this industry was two months ago. They believe that when this is all over, that the film industry, and all the businesses associated with it will go back to normal, just like it was before. But I have a really rude awakening for everybody listening. Our industry will never be the same again. What was two months ago, it is not what is going to be two months from now. Or two years from now. It will change. And I'm not trying to do doom and gloom here. I'm not saying it's going to crash and burn and everything is going to be gone. No. But many of the things and ways of doing business that we were used to, will change irrevocably, for ever. This is a once in a generation kind of event. And to be honest, this is a once in the history of all cinema kind of event. And for the for that matter the world but we're talking about our little industry right now. Now it is completely in 100% natural to want to hold on to what you know, because and to believe in hope that that will be what will happen in the future. Because that is your mindset that is your brain trying to protect you From the unknown, it's trying to protect you from that Tiger that's hiding around the corner. It's trying to keep you alive. But if you fall into this trap, it's going to be a much harder road ahead. In my humble opinion, many of the things that we're used to will go back to the way it was streaming, I don't think is going to change. I think it's actually it's kind of it's in its highlight right now. It's it's at its peak of its history at the moment is it's showtime for streaming in many ways, but so many other parts of our industry are changing so rapidly. Things that have been bedrocks are now gone. movie theaters are shut down. AMC theaters, was just downgraded, their stock was downgraded, and they don't expect it to recover. I don't know what the theatrical business is going to look like when this is all said and done. I don't know what the windowing distribution windowing is going to look like when this is all said and done. I don't know how long we're going to be doing. Being in this kind of quarantine. I don't know what kind of effect it's going to have in our economy. I don't know what kind of effect is going to have on our industry. Nobody really knows what's going on. But one thing is for sure that change is here and change is coming in you need to prepare yourselves for that change. Here are some things that are already happening in our industry pivots that are happening. There are no more theatrical screenings. The big studios are choosing to release their big blockbuster films on T VOD premium as what I'm calling it a T VOD premium, a transactional video on demand premium, or they're charging 1999. to rent a movie that would normally go theatrically, I have no idea how that works. And if it's working, I got to see the numbers. And we'll see what the reporting is on that eventually, something else South by Southwest, which obviously shut down and canceled this year is teaming up with Amazon to create a virtual Film Festival. The only problem is that Amazon is only offering like $5,000 to stream a film that was accepted into the festival. And another problem is that if you do screen digitally with Amazon, and that's your first time screening, that pretty much is going to kill a lot of distribution prospects for you as a filmmaker, the system is not set up for this guy's our entire workflow is not set up for this. And everyone's just trying to figure out what the hell to do. Another surprising thing is drive ins are making a comeback. People are going to drive ins again, because of social distancing. I've heard of filmmakers who are setting up virtual screenings of their films, because they can't film their screen their films in the theater. These are some of the pivots some of the things that are already changing. The thing is guys, that if you don't change your mindset, and you don't start thinking outside the box, with how to get your movie to get your movies out into the world, get them to your customers, to your to people who want to watch your film, generate revenue with them. If you don't start thinking outside the box, you will be left behind. And unfortunately, I feel that you might be decimated, because the studios are getting decimated. So what chances are those little independent filmmaker have nobody understands what's going on. Now, this is a very scary time. But also can be a very exciting time because this is when new innovation happens. This is when you know the Netflix's of the world come up. You remember that Netflix started this online streaming thing back in? Oh 809. And people were like, Oh, what is this and all of a sudden, it is what it is and changed the industry completely. That was something that came out of the 2008 financial crisis. And there will be other innovations that come out of this crisis as well. I just want you to be prepared for it. You have to think about what your customer needs right now and how to address that that need the companies that are sitting on the sidelines, fearful of making any move at all. I promise you will be left behind. You need to prepare for the worst, but hope for the best. Entire new industries will rise from this turmoil and I want you to be prepared for it. to hopefully take advantage of these rare opportunities. Now I'm going to talk about a couple of side hustles that we can do as filmmakers, and screenwriters and filmstrip runners that you can do to generate revenue from home and create new revenue streams that you might have not even been able to know about before. And hopefully that will hold you through or at least help you through this pandemic. Because I know there's a lot of suffering out there. And we haven't even begun to see that suffering yet. It is going to be fairly brutal out there, I'm not going to lie to you. We have 10 million unemployed, unemployed so far, in the United States, and those numbers are growing exponentially. So here are some side hustles that you can do right now at home. For filmmakers. You can shoot stock footage, if you've got a camera, a good camera, maybe some lighting, some cheap lighting. Or even if you could do it on your backyard, whatever, shoot some stock footage. stock footage is an amazing side hustle, amazing passive revenue stream, you could if you have a drone, go out there and shoot some drone stuff, you don't have to do it only in your neighborhood, you can get in a car and go out to places where there aren't a lot of people, or if they you know, just try to of course, be safe, and be social and have a social distancing. But I wouldn't get into a car, unless I haven't go somewhere unless there's going to be barely barely any people there. But that's another option. But you can shoot it in your house every day things around your house, you can cast your family in this stock footage, make sure you're not having them sign a release, because you know, hey, things happen. But have them sign a release. And then you can submit it to black box, black box global, which once you sign up with them is free to sign up, they will submit your stock footage to all of the major stock footage houses, and you don't have to worry about anything and money just comes in, I've been able to create a nice little side revenue, that money comes in all the time, from just a few shots that I put up there from old shoots that I had old footage that I had shot or left behind from other things, and I put them in there. And it's amazing. So you can do to shoot new stock footage, or go into your hard drives and see if there's anything from some old projects, you know, a close up of a hand some establishing shots, whatever things that you might have not used in those projects, and now put them to work for you in the stock footage world. So that is something that you could definitely do online gig economy, which is things like Upwork, and Fiverr. You can offer your services, whatever they might be, there's 1000 different things you can do if you're good at programming, if you're good at computer graphics is all that kind of stuff, there's a million ways that you can become a freelancer using both of those websites. If you happen to have editing equipment at home, or post production equipment at home, a computer and so on. You can offer virtual post production services, editing, color grading, online editorial, deliverables, all that kind of stuff you can do at home, if you have a big enough system at home, you can also create virtual VFX. So if you're a VFX artists, obviously, this is something you can be doing right now, motion graphics and things like that. on more of a film entrepreneurial side, you can create graphic templates. So you can create Photoshop templates of design, graphic design and stuff like that, that you can upload to multiple websites and create passive incomes, you can create color grading lots, if that's something in your wheelhouse, you can an offer to sell those as well. motion graphic templates, you can set up as well. So like titles, lower thirds, all that stuff, you can create them in After Effects and upload them to those platforms as well to sell as passive income. You can also offer consulting, if you have an expertise in filmmaking and cinematography and everything. There's people out there who will pay for your services and for your consulting, just to give them a leg up. So look into that. Now, screenwriting side hustles. If you're a writer, you have a very powerful tool at your disposal. And writing is a much more cost effective way of making a side hustle here you don't need a lot of gear. You don't need a lot of other technical skills. There's a plethora of ways that screenwriters can create side hustles or create income and revenue during this pandemic. You can write commercially handbooks, corporate brochures, things like that. You can be written researcher doing research online, you can be blog writing, there's an absolute insane amount of need for content creation. And if you can write really well constructed blog post articles about certain topics, that's a way to make money. You can write for a website, specifically, you can write advertising copy, you can edit copy, you can be an editor and proofreader for articles for books for short form for anything. And all of these side hustles, you can post on Fiverr, and on Upwork, and create a profile and start selling your writing services, you could also create a comic book, you can partner with an artist and start working on a side project. And if it turns out well, you can actually turn it into a short or feature film by teaming up with a filmmaker once the air clears. Once this storm, this pandemic passes. Now, some online money making side hustles that are general not specific to us. And that's just a couple of different ways. But there is a ton of stuff out there, you can get paid to watch videos and do a bunch of other online stuff by going to swag bucks.com, they actually pay you to watch videos and do other things online, you can become a virtual assistant, again, going through Fiverr or Upwork, you can also become a virtual tutor through VIP kid. And they pay anywhere between 14 to $22 per hour. You could also transcribe audio and video for rev or strieby. And those kind of websites where you can, it's just a way to make some extra cash. You know, there's so many different ways to start looking to make money online. But this is the time guys. This is the time that you have to start thinking outside the box, because the world is upside down. And as Dr. Peter venkman says, dogs and cats living together mass hysteria, it is a very strange time to be alive and a very crazy time to be in our industry. And I want you all listening to not only survive, but thrive today and moving forward. Regardless if this is this last another month, or this last another 18 months. Now if you want links to anything I talked about in this episode, please head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/382. And this episode is also going to be on the bulletproof screenwriting podcast and the film shoprunner podcast because I felt that it's something that needed to be a special crossover event with all of my podcast because I want every part of my tribe to hear this and hopefully have it helped them on their path moving forward in our industry. Thank you guys for listening. I really do hope that this helps you a bit during this crazy, insane time that we're living in. Please stay home, wherever you are, stay home shelter in place. You know, do social distancing six feet. Be careful this thing is not a joke. This thing is not to be taken lightly. You know, I'm in California, we're, I think the third largest hub right now, in the United States and growing. The numbers are starting to get really crazy and really scary here in the United States. So please, be careful. Stay at home. It's the only defense we have against this thing. At this moment in time. I wish you and your families nothing but good things. And Safe travels in this crazy upside down world. Thanks for listening again, guys. As always, keep on hustling at home. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.



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