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I am delighted to have as a guest on the show today, Filmmaker, comedian and podcaster, Heather Turman. She’s the creator and writer of the feature film, Stuck, starring Joel McHale, Heather Matarazzo, and SNL’s Chris Redd. And the host of the Indie Women Podcast on Youtube.
Darby finds herself in trouble with the law and is sentenced to house arrest. Now she must serve 30 days in the home she used to share with her ex-boyfriend, which he now shares with his new fiancee.
Heather has appeared in films like La-la Land, or the 2019 TV series, The Room Actors: Where are they now.
At age 18, Heather moved to Los Angeles to pursue her passion for entertainment. And she’s since built a successful career as a comedian, writer, and producer — one that has taken her touring to over 75 cities across the USA.
She is an LA Westside Showdown two times top-finalist and has appeared on the FOX series Laughs and the Seed & Spark original Everything Is Fine! stand-up comedy special.
She is most known for writing, producing, and directing the hilarious original web series, Conversations with Future Stars which you should check out.
Heather shared with me in the interview that she discovered the IFH podcast at the beginning of the pandemic and binged every episode. Now, this is particularly special to me that she recognized and enjoyed the wealth of knowledge the show provides. So, having to sit down with her is an absolute full-circle moment.
I was thrilled to have had such a raw and transparent conversation about her experience with her.
Enjoy my hilarious conversation with Heather Turman.
Alex Ferrari 0:14
I like to welcome to the show Heather tournament. How you doing, Heather?
Heather Turman 0:18
I'm well thank you, Alex, how are you?
Alex Ferrari 0:20
I'm better we are seeing the others. I think we're on the other side of this thing. We see the light at the end of the tunnel. I feel free, I don't have to wear my full hazmat suit anymore to go shopping, which is nice. And other of air, we were talking about how you found me that you discovered my podcast at the beginning of the pandemic, and you've listened to you said all of them. And I said, That's a lot. That's a lot of episodes. And you said
Heather Turman 0:48
it was a long pandemic? Yeah, I started going on walks, you know, every morning with my, you know, overly ridiculous mask. And, you know, it's sort of start my day. So I dug it and became a fan. Thanks for doing this. What a great, just what a great resource and inspirational, I think, you know, tool for everybody. So thank you.
Alex Ferrari 1:10
I appreciate that I appreciate I do what I can I try to I try to help as many people as I can many filmmakers as we can. And we're going to talk about why we have to protect them sometimes from our business and in our conversation. But before we do that, how did you get into the business?
Heather Turman 1:25
Oh, man, I moved to Los Angeles blindly at 18 right out of high school, not knowing I'm one of those I didn't know, I knew I wanted to be an entertainment. But I came from Michigan. And you know, and at the time. I remember I got a book that was like, you know how to break into Hollywood off of like, Amazon was pretty new, like this was 2005. And so you know, it was still like digital media was just sort of starting. And this book did not prep me at all. For me, it was
Alex Ferrari 1:55
shocking for me. Shocking. No,
Heather Turman 1:57
exactly. It was awful. So I came here blindly. And I knew I wanted to write and and make films but and just be involved. So I had, you know, got started, I actually booked a commercial and met a fellow Michigander on it. And we produced a short film together in 2006, called subdivision and so that was sort of my first foray into producing my own content. But then I fell into stand up comedy. And so I spent the last several years I mean, the last decade really, you know, touring the country and that kind of thing, but in the middle of it, produced a web series, and a couple other short films, and then come 2000 in 2015, my writing partner and I had sold a feature script, but it didn't get made. So you know, it's that thing where it's like, well, this doesn't do anything. For me. All it does is give me a check, you know,
Alex Ferrari 2:50
which, by the way, big accomplishment. So that's not
Heather Turman 2:55
Yeah, no life goal achieved. Absolutely. And it's still my favorite script. It's just that sad thing, you know, the thing that most script that was most proud of sold, and it hasn't been made. So there was this feeling of, you know, I did this really difficult thing, but my name is not on the screen. So people don't can attribute my work, you know, to me, and so, I said to my writing partner, let's write a one location that we can shoot ourselves. And so we did that. And we produced we wrote and produced stuck, which we partnered with the director, she came on board as a producer as well. Julian Arman, Dante, and yeah, and that's sort of where since then, you know, it's been it's been more filmmaking drama with a distribution world and all that stuff. But But yeah, I guess I've just been in been in the industry, my whole adult life. And
Alex Ferrari 3:52
yeah, that's awesome. So I can only imagine 18 coming from Michigan to LA. I'm sure that you did you find. Sure. No,
Heather Turman 4:02
nobody was predatory. Nobody was all sorts of stuff.
Alex Ferrari 4:05
Nothing. Everything was I'm sure fine. They gave you work right away. Soon, you were paying all your bills comfortably. I'm sure it just it was a smooth. So yeah, smooth transition.
Heather Turman 4:16
Didn't you know, slave away in restaurants at all?
Alex Ferrari 4:21
Exactly. I came to LA probably three years after you did, but I'd already been in the business for 10 years, at that point. So I came a little bit more prepared. Not much more, but still enough that I was able to hit the ground running, but still it's Oh, God, if I would have killed a team they would have would have destroyed me. Yeah, yeah. I feel lucky to still be standing. No, I want to ask you something. Do you believe in today's world that you need to if you're going to be in the film business? I mean, LA is LA. It always will be LA, I think for people outside. I mean, I came from Miami, you know, so we're both From small markets, if you will, in the film industry markets. So I always felt that when I got here a year here was like five years there for me, it was like almost like dog years, in the amount of experience exposure to good and bad to the industry. Do you feel that is still the case today? Or could you go to Atlanta or a Vancouver or you know, other Louisiana or other Austin, other areas and still be able to build up that career?
Heather Turman 5:31
I absolutely think you can do it anywhere now, especially because of in addition to all the advancements, technology's made in the last 1015 years, but the pandemic has, you know, sort of exacerbated that aspect of it. Like, it's, I guess that's kind of the wrong word, because that's sort of making something worse, but it's, it's, it's made it so that, you know, everything's through all meetings are like this. I mean, many,
Alex Ferrari 5:59
it's more, except this is much more acceptable. Like, I've been recording podcasts like this for a long time. And people were like, Oh, god, it's on zoom, or it's on Skype. It's not, it's not. And now, it's on the news. And in documentaries, it's it's not very acceptable to do this. Yeah. And before, you really need to be you need really to be in the room with an agent, or, or with talent, where now it's somewhat more acceptable early.
Heather Turman 6:25
Yeah. And I feel like slowly but surely, you know, you're seeing with the capabilities that independent filmmakers have in other markets, and how much cheaper it is, you know, California, of course, has employment laws and permit laws and all these things that make it so incredibly costly for on the independent level, it's it those laws are there for big Hollywood, you know, and it's great on that level, we people need to get paid fairly when we're talking about millions and, you know, millions of dollars, but when we're talking about an independent project, it just, it becomes so much more difficult here that it's unreal, you know. And so, as time goes on, I become more and more interested in the cost in the concept of, you know, going to a small town and then making films there, you know, because it's just, it's more possible. I feel like these days than ever before, without feeling like you're not at all connected, you know? Yeah. And also,
Alex Ferrari 7:22
I think when you're outside of LA, people are much more excited about filmmaking, you know, what do you want for free? Exactly. When I shot my last film, I shot at a park city during the festive Sundance, I was shocked at how how many people like all the businesses were still excited. I'm like, oh, you're shooting a movie here? Yeah, well, would you I was shocked. I was shocked. Because I was like, oh, there must be over it because of Sundance. But they're not they were super excited. And, and shooting outside of La because in LA, they're like, okay, even the local deli is gonna go I need I'm gonna need $1,000 for locations for five hours. Like they already know there's, here's the contract, they already have the setup. Like they're all sharp about
Heather Turman 8:02
Absolutely. Anybody who anybody here who has any sort of property or business at home, they are very hip to the concept that that is a filming location. And they will absolutely make sure to exploit anyone who comes to them looking for at least shoot. So I
Alex Ferrari 8:20
had a friend of mine who has a house down the street, and he's like, Oh, yeah, this this new show on this new cable show wants to rent my house. I'm like, Well, how much are they paying you? They're like, Oh, it's 10,000 for two days. I'm like, so that's their, that's their line. That's their barometer. So now when you show up the level, I got paid 10,000 I'm like, that's our budget for the film.
Heather Turman 8:42
Which is it's so interesting that you you know, you say that because that was we when we went to do stuck, it took place in a home. So we needed somebody to give us their their suburban looking home for 10 days for nothing. I mean, how do you how do you? So I know I mean, I went door to door and I knocked and and face to face. Yep. And we found a house and they 300 bucks a day.
Alex Ferrari 9:08
Okay, so it was there was something there was some some
Heather Turman 9:11
jumping, and their child was an actor. So that helped. We were like, we'll throw our part in the movie. That's
Alex Ferrari 9:18
and seen all right, there we go. That's, that's how you do it. No one. My first film I made was all in LA, but it was just my house. My actors houses like it was all friends, you know, friends or acquaintances that we knew that would give us their house for the day or, or a couple days or something. But that's brave. You just went knocking on doors.
Heather Turman 9:39
Yeah, we did. We definitely did. And we had had another house that we really liked. And the woman was totally interested. And, you know, we even we brought the director to look at it and the DP and all that stuff. And then when we whip out the contract, and we talk about money, she's like, Oh, no, like absolutely not for $300 a day. I was thinking more like 10 grand a day. So she knew the neighborhood. Of course, it turned out we had chosen it was it's like in Studio City. And it turned out to be one of the most sought after neighborhoods. Because of the look of it, it really looks like suburban America in the center of LA. And so they do all kinds of commercial shoots there. So all the people in the neighborhood were very aware. And the thing that gave us their home for 300 bucks had moved from Texas, like a year before. So they hadn't been approached yet. You know, so it's really just lucky. You know,
Alex Ferrari 10:36
they weren't, they weren't hip. They weren't hip to it yet. It's but but you're outside of La you don't get those problems outside of LA. They're just so they'd be so excited to like see a camera and a crew and didn't even have to have a star in it. Just any like, that's just an exciting. And we as filmmakers, we forget that there is an excitement for people like when we first saw film set. I got it. Oh, yeah, it was a huge thrill. But we're so like, yeah, it's another day at the office.
Heather Turman 11:02
Exactly, exactly. But it's true. And I'm out of out of state in a small town. Not only is it not only are people excited, but they're just like, Yeah, do you need extras? You know, do you need What do you need? I need food. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 11:15
we'll cook for you. Oh, yeah. Do you need Do you need a police department? We up? Yeah, I'll call my boy up. And he'll come over and yeah, it's, it's it's pretty. It's pretty insane. Now tell me about your film stuff. So you told me that you kind of put it all together in one location? How did it come to be? And how did you like, put it all together?
Heather Turman 11:32
So I'm Dave and I, David, David Michael. He's my writing partner. And he also produced with me as well. I approached him and said, Let's write in one location. So we did have a few other locations, which of course, were difficult ones a doctor's office and courthouse. I mean, a courthouse is hard. But we found a museum in culver city that has a that has a
Alex Ferrari 11:59
Heather Turman 12:02
a standing courtroom and so 1500 bucks, you know, and then I have a friend of medical sales, so she hooked us up with the doctor's office. And so 4500 bucks for locations. You know what I mean? Which is pretty, I mean, that's incredible, you know, in LA. Yes. It actually because of that I got hired to do location scouting for a film right after that, because they couldn't believe what I was able to get. I'm like, I think it's because I'm willing to go knock on doors. You know, you don't get it with the egos in this town. Most people aren't willing to do that. But I was so Um, but yeah, we you know, we wrote this one location and it's about a sort of a adults like a, you know, like a woman child. irresponsible pothead. She's a nurse, and she gets into trouble with the law she sends to house arrest. And she is couchsurfing at the time. So her last legal address was her ex boyfriends house, so cut to her serving out house arrest for 30 days with him and his new fiance. And we a friend of mine, Larry lebeau. runs an organization called New filmmakers LA.
Alex Ferrari 13:11
Of course. Yeah.
Heather Turman 13:12
Okay. Yeah. I love Larry. He's the friend that I met on the commercial in 2006.
Alex Ferrari 13:19
Heather Turman 13:20
Yeah. I mean, Larry is just the greatest. We like literally we didn't. We tried to cheap out and not get permits. And when you got permits,
Alex Ferrari 13:33
huh, you got permits?
Heather Turman 13:35
No, we didn't. I was gonna say, Amen. Yeah, no, then the cops came. And so we were told we had to, because that neighborhood, like I said, Everybody in the neighborhoods like you guys didn't fire us like, yeah. Oh, Larry. Larry, I know. And all the work that he does, you know, with film LA, he was able to call and and literally have the governor expedite us a permit. You're supposed to be like a 72 hour wait, we got one like immediately, which was, you know, and that just goes to show that your friends in this business are the most important, you know, part of this business? Yeah. And Larry recommended, I asked him about a director, I said, I'm producing, you know, my first feature that I wrote, can you recommend some solid directors and he I said, preferably a woman because I did want to, you know, sort of pay that forward. And especially It was a female lead, I just wanted to go that route. And so he recommended Julian Arman Dante who had been in the business forever, and I had recognized her from her acting work she was in like girl interrupted and bad teacher, all kinds of stuff. And so we met with Joanne and she was like, totally down, but we didn't have enough money to pay her. So she was like, the, the amount she would, you know, be willing to work for so she said, let me partner as producer trying to build up my company. And so the three of us work together as as producers, and you know, I was Initially looking to make a micro budget $50,000 film. And when Julian came on board, it's like, no, we're gonna do this a little more grown up style. And so we ended up doing it for 150k. And, you know, we scored in terms of cast and that really, you know, it starts Heather matarazzo who is now my wife. I met her on the movie, and now we're married. Yeah, the night the one good thing that that's bleeding out of the eyes for an indie film brought me was was that my friends are like, hey, at least you got a wife out of it. I'm like, Yeah, I got double screwed. Um, yeah. But um, but, uh, so Julian, of course, was friends for 30 years with Joel McHale. So she had Joel up and, and said, Will you play with us for a day. And luckily, you know, that we had this role, the role of the judge is, you know, one day, sort of bookends the movie beginning and end. And he was willing to do it. And once you have that name, even though it's a small part of it, we were able to go out to other people from there. So I made direct offers to Kate Flannery. And, you know, Kirsten vangsness, from from criminal minds. Yeah. And just in that kind of stuff. And then Heather, and Heather came on board and agreed, and, and yeah, and then we made the movie.
Alex Ferrari 16:23
So the key to getting getting actors on a low budget film is if you can tag one name and taxon name, yeah, it's about one. That's one thing I've always realized is that nobody wants to be the first to the party. Nobody that's in money that's in cast, that's in everybody. Nobody wants to be the first to come in. But if you can get one other person to come in, that's even somewhat of a recognizable name, or face, or respect, as inactive, because there's that could be worth nothing to the box office, but be very well respected by other actors. Absolutely, that can attract other actors. Without question, yeah. And it's always it's the exact same thing for my first film, I have one called friend called a friend called the friend call a friend. And everybody just showed up and, and played, and it was,
Heather Turman 17:12
yeah, and played. And it's great. I watched both of your films, by the way, thank
Alex Ferrari 17:15
you so much.
Heather Turman 17:15
And I love them, they do look beautiful. And I was especially impressed by on the corner of ego and desire, because you know, you listening to your podcasts that you know that you did shoot it off of a, you know, a script, man, and in Sundance as it's happening, it's just it's cool. The story behind the movie is is especially cool.
Alex Ferrari 17:37
It was absolutely insanity. It was it four days, 36 hours shot an entire feature actors had never met before. It is a really insane story. I don't advise anyone doing it. Unless you have some. If you've got some years behind you, and you can fall back on that experience, then yeah, but I like I like that one. But Meg, for me, even is even more impressive, because I've just shot that thing. And, and and now normally, and now knowing what you went through and knowing that we made that movie in LA for about five grand. Yeah, it's amazing. It's absolutely amazing. It's It's sad. But of course paid. I mean, everyone got paid. But it was all favors and no permits. No permission. Of course. What's the permit run permits? Like, what is
Heather Turman 18:25
it was like it cost us 1200 bucks for the one and that was not telling them we had other locations that was lying and saying, yep, everything's at this house. So if we had if we'd had to get one for Culver City, and the doctor's office, it would have been a different story.
Alex Ferrari 18:39
Yeah. Right. So that's, that's why it's so cost prohibitive to shoot here, especially for an indie and that's why you got to kind of go you got to be a gorilla about it. Yeah. You know, I've known I've had other people on the show who've shot in LA. And I mean, but they there's other there's other filmmakers I'm thinking of, they were brazen, like they'd show up with grip trucks. And like, they would just get out in front of a location and just start shooting. And yeah, they're like, wait to the cops come, we got an hour. Let's see how long it takes before the cops come. And even when the cops show up, our producer sent to hold them back for 15 minutes while we finished the shots. And then they go in. But they got I mean, they shot the entire city is pretty insane. Yeah.
Heather Turman 19:23
Yeah. I mean, that really is how you have to do it. You know. I was chatting with a female filmmaker the other day and she said that sometimes you can sort of that she's like, I'll play the female card with an officer like, Oh, we have to get permits because you know, like, into like that
Alex Ferrari 19:39
like, and then she twirls her hair she doesn't know twirls or has like oh my god, do I need a permit? No, yeah, I could just shoot this amazing. Like, sorry, that's my valley girl. So I apologize.
Heather Turman 19:54
I mean, that's that's that's the performance she would put behind. You know what I mean? Um, Because, you know, you got to play what cards you have, you know, and they're gonna be like, Oh, this is a woman's making this movie. Okay, it's not real Move, move ahead. Well, the other thing,
Alex Ferrari 20:11
the other little trick is for everyone listening, always have a film student ID onset. So you always bring a film student as an intern on set. So if a cop does show up, and you're doing something that's a little bit, you know, not official. You're not hurting anybody stealing anything. It's just unofficial. You can always be Oh, it's a student film. And you bring this thing you show them the student ID and like, we're here to help the student. And yeah, you know, but if Nicolas Cage shows up, that's a problem. So you have to have money. Exactly. wants it? Yeah. No, I remember we shot a film. I was part of a project years ago, that was shooting on a dv x 100. A camera. I think you might remember that. Can you remember that? Yeah. It was a fantastic camera. And I otzi showed this in Florida. I otzi showed up because it was we had, I mean, we had script trucks and everything. But then when they saw the camera, they said, we're good. And they just walked. They just we had big stars that we had an Oscar nominated, but he wasn't there that day, thank God. But when they saw that they're like, these guys obviously don't know what they're doing. It's a camcorder. It's okay. We're fine. It's Yeah, it's it's a dolly but they don't know what they're doing. It's fine. Totally. But, but that is, that is another trick for everyone listening, always have a film student onset just for those occasions? Because they will it will it get you out of trouble and get you out. And don't ever try shooting on Santa Monica Pier.
Heather Turman 21:40
Oh, yeah. I wouldn't recommend those touristy areas. That's probably that's definitely they see you Kai. I mean, you're asking for it. I mean,
Alex Ferrari 21:47
unless you shoot it with an iPhone. If you're shooting with an iPhone, and it's all under cover, you might get away with it for a few minutes. But don't build on top of you so quick. Oh,
Heather Turman 21:56
yeah, it'll swoop in I yeah, I, I remember, for my web series in 2012, we needed an exterior. I'm sitting in with the editor. And we, we need, it's supposed to take place inside the Scientology center. And so we're looking at the cut. And I'm like, we need an exterior we do. So we grab his camera, we can see dp that too, we grab the camera, jump in the car drive to the celebrity center. And he's standing on the corner filming it for like, within 10 seconds, like oh, swarm of Scientology security on bikes, just like that's a pretty serious camera, you know? And he's like, yeah, and they're like, yeah, you better get out of here. And they like, took my license plate was really crazy. But, uh, well, you know, when you're going to those types of places,
Alex Ferrari 22:44
did you get the shot? Just, we got the shot. That's all that matters. That's all the matters. You got to get done out, get out, run, run, run.
Heather Turman 22:52
I might be on some kind of list, but we got the shots.
Alex Ferrari 22:54
It's perfectly fine. It's perfect. It's absolutely perfectly fine. Now, you mentioned that. You mentioned that the manager had a couple issues with distribution. Can you elaborate a little bit about what cuz this movie was originally finished in? This was finished. It came out in 2019. Okay, came out in 2019 originally originally came out. Yeah, that's it. Yeah. So what happened and and everyone prepare yourself because this is I'm sure. Your story?
Heather Turman 23:27
Yeah, um, well, let me just start by saying that, you know, no shade to my two producing partners. But they are definitely from a different generation than I'm from. And, you know, I was really feeling like, I trusted the concept of self distribution. And I felt like, you know, I was doing a lot of research at the time and Sundance had a whole thing about, you know, doing your own, just like they had a whole workshop all this different stuff. And, and I really felt like because of the the cast, I mean, you look at like Felicia Day, she has a huge online presence. And like, all at the time, Joel, of course, you know. And I came from the comedy scene. So I had tapped, Alexis Rizal, who was YouTube presence, who I had cast in my web series. It was her first job ever in 2012. So I had hit her up. And I had cast a guy that I had known at the time, Brian Jordan Alvarez, who after the film, God willing grace and became the character who married Jack's character. So he got an Emmy nomination and he blew up. And I tapped Yeah, and I tapped Chris read from the comedy scene as well. And now he's on SNL. So it was like we got I got very lucky with the comedy scene and the people that I really saw talent and that blew up. And so knowing the, just the reach that all of those people had, and that's like, not even Joel you know, and then not even Kate from the office and not even the crime, Criminal Minds for kearson bands ness and not even Heather matarazzo so I really felt like we could release this on our own. But, you know, the people that I partnered with just, they were a little, you know, they're used to the old school way of like, you find a distributor. And that's the only way, you know. Yeah. And so I even brought like a sales agent friend into the mix, but my co producers, one of them didn't want to give away 20% which I'm sure haunts them to this day. And so we, because it was a sales agent friend of mine who's legit, you know, he sells movies for a living and I really feel that would have been the safest way to go. Unless we experimented and tried to do it ourselves. Um, but yeah, and so this company had approached us through slated, which, you know, I don't I, if an indie distributor is seeking people out, I feel like that's kind of a red flag I entered. Like, I feel like
Alex Ferrari 25:55
unless you're unless you're at a film festival, and you just got down to screening and they walk up to you like, Hey, we're a distributor, we love to film your movie, that's different. But if they're if the soliciting movie if they're soliciting you, which happens all the time, unless it's in even if it's a big distributor, I mean, a 24 is generally in that emailing people.
Heather Turman 26:16
Exactly, exactly. And you know, because they're getting flooded all the time. And they have their connects. And so it's, you said it perfectly. Because yes, if you are at a festival, and you show your film, and somebody comes up to you after and is like, I would love to distribute this, Here's my card. But if they haven't seen the film, and they're just soliciting you, it's probably a red flag. But we met up with them. And the guy, the head of the company, they had a handful of cute films, like I watched all the trailers and it was like, okay, you know, it seems like this company really is looking to, they all sort of fit within this brand. And so it was like, okay, they seem like they know what they're doing. And the contract they offered us was amazing. Amazing. It was tell us the details. It was so we made the film for 150,000. And we crowdfunded a, you know, a majority of that. I would say that about almost 100 was crowdfunded. And the other 50 was the three of us. You know, owning up, ponying. Yeah. Which we didn't expect to do. And then it was like, Oh, shit, we spent too much money. Here's for me, here's from you, you know? And so, we they offered us 300,000 minimum guarantee, which was, you know, we only had to make, we only needed to make like, 60 grand, you know what I mean? So, right.
Alex Ferrari 27:38
So they gave you an mg $300,000 mg in 2019. I'm assuming around that time. Yeah. Because I'm trying to because the game changes so often. It depends on when you got that deal, if it makes sense in 2018, that we got the deal. Released in 2018. Still ridiculous. That's not a thing that happens. But go ahead.
Heather Turman 27:59
Yeah, yeah. And so because at that time, Netflix had stopped, you know, they there was a time that Netflix was giving out 500 grand for an indie film, but that went away, you know? Um, yeah. And so he, so that was in our contract. 300 grand minimum guarantee. And, um, and yeah, and they paid marketing. So they paid marketing costs that was in our contract. And obviously, that's the big thing, like we've done enough research to know that, that's how they get you is that they promise you all this stuff, and then you get the bill. And it's like, oh, they spent it all on marketing. So we get 12 cents, you know,
Alex Ferrari 28:33
what was that? What was the top on their marketing? What was it? Was there a limit on their marketing or not?
Heather Turman 28:38
There was not a limit, it said that. I know. I know. It's bad marketing. Yeah. But he said marketing was a team decision with the producer. So we were supposed to have a say in that as well. So you know, it's like, I mean, this deal sounds I mean, it's in theory,
Alex Ferrari 28:56
in theory, it sounds wonderful so far.
Heather Turman 28:59
Yeah. But yeah, we have not seen a dime. And every other film, that's what this company has, with the exception of maybe like one or two others has pulled their film from them. And you know, gone to court got their money back and this distributor is under investigation with the FBI for major fraud. A friend of mine came out of the woodwork. Oh, go ahead.
Alex Ferrari 29:22
No, no. off off. So they offered you 300 mg. So when you delivered the film, I'm assuming a part of the contract as soon as the film is delivered, some money is really it was
Heather Turman 29:32
after it was after quarter one from exhibition. So exhibition began, may have of 2019 and so once quarter one and he was like, oh, maybe you know might be but realistically, it'll probably be like, you'll get your first checks by the end of it'll be during the second quarter that you'll see. You know, was that money
Alex Ferrari 29:52
was that $300,000 supposed to be broken up over multiple quarters it was going to just won't be one foot one fat check.
Heather Turman 29:58
So that contract was for by 40 months, we would have that 300 grand. So
Alex Ferrari 30:05
spread out mg, it was a spread out over four down months. So you're talking about,
Heather Turman 30:11
okay, August 2022 is when it's up, but we haven't seen a diamond and it's clear we're never going to. So that's
Alex Ferrari 30:18
a pretty it's a pretty, I've heard of flat out people not paying m G's or distributors not paying em G's, but the way they've structured that deal was, you'll get a little bit of the whole 300,000 from now until four years along, which is generally how mg is work. I'm G's work like, you deliver the film, mg is you're here to check, maybe break it up over the first year, something like that. I mean, that Netflix does it over two years, if you can, if you get it, and now they're going to pay you until after the agreements over. So if they licensed it for two years, well, your first check starts at the end of let's because it's Netflix, so they're just, you know, flux they cancel. Yeah, exactly. Okay. And you said your friend came out of the woodwork.
Heather Turman 30:58
So yeah. And then a friend came out of the woodwork and said, Oh, are you we're I didn't know that you had worked with him. She was actually She's a friend of my wife. And she had hit her up and said, I didn't know that Heather was working with this, this, this guy? And she said, Yeah, he's the distributor for the movie. Why? You know, and she said, Well, 10 years ago, I, me and several actors came together to make an indie film. And we'd had about 150 grand that we'd all chipped in, like, you know, three grand five grand, they'd all paid for it. And a week before, and he came on as a producer, and a week before they went into production, the money was gone. And he ran away with it. And so and so then I started doing a ton of that's how that was the first red flag because that was right when the film was coming out. And so I'm calling my producing partners, and I'm like, red flag, red flag, red flag. And one of them thought, one, the distributor had fed one of them. He partnered with them on another project. And so he was basically sitting next to them feeding them all of this. bs about how it's a disgruntled filmmaker, that suing them. And that's probably must be what I'm talking about. And I'm like, that is not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about a different thing, like 10 years ago. And I'm, you know, maybe he has turned over a new leaf and is trying to make things right. But I think we need to talk about this and see what if we can get out of this. And I just, you know, my team didn't, didn't agree with me, essentially, at the time. And then later, it came out that that person was, I mean, I guess I can't even really say that part yet. But yeah, um, long story short, the Yeah. So now the distributor is supposedly still going to film festivals I've heard and still telling people that he wants to distribute their films, under this company, that's no longer in good standing. If you look it up, it like doesn't exist anymore.
Alex Ferrari 32:57
But he just opened up a new a new company if he wants to, and that's the whole thing again.
Heather Turman 33:01
Exactly. And that I had read about that I'd read about the bankruptcy, you know, plan where they were filing bankruptcy, and then going and buying all of their assets. And basically, you know, owning your film in perpetuity for nothing. And so when I read up on that, I was like, I think this is what he's doing. But he didn't end up filing bankruptcy. And it turns out that, because he's the only one on the company, and that kind of stuff, he still will end up being held liable. But at this point, it's like, we're kind of just we're gonna wait till the 40 month mark, when if we don't see that money, contractually, we'll get the movie back. But I mean, it's gonna be over four years old. So it's, you know, and we probably will still have to hire a lawyer and spend more money. So it's just something that like, if I can impart any sort of wisdom on any filmmaker who's going through this is just like, do your due diligence and everything that you preach about, about knowing your audience, finding your audience, and, you know, making people excited about the product before you release the product? Like you then can release your own product and you can really have a bankroll if you do things, right. If you crowdfund and you don't owe people money back. Why wouldn't you release it with a knot? give someone that power, you know, what, so?
Alex Ferrari 34:19
So right now, the movie is basically in limbo. You have no idea. It's it's, it's out. It's out there right now. It's out in the world. Yeah, it's around the world. But you haven't gotten a check yet. And it's been a long now, since you were supposed to catch up.
Heather Turman 34:31
I mean, so I mean, two years. We choose we are I know that he worked with an aggregate company. So he then of course, didn't even know how to get films up who was
Alex Ferrari 34:44
who do you work with tri coast, never heard of number 35. Right coast, really never heard. They're an aggregator.
Heather Turman 34:53
They are a distributor, but because he knew them and I didn't think he had the ability to get the films on the platforms. So he signed with them as an app aggregator for as an aggregate for all of his for his whole slate.
Alex Ferrari 35:05
That's another middleman. So that's another middleman that's taking a chunk out of your money.
Heather Turman 35:09
Exactly. Well, which, you know, we owe nothing to them that like, you know, their their contract wouldn't underwrite ours, it's just that thing of
Alex Ferrari 35:21
they'll take money out of his car, which will then take money out of your cut.
Heather Turman 35:25
Yeah, which we're not gonna see a cut Anyway, you know what I mean? Like, he's a criminal. That's really all there is to it. He's, you know, his I know, he had a court date for the FBI thing, like week or two ago, so he could be in jail for all I know, right now. But he, uh, go ahead.
Alex Ferrari 35:41
So where's your film available right now?
Heather Turman 35:44
It's, it's on Amazon. And last I it was on all of them. But tri coast recently dropped all of his films because of all the legal drama. So they ended up cutting ties with him. And so all of their So, you know, they got rid of all of his film. So I don't know if he's how capable he has been of getting it on somewhere else.
Alex Ferrari 36:06
Right now. So right now, it's only on Amazon.
Heather Turman 36:10
As far as I know. Yes. It was on Apple TV. It was on all it was on all these, but I think that it got pulled? And to be honest, I haven't checked it. But I definitely saw on Amazon. Somebody just watched it the other day and hit me up.
Alex Ferrari 36:21
So would you which cases obviously they're in breach of contract? Yeah, term breach of contract. If they're off of all the platforms, why don't you just take control of the film again,
Heather Turman 36:33
and just Oh, so I tried to do this. So I tried to do this. And I, again, you know, my, when you're partnering with people that, that you don't have an existing relationship with, like, I tried to go behind everyone's back and go to try and get the hard drives and do things that way. Like I was, I was trying to just be like, if you if you're a criminal, I'm gonna, I'm playing with a criminal here, I'm gonna go steal my movie back, you know, and, and I went there, and they'd already turned the drives over to him. So he has the hard drives. And he sent me a couple texts saying, like, you know, we are I hold like, I, we still hold the copyright. But the contract, of course, assigns the copyright to him. So where we've left it right now is one of my producing partners, spoke with him on the phone. And and basically, let him convince him that like, Oh, it's it's tri coast fault, I'm in a, I'm at odds with them, you know, and I'm just like, dude, you cannot, he is a criminal, we're never gonna see this money. And they're like, well, I don't want to pay for a lawyer. So let's just wait for the 14 month mark. So that's where we're at now. But it's been such a mess and such a nightmare. And I feel like I was not listened to this entire time by my producing team. Do you know what I mean? And so it's, it's, it becomes incredibly disheartening to and I think that that's the thing if, if you're going to go into if you're going to partner with other creatives on a project, make sure you're on the same page about distribution before you work together? You know?
Alex Ferrari 38:09
No, without question. I think distribution is I mean, I've talked about distribution and nauseum on this show. But I feel that it's just something that it nobody wants to talk about everyone, let's talk about the creative part, and the fun part. And hey, it's cool. And let's all talk about that. And we'll go to the premieres and walk red carpets, and Hahaha, and our egos will be stroked, and it'll be great. But when it gets to this point, everyone just has different views. And most, I'm gonna say 99% of filmmakers are completely ignorant of this process, speaking to 1000s of them, and connecting with 1000s of filmmakers on a daily, weekly basis. And what I hear all the time, most just don't know what even professionals are having issues in today's marketplace, let alone people who have no idea what's going on. Because there's there's a lot of like you're producing partners sound like they have the 9096 mentality. of them. Yeah,
Heather Turman 39:03
you know, Mm hmm. Yeah. And it's and it's changing. You know, it's a, it's an evolving world. And it's changed so drastically. And I agree with what I've heard you say on this podcast before, and that if you want to know what's gonna happen with film, watch what happened with music, and it's 100% true. And in some ways, it's good because we are at that place where everyone can make a film. But you also now you are competing with everyone. And so what you may cast to either you have to know your audience, inside and out, or you have to make something so good, you know, be that rare, amazing, universal story that that touches and reaches everybody. And not everybody is going to be able to write or create that that film. And so, you know, it's just it's changed so much and and it's so important to be aware of the options, and also to think like a business person and I think that's the thing because this As a creative field, so many people don't have like, I feel like I'm like, I'm split brains, like I was always good in math and science and good in English and the creative. So like, this stuff adds up for me, but like, a lot of the creatives that doesn't, and so they get taken advantage of I mean, even just the concept of agents, why agents exist, you know, because the creatives don't in general like that. They're their artists, you know, they're not thinking about the business side of things necessarily.
Alex Ferrari 40:27
Yeah. And I look, I think there are places for, I want to say agents, but managers have, eventually, one day I'll get an agent maybe who knows. But you need a you need some, especially when you add a certain level, you do need someone negotiating for you. As long as I'm not saying you don't, yeah, yeah, you definitely do that. Yes. But reps are great. Yeah, reps reps are fantastic. But it gets silly sometimes. And then then there's also those reps that just sit around doing nothing, you go out and get all the work, and then they take the 10% or 15%, or God forbid, 20 if you've done a really bad job.
Heather Turman 41:01
But at the end of the day, there is that second set of eyes, reviewing contracts and making the deals and a lot of times they make you more money. And so it's worth the money that you pay absolutely, absolutely
Alex Ferrari 41:14
no shade to agents or managers at all.
Heather Turman 41:17
I just the business aspect that like creatives need that some that business brain, you know, helping them along the way,
Alex Ferrari 41:24
you know, without without question, you know, I wish I wish I can tell you that this is a brand new story that I've never heard before. But you've listened to my show enough to know that this is not the case. I'm always fascinated by new techniques, new new scams, new ways to screw filmmakers. It's it just I don't know, I don't know, I guess I just come from a different cut from a different cloth because I just don't want to do that. To Life is too short. Like you're gonna, I don't know, this is my feeling. In 100 years, no one's gonna remember any of us anyway. Right? So you know, why don't you try to do some good while you're here, try to help some people try to express yourself be true to yourself. And that's basically what it is. Because, you know, if you just I don't know, it's not we're going down a whole other conversation. But it just upsets me that that filmmakers are treated this way. And it's, but you were saying something about music. That's what I was trying to get back to. With music. You're saying it's easy to make movies, it is super easy to make an album, like it is, it's so much easier to make an album there's so much more competition in music than there is in film, and watching what successful independent artists like Chance the Rapper, and Drake and these kind of guys who came up completely without an AC label, and did it all on themselves. That's inspiring. And we think we have a lot of competition where nothing compared to music. I mean, there's so everybody, and their mother thinks they can write a song or sing a song and put an album together and sell it. But that's where you need to focus on like what are they doing? What are the successful artists in that field doing that we can copy and you know and model in our world because oh God, and it's only getting tougher, so sorry, guys. No, this is that. I don't want to be that completely downer on this. But it's only it's only getting tougher. Like you just said Netflix isn't buying things like that anymore. And you know, many filmmakers I talk to everyday like, Oh, I just want to get enough that. No, you don't. You're never gonna get on. You know, do you have Jason Statham on? Okay. Yeah, you'll get good. Yeah. Bruce Willis, maybe? You know, yeah. It's it's genre. It's genre based. Big Star vehicle films is the only thing that they're by outside of their originals.
Heather Turman 43:43
Yeah, no, it's, it's true. And I do feel certain, you know, independent artists that are finding, it's almost like, like, when you especially when you look at someone like Jim Cummings, right after winning Sundance that didn't get him. You know, hollywood didn't come calling. Then he crowdfunded the feature that even that didn't get Hollywood coming. Finally, after crowdfunding, you know, this third now, you know, he's with CIA and taken seriously, and they're like, Okay, this guy's legit. But like, nowadays, it's like, you have to do it, you should just take one film, and I just feel like now it's cultivating a like a voice and, and brand through your work. That's, you know, it's like when you were talking about what the music what the musical artists do. For me, it's, they are really good at, at doing them like they know themselves inside and out. And they they have, they are a personality, and their their music fits within that personality. Like I feel like filmmakers have to do that same thing. You know where this these films are representative of my voice. Those films are representative of their voice and build that brand and then you can sort of step outside A little bit and and not just always, you know, then you don't have to always like when you're first getting started, yeah, make the vegan chef movie, you know what I mean? Like, and then find your audience. But then like, it's really funny and people start taking you seriously, like, start being like, that was a funny movie, I never, you know, I caught it because I was dating a vegan were over. But that was a great, great comedy, then maybe they'll tune into your next comedy, you know. And so eventually you can build out a brand and a voice,
Alex Ferrari 45:28
I think, I think you have a much better chance as a niche filmmaker doing niche stuff than you do if you're trying to do like a broad, broad spectrum stuff. Because everybody we talked about, look, there's probably arguably no better filmmaker who has a direct connection to their audience than Kevin Smith, Kevin Smith has cultivated over the last 2025 years. 30, almost 30 years, an amazing relationship with his audience. He understands who he is, he understands the kind of films he makes. And he talks directly to the audience. The thing that a lot of people don't understand is that he had studio backing to get his voice and his brand out there. So did Spike Lee. So to Robert Rodriguez. So to Quentin Tarantino, all of these guys have a big, have a big money behind them to launch this, they might not have it now, like Kevin Smith doesn't do studio movies anymore, really, he does mostly. But his brand is been established out there so much because of the studio system, that that they ride that way, it's the same with actors, you know, actors have one or two big movies, and then they'll ride that for a career, you know, don't really, you know, don't I'm not gonna say name specifically. But there's actors who were in the 80s and 90s, in big, blockbuster films, but then their career kind of petered off. And then now they're, they're working actors, but they're still off, they're still, they're still being paid off of that recognizability off of the big studio pushes. And for an independent, I think the only way you can get noticed is in a niche market. And then hopefully, and then hopefully grow from there. But be happy to stay in that lane at the beginning, and then maybe venture out but if you can, I always tell people, and you've heard this, if you could just make a living doing what you love to do. If you could just do this, Mike,
Heather Turman 47:20
you won. You won. Pick up one and don't know Yeah, I was gonna say yeah, you want like, this is it. And I think that like that's the thing with you know, because of the stories like Robert Rodriguez and you know, Richard Linklater, and everybody that you hear that had that beginning, you assume that that's going to happen for you. And so you have a having an attachment to the outcome of your film is the worst thing that you can do. Just make it because you love it, and share it with the world. And if it makes people happy, then that will make you feel good. And that's it.
Alex Ferrari 47:52
Enjoy the process. Because the end, the end goal is quick. If you're there for the awards, if you're there for the screening for the applause. That's very short amount of time in the whole time, the entire process of what you're making every day in, day out. If you don't love what you're doing. It's it's that's why so many filmmakers are so sad. Like they wouldn't ask you to like now what? Yeah, I mean, I don't have these problems. But many other people have had these problems where there's like, they win the Oscar, they win the award, they they make a hit, and then they're like, Oh, god, this is all I've been focused on my time. I don't know what to do now. Yes, I hope we have this problem. Great. I mean, I got I made 100 million now what do I do? Like I hope I have these problems. But But and I think you've seen it in the films that I've made. I just enjoyed the process. And I had no attachment to outcome. None.
Heather Turman 48:43
Yeah, no. And that's why I think I was so inspired by it. I had, you know, stumbled on the podcast stumbled on your book, and everything you were talking about in the book. I was like, well, which by the way, this was very funny, because when we were doing when we were looking for distributors, I my wife had done us a small film called girl flu. And they were with glass house, I believe is what it was called. And I was looking through their Rolodex of films at the time their slate. It was that who it was, and I saw handled.
Alex Ferrari 49:15
This is Meg. Yeah, they did international distribution for me.
Heather Turman 49:18
Yeah, so I saw this the trailer for this is Meg. And I watched it way before I heard your podcast way before I, you know, read your book. And so then as I'm reading this book that is speaking to me, and I'm like, this is exactly what I was trying to say, when we were building stuff out is I was like, let's really target like, you know, it was just that thing that I had had these instincts but didn't execute and didn't, wasn't taken seriously by my partners. And so when I was reading it, and you said like, Oh, my first film this is mad. I'm like, that's so funny. And that made me then go watch it because I was like, well, this feels a little bit Kismet because I had stumbled on an indie trailer. I mean, who does that you know? And then it turned out to be yours and and I loved it and coming from the comedy community, you know, Sean Paul offski. And oh, I didn't know. Yeah, just Jill. Yeah, I didn't I don't know her, but a friend of mine know her. And so I really enjoyed it. And it both of your films feel like the same director though. You know what I mean? Like, I guess you all have, yeah, I guess you have a style and a voice.
Alex Ferrari 50:24
Yeah, there's an energy, there's an energy behind it. But then if you watch my earlier films, they have absolutely no, like, it's completely different energy than their action and, and, you know, thrillers and things like that. But it's, you know, look, if the Coen Brothers can make raising Arizona, and blood simple. You know, everything can happen then. And we're humans and we evolve. Absolutely. in your life. Yeah. Look at Spielberg. I mean, he hasn't made a really big popcorn a movie in a while. He's a very serious filmmaker now. And they're great. And I love all his movies now, too. I do miss him going back to that. But I think he's, he's like, I've done that. I'm good. I don't need to make et anymore. I'm not I'm not the filmmaker. Yeah, I'm not that filmmaker anymore. Now I have to ask you, what is the right? I know, right? What is filming films like that? I know, what is the biggest lesson you've learned from making this film?
Heather Turman 51:19
One is the thing that I'd say two, I would say. First and foremost is the thing I mentioned about not having an attachment to outcome, because I feel like emotionally, it was such an incredible grief. And as a result of him sort of coinciding with that is the is compromising man. Like, if we're gonna go through the effort, and I think this is what I really learned is that I mean, I have started directing, I've dabbled in some shorts that would cost no money, they were just experiments. But I, I definitely want to direct for sure now, because when you go through the effort of, you know, building a world that you write on, on the page, and then go through the efforts and all the hours and labor that's involved in producing a film, especially when you're the type of producer that's knocking on doors and, and you know, when we can't find patrol cars, I'm going on Craigslist and seeing who's selling, you know, a black crown. Vic, can I pay you to not sell that just yet? And you borrow it for my film? When I hit up an ambulance and say, Can you guys come by for like an hour, I mean, all kinds of different, you know, stuff that I was willing to do when you do that kind of groundwork and you don't have final creative say, it's like, you know, it's a big heartbreak and, and especially if you know, you're just don't compromise that much. Just make sure that you really stick to your guns and you know, the product you want to make, so that you are not bullied or, you know, pushed out a little bit or just, yeah, I mean, compromising with with artists is not is not cool. Don't do it. Unless it's like a small thing.
Alex Ferrari 53:04
It's it's a tough the making film is probably one of the toughest artistic endeavors ever created. Because there's so many different, it has all the arts in it, all of it, it's all wrapped into one thing. And then also you can't do it alone. You need to compromise with others you need. Anytime you have other words, collaborate, you do collaborate, but as any director at any level will tell you, I don't care if it's a $200 million budget, or if it's a $50,000. Budget, you gotta compromise. Yeah,
Heather Turman 53:34
but if you are the and what, but what I'm saying there is that knowing, knowing what to compromise on, do you know what I mean? Is is and so that's what I mean, really know the product you want to put out, so that when those times come, it's like, yeah, I can bend on that that's not important. I think, you know, there's that thing Quentin Tarantino, something about music, like he was not willing, he needed the money to pay for the song because he knew that that for sure was going to really make the scene. And so it's the thing of and make the film and, and so knowing those things, and not bending on on what you know, is going to make the film and what you know that the film really is. But yes, of course, you have to compromise because you are, like you said, it's a collaborative environment. It's so many different moving parts. And so of course, that's going to happen, but yeah, I just mean like the meat like you can't compromise the meat, it becomes a different movie.
Alex Ferrari 54:27
No, no question. There was one. There's a funny story I heard years ago about Michael Bay on his first film, which was bad boys. And there was a shot he wanted and if any bad boys fans out there will know this shot towards the end when there there's a shootout in the airport. This guy explodes out of an airplane and crashes into something and it was like a big event and they and Michael really wanted it and and at that time, Michael was completely disrespected. He's a commercial director that like at whatever. They didn't really respect them and he's like, I need the shot. I need the shot. I want the shot. And it's like, no. And though he's like, how much will it cost to do the shot, he's like, it's gonna cost you 50 grand into the shot. And we'll come in an hour too early and set it up tomorrow, if you want to do it, and he goes, I'll pay for it. The next day before the take, he took the check, and placed it in front of dailies in front of the lens and recorded it. So everybody knew that he was paying for the shot, but he got a shot. And you got to regardless if you'd like Michael Bay movies or not, you got to respect that. You got to respect it.
Heather Turman 55:28
100% Yeah, yeah, I, I ended up having to sell my car to pay off the crew. And I remember, at the time, it was so simple. I know. And so that's why the distribution things even worse, but it's like, so I had done that. And the crew, though, knowing that I was doing that. He had said the kind of things to me and just, I know that I'll always be able to work with them again, you know, because of that. And so, you know, you definitely have to make those sacrifices when needed.
Alex Ferrari 55:57
Yeah, exactly. And hopefully you don't have to sell your car. Hopefully, hopefully, you don't have to sell your car. Now, what advice would you give a filmmaker trying to trying to break into the business today.
Heather Turman 56:11
Just make make make, start small, tell small stories, learn how to how to direct actors in a in a, you know, in a one room story and get bigger from there. And just learn that that's it. Get started and learn and start. Start small. So you don't overdo it. You know, like I said, I wanted to do a $50,000 movie. I'm happy with the movie. It's a rockin little indie. But um, you know, it was much bigger than I intended it to be or get and, you know, it put me financially in a hole for about two years. And so don't go too big too soon, you know? Exactly.
Alex Ferrari 56:46
I agree with you. And three of your favorite films of all time.
Heather Turman 56:50
Oh, man. I'm gonna get laughed at about this. But the Brady Bunch movie is one of my
Alex Ferrari 56:58
favorite first first time after 600 and some episodes of all my podcasts. Brady Bunch never ever one. Everyone should have you ever seen it? Of course I have of love that are so it's so
Heather Turman 57:08
it's great. It's fun. It's great. And just it's brilliant directing because it's you know, the Brady actors are in a whole different world than the rest of the cast. You know, it's it's brilliant. And it's so funny. So I love the Brady Bunch movie is one of my favorite films. And recently and growing up. Oh, man, everything Charlie Kaufman ever did.
Alex Ferrari 57:29
That station? I mean, yeah, yeah.
Heather Turman 57:33
Yeah. Eternal Sunshine. And, and lastly, I'd have to say and then just recently, I think I love booksmart. It was my favorite one of my favorite films in the last decade. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 57:43
Very, very fun. And then where can people watch stuck? Even though you won't be getting paid off of it yet? But where can?
Heather Turman 57:53
Yeah, we watch it because I want people to see you know what? My wife gave a killer performance. And I've seen people say that where they're like, wow, Heather matarazzo This is her first adult lead since Welcome to the dollhouse like she Yeah, what, uh, yeah, you know, and, and she killed it. And she did such a great job. So I want people to see it for her. And so it's on Amazon, and I believe, do a Google search because I haven't done one in a minute. And I'm sure you can find it on other platforms. But it's out there. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 58:23
it's on Amazon. And hopefully, one day we'll, we'll get some money for it. Yeah. I'm gonna
Heather Turman 58:30
write a book about the experience. I'll make my money back there.
Alex Ferrari 58:33
There. That's the film shoprunner method. Fantastic. I love it. Thank you so much for being on the show. I pray and thank you for being so raw and honest and and transparent about your experience in your journey. Hopefully, this will help some filmmakers out there listening. So thank you again, so much.
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