IFH 076: How to Blaze Your Own Path in the Film Industry



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Have you been banging your head against the wall trying to figure out what you need to do to break into the film industry? Me too. This episode is dedicated to all the indie filmmakers out there trying to make a living as a filmmaker.

After studying so many success stories of directors, writers, producers, and actors who finally broke through and made it into the exclusive party I found one common denominator among every single one of them.

I discuss that truth and make a major announcement to the Indie Film Hustle Tribe about what I’ll be doing over the next year and how it applies to the topic of “Blazing Your Own Path in the Film Industry.”

THIS IS MEG, Jill Michele-Meleán, Indie Film Hustle, Seed and Spark, Crowdfunding, Micro budget film, director alex Ferrari, alex Ferrari

If your a bit lost or just keep running into walls trying to make it as a filmmaker then this is the podcast you need to listen to. I hope you find some value in it. Good luck!

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
Well my indie film hustlers This is a special episode. It's an episode I've been wanting to talk about for quite some time, and I'm going to be brutally honest. In this episode, I've probably more honest than I've ever been, in any of my podcasts, hard to believe I know, because I'm fairly honest with all my podcasts, but I'm a guy who's been in this business for over 20 years now. And my dream has always been to direct a feature film, to direct feature films to make a living, directing feature films. Now I do direct commercials, I do direct music videos. And you know, I do my post production through numb robot and all that good stuff. And I'm always around the business. And obviously, I do a lot with indie film hustle, now to help you guys out. But you know, at the end of the day, what got me up in the morning. And what gets me up in the morning is the dream of shooting a feature film, and, and making expressing myself as an artist, especially expressing myself as a director. And I've been chasing that specific dream for over 20 years. And since ever since I was 18 years old, or actually 17 or 16, something like that. And I looked around my my room and I had over 3000 VHS tapes on it. And I said you know what, I'm going to be a director. And from that moment on, I've been chasing the dream of directing feature films ever since. And the technology has changed over time, attitudes have changed. You know, a lot of different things have changed from the moment that I started that dream to now. And I know that I'm not the only one everybody listening to this podcast, I would imagine have the same dream, they want to direct they want to express themselves as an artist. And it's so hard to find the path to take to get to that dream because it's not like a doctor. It's not like a lawyer that you go you do the court you like hey, if you want if I know right now that if there was a school somewhere that said, Hey, if you pay us X amount of dollars, you're going to be in school for seven years, you're going to learn from the Masters, when you get out, you're guaranteed a job making this kind of movie or this kind of TV show or you're going to do it and you're guaranteed right off the bat like a doctor is you know, you go through residency and so there is nothing like that for our business. And because of that everyone's always lost trying to figure out which path to go. And the biggest trap that I fell into is that you need this certain camera to shoot your movie or this actor. If this thing isn't in place, I can't move my I can't move forward. Or if I don't have this kind of distribution, or if I don't have this kind of budget. I can't make a movie. It's all absolute bullshit. You have the power right now to go and tell your story. Go and make your movie. And you should have no one tell you that there are rules in this game in this filmmaking journey. There are no rules you've got to do it yourself. And that was the biggest false hood I fell into and only within the last year that I start figuring it out doing indie film hustle that it is BS. It is bullshit and I don't want anyone listening to this podcast to fall for this trap? And then you study all of these people who've made it so I've studied everybody I mean, I've really gone after every kind of model I've gone after creating the short film The big visual effects short film to get attention to see if I get a feature made down that path. I went another short film to which had a script ready that had a full business plan ready to make that movie didn't go well. Didn't go didn't go through. And I know I'm not alone. I know all you guys have. I mean, there's 1000 stories in the Naked City, as they say about filmmakers, you know, being attached to projects and so on. And I've been I'm no different than any of you guys in that sense. But, you know, I've studied so many different roads and so many different paths, other filmmakers like you know, at first I was studying Spielberg's path and you know, and Scorsese's path and Coppola's path, and, you know, the you start figuring out that, you know, then came the next generation, which would be the Robert Rodriguez, the Kevin Smith's the Spike Lee's, the, the Rick, Rick, Richard Linklater, all these guys, and you're like, what did they do? How did they get in, and boom, boom, boom, and you just start trying to figure out the game. And unfortunately, for me, I got caught up in that for many years, if not decades, at this point in the game, trying to figure out what the game is, what's the end, what's the secret sauce, to get into open that door to get funding for your movie, or just to be able to get your dream up on the screen for you to be able to do what you want to do in life. And that was the mistake I made, I kept following all these people, you know, very closely studying their techniques, what they did, not as much their filmmaking techniques, but more their path and the business trying to break in. You know, and, and a lot of times I got stuck on you know, that the Robert Rodriguez story, the mythological Robert Rodriguez story, they made a $7,000 action movie, you know, and got, you know, got an agent, and he went on to do studio movies, and now he is who he is. But that story's from 1992. You know, that doesn't exist now. Steven Spielberg story is from the 70s, it doesn't exist now. You know, Tarantino story is from the 90s, it doesn't exist. Now. Same thing with Kevin Smith, like, you know, these guys coming up now would be it'd be different. Technology has changed, attitudes have changed, everything changed, the landscape is changing, changing almost daily, in regards to how people are making an end in the business. So again, my, my dream has always been to DirectX. So I decided to, instead of looking at other people's paths, I finally this year decided to start looking at my own and start creating my own and of course, take little bits of information from other people. But stop waiting for other people to give me permission to make a movie. And I decided to make my own movie, and blaze my own path, the path that is distinct to me and my resources and my story and my abilities. And you know, because I'll never be Francis Ford Coppola, who's going to UCLA film school, when film schools are just starting out, and barely any competition out there, and he shows up, and he starts directing studio movies, because that was the way it was not that he's obviously one of the greatest directors of all time. But that's his story. That's how he got in, you know, James Cameron story and so many other people's stories, you know, they all have their path, they all have their way, you know, I mean, James Cameron made a little short film that a bunch of dentist financed back in the day, I'm gonna put that up later on, on the blog, I have a whole post on that, that short film, but like, That's his path. That's the journey that he went on, and to stop trying to simulate other people's journey and start creating my own. And unfortunately, it's taken me a long time to learn that lesson. If you get one thing from this podcast, it's that you need to blaze your own trail. Be yourself, don't try. And that's where I think so many of us fail. As filmmakers, we keep trying to be other people. We try to be other artists, we try to go down other paths and don't get me wrong, some of those paths are are doable, you can do it and work. But I feel at least in in my soul that if you blaze your own path and do you, you have much more success than if you try to be somebody else, or go down a path that somebody else has already blazed. Because that might just be well worn and there's a gluttony of people on that path. The path that I'm gonna take is go alone, nobody's on that path. Now, that might be a scary thing that might be ignorant and dumb thing for me to do. But at least I feel that that is the right thing for me to do as an artist. And I suggest that all of you do something similar. Just do what you can blaze your path on what you want to do and how you want to do it. Now take from other people's past like a hopefully you guys are going to go on this journey with me. And you're going to see how I do it. And maybe that will inspire you to do something on your own on the way you can do it within the resources and the abilities that you have at the place you are in time right now in your careers in your journey. One of the stories that I heard and I and by the way, I learned this story specifically because I was providing service to you guys, I do a tremendous amount of research, and look for stories, ideas, inspirations for all of you to move forward in your career. And while I was doing this research, I found this amazing film, and story about how he made this film from one of our former guests on the show Michael Polish with his movie for lovers only where he went. And if you haven't heard that episode, it's Episode 69 go to indie film hustle.com for slash zero 69. It's an amazing one of the best interviews I've ever done on the on the podcast, really, really wonderful stuff. But that story of how he was able to just take his DSLR go and shoot a movie with no money and release the movie. And again, he had access to a wonderful actress. He had relationships that he had, he had gear that he brought on, which was his DSLR, he had, you know, he had these really these resources at his disposal to make his movie. And that's all you can do. Now, whether you're Josh Wheaton, who made his little indie film called Much Ado About Nothing based on Shakespeare's play, he took what resources he had, which were, you know, more substantial than many of us, he has relationships with a ton of amazing actors. So he brought all of those actors in, they worked for barely anything, and he shouted out his house, you know, so to a certain extent, he's doing what we would do, but he's using what he has at his disposal, and you can't hate the man or hate anybody for doing what they have, you know, using the resources he has, it's your responsibility. As a director, as a filmmaker, as an artist to use the resources, knowledge and experience, you have to tell your story. And that's what both Michael and and Joss really kind of inspired me to do with the project that I am currently working on now. And the announcement that I wanted to talk about a little bit is the movie I'm going to make I'm gonna make a movie called This is Meg. It is a comedy drama. And it stars Julie Michelle milyon, who is a stand up comic who was on mad TV, Reno, 911, and a million other things that she's been on. And she's a really dear friend of mine and an insane talent, a talent that has not been allowed to shine, Julie not allowed to shine yet, not to her full extent. And that is what I wanted to do with this movie. We are putting together an insane cast of amazing actors. And we're going to make a movie, I'm going to shoot it myself. We're going to shoot it on the Blackmagic Cinema Camera, we're going to go through the entire process of this micro budget. And when I say micro, I'm talking about micro budget film. And you know, after after looking at the technology the way it is today, and what it really takes to make a movie and the resources I have at my disposal. I was like you know what, I can go make a movie. And wouldn't it be awesome if I can make this movie and take the tribe along with me to see the entire process of how I make this movie. warts and all, you know, ups and downs, so on so forth. And I'm like I would kill for that. Like I would kill to watch another filmmaker. Go through the entire process like literally and ask questions, not just look at it in a voyeuristic way. Set up a place where you can ask questions, see how it pertains to your own projects, and see if the path that I create is a path that can help other filmmakers succeed which is again, what I wanted to do with indie film hustle, I wanted to help other filmmakers succeed in what they're trying to do. And I'm sorry I'm getting a little choked up about this because I'm really passionate about what I am doing with not only this project but with helping you guys you know, I really miss I really want to help and I really want other people to get to the place that they want to be. As a filmmaker as an artist, you know, I I could have focused on a million other topics but the topic that I was put on this earth to talk about was film by filmmaking. And that's what I love. And other people are business other people are, you know, marketing other people or a million other things. But for me, my my core, my group of people that I want to help is storytellers are filmmakers are people who want to get their stories out there and succeed and survive and thrive, as I say, in the business and make a living doing this. So I wanted to create a project. And not only one, but multiple, but this is our first and show people that you can go out and make a movie and sell a movie and make money with a movie and crowdfund to get a budget for the movie. And go out there and be an artist and hopefully make money doing it and serve and sustaining yourself as an artist, and going out and doing it and and there's other people who've done this many ways, many different roads to the same path, whether it's being hired by a studio to do you know, the next Marvel movie, or just a working filmmaker who makes a good living making his indie films or her indie films, and, and just going about their daily business of being an artist and a filmmaker. And, you know, look, I know a lot of you have gone down this path of looking at other filmmakers and seeing how they do and oh my gosh, you should, you should learn from everybody else, see what other people are doing and go down that path. You know how many people have probably picked up an iPhone and said, I'm gonna go make a movie on my iPhone, because they saw Shaun Baker do it. And when Sundance with it with tangerine, you know, that's great. But is that going to be your specific path? I don't know. Maybe it's doing something else. Maybe it's doing a web series, that maybe it's doing a you know, a short, or maybe it's doing a feature or whatever that is, but all these paths that you're studying, all these people that you're studying that are ahead of you are not ahead of you, but are at a different place in their journey. That on the filmmaking journey, they inspire you know how many filmmaking careers were inspired by Kurosawa john Ford, Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, Warner, Hertzog you know, and and all of these amazing directors, you know, Robert Rodriguez, can you my generation, a lot of people, I know directors that are working in the business, I know that Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Spike Lee, all those directors, all those guys inspire generations, they might have not gone down the same exact path as those directors, but inspire them to go on their own path, or take a little bit from each of their story and, and blaze their own path. And that's what we're here to do. And that's what you should be doing blazing your own path, not only as a filmmaker on the business side, but as an artist, and in listening to your voice. Because we don't want another Stanley Kubrick, we don't want another Steven Spielberg, we want you, we want you as a filmmaker, to express your point of view, and whatever kind of story that is, whether that be a slasher horror movie, an action thriller, a comic book, film, a documentary, a comedy or drama, whatever. But it has to be your perspective has to be who you are your as they say, your stank. Your, your secret sauce, you have to have your stank all over it. And I mean that in the most positive way possible. Because when you see a Stanley Kubrick movie, you see his stank everywhere what you see is Spielberg or Scorsese movie, you see his think everywhere. And that's your job as an artist, as a Picasso as a da Vinci, you have to put your secret sauce in whatever you do. So with all of this said, guys, I hope that you go on the journey with me, it's going to be going on over the next year. But it's going to come really quickly. We are going to start crowdfunding for this in about three weeks, give or take, we're going to be crowdfunding through seed and spark.com. So you can see the entire process of what I go through with seed and spark how I do it, how they do their thing. A lot of people ask why aren't you using Kickstarter, Indiegogo? I love seed and spark. I love what Emily best and their entire team does for filmmakers. And I want to only support them, but only on a selfish standpoint, they have a 78% success rate, which is almost double what Kickstarter and Indiegogo are. So we're going to be going after raising $15,000 for part of the production of the film. And we're going to see what we can get where you're going to see a full crowdfunding campaign on how I do it, how we do the pitch video how we do the the whole layout of the of the pitch page how we run campaign for the 30 days that we're going to run it, what kind of things are we going to be doing the incentives, the whole ball of wax. I am working right now with seed and spark to create a series, a crowdfunding podcast series to give even more detail and more in depth stuff about the process. Because I think crowdfunding is such a powerful thing. But there's so much noise, like in every aspect of our business right now that you have to be really strategic and really good at what you're doing to even cut through. So I'm hoping that what we do will be successful, and you'll be able to see if we were successful, or if we were not successful. And you'll see what we did right, and you'll see what we did wrong. But that's part of the journey. Now. And also to help us make this movie, I'm creating the full access membership site on indie film hustle, where you will have for a monthly fee, we're going to do a three month fee of six months, a year long fee, which allows you to come in and be part of a very exclusive community inside of indie film hustle. Now this community, you will have access to a ton of tutorial videos, over 10 to 15 hours worth of tutorial videos on filmmaking from our courses from filmmaking hacks, social media courses, like Twitter hacks, all and see different courses from the film festival hacks and other places like that. So you can see a ton of content there all the time. And I'll be adding content to there all the time, I have courses coming up that I'm working on to add more value to the full access site. And in there, you will have access to me as well as to Google Hangout we're going to be trying to do twice a month during the process of making this as Meg. And that whole process, you'll be able to see where we're going ask questions, we kind of all get together, ask questions and talk about the process and how it applies to your movie. So you're basically getting almost consulting on your movie through this process. It's really really, I mean, I would have killed for something like this, I would kill for now just to see how somebody else has gone through this path. And in today's world in like right now 2016 world. But the wonderful thing about full access is that it's going to continue to grow throughout the years. So as I continue to do movies, I'm going to continue to add content and content and content to this where it becomes an amazing resource for people. And any of the money that goes into this will go into helping us make this movie. So we will have those as part of the incentives of our crowdfunding campaign. So you'll get super crazy deals. If you join us with a contribution on our crowdfunding campaign you will have different accesses to and special things to full access as well. So I hope you guys are excited about this. If you want to be part of the full access membership site, you can always go to indie film, hustle comm forward slash full access, and you can sign up to be notified when it goes live, it hopefully will be going live in the next four to six weeks, I'm going to be creating content and getting everything up there which is going to take time, and I want to make sure I launch it properly. Make sure you guys have plenty of good stuff in there. when it launches. It's gonna be super crazy, super valuable, man, I really hope you guys get a lot out of it. Now if you guys want to be part of the launch team for our crowdfunding campaign, and run with us through this entire crowdfunding campaign, you'll learn everything that we do and how we're doing it, you'll have access to us, and be able to talk to us ask questions about the pet campaign. And as part of being a launch team, basically, all you're going to be doing is, you know, when we need you to help tweet something out or talk to your specific audience or groups, get the word out on the campaign, how to do it with tools that we're going to give you all this kind of cool stuff and just really be our ambassadors really help get the word out on the project in a really cool way, and adding value to everybody you talk to. So if you want to be part of that launch team, head over to indie film, hustle, calm, forward slash launch team, that's indie film, hustle calm for slash launch team. And it'll take you to a private Facebook group that we have set up just for this launch team. So thank you so much. I really hope to have you guys on that journey with me. So again, if you want more information about full access indie film, hustle, head over to indie film hustle comm forward slash full access. And if you want to be part of the launch team for my new film, this is mag, head over to indie film hustle.com forward slash launch team. I really hope that this process inspires as many of you as possible to go out and do what you want to do, and follow your dreams. Be that storyteller be that filmmaker, tell us Doors you want to tell and and make a living doing it, which is very, very important as an artist. So I hope this this process inspires you. And to be honest, you know, it would be a scary proposition to be doing this alone, but I know I'm not alone. I've got the indie film hustle tribe here with me on this project and moving forward and I'm there for them and for you guys, at all times as much as I can give you I can give you and anything I find out I'm going to pass along to you guys any secrets I learned along the way. You know me, I always put them out. So, guys, please, as always, keep that hustle going. Keep your dream alive. And I'll talk to you very soon.




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