Please Note: Once you press play it will take a few seconds for the episode to start playing.

 How to Make Indie Films That Make REAL Money with J. Horton

Today on the show we have filmmaker and Filmtrepreneur J. Horton. Jason has been in the film industry for as long as I have and has been making movies ever since. What sets him apart from other filmmakers is that he actually makes a living making his films.

Jason figured out the formula that would allow him to make a living doing what he loves to do. He produces low-budget feature films and uploads them to Amazon Prime. He collects TVOD and SVOD revenue. His key is volume. This year alone he produced 14 feature films.

We discuss how he chooses his niche audience, how he shifted from only narrative films to directing niche-focused documentaries, and how he’s able to produce so much content.

Enjoy my conversation with J. Horton.

Right-click here to download the MP3
Read the Full Transcription
Download on iTunes Direct

Watch on YouTube

LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

SPONSORS

  1. DONATE to Feed America to help with people affected by the Coronavirus
  2. Rise of the Filmtrepreneur®: How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Moneymaking Business (FREE AUDIOBOOK)
  3. $1 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)
  4. The Complete Indie Film Producing Workshop with Suzanne Lyons (COUPON CODE: IFHFILMPRODUCE)
  5. Shooting for the Mob (Based on the Incredible True Filmmaking Story) (FREE AUDIOBOOK)

REAL-WORLD STREAMING FILM EDUCATION

  1. Indie Film Hustle TV (Streaming Real-World Film Education)
  2. Hollywood Film School: Filmmaking & TV Directing Masterclass
  3. Filmmaker in a Box – Learn How to Make an Indie Film – 18 Hours+ of Lessons 
  4. Storytelling Blueprint: Hero’s Two Journeys
  5. The Dialogue Series: 38 hours of Lessons from Top Hollywood Screenwriters

WATCH MICRO-BUDGET CASE STUDIES

  1. On the Corner of Ego and Desire – FREE on Amazon Prime
  2. This is Meg – FREE on Amazon Prime

FILMMAKING RESOURCES

  1. IFH Academy – Exclusive Filmmaking & Screenwriting Training
  2. FreeFilmBook.com (Download Your FREE Filmmaking Audio Book)
  3. Indie Film Hustle® Podcast
  4. Bulletproof Screenwriting® Podcast
  5. Filmtrepreneur™ Podcast
  6. Inside the Screenwriter’s Mind® Podcast

Action Items:

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

Alex Ferrari 2:32
Now guys, today on the show, we have filmmaker and filmtrepneur J Horton. Now Jason is a filmmaker who figured out how to make a living, making films. And I know that is a weird concept. But he actually makes a living in all he does is make feature films. And in our conversation, we go over his techniques, what he does, how he does it, how he monetizes all of these films. And what is the secret sauce to his success. Now he is not a billionaire or making millions of dollars by any stretch of the imagination, he'll be the first to tell you but he has figured out how to make a living. That means he only does this to generate revenue to support him and his family. And that, to me is the dream as a filmmaker to be able to just do what I love to do and get paid to do it. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with J Horton. I'd like to welcome the show J Horton man How you doing brother?

J Horton 3:51
Very good. Thanks for having me.

Alex Ferrari 3:52
Oh, man, thanks for doing this man. I'm a fan of what you do and how you do it. I it's rare to find filmmakers who get it and and and figured out how to make a living as a filmmaker which is you are in the top 1% of 1% of 1%. And, and and yeah, I would like like you saying your YouTube videos and a lot of stuff your content is like I'm not rich by any stretch of imagination, but I make a living doing what I'd love to do and that's why we got I wanted to kind of bring you on the show to explore about

J Horton 4:28
Yeah, and to be to be fair, it's taken me a long time to get there and a long time to change my mentality from you know, I'm going to be Quentin Tarantino to I'm going to make a living as a filmmaker.

Alex Ferrari 4:40
Right and I think we all you know, you're You and I are in similar vintages as I like to say yes, so um, you know, when quitting came out, we were probably in our in our youth, if you will. And everybody of our generation wanted to be Robert Rodriguez Kevin Smith, Quintin Tarantino you know, Richard Richard Linklater. You know, John Singleton, Steven Soderbergh, like they're all those guys. But Tarantino has that rock star, you know, vibe to him when it came out. And I think he, as wonderful as he is, he did hurt a generation of makers because we all figured out like, we're just never gonna be Quintin Tarantino like it's, it's, it's hard pill to swallow for a lot of filmmakers. It's just never and it's okay because nobody's ever gonna be Quintin Tarantino. So tell us a little bit about how you got into the business.

J Horton 5:32
Okay, well I basically I got started doing movies because I couldn't do anything else. I was small, I didn't like sports, I watched movies all the time. So that was I was always a major focus of mine. And then you know, speaking of Tarantino, he, you know, Reservoir Dogs came out when I was 18 like coming out of high school. So like that, like for the first time was like, Oh, this sort of director does this is this is a director I could do this. Now. It took me another you know, four years to get into college and you know, kind of start studying film. But you know, by the time I had finished there, like I was chomping at the bit to make a movie. So, you know, I did my first movie right out of college, you know, we saved up a few $1,000 me and a friend and just we had the Panasonic dv x when it first came out

Alex Ferrari 6:20
dv x was it the A sir, was it just a straight up? You have the A

J Horton 6:25
I believe we had I think it was before the A.

Alex Ferrari 6:28
So it was the first first generation got it.

J Horton 6:30
I'm pretty sure it

Alex Ferrari 6:31
Wasn't that a great little camera man? I'd love that.

J Horton 6:33
It was you know, I still like like the look of it. Sure. I did a I did a I mean I did a really one of my not ladder movies but like mid career movies like way after HD had kind of taken over. I think it was like 2010 but I liked that look so much. I actually shot one last feature on it you know, I still have called a trap which I did quite a bit but yeah, love that look.

Alex Ferrari 6:57
That look was awesome. And it was just for people who just don't understand what that camera was. It was the first 24 p camera so it was the first time we could see a film look inherent in the image before then all we had was like the Canon XL which was oh it's just horrible disgusting. It was disgusting and then you met and you mix that with Final Cut Pro I think was four maybe four or five

J Horton 7:25
I think I started on five but I'm again I'm

Alex Ferrari 7:27
It's around yeah it's around there so you combine those two remember yet the plug in the cable and then let the let the final cut like run through the tapes to digitize high rez which was standard def and I know everyone listening to like it's just too old farts talking about the olden days no understanding how awesome that was like it was insane

J Horton 7:49
So I still had you know the mentality that you know I'm going to be big I'm going to be a Spielberg I'm going to be a Tarantino and be Rodriguez but I'm making this small movie and I didn't realize it at the time but I was laying the groundwork for you know my Later career. So anyway, we we finished this movie it was originally called Rise of the undead many years later distributor changed it to rising undead. But anyway, we sold it to York entertainment. Like just right out the box. I don't know if you know her to your work but Okay, so York was like one of the first like predatory distributors. So and I didn't know I didn't know anything about distribution marketing nothing I was the deal make my what was the deal. God 12 year license on the sales fee was like, the cap was over 50,000 or 50,000 something ridiculous. And I honestly don't remember the rev split. I think it was like a 60-40 maybe something like that.

Alex Ferrari 8:54
But you never made it. You never saw a dime.

J Horton 8:56
Not from them. No.

Alex Ferrari 8:58
Did you get the movie back ever?

J Horton 9:00
Um, years years later, which I'll get into that a little bit later. That's how I discovered Amazon and started doing shelf distribution was. But um, so anyway, we finished it. We sold it to York, and I was like, and they didn't release it. You know, like, uh, you know, it was in blockbuster. It was in Hollywood videos like, and I didn't care so much about the money at the time. I was like, Hey, I have a movie out. We'll see some momentum next year

Alex Ferrari 9:26
Can stop you right there for a second. That is the worst disease that we as filmmakers have. When we're first starting out. We're like, Oh, well, I see it on the shelves or I see it on Amazon or I see it on iTunes. And I've arrived and I don't care really about the money. You'll never make it as a filmmaker if you don't change that mentality. Agreed?

J Horton 9:47
Oh, totally agreed. And what I was about to find out was that no one else was going to give a shit that my movie was in blockbuster. You know? So like, I get it out and we're living in New Orleans at the time and you We were planning to make the move to LA Katrina happened. And we moved right after Katrina. So I get to LA. And I have this movie, and it's sim blockbuster. And I'm like, LA is going to just be like, welcome. Come direct our movies. You know,

Alex Ferrari 10:15
Here's 20 million. Here's 20 million

J Horton 10:17
Oh 20 million, or even one. I mean, I wasn't quite that, you know, delusional state. But I was still delusional. I mean, I was thinking a million or 500,000,

Alex Ferrari 10:28
at least that's nothing,nothing. they handled that they just handles out to anybody who walks in the door.

J Horton 10:35
So, you know, I'm, you know, I'm querying production companies and studios, you know, and just, you know, if I ever do get responses, they're pretty much like, lol. Send. So, but so, so here I was, uh, you know, I directed this feature film, you know, I graduated college, I'm in LA. Nobody will hire me for anything. I'm like, Hey, I directed this. I wrote it. I edited it. I could, you know, I could do editing. I could, you know, I could do I work the camera. I could do camera work. I could, I mean, I couldn't do work for free. I mean, like, I couldn't get a job. So I was back working at Starbucks. You know, it's like, you know, six months goes by still no job. And I finally get an assistant editor job on this rinky dink horror movie, I think it was called butcher house. And the special effects guy on that was getting ready to shoot his first movie, and I still had that dv x. And his dp had quit. I wasn't really a dp, but he was like, Oh, you have the camera. You know, we're shooting tomorrow, come shoot my movie. And that kind of set me off on my path. You know, I worked for that guy. And then his EP was a filmmaker named john Claude Lamar. I started editing and directing for him. Then I got noticed by the Garcia brothers and I started directing for them. You know, I just every that just beget everything. And I kept moving.

Alex Ferrari 11:56
And it just, it just kept rocking and rocking. Alright, so then. So you have a fairly long IMDb. I've noticed.

J Horton 12:04
Yes.

Alex Ferrari 12:05
How many movies? Are you popping out a year now?

J Horton 12:09
Oh, man. Um, I mean, at my height, I was probably doing 12 a year.

Alex Ferrari 12:14
So one, one a month, one a month,

J Horton 12:16
One a month. So one of the companies I started actually both the companies I was directing for their their business model, they were doing micro budget movies, like between $10,000 or like $60,000. You know, they got a little bit higher later on. But anyways, so they're making these movies, they get like one, you know, B level actor, they'd have him for a day, they had had the movies pre sold. And they were just impressed by my ability to be able to work within their time frame. You know, so we would shoot these movies in five or six days, sometimes less. And then you know, I would have less than a month to edit them feature films, you know, put them sure like the that date, that release date would be set before we started shooting like they had both of the companies had set deals with different distributors and aggregators. So like they would we would start shooting in April, and the movie would be like on the shelf in June, just like boom, and they would do them. You know, at least one a month. There was one month with the Garcias where I shop for movies. We did one and we did one. Pretty much a no it was actually that period was concurrent, like one after another. So we did. We did one movie and one day, I'm sorry, two movies in one day, one movie in two days. movie and five days. And then another movie and four days.

Alex Ferrari 13:36
How do you do two movies in a day? Like I look I've shot fast.

J Horton 13:40
I'm sorry? Not in one day? Oh, you're asking I gotcha. I gotcha. Yeah. Okay, how do you shoot a movie in one day?

Alex Ferrari 13:45
Yeah. I mean, you do I know how to do it. You just put the camera up, and you let the actors act. And it's basically master shot theater?

J Horton 13:53
Well, it can be on what, what worked for me. And now I'm not saying these are great movies show. We still shot them in a day. But sure, better than you would think. So like, what we would do is, you know, we had, we would go to sets like stage sets. And you know, we would so have so many scenes in the living room set, we'd set up three cameras, we would run each scene twice. You know, I mean, you know, unless somebody flopped or something, but we'd run two times full through with two completely different sets of coverage. So I would end up with, you know, six pieces of coverage per scene, on average, okay. And what I'm one of my apps was he was really, he was really good. So we like we would set him on the second take on a long lens and be like just fish get my inserts. And I wouldn't even always have them set. I would just be like, get where you can get and then everybody else would have standard coverage. And my editing background helped me do this as well. Yeah, I mean, can you please tell the audience how important understanding editorial helps you make these kind of films? Yeah, I never wanted to be an editor. I never wanted to edit anything. I edited my first movie out of necessity, but you learn, like if you want to get into directing or writing or any editor, it's one of the best positions to move up. Because like, not only are you learning the entire process, what works, what doesn't how shots fit together, how much you actually need, you're also setting with the director and the producer, sometimes the finance years, if you're lucky enough to be on set, you're sitting right there with the main producers and the visiting the people that visit. You know, like the bigwigs, the guys with the money. Like, I mean, I've gotten movies, you know, small movies financed from being on that set and talking to those people. You know, so I think I think editing is probably the best, you know, maybe dp on bigger things. But like in India,

Alex Ferrari 15:49
But even even dp as an editor, as editorial allows you to figure out what you need and how fast you'd need to get it and what you absolutely need. And then also, it's one thing being on set, but it's another thing being in a room with producers directors financier's for, arguably two, three weeks at a time sometimes I mean, in your your case a lot faster. But generally speaking, it could be months that you're working together, you know, and those relationships build up.

J Horton 16:18
And one of my very first gigs after I started working besides the horror movie, I was operating camera on this 24 hour shoot, it was this weird ass comedy documentary. I'll spare the details. But we were I was setting there with the main producer because we were doing some live TV editing on it. And you know, so I talked to him for a few hours. And you know, offhandedly mentioned that I was a writer, and he was looking for a zombie script. I didn't have one, but I was like, dude, I could write one in two weeks. And, you know, a month later, we're shooting edges of darkness, which was, you know, my first California, you know, directing.

Alex Ferrari 16:55
Very cool, man. Sorry. So you're popping out a lot of movies a month, what is your business model as a filmmaker, so kind of explain that to film to the audience.

J Horton 17:07
So, at the time, when I was making all of those, I was working for other people. So I was like, a hired gun, I'm watching their business model. So the business model was basically, you, you know, you have to, it's a quick release model, you know, like, you have to put out so much material a year, you know, and most of them did, okay, but these aren't, you know, they make it for 50, they might make 75,000, in the first year, or they might make 100, or it might break even, you know, they had a pretty good track record for not losing. But, you know, it was a volume business for those guys. And so I'm sitting there watching these guys, I'm like, Okay, I get the business side of it. Now, if I can, if I can fine tune the creative, and you know, make these a little bit better, which, you know, I believe you can, like, that's, that's a good, that's a good model. And then, you know, I started working for a larger company for a while and animation company, which kind of took me away from filmmaking for about two years. And then last year, year before last, I started getting back to basically taking their business model, but creating it for myself. So like that, that's what I'm doing now. And I chose a slightly different path with what I'm doing now. So like, I had talked to a producer, because so three years ago, I shot a movie called Death day, or it was called the campus, the distributor changed it later. I have that a lot.

Alex Ferrari 18:33
But they tend to do that.

J Horton 18:35
Yeah, this, but this movie, I think, I think our hard budget was like, I don't know, 45,000, and maybe another 20 or so and post, but so it was decent for a micro budget. And you know, we shot it anamorphic you know, I was pretty happy with how it turned out and basing my password. I was like, Man, I'm gonna make 100 grand first year on this easy breakeven, you know, so it comes out and like late 2017 or early 2018. And it just wasn't the case anymore. It failed pretty spectacularly. Like I didn't make anything and I'm still like, you know, dealing with investors and whatnot on it. So I was kind of in a spot where I'm like, this business model that I came in professionally on, like, it's not really working anymore, because like these guys, they were making these movies so fast, but I don't want a month but you know, they weren't particularly they weren't all great. They and they weren't making money anymore. But in you know, 2010 2014 money was still flowing. Yeah, yeah, you could make a movie for $50,000 put Eric Roberts in it and still, like make money. You know, not anymore. Now. They're like Eric Roberts. Oh, shit. I got 30 of those. Yeah, exactly. I mean, I remember I was at Cannes a few years ago and one of the I overheard a producer or distributors saw I'm saying if I see one more fucking movie with Eric Roberts over the screen

Alex Ferrari 20:04
I I've mentioned Eric a couple of times because I one year as a post as a post supervisor worked on three Eric Roberts movies, just myself, and I'm like, he must have done about 20 to 25 movies that year. And it's just he just died looted his whatever value he might have had, you know, there's an end, there's a handful of those kind of actors who could do that kind of stuff. But in for people to understand in 2010 2011, DVD was still a thing. That was huge, it was still a thing. And at that time, streaming had just started to the idea started to germinate. And Netflix has just started to do it. And as the technology got better and better, but so you could literally put out a crap movie for a $50,000 crap movie with Eric Roberts and you pull 100 grand off of it just Oh, yeah. comfortably comfortably. Those days are gone. Yeah, that in that sense, in that sense. So how did you switch your business model currently?

J Horton 21:01
Okay, so the other thing that happened, I think it first happened around 2010. Amazon box, which became Prime video direct, it was somewhere around that time, I think we were still putting them up through CreateSpace. Like, it was a self book publishing thing, but she had a DVD. And when streaming first came out, you could you could upload your movies through there, and hardly anybody knew about it film, right.

Alex Ferrari 21:25
And you and you were basically a big fish in a very well, a small pond, because it wasn't a lot of people a lot of competition.

J Horton 21:32
Exactly. And that, you know, that first movie, the rights hadn't expired, but the company had went under, so I got the rights back on that I still had the rights on trap. And I think one other, so I put these three movies up, and I kind of just forgot about it, you know, they were making five or six bucks a month, something like that something small. But I think it was 2000 A year later, like 2013, one of these movies, like just out of nowhere, like I wasn't promoting it, nothing, it just it just popped up. Like it was making, I think it was around, I think at the height, it was making almost 2000 a month, but it was bouncing between 1002 1000 a month for almost 12 months, like I made, I made the budget on it, then this movie was at least six years old, maybe seven. And I was like, for the very first time. Like, I mean, there's something to this, like self distribution thing. So I you know, I finished my stent directing for the other guys and you know, had the failure with campus. And then was like, I'm going to try to go back to this self distribution model, you know, so, and a producer had told me that they were having a lot of trouble, you know, with do narrative features, you'll get lucky, but he's like, you should try documentaries. And at the time, I had no interest in documentaries whatsoever. But I was like, wow, I mean, I like to make stuff let me let me make a few and see what happens. So I just really as fast as I could make them. I made I think it was like six documentaries and I did these and like I want to say two months.

Alex Ferrari 23:07
Full Feature.

J Horton 23:08
Yeah, like between between 60 and 90 minutes. So with streaming with streaming documentaries, like if you hit over the 60 minute mark, you can kinda you can sell it as a feature try anyway. So between 60 and 90, so like I would and I mean these are talking head kind of documentaries there be you know B roll but you know most of its stock you know, I do I do the interviews and like a day, you know, like I would set up five people interview them for a couple hours apiece and just boom, knock it all out. So and I was just basically throwing shit at the wall. I was I had subjects I was interested in, but I had no idea what the market would bear. So I'm trying to figure that out. So I do these six and and each one's in a completely different genre. You know one about a dog rescue one about medical cannabis, you know, when about Brexit? I forget the other three but So anyways, I put them out really quick.

Alex Ferrari 24:04
And so what made you choose those topics? Were you actually going after hot topics or hot niches or something like that Rubble, the soup mentality behind it.

J Horton 24:14
I was I was trying to figure it out. Um, and at the time, I was whatever I had access to, like, what was the what was the path of least resistance? What am I interested in? What could I spend a couple of weeks on and not want to puke? You know, I had a friend that ran the dog rescue in Vegas. So like I went down there and did that one, the the Brexit one, I have a filmmaker friend that's in the UK that wanted to shoot interviews for this. So I was like, Okay, here's the interviews, here's the questions. You go out and do it and we'll do like a red split on it. You know, so he did that and then I posted it and distribute it. So I do these like six movies really quick and again is kind of just like testing the market. As another thing that had happened is I had another documentary from way back when about Katrina that a friend of mine had made, and it had popped up out of nowhere and was making money. That's another reason I decided on the documentaries. So through those six, I started to see okay, like the dog rescue for one did did well, like I was making a round $1,000 a month on it, maybe a little less, how much of the cost spent? Nothing. I mean, my time, you know, I spent three days shooting it, and probably, maybe maybe five days editing it.

Alex Ferrari 25:32
So it was all basically you use all the resources you had was your camera and your adult gear basically, that you already have paid for, essentially.

J Horton 25:39
Yep. Yeah, I had my camera. Small light kit. Sound. Yeah. So yeah, that's, that's, that's pretty much how we did all those The only time you know, we never paid we always did it on a rough split situation. But if I was working with another filmmaker that was shooting the interviews, we would just work out a back end split on it, and then they would do the interviews, but most of them was just me. And by the time those because, again, these things and at the time, Amazon was still putting out movies pretty fast. So I would self distribute on Amazon through prime video direct, I would take the US in the UK, and then I would use film hub to fill out you know, any foreign or, or you know, different platforms that I couldn't get to and this was before to be kind of, you know, sparked up, but later on that became a thing. So I'm looking at these six I'm looking at the the dog rescue did well, the Brexit did okay. Um, I did one on filmmaking, which did abysmal. So I was like, okay, unless, unless I'm going to tie the filmmaking into, you know, like, you know, how to or something is, you know, just stuff about filmmaking not not so much. Yeah, that didn't work. So anyway, I looked at the success or failure of these sex, and then I started being a little more selective on my subjects. You know, like, I moved in I did one on Bigfoot that did, like it did crazy. By I think, I think I streamed 10 No, I know I did. I streamed 10 million minutes. For three months in a row for for Bigfoot documentary for a Bigfoot documentary. So it's like again.

Alex Ferrari 27:16
Yeah. So it'd be an interesting, okay. So because I'm fascinated with this, because so Bigfoot obviously is a very niche audience, that people who believe in Bigfoot and want to follow up a forum want to learn about Bigfoot. But it's a fairly dense audience. There's a lot of people who believe in Bigfoot and want to listen to about this and there's whole industries wrapped around Bigfoot. I even found out. I found out a friend of mine told me that there was a erotica, Bigfoot erotica, where I'm not kidding you. I'm not kidding you. So for anybody in the audience who wants to play a trick, this is what my buddy and I did. My buddy had a brother who was was in it. These were grown ass men. So he's got a wife. It's got kids and everything. So he wanted to make sure he wanted to play a trick on his brother Mike, why don't you do this next time you're over at his house? Go on the on the computer on his laptop and look up. Bigfoot erotica. And just leave it there. And let us we find it. And, and it's not like pornographic. It's just, like, people writing stories about Bigfoot erotica, like you like, and he, I'm not even gonna get to a couple of them. And I was just like, oh, my god, there's there's something for every freak in the world. And if there if there are any Bigfoot erotica, listeners out there, forgive me. I just don't understand you. But anyway, so just I'm sorry, I had to tell you that story. But so so Bigfoot, that that that niche is fairly, it's kind of like UFO or Loch Ness Monster, or any of these kinds of niches? So you basically just interviewed a bunch of like Bigfoot hunters or something like that?

J Horton 29:00
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, basically, like, what the Bigfoot one. I took a look at the marketplace. Like I looked at probably 20 different documentaries on Bigfoot. And there are a lot of them. Yes, I'm like, Oh, so there is going to be a lot of competition here. But what I didn't see was, there weren't a lot of just like introductions into the subject. Like just like a general, this is the thing. This is what cryptozoology is. So it seems like all the filmmakers are so focused on I'm going to provide new information or I'm going to show like this new picture of Bigfoot and you know, nine times out of 10 it's complete, like obvious, you know, bullshit.

Alex Ferrari 29:39
Yeah. So but but you're saying that 10th time, it's real and there's a real Bigfoot

J Horton 29:44
Im saying it's more believe a little like, it looks a little better.

Alex Ferrari 29:47
Sure, sir. Okay. So that's interesting. So that's, that's interesting for the audience to take note of that if there is a lot of competition in a documentary space about a subject an introduction to It might be a weigh in and apparently it was five.

J Horton 30:04
Yeah, or or it might be going more specific to it could be either way. But you know, I at this at around the same time, I was also just like very late to the game starting to get into the YouTube stuff. And I'm watching all these videos on YouTube. And some of the best marketing advice I've ever heard comes from these, like the people that have been successfully grown their YouTube channels and do the videos about like how to grow your YouTube channels, should you follow the right people and the information is like it's gold. And they're talking about retention, they're talking about how to niche down. Why and all of a sudden, I'm thinking about these movies, because you're also getting something on Amazon called CR customer engagement ranking, you know, which is this, like, nebulous thing that nobody can figure out, but it's how they base their rate of pay. And it's it's based on things like, how long are you retaining your audience? How are your reviews? Are people clicking on your movie watching? You know, 30 seconds and clicking off? Are they actually watching it through? Are they reading it? Are they engaging with it? You know, what, 100 different factors. But the retention thing really, that they kept talking about on YouTube really, like started seeping into my documentaries. I'm like, Okay, so then I started thinking about structure and a whole different way. So I, you know, it's not necessarily just this three act structure peaks and valleys. How do I keep people for that, especially that like, critical 15, first 15 or 20 minutes? You know, I'm not saying the rest of it's inconsequential. But, you know, I started thinking, you know, like, you don't have you know, in this day and age on screaming, you don't have 10 minutes to get the audience. You know, it used to say with screenplays, you know, you got you have 10 minutes to set up your story.

Alex Ferrari 31:43
The first five, you got five pages, and if it's not,you got it.

J Horton 31:47
Yeah. And, and now, with with the streaming stuff, I'd say it's maybe even less, it's like, if they're not into it, and like 90 seconds, they're like, okay, click off, go to something else. So anyway, the retention thing really, like, changed things for me, the Big Foot movie, like just seeing how well that did and how the marketing worked. Like how you can, you know, target a specific niche. I just, it just opened it up. And that now when I look for subjects, I look for things that okay, what is something? It doesn't have to be supernatural? But what is something that has a group of people that are into it, like these people that were in the Bigfoot?

Alex Ferrari 32:27
So okay, so yeah. So how to explain the process of you picking your niche, and how you like, what are the checklist things that you need to kind of look for, in order for you to spend at least two weeks on a project? At least and I mean, at least two? Yeah, two weeks? Yeah. I mean, no, it's like, now it's around two months, but okay. But yeah. I love you. Like, I can't I stand on this project for two weeks without losing my mind. And I'm thinking to myself, are you kidding me? Most filmmakers listening are like a year to two in like two weeks, even two months is is vacation?

J Horton 33:03
Very short. Yeah. So I start with my interests, or something that I'm interested in learning more about, for example, I like I'm not into Bigfoot. But I was I was really interested to see why other people were, you know, like, and that was, that was kind of my focus. And I did a UFO one, like, in a similar manner. You know, I'm the dog rescue. I'm a dog lover. So moved into that. But so the first thing I do, so like, say, Okay, I'm gonna do a Bigfoot one. I google Bigfoot, you know, and I start looking at what's popping up first, you know? And if, if, like, I can find the audience fairly easily, like where they're congregating. You know, there's a lot of like Bigfoot, for example, you go to Facebook and type in Bigfoot, you'll get like, groups. Yeah, 1000 groups, you know, with and there's hundreds of 1000s of members and some of these Yeah, like saw, so I was like, Oh my gosh, like, just on these Facebook groups alone. I can, I can push this movie. So but I mean, that that was a no brainer. The alien one was a no brainer. Animal Rescue stuffs a no brainer. You know, it's like, but then you get into some, like, I hear people pitching stuff all the time. And it's like, maybe a little esoteric, or it's a little looser. Like, you know, like we're doing one and you know, it. It's, you know, it's a it's a coming of age story about you know, growing up, you know, look, yeah, way too way too broad way too broad. You know, and or maybe the guy does have an incredible story, but like he started as a football player and then and then he became a scientist and then you know, it's just like too segmented and there's not enough in the one area. So I try to find something where it's, you know, pretty laser focused in terms of audience and where I find them. So those are my main things why I'm interested in can I sell it?

Alex Ferrari 34:57
Now when you when you so let's go back to Bigfoot. For a second, so when you were marketing it, how did you how do you go about marketing? Your your films to the niche? Once you've identified the niche audience? How do you go about marketing to that audience and what the cost is involved?

J Horton 35:16
Okay, so most of it, at least a start was social media like free stuff. You know, on Facebook, I targeted the groups, you know, I would I created a page for it. But the only thing I would do with that page is occasionally boost a, you know, a post or a video to that target audience. I don't do a lot with paid ads, maybe 100 200 bucks a month, probably total across the board. So I would mostly just find these the audiences online. So I do the Facebook groups. And somebody had mentioned Reddit and I was like, you never see people promoting on Reddit. And I was like, Oh, fuck Reddit, okay. But you have to be a lot more clever on Reddit, because it's a it's a discussion based platform. So it's like, if you're just throwing up a link to your thing, nobody's gonna look at it. But if you establish, you know, line of communication, then you can do it. But it's hard. I've been banned from a couple of groups for, you know, throwing up some links, but for the most part is it works good. And then the other one, I discovered that no filmmakers are talking about the silicon bonus tip. Pinterest. Like, you. I didn't even know what Pinterest was. I don't remember who recommended it. But I was like, Okay, I looked it up, signed up. And I was like, Oh, so it's like recipes, I don't know. But just just for shits and giggles, I put up somebody told me to do short videos. So I created a business account, which is free. And I put in like, I don't know, maybe a dozen, like 30 to 45 second video clips from, I think two movies, you know, and you can put the URLs to where you know, you want to send them in there and you can create your thumbnails, all that. So anyway, I do that, put them off, and then just walk away. I'm like, Okay, this isn't gonna be nothing. The next day, I look at it, and my Pinterest page had like 35,000 page views, like in less than a day. And

Alex Ferrari 37:12
But what was the what was the topic? What was the niche?

J Horton 37:15
Um, one of them and it was, so I did two one was the Bigfoot one, you know, okay. Okay, Bigfoot, I see it. The other one was, oh, man, was it Brexit? Or they It was either Brexit or the animal rescue? I can't remember what

Alex Ferrari 37:29
All three, all three have very passionate groups.

J Horton 37:31
Yeah. But they, they just they, I was like, wow. And they were actually watching the videos like the like, the average video watch length was like, I don't know, 20 seconds. And these were, you know, 30 to 45 second videos. And like, I'd say, 10%. Were clicking on the link. So I was like, That's huge. Yeah, they give you all those metrics. I was like, holy shit. So like twice a week, I would put up like 30 clips. Within, I want to say, the first three weeks, I had over 300,000 pageviews. I guess that's about as high as I've gotten a month now. But that's every month. That's about what I do somewhere between two and 300,000.

Alex Ferrari 38:15
So you're using Pinterest as a marketing machine for your projects? And it's free. And now it's free?

J Horton 38:20
Yeah, totally free. I do a little bit of paid promotion. Just I'm even experimenting with it.

Alex Ferrari 38:26
How is it? How is how is the paid paid on Pinterest.

J Horton 38:30
Um, I mean, it's kind of like Facebook, but you can do lower amounts. So like, I'll do something for like five bucks for you know, whatever, five days or something just to just to see, because every now and then, because I put a lot of clips up there. So I'll put 10 up there. Six, six or seven of them. We'll do like 1000 views in the first day. And then like three of them, we'll do like one, you know, so like, I'll take the ones that do one and I might give them a little push, you know, get us around, you know? Yeah. Just Just a push it. And then there's a social media scheduler called tailwind that works specifically with Pinterest. And it does all this like scheduled reposting. Because if you have multiple boards, you can take those pens and then repost them to other boards. And you know, go opens up the audience. So like, I'll do that once a month. And I just set them up on a repeating basis. So at once every month or two, and that post will come back up.

Alex Ferrari 39:25
And how many boards do you have on Pinterest?

J Horton 39:28
Um, I don't know, maybe 20. Okay, like, I mean, I have a lot of projects, and I don't do them. I started doing them specific to just like one project. And then I started grouping them into projects, because the more boards you have, the more you can share between the boards. And I noticed that and again, I've only been doing this for three or four months now. So it's fairly new. But you know, and this also coincides with COVID. So it's it's hard to tell where the bumps come from. Sure. I have had, like on my library titles, like maybe a 15% bump in overall sales, you know, since I started implementing some of these things, and you know, like I said, it's hard to tell.

Alex Ferrari 40:12
Yeah. So what is your distribution model right now is strictly Amazon only and then we're going to talk about Amazon in a minute. But do do do do t VOD s VOD Eva, do you go anywhere else other than amazon for your to generate revenue.

J Horton 40:32
So this is all changed for me dramatically in the past three months. So prior to February, my model was to do Amazon, US and UK on my own, put it put it up directly upload it to prime video direct to film hub for the rest. That's pretty much what I do, maybe, maybe do some physical media myself, either through my website or do the media on demand thing. I I personally never had a lot of luck with physical media, but it's something that I want to, like get a little more into on the coming months, even though it's feels like it's going out. But I'm, I'm sorry, I lost my train of thought.

Alex Ferrari 41:11
The I lost my train of thought to revenue TVOD SVOD AVOD.

J Horton 41:16
Okay, so that was that. So, um, I would launch a movie in T VOD, and I would keep it on T VOD has long as it was making more than I think $300 a month was my cut off on that. And if it was falling below that, you know, then I was just like, Okay, let me switch over. So as you know, start out at t VOD, moved to s VOD, and all

Alex Ferrari 41:39
All Amazon, Amazon,

J Horton 41:40
All Amazon. All Amazon. And sometimes that would happen very quickly. Like say I put a movie up. And you know, in the first week, I have rented your, whatever three units. My okay? This isn't working, move over to s VOD. And in my experience, and it's I know, it's not a popular opinion. But when you're dealing with movies this small, like and I still feel even with the changes that as far as still, overall, for small movies superior. Like the the discoverability is just it's it beats the rates. You know, like if you if you do this little movie, it's so hard to get people to rent an independent feature. Let alone buy, let alone buy. Yeah, so and maybe this is something that will change and I know some other filmmakers that have had better luck with the T VOD, but me personally, I never had the, the amount of marketing work that you need to push this to make the same amount of money on T VOD that you make on s VOD, is it's astronomical. I mean, I can put a movie out on s VOD, even at the one cent an hour and turn over $1,000 in a month, fairly easily. Like not every time but fairly easily. But on TV, you know, I'd be I'd be lucky to crack like 200 bucks, you know, on those particular titles.

Alex Ferrari 43:01
It's interesting, because I've been trying, I've been yelling that from the top of the mountain for a long time as well, that T VOD is essentially dead. For independent filmmaking. It only works if you have an audience that is passionate about your film, or you are the subject matter or something like that, that you can drive them. And that's going to be a short window of maybe 234 months if that. That's the only time that for an independent and again, for the budgets we're talking about. We're talking about, you know, 50,000 75,000 and below, kind of projects. T VOD is and I'd argue even a million in below t VOD is still a tough, it's still a tough sell. Unless you're unless you're tapping it through a lot of marketing. Or you have recognizable talent, like really recognizable talent.

J Horton 43:50
Yeah, it wasn't until I actually started, like networking more with other filmmakers that were putting out movies and selling them where you realized how little some of these movies were making. You know, like some of these movies, man, I, you know, just, you know, I just signed a couple movies. attendee right. So I've been looking at a lot of their other movies. And like, there's some x, there's some excellent stuff. They're made. Oh, yeah, I'll say but between 75,000 and say, 150,000. And that are making 20 nothing.

Alex Ferrari 44:20
And oh, yeah, there's some they're making nothing. And they're just some they're making, you know, 50 100 bucks. Yeah. A couple bucks up. Yeah. And it was sobering. It No, it is it's in. You know, I think that's one of the things I love about indie rights because they have both of my films as well is that they allow filmmakers to see the truth of what films are really worth and if you don't market them, and if you don't do them, this is what it's gonna happen. And it's sobering. It is sobering for filmmakers to kind of understand that like, Oh, I don't have the prettiest baby. We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now Back to the show. No, you don't that, you know, there are ugly babies. Unfortunately, in independent film they're in, you know, it's like no, there's no the babies are simply more than than cute babies. Exactly. But everyone thinks that their baby is gorgeous. Yeah. And I understand that, but it's just the cruel reality. And then now let's talk a little bit about Amazon. And how brutal they have been with independent filmmakers. I mean, so it was my experience. early on. They were you want you can make a lot of money through f5 like 12 cent. Oh my god. 15 cent and you sound like, sound like a lot. But you can make 1515 cents on your money.

J Horton 45:50
Let me interrupt just for a second. So at 15 cents an hour. My Bigfoot movie was so on Amazon. I made I think $1600 on it in July, right or I'm sorry, June.

Alex Ferrari 46:02
But this last June? this last June?

J Horton 46:05
Yeah. Oh, yeah. Just last month. Okay. So that exact same movie at 15 cents an hour would have been like $25,000, something like that. My math isn't great. But I know it's over 20 are robbed.

Alex Ferrari 46:18
Wow. So yeah, you could have been making? Yeah.

J Horton 46:22
So and it and you can count on a new release, like kind of maintaining that basic ballpark for about 90 days. Sure. So you know, like, I mean, I could have cleared, you know, 50 to 60,000, in three months on that movie that I made for, you know, less than $500 that when I paid for a couple interviews, but you know, you know, that is, oh my gosh, what I think about that i get i get emotional I get a clip. Because I mean, now 50% of titles are going to make a cent are going to make one penny has anything. Any movie with a car of under 50% is one penny, the sliding scale stops at 50%. like, Whoa, I mean, the the Bigfoot, for example, at the car was 43% 43%. one penny 50%? Five, five pennies. So like

Alex Ferrari 47:16
So you would have, you would have made 6000 7 8000 bucks, something like that.

J Horton 47:22
Yeah, exactly, exactly. Just of with a 5% differential, which is and then try to figure out why your car is what it is. There's no figuring it out. I used to think there was like, if you have enough data, you could crunch it, you can figure this stuff out. But there's so many unseen factors. I heard from another filmmaker that has a relationship with someone that works in Amazon, and they wouldn't tell them what the factors were. But they said there's well over 100 factors that go into car. You know, it's not just your rating, it's not just how many minutes you stream, like it could come down to, they put more weight if somebody watches your movie in New York City, as opposed to watch it in, you know, bumfuck, Indiana, like there's a there's a difference, or this person that watches the movie purchases more other stuff. So your car is high.

Alex Ferrari 48:16
So you have no you have no

J Horton 48:18
No control, no control, there's no and there's people that just say, Well, if I just if I just do the advertising, right, if and I was one of these people, I would i'd preach it when I first started doing YouTube videos, I was like, just you know, you do your marketing, right? You do this, you do this, you do that your cer will be higher, you can still do it. And I was still defending Amazon. I was like, Oh, you know, they're there. They're toughening up standards, because they got a lot of crap on their ad. But like, it's gotten ridiculous now. And now they're purging even more movies. I just I lost the movie two days ago.

Alex Ferrari 48:51
They just decided to just it's like, I'm out. We're done.

J Horton 48:54
just pulled it and it had a cer of over 50%.

Alex Ferrari 48:57
So why did they pull it? They don't tell you.

J Horton 49:00
They won't tell you. I mean, now it was not doing good numbers. So maybe it was that. But who knows.

Alex Ferrari 49:09
So So now what do you do?

J Horton 49:12
So what I do now, I no longer do direct to Amazon, I still use Amazon because it's still it's still a thing. I still make $1,000 a project there. But I don't put them up myself any longer. Like if I'm gonna if I'm going to do a release, I'll either I go to indie rights first. And I'll see if they want to pick it up. And if it's something that they're not interested in, or if it's something that maybe I'm not so proud of. I'll just I'll go straight to film hub and I'll give it all the film hub

Alex Ferrari 49:41
I give and how is it how's it How's filmhub working out for you? Is that? are they paying are they getting like what I'm curious to see, I haven't heard of a lot of success stories with some help. So I would love to hear what your experiences.

J Horton 49:53
So I've had good experiences with foam hub. I still don't make as much collectively I film hub as I was making all Amazon, but it grow it grows every month. So what I like about film hub is that, you know, the the first, like two movies that I ever got on to BTV were, you know, through film hub, you know, and I do pretty good on to be through film hub. Um it's not, it's, it's, it's good, yeah, they pay quarterly, and they pay out. I think it's like, three, but like quarterly and one. So they're always like a quarter behind, which I don't think people under understand that. So they'll they'll bitch about it. And the numbers aren't astronomical, like, unless you get on like a hit out on tubi 90% of those channels are making, you know, pennies or a few dollars. But it does, it gives you a little more visibility. And then if you get onto a good platform, you know, it can like I'm just now getting to the point where, like, my titles on tubi are making more than what they're making on Amazon. But it took me almost a year to get there.

Alex Ferrari 51:02
Right. And there's also not all your projects are on to be just a handful.

J Horton 51:05
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Because like, I'd have to be I think I have I think I've uploaded 15 movies on the TV. And out of the 15 I think six are on TV. I mean, on film, pub, and six are on TV.

Alex Ferrari 51:20
So what I'm what I'm hearing is, well, first of all the what they had to ask you like, what do you do if you have $150,000 indie film with no talent attached? And it's a narrative film? Well, my first thing I probably would make $100,000. Right. But but there's a lot of, but there's a lot I do a lot of filmmakers out there that have that mentality. Like it's only 150,000 it's only a quarter of a million. It's only 100,000. And it's a it's a drama, and I have no stars in it. And they expect like in today's marketplace, as we're recording this. What are your what, what are the options because your business model works, because your overhead is extremely low. Like when you make a movie for 500 bucks. And you're generating consistently 1000 to 2000 to 3000 bucks a month, or let's say for the first year, let's say you generate off that movie 10 grand over the course of its lifetime. That's a business. Like if you make a product for 500, you make 10 grand off of it. And it's a volume business as well. You can't do one of those you need to do 12 in order to keep them going. And you got to keep them going and keep slipping but you also have a library as well. So how many films do you have in your library that you own and are generating revenue with even if it's a few dollars a month?

J Horton 52:45
I think 20 right, right now I think 20

Alex Ferrari 52:48
Alright, so you have 20 features that you're generating revenue with? Yeah, that's in your this basically is the entrepreneur method is what I've been preaching with my book, like, overhead really low, find a niche audience market to that niche audience, rinse, repeat, and just and just keep doing and build that library that you own and control to continuously generate revenue for you. And when there's a new platform, boom, have a new revenue stream, you could just dump in 20 films.

J Horton 53:18
And I think what I'd say about the the $100,000 Yeah, yeah, is cuz I still like my passion is to still, like do narrative film. Like, I believe me, I just I love making movies. So I get a lot of pleasure out of the documentaries, but I still want to make narrative stuff. But to be 100% honest, and you know, nobody wants to hear this. But I don't know how to make money on $100,000 narrative feature without a star. Like, I don't know, you might get lucky, you know, I could I have kind of an idea about what to do, but I don't know that it'll work. So what's the risk now? Yeah, it's a risk. It's a huge risk. So what I do now is I treat the documentaries has, this is my day job. This is like, my, this is my more fun day job. And then once a year, you know, I take some of that raise a little bit more money and make a narrative movie. And if the narrative fails, oh, well, you know, like, I still have my income from the documentaries, you know, because I just don't see like how at that level, to have a sustainable business model making narrative features I I know there's people that do but I don't see it. So I

Alex Ferrari 54:35
Not without without stars, or without really understanding your niche, and really understanding the business about it and creating ancillary product lines and create like all these other things that you can do. It's just you got to be so perfect. Like you can't can't be sloppy at all, like your business model. You can be as little sloppy, you're young because your budgets really low. Like when I made My last feature, it was about three grand. Yep. You know, I shot it in four days, okay? It's like I'm not, it's not that big of a deal. I'm just, I'm just making something that's fun. And it's narrative. And it was, you know, it's so is it was for my audience and all that kind of good stuff. But if I would have made that movie for 100, grand, forget it. Yeah, if I wasn't even a non I, it just, it's just so it's so difficult. And that's why I wanted to have you on as an example, as a case study for filmmakers to understand like, this is better or worse, it is the new normal, you have to figure out how to generate revenue. And I applaud you. Because you've been able to create a day job for yourself that you control you own and continue to give you passive income. Like once the work is done, that will continue to pay you something for a while.

J Horton 55:58
Yeah, I mean, I have, you know, I have almost 50 I have an almost 15 year old movie that I still make a couple 100 bucks a month off of, you know, so, I mean, I get pushback from people, sometimes they're like, Oh, well, it's easy for you to say, because you have, whatever, so many projects are just throwing matter, you don't care about them. It's not true. Like I care deeply about everything I do. But like, I this is what I need to do to make a living, like I am not, you know, I graduate, I graduated college, but I didn't finish law school, I didn't do any of that. So like, at this point in my life, like, I can't afford to make $100,000 movie and have it fail. Like I

Alex Ferrari 56:41
That's done, you're done. You're done. It will crush you it would crush you. I get it, I get it. And that's what filmmakers don't understand. Because they'll take that risk, and then they'll get crushed, and they'll never come back. They'll never they'll never come back into the business because they can't. In you've been able to establish yourself making these films and look at it. At the end of the day. I always filmmakers always have this issue with art versus commerce. And it drives me It drives me nuts. It drives me nuts. Like we all want to be Scorsese, we all want to be Nolan. We all want to be Fincher, we all want to be Kubrick. And that's fantastic. And these guys are, you know, on Mount Hollywood, and they're like, they're, they're their gods and mount Hollywood, there's no question. But they come from a different world, different existence than the rest of us. Like this is like if I I've spoken to directors of that caliber. And when I tell them that I made a $3,000 movies, they they're there, they just you can see things just, it's like they don't it's like a malfunction, like short circuit, magnetic Johnny five malfunction. Like it's like freaking out like you, it doesn't compute it, they can't wrap their heads around that. And because they just come from a completely different existence. It's like an NFL player talking to a high school player. Like it's just, we both do arguably the same thing. We're both playing the game, but are completely different levels. And there's nothing wrong with either of them. It's just, it's just different. But filmmakers so much get caught up with the art in the dream that they look down upon. What I like to call the blue collar filmmaker, someone like that comes in as building a business around what they love to do. And you go I had another I had another director on who does. Michael Oh, five, five, and he does lifetime movies. Oh, yeah, yeah, lifetime movies. And all he did is like he pops out like four or five of these a year. And he's gotten built up to the relationship that he can just he just gets financing from the companies. And he just works. He's just always working. He's flying to Greece. He's flying all over the place. He's me. And people are like, Oh, you make lifetime movies. And I and I told him that I'm like, anyone who says that? Screw you. Because this man is living? The dream that most filmmakers would kill to do. He's getting to do his art for a living. Yep. Yeah. So how and how dare you judge what my art is, or my art isn't and what you feel that it should be? I don't care. It's irrelevant. You know, many people don't like Tyler Perry movies. Oh, yeah. Yeah. There's a lot of people despise Tyler Perry and the films he makes. He's laughing all the way to the bank. All the way. All the way. Now, but real quick, do you use email lists at all? Or do you do

J Horton 59:43
Yes So. Again, this is this is something I mean, you know, a lot of my business really has like blown up and changed so much over the last year. So I would say actually, even prior to like 2018 I was still Pretty firmly in the, like, I just want to make, I just want to make movies, I don't care about the business. You know, it took a good 10 years of me getting kicked around before I'm like, Okay, wait a minute, I do need to make I need to make some fucking money. But um, so yes, I do use them on my email list isn't huge now, I think it's like maybe 5000. I run it through my website. And now through Patreon, and I, you know, I'm collecting them. And I like I send out, you know, once a month newsletter, and then I'll send out like, kind of a project specific one once a month. And I'll kind of maybe I'll lay some other titles in there as well.

Alex Ferrari 1:00:39
And you're now in now you have a podcast, you have a YouTube channel that you're building up, is that part of? Are you trying to build yourself up as a brand in the filmmaking space to to attract filmmakers to what you're doing as another potential revenue stream or things like that? Can you explain what you're doing?

J Horton 1:00:57
Yeah, so the YouTube thing started out. Honestly, it started just I was looking for I was I was because I get questions online all the time about my business model and about how I'm making movies. So I was like, oh, like, people seem really interested in this information. So I was just like, I'm just gonna share some of this information. And you know, I did a few videos and the response for it was so good. And I start looking at other people like yourself that were working in the filmmaking space, and I'm like, oh, maybe this is a thing. Like, I wasn't thinking about immediately monetizing it or anything. I was like, I'm enjoying doing it. But let me, let's, let's see where it takes me. So I started, I started doing it and getting taken a little more seriously, and watching the YouTube videos, and you know, building the channel, I mean, I'm still probably a year away from making any real money from it, you know, but it's, it's something you got to build, you can't just, you know, just start your baking buddy, say, I enjoy doing it.

Alex Ferrari 1:01:58
And that's the other thing I want people to understand is like, a lot of people look at what I've done with indie film, hustle and my other companies. And they're like, Oh, well, you know, you've been like, I've been doing this five years, it took me two and a half to three years, to start really getting traction, and to quit my day job and to you know, not to post production anymore, and only direct when I want to direct and it took time. And that's and like, even with what your business model is one film at a time to build up a library.

J Horton 1:02:29
It all takes time. I mean, the the documentary stuff, you know, it took it took six or seven months before I was making like enough money on the documentary is that it supplemented my income. But that's like, I wasn't that fast. That's fast. But that is that is fast, but it wasn't automatic. It's definitely what I said. But then, like the YouTube and thing and all that those are those are like law. Those are long games, you know, and you know, you get it, you do get a few more eyeballs on your projects from that as well.

Alex Ferrari 1:03:01
Yeah, exactly. So that's hopefully helping. Yeah, you're you're using the model, like, I'm going to show you how I made the Bigfoot documentary. And oh, by the way, if you want to watch it fit books of documentaries over here, for Yeah, watch it for free on tubi or on amazon prime or something like that. Totally. And by the way, once Amazon kicks you off, it's done. Right? You can't put that movie back on his.

J Horton 1:03:21
Yeah, it is done. Now. I know. You guys didn't hear this from me. And there are filmmakers that will retitle do new art, and then they'll upload through film hub. Like if you do it through your same account, they're gonna catch you. But like, say you go to film hub or somewhere else and have it put up or create a new account with a new title, you might get lucky. But most likely the same thing that got kicked off the first time is going to get kicked off again. So official rule is once it's done, it's done. There's a few ways to get around it. But even if you do, is it worth the risk? I I don't do it.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:02
And you don't use aggregators, you don't use like an aggregator to put it up on iTunes or Google Play or in Fandango or any of that stuff, right?

J Horton 1:04:11
No, no, I did. I did an aggregator once, for iTunes, and I did it on campus that day. And I think I made $75 with it. iTunes is really hard to push. Yeah. But yeah, so no, I don't, I don't again, like I'm making these movies, like so fast and so cheap. If I'm paying $1,000 per platform, like the movie might not even make that much. So it doesn't make sense. It doesn't make sense. I don't do it. I'll give up that 20% from film hub, you know, because it's nothing up front. But our indie rights or India or India or any rights is same thing. But I wouldn't, I wouldn't pay to be placed.

Alex Ferrari 1:04:56
Very cool. I'm gonna ask you a few questions. I asked all of my guests What advice would you give a filmmaker trying to break into the business today?

J Horton 1:05:05
If you can do anything else if you enjoy doing anything else do it. I'm not saying look, I am I don't regret it. I've lived a great life. I like I do something I enjoy for a living, but it is not. It looks a lot cooler in the brochure. It's not awesome.

Alex Ferrari 1:05:25
And you mean it's not like, it's not like watching the the making of Raiders of the Lost Ark? It's not like that at all.

J Horton 1:05:30
No, it's endless. It's nothing like entourage. But, and then my second part to that would be study like it like if you're young, you're just getting started, whether it's in school or on YouTube, or in books, study business, and marketing, less be considered that to be 60% of a movie success. It's probably more than that. But I'm gonna say 60. Like, it's like, it's it's more that's more important than the movie being good. As far as selling, you know? Absolutely. Because there's always been some marketing.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:05
There's a lot of good movies out there that no one watches. And there's a lot of bad movies out there that make a lot of money. Yeah, yeah. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

J Horton 1:06:21
Probably has to, especially on my narrative features to stop doing trying to take on too much myself? Yeah, trying to trying to do too much you need to like movies as a collaborative art. And like you have you have to get even even on the docks where I'm pretty much a one man crew. I still have people that I can count on to do this or that go to people who are experts in their area. Just you know, don't don't try to take on too much yourself.

Alex Ferrari 1:06:50
And what are three of your favorite films of all time?

J Horton 1:06:54
Three films. Oh, um, I'd say this changes week to week, but um, the World According to Garp. Yeah, Evan Williams movie, that means a lot to me. And a lot of a lot of my favorite movies have to do with what's going on at the time. And I just I bonded with my mother over that movie, like really, like, really in a really powerful way. And I just I always love and it's one of Robin Williams Best Dramatic performances. Great movie. My second one. And again, I hate to Yeah, I always feel like self conscious when I talk about charity, though, because I don't want to be that filmmakers, like I would turn to you. And I say Reservoir Dogs. And again, not necessarily like you know, I think he's made better movies, but like Reservoir Dogs. And when it came out, that was my gateway movie like that. I mean, I'd seen all kinds of stuff, but it was right there. And then hearing him talk and talk about john woo and talk about Walter Hill and talk about French New Wave. And all of a sudden, it just opened up this world. I'm watching all these Godard movies and I'm watching you know, the killer and hard boiled and bolt in the head. And it just it and it showed me what a director could be. I just I didn't. I had. Up until that point. I had seen pretty much every Walter Hill movie, but it wasn't until I heard Tarantino talking about him that I like put the two and two together. Like oh, 48 hours in the long writers like Oh, the same guy. Yeah, so that so Reservoir Dogs, and then um, maybe Amelie after?

Alex Ferrari 1:08:27
Yeah, yeah, that's been on the list many times.

J Horton 1:08:30
Yeah, just just a visual style. And it's so beautiful. Like I've done I've done a lot of like nihilistic horror movies and stuff. So it always seems weird, but some of the things that affect me the most are these like, basically like, positive, sweet, like, movies? And I don't know that one. Like, I can watch that over and over.

Alex Ferrari 1:08:51
Very cool. Now where can people find you?

J Horton 1:08:54
So I have a website. It's www.jhorton comm you can pretty much Find me on you know, Twitter, Instagram, wherever at @JHorton. My YouTube is JHorton or The J Horton. Yeah. And that's about it.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:11
Very cool. Jamie, you are an inspiration sir of and a personification of the film entrepreneur method. So I do appreciate you coming on and dropping the knowledge bombs on the tribe brother. Thank you so much, man.

J Horton 1:09:23
Thank you.

Alex Ferrari 1:09:25
I want to thank Jason for coming on the show and dropping those knowledge bombs on the tribe. He is a true film entrepreneur and is expanding his film entrepreneurial Empire on a daily basis. I hope you get some inspiration from Jason and what he is doing because there is no excuse anymore. Why you as a filmmaker can't make a living doing what you love to do. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, head over to the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/417. And guys again, don't forget about our Black Friday sale at ifH Academy. We also have cinematography courses, crowdfunding courses, the best selling indie film producing workshop, as well as the foundations of screenwriting series. And so, so much more. Just head over to IFHacademy.com. Thanks so much for listening, guys, as always keep that also going, keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there, and I'll talk to you soon.


If you liked How to Make Indie Films That Make REAL Money with J. Horton,
then you’ll love:


Enjoyed How to Make Indie Films That Make REAL Money with J. Horton? Please share it in your social networks (FacebookTwitter, email, etc) by using social media buttons at the side or bottom of the blog. Or post to your blog and anywhere else you feel it would be a good fit. Thanks.

I welcome thoughts and remarks on ANY of the content above in the comments section below…


Get Social with Indie Film Hustle:
Facebook: Indie Film Hustle

Twitter: @indiefilmhustle
Instagram: @ifilmhustle
YouTube: Indie Film Hustle

Podcasts You Should Be Listening To:
Podcast: Indie Film Hustle® Podcast
Podcast: Bulletproof Screenwriting® Podcast
Podcast: The Directors Series™ Podcast
Podcast: Inside the Screenwriter’s Mind™ Podcast
Podcast: The Filmtrepreneur® Podcast
Podcast: Filmmaking Motivation Podcast
IFH Podcast Network: Discover the Best Screenwriting and Filmmaking Podcasts

Stuff You Need in Your Life:
IFH Academy: Exclusive Filmmaking & Screenwriting Training
IFHTV: Indie Film Hustle TV
Book:
Rise of the Filmtrepreneur®: How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Moneymaking Business
Book: Shooting for the Mob (Based on the Incredible True Filmmaking Story)
FREE 3-Part Indie Film Producing Video Series



Gain Instant Access to IFHTV Here


Please note some of the links on this page are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase or use a service. Understand that I have experience with all of these services, products, and companies, and I recommend them because they’re extremely helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I earn if you decide to buy something.

Facebook Comments