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How to Sell an Original Show to Hulu with James Lafferty & Stephen Colletti
Our guests this week are stars from the early 2000s teen drama television hit show, One Tree Hill, James Lafferty, and Stephen Colletti. The buzz the show had was undeniable, and if you were a fan of the show, then you would be glad to know that your favorite characters, Nathan Scott and Chase Adams have a new project together and they talk all about it in this week’s episode.
But first, a summary of our guests’ track records in the industry. Both James and Steven landed their first acting gigs in their late teens and have since expanded their skills to writing, producing, and directing.
James, started out as a series regular on One Tree Hill in 2003, having appraised one of the lead roles of the show for which he was nominated four times by the Teen Choice Awards. Actor and television personality. Stephen joined as a regular after recurring his role as Chase Adams since the show’s premiere.
Half-brothers Lucas and Nathan Scott trade between kinship and rivalry both on the basketball court and in the hearts of their friends in the small, but not so quiet town of Tree Hill, North Carolina. Here’s a first look at the characters in its pilot episode:
Steven has consistently worked in film and television hosting MTV specials Beach House, Spring break and the VMAs backstage live among others. He’s made appearances on TV shows MTV reality television series Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, VH1 2013 romance drama, Hit The Floor, and Taylor Swift’s White Horse music video.
Between 2009 to 2012, James began testing out the directing pond. He directed four episodes of the nine season run of One Tree Hill and five episodes of The Royals, which he played another lead role on. In 2016, he briefly graced our screens in six episodes of Underground, the series, as Kyle Risdin.
With the country on the brink of Civil War, the struggle for freedom is more dangerous than ever. Underground follows the story of American heroes and their moving journey to freedom.
The guys creatively reunited in to create an original comedy television series, Everyone Is Doing Great that’s streaming on Hulu. They co-directed, produced and wrote the show. What was remarkable was that the sold an independently produced show to a major streamer, which never happens. We dive in on how they were able to do that.
The seven episodes show follows Seth and Jeremy, two guys who enjoyed relative success from ‘Eternal’, a hit television vampire drama. Five years after their show has ended, they lean on each other as they struggle to reclaim their previous level of success and relevance, awkwardly navigating the perils of life and love amidst a humorously painful coming of age.
I had lots of laughs with these two and can’t wait for you to listen.
Enjoy my conversation with James Lafferty & Stephen Colletti.
LINKS AND RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- DONATE to Feed America to help people affected by the pandemic
- Rise of the Filmtrepreneur®: How to Turn Your Indie Film into a Moneymaking Business (FREE AUDIOBOOK)
- $1 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)
- The Complete Indie Film Producing Workshop with Suzanne Lyons (COUPON CODE: IFHFILMPRODUCE)
- Shooting for the Mob (Based on the Incredible True Filmmaking Story) (FREE AUDIOBOOK)
REAL-WORLD STREAMING FILM EDUCATION
- Indie Film Hustle TV (Streaming Real-World Film Education)
- Hollywood Film School: Filmmaking & TV Directing Masterclass
- Filmmaker in a Box – Learn How to Make an Indie Film – 18 Hours+ of Lessons
- Storytelling Blueprint: Hero’s Two Journeys
- The Dialogue Series: 38 hours of Lessons from Top Hollywood Screenwriters
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- FreeFilmBook.com (Download Your FREE Filmmaking Audio Book)
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Alex Ferrari 0:24
We have on the show today, James Lafferty and Stephen Colletti. And they are both actor, producers and directors of the new Hulu show. Everything is doing great. Now, James and Stephen did something that really hasn't been done before which they actually shot an entire series first, and then went and sold that series completely done to a major streamer. That's generally not the way it works. Generally, you would do a pilot, maybe or you would pitch them the show, and then they would pay for it and do it that way. But for whatever reason, they were able, I guess, the timing and the product and everything. They were able to do the impossible and had Hulu purchase their show already produced. So they had complete creative control. And they just did what they wanted to do. And they did it all on a shoestring budget, basically by crowdfunding and raising some capital in the private sector, which again, not a lot of money to do what they did. They really did this on an indie film style budget. So I really can't wait to share with you all their secrets and how they did all this. So without any further ado, please enjoy my conversation with James Lafferty and Stephen Colletti. I like to welcome to the show James Lafferty and Stephen Colletti How you guys doing?
James Lafferty 3:58
Stephen Colletti 3:59
Thanks for having well, man
Alex Ferrari 4:01
Thank you for being on the show. Man. I heard we have we have some friends in common in Dinesh Nelms who were on my show a while ago promoting or will talking about their whole career. But at the time promoting fat man, which is obviously one of the best Christmas movies ever made. It in my audience was going crazy for that episode, because it is just just hilarious if anyone listening has not listened to go find that episode on the back catalogue because the boys were great. And then they reached out to me. They're like, Hey, I got these guys who did this insane thing. We're part of this project and they pitched it to me and I was like, well, I've never heard of that before. How the hell did these guys shoot an independent series that got picked up by a major streamer? Like I know they picked up indie films because my film was picked up. My first film was picked up by them for a license for a year back when they were doing that kind of stuff, but a show is unheard of. So we're gonna get into The weeds about how you guys did that, because I'm fascinated it's really, really want to know how the hell that happened. But before we get into it, how did each of you get into the business? We'll start with you, Jimmy.
James Lafferty 5:12
Yeah, so I started really young, I started doing extra work. Actually, when I was about six years old, my, my mom would bring my brother and I and from Riverside County to LA just to get on two sets, just to sort of expand our world a little bit. We didn't really know, you know, at a young age, what we want it to be, you know, obviously, we didn't, you know, we weren't like, theater kids or stage kids or anything like that. It was really just for a mom to, you know, help us understand that the world was bigger than a small town that we came from. And we just fell in love with it. Of course, I mean, you can't really take a kid to a film set and play around with the kids and get to experience that atmosphere and have them not catch the bug. And sure enough, we did. And so from from about 10 years old on I started auditioning. And from there, it was just like a steady progression of you know, working my first Mervyn's commercial at 12, to, you know, getting a guest spot on, you know, Picket Fences or something like that. And then, you know, just continuing on from there to reoccurring roles. And I basically, yeah, by the time I was a senior in high school, I had booked this little web team drama called One Tree Hill, which ended up becoming sort sort of hit, I guess, I made at least ran for a very long time. Until about 2011. And, yeah, that sort of takes that takes us up to, you know, I guess, when I was an adult, right, you know, that's sort of how I was my way and really,
Alex Ferrari 6:40
but how about you Stephen?
Stephen Colletti 6:42
Yeah, I was a little more unconventional, I, I kind of first started working the business in 2004. The working with MTV, I started out doing a reality show with them completely victim of circumstance out of nowhere, did this show land in my community and dropped my lap. But I was interested in in hosting and wanting to get in there in entertainment. And so, in fact, one thing I want to do was, was to be a vj. You know, watching Carson Daly growing up and doing that gig, I thought that was a pretty cool thing and wanted to pursue that. So I looked at MTV is like, Well, alright, I feel like these people can get me in over there. So what I'm doing the show called Laguna Beach, for a season two seasons. And then I started hosting for MTV. And then I did a little bit of acting growing up it you know, just just in school and stuff and enjoyed it. But didn't think it was gonna be something I'd take seriously. And the more I kind of got into hosting wasn't so excited about it found acting interesting, wanted to study it and did and so as I was hosting for MTV, I was working on on acting and studying and from there, I booked my first film something called it was actually wind up being havoc, too. It wasn't that wasn't it wasn't supposed to be the sequel originally. But that's what who today new line, I think it was, it's what they want. I'm selling it as called normal adolescent behavior. And in that film, actually worked with a girl named Hilary Burton, who worked on One Tree Hill, and I want about shooting for One Tree Hill and getting a part there. And then it was kind of set on working on the show with James for about five or six years.
Alex Ferrari 8:34
So you guys, so you guys are coming out this whole thing very unconventionally, because you're coming from the acting side. So you guys were on a hit show, for a good amount of time. You've been obviously you guys have been on sets a lot throughout your careers up to this point. And then what what made you guys get together and say, you know, we're going to take the power in our own hands and build our own content and try to sell that. So you essentially, stop asking permission to do what you love to do and start creating those opportunities for yourselves very, very Ben and Matt, goodwill hunting style in that way, so what what made you as actors decide to like, you know, is there something that caused you to do it? Or is it something that tickles your fancy or just like, you know, what we you really need to kind of get our own stuff going?
James Lafferty 9:22
Yeah, I think it was a mixture of things, as it always is, I guess, you know, it's, it's, it has a little something to do with, you know, coming off of a TV show and thinking things are going to be easy and actually not being that easy. It's you know, getting to a certain point in your life as an actor or I guess, as a professional in this business where you realize that things are cyclical, like you're going to have, you're going to have times that are you know, really good for a while you're gonna have a great cycle and then you're going to have a really dry cycle and then you're going to it's going to come back it's a sort of pendulum swing situation and you start to realize that at a, I guess around for us, it was around that 2526 27 age when One Tree Hill was ending, right? But then also, you know, I don't think you can be on a show for that long and not learn something, I mean, really have to not be,
Alex Ferrari 10:09
you have to be pretty dense and you have to be pretty.
James Lafferty 10:11
Yeah. And I think, you know, we, we were always paying very close attention, because we always knew that behind the camera was where we want to be eventually we just we knew that we would want to tell stories, you know, for me a big part of it was being able to step behind the camera and direct on One Tree Hill. And then I know, you know, Steven can speak to, you know, the fact that he was producing coming out of One Tree Hill and stuff. But um, you know, that's, that's sort of where I was coming from is like, I know, I want to tell stories. But you know, and I know, I'm gonna want to write, right, so I'm writing scripts, and these scripts are like high concept and very expensive. And this is obviously as you know, and your audience will know, these, these ideas are very hard to get made. So at a certain point, for me, it was like, Okay, what can I make, that can be made? You know, what can, what can we make that that can be made for a reasonable budget, and that we can actually shoot so that we can prove to people that we can tell stories, and hopefully, take that next step as storytellers not just people who are, you know, auditioning for jobs?
Alex Ferrari 11:13
How about you, Steven?
Stephen Colletti 11:16
Well, I think it's, I feel like it was always somewhere. Yeah, it was something in the back of my mind knowing that, you know, in this industry, especially just with technology, these days, what it affords you, you better be able to figure out stuff on your own, because, you know, I just, I know that where I stand in this industry, and I was not, you know, God's gift to the entertainment industry as an actor. And so I knew to do certain things that I wanted to do, you know, you're gonna have to create those opportunities for yourself. And so I, you know, it's just kind of been a steady evolution of, you know, trying different things, you know, realizing I had all my eggs in that inactive basket, when I was in my 20s. And realizing that the opportunities that were coming to me, were kind of out of my control, you know, you go audition for things, and something's you really, really want and it's almost like, the more you want something more, you want it not getting it, and then a job that you're like, yeah, I really don't care if I get this job, and it's like, you booked it, you know, you gotta get I gotta go take it, because I need a job. So I think that, you know, to really, as I got a little bit older, and a little more, Yeah, a little more edgy about the business realize, I, if you know, what I want to do, I'm gonna have to, you know, take the bull by the horns and try to figure out to do it on my own. Because, you know, that's not going to all just line up with landing the perfect audition at the best time and booking it and then Off you go, you know, it's just not, that does not happen every day or, you know, likely at all. So, you know, yeah, I think from there, you know, it's, it's been an evolution of certain projects that, you know, haven't gone very far. And, and just, you know, whether it be a little bit of writing a little bit of producing, but, you know, kind of learning is something from each thing. And then, you know, with this one, with, everyone's doing great kind of felt like, all the pieces started to, you know, fall into place where, okay could take, you know, what I've learned up to this point, and in trying to get stuff made, and go out there also to say, you know, partner up with somebody, you know, realizes I can't do stuff, you know, on my own, and, you know, you got to get good people around you to help you, you know, you know, fill in your weaknesses and get, you know, get things made.
Alex Ferrari 13:29
So, how did you guys come up with everyone is doing great.
James Lafferty 13:35
Yeah, it was, it was sort of out of necessity, I guess. You know, I think we had, we had lived enough life coming out of One Tree Hill to realize that we had lived a pretty absurd life in our 20s. And to have that amount of success at such a young age is completely it's absurd, it's, it's insane what happened, and we were insanely fortunate. And then to have, you know, some some years that weren't so successful, you know, to really humble you and to make you look back and go, Okay, I see a sort of like arc forming here, where, you know, we had a late coming of age, you know, and we had a late coming of age in this really crazy industry, where the hilarious things are happening all around us. And there's, you know, extraordinary, extraordinary things happening all around us that really make for great comedy. You know, and we've never, we've never felt sorry for ourselves throughout this whole process of, you know, auditioning and rejection and all this stuff. Like, I think, you know, we've always found the narrative that it's, you know, a really tough thing to do a little bit tiresome, because it's what we chose to do, right like nobody's gonna feel sorry for you because you just keep coming back for more and you know, you're always going to come back for more. So really, for us the the catharsis and all this was just a laugh at it. So get together to share our stories, and they'll be like, you're never gonna believe what happened at this audition today. Like you're never gonna believe what I saw this party or this person that I met or, and, and and just laugh at these things, and you You know, this is something that we really wanted to bring to a show that that lined up with our comedic sensibilities, right. Like, we knew that we wanted to make a show. That was up to the standards of the shows that we love to watch. We love shows like fleabag, you know, catastrophe. We love the trip with Steve Coogan and Rob bryden. Like, we love will that best show on HBO doll on em, things that are feel really naturalistic and feel really dry. And mind humor, a lot of out of a lot of like, awkward and cringy moments, to the punch lines. And we we just felt like we were like living in this world where all of a sudden, we could see, we could see this happening around us, we were sort of observing it. And so we decided to sort of, I guess, take that and, and try to create some characters that we could map on to these things, and onto this world and into these situations, and create a story around it that would also line up with our storytelling sensibilities, which is really we gravitate to stories about, you know, friends, families, and, you know, families basically, that full of people that are just there, they probably shouldn't be friends, but they have this shared experience, or they have this shared past, where they're sort of forced to continue to deal with each other. And whether or not they stick together is based on whether or not they love each other. Right. Like, those are the stories that we're onto. So it was just all these things as sort of confluence of things that came together to at this time to make us realize that we might have, you know, a story to tell here through everyone's doing great.
Alex Ferrari 16:30
Now, Stephen did teach your agents and managers and your friends around you say you guys are absolutely that this is not going to work. No one's ever, you know, done an independent show before and sold it anything major before me did that happen?
Stephen Colletti 16:44
You know, I got kind of the status quo from the the reps were, that's, that's really nice. You know, they're like, Okay, you go to your little bit, you're gonna be auditioning, right? You should still be sending you stuff. And I'm like, Yeah, no, of course, we please do. Like, okay, just making sure. But you know, I think that they hear that and the expectation on there. And it's like, oh, man, I got a nickel for every time I heard a client talk about something that they're making on their own and never seen it even myself, they probably have a few nickels for me, because I definitely have done it before. As you know, try to shake them down to help you, you know, get some traction on a script or, like get something, you know, get them to read something that you wrote. So, there, you know, there was that kind of like, you know, yeah, they're just playing along. It friends. It was, you know, there was we had some good support from friends at rooting us on like, you know, I think people in the industry were like, Fuck, yeah, man, like, go do it. You know. And I think that it also, you know, with the community of people that God around our show, when we were crowdfunding, I mean, that really helped lift us up and continue. have us continue to move forward on it was that, you know, people were on board and excited, they heard about the concept, they would just be looking at a log line and being like, you know, what, that seems interesting. I'd be into that. And we're like, yeah, like, I want to contribute to the show. Go on and do it. So I think it was, you know, for the most part, it was positive feedback, and to have like, our communities of family and friends, saying, you know, go for it is really cool, and definitely helped propel us to the finish line.
Alex Ferrari 18:22
So I find it fascinating. You said that the agents play the long because I actually, you know, earlier in my career was I had a full films, and I got a star attached. And it was, you know, she'd done TV, and she had done a few movies and things like that, and we go in, and what you're saying is exactly what the agents would do. They came in, they did this show, they sat around the conference table, like, okay, so you know, oh, yeah, we can go out to this person. And, yeah, we might know this person to try to kind of play along and I was so green. I'm like, Oh, my God, we're gonna get this movie made. This is amazing. And then, you know, nothing ever panned out. But they needed to play along to keep the client happy. So I'm so like, I didn't know that was a thing. And when you just said it, like, that makes all the sense to me. Because I've been in that room when we're like, oh, yeah, cuz she's the producer on this. And she wants to put this all together. I was like, No One No wonder nothing.
Stephen Colletti 19:14
You don't listen for us. You know, it's like they don't they know, the road. And it's enough. It's time. They don't have the time for that. They're like, Look, this is the bottom line game. I'm here with my clients for like, you know, like, I know if this person is getting started on a project, like this film is not going to be made next month in six months. And wow, if they make it in a year, that's incredible. So they're like, I don't I don't have time for something that's two years out.
Alex Ferrari 19:40
To get paid Now. Now. I need my 10% I need my 10% I need my 10% Yeah. So
Stephen Colletti 19:46
10% in 2024 Yeah, exactly. Yeah,
Alex Ferrari 19:50
luck. Good luck. Yeah, exactly. Good luck to you, my friend. But you're still gonna go out. We could still send you out. Right. We could sit now we could still say yeah, I love that because we still need to make our money off. Right now so it's, it's fascinating.
James Lafferty 20:02
You're gonna be supportive 100% Oh, yeah. Just just means like, you know, saying like, yeah, sure we'll help out. And then we'll step in later.
Alex Ferrari 20:12
Yeah, we if you bring in 5 million, we can get the rest. up, bring 5 million and Will Smith to the table, we can get you. The rest of it. No problem. No problem. Yeah, that's, that's the way the game is played. So Alright, so guys, how did you put this this cell financed? I mean, because it doesn't look like it's like a you know, it's not Game of Thrones for sure. So I'm assuming the budget was, you know, indie. But how did you guys raise the budget?
James Lafferty 20:43
Yeah, well, it was, um, it was, I guess it was a sort of a tiered process, sort of just like the entire process was, you know, we, we didn't know that we were going to shoot our entire season independently. We started off with a pilot, and the pilot was self financed. And very naively, we thought that we would execute this pilot and the money be money, and they would sell it. And then somebody would be like, Oh, yeah, we want this to be a, you know, who the original or whatever. Yeah, that didn't happen. Didn't happen for a lot of reasons. You know, first of all, I think the pilot that we made was a pilot that we wanted to make, and we were really, really proud of it. But it was 2017. And, you know, a lot of the streamers that exist now didn't even exist back then. And a lot of the, you know, bigger ones. Now, we're just sort of booting up. And you know, they're different departments and sort of really defining what kind of things they want to do. And we just didn't anticipate the challenges of shopping around and independent TV show, we didn't realize just how kind of, I guess, unprecedented it was, it's just not something that happened, there was no template for selling it right. further than that, we didn't know that we even needed a sales agent, really, we didn't know the sales agent game, right? We were having our talent reps reach out to development people at these companies. And seeing if, like, you know, they would get it, you know, if they could push the ball forward. We weren't even we weren't considering the acquisitions departments and things like that. You know, we'll talk about this later about, you know, we didn't actually know how sort of nebulous that world was as well, and how many gatekeepers that there were and how relationship based it is. So we just didn't have any of these relationships or any of these connections. So once we realized we weren't going to sell the pilot. And that if we were going to produce the rest of the season episodes, two, three through eight, we were going to have to do it independently. We were we had always considered the crowdfunding route. But we didn't know for sure if we wanted to take that plunge. It was our last, it was really our last sort of final option, because we had heard that it's going to be the hardest thing you ever do. Yes, I've done it's over like, yeah, and you know, the gnomes brothers, who you had on in the past. Like they, they did it as well. And I watched them do and I watched them break their backs for the money they made for post on their first movie or one of their first movies. And, you know, they were they were encouraging us to do this as well, like the Noah's brothers had our backs on the crowdfunding front, they're like, you should do this, because it's going to help you retain creative control whatever money you can raise your budget, it's going to help you maintain that leverage, and that control over the project or for its life. And so yeah, I guess you know, once we had exhausted all options, we took that plunge, that crowdfunding plunge crowdfunded For how many days even 45 days?
Stephen Colletti 23:40
Yeah, at least 45? Not all July, June, July, and then we extended a little bit into August. So what's it been up to about three months?
Alex Ferrari 23:48
And what platform? Did you guys use Kickstarter, Indiegogo,
Stephen Colletti 23:50
Alex Ferrari 23:51
Right? And how much did you guys raise?
Stephen Colletti 23:54
we wind up raising about 270k. And that's after. Yeah, after fees. And we had to take some money for of course, for the perks and stuff like that, we were able to, to use about at least 200 210 215 in our budget. And then we had to bridge the gap a little bit to get to where we can, you know, still have enough to finish the season.
Alex Ferrari 24:18
That's amazing. But that's, that's a success man. Like you pull in over a quarter million on a on a platform for a television or streaming series. That's a pretty, it's a pretty good goal. I guess you tapped into a lot of your fans and things like that. To help with that.
Stephen Colletti 24:33
Yeah, no, I know, for sure.
James Lafferty 24:35
Stephen Colletti 24:36
To have people, you know, contribute for a you know, a show they haven't seen before, you know, this was not the reunion or these equal or something. So right, you know, people were having to take a leap of faith for us. And yeah, I think that was that. You know, we struggle a little bit out the gate, trying to get people on board for this, but it was, you know, Really, it was that community behind, you know, One Tree Hill that, you know, got involved and and wanted to see us, you know, where we wanted to support us and whatever our next venture was because they knew that maybe, you know, the reunion wasn't gonna be happening anytime soon. So yeah, incredible community of fans, they're been very loyal. And we're very grateful for that. Because without them, this doesn't happen. And it ultimately was, you know, about two weeks in we're like, we need some sort of kick, you know, we really need something to to boost the finances there, or at least the on the money coming in for the Indiegogo project. And we, we came up with the idea of, of doing some live watches, where we would invite some cast members from the show from our old show, once your Hill and and watch an episode. And, you know, it offered us a great opportunity for us to, you know, see some of our cast members that we hadn't seen for a while and kind of, to fill a little bit of that, that want for what the fans are looking for is they're trying to hear the news, and whether or not the show's gonna have a union or whatnot is like, well, they just want to see some of these people back together. And, you know, to get, you know, four or five of us sitting in a room chatting about the show, it was, you know, an experience that fans really enjoyed. And they came back, you know, four or five times as we did a few of them, and they wind up just being, you know, the most lucrative thing for us in our project. Yeah, raising up. Yeah, I
Alex Ferrari 26:25
mean, you leverage what you have. So, you know, if you've got a fan base, and I'm assuming, how did you get to that fan base? I mean, did you just hit the Facebook groups? I mean, I don't think you have an email list with a bunch of One Tree Hill fans. So like, how did you how did you reach out to these these communities and get them to, to watch and to contribute?
James Lafferty 26:43
Yeah, are following us on social media were a huge part of it. I mean, pretty much everybody that follows me is a One Tree Hill fan, unless they're my mom or my friend. So you know, that was that was that was really important is being able to connect with people through social media. That was what brought in, you know, I think our first wave of people, but I think another really important thing was that we were able to show these people that that just, you know, this first wave of people that we have a product that you're going to like, right, because the challenge with an arts project is that you can't really show them the content of the arts project, right? You can't really like have virtual screening for people on the movie you're trying to make. Fortunately, we were making a TV show and we had shot a pilot. And we were able to take this pilot around to some festivals that were really, really great, like at x festival is a television festival in Austin, that showcases all kinds of television. And you know, they they showcase a few independent pilots every year, they chose us for one of theirs. Series fest is an all Independent Television festival that they hold in Denver, Colorado. At the time, New York television festival was one. So there was just, there's a bunch of different festivals that we were able to hit and we were able to invite fans out, you know, people that knew about us from One Tree Hill, and invite them to the screenings, talk to them after these screenings, meet them after these screenings and get there first of all, creatively get their feedback, right? See if the show was actually funny to them. But then also they were able to see the first episode of the show. And then you know, tell other people on our Instagram feeds or on our Twitter feeds or you know, on the message board on Indiegogo like yes, this is a good show, you will like this show, you know, there's there's something here. So I think that that was a huge, huge asset to us being able to take out that sort of, you know, if this wasn't a TV show, you call it like a proof of concept, right? Wasn't TV shows a pilot. And it just it just the timing of that taking out those festivals, we in hindsight, we realized just how incredibly, you know valuable that was for us.
Alex Ferrari 28:47
And how many days did you shoot? Like how many total days? I mean, assuming you just sat and just just shot it all out in a row. Right? So how many days did you shoot eight episodes and each episodes? What 30 minutes? Less than that?
Stephen Colletti 29:00
proximately 30 Yeah, we got we got anywhere from 25 to 37 minutes. so thankful for the streaming services to be flexible. Right. Exactly three never to kill as many babies as we had expected. But yeah, we want up shooting over the course of about 35 days. eight episodes that's a lot and yeah, obviously block shooting everything getting locations wrapped up in was was you know key. Michelle Lange Who?
James Lafferty 29:31
those seven episodes right that we shot because we had already shot the pilot the year before and then we shot seven episodes, this seven additional episodes over that 35 day period.
Stephen Colletti 29:40
Thereafter, minus one is seven that is confirmed. This is why we make a great team. So we Yeah, and Michelle Lange who works with the nelmes brothers. She's married to Ian there they she you know was so clutch in getting ours. Schedule all dialed up and and and making sure that you know, we're maximizing our locations. And it was fluid to that schedule was changing constantly. And she did a good job matching mapping it out in the beginning. And we kind of had an idea of where we were going to be for the next 35 days from the jump, of course, but, you know, she was always kind of looking to adjusted, where can we make Where can we save a buck? And you know, having somebody like that on our team, just, you know, thinking about things that we are not even anywhere on this same universe and thinking about what that scheduling and how we can save some money. Because especially when we're doing our shoestring budget was key. So we it was it was hectic, but we we got it done. And you know, Michelle Lange was a big part of that.
Alex Ferrari 30:45
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. So you guys have been you guys have been on onsets pretty much, almost all your life. At this point, you were like, really were on sets for a long time. And a couple and you've directed, you know, a few episodes here and there. How much did that play in in the success of what you guys we're doing it because obviously you knew what a professional quote unquote set was. But you knew that One Tree Hill set is definitely not going to be the all the bells and whistles that you're going to be using on this show. So how was that transition? Because you know, you're used to being on I've been on network sets, they're they're nice, they're plush. The craft, the craft is fantastic lunches, you know, lobster, you know, it's really it's really a nice scenario, depending on the budget of the show. But generally speaking, that work shows are really nice. So how was that transition from? Hey, I need something Oh, we have a department for that, too. We need something figure it out. Hmm.
James Lafferty 31:50
Yeah, I think it's a really good question. Because I think there are things that we that we learned, you know, from being on larger sets that helped us, and there were also things that totally blindsided us as well, right. You know, there was, I think that the general concept of time management really sinks in, when you work in television, you know, on whatever budget you're working on, like, you know, working on, whatever, whatever network TV show, you're still trying to shoot an ungodly amount of pages a day, no matter what, there's not enough time, you never have enough days to get the show to get the episode that you want to shoot. And as an actor, you sit around and you just watch people like run around like their hair's on fire, trying to make this impossible thing possible. So and you learn about time management really well, because you're always watching your clock, right. And so I think that's one thing that we were able to carry into, to everyone is doing great is his clock management, right is that time management is is making sure that, you know, we have contingency plans that we have this space in our schedule to shoot things that we might have missed, or that we're able to adapt, if you know, we didn't get this one thing at this location, what other location can we put it that we had seen enough of this sort of sleight of hand be played, you know, throughout our careers to be able to employ it ourselves, and obviously, with the help of our producing team, but then also, there's nothing that can compare you to, you know, or that can prepare you to for the, you know, first week of our shooting in Stevens actual apartment, and you know, the fact that there's going to be 35 crew and a two bedroom apartment, you know, wearing their work boots.
Alex Ferrari 33:27
And did you get from it? Did you get permission? Or are you did get permission? You didn't gorilla?
Stephen Colletti 33:32
Yeah, but you know, we, you stretch permission for a couple of people just for like, two days? Not necessarily. We won't say how many people were there. And we won't say For how many days but it didn't really work out to that
James Lafferty 33:49
when I quoted. And you know, you gotta like hand it to Stephen, who is you know, this is his apartment, he's producing, writing the show, he's directing one of the episodes that we're shooting at that location, and he's gonna be thinking about all these different things. And he's also thinking about the fact that like, this person today didn't wear social soft soled shoes. Yeah. So like, we might get kicked out, you know what I mean? Or he's worried about you know, getting Starbucks gift cards to all of his neighbors and making sure that they got them so that we've got you know, we're in the good graces of the building. You know, it's not a it's not a completely conducive mindset to creativity. Nothing can really prepare you for that nothing in our experiences on
Stephen Colletti 34:29
me right now. Seriously? Yeah, like you said,
Alex Ferrari 34:30
You started you're starting to see the twitching I could see the Twitch, you
Stephen Colletti 34:34
know, how we I don't know how we got through those those days. But yeah, I mean, I got sick in the middle of it as well.
Alex Ferrari 34:41
Stephen Colletti 34:43
Anytime an apple box was just scraping across the floor. Mentally murdered that individual and then carried on with my scene.
Alex Ferrari 34:52
I'll tell you what, man like I've shot so much in my own places during my career like on my own house like my first my first like $50,000 I spent on my commercial demo reel back when I was doing commercials, which I shot on 35 and all that. I did it in my house, I'd like to two full shoots in my house like doing different areas, like in my living room, I'd set up a set. And I like because I had to. And that exact thing someone like a grip would just drag something along. You just like trying to direct it. And then you have the money. So this is basically exactly the only thing that you did that I didn't do is I was an act in it. Thank God. So I'm doing everything. I'm doing everything else. But I feel you man like you that Apple box kiss drags, oh, god,
Stephen Colletti 35:34
oh, we had a, I had this, this deck. That was great. Because you know, people can go have lunch out there and we can store gear out there. And but you know, we fired up breakfast there at like 615 in the morning.
James Lafferty 35:52
Oh my god, how did we get away with it?
Alex Ferrari 35:54
Starbucks Starbucks cards go a long way.
Stephen Colletti 35:57
Yeah, basically, you know, there was some supportive people, some supportive neighbors, but then there wasn't some supportive neighbors. And there was we did get a noise complaint, like on the first day, you know, there was a the manager who I'd spoke to how to talk to somebody else. And so they showed up and they were like, what are you doing? And I was like, you know, I talked to all that I Okay, all right, right on. But at first there I thought, you know, they had come to basically shut us down. So yeah, I mean, it's still Yeah, once
Alex Ferrari 36:34
he stressed out, he is stressing, it's over, Bro. Bro, it's over. It's over.
Stephen Colletti 36:38
It's felt like a mistake. Because after all this build up to get to this point of wanting to shoot the show. And it's our own. We're so excited. And we got our first couple days of shooting. And then all of a sudden, it's just back to back days, like in my apartment with one thing after another and I couldn't you know, once we got to the finish line, and we were like halfway through that last day there and I'm like, Okay, we got it now I know we're gonna get through this location. The shoot started for me but I couldn't tell you what happened on any of the scenes my characters department because I've my brain was just ping pong off the walls.
Alex Ferrari 37:15
And that's it they I mean for filmmakers listening now, man, until you're in the into you're in the weeds, or as they used to say like when you're in war, when you're in this shit. You really, really feel it because, man it's 1000 things going on at the same time. You've got money dealing with you've got your act, you You're acting, which is insanity to me. Like I can't even begin to begin to try to think about acting in a scene while doing all this stuff. It's it's brutal, man. But I think this is a comment that no one's ever asked this is a sentence has never been uttered in Hollywood. All I have is too much time and too much money to make this project like that. That's never been uttered in Hollywood since the days a fucking Edison. No one is ever said that.
James Lafferty 38:02
Alex Ferrari 38:03
That you know, it's it's insane. So
Stephen Colletti 38:05
we got another week. You sure you don't want to use it?
James Lafferty 38:08
Alex Ferrari 38:11
Good. Do you want another month? I mean, we could just do another month if you want. Like, yeah, you've never you never hear that. It's insane.
Stephen Colletti 38:18
I mean, I go to Panama and get a shot on the beach. You don't want it? You don't
Alex Ferrari 38:22
want it. That's fine. We'll just green screen it. That's fine. Yeah, I can imagine the culture shock for you guys as being, you know, regular actors on a hit show. And never having to think about any of that. Like even when you were directing on the show, you still never had to think about that. You were just directing the show. And it's all your family and friends around. You know, you've been with these people forever. You don't think about all that other stuff. Really? I mean, time management. Yeah. But when everything's on your shoulders, I gotta believe that the culture shock must have been what at what moment? Did that hit? You guys? Like, was it day one? When you said on the on day one on the pilot even like, Did you just go? Oh, we're not in Kansas anymore. Like, what was that? I mean, I'm sure someone told you. It's like, it's like having kids. Someone could tell you you're gonna have kids. But it Oh, it's gonna be bad. You're gonna lose sleep until you have a kid you have no idea. It's like writing your face. So when was that moment? Yeah, guys.
James Lafferty 39:21
I think for me, it was when we were at Stephens apartment. And I don't know, this is probably the first time we've ever told the story might get crucified by our producers. But I just think it's too interesting. You know, we had at when we started shooting, we had about two thirds of our budget. And we had a contingency plan in place like we were starting in Stephens apartment. We're gonna shoot all this contained stuff. We knew that we could shoot a version of our season for two thirds of the budget, right? We just have to change a lot once we left Stephens department. And, and we were still waiting to see if financier was going to come on and cover that that final third. And we were getting to the point I was probably like four or five days in when it was really like a breaking point and Michelle laying had become set and like Sydney and Steven down and city and and Ashdown and Jaya Durango or other executive producer. And you know that like that was like the rest of the crew setting up a shot over at Stephens apartment and we are like down the hall and sort of around the corner and like a little outdoor lounge we can see across the gap to Stephens apartment, and it was nighttime. And Michelle is walking us through the fact that we might not get this money and could change a lot. And but everything's gonna be okay. I remember just having like a bit of like an out of body experience where I just sort of like, I just sort of went numb, and I just sort of left like I was sort of seeing the world from behind my eyes. And I was like, Oh, this is it. This is what they talk about.
Alex Ferrari 40:45
This is I'm dying. I'm dying. I'm dying.
James Lafferty 40:47
I don't mean to do much. And it's all on you. And yeah, something either really, really miraculous is going to happen, or this is going to be a horror story. You know what I mean? It's like, this is the moment that it hinges on. And thankfully something miraculous happened in that particular scenario. But that was a real. Yeah, that was a real moment. For me.
Alex Ferrari 41:08
It was it was like, you guys had a coming to Jesus conversation, like come to Jesus conversation is basically the set up is like this guy's Look, it's this is. And I've had, by the way, I've had those conversations with my first ad on projects, or my UPM on early, early early projects are like, Look, man, I know you've got 752 shots you want to do in four hours. I understand that. But this is the reality. You got four shots, let's do this. Yeah, see, we just say, Steve,
Stephen Colletti 41:38
I was gonna say, yeah, I think in I feel like, you know, James Nye, we've had this, like, you know, go get 'em attitude. So it was like, there's nothing that we can't handle, like, we could we will figure it out, you know, we'll figure out how we'll do this. Like, we're just not going to take no for an answer, blah, blah, like, just learn on the fly. That's why I like working with James. Like, he's resourceful. He gets it, he just shuts up and does the work, you know. And, you know, there was definitely times where like, Oh, you know, what we've Southern. So we've taken on too much. It's like, you just can't do this, like this isn't, there are people that have gone to school for this, or have trained to do this for a while. And some of the tasks like we just took for granted, like, for example, locations, like I was doing locations for a while, and then we got closer to shooting. And it was like, I missed a lot of locations that need to be actually locked. And then it was like, Well, those are kind of in the second half. So we'll start shooting, and now we're shooting and there's some locations in the back half that we're still trying to lock I'm trying to we're trying to negotiate like at every single location, it was not taking their you know, their their first offer, letting them know, like telling them the story, you know, we're crowdfunded, we're shoestring budget over here. So like, please, like, you know, what, what can you do to help us out, and it just there was, you know, you're just juggling those, and we actually had in the middle of the shoot to bring somebody on and say, Okay, this person is going to just handle locations, like stop worrying about you tried, you know, you got some good stuff, but like, it's starting to, you know, distract you from other things. So
James Lafferty 43:14
you can be driving from Northridge, down to down to Downey every day. like trying to, like putting the finishing touches on the script. It's just not.
Alex Ferrari 43:23
Yeah, and that's, that's one of the biggest mistake, first time filmmakers in the indie space do is they'd like, Oh, I can do all of this, or I could do this, I could Yeah. And they take so much on that you get nothing done. You have to bring you have to bring in people and you have to have help in one way, shape, or form. And sometimes it's it's educated help. Sometimes it's not educated help, like, you know, you get your, you get your brother, your buddy who wants to be in the business, like let's do location scouts. Sometimes it works out great, sometimes not so much.
James Lafferty 43:52
You know, I think the line is blurred these days as well with, you know, what you can learn and what you can't execute, right? Like you can learn, you can learn a lot like and this is this has been a blessing for us, you know, the fact that technology has come so far, the fact that our access to information is just so exponentially better than it was even 10 years ago, you know, but it also it gives you this false sense of security, it gives you this, you know, false sense of capability, really, I think, you know, we did learn to do a lot. And we did we were especially in post production, right? Once we got into the editing process, we were able to save ourselves a lot of coin just by doing things ourselves and learning to deal with things by ourselves. But the same time, we had to we had to recognize where we had to draw the line where like, you know, okay, we can we can keep banging our head against the wall with this thing that we just learned to do on YouTube three days ago, or we can sort of, you know, reach a point where we realize, Oh, this is what they pay people big bucks for, okay, let's go find somebody who knows what they're doing right before we, you know, you know, carve up our project more than we need to hear, you know, do something, you know, make some sort of fatal mistake, right?
Alex Ferrari 45:00
So you guys didn't shoot your own movie. You weren't a DPS as well.
James Lafferty 45:06
We did not Soderbergh it. Now
Alex Ferrari 45:07
he did. It is.I found out I honestly, within like a couple years ago, I found out that solder Berg was his own dp. And he'd always been his own dp, I had no idea because he changes his name on the credit.
Stephen Colletti 45:19
I didn't know that
Alex Ferrari 45:20
all of his and then you go back and like he did Ocean's 11. And che and I mean, Erin Brockovich, and like, he, he was a toy, you start thinking about it, like, and he was the writer, and he was, like, he's a freak of nature. He's like, an absolute freak of nature to do all of Yeah, very, very few very few guys can do. And trust me, I, my first feature I was the DP on. And mind you, I was already 20 years in. And I have been a colorist for 10 years. So I'm like, you know what, let me just get it down the line, I tried to sit it down the middle, expose it, I'll fix it in post, which is exactly what I did. But after after that, I was like, never again, never, ever, ever again. It's too much, man, it's too, it's too much. It's the takes a special brain to do all of that stuff.
Stephen Colletti 46:08
But I was just gonna say another thing we learned, like real quick was, I think was important to take, being able to understand like a pulse of your set, that I felt like I recognized as I'm sitting around on a set waiting for, you know, to act on certain acts, just the, you know, how, how quickly, like a dynamic can change, it's almost like people are, especially these long days, like people can get, you know, they get edgy, naturally, I totally understand it. And so it doesn't take much to set people off. And so to kind of, you know, be a little more aware of, of, you know, the treatment of people, especially for us, when you know, there's no room to go anywhere, we were crammed in an apartment, and we're crammed in whatever location, you know, all on top of each other that, you know, to try to, you know, respect people for the jobs that they're doing, give the attaboys and, and, you know, also, I guess, still try to provide some decent food because, you know, our, you know, we had them, there's no comfort for them whatsoever, and they're working completely full days. And, you know, I think Michelle Lange was, was key and saying, well, we're gonna, we're going to pay for a decent caterer, you know, we got to get some, we got to get them fed well, but, you know, just trying to just check in with with crew and, and have, like, you know, you create a cold, cordial relationship with everybody. And I think that also helps at the end of the day, when the going gets tough. And people either want to get the f out of there, which I understand or just so sick of like, This lack, like, we're missing a couple of resources, and you're having to wear an extra hat, you're not certainly getting paid for it, but like, you know, what, they're gonna step up because they believe in the people that are running this project. I think that that helped us a lot. And, you know, we also had young, we had a lot of young filmmakers, people that are just getting started in the business. And that was really crucial. Because while they're not getting paid, you know, big money, they're ready to hustle, you know, they're ready to, you know, to be on a set and make a film project, you know, so that was, you know, something that was also very vital to, you know, fill in the blanks of not having a comfortable set that you would get on a major network, you
James Lafferty 48:21
know, did you guys that we learn, oh, sorry, I was. I was just gonna say, um, that's something that we learned from the Nelms brothers as well. Being on set with the knowledge brothers, I learned very early on with them that like, the reason that their sets are so amazing, and people are so happy, it's because they realize that they're not being asked to do anything that the directors wouldn't do themselves, or wouldn't don't have the utmost respect for right? Like, these are guys that these are not directors that go to the directors trailer in between setups, and do whatever the hell they want to do. And they're like, these are guys who are they're on set every single, every single moment. They love the process, they truly love being that, and that is contagious. And that's what gets people through those long days and those long nights is, is knowing that the person at the top still really cares about this and really cares about, you know, really wants everybody else to care. And is is willing to put in the work just like they are. I just yeah, I mean, we learned that from that from them very early on. And just we tried to be those guys on set every day.
Alex Ferrari 49:23
Now, did you guys happen to feed your crew spinning wheels of death? Do you know what those are is that this is an old this is this is the best stuff comes from old DPS. So a buddy of mine who's like he's been in the business 4050 years, and he was DJing something I was directing. And it was a low budget situation. And we talked about lunch, and I said, Hey, do you guys you know, maybe we should just get some pizza. He's like do not bring out spinning wheels of death. Do not bring out just because that's what they're called because it just drags the crew, cheese and bread and it just slows everyone down. He goes, don't do it. Don't do it. And he also, he also always used to say every time he couldn't get something the way he wanted to say, I'm surrounded by assassins surrounded by everywhere I'd look surrounded by assassins, and I use that like constantly on a setlist surrounded by assassins. Goddamnit. But did you? Did you do the pizza thing at one point?
Stephen Colletti 50:20
We actually didn't do pizza.
Alex Ferrari 50:21
Good. That's a good producers
Stephen Colletti 50:24
producers shout out was a Spartan catering. James
James Lafferty 50:28
Spartan brothers. Yeah, but yeah,
Stephen Colletti 50:30
they were they were solid. They had good food. And, you know, we tried to make sure, yeah, you have you other options for, you know, people with with allergies or whatever, and just made sure we're on top of that, or, you know, there was a couple days where they might have forgotten or maybe those first days, you know, working through the kinks that there weren't enough of those meals. It was like, Let's go, you know, let's get this fixed right now, you know. And other than that, we kept them well caffeinated. That's for sure. This This started well, I know myself, but RDP was was a caffeine theme. And so we just made sure we got the Starbucks runs in the coffee going and, you know, thankfully, it was a small enough crew that were like our and this is something that James and I we just handled. We're like, you know what, just take our card and go. Let's get everyone whoever wants something from Starbucks or
Alex Ferrari 51:19
just go Yeah, it's the cheapest is the cheapest investment you can make in this film. I'll tell you a quick story. I come from Miami originally. So in Miami, onsets, there's a little old Cuban man, who's he's hired. It's always a little old Cuban man who walks around but two to three times a day with a tray full of these little thimbles of coffee called Puerto Rico's which is Cuban coffee or little. There's like this big and you look like that can't do anything. And I was just alone. I'm Cuban. So I was raised with this stuff. So I I see, you know, people who are not used to Cuban coffee, like oh, there's just a few of them. That's, that's so little. And they would chug like four or five of them at once. And within 15 minutes to just like she's like freaking freaking out and I like it we and all the all the people who are used to that coffee like let's let's watch let's see what happened to that act. That actor and you just see him just start freaking out like trying to do a scene. So Cuban coffee earlier, I
James Lafferty 52:15
love that. That's that sounds efficient.
Alex Ferrari 52:18
And there's a there's a little way he does it with the sugar and like, he he makes it all foam up. It's a it's an artistry thing. And it's just their little little thimbles man not even shot clock like symbols. That's how powerful and dense the human coffee is. Oh, he makes
Stephen Colletti 52:34
the card the Starbucks runs. And it is I think Starbucks you know, those are sure people that will shit on the coffee naturally, because it's not that great. But there's still a lot of people that are like, it's a desert to that right. A couple people. You get that dialed up for right after lunch? And yeah, you know, it's it's a little gift, that gift goes a long way. Those those anytime that the crew was feeling down, it was like, Alright, let's on the double with the the Starbucks runs in and then when someone would show up with them, you know, everyone perked up. And it was it was
James Lafferty 53:07
it was as much for us as it was. We needed it.
Alex Ferrari 53:11
You got to keep Yeah, you got to keep Yeah, keep the ball rolling. I mean, look, if you don't have money to pay them, the normal day rates, at minimum feed them well. And get them Yes, feed them over coffee. That's I mean, you could you could pay them nothing. Feed them. Well. Yeah, that's at minimum you have to do and that's going to be the best investment you can have in your projects. Without question. Sorry. So you finally get this whole thing together, guys, it's it's finished. It's done. You guys are feeling good about it. And you're like, Okay, now what? How the hell do you go out? How do you get hulu's interest in it? And like, you know, I'm sure you hit walls everywhere you went? Because like, this has never happened. No one's ever done this. How did you do it?
James Lafferty 53:54
Yeah, it was a series of unfortunate events, followed by one very fortunate event. One single very unfortunate event. Well, let's see we, we finished with it took us about eight months to finish the show, in post to you know, get all the episodes to where they needed to be. As we were doing that, we also we got to see, sorry, we got Episode Two across the finish line. And then we took Episode Two out to some of these festivals that had accepted us and you know, our pilot episode. We also use episodes one and two to shop really to take out in this sort of soft way. Right, like to take out some contacts or some you know, in rows that we had made. So we continued that festival circuit. We continue to take it out a bit but again, it was the same thing as with that pilot episode. We still didn't have a sales agent. We are still going to our talent agents to reach development executives. We are still running into walls and we couldn't get anybody to tell us what to do. You know, we there was no That whole side of the industry is so relationship based. And we didn't have the person with the insight or the or the relationships. Or if we could talk to somebody that didn't have the relationships, we had something that they didn't know what to do with. Because there was no template for it. They're like, You brought me a movie. If this was a movie, it would be one thing. There's a million ways you can go. But this is a TV show. And we don't know what to do with this right now. And so we got to I guess we finished the show sometime. And what was it mid mid 2019, Steven, something like that. Or maybe fall 2019, we started really getting to a place where you're happy with the show and felt like it was finished. Yep, yep. Yeah. And we're still taking it out. We finally realized that this whole sales thing is probably not going to happen for us. So we start getting ready to sell distribute, we were going to go through Amazon. We were getting our music finished, we were getting all our contracts in line. We were about two weeks away from hitting from hitting submit to Amazon's platform to
Alex Ferrari 56:07
but so for basically for s VOD, and T VOD, or just
James Lafferty 56:11
for for rentals. First, I think Yeah, to purchase for rented or buy a
Alex Ferrari 56:14
transit and transactional first. So, but you knew that I mean, your budget was,
Stephen Colletti 56:19
I mean, based on the numbers, you're saying your budget was well north of 250. So to generate that in transactional takes obscene amount of work, and luck, and magic from the film gods to make that work. So we're going we're taking that as we're gonna take the show on the road, like that, we're gonna do that. Now, we also got to go to what was successful for us and go fill some theaters, you know, like, tour around, make some stops, and do some parents kind of stuff just to leverage as much interest and bring in some income to try to get back our budget?
James Lafferty 56:56
Yeah, we came up with a pretty good game plan for that, you know, we did the numbers, and it seemed like we could get somewhere close based on you know, we've done fan conventions before for One Tree Hill, we knew that there was a certain amount of a built in audience for everyone is doing great itself anyways, you know, we felt good about our odds, really, we knew that it would be really, really tough. We knew that it would be basically like crowdfunding all over again. Fun, fun. Yeah. Just wanted to get the show out there. And we didn't know any other way to do it. And so yeah, that took us to, I think about january, february of 2020. And then, my brother, who was a producer on the show, as well, his name is Stuart, he just made a random phone call to a friend of his who is a producer who has a relationship with endeavor content. And so my brother sent this producer, our show our first couple episodes, the producer was like, Oh, this is interesting. I don't know. By the time he sent it to endeavor, this agent and endeavor had taken a look, and we were going into lockdown were blocked down wasn't far away. And this agent went, Okay, well, this is, you know, interesting. Like, he really is credit, like he really saw him himself in, in, in these weird ways. When we finally got on the phone to talk to him, he sort of pitched our show back to us in a way that nobody else really had, which was really cool. He seemed to just connect with it on on one level, but then on another level, he was like, you know, we don't know when people are gonna be making stuff again, there's gonna be a real hole in, you know, and buyer schedules, you know, come, you know, quarter three, quarter four, and, and, and this could be a possibility. So, endeavor content took it on. And then there was a list of about 17 different buyers that they were going to go out to with the show. And over the course of what, three or four months, each of those buyers passed, really, really painfully and slowly and slowly, and slowly and slowly and painfully. And yeah, we were worn down to the point where we were pretty much just like, you know, going to the park and laying down and staring at the sky waiting to die.
Alex Ferrari 59:04
Because there was no tour anymore. The tour was shut down. There's no tour. There's none of that stuff. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, man.
James Lafferty 59:11
And then we got the Yeah, we got the call from endeavour that said, Yeah, really wants to make an offer. And that's, that, that changed. That changed literally everything.
Alex Ferrari 59:21
We'll be right back after a word from our sponsor. And now back to the show. Wow, so is the same. It was literally the timing right place, right time, right product? Yeah. a year earlier. Maybe not so much. A year later, maybe not so much. But that moment in time, was the time and similar to my film, like at that moment in time, it worked like they would never buy a film like that today. So it just happened to be the right timing, man, that's, you know what, like, like I always say to people, look, luck has a bit to do with this whole thing that we do, there is luck. But the thing is, if you hadn't built that product, all the luck, and we're really willing to help you, you needed something to sell. So it just happened to work out.
Stephen Colletti 1:00:12
It's kind of like it's a create your own luck scenario, you know? And there's no, you everyone's looking for like the recipe, right? How do you do it? So how did you get your independent show to Hulu? Right, tell us the secret. And, but ultimately, there was a lot of hard work that then fell on chance, you know, and fell on a right place, right time opportunity, which you do hear all the time. I think that the way you get the hair at the end of the day, is, you know, you pay your dues, you work hard, you get, you know, you're trying to you're bringing people in to you bring in smart people around you keep you motivated, keep you pushing where, you know, you're overextending yourself. And I think that's when invites the opportunity for for maybe that luck to strike, you know, and it's no guarantee, but this is also what we sign up for. But, you know, had we tried to do these buyer screenings that didn't work well, had we tried to shake down our reps for months, slash years to, you know, get it to the right people, and never feel like we got the right shot. You know, have we not done all of that? Would we have gotten to this gotten to this moment of right place? right time? You know, I don't think so. It just, you know, there was no shortcuts. So, you know, you can you can help your fate, I think I'd like to I'd like to believe you know, I believe,
Alex Ferrari 1:01:33
no, there's, there's no, there's no question about it, man. There's absolutely no question. So when does this so you basically sold Hulu for domestic only. So this still has an international opportunity as well for sales.
James Lafferty 1:01:45
We're going to be in Australia, in the Nordics. And in Latin America courtesy of paramount plus, and their rollout overseas. Which is, which is really, really incredible. And another one of those another one of those things, it's like, you know, man, it's just, it's just, it's crazy, because, you know, we didn't get Hulu, then our show is never legitimized enough to get on, you know, Paramount plus for overseas, you know what I mean? It's like this domino effect of, of things of things happening. And, you know, obviously, it shows the power of getting on to, you know, a streamer like that. But we're just really grateful that we're going to get a reaction from other cultures as well, because, you know, we've seen to have gotten a really good feedback from our domestic audience. People are still finding the show, most people seem to like it. But you know, comedy is hard. When you take it when you export it, cultures find different things funny. We were actually really inspired by some Australian comedy, and Australian stories, storytelling in general British storytelling, so we feel like it will export nicely there, we hope. But we know non English speaking countries, it's really impossible for us to tell. And so yeah, we're kind of waiting on pins and needles to see how it does. And it's gonna be really exciting. We got a call from endeavour actually asking if we wanted to, if we wanted to have a say, in the voices for the Latin American market and the Portuguese market for dubbing and we both were like, I think we could be hands off with this. Yes, this is the one we're comfortable delegating.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:20
If I keep up I would.
James Lafferty 1:03:24
I gotta brush up on my Portuguese, right? No,
Alex Ferrari 1:03:28
no, dude, I used to do I used to do translation not translations, but versioning out for commercials from Latin America. I had to do 30 different versions because every country has their own Spanish. So you you can't you can't send you can't send a Puerto Rican vo guy to Mexico you can't send a Mexican guy to Argentina there's such a different and accents. And that's when I discovered that you just can't it's not one spouse can't send a Spaniard down to Mexico like it doesn't it doesn't translate well doesn't get accepted well, so that that that that's going to be a process for you guys down there. whoever's doing that with you as hands off of that it's going to be an interesting
James Lafferty 1:04:08
You're making me very glad that we said no state
Alex Ferrari 1:04:11
stay away. Stay out of it. Stay out of that, dude, just collect the checks or just take the check a gadget. That's great, man. Listen, it's in this is an inspiring story. I know that there's a lot of actors out there who you know, have maybe been on shows or has a following and are frustrated just like you guys were with, you know, having to go and hustle out jobs and asking for permission constantly. And I'm not saying you're still not doing that, obviously, because not the ages will get very upset. So you're still going out on jobs and stuff, but at least you have a little bit more, a little bit more control of your own destiny, where you're like, you know, we have a track record now. Now we can go out and do it on maybe a movie or or another series and maybe get hired to do be on that side of the fence and now you're building a different level of your career. Um, you know, what, what advice would you give any actors listening out there right now, because I know I have a few actors who listen, as well about trying to do something similar to what you guys are doing.
James Lafferty 1:05:13
Yeah, I think I think, you know, one thing that was easy to forget, the more serious the process got for us was that we started this thing as an experiment, a creative experiment, and we agree with each other that, you know, if that pilot episode sucked, then nobody would ever see it. And that would be okay. You know, we only spent as much money as we were comfortable losing on that pilot. And we went at it experimentally. And I think that gave us the freedom to be creative, as creative as we could possibly be to be uninhibited, and you know, and being creative. And it really helped us to just enjoy the process. And that was, that was extremely important in finding the tone of this thing, and determining what it really was, you know, and shooting it. And also, you know, getting in there and edit and making sure that we just had the time, and we were giving ourselves, we were giving ourselves the luxury of time to learn and taking the pressure off, right, as much as humanly possible. At least with that, that first episode. And I would say for you know, that's the advice that I would give to an actor that's going to go out and make their their first movie is like, Look, you won't get this right the very first time it, you might get it right, but you won't get it as right as you could, because you will be learning every step of the way. And that's okay, that doesn't actually mean that it won't be brilliant, like, it could be incredible, but you're going to see the mistakes in it, you know, the finished product, you will see the mistakes. And so don't worry about getting it exactly right all the way through, worry about setting out to tell the story that you want to tell. And by the end of it, you know, hopefully you will, you will have told it, I think you know, know the story that you want to tell. And also make the kind of thing that you would want to watch. And that's all you got to worry, that's all you got to worry about the first time around, you know, surround yourself with people that can worry about the other stuff for you and treat them with respect and pay them well if you can. But at the end, at the end of the day, just just try to make, just try to make the show or the movie that you would want to watch and, and see what happens. And you know, if you make mistakes, that's okay, you will learn from those mistakes, and you'll get you'll you'll get it right the next time.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:29
Have you seen? Yeah, I
Stephen Colletti 1:07:31
would, I would say, you know, check your ego at the door from the jump, you know, it's it's not, you're not the star of the show here, I think anybody can come on, and work for hopefully a decent meal. And that Starbucks coffee after lunch is now the star for you, you know, it's it's, I think getting those people around you that that are going to be able to, you know, help push you with this project, help get it to its finish line, and have it you know, the quality in a way. You know, I think that creating those relationships and supporting them wherever they need support is is very vital. So you know, this isn't about just work on your project here. You know, you offer your ass up to carry gear for them on another project or whatever it is, you know, I do that and get that experience in and create those relationships because this is not something we're not Steven Soderbergh over here. You're not going to be able to do everything on your own. You need a lot of help. And and so you know, people are going to work with people that they you know, believe in and that they enjoy working with, especially when the going gets tough, you know? So,
James Lafferty 1:08:41
yeah, you have a really good script supervisor. You're gonna be in front of in front of him behind the camera. As a really good script supervisor,
Alex Ferrari 1:08:51
a good a good first ad doesn't hurt either.
James Lafferty 1:08:54
Exactly. Yeah, yeah.
Alex Ferrari 1:08:55
Yeah, definitely doesn't really yeah, I'm gonna ask you a couple questions. I asked all my guests. What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?
James Lafferty 1:09:07
True? Get off your button, do it? That was that was one that took me the longest to learn. Definitely, really? Yeah, definitely. I mean, coming from, look, as an actor, you are very single minded when you get to set your and that's the way it should be like you were there to take care of your job. And, and be present for the other people that are in the scene with you. You know, I worked in I worked as a director and television as well, which was incredible, which was one of the most like animating and eye opening things that ever happened to me because that's where I realized just how much of an ecosystem every single set is right? And how much every little component depends on the next one. That was a big eye opener for me, and it was a whole level a whole other level of working hard and and it was something that I enjoyed, but still You have that safety net, still there is a machine working to help you get everything done. You are not pulling the thing along, you are more of a facilitator. Right. But yeah, it wasn't until, you know, working with the Nelms brothers and Michelle Lange and Johnny Durango on their sets, that's when I realized the power. And the gratification that can come from just getting off your butt and doing something, you know, yourself pulling something yourself, together yourself how much you can learn how good you can get at what you want to do. You know, you want to tell stories, the best way to you want to tell stories this way, I think the best way to become a master at it is to is to, you know, try to pull something together yourself. That's what they they taught me. And it took me a while It took me a while to learn that I didn't meet me till I was like 25
Alex Ferrari 1:10:51
How about easy?
Stephen Colletti 1:10:53
Oh, man. There's a few things I figured out I'm still getting.But I thinkman,it's funny. Like, I do believe that. It's tricky that, like, once sustaining your own lane is is an important thing to know, like what you can't do. But the same time with this spirit, this project, it was like tried to do is figure out as much as possible. But I think that there was I still need to understand, like, knowing my, my boundaries, and and once I know what when I know what those are, like, just don't try to pretend like you know, anything else, you know, we're no further trying to, you know, take on something that you're like a wall, just figure it out. You know, I think it's okay to to seek out help or admit that you just don't know how to do something, you know, the sometimes we're fearful of, you know, feeling inept, at whatever, you know, at being able to finish a job. And so you know, you try to overextend yourself or try to say you got it, but, you know, and ultimately don't now you've set things back. So I think it's, it's understanding, you know, my boundaries, and I feel like I'm still, I'm still trying to figure that out. You know, like, you know, I can't say that I can do this when when I can't or you know, I'm just not everything I could figure out on my own. Right. So,
Alex Ferrari 1:12:18
and, and the toughest question of all three of your favorite films of all time.
Stephen Colletti 1:12:23
James Lafferty 1:12:25
Alex, I listened to your podcast and prepared myself. Because I never had the answer to this. You say? Thanks for the heads up. Yeah, I planned. I planned it this way. at Ferris Bueller's Day Off Nice, nice. And Silver Linings Playbook. Nice because I I feel like I learned something from each one of those films at the time in my life that I watched it. So it was like, you know, when I was a tadpole, and then when I was like, you know, pubescent and then as an adult? So there's something for me in each one of those stages. So God beat that, Stephen.
Alex Ferrari 1:13:06
Wow. Well, he just left it dangling in the wind there, brother. I'm sorry about that.
Stephen Colletti 1:13:10
I'm just gonna say. But we had, we had like, three VHS tapes in my house growing up. And one was like somebody had left a Blockbuster Video, which was predator over at our house,
Alex Ferrari 1:13:27
obviously one of the greatest action films of all time.
Stephen Colletti 1:13:31
And Forrest Gump, which I thought like, the scope of that movie was always something that just like stuck in my mind. And the way Yeah, the way the story is told the way we go throughout all these different parts of history, and that sat with me I think, of late. Well, obviously not of late, but it was actually James little brother introduced me to True Romance.
Alex Ferrari 1:13:56
Stephen Colletti 1:13:58
by Tony Scott. And that is a that is a favorite of mine. Dude,
Alex Ferrari 1:14:03
I remember walking out because I'm a bit older than you guys. So I remember walking out of the theater, watching True Romance. And me and my friends just looked at each other, like what the hell was that? Like, we were just so shock.
Stephen Colletti 1:14:18
That's another movie that another feeling that I had there. I'll give you two other movies that for me going to the movies with like the experiences about kernel activity when that movie, like just the reaction in the theater was amazing. And then also, Interstellar was another one which was amazing going into the bathroom afterwards and just getting everyone's reaction just like oh, wow, like that was like it's that when it's kind of hard to step back and society. It's not just the glare of being back in the sunlight. It's like whoa, like where did I just got
Alex Ferrari 1:14:53
I missed that I missed do I miss going to the theaters man I miss go in and get all that experience. I just saw a picture of Nolan in Burbank, oh, yeah, is going going to that's the theater I go to. That's exactly that's the exact theater I go to. He's just sitting there with his wife and his friend just like that. We're gonna watch. I think it was watching the Snider cut there. I'm not sure what he was watching, but he was watching something there.
Stephen Colletti 1:15:15
I was honestly trying to Google that as well.
Alex Ferrari 1:15:17
I think he was watching. I think he was watching. I think it was Justice League the four hour cut of that at the theater. It's Yeah, man. No one is me. Jesus, there's only one of him running around right now. That's for sure. Listen, guys, thank you so much for for being on the show and being an inspiration to a lot of people out there hopefully, listening and maybe they'll pick up their, their, their, their, their chariot to take it to the finish line, and try to get something done. So I appreciate that man. And good luck to you guys. Keep going. I can't wait to see what else you guys do next.
James Lafferty 1:15:51
Thanks so much, man. Yeah, I appreciate appreciate your podcast too. Great work.
Alex Ferrari 1:15:55
Thank you, Matt. They
Stephen Colletti 1:15:55
get Thank you, man. Keep hustling.
Alex Ferrari 1:15:59
I want to thank James and Steven for coming on the show and dropping their knowledge bombs on the drive. And also for the inspiration for a lot of filmmakers out there who are trying to get series off the ground or series sold to major streamer. So thank you so much, guys. If you want to get links to anything we spoke about in this episode, head over to the show notes at indie film hustle comm Ford slash 466. And if you haven't already, head over to filmmaking podcast.com and leave a good review for the show. It really helps us out a lot. Thank you again so much for listening, guys. As always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. Stay safe out there, and I'll talk to you soon.
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Taught by veteran award-winning film producer and author Suzanne Lyons. The filmmaker behind over a dozen profitable low-budget feature films.